First of all, I want to thank everyone who donated to Team Higgie to help us exceed our goal of $5,000 for PPMD! I can't tell you how much we appreciate your kindness. I also want to thank everyone for your support, encouragement, kinds words and prayers as we trained for 18 long weeks and then had the privilege of running the Chicago Marathon October 13, 2013. It was an experience of a lifetime!
I also want to thank Alison, JB, Mitzi and Stormie for your friendship. I love you girls! I also want to give a shout out to our families for putting up with our crazy training schedule. I know my husband has said on a couple of different occasions he was ready for it to be over. It was a very time consuming schedule and it wears you out. Many weekends were spent at home in bed early because of those longs runs. Thanks for putting up with us.
This was my first trip to Chicago and boy was I excited. I have heard things about the city and let me tell you I was not let down. As we boarded the plane in Wichita I was thinking about how I would feel on my trip back home. I would be stepping off that plane having completed the Chicago Marathon! That is huge. Our flight was a short hour and forty five minutes, smooth sailing, although Stormie will tell you different. We got our bags and found a van to take us to the hotel right at 5:00. Jeez! The traffic was crazy, they had already started closing down streets for the marathon so it took us longer to get to our hotel than our flight. I get car sick so the girls always put me up front with the driver. Well, this guy was a doozy! Had to hear all about his love life for about 2 hours.
This was such a different feeling than I had the first marathon I was in. Remember, Mitzi and I only had about 3 weeks of training before we ran that race. Whereas this time, it was 18 weeks. I felt a little bit better about this run versus the first one. I still had self doubt creep in because in our training we only ran 16 miles three times for our long runs. On Saturday, we went to the expo to pick up our bibs and check out all of the exhibitors and the girls stopped at the pace runners table and signed us up. *Editors note: We did not sign up for anything :)* That is when I had a melt down. Freaked me out! I did NOT want to feel like I had to keep up with those pace runners, it really messed with my mind. I felt like I would let myself down as well as my running mates. And that's what happened! UGH. I missed it by 14 minutes.
Race morning is always crazy in our rooms. Do we have enough clothes on? Do we have too many clothes on? Do we have enough chomps or GU for the whole 26.2 miles? Did we forget to charge our iPod? Did we forget to charge our Garmin? How will this bagel and peanut butter sit in our belly? Is our bib straight? And the big concern of the morning is...can we poop? Yes, that is a huge topic on race day. NO ONE wants to have to stop and take care of business during a race!
We had about a half mile walk before we got to the start of that race. The closer we got to the start the more people fell in line with us. I think by the time it was all said and done there was over 50,000 people running the marathon. I can't even explain the sight of that many people in one place. Amazing! I felt pretty good, ready to get running, I was so excited to see the sights of Chicago and experience everything the race had to offer. And let me tell you, there was a lot to see! The first 13 miles seemed to fly by. There were bands, cheerleaders, drag queens, Elvis and 1.5 million spectators cheering you on to the finish line. I have never felt so important than I did while running this race! It felt like they knew me, knew what to say if they thought I was struggling, gave me the strength and courage to keep on running. I got high fives, prayers and signs of encouragement the entire way. How cool is that? JB's daughter and 3 of her sorority sisters were at mile 14 and 16 to cheer us on! And about mile 2, Chad Renn was in the crowd. Always great to see a hometown face in the sea of so many. His son lives in Chicago and was running his first marathon.
As I was getting closer to the finish line or so I thought, I was looking for a hill that they said was at the end. I kept waiting for it, but no hill. I was laughing to myself thinking I had stressed out over this dumb hill and it must have been so small I ran it and didn't even notice. Well, heck no! I had to turn a corner and there it was, the 9th street hill! I wanted to cry. I made it about half way up and this guy was yelling, you got it! You are almost to the top. UGH! My quads were on fire. I decided to walk, well that was even worse than running so I started to run again. Finally, I made it to the top thinking the finish line was close, but not we had to turn another corner. But thank goodness the rest of the way was downhill. I figured if my legs gave out then I could at least roll to the finish line.
Although I improved my time by close to an hour from my first marathon, I was disappointed that I had failed to get it done by 4:30. Trying to get past that, knowing that even to finish running 26.2 miles in the elite Chicago Marathon is a huge accomplishment in its self. I will always wonder if I had just ran a little faster, ran through the side aches, maybe skipped a drink station or two, would I have made my goal? Guess I will never know because I am done! My dear friend Alison is talking about another marathon. You go girl! I will be there to run a few short training runs with you and cheer you on as you run your marathon, but I am getting to old for this! LOL!
I think the ups and downs that all five of us went through the last 18 weeks are a true testament of our friendship. No matter what happens we have each other! Stormie, it is such a blessing to me to be able to do this for Ethan. I am so thankful that I have that guy in my life. He is a trooper! So, I want to challenge you all to get out there and run, walk, jog for those who can't. The rewards are amazing!