2012 Chicago Marathon - Owned Chicago.

{"Did you ever think you would run 26 miles?" - Brad}

26.2 to be exact. Marathon: Check that one off the Bucket List! 

After a night of tossing and turning with dreams of my bones breaking through my legs and every other thought of what could possibly go wrong, I awoke for the marathon at 5:30 am feeling anxious and underprepared. 

For months I promised I would finally buckle down and discipline myself, strictly sticking to my training schedule and turning down nights out with friends in exchange for sleep and early morning runs. When that didn't quite happen as often as it should have, I had major feelings of self-doubt and almost felt like I didn't deserve to finish the race. 

Funny how doubt and fear can play games with your head.

When Brad and I finally reached the starting line after freezing the morning away waiting for Wave 2 to begin, we were more than ready to JUST DO IT.

Dodging the piles of clothes that people had stripped off just before the race started, we found our stride and weaved our way in and out of the massive crowd of bobbing heads and determined racers.

Through the first few miles my stomach was feeling uneasy, most likely the result of pending nerves and hunger from my inability to eat anything more than a cup of peach yogurt with granola and a few bites of a bagel topped with peanut butter and bananas earlier that morning.

With the help of some Gu, multiple Gatorade/H20 breaks and our awesome 2-man cheering squad (shout out to Mom and Will!) following us around the course, we held a steady pace and didn't stop to walk until we hit Mile 17.

{Brad starting to feel the pain at Mile 17}

Thanks to the slanted road and throngs of runners that never really thinned out throughout the entire race, Brad started to experience a lot of pain in his knee. We ran miles 17-22 much slower than our original pace, but with the thousands of people cheering us on, stopping never seemed like an option.

By the time we hit 22.5, Brad looked at me and told me to go on. The pain was getting to be too much and he knew he couldn't keep up with the half-shuffle run we had going. Strangely, it hurt way more for me to walk than it did to run, so we split up for the first time with the promise to meet back at Mile 25 where Will and my mom were waiting.

Hitting the 20 mark, there was no question as to whether or not I was going to finish. The worst was still to come, but after making it that far, there was no way I wouldn't push through the final 6 miles.

23-24 was probably my fastest mile of the whole race. The course had finally opened up a bit so I wasn't constantly zig-zagging throughout the crowd and I was so determined to reach the familiar faces waiting for me for that extra push of motivation that is all so necessary in those times of mental and physical trial.

A wave of emotion sent tears to my eyes when I passed a sign saying, "You just owned Chicago." The physical pain combined with the mental weight of what I had just accomplished set in and I couldn't believe how strong I felt after feeling like I had prepared too little. 

Far under my expected time of 5:30, I reached Mile 25 at 4:16. Waiting with my mom and Will, my heart sank when Brad hobbled up with tears in his eyes about 15 minutes later. I knew the pain had to be deep to break my strong step dad.

"Let's do this together," I said, taking his arm and deflecting any comments that he was sorry for slowing me down. I didn't sign up for this race to beat a record or get the fastest time. There was no way I could have gotten through this experience without him and crossing the finish line together made all the pain and doubt worth it.

{Showered & clean--but definitely still sore! Photo by Candice}

Photos by Mom and Brad

1 comment:

  1. Congrats to both of you for finishing. I read this at work and really had to fight back tears at the end. Very touching!