I did it. I completed the Chicago Half Marathon, my first half marathon on September 25th. Words cannot describe how I feel about achieving this MAJOR goal of mine. However, it wasn’t what I had expected, and that’s what made it so important and memorable. This half marathon was more than just a run.
When I woke up at 4:00A.M. on Sunday, my stomach was in knots. I was so excited (and nervous) that it was the day I had been waiting and training for. I had hurt my knee a month ago while training, and in the back of my mind, I worried it would begin to throb during the half marathon. I had given it a month to heal since I hurt it training, and I was hopeful that that time was enough. But, I dismissed the thought of it and focused solely on my excitement.
When I got to Jackson Park, I got my bib number and I was ready to go. I was surrounded by my mom , dad, brother, boyfriend Nic and his mom Beth. I had the best support system with me, and each one of them motivated me and got me ready to race.
It was 7:00A.M. and the race began! My adrenaline was rushing and I felt on top of the world. The first three miles were a piece of cake. Then, what I had been dreading, happened. My knee began to throb with pain. I tried to tell myself that it was all in my head. When I got to mile 4, I couldn’t help the tears coming from my eyes. Each time I hit the pavement, pain shot up from my knee and up my leg and kept getting worse. I trained so hard for this, and THIS is what happens?
I ended up stopping at 3 medical tents along the way, icing my knee and trying to do anything I could to ease the terrible pain. I quickly realized the pain wasn’t leaving and that I was not going to be able to get the time I was hoping for.
The course was stunning. The views of Chicago were breathtaking and the cheering of the people far and near was incredible. Each mile was exhilarating and painful at the same time. I told myself I was NOT going to quit and that quitting was NOT an option. I got to mile 10 and realized that I was going to finish this race and I was going to persevere through my pain.
As I was running my last stretch, my knee began to give out. The pain was worse than ever and I could hardly walk, let alone run. Behind me, this sweet lady ran up to me and said, “We are in this together, we will limp together, we will finish together, we will not give up!” I began to tear up. This kind lady was what I needed for that last stretch and she helped push me to finish. I was by the finish line when I saw everyone, cheering my name with excitement and pride in their eyes. I can’t put into words how amazing it felt to cross that finish line.
Once I finished and got my AWESOME medal, I limped over to my support system for hugs. They were worried about my knee, but they could not stop telling me how proud they were. After some time of icing my knee and taking Advil, I realized that this race was SO MUCH MORE than just a run.
The Chicago Half Marathon showed me how determined I am and how I can make it through anything, no matter how bad the pain is. This half marathon taught me that I can do ANYTHING I set my mind to. Life won’t always go according to plan and it definitely won’t always be easy, but if you set your mind to something and stay determined, you CAN do it. You CAN achieve your goals and you can handle the road bumps in life. Sometimes, you have to suffer through pain to succeed, but you CAN do it. Also, this half marathon reminded me of all the kind and amazing people in the world. The spectators, the volunteers and the fellow runners all were focused on the race, but were equally focused on supporting everyone around them. There is so much love in this world.
This was my first, but definitely not last, half marathon. It has helped me grow into a stronger person and made me realize that I can do anything I set my mind to. Pain is inevitable, but we are strong enough and determined enough to persevere and finish. Life is tough, but we are tougher.
P.S. In case any of you are wondering, I am signing up for it again next year. 🙂