Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Chicago Marathon

Race organizers were just not ready for this one, in spite of the warnings they were emailing us. Nonetheless, I had a pretty good time there.

Spent Saturday working the expo in the afternoon, then FINALLY managed to get to a brewery in Illinois and collect a beer glass from that state. Paul Ruesch, my best traveling buddy. and I spent the evening at the Goose Island Brewery, eating some wings, a light dinner, and watching the Cubs finish getting swept out of the playoffs.

Sunday I was a pacer for the marathon. Christina and Pauley, my local training partners, Randi Lass, and I were the 5:15 pace team leaders. (NO!! That DOES NOT mean 5 minutes and 15 seconds per mile!) We started off with a group of around 100 others who would try to finish the course in 5:15, our mission to stay on pace and encourage/help them along the way. Good intentions.

We were really close to our pace all the way, adjusting a little after each mile as we needed to stay on. Big problem though. It was in the high 70s when we started and just got worse from there, and by the time we made the aid stations the water was mostly gone. COMPLETLY gone at the second one. This is just not good for such a hot day, especially when we were trying to help fairly new marathoners finish their race.

We separated a little bit, but I kepe Pauley and Christina in sight until past the 15 mile mark. In fact, I stepped on the 15 mile mark exactly on pace. Still good a half mile later at 25K mark. Then for the third time I reached a water stop with NO WATER. Now I was getting aggravated.

Finally just past 17, Paul met me and gave me a bottle of Gatorade and filled my water glass. I went on, taking a little break between there and 18. I ran for a few minutes beside a girl I would later know as Kristen. We chatted a little, then got separated. Just before 19, they started announcing that race was cancelled. I've heard stories about this stuff before, and decided to ignore them and keep running. Just ahead, they had a fire hydrant opened up and spraying water all over the place. Another announcement. Nora, a first-time marathoner running beside me with 5:15 on her back turned to me and said, "What are you going to do?" I said, "I'm going to run through that fire hydrant over there." "Then what?" "I'm going to finish running this marathon." She said, "OK then, I'm going with you."

At the next aid station, we ran into Kristin. She joined us, and the three of us (despite the warnings to just walk) ran the rest of the Chicago Marathon. Nora finished her first marathon and I watched her eyes, close to tears, with the joy of doing so. I lost track of Paul, Christina, and Randi, but at least one person in our 5:15 group accomplished her dreams that day. It felt pretty darn good!

Some days are good, some are bad. It's the nature of adventure. I had a great time anyway, made a couple new friends, helped someone finish her first marathon. Nice day.