Saturday, January 19, 2013

My 1st Half Marathon...

At the expo, trying our race shirts on for size!

Back on September, 12, 2010, I ran my 1st half marathon.  I actually ran two half marathons that fall, but the first one is always special.  Mine was extra special because I talked my brothers into running it with me.  That was no easy task, but we all had a rewarding experience in the end.

They trained in Kentucky somewhat sporadically while I was sticking to a pretty set beginner half-marathon training schedule.  None of us really knew what to expect, but I had done a few 5K races before this one so I was the resident guru...or so I thought!  Ha!  We (along with our supportive parents and Jordan's wife) met up in Chicago on a Friday night to begin our weekend of fun.  Saturday, we went to the expo and carb loaded on some Giordano's pizza and pasta.  We also randomly and quite comically went for a quick jog through the parking garage at the hotel.  I remember lots of laughs on that jog.

Quickly, race day came.  We all felt nervous, but ready.  We took public transportation to the event.

We got there with plenty of time to find our corral, stretch, and get settled.  I think Mom and Dad might have been the most nervous of us all.  I'm know they believed we could do it, but they sure were anxious for it to be over.  Soon enough, the gun went off and we were on our way.  We started the race together, but quickly parted ways in all the traffic of the race.  Little did I know, I wouldn't see them again until I crossed the finish line.

The race began with a loop in through Jackson Park.  That loop was a little over 3 miles. I felt pretty good during that loop.  It was shaded.  I still felt excited.  I saw my parents and Jen around the second mile and then right after leaving the park. Then the race trailed off into an out and back stretch of highway along Lake Shore Drive.  It was right around mile 4 when the elite runners were meeting me on my out and their back that I began to have a melt down of sorts.  Not a total melt down, but a definite spirits and speed.  Not ideal on mile 4 of a half-marathon.

Right around Mile 4 or so...
I had a goal of running the entire half-marathon.  And I did meet that goal.  However, my run was so very slow at some points that walkers were passing me.  Was I proud of that?  No.  But did I still feel like I was accomplishing something by not "giving up" and walking?  Yes, I did.  From mile 4 to mile 8.5 (where we turned), I was just deflated.  I was not prepared AT ALL for there to be runners nearly finished with the race when I was just beginning.  This was shocking for me.  I'm not sure how I didn't realize it beforehand, but something about it happening in the moment just rocked me.  Also, it seemed like I was NEVER going to get to the turn.  But, I did.  It was also getting very hot on this lovely September day.

Nearing the finish line...maybe just before Mile 13.
After the turn, I remember things picking up a little.  Now, I was on the other side of the highway.  Now, I was in the home stretch...headed toward the finish.  Races are as much about being physically prepared as they are about being mentally prepared.  I learned that lesson the hard way from my experience at this race.  As I trudged on to the finish, I kept wondering how my brothers were doing.  Had they made it to the finish?  Did they meet their goals?  Were they going to give me a hard time about being so far behind them when this whole thing was my idea in the first place?  The questions kept me busy.  And the spectators.  They were fun to watch as well.  At some point...let's say around mile 10, my feet started to get sort of numb.  I was a little concerned, but I just run 10 miles and I probably nervously tied my shoes a little too tight before the start so I just chalked it up to that and kept moving along.  As I approached the finish, I began scanning the crowd for my family.  I had long given up my goal time as my miles seemed much slower than I anticipated in the middle part of the race.  So, now, my mission was to find my family.  To see if my brothers had completed the race and to make sure they were still waiting for me at the end.  I never saw them before I crossed the line, but there were hundreds of people at the finish.  I was able to reunite with them pretty quickly though because even though I couldn't spot them, they were tracking me.

Half-Marathoners....with some sweet medals!

In the end, we finished in reverse chronological order with McKinley at 2:24:15, Jordan at 2:42:13, and me at 2:48:26.  I was running just under 13 minute miles.  Actually, not too bad.  I believe my goal was to be between 11-12 minutes miles so I wasn't too far off track.  Plus, I had a little less than a month before my next scheduled half so I had a chance to improve just around the corner.

I was happy.  We were all happy.  We headed back to the hotel where Jordan and I made a mad dash to shower and change before heading over to Soldier Field to mark the watching the Bears (v. Lions) play football off our bucket list.  More to come on that in an upcoming Sunday Stadium Review. 

Overall, it was a fun and exciting weekend with my family.  Making memories and accomplishing a great feat!  Even though my run could have been a little better, I couldn't have asked for a more memorable 1st half marathon experience.

So proud :)

Andrea :)

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