I had been looking forward to this run for months! I decided in October I believe to run the race for a charity. I wanted to pick one that was near and dear to me so I picked the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Foundation. Ryan is a player for the Cubs, who I got to know well over my four years with the team. His daughter Riley was born with DiGeorge Syndrome in April 2010 and he and his wife have been working to help other families in the same situation. I was more than happy to help. I set my original fundraising goal at $2,500 and was hoping to reach that. The outpouring of support was overwhelming and I was able to up my fundraising goal not once, but twice to $3,500. In total, I ended up raising $3,645. Wow! I am in amazement and beyond excited for the Foundation. They showed me such support during the training - putting my story on their website, checking in to see if I needed help or to just offer encouragement. So happy I could give something back to them.
Training was going along smoothly until a 10 mile run in Hawaii on Thanksgiving Day resulted in an injury. When we got back from Hawaii I couldn't run more than 5 miles in December without pain in my knee. I went to the doctor and found out I had an IT band/patella injury. He and I knew there was NO way I was missing this race so we went into work mode. I signed up for PT twice a week and stopped running. THAT was difficult. I ended up running probably three times after seeing the doctor - 2 5ks I had signed up for already and a 5 mile run - all were painful. So the week before the race I didn't do anything except walk to and from work. I halted all other activities, which let me tell you was hard to do.
I knew that the race would be difficult, but we had prepped my IT band/patella as best we could. I was determined for the Foundation to finish. Oh and I had also decided to move to Boston the day after the run so things were more than hectic leading up to the run. Thankfully I knew my wife and dad would be there cheering me on and pushing me to keep going. Also (as seen in the pic above) assigned names to each mile, which helped me keep going!
The race wasn't until 10am, which is LATE in terms of road races so I was actually able to sleep til 8am. This late start threw off my normal pre-race rituals. But I woke up, hung out with my dad, had a vitatop then waited for my friend Miguel to pick us up (he was also running). It was freakin' windy up near Foster Beach so we may have only had 20-25 minutes before the race was going to start, but it felt like waaay longer.
Thankfully there was a flash mob that took place. First one I had ever witnessed in person. Good work if you were part of that group.
I finally said Adios to my dad and headed to the Start Line. Let me tell I have never felt so unprepared for a run! I was in my own head that I didn't notice that Katie was grabbing me at first. Katie is a twitter friend who I had the pleasure of meeting in person - love when that happens. She was running her first Half Marathon and I was psyched for her.
I couldn't hear a thing at the start before I realized it was time to go. I hit the Runkeeper as I crossed the Start and we were off. The first mile was treacherous!! Ice, slippery, wattery, sandy, snowy - you name it we had it in the first mile.
Just after the first mile I ran into another twitter friend - Nina! I love that she realized it was me - not by the name on the front of my shirt, but that Mile Two was dedicated to "My Wife" :) This made me smile. Nina and I have chatted a ton online, but it was great to actually run a couple miles with her.
The knee pain was there, but manageable through the first half of the run. The Runkeeper somehow got messed up so the mileage was off, but thankfully the time was right. So I just used that to know when to eat my Sports Beans/try to figure out my time in my head. :) Yay being a math major paying off. :P I realized around the halfway mark that I was actually still running 10 minute miles despite the knee pain.
Since I knew I was moving to Boston the next day, I really tried to take in the surroundings as we ran along Lake Michigan. I have run the Lakefront Trail more times than I can count, but I still can't get enough of it. It was especially beautiful on that Saturday morning. The sun was shining and the volunteers/fans along the course were rockin'.
I figured my dad and wife were hiding somewhere keeping warm so I texted them at Mile Seven and 10 to let them know where I was. As I continued on, the knee pain really started to kick in around Mile 11. It felt as if I was running with a sprained knee and a broken ankle. I thought the cold air would help dull the pain - it must've for the first 10-ish miles, but warn off. I was really feeling it. I just kept telling myself to keep moving. Just keep going forward. I had put the most important people at the beginning miles and ending miles for motivation!! I just kept thinking of those people as I pushed on.
My cheering section was on the course just as I rounded the corner heading to Mile 12. It was exactly what I needed to see. I cannot tell you how long the last mile felt. I NEVER thought I would hit the finish line.
As my Runkeeper kept chirping off with an update every 5 minutes, I figured out that despite severe knee injury I was going to get a PR. Say whaaa?? How the heck? But it was true ... I crossed the line at 2:05.40 - good for 9:36 min/mile and 6 minutes and 35 seconds faster than my previous PR set in August.
I threw my arms up as I crossed the Finish Line and quickly fell into my wife's arms as I couldn't stand on my left leg any longer. I proudly put my medal on and hobbled off to the side. Thankfully I was able to see my friend Chrissy one last time before we hopped in a cab to head home so I could ice my poor legs.
Overall, the race was great. I am really proud of what I accomplished when I wasn't at 100%. I am prouder of the money I raised for the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Foundation. But, most importantly, I am proud of me.
Here are a few pics that my wife was able to snap for me: