*Guest Post* Chicago Marathon...

Well, as you all know, I did not run the Chicago Marathon this weekend. I am going to run one in 2012, but that plan is still in the works. But, I digress ... my friend Piper did in fact run the Chicago Marathon and I asked her to put some of her thoughts down in the first guest blog here on Weight Off My Shoulders!

So Piper, thank you for being the first. To you all, please enjoy...


Bucket List Sunday

First off, you will have to excuse me…this is my first blog entry. Well heck, I guess it was my first marathon too so this has been quite a weekend!

When I was about 21, I made the statement that before I turned 30, I would run a marathon. Most likely this statement was made after a couple of vodka lemonades…but alas, it was said out loud…therefore it NEEDED to be completed. I have always been a procrastinator…my 30th birthday is in about 3 months. Oops.

Training officially began in May, and at first it started off great. I was super excited and dedicated and the runs were shorter and didn’t take much time. As training progressed, it got harder and harder to actually set aside 2-3 hours to go on a long run especially while working on the weekends. So overall, if I were to describe my training in one word, it would be ‘inconsistent.’ Sometimes great, and sometimes not. Overall I felt about three weeks behind prior to race day. But, crazily enough, the race committee didn’t agree to my request of moving race day back by three weeks. Bastards.

The alarm went off at 4am on Sunday October 9th. I had been in and out of sleep all night so it was a bit of a relief when I finally needed to get up. I am not a morning eater so forcing a banana and a peanut butter toast down my throat wasn’t all that easy, but I knew I needed it. We drove down to Grant Park and walked around in the dark. Have you ever tried to use a Porta Potty in the pitch black? It isn’t easy, trust me. We still had about an hour and a half to kill before the start, so we did everything we could to keep ourselves busy. Drank Gatorade, used the Porta Potty, watched the sunrise, used the Porta Potty…you get the point.

Start time was 7:30am. Caroline and I crossed the start line about 28 minutes later. And we were off! The first four miles, Caroline and I ran at about a 12 minute pace. The goal was to keep that pace…and we did…for the first 8 miles that is. At mile 8 we picked up Big Jim, a friend of mine from work. He proceeded to run miles 8-14 with us and was a HUGE help. That was probably the slowest he has ever run and I felt a little bit bad about that, but it was a big help to have him there. Another friend, around mile 10 met us and handed up a banana. It was a lifesaver. Everything was going great…until mile 16. That was my wall. It was that point that the thought of ten more miles was almost incomprehendable. The knees started to hurt and the feet were just throbbing. I started to get a little emotional…and who is the only person that can make you feel better when you are in that much pain? Your Mom. And there she was, standing at mile 18 with Advil and another banana. It was all I needed to kick it up again.

My lovely sister ran with us from miles 20-22.

My step-dad ran with us from miles 22-25.

Family really is the best, isn’t it?

And at mile 25, the tears started flowing. The people. The music. The cheering…it all got to me. The last mile, we took it all in. And there was NO better feeling than making that left turn fromRooseveltontoColumbus Driveand seeing that bright red finish line. Caroline was laughing. I was bawling. I have watched at that finish line the last five years or so. And I cry, ever year. And ever year, I love the people that throw their arms in the arm to get the crowd cheering. I have dreamt of that moment. And now it was my turn. I jumped in the air (maybe a few centimeters) raised my arms, and the crowd yelled…this time for me.  

Caroline and I crossed the finish line. Holding hands. One of us laughing, and the other sobbing like a little baby. It was just like I had pictured it in my head for years. It was everything I wanted and more.

The shirt that I wore just said “Bucket List 10.9.11 on it. As we walked to get our medals after crossing the finish line, one of the volunteers yelled “You can cross this off your bucket list!” I walked right over to her. And thanked her as she put the medal around my neck. I understand now why people do this. There is no better feeling than that medal hanging from your neck.

I got to thinking later on Sunday…I wish every day was Marathon Day. It brings out the best in people. Thousands of strangers, yelling FOR, not at other strangers. Good Samaritans handing out everything from Starburst, to oranges, to donuts. Others setting up misters in their lawn. Everyone is cheering everyone on. We need more of this…not just on one day a year inChicago…everyday.

On October 9th, my bucket list got a little shorter…and my confidence and pride a little bigger.