My Chicago Marathon - 10/10/10
I was happy that we got to bed at a decent time -- dinner was fabulous and I was like a kid at Christmas, thinking the earlier to bed, the earlier to rise and then I can enjoy my presents! OK - maybe not the best analogy but definitely anxious for the day to begin. This marathon created less performance pressure because of my cancer and more focused on the fun and the completion-- so I was smiling and happy - knowing just crossing the finish line for me in Chicago would be an amazing success story in itself.
Palmer House, Chicago, IL (love this artsy shot with the side lighting of the sign) :)
I sent a text to Cara (aka: BatGirl) first thing in the morning to make sure she wasn't going to be late as Charlie had me all worried that she may be, but he kept her right in line with the time frame and they walked from their hotel to ours in the morning. I couldn't find my glide, but finally did and covered my upper body where I normally get chaffed - crazy as it sounds, my skin is so sensitive, I really need glide every race. Steve and I hit the lobby Starbucks for some great french roast coffee and I finished a croissant for a little carbo boost for breakfast. No craziness for food in the morning for me, need to keep it simple so my body doesn't go crazy later! Plenty of water and then we met Cara & Charlie and family outside the Palmer House. We were quite the crew. As I waited for Cara people walked by on the way to the start and commented "nice outfit" -- it was funny because we really look better together as they "Dynamic Duo". Love the capes! We decided we could handle the string and wear them the whole way because the look SO good! My outfit was a little tight, but I really love the look -- so much fun once you get the suit on, I felt like a Super Hero! Aren't we cute?! The "pirate hat worked (I honestly think having that hat has been a great disguise, so much that people don't even realize I am in chemotherapy. Or least I don't think they can tell.... :)
We walked to the Elite corrals - Charlie was in Elite A and Cara & I (with David - who we met later) were in Elite B. We wanted to be sure we were entering right as the time for the start was approaching quickly. A few more photos as a group and we were on our way. Steve is just so amazing, he was the tour guide, coordinator for the group to get around on the L and view the course, hoping to catch us with my camera along the course. His energy and love I count on every minute, every mile.... I love this photo of us together, he is my incredibly fit, gorgeous husband, and a balanced calming nature -- I love & appreciate him so much.
So we made it to this space and had to wait. You see the three of us below - well we waited for at least 15 minutes. I was getting a little nervous, but they finally let us and and it was smooth sailing from there. People did try to climb the fence and they were immediately booted. There were 45,000 people on that starting line in the different corrals.... it was pretty crazy! We headed to the B corral, and said good luck and good bye to Charlie (he was hoping for a sub 3 hour marathon!). It was truly fun how everyone commented and loved our costumes.... we smiled and waved and posed for photos- even in the start corral, racers pulled out their cameras and asked us if we would flank them for a photo. SO much fun right from the start. :)
And here we are after we met up with David PIttman in Elite Coral B(LINK to his story on Chicago HERE)-- we all ran together in the beginning -- Cara and I chatting along and David just smiling!
The ACS DetermiNation Dream Team was rocking Chicago!
Now a mile by mile recap! Here is my post on Daily Mile to see the course and the Garmin entry of pace and more!
At mile 21 we stopped to say hi to Charlie's mom & sis, get a "WOOT WOOT!" from Mama T - and a HUGE hug from my sweet husband Steve to feel the energy and love our our families ! Steve was so great to snap all these super photos of our adventure!
Off we go! The Dynamic Duo - making the city safe one mile at a time. It was pretty funny as this is what we commented to any of the police officers on the side of the course. It brought a smile to their face as they applauded our efforts. Cara continued to let them know that I was the real super hero - still in treatment and running strong..... Her admiration, and confidence in me gave me strength!
Off we go to finish the race. It has been said that the race begins at mile 20-22. So as you can imagine with all the adrenaline gone and the body using up its energy that this is a point where you just need to dig deep. We walked for quite a while it seemed right around mile 22 and drank a TON of water. Each water stop I poured water over my head and in my face to cool off and add hydration to my body. Walking was ok, but my legs were cramping up.
Crazy - but we stopped at medical to use a Biofreeze (Bengay type product) to soothe the muscles. The next stop I went to use another and Cara grabbed an extra. The medical folks warned us that there was only enough for one per runner.... Cara wasn't too happy with that and let them know I was in chemotherapy and that they really should make an exception. :) She ended up using one for herself and gave it to me. :) I showed them my bald head - first time exposing it! They were impressed. :)
When I stopped for the Port-a-pottie again, my calves cramped big time, so much I needed to stop and stretch. I grabbed bananas and had paced out my 3 GU along the course for energy and ate oranges that were offered as well, hoping to help the cramping. Once we got to 24 - I said to Cara... "let's just finish this thing!" She replied "I can do that- let's go!" I asked her if we could make the 4 hour goal and she said we could.... so then I just began to dig deep -- it was easier to run than walk, the cramping started to subside at least for the time being. This is when all the interesting food comes out and there were people with signs that read "Dig Deep - You're Almost There", "Smile if your Horny" and "They ran out of Beer at the finish" - we smiled as people cheered us on and we saw the same groups more than once (I remember specifically the Frog Umbrella people" and the girls with all their costumes and make up! ;) We had fans following us EVERYWHERE on the course. :)
We ran those last 2 miles without walking - a 10 1/2 and a 9 min/mile --- it felt a lot faster than that. Best part we crossed the line with a minute or 2 to spare in making that 4 hour goal. I was elated. It was overwhelming and tears came to my eyes. I did it. I just ran 26.2 miles - in under 4 hours, which is a BQ (Boston qualifier) and I am in the middle of chemotherapy! Any doubters out there are now hushed. It was an amazing accomplishment for me - one I will never ever forget. Spiritually I felt connected and empowered by strength from above. The skies were shining on me!
We got our medal, got a mylar blanket, and headed to the food / water/ gatorade and finisher photos. Charlie found us and walked with us through the volunteers and got our free beer (which I of course couldn't drink because it just doesn't taste that great with the drugs in my body). It was a little tough stepping up on the curbs and walking, but we headed to see our families at the meeting area. Once I saw Steve I was relieved and overjoyed. He hugged me and held me and was so proud. SO was I. I was pretty tired, not real talkative, a bit worn out - my feet hurt (maybe a bit blistered) and I was definitely a little fuzzy! But I was still smiling, so much that my mouth hurt!
The toughest marathon ever?
Yes indeed it was in so many ways both physical and mental. - and now I can write about it and share my strength and joy with all of you!
Next: Post Race - "The DetermiNation Experience"