By now you know about my love affair with Chicago. It’s really taken over my life, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. You also know that I’ve spent the better part of this year training to run around it for a little while.
Well, this may be my last post about the marathon for a while (rejoice, the mighty marathon will step off her running soapbox!) I know, as we train we become pretty insufferable and impossible to be around. So, please accept this as my formal apology. This is my last post about this, I swear! (Next, will post political rants – you know, things to unite the masses.)
Well, the point of this entry isn’t really just about the marathon, but about the things that happen while you’re running it that you never expect, and can never really plan for. Let me explain myself… and maybe it’s best I should start at the beginning. You see, I’m not much of a self-motivated person. I always need external forces to help me achieve my goals. And the best way to get me to do something is to attach other people to it. Why? Because, guilt of letting anyone down is the only way I do things. That’s exactly how I trained for this marathon. One of my co-workers at the time, Melissa, and I wanted to get back into running, so we signed up to run the Chicago Marathon with Team in Training. We thought it would be a fun way to be active and see each other outside of work. This was as far as I had planned. Everything that happened after that decision changed the course of my year – totally for the better!
The first long Saturday that Melissa and I finally made it out to, we met another girl who had gotten lost running through the unmarked path we were asked to run. (We found a kindred spirit, and we would soon learn her name – Elisabeth!) After that first week, all Melissa and I could talk about at work was our weekly meetings to gossip without interruption or fear of being overheard in the office. Laura was in the kitchen with us at the time, overheard, and we convinced her to come and run, just once! It won’t hurt! Just come out next Saturday, it’s like, 6 miles, tops! Needless to say, but our powers of persuasion are quite legendary. She couldn’t say no, she showed up, and we ran. Laura signed up, and soon after that Elisabeth realized that we all had a similar pace and running style. Soon, we were a pack of 4!
In the mean time, Melissa had gotten a new job, so Saturdays became the only assurance I would see her that week – and we had a lot of catching up to do at that point! Elisabeth, it turned out, lived really close to me, and we could start morning runs around the lake with our new buddy system! During the week, Laura and I would stay motivated at work, and do some cross-training too. Then shortly after that, Melissa was diagnosed with the evil “runner’s knee.” I love Mel, but her knee was being a little bitch! But with doctor’s orders, we were not disobeying, and Mel had to sit it out. Still, she became one of our loudest cheerleaders, and the day of the marathon showed up with bananas for us at Mile 16. How amazingly unselfish is that?! We’re sooooo an awesome team! (Mel got the “green light” to run the Nashville Half Marathon in April, and we’re already planning to go cheer for her and repay the favor.)
This was just the summer and we had already seen our fair share of action. In the mean time, Laura also got married (there’s pictures of her wedding in an earlier entry.) Elisabeth and I both had ups and downs with work, and I realized that my time at Second City had ended and started re-evaluating myself. Tons of self-discovery b.s. that we don’t need to discuss, because, let’s face it, we’re all awesome, and everything is going to be fine. Am I right? Right? No mental breakdown necessary! Anyway, we’re running, one foot in front of the other… running, focus!
The BIG day arrives, we’ve eaten what we’re supposed to eat, we’ve slept throughout the week, we set aside our outfit, and we’re ready to go! We started running and around mile 2, as it was expected, my shins started hurting – quick stretch, and we’re out! Ups and downs, and bathroom breaks happened, but everything was perfect. Alyson met us around Mile 8, and then Elisabeth’s parents were around Mile 11-12, and soon after that Mel at Mile 16, Jimmy (Laura’s husband) at Mile 17, Alyson at Mile 18 again, and Laura’s family doing the Pilsen stronghold at Mile 19. It seemed like every other mile had scored some sort of amazing support necessary to keep us from hitting the infamous “wall.” Then the unthinkable happened, that curve ball you can’t possible see coming. Laura pulled her IT band around Mile 21, no amount of stretch was helping, and Elisabeth quickly flagged down one of our TNT coaches in her discernible green shirt and purple tutu. She walked with us to the nearest Aid Station. Laura was wrapped up and iced. The doctor gave her the OK to finish the marathon, although, I think he did it out of fear that Laura would bite his head off – she can be scary determined. She had to walk it in.
Back to the beginning of our little group. Way back when we became this little pack, we promised to train, to run, and to finish TOGETHER. We used phrases like: “come hell or high water” and “through thick and thin.” Well, this was the test. One of us was not going to be able to run, walking in those last 5 miles took us 2 hours, but we crossed it together. We stuck it out, as did Abby. We plastered mustaches on, to make ourselves laugh, and people cheered us on. Laura smiled through the pain, even though at one point she had tears streaming down her face. Several times she told us she wanted us to run ahead. We didn’t, we stuck it out, TOGETHER. Cue the string quartet, the slow clap, and the Disney happy ending. It was totally “Kumbaya” and I was beaming! Not even the lack of medals at the end (yeah, they ran out) could ruin the fact that when theory became reality, we still stuck to our ideals. We’re all mushy and bffs and all, and it’s tots true!
I share this story, because I’m extremely proud of the people I have befriended along the years. I don’t take a single one for granted, and although some fall through the wayside because life does get in the way, I am always thankful for even the shortest of friendships. And it’s because they tend to show up when you need them the most, and didn’t even know it. It’s because the bonds that form when you stick by someone, show the character of that person, their integrity, their humanity. Even at my most cynical moments my faith in humanity is restored because of the people that surround me. Family and friends, they continue to impress me. My brother showed up at Miles 12 and 23, and walked the whole way to the end, in the cold, and applauded us. My friends, they stuck together, when one of us was down and never wavered, never questioned.
OK – the end! I promise no more sentimental posts for a while! Get ready for smartass, judgy Lali to make a comeback real soon!
And now for the fun picture compilation:
Injury prevention – wicked shin splints! (Notice the purple = team colors)
I also got a manicure to show my support. (Also, got a purple lipstick, but that ended up being a bad idea. It was cold, and I looked like I was entering the early stages of hypothermia.)
WE GOT OUR BIBS!! So young, so naive!
Still with that youthful exuberance… we can take on anything! (And probably over the world!)
It’s here! It started, ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod (that’s pretty much what’s going through my mind – and blocking out the terror.)
I calmed down once I saw the first sign coming down State Street. I’m remembering, and putting one foot in front of the other to fight cancer. Kicking it in the balls!
I’m running it for fun, whatever that means! So, I stopped and took pictures. Look at all of us! Mile 7 and we’re kicking ass!
We got a little crazy around Mile 22 and broke out the mustaches! Movember a little early, but rallied the troops!
OPPAN GANGNAM STYLE!! This makes the long hours seem worth it.
WIN!! This is the poster board my roommate, Alyson, made.
Friends we picked up along the way, and helped us cross the finish line. (Laura was already hurt, look at her putting on a brave face. Rock Star!)
Again – the signs made my life!! Thank you, guy.
Who cares about time? We crossed the finish line, we’re marathoners. We’re the 1%!!
My latest venture: