Growing up I was never particularly athletic but at some point, something changed, and I became a runner. I’ve now run three marathons and have logged thousands of miles. The weird thing is….I don’t much care for distance running; it generally hurts, takes up a lot of time, and makes my clothes smell.
Lately I’ve gotten back into running but only for short distances, usually 5-10 kilometers (3-6mi) at a time. I enjoy exercising, but going out and running non-stop for 2 hours excites me about as much as a dental appointment…just because I do it, doesn’t make it fun. Before this weekend, the furthest I’ve run in the past 3 years was approximately 8 miles. A far cry from those 26.2 mile marathons I used to race.
This past weekend Jillian and I traveled to Chicago to run the Chicago Half Marathon. The race was 13.1 miles along the lake shore and mostly skipped the sites of Chicago that most tourists would be interested in seeing. The run was almost completely flat and didn’t provide for a large amount of spectators. Other than running the same race as Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno, and the Chicago deep dish pizza provided at the finish line, it was amongst the least exciting races in which I’ve ever taken part.
But it was probably my favorite.
This time I didn’t train hard and I really didn’t know how quick I’d do the run. I was at the start line with four other family members who were mostly in the same boat as me. Jillian’s sister, Becka, helped pace me for most of the race, but after that I was on my own. But at the start I was with people. At the finish I found all those fellow runners again. My five AM wakeup call was a team effort and the night before had the feeling of a couch-surf mixed with a chocolate-fueled teenage slumber party. Pre-race we joked about laxatives and how poorly we’d do rather than race splits and pace groups. Post race we all enjoyed bagels and football together and when I was restless it wasn’t too difficult to convince others to join me and the big dog Hendrix for a walk along the lake. This race was my favorite because for the first time it was vacation first, race second.
If it hadn’t been for the race I think most of us wouldn’t have been traveling this weekend, somehow though the race brought us together and it was worth the trip all the way around. On the pavement, I pushed harder than I ever had in the past, but once I finished it was time to relax and enjoy the pizza! I don’t expect I’ll ever again train for a big race again but because of this weekend I do expect to sign up for far more of them.
And if anyone is curious, I ran the 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 6 minutes. That’s means each mile took me, on average, about 9 minutes and 40 seconds. I didn’t train particularly well. My first marathon, exactly twice the distance I ran this Sunday, for which I trained 6 months to run, saw me finish in an even 5 hours…you do the math!