So, here's the run down. We flew in on Friday morning at the butt-crack of dawn. Later that day we went to the Expo with all the healthy people who made me feel really inferior just by looking at them. Not a single person was mean, but I just felt that bad about my own ability to complete this monumental task. Still, I had a good time!
I spent Friday and Saturday doing nothing but eating and enjoying time with our friend Bill and Patricia who housed us and gave up their bed so I could sleep on something other than the couch. They are better friends than I am! I did squeeze in a light two-mile jog on Saturday, and it was beautiful!!!
That night I ate homemade fettuccine alfredo and headed to bed by 9:30 which Chuck watched the Aggies lose to Ole Miss. I hated that for him, but obviously, I had other things on my mind - like what to wear for the big race!
And then the day was upon me.
It was cold when we showed up at 5:30 AM in downtown Chicago. I had a banana for breakfast and a cup of coffee which adequately moved things along (...if you know what I mean, and I'm sure you do). I was berating myself for not wearing pants in the cold weather.
I figured it wouldn't be that cold. It was a low in the 50s and high in the 60s. Absolutely perfect weather. Just look at this skyline!
The first wave of racers started at 7:45. The second set of racers started at 8:00. I was literally one of the last people across the start line at around 8:30. This is what it looked like behind me.
And yes, it took me almost thirty minutes to get to the start line from my corral (corral K - the very last corral for beginners, elderly, injured, and amputees - not kidding). Luckily, I was ready to take off my jacket at the start line and handed it off to Chuck on the sidelines the second time I saw him. The weather was beautiful. I started out with a pace group that did a combination of running and walking. They ran 5 minutes and then walked one minute throughout the entire race. I kept up with them until mile 16 when I hit a wall. I have to tell you that I felt pretty freakin' fabulous all the way through the first half. But, then it seemed like maybe I failed to hydrate properly and failed to take the energy goo that I was supposed to ingest every 40 minutes. So, I had a really, really hard time at mile 16. Nonetheless, I kept pushing because I am nothing if not determined.
Plus, I had the most amazing group of people cheering me on! Sweet Chuck skipped a huge Texas A&M home game to fly to Chicago and cheer me on - even when he thought there was a good chance that I wouldn't finish. He and our friends Bill and Patricia (and their two little boys - ages 9 and under 1) trudged out to the sidelines to watch me pass them all by at mile 14 and mile 16. As for Chuck and Bill, they hauled their asses all over the city to see me at no less than 12 different spots along the race. That is absolutely unbelievable! I think most people have friends and family at only a couple places along the course, but I was blessed to have support almost every other mile. It was so amazing and humbling. And then, when they couldn't be there with me and they knew I was having trouble and feeling bad, I had to most amazing thing happen. I started receiving text messages from friends and family all over this country - and even one person in Canada! I was overwhelmed and close to tears because who would have thought that many people would make an effort to support me in such a way. I was blown away! So, please accept my humblest appreciation for everything everyone did to get me across this finish line. Here are some of the pictures Chuck took (starting at Mile 11.5):
Mile 16 (feeling bad)
My view of the Finish Line
Most importantly, Chuck deserves so much praise! He even walked with me for part of Mile 25 when I was pretty much hobbled up and not sure how much more my body could take. After I crossed the line, I hobbled a couple blocks trying to find a way out of the protected area, but my feet were killing me. I sat down and took off my shoes, then put them back on and hobbled another block, until I reached a grassy area and plopped down in relief. I absolutely could not walk another step. I iced my feet and struggled to give directions to Chuck to come help me. That amazing man talked to multiple security guards trying to get back in the secured area to find me. Eventually, he walked up with a security guard and then helped me back to the car (several city blocks) by letting me piggy back on him. I absolutely would have accepted a wheelchair if one had been available.
So, here's the moral of the story. Yeah, there isn't one. I finished. That's it. Out of sheer will power, I crossed that finish line. And there is only one scenario where I can ever see myself doing that ever again.
Thank you a million times over to everyone who helped me get through this event. It was incredible and I can still barely believe that it happened!
Eventually, I ended up on a couch with pizza and a sub sandwich and the sweetest people surrounding me!
The next day we headed to the airport where we drank beer each time our flight was delayed (3 times). And I wore my medal the whole damn time even though the other marathoners were not so vain. The truth is that I'd still have it on if it people wouldn't give me strange looks. And my favorite part was finishing in 6 hours, 8 minutes, 47 seconds with an overall place 16,967th among females. I don't think I'll ever forget those numbers. What a weekend!