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Chicago Marathon 07 from a (Team In Training) runner’s perspective

I thought this was a pretty amazing email from Lisa, post-marathon.  I cried when I read it, I’ll admit it.  It was a hell of an experience.  Keep in mind when reading she did the run with Team In Training, and eight months ago the longest run of her life was less than a mile.

Hello friends and family!

WOW! There is so much to say about the race this weekend that I don’t even know where to begin. Many of you I’m sure have heard about the incredible heat and humidity on Sunday (I ran past a bank around mile 16 that said 91 degrees on the sign). Also, I’m sure you have heard about how many people dropped out, were taken to the hospital, or just plain decided not to start. The newspaper is saying about 10,000 decided not to start due to the extreme weather and that over 10,000 of those who did cross the start line either dropped out early or were asked to leave the course by race officials after the race was officially CANCELLED due to the heat. Speaking with other runners, it seems that the number of people who were unable to finish is even higher because race officials asked those who were escorted off the course to cross the finish line in order to log into the computers the fact that they were off the course (via the timing chip on their shoe). Many of those who did not finish were elite or preferred runners (those who qualified for early starting corralls) or veterans of many previous marathons. The weather was just incredible debilitating. The group of girls who I usually run with from Team in Training started strong, but by mile 6 many were dropping back and started walking because of the heat and the lack of water and gatorade at the aid stations along the course. The “pace leader” for our little group, who was trying for her 9th marathon, had to drop out at mile 11.

I started strong and felt good through the first 7 miles, but then I too started feeling the heat and dehydration. It seemed like we were sweating out fluid faster than we could get it in. A HUGE thank you to Nikki Meyer (soon to be Mrs. Nikki Orlav!!!) who ran miles 4 through 10 with me. If not for her, I think I would have been in MUCH worse shape at the halfway point than I already was. (By the way Nikki, Kathleen who said she was going to stop at mile 6 ended up finishing the race!!!)

I had seen my parents, my sister, my aunt and uncle and Tom twice before mile 4 and according to them I looked like I was having a great time. And I was!! At that point I still felt great. However, when they saw me right before mile 13, things had changed a bit. I didn’t wave, I don’t think I even smiled, I just pointed at Tom and gestured something to the effect of “GET IN HERE NOW!” I was hurting, my lungs felt like they were going to explode, I wanted to lie down and cry and give up. It seemed impossible that I would be able to keep moving for another 13 miles! But Tom stuck with me and we power walked from mile 14 to mile 25!!! That’s right, Tom walked almost an entire half-marathon by my side, encouraging me and trying to keep my mind off of the pain in my legs and the dissapointment in the fact that this race was not turning out the way I had dreamed. Around mile 18, we found out that they had cancelled the race. The way we found out was a cop on a bullhorn yelling “THE RACE IS CANCELLED. STOP RUNNING. GET ON A BUS. THE RACE IS OVER.” My gut response was, “Thank God someone is saying that it’s okay for me to quit,” but then the reality that I had spent the last 8 months preparing for this set in and I was determined to finish, even if it meant walking the whole way. Pretty much everyone around me felt the same way and we made our way towards the finish. Thankfully, I made it past the point where the race officials forced people off the course and back towards the start area. I was still in a lot of pain, mostly because I hadn’t trained to WALK and I also hadn’t trained to be on my feet that long. I felt very sorry for myself and on the verge of tears for about 2 miles. Then someone in the crowd yelled “Come on Lisa, you’re running for a cause!” I had my name on my Team in Training shirt and lots of people had been cheering me on by name along the course, but this lady reminded me that it was my choice to be out there. The people that I had raised all this money for don’t get to pick when they’re in pain. They’re in pain all the time and they fight the pain all the time. I had to stop feeling so sorry for myself that this wasn’t turning out the way I wanted and finish it! And it worked! As soon as I gave the pain a purpose, I felt a lot better and was able to enjoy the rest of the race.

My two goals for the race were 1) To finish and 2) To run the last mile. And I achieved them both!! At mile 25, I started running again and was able to run the last 1.2 miles over the finish line in 5 hours 59 minutes and 12 seconds!!! It felt great to end the race on my terms even though it had been such a crazy day with so much confusion and so many unexpected turns. I feel very very lucky to have been able to cross the finish line and complete the whole course. Everyone who had the courage to start the race deserves serious bragging rights for many years to come. We survived Chicago Marathon ’07!! And like Kevin said, if we do it again, chances are that it will be pretty easy to beat our time 🙂

My family: Mom, Dad, Kelly, Barb, and Kevin, also deserve SERIOUS bragging rights. They probably walked 10-15 miles all over the city to cheer me on and keep my spirits up. They went downtown, north side, south side, west loop, and everywhere in between. Mostly walking because there were no taxis to be found. Thank you guys for your never ending support and for making the trip to Chicago to see what we all though was an impossibility; Lisa running. You guys were the ULTIMATE cheering squad not just for me, but for everyone competing with Team in Training. I love you guys!!!

My friends, Alli, Erin, Laura, Gabe, Mary K, Jennie, Tanya, Karyn, and Lauren, thank you all so much for being out there and cheering me on. It made the difference to have friendly faces who were so excited to see me out there. Thank you for all your support during this training season. Thanks for being supportive when I was drinking water this summer and you were taking shots. Thanks for not thinking I was crazy for trying this (or at least not saying it to my face :))

Mr. and Mrs. Trimmer, Michelle, Scott, Brooke, and Courtney, thank you guys for driving around the race course crammed in a car with two kids under 2 years old to cheer me on!!! That is an incredible feat! It meant so much to me to have you there. Thank you also for your encouragement these past 8 months and never doubting that I could do this!

Ali and Megan, thanks for convincing me to go to the first info meeting for Team in Training and convincing me that this was a good idea 🙂 I am so proud of you girls! Chicago 08! I’m betting it snows.

Nikki, thank you so much for staying by my side during that horrible stretch up Inner Lake Shore Drive with direct sunlight beating down on us and not a wisp of a breeze to be found. 6 freaking miles, you are amazing. Thank you thank you thank you!

And Tom, thank you more than I can say for being my rock through the second half of the race. I don’t know if I would have finished without you. You kept me focused and kept me sane. Kept reminding me to smile, even though I was shooting you death glares at the time for being so upbeat when I was feeling so crummy. You never complained once, never said that you needed to stop, gave me extra water, bananas, sponges and gatorade along the way, carried a backpack full of extra supplies for the first 5 miles you walked with me, and in general were the best support system I could have asked for. You win the man of the year award in my book! You are amazing and I love you!

To everyone else who donated to Team in Training, called, texted, and emailed me after long runs and the week before the big event; to everyone who called and emailed yesterday after the race with congratulations; THANK YOU!!!! A million times over, THANK YOU. There is no way that I could have STARTED this race without you. I was able to cross that start line because you all believed in me. I can’t tell you how much your support means to me. I am so so blessed to have so many people who care about me and who are so supportive. You are the people that make marathoners look good. You are the reason we run. We cannot do it without you!!!

Well that’s all folks. Again, thank you. I’ll think about maybe doing another marathon after I’m able to walk up and down stairs again and when my toenails grow back 🙂 Until then, I’m happy with this one!

With love from the finish line,

Lisa

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One Response to Chicago Marathon 07 from a (Team In Training) runner’s perspective

  1. Chrissy says:

    Wow. Tears…. this is great. GO TEAM!

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