Another marathon under my belt. It was a tough one, hot but enjoyable -kinda. 45,000 runners and 1.5 million spectators is a sight I won't soon forget. And Chicago is an absolutely gorgeous city. The best sign?
A marathon is 26.2 miles, not 26.3. Now THAT would be crazy!
It seemed funny at the time, as I approached mile 26. It doesn't have the same zing now as it did. I guess you had to be there drenched in blood, sweat, and tears, to get the gallows humour. Laughing between the tears so to speak.
I joined up with John, Bernie, Vivian, and Sandra at about 5:30 AM and, after several visits to the porta-potties, we had a strategy session. Because of the unexpected heat and humidity we decided not to run 12 and 1's and instead, run continuously and walk through water stations. I was nervous about changing strategies at this late stage, but what the heck, it's important to trust the wisdom of the group.
We started out strong, but perhaps a little faster than I wanted. By mile 10 I was really feeling the heat. Seriously feeling the heat. I could feel my heart working hard, too hard. My breathing was laboured. Negative thoughts were creeping into my brain. I stayed with the group for about another two miles and then, at a water break, I pulled out telling them I'm ok, I just need to dial it down a bit. I was alone among thousands, but confidant that alone, I would finish
I decided to revert back to the original 12 &1 strategy, but it was too late. I was bonking fast. I could feel the energy seep from my muscles, and my heart was working too hard. I hadn't bargained on the heat. I was letting negative energy creep in and when that happens, it's game over. I fought to choke it down, to remain positive, to accept that this one was for the experience. I started feeling better, my attitude was improving but by this time I was so close to hitting the wall it was scary. The 12 &1's turned to 10 & 1's, then to 8 & 1's, then to 5 & 1's.. and then the dreaded walks. Walk 1 minute, run 30 seconds. What happened! Forcing myself to run; remembering how I trained my students to run to one lamp post and walk to the next. this is what got me across the line, basic focusing, sheer determination, and stamina.
I saw the Eiffel Tower Man about 100 meters ahead of me. I remember thinking "I'll be dammed if I'll let a dude in an Eiffel Tower costume beat me and then laughing at the absurdity of running a marathon in that get-up. I picked up the pace and ran along side of him for a couple of kilometers. I passed him and told him what an inspiration he was. He smiled and said "bon chance". I never saw him again. I was hoping to thank him at the finish line. Hope he made it.
It wasn't pretty, I choked a bit as I crossed the line but I did it, and no one can ever take it away from me. I got the medal and tee-shirt to prove it! I RAN the Chicago Marathon on 10-10-10!
Another slow dance. Another good day to be alive.
By the way. I just cracked 1000 miles today. I'm hoping to beat my record of 1260 by the end of December.
Run like no one is watching,