What's really important.
This photo is a lie.
(And obviously a proof from MarathonFoto...)
Don't let the beautiful sunny day, scenery, and smile fool you. Notice my feet. See how they aren't very far apart, and the front one isn't very high off the ground, and my knees are barely bent?
This is how I spent most of the race on Saturday. This is not the recommended running form.
This one is pretty accurate.
I'm trying to unzip my SPI belt here to get some nutrition. It was an ordeal.
See, I hadn't been feeling very well all last week. My stomach was just...off. I blame the Cupcake wine I decided to drink on Monday and Tuesday. I'd never had it before and probably never will again. On Thursday, after two uncomfortable mornings, I decided to try and reverse the course of things in my body by eating an entire baguette. I guess I overcompensated. Let's just say, without getting into unnecessary details, that by the time I flew to Chicago (ball of nerves right here) and ate a whole plate of pasta at the pre-race pasta party Friday night, my stomach was not happy with me. Good thing I only had to run 13.1 miles the next morning!...
Result: the worst race of my life. The first two miles went swimmingly...a little too swimmingly. I started with two girls from our team who finished around the same time as me at the Brooklyn Half, so naturally we thought our paces would match each other nicely this time too. They were going a little fast for me for the beginning of a race, though - about 9:40. Then had to take a little potty break at the second mile - something that never happens to me.
"I'll catch up!" I said cheerily...oh sweet naive Kaitlin...
I ended up with quite a setback thanks to that little break. But I was feeling better. And I had told myself I didn't care about getting a PR this time - it was about the charity and the trip this time, I said. So I stopped and took this lovely picture.
This was the last happy moment until the finish line. The rest of the race - despite the beautiful course and seriously perfect weather - was miserable. I felt so sick, and because of that I was apparently "running" awkwardly, because when I finally started to feel better around mile 10 and tried to actually get running, I felt like someone was squeezing my hip flexors and quads and literally holding me back.
I just kept telling myself that my time didn't matter, that this was about raising money for CCFA, and being in Chicago, which was really beautiful, and that I everyone has off days, and only 9 miles left...only 5 miles left...only 3 miles left...
I finished in 2:31, according to my dad, who looked up my time because I didn't want to. Let me just say before I continue, I know that's not a bad time for a half marathon. But over the last year, every time I raced, I beat my previous time for that distance. I PR'd in every 5K, 10K and half I did in 2012 and 2013 (after the first ones, of course).
Was it realistic to think this trend would continue indefinitely? Of course not. But I did so well in Brooklyn, I thought I could at least do a minute faster this time. And I'm embarrassed by this now, but I have to admit it - I cried a little. My stomach hurt so bad and I disappointed myself so much.
But then I looked around at all of the other orange shirts in the recovery area, including a few of my teammates who have Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, and remembered why I was really there. This wasn't about my selfish goal, or my stomach cramps. This was about supporting research to find a cure for these diseases, which wreak havoc on people's digestive systems, sometimes making them unable to eat, sleep, work or lead normal lives. How ironic. I was complaining about my silly, normally healthy stomach while racing to find a cure for stomach diseases!
That was more embarrassing than not running as quickly as I had hoped! So I sucked it up, congratulated everyone on a job well done, got stretched out by the PT folks and spent the rest of the day walking around with everyone and enjoying the city. And now that I'm back, I'm re-motivated by my little bout of selfishness and all of the selfLESSness I saw in my friends to continue raising money for CCFA.