I did it. I finished the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. It took much longer than I anticipated. My legs were tight early on and I knew I was in trouble as early as mile 6. Because I'd run marathons before, many with heavy leg cramps for 6-8 miles, I knew what was happening and remained calm as a result. I saw my sister and my nephew at mile 15, which was awesome, and the wonderful sign that they made. As I was talking to my sister during our short visit, I considered calling it a day and going back to the hotel. It was a brief consideration, but it was a very real one. Not because I didn't think I was able to do it. I knew I could. But because I wasn't sure if I wanted to go another 11 miles with cramps. It would entail running, walking, stopping and stretching - and I knew it would be brutally slow. But at some point, I decided to go for it. I knew I could finish it. I had to finish it. So that is what I did. It was a beautiful day in Chicago, temperatures hovering around 70 for a high, and the sun was shining bright. I talked to so many different people along the way - fellow runners, volunteers, spectators - it was a real sense of community. As slow as I was going, there were people roadside cheering for us all the way through. It was a great boost. Oh, and my cousin Chris was right around the bend just before mile 26 rooting me on. He was texting me words of support and encouragement from about mile 20 on. It was so important to be able to see some familiar faces along the way. My sister, nephew and cousin provided me with a tremendous boost. My fellow runners who made the trek to Chicago with me were also a source of encouragement. Just knowing there are others doing it with you, regardless of the amount of time it took them, was another boost.
I was unable to do all of the training due to balky knees, only doing the long runs. I didn't even do all of the long runs - only the ones where the distance increased. I didn't do any cross training or strength training. To say that I didn't train much would be pretty accurate. I did what I could to make it to race day. Clearly, it wasn't enough. I had it in my head that I could do this marathon in 5:30. But my body had other ideas.
It was not stressful. It wasn't disappointing, really, other than for a fleeting moment. I was pleased that I was able to complete the race again. It was a good weekend spent with great people (Steve, Nancy, Trevor, Kathleen, Henry and Chris). I made it 26.2, no matter how slow. I ate my way through Chicago, which running that distance affords you the right to do.
Will I do another marathon? Never say never. Stay tuned.
Thanks for all of the support and encouraging words. They meant alot.
Have a great day!