This weekend Little Legs, a Big Legs (Tim Staton), and Ben headed down to Chicago for the Banco Popular Chicago Half Marathon.
We headed down Friday afternoon to pick up the race packets at the Merchandise Mart (could there be more carpet samples in any other urban American location?) before a delicious dinner prepared by my mom replete with pasta, salad, and homemade coconut ice cream. The pre-race festivities included a trip to Evanston to see the Northwestern Wildcats handily dispatch the Nevada Wolfpack in the final 21 seconds of the fourth quarter on Saturday afternoon. Go ‘Cats!
After the ‘Cats game we headed down to Hyde Park to the hotel we’d stay in, which was on South Lakeshore Drive right at the water. We watched Michigan’s slaughter by the Oregon Ducks, which was especially crushing for Ben. Then we had a pre-race pasta dinner at Pizza Capri, suggested by Fing, in the heart of Hyde Park, and retired early after checking on the Iowa and Wisconsin games (they both won).
This morning found us up before the sun. Little Legs had gone on a last-minute shopping trip on Thursday to pick out matching outfits, which we proudly showed off at the starting line on the Museum of Science and Industry Campus. We are pictured here with Tim:
I have been nursing some tendinitis in my right ankle all week and only ran twice, so I spent most of the weekend fretting about my participation in the race. I had run only 1 mile on Friday and I was in pain the whole time, so I had mentally prepared myself for the fact that I might not be able to run. I was nervous before the start, and with 12,500 people milling around the front of the museum it was hard to see where the starting line was. But we finally attached ourselves to the mass of humanity and approached it:
Soly and I were very excited to get started. Here we are, on a perfect cloudless morning:
I knew that the first mile of the race would be critical: if I wouldn’t be able to run it, I would know very soon. But I felt fine, and after the first couple of minutes, my excitement about the race overtook any remaining anxiety. There is something glorious about a race, in my opinion. The training and the effort going into the race are formidable, but once you’re there, the task is simple. You have to run from the beginning to the end, with a large community of other runners doing the same, and if you’re not an elite runner you’re in it to compete mostly with yourself. Besides, there is great power in the feeling that you’re doing something pure and good, along with a lot of other people out to accomplish the same. The Chicago route was awesome, with great views of the lake and of the historic University of Chicago campus. We went as far north as 35th Street, so we got a panoramic view of downtown and of Navy Pier, and all along the route there were live bands playing covers and original music, so it was easy to stay pumped. The greatest number of spectators were clumped in the first 4 1/2 miles, and Ben snapped us at around 4 miles (we’re in the turquoise shirts, and I’m just ahead of Soly):
Around mile 11 we started to tire, and both of us were thinking “Why have we subjected ourselves to this?” but I think that’s typical. The final bend came into view after mile 12, and we turned on the gas to the finish. We finished in 2 hours 11 minutes, which shaved 4 minutes off my Madison time. I think we could have run it faster, but because we started in the back of the pack we spent most of the race weaving and working our way forward.
After the race we had brunch in Bartlett Hall, which is the U of C’s former track & field house, with my parents, Ben, and my brother Justin (Fing), a Ph.D student at the U of C. Then it was back to Madison for the start of another week. All in all, a great race. I highly recommend the Chicago Half, and with any luck I’ll do it again next year!