So, two weeks ago, I ran my second marathon. Tomorrow, I plan to lace my running shoes on to start running again; I really wanted to get this post done before I ended my post-marathon hiatus from running, and in true procrastinator form, I ended up waiting until now to get this done.
Which isn’t a bad thing. My perspective on the race and on running, in general has swayed from various extremes in the days following this year’s Chicago Marathon. Having a couple weeks to sort through the desire to give up running for good to seriously considering a November marathon and then settling somewhere back in the middle before making my thoughts public has probably been a good thing.
And so, I’m thinking this post will take on two parts: 1 – Recap- I’ll just run you through the experience of my second marathon. (We’ll probably have to walk a little in the later miles.) 2 – Reflect — I’ll share what I consider to be my key life lesson(s) learned from this experience.
And so, the recap, including some of the highlights leading up to the race:
The expo. I love the pre-race expo at McCormick Place. I love the hype. I love the anticipation. I love the free samples🙂 From last year’s experience, my boys love going to the expo, too. And so, we went down early Friday afternoon, picked up my bib, goodie bag, and shirt and made a few loops through the expo hall.
A couple expo highlights: 1) I signed up for a pace team (mostly so I could get the mile split-times tattoo); I didn’t do this last year and I knew this tattoo would be much more reliable than my gps watch had been in my first marathon.
2) I saw Ultramarathon Man, Dean Karnazes. He was making an appearance at the Volkswagen booth. People were lining up for a chance to meet him. I just stole a pic with my phone. (His documentary where he runs 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days in each of the 50 states is worth watching!)
3) The coolest part of the expo was when Gabe insisted that we wait in line at the Hall Steps Foundation booth so he could ask Ryan Hall to sign his cast. (I ran with this foundation for my first marathon last year and through it came to really admire the faith of Ryan and his wife, Sara, also a world-class runner). So we waited in line and, sure enough, Gabe got his cast autographed by Ryan.
I think I could have hung out at the expo all afternoon, just soaking in the pre-marathon excitement (and free samples), but the boys were ready to hit the road, so we made our way back to the car. On our way out, Gabe said,” Bye, expo. See you next year!” And like that, a tradition has been established.
Race day. I set my alarm for 4am. In the weeks leading up to the race, I had a recurring nightmare where I overslept on race morning and arrived at the start line too late. This wasn’t actually a problem in real life. As is common, I would figure, for most marathoners, the night before the big day does not provide for very restful sleep. I woke up ready to go at midnight but was able to sneak in a few more hours of anxious sleep until I woke up at 3:45 and decided to get moving.
The Green Line started at 5:30, so my friend, Vic, who was running his first marathon, met me at my house at 5:15 and we walked to catch the first train downtown. I wore a track jacket, but it was probably already 60 degrees outside, so I think I stuffed it into my backpack pretty early on.
I wasn’t nervous this year as I had been last year; this year was a lot more about feeling excited. I had trained faithfully through the summer, only missing two runs, and I knew what to expect with the course. Mentally, my strategy was to just take it all in, to enjoy the experience. Instead of focusing on how far I was from the finish line throughout the course, my mantra would be “This moment is a gift.” I even planned to run at least the first half without listening to my music, opting to listen to the cheering crowds and enjoying the mismatched patches of music that would be playing as I ran through various neighborhoods.
I wrote “Order my steps” on my (4th) pair of Asics 2150’s, along with “Psalm 37:23-24” which says,
23 The LORD makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
Leading up to and through this marathon, my family and I are in the midst of a season of transition. My biggest fear in this transition, which is mostly related to taking steps toward change in my career, is that I’d be taking steps out of fear or out of my own rashness rather than out of God’s wisdom and desire for our lives. And so, when I wrote “Order my steps” on my shoes, it was really to reflect my prayer for this season of our lives.
But I digress.
As Vic and I walked from the Roosevelt Green Line stop, we ran into my friend and mentor, Tim on our walk toward Charity Village and the Team World Vision tent. The three of us walked up that notorious hill at Roosevelt and Michigan Ave, past the “26 Mile” marker, past the marathon course’s last turn onto Columbus, and over into Charity Village. I hoped that the next time I went up that hill, I’d be chasing down a 4 hour finish, spent, but proud of my accomplishment and thrilled with the achievement of a goal for which I’ve striven over these past two years. But for now, we had the pre-race pep rally with Team World Vision.
There were somewhere around 1000 Team World Vision runners for this year’s Chicago Marathon. (It’s the LARGEST charity team in the race…Even got featured this year in all of the official marathon publicity.) I was so glad when I got to see Linda, one of the only other Team World Vision runners that I knew before the race. Linda volunteers at Circle as a tutor. She drives in to the west side from Naperville twice a week to help our high school kids out with math. She is such a great person. So it really made my morning to get to see her before the start.
We had a team prayer in the tent and then went out onto a field for a team photo. And from there, we headed to the Start.
Vic is a fast runner. In fact, he qualified for a special corral for fast runners for this race. But he was feeling a little congested leading up to race day and decided to just head to the open corral with me. I welcomed the opportunity to get to run with Vic. We’d run a handful of long training runs together and he really pulled me along with his faster pace, and I welcomed the thought of this added pull and camaraderie on race day.
So we got into the open corral, found a nice spot to sit in front of the 4 hour pace group, and awaited the 7:30 start. (I took this picture while I was sitting there but decided to not take any more in order to conserve my phone’s battery.)
And that’s where I’ll have to leave off for this first post.