We had our last training run on Friday morning before heading off to Chicago that afternoon. Stormie, Mitzi, Lisa and I met Jodie, Tracy, Jana and Ryan at the donut shop for our last 5 mile run. When we finished Jana, Jodie and Tracy showered us with gifts and we even enjoyed a donut and coffee courtesy of Wendell. He knows how much we love donuts!! We all were getting very excited to start and end this journey we’d been on for 18 weeks. We arrived in Chicago without any problems and boarded the shuttle to take us to our hotel. Little did we know that the shuttle ride would take longer than the airplane ride – traffic was horrible! I think it was starting to sink in with everyone how BIG this race was going to be.
Saturday morning we were greeted early by my daughter, Madi, and her 3 friends who were there to cheer us on. They rode the bus from Kansas City to Chicago – they have youth on their side and can sit in a bus that long – we can’t! The girls hit the sack for a quick nap and the 5 of us took off for the Expo. WOW! What an expo it was – we picked up our race packets and took in all the exhibits. We were all OK until we stopped at the pace group exhibit. We had all talked about possibly running with a pace group and decided to stop and ask some questions. When I say “we”, I mean me, Alison, Mitzi and Stormie. Lisa was beside herself with nerves when we left that exhibit – she truly wasn't the same that day after that. She let her nerves get to her and we tried to explain to her that she was running that pace during training runs and we might not even follow the pace group, but she didn't care. The nerves had set in. While leaving the expo, we ran into Kitchel, Traci and Ann. It was so good seeing them – we couldn't believe we saw them out of all the people there. That evening we went to the Run for Our Sons charity pasta dinner – it was time to continue carb loading for the big run. It was nice to get to meet the other runners who were on our Run for Our Sons team – all there fighting for the same cause. We called it a night after dinner and decided it was time to get some sleep before the big day. Mitzi and I reviewed the map of the course one final time before trying to get some sleep.
Sunday morning was here and it was time to do what we’d been training for – just run 26.2 miles. We can do this – we've done this before, we've trained hard, we've trained for 18 weeks, we've got over 600 miles under our belts…WE CAN DO THIS!! It really is somewhat of a blur getting ready that morning. I had my stuff set out and just had to get dressed and go. We had all picked up pace tattoos (yes, tattoos) at the expo and felt like little kids again when we were putting them on – just get them wet, press and magically you have a tattoo. We left the hotel and started the ½ mile walk to the start line. We met up with Chad and Zach Renn in front of the entrance. We all commented that we couldn't believe Zach didn't have any GU, chomps or cliff bars, etc. with him, but decided he was young and would be just fine. After the race, Chad called to tell me Zach finished in 4:09 – yes, he was just fine! What a great time for a first marathon – we are all impressed! We lined up in our corral and waited. I gave a quick pep talk to mine and Alison’s legs, and then Mitzi led us in prayer. The horn went off and it was time to begin this journey. To put it into perspective of the number of runners, it took us 7 minutes to reach the start line. We walked for a while and then finally started running just before the start line. We were off!! WOO HOO!! I can’t even begin to tell you how I felt during this race. You might be expecting tired, worn out, etc. but I’m telling you it was awesome, amazing, fun, etc. Yes, fun. The spectators were out in droves and they were there for 26.2 miles, literally. We never ran a part of the course without someone cheering for us. I remember telling the girls that I never did sports in high school and never had anyone really cheer for me and they were cheering for me that day LOL! We saw Madi and her friends at mile 14 and that gives you such a boost. She had made signs for us and the girls were just as excited to see us I think by the sound of them – lots of loud cheering coming from them. We saw them again at mile 16 and they were just as excited then. Loved having someone there personally cheering for our team!
We started to split away from each other after mile 18. Alison hit her wall then, Stormie a few miles later and Mitzi around mile 22. I’m not really sure when we couldn't see Lisa anymore – she had to fight a side ache for most of the race. I felt as sorry for her as she looked like she was in pain. We took the water stops pretty fast so she really never got a chance to recover from the side ache. I told the girls I wouldn't leave anyone if they started to struggle and that’s exactly what I did. I’ll never forgive myself for that either, even though all of them gave me the stern look and said “GO”. I left Mitzi at mile 22 and started to hit my wall at mile 23. I had to do a lot of talking to myself those last 3 miles. I ran by one of the water stops and one of the volunteers was shouting out “You can do it, you are strong” and it felt like she was looking right at me. I needed her to be talking directly to me! I didn't have the energy to say thank you so I just nodded my head and pointed to her. I told myself that I just had a 5k left, then told myself that it was still 3 miles…YIKES!! The last 3 miles seemed to last an eternity but the thing that kept me going were the spectators. There were so many of them crammed together to watch the last 2 miles – it was awesome! There was even one that was naked – well, we’re not sure but at around mile 24 there was a naked guy (hot, cute, abs of steel guy) holding a sign in front of his groin area that said “Run faster or I drop this sign”. I gave out a WOO HOO but sure didn't have the energy to turn my head when I went past to see if he really was naked…darn it!! I just envisioned it and finished the last couple of miles. When I crossed the finish line, you would think I would be elated but this time I wasn't. I was tired, my legs hurt and I wasn't with my girls. I hated not finishing together but I also know I would have always questioned myself on what I truly could've done if I had waited. So I was selfish and finished alone. This was after all MY LAST ONE! Remember girls we did the pinkie swear J
If I can say one thing about this race, it is JUST DO IT! If you think you want to do a full, I would suggest doing this one. It was a one of a kind race and so much fun (minus the wall I hit). We would visit during the run and talk about our awesome supporters. We knew several people were following us during the race but I really had no idea how many actually were. My kids and Shawn were the first ones to send me a text telling me great job, nice pace and they were proud of me – makes my heart smile! My sister and mom were quick to follow. My sister said her whole family was watching the computer and saw me finish. I asked her if I was smiling and she said it looked like I was taking a deep breath which really meant I was gasping for air LOL! I made my way down the finish area towards the after party tent and waited for the girls. I enjoyed the free beer we got at the finish and downed another 2 after that J YUMMY!! We found an area where we could relax and let Mitzi recover a bit. I tell you what, running 26.2 miles just zaps her!! Lisa and I went off to find beverages and food and ran into the other Wellington girls again. They just happen to be in line for what we were searching for – SCORE! They ordered for us and we took the nourishment back to the girls. Stormie, Lisa and I enjoyed our beer and we tried to get some food in our stomachs but no one was enjoying the hamburgers. We decided it was time to make the mile walk back to our hotel – OUCH! We met up with Madi and her friends at the hotel and while they napped (its hard work watching someone run for over 4 hours J) we showered and decided to head downtown to get our finisher shirts at the Nike store. What a great store – music was loud, so many people there, heck, we even did the Wobble with the employees J
We spent Monday shopping, eating and drinking on Michigan Avenue aka the Magnificent Mile. Walking for most of the day did wonders for our sore muscles and of course, the shopping wasn't bad either! We appreciate all the support our town of Wellington gave to us during this exciting time! We’re glad we were able to do another race together and also glad it’s over. Now on to the Turkey Trot 10 mile run!