I haven’t written on here in a LONG time. I’ve actually had a few posts running through my head, but I was waiting to see how things would turn out before I actually wrote about them. So new post coming soon!
For today though, I want to give a little race recap of my first half marathon. This was one of my running goals since I started running about 3 years ago. I never would’ve imagined that I’d run 13.1 miles, but last year the idea became a little more realistic to me when I finished the Soldier Field 10 Miler (and with a pretty good time for my first time doing a longer distance too).
One of the girls in my youth group, Boyi, suggested we do the 13.1 Chicago Marathon last year (if the name confuses you, it’s a half marathon, not a full). The 13.1 is a race series that hosts half marathons in various cities across the U.S. The price wasn’t too bad compared to other half marathons (especially if we signed up early) and I figured, why not? After all, one of my goals was to run a half and it’s much better to run it with someone you know. So we signed up last fall. Training started in late February for me. Unfortunately Boyi and I only did two training runs together for the entire 16 weeks of training (I used SmartCoach to provide my training plan). I think with our schedules and just not living that close together made it difficult to run together. So most of my training was solo. I usually run by myself anyway, but sometimes for those longer distances it can be tough to do it yourself. I guess it builds my mental toughness, which is just as important in running as the physical.
Race day (Saturday) called for hot weather. The race organizers though were great at keeping us updated and giving us warnings about the weather and what they were doing to help. They had lots of hydration stations, added spray mists on the course, a cooling towel at the halfway mark, & warned us to slow down. My cousin Sammy ran this race with us. We all got up super early on Saturday morning (and my wonderful mom also got up at 3:30 to drive us down to Chicago) so we could be in the city to catch the 5:30 am shuttle. It was nice they did that for us though because I wasn’t too stressed out the morning of this race. We got to the starting line with plenty of time (unlike for Soldier Field when we were stuck in traffic to find parking so my parents had to let me off to walk to the starting line & then I had to wait in a ridiculous line for the bathroom & hurry to get in my start corral).
To make a long story short, I ran with Boyi in her wave. By the time we actually started it was half an hour into the race & they already put on the yellow flag telling us we didn’t have ideal race conditions. We started out at a comfortable pace, but once we got to mile 4 we were doing a little walking, slow jogging, stopping at every hydration station & even taking a bathroom break between miles 8-9. I knew Boyi hadn’t gotten to train as much as I did, so I wanted to stay with her as much as possible. The heat was making it challenging for her and by mile 10 she told me to go ahead without her (she told me that a few times before, but I didn’t listen). Her legs were cramping a little and she said she was going to walk. I felt kind of bad leaving her, but I mostly just wanted her to be okay. I didn’t want her to get heat stroke or anything like that. I gave Boyi one of my small water bottles from my hydration belt and ended up running the last 5k of the race by myself.
I felt pretty good up until mile 10 of the race because we’d taken a few breaks along the way and I wasn’t really pushing the pace. So I started off a little fast when I went on my own but ended up slowing down because of the heat (there also seemed to be fewer hydration stations on the way back) & I think because my legs were reminding me that I did run 10 miles before that 5k. On average, I kept about a 9-10 min/mile pace (but kept it under 10 min/mi). Finally when I heard the announcer & saw the gates toward the finish line, I started sprinting. I ended up slowing down a little bit though because it was still a long way to the finish line! Once the finish line was in view, I pushed myself as hard as I could. I actually felt a little bit like I could throw up, but I kept trying to breathe deeply and went straight for the water after I crossed the finish line. I passed a group of people on the way to the finish, so I’m glad I finished strong. I think it pays off to sprint to the finish at the end of all my training runs.
Sammy finished in 1:48 and placed first in her age group (it was her first half too). She’s just an amazing runner though. My final finishing time ended up being 2:24:30. Not exactly my 2 hour goal, but I’m already planning on doing the Prairie State Half Marathon in October where I can try to achieve that timing goal. I still finished 13.1 miles–the longest I’ve run to this date! Boyi ended up finishing about 15 minutes after me, so that wasn’t too bad, actually. Everyone finished safely, and that’s all that matters.
This weekend makes me think of this verse: “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1b) I know it’s not exactly about running a physical race in context, but the parallel is still there. It doesn’t matter if we got to the end running or walking–we still persevered even when it got tough or when we feel like quitting. Gerald told me before I did the race that we weren’t made to run that far. Well, maybe we’re not made to put ourselves through that kind of physical test, but God still gave us the ability to do things we never thought possible. I know I never thought I’d be a half marathoner!