Yesterday I ran the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon! I'd been training (somewhat off-and-on with colds and travel) most of the summer, and it all paid off. My personal goal was to finish the race without walking, and I was able to keep running the whole time. (Did I say running? I jogged... s l o w l y. Embarrassingly slowly.) Some family members and friends ran, too- Tyler, Tiana, Liz, Dad, Matt, Todd M., and John, with Tyler's parents, Traye, and Tye cheering us on. I ran the first half with Tiana. Our conversation kept me quite entertained, and I appreciated the company in the starting corral and for the first hour of the race.
Before the race, Annette wrote on my calves with a Sharpie, "First Race" and "Post Baby." By the end of the race, as other competitors were slowing to a walk and I was passing them (barely), people were cheering me on as I ran. A few women ran alongside me briefly to tell me it was their first run after their baby, too, and we bonded over how much easier it is to run without a stroller. I heard quite a few women read my calves and respond, "Me too, but my baby's 15/17/21!"
For me, this race was really an accomplishment. Even though I've run a full marathon before, training for this was a lot different. I started running this spring, building up my endurance from... zero. Limited exercise, then bed rest, and then post-partum recovery (and almost a year without running) will do that to a woman. Now, I'm running with more weight on my body than I ever have before, which adds up over the miles. And because Tye doesn't enjoy the stroller for long periods of time, I never ran more than 3 miles a weekday.
All those obstacles made my finish yesterday even sweeter. Tyler's parents watched Tye during the race, then stood near the finish line with our homemade balloon-covered broomstick waving over the crowds. As I rounded the last curve and set my eyes on the orange and teal balloons in the distance, the sight filled me with enough motivation to pick up the pace for the last stretch. I was able to grab Tye from the family and jog with her over the finish line, a moment of which I've dreamed since before she was born. Someone somewhere has a really great picture of me with Tye in arms, choking back tears. It's a moment I'll never forget.