The Chicago Marathon was an amazing experience. Saturday runners walked the streets filled with anxiousness and excitement. It was infectious! I rolled into Chicago thinking this wasn’t a big deal. It was just another race, another state to check off my list. I wasn’t that amped up about the race, I was excited to meet the people of Team Healthy Kids! The Chicago Marathon was something deeper for me when I first arrived, but that’s a whole other blog post.
Before actually arriving, I took the experience for granted. I didn’t see it as a big deal, but it was. On the way to the expo I met William (and then I saw him many many times after that) from Dallas and this was his first marathon. He talked about with such passion and enthusiasm. That’s when things started to change for me. This one conversation with him changed my whole outlook.
I was tired because my flight came in late the night before. I was mad because I somehow made it to Chicago but my bad did not. I had to wake up early to get to Wal-Mart to get some new clothes to wear because all I had was my race day clothes. I did a great job of moving past it and really enjoying the day though, but there were moments when I couldn’t help but worry about getting my bag in time for the marathon.
The expo was huge. I love a good expo but this one had me overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to start and I definitely didn’t know where to end. I picked up my bib and took it all in for a few moments. It was crowded, it was loud but I was among people that wanted the same thing I wanted…to finish the marathon.
Leaving the expo, I randomly ran into Lauren from breathedeeplyandsmile.com (we met last year at Fitbloggin’) which made everything better. Lauren was on a mission. She missed her BQ last year by seconds and I know she didn’t want that to happen again. When I found her, she was nervous and cautious but I knew she was going to accomplish amazing things. I really hope I conveyed that to you Lauren (cause I know you’re reading this).
And that’s when it really started to set in with me, the Chicago Marathon is an experience. Spoiler alert: Lauren will always be able to say she BQed at the Chicago Marathon. William will say he ran his first marathon in Chicago. This is what dreams are made of and I was taking it for granted. It’s something most people will never get to experience. I’m one of those lucky people. I will NEVER take that for granted ever again. I work three jobs to be able to have these moments, so I need to realize the weight these experiences will have on the rest of my life.
I really took it all in and Sunday morning, I took it for what it was: one of those moments that will forever change my life.
I got there way too early but I’m glad I did. I met some nice people. Talked and laughed about running stuff and even pep-talked some first time marathoners and then I met Henry. Henry grew up in Chicago but moved to Dallas 45 years ago. He was running his second marathon which is also his second Chicago Marathon. We traded stories about training in the heat and running on the treadmill. We became fast buddies and ran the first 3 miles together. This is the moment that changed me. Henry is 80+ years old and running because it’s what he has left. He loves it! I spent a good 90 minutes with Henry in the corrals just talking. He brightened my day and he told me I brightened his too.
The day started off cold and windy. I was in wave 2 (Corral G) which started at 8:00am which was 30 minutes after Wave 1. I reached the start like at 8:21 am. That is why I had so much time to talk with Henry. It was cool at the start but I knew things were going to change. Running through downtown allowed for the shade which is my kind of running. Sun is my kryptonite and I was wearing a black shirt. It was so packed at the start it wasn’t really like running. I didn’t weave around anyone I just keep moving forward. I had no intention of breaking free. I wasn’t able to run at all last week because my knee was bothering me and I did everything in my power to make sure I could at least hobble through this marathon. I was in no rush!
The first half was great. I did make a stop at mile 7 and the lines were long so I had to wait a bit for that but I just kept going after that. There was a little side stitch thing that was kind of nagging me but I knew I would be at mile 14 soon enough so I could stop. At mile 14, I stopped at the Team Healthy Kids tent to put some vaseline on my feet because my shoes were starting to rub. I really need to get new shoes now. I talked to a lot of people and took some pictures. I was really in no hurry. By the way, these are the best streets to run on. No potholes!
Mile 15, I took to Facebook to get suggestions on how to stop my side stitch because it was getting worse. At mile 18, I called Willie looking for some inspiration…and then I started crying. I didn’t understand why it was so hard for me. Willie talked me through it and I hung up the phone. From that moment on, I was fine. Yes it was windy and it was sunny but I pushed through it. Nothing bothered me at that point. The streets were always lined with people wanting to give you high fives and words of encouragement. I’ve never run a race where there was a constant stream of support the entire time. It was amazing. It was encouraging. It was what I needed. I had a great time from mile 18 -26.2.
Look how salty I was at the end of the race. My electrolytes were out of whack during this race. I should have drank more Nuun, right? I won’t make that mistake again. I pretty sure that’s why I was side stitching so bad.
That is the reason I love marathoning. I want to show people the things they thought were impossible are possible if you work for them. I never thought I would run down the block and now I run marathons for fun. I run to show what great satisfaction comes from living a healthier life.. I run to inspire others to take control of their health. I run because I can and never thought that I would. I finished the marathon in 5:45 and can say I sprinted to the end. It was no where near my fastest marathon but that’s ok. I gained so much more from this experience.
With every marathon I learn a little more about myself. I learn to love myself a little bit more. I went to Chicago by myself. I laughed. I cried. I talked to people. I ACTUALLY talked to people and wasn’t afraid and didn’t shy away. If you know even the slightest bit about me, you kind of know that isn’t me. My Quest is changing me for the better and that’s why I started the journey and the Quest is changing into something bigger and better. The Chicago Marathon has changed me and I’m grateful. State #12 has been tackled and marathon #28 is complete!
And by the way, I bumped into new friend William about 4 random times on my trip. I even spotted him yesterday at the airport. We were on the same flight home. I think we both agreed, that means were destined to be friends. I’ll see him again in two weeks at Ragnar!
Also, I’ll be blogging more about my actual trip to Chicago on my other blog Road To Wonder. Stay tuned.