Half of WHAT??

I ran Chicago’s Half Marathon on Sunday. I’ve run three marathons and innumerable other, shorter distances, but this was my first race since having S 6 months ago. If you have children and any hobby whatsoever, you know that it can be difficult to make time for said hobby while also being, you know, a parent. So, while my training for a marathon tops out at a comfortable 50-odd miles a week, my training for this half topped out at…around 15. Seriously. That’s 3 days a week of running, occasionally with an infant in the jogger, but mostly in the mornings after the nanny gets here but before I need to work (did I mention I also have a full-time job?).

Anyway, the appeal of the Half was in part that it was convenient – with a start and finish line just down the road in Jackson Park, and a course that wound along the familiar stretch of the lakefront and right past my house, it would have been difficult for me to watch other runners and not participate myself (last year’s marathon, for example, when I was pregnant, put me in a funk for a week).

The day was beautiful: bright and mild (it got warm later, but it started out pretty nice); the course was spectacular. I don’t know about you, but the time I spend in Jackson Park is actually relatively limited, despite its nearness to my ‘hood. This is a missed opportunity, because the fact is that it’s beautiful. I won’t bore anyone with the history (the obvious place to learn more is Devil in the White City, but there are dozens of other good resources), but I will remind you that it’s rich.

Though Millennium and Grant have their merits, and Lincoln Park, too, I’d argue that Jackson Park is the city’s greatest green space, south side or otherwise. (Next week, I’ll share some details of our recent trip to the Osaka Garden!)

The course travels through Jackson Park, past the Museum of Science and Industry, and then up Lake Shore Drive to 31st Street and back – the Lake Shore stretch is familiar to anyone who runs distance on the south side (our runs are limited to going north for anything over, say, 7 or 8 miles, depending on your start and whether you go around the Point, which, of course, you should).

S and her daddy saw me twice from the 51st Street bridge (miles 5.5 and 11), and their spectating wasn’t inhibited by an outrageous crowd or unbearable noisemakers. It was a pleasant day for them, and the first time S saw Mama with her game face on. I felt satisfied with my time and pushed it just to the point of being uncomfortable – a big blister on my toe starting at mile 4 made the foot situation mildly unpleasant, but I am of the “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” school, so I pretended not to notice it until after the finish. Anyway, I felt extra proud and happy finishing this race – being a mom now and finishing practically on my doorstep made the day among my favorite race experiences (it helped, too, that the Bears WON Sunday!). I think I’ll make the Half a regular in my running season.

Anyone else run it? What did you think?

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  • If you don't run around the point, it's a pointless run -- or so my old running group used to say. :-)

  • I love it -- I'll have to keep this in mind the next time I'm trying to motivate half a dozen nine-year-olds to make it!

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