So last week was heavy. Really heavy. It seems every time I do a marathon I welcome life right in. It’s like it screams “this is not about running!” every single time. There is always more to my marathon stories than a finishing time(thank you Jesus, because those aren’t exactly working in my favor anyway).
So last week, for those of you who don’t know, my training partner and friend lost her dad suddenly. She decided not to come to Chicago, which I don’t blame her for at all. However, I still needed to go run. So, a sweet friend offered to make the trip with me, and after standing at the finish line for all of eternity waiting for me and watching all these idiots fumbling across the line hardly able to walk, she will never be the same again. One of the many miracles of the weekend is that Tammy said it gave her a bug to maybe run a half. We, in all our chafing and limping and blistering, may have won her over. Nice job runner’s.
Tammy might never be the same again. But bless her. She made this trip what it was. It would have been so depressing and sad without her!!! So a big thank you friend. Catching cabs and dodging crazies on the train and eating all the food and buying all the souvenir’s would have been so boring and depressing without you.
Anyway, last week it seemed like everyone around me was hurting. Life gets hard sometimes and takes no prisoners. When it rains, it seems to pour. So, I had planned a good long healthy ugly cry as soon as I crossed the finish line. Until then, it was race mode(which for me was basically finish at this point. My body is done with all this mileage for a while and I was way under trained going into this). Anyway, I went in with one goal in mind: ENJOY the journey. I spent my last two marathons in misery. Last year, at mile 14, I was a running emotional disaster. I saw Rob and the boys and came completely unhinged. I had set a time goal of 4:15, that according to my training I was more than prepared to make. And it all fell apart. I was so hard on myself and I still can’t figure out why. It’s a marathon people. Just surviving training and getting to the starting line is an accomplishment.
So, you could say I flew out of Dallas heavy-hearted for my people and struggling to really focus on fun, the only thing I really wanted to be able to do. The other thing I had prayed for in regards to Chicago was that God would give me such a good race mentally and physically that I’d be able to encourage Candace(this is when I thought she would be running). I knew I needed enough for both of us, especially when I thought she’d run after losing her dad. I knew I needed to be runner and coach, and based on my last two marathons, I had no idea how I was going to swing that. When your own wheels are coming off, it’s really hard to encourage someone else. So, have fun and have enough to give away. That’s all I wanted.
We flew out early Saturday morning and headed straight to the hotel to check in so we could get to the Expo. Running gear was waiting to be purchased.
We hit the expo where I bought more Run Chicago 2015 gear than any one person needs and took pics and drug Tammy through the sea of crazy runner’s. Why we pay to get a free shirt then decide to pay for more apparel that all says the same thing is beyond me. But I did my damage and I’m proud of my long sleeve technical tee and new hoodie. And my finisher shirt that I had to PURCHASE. That’s right. My only beef with Chicago is that our official race shirts look no different from anything else at the expo. Seriously. We ran 26.2 miles. Give us a shirt that says finisher. They hit the Nike store Sunday afternoon, so because I’m a total freak show, I bought one just like everyone else. Moving on.
We were both starving so we went and found a lunch spot, thanks in part to Yelp and all the hungry runner’s we followed from the Expo. This was totally my jam.
Turkey burger heaven. And those potato wedges. You guys. They were amazing. We walked a bit, then caught a cab and headed back to the hotel to crawl in bed. That’s right. We set our alarms for 30 minutes and got UNDER THE COVERS. At 4pm. On a Saturday. It was like a dream. I was too amped to sleep but it just felt nice to have some peace and quiet with no one asking for chocolate milk or strangling a sister or running in and out of my kitchen for popsicle’s(I know I know, one day I’ll miss that blah blah blah).
We decided to eat dinner in the restaurant attached to the hotel. They had pasta. And bread. Enough said.
I loaded up on my carbs and we headed out to get my bearings for race day. I had to figure out how to navigate the Subway to get to the hotel where the St. Jude hero’s team was meeting before the race, and for this non-city gal that’s a big deal. But you guys, we owned that red line. We were pro’s by Sunday.
We walked around a bit then headed back to the hotel so I could get all my stuff laid out. I get nervous the night before a big race and didn’t anticipate sleeping much. But I knew if I could get to sleep quickly I’d catch a few hours before my brain woke me up at 3am terrified of missing my alarm. Because that’s the fear on race day. Sleeping in.
I laid everything out and climbed in bed, which by the way, to the Embassy Suites Downtown Chicago…your beds FAR exceeded my expectations. OMG. They were heaven on earth.
I woke up around 4am and never went back to sleep. I got up, showered and got all my stuff together to walk out the door by 5:45. I headed to the Subway with all of the other runner’s. Race day is a funny thing. Pre-race it’s quiet and focussed. Mind’s are full. Thinking about the journey to this point, all the miles put in and sacrifices made, how will the race go, will my body do what I need it to, what will it feel like to cross the finish line which seems like an eternity away. Lots of thoughts. So the train was quiet.
Runner’s were EVERYWHERE. I’ve never seen so many runner’s in one place. I got to the hotel near the Start where St. Jude was set up. They absolutely went above and beyond. I can not talk about this day without talking about St. Jude. They were inspiring and organized and encouraging. Like we were their kids and they were sending us off to our first day of Kindergarten. They were amazing.
I sat and talked with other runner’s. Some injured hoping to survive, some with big time goals, some battling cancer themselves, some just hoping to finish their first marathons, some seasoned veterans. I think that’s one of the beauties of this sport. The commradery. Come race day you are all idiots together. You’re out there running and pushing your body to it’s limits, as our race announcer kept reminding us, with 45,000 of your closest friends. It’s true. You aren’t alone. You have each other. You pee in ally’s and rub vaseline all over your body in front of God and all of Chicago, but you do it as a team.
It’s an amazing feeling to be part of it. So, we sat and chatted and took a group pic. We had clean bathroom’s instead of nasty porta potties which was absolutely a God send. Then, they walked us to our coral’s where we then proceeded to stand for another hour. TORTURE! It was the walk to the Gate that started my day. It set a tone. I was in awe. Sort of amazed at the grandeur of the city, the buildings, the PEOPLE. You guys. So many people. All there for us.
As I was walking and taking it all in, feeling relaxed and ready to totally enjoy this marathon, I saw my first tearful friend of the day and it was as if God said here you go, this is why you’re here. And so it began…….
Part 2, the Race, will be up tomorrow so stay tuned friends..
What’s your favorite thing about race day? Do you sleep well or stay up all night? Nervous energy or flat out emotional?