The whole family was up by 5:15 am and out the door by about 5:45. The Sunburst Half Marathon start time was 6:30 am, and I didn’t want to be late. Craig and the girls dropped me off at Four Winds Field (the starting line area) with plenty of time to spare. I tried to do some light stretching before the starting line up began.
|Race start headquarters, early morning June 2nd.|
The race was well organized. There were plenty of porta potties at the start, and regular announcements were made by the dj to keep runners aware of the timeline for the morning. The race stepped off promptly at 6:30 after the National Anthem was sung.
|Starting line view.|
We began by running through the downtown streets of South Bend. It reminded me very much of many of the other small midwestern cities I’ve run in. There were 3 or 4 story brick buildings hallmarking the streets. Mostly, it seemed we were in a small business area. I lined up with the 1:50 pacing group, knowing it was probably too fast for me, but hoping I could stay with them for at least a little while.
One of our first sights was crossing the river. We went over a bridge that gave us a lovely view of the water flowing over a small dam on the river. It was a nice way to start the run in the early morning. We zig zagged through some business/residential streets until we came out along the river on a nice paved path.
We continued along the river path for a bit, then went back in to some residential streets followed by a return to the river path. Being unfamiliar with the area, I’m not sure of the reason for having to leave the path and then go back to it, but it was all nice running.
Once we were back on the paved river path, we stayed there until about mile 5 or so. It was really nice with little parks sprinkled along the way and some interesting stonework, too. We crossed a couple of footbridges before making the turn to come back up the river on the other side. This side, too, had a paved path along nice neighborhoods. All in all, it was pleasant. The only difficult thing was that despite the relatively cool temperatures in the low 60’s, the air was very muggy, so breathing felt harder than it should have. There was also a ton of pollen in the air (which I had already been suffering from pretty badly at home) so that wasn’t the easiest thing either. Let’s just say I sniffed and spat my way along that riverfront area. I’m sure I was a pretty unpleasant runner to my fellow participants, but hey, you have to do what it takes to get from point A to point B.
We returned along the river and made a turn through Indiana University’s campus at one point before heading back into some of the residential areas we passed at the start of the race. We stayed mostly in residential areas until mile 11 where we hit the largest hill of the race near a medical center. Once I got up that hill, I knew that I wasn’t too far away. The 2 hour pacing group hadn’t caught up to me yet, so if I could just keep a good pace, I’d break 2 hours which was my goal. At mile 12 we turned on to a pretty main road and far off in the distance I could see the golden dome of Notre Dame! I took out my camera to snap a picture. It was definitely a sight for sore eyes!
|Can you spy the dome way off in the distance?|
The rest of the race, I just tried to keep my breathing controlled and my steps light and quick. Just before one of the final turns to the race, there was a woman holding a sign that said .87 to go! I thought that was kind of funny, so I snapped a shot as I ran by. Less than a mile…
|This way to the finish line!|
I ran through the next streets and turned left on to a “main street” area that had restaurants, shops, bars and a band playing. It was all brand new and so close to the ND campus. It definitely wasn’t there when my husband was a student. What a nice addition to the area for the university!
|Waving to my family as I head toward the stadium.|
|Running in to the ND football stadium, phone filming.|
I plugged along in the heat and humidity waiting to catch a glimpse of the stadium where the finish line was. It seemed to take FOREVER to get there. As I turned the corner to get in to the stadium, there was my family cheering me on and taking photos! I still had my phone in my hand so I could capture my entry into the stadium and on to the field. What fun it was pretending to be a Notre Dame champion! I crossed the finish line in 1:57:43 meeting my goal of sub-2 hours. (Below is the video I took while running in to the football stadium.)
The stadium was gorgeous and filled with lots of activity as runners finished and the announcer called out the finisher names. Fans were in the stands cheering on their runners. I snapped a few shots of the stadium and then headed out the exit in to the food and recovery area. I picked up my medal (substantial and colorful) and some fresh fruit on my way to find Craig and the girls. We found each other finally and enjoyed a fun walk around the campus a bit on our way back to the hotel. We took some fun pictures here and there.
|Happy to be across the finish line.|
|Inside the stadium.|
|Panoramic view of the stadium.|
|Finding my family as I exit the runners finishing zone.|
|Notre Dame class of 2029 ? Or maybe Purdue?|
|Outside the stadium as we walked back to the hotel.|
|Giving Touchdown Jesus a double high five.|
|Detail of mural on ND library, aka "Touchdown Jesus."|
|It also happened to be alumni weekend at ND, but we didn't participate in any alumni events.|
|Visiting the campus grotto. Very similar to one at my alma mater, Stonehill College in MA.|
After some stretch out time and a shower, we all walked back to the campus for more exploring. We visited the basilica which was spectacularly beautiful, then made our way to the bookstore for some ND souvenirs.
|Gearing up at the ND bookstore.|
|Basilica on the ND campus.|
|Inside the Basilica.|
|More inside views.|
|One of the new buildings on campus.|
We all picked out our Notre Dame gear and then headed to an Irish Pub called O’Rourke’s back in that new restaurant/shop area I had run through. We had an enjoyable lunch, then walked back to the hotel where I took a nap and the kids went swimming with their dad. When they were done, Craig took a nap and I took the kids out for ice cream. Why is it kids never get tired??!!
|Race shirt, bib and medal.|
We enjoyed a nice dinner out at an Italian restaurant in the area called Carmela’s. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the new Notre Dame 18 hole golf course for a bit of looking around. It was a gorgeous course and we decided we all want to come back and play it next time. Before we knew it, it was 8:30 pm and we had to return to the hotel to pack and hit the pillow. Our flight the next morning was at 7 am so we needed to be up at 5:15 again. Thank goodness for those nap times today!