The Chicago Marathon. Despite it being insanely cold in Chicago at 6:30am, IT WAS TOTALLY AWESOME. A marathon is like if you went to a football game where everyone was somehow related to every player on the field. The crowds are crazy! There is some intense family loyalty going on.
Some highlights from my seven hour observation of the Chicago Marathon included watching the pace car and some of the elite athletes running around mile two. Then standing for about 45 minutes at Mile 13 waiting for Rachel to run by with her pace group. I couldn’t remember Rachel’s pace group time so I pretty much stood there the whole time yelling “GO RACHEL! COME’ON RACHEL!” hoping she’d hear me when she went by. Every now and then I became self conscious about yelling “GO RACHEL” constantly so I’d cheer for someone else. “GO FRED! HALFWAY THERE! GO ELVIS RUNNER! MAKING THOSE SIDEBURNS PROUD! GO BANANA GUYS!” Eventually Rachel ran by and I chased her with a backpack full of nice racing clothes I picked up off the street (per request) and ran with her for about .1 miles. Doing that reminded me why I wasn’t running the marathon.
Rosalie ran by about 30 minutes later. To me, Rosalie represented what I expect would be my reaction to running a marathon: generally pissed. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: GO ROSALIE! How’s it going?
Rosalie: My iPod doesn’t work.
Me: How do you feel? (I was sort of interviewing her for her mockumentary for her film class).
Rosalie: Everything hurts.
Me: You made it this far! That’s awesome!
Rosalie: I hate you, and my feet, and I think those bunny ears you’re wearing are stupid.
That’s somewhat of an exaggeration, but you definitely get the idea.
Then I sat for about another 45 minutes at mile 25.5 just as runners were coming over the hill to the final stretch of the race. It was interesting watching their faces. Some were just doggedly plodding along, some were jumping around like they just started the race, and others were completely spent but had this amazed look on their face as it dawned on them they could all but see the finish line. It was like they just saw Jesus. Or Bono.
About the point where I was convinced Rachel was in a medical vehicle on the side of the road somewhere, Rachel came staggering over the hill. She couldn’t bend her left knee and one of the ligaments in her leg was so tight it was pulling her kneecap over. But Rachel is one of the most stubborn people I have ever met, and she was going to finish that race. I walked with her until just past Mile 26, and then she somehow managed to start jogging again and ran across the finish line.
Rosalie was about 30 minutes behind, beating the cut off for finishing by 48 seconds. They seriously denied a finishers medal to people that finished behind Rosalie. That is totally my marathon nightmare; running all that way and making it to the finish line and then being told I was 5 seconds too slow. That and being run over by the End Car.
But she made it and we started hobbling home after they hit the massage tent. My Super Fan reward was getting to drink most of the three beers they were given at the end.
I am so proud of them.