I don’t even know where to begin with this recap. So many great memories fill my thoughts about this weekend in Chicago. I also apologize up front for the length that this post may be. So much excitement and anticipation for this race I’ve had ever since deciding I was going to run a marathon. Please bear with me, and I understand if you do not read the entire post. I guess I would like to first start off by thanking the City of Chicago and the race organizers, officials, security, volunteers, and last but certainly not least THE WONDERFUL SPECTATORS!!
I’ll start from the beginning upon arriving in Chicago Saturday afternoon. (Next time I run this race, I will arrive in Chicago on Friday. More on that soon.) It officially set in that I would be running in one of the World Majors when Karen and I pulled into the McCormick Place Parking Garage. I just looked over at her after we parked and very loudly said, “I’M ABOUT TO RUN THE CHICAGO MARATHON!!” The look on her face was priceless. Shocked because she was not expecting that so loud in such a small space, but also the look of excitement for me, and happiness to be there sharing it with me. As we walked into the expo hall, there were people everywhere! It was seriously like when we went to the Chicago Auto Show a few years back. What was different this time was the fact that all of these folks were runners or with someone who would be running the race the next day. The expo was incredible with so many vendors, we were unable to see them all due to the time we had. That’s where I come in with next time arriving on Friday to be able to soak more of this experience in. Our first stop of course was over to the Saucony booth to find some strong. The whole time walking through the expo I kept wondering , “I really wish Saucony sponsored the race so I could have a Chicago Marathon Saucony shirt.” Low and behold I was given one!! An official Find Your Strong Chicago T-Shirt! How incredibly cool it was to receive that Tee!! Thank you Brian and the rest of the Saucony crew at the expo! Now to the race.
The atmosphere arriving downtown was amazing. Still dark outside, as we took our exit to head towards the parking garage, the streets were still pretty deserted. I made me begin to wonder if I had left too early, but I was quickly corrected by time we arrived to take our turn onto Michigan Ave. It was a very familiar scene. People walking towards Grant Park in huge packs. From runners to spectators, I was actually living in the pre-race scene of Spirit of the Marathon. At this moment, my nerves are on full alert and all I hear running in my mind is the theme music from my favorite running movie ever!
My wife and I went to our friends Mary & Ricky’s hotel room for final prep and to all walk down together for the race. Upon getting into Grant Park, it was time for one final bathroom stop and off to my start corral I went giving Karen a kiss goodbye and telling her that I would see her somewhere along the route. As I settled into the corral, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of others that were just as excited as I was to be running in such an event. It was like being in the crowd at a concert. We could here an emcee pumping up the crowd asking all of us if we were ready to run this race with all of us giving back an enthusiastic “YEAH!!”. Shortly there after, we begin to move forward. Where we were standing, we can now finally see the starting line and I’m not sure about everyone else, but my heart started pumping hard at this point.
I finally pass the start line and it’s officially started. All of the views of the city are so awesome. I can’t shake the feeling of running the streets of this city. As I look around, I quickly discover that the crowd spectating is non-stop! I was wondering if this crowd would continue throughout the race and it certainly did not let up one bit. As you can see in the pictures section of the race, this crowd was everywhere! Then there were the signs that people made. What a way to stay entertained as we ran this race and kept the time going along. At some points, these crowd were down right defining to the point where I could not hear my music from my headphones. WHAT A RUSH!!
One of the other areas of this race that was different than anything else I’ve ever experienced was the Gatorade/water stations. Each one created a PURE PARTY ATMOSPHERE at every 1.5 miles. This was an area that I was looking forward to seeing two weeks before, not because of the atmosphere or water and Gatorade. But in Omaha, I was looking forward to these stations, because it seemed like the only place where I would see people that were somewhat enthusiastic about the runners. Not here though! I was looking forward to them for the party! Live DJs at every station with great music playing was what provided me with that extra boost of energy that I looked forward to coming up on at every stop. I can easily say that due to these stops, I don’t recall hitting “The Wall” in this marathon. Now I’m not going to say that I didn’t go through that wall feeling, because I definitely did. It’s funny what this distance does to your mind and body. It happen in Omaha, and twice here in Chicago. Yes I can say that I came to tears in both races and I know for sure it is going to happen again this weekend in Kansas City. There’s just certain points where you just breakdown. I cannot describe what it is, it just happens. This Saturday I know for a fact that it will be the most emotional of the three races. So many people that will be attending that mean so much to me, I know for a fact that it’s going to be an emotional event. To me that’s quite alright though! To have all of these people there cheering me on and witnessing my achievement will mean so much to me, that in the end, it’s the only thing that matters.
It all kicks off Friday when I get the chance to see my best friend from high school and after. An unbelievable 17 years have past since I have seen Julie, and I can’t wait to catch back up! I’ll feel like I have ran a race from the long winded talking I’ll be doing just making up for the lost time. 🙂 To then see her on the course, will bring back memories from that day in May 1991 when I won the Nebraska State Championship in the 400m run and there she was working the track meet holding the finish line tape. So great to come full circle! It’s also going to be amazing to see Nichole and Jenny for the first time in 11 years. These two were so monumental in being there for me during my last days in the hospital along with when I was released. I wouldn’t have it any other way than for everyone to be there at the end of my journey to share with. My friends and Family will be right there for me to cross that finish line waiting to witness that medal getting placed around my neck. I can’t wait to look at everyone and say “I DID IT!!” And at that point, I will hug everyone one of them and the tears of joy will come down in the happiest of times!
As I end this post, I want to take this moment and congratulate my new friend and fellow FitFluential Ambassador Lisa for completing her first full marathon!! Also make sure to read her AWESOME blog RunFastMama. CONGRATS LISA!! And welcome to “The Marathoner Club”, it’s an honor to have you in the club. Take care of that foot and I can’t wait to hear about the 2013 WDW Goofy Challenge!
And with that being said, as I prepare for my final race and party, I’ll leave you with one last memory from what was the GREAT 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon!! I highly recommend this run to anyone who is looking at running just one marathon, or if you are looking for a fun marathon to run. You will not be disappointed. So much fun! And now to my favorite Gatorade/water station in the history of me running races…
I will check back in before Saturday’s race. Be sure to check out the pics from Chicago. Parts one and now TWO!
FIND YOUR STRONG!!!