Hordes of runners arranged themselves behind the starting line. Among them were Weinberg sophomore Nathan Daly and Communication sophomore Anna Rhoad. They are two of several Northwestern students who participated in the half marathon on May 16. After months of training together, it was finally time for the pair to test their endurance and undertake the 13.1-mile challenge.
The half marathon began at 7:00 a.m. For Daly, the first mile went really well. “I was actually ahead of my pace. You expect that to happen because you are kind of anxious about the race,” he says. But once he reached the third mile marker, his energy started to wane.
Each marker they passed felt like an accomplishment, but the feeling of encouragement was fleeting, as there were so many more miles to go. Reaching the 12-mile marker, though, was different. “I was just like you can do this. You can run a mile,” says Rhoad. “This is nothing!” Their friends were there near the end to cheer them on. “You’re a baller!” one yelled. “You’re an all-star!” screamed another.
By the last mile, Daly could barely feel his legs. “Once I get to that final stretch, my mind kind of goes blank. That’s when I speed up and I just don’t care anymore besides just staring at the clock.”
When he crossed the finish line, the clock read an hour and 31 minutes, several minutes better than the time he aimed for. Rhoad completed it in two hours and nine minutes. “It was just like the feeling that all the training got you there,” Rhoad says. “It was a big relief,” Daly adds.
Daly came in second in the 15 to 19-year-old age group. “I felt really accomplished and like the training did help me a lot. It was also great to have friends there that went through the entire preparation with me,” he says.
Weinberg sophomore Hayley MacMillen also dedicated herself to the rigorous training schedule. However, two weeks before the half marathon, she injured her foot during a 12.5-mile distance run. “I wanted to see if I could make it all the way downtown,” she says. “But I wasn’t technically supposed to run that far for my training.”
Her foot started to hurt, but she pushed herself to continue and made it to the Intercampus stop downtown. “It was the greatest feeling ever. The last few miles I seriously felt like I was about to collapse and then the skyline was coming closer.”
The injury, though, forced her to stop her training and drop out of the event. “Backing out is the worst feeling,” she says. “But getting into this showed me how much I loved running.” The distance she ran was almost as far as the half marathon itself. “I definitely proved to myself what I could do,” she says.