Sunburst

I did it! I finished! I’m still processing the entire experience.

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The weather wasn’t ideal for any outdoor activity yesterday. The morning was an especially good one for burrowing under the bed covers, but I got myself out of bed and out the door pretty much on schedule. Right as the 5K racers were lining up, there was a thunderstorm threatening. We were worried the race was going to be delayed or even cancelled. Luckily it blew over and eventually the sun came out. It ended up being a very hot, humid, and thankfully breezy, sunny day.

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Even though I arrived an hour early, I almost missed the start of the race. I misjudged the time and went to make one last potty stop. The line to the bathroom was so long, that I cut it really close. I hopped in the back of the pack with all the walkers just as the gun went off. My dad says I was one of the last people to cross the starting line. I honestly wasn’t paying attention to my position. I was just happy I made it in time. While I was a ball of panicked adrenaline from worrying I was going to miss the start, I think being last helped. I have a habit, like most new runners, of going out too fast. However, I couldn’t get around some of the walkers in the beginning, so it forced me to start slow.

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The course itself wasn’t anything to write home about, but Indiana is not the most exciting state on the map. It was pretty in some spots along the river, but it got a bit twisted and confusing as it went through some of the neighborhoods. And there was one out and back stretch that was so boring I started going down the, “Why am I doing this? This is the dumbest thing ever! I could be home in bed!” route. The stifling 88% humidity didn’t help. I felt so sticky and heavy the entire time. And there were times I was struggling to catch my breath. Luckily around mile 7, OK Go! saved me by reminding me that “This Too Shall Pass”. And it did.

I’m not a football or Notre Dame fan, so I didn’t really get all the hype about Sunburst’s finish line. I get it now. Sunburst has the coolest finish line ever (at least in my experience, which is a bit limited). I felt like such a rock star running through the tunnel to the 50 yd line of the football field.

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I am thankful that I obsessively read blog posts about marathon running tips and others’ race reports leading up to Sunburst. One tip in particular saved me. (I’d link, but I read so many random posts I don’t remember where this tip came from.) It was a marathon race report. The runner was running in hot/humid conditions and commented that while she noticed most of the other runners struggling around her, she stayed strong by always finding the shade and taking 2 cups of water at every stop – 1 to drink and the other to pour over her head. I’m glad that piece of advice popped into my head when it did, because that is what I ended up doing during the second half of the race and it helped me manage the heat and humidity. I am also thankful for all the good citizens of South Bend who left their sprinklers in the road for us to run through. I jumped through a few like a little kid. It helped give me the boost I needed to make it to the finish line with a smile still on my face.

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My official time was 2:44:58. Not very fast, but I’m happy with my time. Given how the end of my training went, I honestly didn’t expect to finish under 3 hours. I went in with a goal to just finish. I decided to leave my competitiveness behind yesterday and just run for fun and the experience. I realize now, it’s really not about the time. It’s the entire journey – all the hard work, sweat, and perseverance that got me to the finish line – that I am most proud of. I learned a lot, I made some mistakes, and most important, I had a great time.

I think the half is my favorite distance so far. I want to run another in the near future. Maybe one in the fall when it’s not so hot. I’m also entertaining ideas of training for a full marathon in a few years. But for now, I have a few 5K’s on the horizon with the kids, so I think my goal is to work on my pace. I have to be able to keep up with the kidlets. Or at least not be too far behind them.