I fell off the face of the earth for a bit…at least in the blogging world. It’s been just over a month since I ran the Chicago Marathon, but it feels infinitely longer. Six weeks (nearly) somehow feels like six months. I’ve been having a hard time getting back on track with workouts, and just finding my groove in life in general. There are some big changes coming, so I’m sure it will be a while yet before I find solid footing and feel like I’m really back on top of my game. Such is life. That said, my apologies for the delay and here’s the recap!
First, the race itself-not my race, but generally speaking-was awesome. The weather was perfect, the race was well organized and the course was well supported, the course was flat as promised, and the crowds were INCREDIBLE. The energy was electric. It was such a cool thing to be a part of. Running with 45,000 other people and I felt damn special. Even now, I feel like such a stud wearing my Chicago Marathon shirt to the gym. So cool.
As you know, I ran for the American Cancer Society in honor of my dad, who has been diagnosed with stage four bladder cancer (and now stage one lung cancer as well). I ran the race with my brother, Dusty, and my cousin, Crystal, ran as well. My parents came to Chicago as well as Crystal’s sister, Brenda. It was so cool to have family there and run for a cause. I thought of my dad and other people I know battling, I thought of the people who donated and the sweet comments they made, I thought of my friends and family who made a point to reach out in the days before the race to say good luck. It all meant so much to me. I’ll never forget that.
We stayed at a hotel just a couple blocks from Grant Park, which made race day logistics a breeze. We walked to the start and waited in the corral maybe 10-15 minutes before we started moving towards the start line. I expected to be waiting much longer! We shed our throw away clothes and busted a move around 8:25am.
Obviously, with so many other runners, I expected things to be tight in the beginning, but I don’t think it really thinned out much at all until maybe mile 15 or so. There was a lot of dodging and weaving, slowing down and speeding up, and my Garmin lost connection a few times under bridges and in between buildings, which threw my pace/time off from very early on. Still, I felt like we were doing pretty okay and tried not to stress about it too much. We planned to see my parents at mile 2 and mile 13 and it was so nice to have that to look forward to! We planned what side of the street they would be on so we wouldn’t miss them and I’m so glad we did! Dusty’s friend Phineas also found us at mile 13! He came in on a bus from Minneapolis early that morning and we totally didn’t expect to see him. Such a cool surprise to hear a voice shouting “Team Dave! Team Dave!” and see him jumping up and down.
We crossed the half way point just over two hours and I felt pretty good about that, but somehow, that first half felt harder than I thought it should have. And maybe because of that I started to psych myself out a bit. Dusty and I ran together the entire race and he really let me lead the way. By mile 15 I was starting to feel a bit tired and told him I would get us to mile 20 and we would see what happened from there. I needed a goal that was closer than the finish line. Around mile 19 I was feeling pretty rough and had to pee, so we decided to stop. I’m sure our bathroom break took at least five minutes as we had to wait in line and from there I really struggled. I tried to wave Dusty on, but he stuck with me. And I’m so glad he did. I can’t imagine running the last 6 miles solo. I’m so grateful he was there and that we shared that experience…the whole way.
I could feel my goals slipping away. My “A” goal was 4:00, my “B” goal was 4:15, my “C” goal was 4:30 and my “D” goal was to not die or embarrass myself. “C” was going to be cutting it very close, and “D” was starting to seem questionable as well.
Mile 20-24 I did a lot of walking. I felt so thirsty but could feel my stomach cramping, so I would swish water in my mouth and then spit it out. I’ve never experienced that before, so I know I could’ve trained better on fueling. I said I would run water stop to water stop, which was about a mile in between, but then my walking breaks would get longer and longer. Finally, around mile 24, Dusty made the point that it hurt just as much to walk, so we might as well run. I think we probably ran the last two miles without stopping. We saw Phineas again at about mile 26, which was the point where spectators were cut off, and then hauled it in to the finish. We finished in 4:29:45. “C” goal destroyed!
It felt great to finish. But it was also maybe a little anti-climactic. I was so exhausted and mentally drained that I didn’t even care that I just finished a marathon. At that point, I really couldn’t process it. I just wanted water, and chugged everything in sight as soon as we crossed the line, and I really wanted to stop moving. The finish chute felt like it lasted forever! We kept walking and walking and walking. Finally we got to a point where we could “exit.” We took our free beers and laid down on a sidewalk. We rested for a bit and then somehow managed to get moving again. The walk back to the hotel felt soooo much longer than it did at the start of the day.
It was so amazing to see my parents after the race and see the look on their faces. I could feel how proud they were. They told us, of course, but I felt it too. And that was truly an incredible feeling that I will always remember.
Overall, it was an incredible experience, from the training to the finish line. I connected with awesome people, made some new friends, raised over $3000 for the American Cancer Society, bonded with my brother and my cousin, and made my parents proud. I truly couldn’t ask for more. I’m so grateful to everyone who contributed in so many ways, and for God gracing me with this strong, little body and these powerful, short legs that carried me so far. I’m continuously amazed at how resilient we all are in the face of adversity and challenges of all sorts. I saw it in the runners in Chicago; in Crystal, Dusty and myself. I see it in my dad and in my mom. I see it in my friends and strangers alike. It doesn’t take running a marathon to recognize that, but it does help put some things in perspective.
As for the future…I’m starting to think another marathon may be in mine.