Chicago Half Marathon for 9/11

Earlier this week, I made the decision to take Amtrak out to Chicago for the weekend in order to run the Chicago Half Marathon.  This year, it happened to fall on 9/11/11- the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  Part of the decision was that Philly was flooding for the second time in 3 weeks and there was no way I was going to attempt 17-18 miles on a treadmill, even in 2 runs.  The Schulykill path is where I do most of my longer runs since it’s an 8.5 mile loop, but it ended up being closed off Wednesday with it reopening Friday at the earliest.  Anyways, I arrived after taking the Limited Capitol train to Chicago from DC on Friday morning and was able to drop my bags off at my 50% off hotel in the loop.  I headed over to an LA Fitness I found 2 blocks from my hotel (score!) to get a swim in since sitting for 17 hrs on a train isn’t the most exciting thing to do.  Afterwards, I headed out to Navy Pier to pick up my race stuff.  Score the Long Sleeve Tech shirt (see Friday’s post)!  However, wasn’t a fan of the packet pick up.  After almost a dozen half marathons, 2 marathons and some 10 Mile races, this is the first where if someone else was picking up your bib, they had to bring in a NOTARIZED Form saying it was alright for them to pick up your stuff.  I kid you not!  Want proof? Head over here.  Couldn’t you see this being a problem for people coming out of the country or who work long hours? I mean really.  The fact it was at Navy Pier was also an issue- it’s not necessarily the easiest place to get to, but I digress.  When I got there, the people handing out bibs looked like a bunch of High School students who had no idea what they were doing.  The guy in front of me nearly got a 5K shirt and I heard there were numerous problems with the volunteers giving runners other peoples’ bibs.  Giving the wrong bib to the wrong runner?  Part of it was the runner’s fault for not noticing this until they got home, but still.

While I was there, I signed up to take the shuttles they had from Millennium Park to Jackson Park just because they went straight there.  It seemed all find and dandy since they had multiple shuttles leaving at multiple times- until we got an email Saturday saying that most if not all shuttles would leave at 530 AM only. Lack of organization there.  Come race day, I was able to hop the shuttle (thank goodness I was only 2 blocks away) and arrived around 6:15-6:20.  I normally never check anything since I’ve learned to run with little or I’m in Philly or a surrounding area with my car, however, I brought a change of clothes since I had another 4-5 miles to run after the race.  I checked my bag and jumped into the porta potty line like any good runner should. I headed over to the corrals while the national anthem was playing and at 7 AM, we were off.  The first few miles were led by NYFD Engine 4 which was at Ground 0 on 9/11 and has since had some restoration work done to it (see yesterday’s post for pictures!).  During the first mile, there were bagpipers playing Amazing Grace which I thought was a nice touch.

The race overall was a rough one for me.  My legs were tired and I had to work out a sore calf muscle in my right leg.  I also felt sick the entire race because I took some advil which didn’t feel like it went down the entire way.  I got some motivation out of some signs on the course however.  Some of the better ones were:

  1. Hurry! There are Zombies behind you!
  2. Move your @$$ honey! (I apologize for anyone who doesn’t swear!)
  3. Running means making sacrifices. I decided to drink after the race instead of before the race.

The last few miles, the medics were getting busy as it started to get warmer out.  Some people were passing out on course or at the finish.  I appreciated the last mile when they were saying how much further you had left!  I some how made it across the finish and within seconds was dry heaving before getting sick on the sideline.  That is honestly a race first for me, but I had been trying to get whatever was stuck in my throat up the entire race.  Someone brought me water but I ended up fine in a minute or two.

After working my way through the finish area, I got some food, water and awesome medal, I headed over to pick up my bag.  Utter 1/2 Marathon Fail.  It took a good 20 minutes of me waiting in line to get it.  There seemed to be no system of how it was organized or who was looking for what.  After I finally got my stuff, I headed over to the Jack’s Fund tent, the charity I’m running for during the NYC Marathon, since they had a small group of 1/2 marathon runners.  I got some free hugs and met some of the other runners doing NYC in November and had the opportunity to talk with some of the organizers on why I chose Jack’s Fund and how I found them.  I got some free Pizza and headed towards the NYPD Engine 4 truck to get a few pictures and hopped the shuttle back to downtown and finish off my last 4 miles.   I have mixed feelings about this race.  Not quite sure if I’ll be back for it, but if anything, it was a good way to remember 9/11/01 and I got a decent long run out of it.  It also didn’t rain which was a change from Philadelphia.  Take it as you will, but this is how I spent remembering 9/11/01

Wordless Weekend 9/11 10 years later

Stain glass at Navy Pier

NYFD Engine 4, at Ground 0 on 9/11/01 and at the Chicago Half Marathon on 9/11/11

With NYFD 4

Welcome [Home] to Chicago!

Talk about spur of the moment.  Monday I decided to make a trip out to Chicago in order to run the Chicago Half Marathon on 9/11/11.  How do you pull this off you ask?

  1. Find a Schwaggle Deal that took $30 off the registration fee
  2. Book an overnight amtrak train from Philadelphia to Chicago (19 hrs in case you’re wondering) to save $220 that the airlines were asking for
  3. Book your hotel at and find a hotel for $113 a night (half off! originally $225 a night)

I needed to a) get out of Philadelphia and its second round of flooding and b) guarantee that I actually get a long run in this weekend more than like 10 miles.  We got in on time this morning, all though there was no wireless on the train (very obnoxious for the amount of time we spent on the train!).  After going to the gym for a swim, I headed to Navy Pier to pick up my stuff for Sunday.  Since I signed up 3 days ago, no name on my bib (which is no big deal), but I got a long sleeved tech shirt 🙂











Since the half takes place on 9/11, the organizers have made arrangements for NYFD Engine Rescue 4, which was at Ground 0 on 9/11, to lead runners through the first few miles of the race.  There’s also 2500+ flags placed throughout the course to remember those who lost their lives 10 years ago due to the terrorist attacks.  Runners are being asked to wear red, white and blue in order to show support for the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  Maybe some more race day surprises by race day organizers?  We’ll see!

The Man in the Red Bandana- Remembering 9/11

While at the gym Sunday morning, sportscenter was on one of the TVs.  After a commercial break, a segment came on that had also been on Outside The Lines about Welles Crowther.  Crowther grew up in upstate NY and from a young age, carried a red bandana.  He also played Lacrosse and Ice Hockey with a bandana under his helmets.  He went on to play lacrosse at Boston College and graduated in 1999.  He moved to NYC and took an equities job with  his office on the 104th floor of  WTC- the South Tower.  On 9/11, he was already at work when the American Airlines plane hit the North Tower at 8:46 AM.  He left a message for his mom and started heading down the stairs of the South Tower.  When the South Tower was hit at 9:02 AM, he began leading people down 17 flights of stairs from the 78th floor to safety.  After dropping a group of people off to firefighters, he went back up to the 78th floor to help injured workers.  He brought another group of people down and made at least one more trip up to help people before the South Tower collapsed.

The South Tower, though second to be hit, was the first to collapse.  Welles Crowther’s body was found 6 months later in the body of the WTC south building lobby with firefighters with his trademark red bandana.  Shortly before the 9/11 attack, Welles had told his parents he couldn’t imagine sitting in front of a computer screen all day.  He wanted to become a member of NYFD.  Even as a teenager, he had been a member of his town’s fire department as a Junior Fireman.  His parents began looking for people they he had helped on 9/11 for confirmation he had helped them.  In an article published after his body was found, a survivor had mentioned a man with a red bandana helping people in the south tower.  For his family, a sense of relief he was doing what he loved.  He is thought to have saved 12 people.  In 2006, NYFD made him a firefighter posthumously.  At BC, there is an annual red bandana 5K run in his honor and in the Nyack FD, there’s a picture of him by the exit so he’s the last person the FD sees before they leave.

It’s been 10 years since 9/11 and as we remember those who were lost, those who are serving our country overseas, and those who survived the terrorist attacks, take a moment and think about what you would have done if you were Welles. As the video asks, what would you do with the last hour of your life?  Take a minute and watch the video.  It’s well worth the 13 minutes and 30 seconds .

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