Just after Thanksgiving, I signed up for a virtual half-marathon. I was feeling a little lost since the Chicago Marathon. I wondered, what’s next? The Phoenix Half Marathon was offering its virtual race to earn the first of five medals that will form the Copper Star: one large, amazing medal that will take five years to put together.
I was in. I wasn’t in Phoenix for the first race earlier in 2016, so I signed up for the virtual half-marathon with plans to run it in Chicago by Dec. 31, 2016.
I don’t know what I was thinking.
I guess I didn’t expect Chicago to be so frigid in December because up until that point the weather had been mild. It may have been wishful thinking. Soon we had days in which the wind chill made the real feel -17 degrees or so, according to my weather app. There was no way I was running outside. I spent the month training at Orangetheory at least twice a week, with an occasional yoga class. I found myself on New Year’s Eve morning debating whether I should attempt to run the 13.1 miles with few outside running miles since November and early December. (I haven’t been running outside regularly since I trained for the Chicago Marathon, actually.) December 31 was the last day to submit my time to the Phoenix Half Marathon. It was a now or never moment. Sure, I could have run the half-marathon on my own in Phoenix when I visit this month, but I would have not met my December goal, and I could not let that happen. I am someone who has to accomplish something once I write it down. I have to cross it off my list.
So I layered up, threw on my running hat and gloves, and ran out the door. The run was sunny at first, which gave the illusion of warmth. That wind, though. The wind took my breath away. I tried to stay calm, keeping my pace as slow as possible. It was about 11:30 minute/mile for the majority of the time. Needless to say, I wasn’t doing this to beat a time PR. Something told me I just had to complete one more half-marathon in 2016.
Quite a few people were on the Chicago Lakefront Trail that morning. I tried to keep my mind on my music, how grateful I am for this incredible year we’ve had, and the bright, cool running gear I saw other people wearing. I had to focus on anything other than the wind that was slapping my face for two and a half hours. It wasn’t even the windiest Chicago day, but it was enough to make 39 degrees feel much, much colder. (Let me remind you I am an Arizona baby.)
I completed my half-marathon with many thoughts running through my mind. Most of them involved blessings, hopes, plans and memories. I am glad I ran this race, even if I did it alone and in Chiberia, as Chicago is so aptly called. It reminded me that I have a lot to be thankful for, and I can accomplish anything I aim for in 2017.
Happy new year, readers. I am grateful for each one of you.