To Prove To Myself I Can
October 12, 2014 … How did I ever get to this day? Seems like a simple question at first, since it’s just a date on a calendar and just 150 days after April 14, 2014. Why are these dates of any significance to anyone? They are the dates that I signed up for the journey that lay ahead and the day I ran my first Chicago Marathon.
I truly believe that a marathon is not a race, it is a journey that completes on Race Day. When you talk to others who have completed the 26.2 miles, you will find some who relish in the day alone and don’t love the training but do it because it gets them to their goal of Race Day. For me Race Day approached and it was bittersweet, for I have truly loved every one of the last 150 days of final preparation. Because everyone knows that the start of preparing for your first marathon starts long before you sign up for it. It starts with the dream, the possibility of a marathon. I called it my impossible dream.
Seriously, 26.2 miles is a long way and at times can seem impossible to accomplish. But Coach Suzy was there, as my Personal Coach, guiding and reassuring, with her training plan built for me and my journey. I swear at times I thought she even gave my husband Chad some kind of script, because as the training runs got longer, the time away from the rest of my life increased, and self doubt and worry crept in, he was there repeating the same words I had heard many times from Coach Suzy. “Trust your training!” When the time away from family and friends weighs on you and the self-doubt creeps in, that leads to the question of why do you choose to run 26.2 miles? For the 41,000 plus running on October 12, 2014, I am sure there are 41,000 plus personal answers. For me it boils down to really a simple answer: to prove to myself I can.
I am very grateful that my training was uneventful, and I was lucky to have no significant injuries or setbacks. First goal of marathon training is to get to the start line healthy. Race Day was finally here, taper crazies behind me, and 26.2 miles ahead of me. At this point of any new race distance I am usually a bundle of nerves that can’t be consoled (seriously, ask Chilly and Coach Jim about Lake Zurich). October 12 was a much different start line; I actually slept fairly well Saturday night – at least four hours straight. I approached the starting corral and I was calm, no self doubt, and only one worry: how would I react when that dreaded WALL reared its ugly head? Would I have what it takes to keep moving and keep my goal, or would the pain over take me, slow me down, or worse, stop me? I never really doubted I would finish, I only doubted that it would count. You see, I often laugh and recite a quote I saw on Facebook, “I may be as slow as a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, but I run.” Unfortunately there is a course cutoff time and for us turtles, there is the possibility of not having our efforts recorded.
At 8:25 AM I started running, and running and running. In what seemed like no time at all I was at mile two for my first dose of the world famous ET Cheer Crew, then I was in Lincoln Park and Boys Town. The miles went by and before I knew it, I was back at mile 13 and got a great push off from the ET Cheer Crew. Talk about confidence building! The little pep talk Coach Suzy gave me was perfect, just what I needed for reassurance that I was executing the plan perfectly. I knew the next 12 miles I was on my own, the next time I would see the ET Cheer Crew was with one mile to go. There are a lot of things that can go wrong from mile 13 to mile 25.2. That WALL was there somewhere, problem is no one can tell you where. Was it mile 17? Nope, that is when I received an unexpected shot of confidence from Karry and Chad. Wow, I just about started crying. You see, Karry had run this race in 2012, she knew how lonely this stretch could be, and being the big sister that she is, she wanted to make sure I knew I wasn’t alone. Ok so still no WALL at 17, ok maybe mile 18 or 20, 20 is a number I hear people talk about a lot when they are discussing the WALL. It was at that point I saw one of my three favorite signs of the day:
“The first 20 miles is all training, the last 6.2 is all heart.”
Alright 6.2 miles more to go, yep that WALL is somewhere, it’s waiting for me, but where? I was slowing down, my 5/1 run walk intervals had turned into more like 2/1 and the pain was creeping in, the legs were sore, the body was getting tired. My mind on the other hand was still having a blast, but this “Run Happy” couldn’t last, could it? Then I saw the next of my favorite signs of the day:
“There will come a day when you can no longer do this. Today is NOT that day.”
I noticed this one along Michigan Avenue … wait, isn’t Michigan Avenue the home stretch? Before I knew it mile 25.2 was upon me; the body was exhausted to a point I never knew could exist, but yet no WALL? It was at this point I knew the finish was within my grasp; I would finish and I would get an official course time. I would be a Marathon Runner. That is when I saw it, my favorite sign of the day:
There it was. Of course a few tears were shed, and yet I’m still not sure if they were just from the joy of crossing that line. I did finally find the WALL. I met it at the Art Institute along with Chad and Karry before heading back to the Condo to get my ice bath. I shook its hand and said, “Nice to meet you. Now that I know what you are, I no longer fear you” and kept moving. My Impossible Dream, Made Possible.
Enjoy all the pictures from our day at the Chicago Marathon on the ET Photo Gallery!