The suitcases are unpacked, the legs are massaged, and my two-page training schedule is relegated to the recycle bin. All that focus on the Chicago Marathon, front and center in our lives for 6 months, is now a memory, albeit a very recent one. That overriding goal is no longer our task master. What a strange feeling!
Now, where to begin. For starters, thank you Chicago for a wonderful time. The first place we visited was the world’s biggest convention center. I’ve seen big places before, but wow. Apparently, the entire McCormick Place Convention Center complex includes 2.6 million sq. ft. of exhibit space. No, the marathon fitness expo did not use all that space, but there were plenty of displays and buying opportunities for runners. Some of my favourites at these fitness expos (aka place to pick up your registration kit and spend lots of money buying stuff) are the t-shirts with funny sayings on them. Instead of buying more t-shirts I just took pictures of some of my favourite sayings!
As has become our custom, my brother and I run together for as long as possible, while my husband hangs back to keep his own pace. Last year, my brother had me go ahead after 18 miles. This year, he set a blistering pace (remember, we are two “mature” recreational runners, so blistering is a relative term, but for me it was blistering). After the first half, he finally accepted my encouragement that he go ahead, and ahead he went. I hadn’t wanted to admit to him that I needed to use a porta-potty, because after last year he would occasionally remind me of the minutes we “lost” in New York for that reason. So once he left me to do his own thing, I was free to walk for a bit, stand on line for a porta-potty, gain some additional comfort, and then proceed at my own pace.
I learned from last year’s event that having a name sign on your front is much more helpful to spectators for cheering you on than having something (like a Canadian flag) on your back. They can’t call out your name if they don’t know it! I had made name signs for all three of us and I have to say that the wonderful spectators in Chicago were very responsive to it. The continual shouts of “Go, Jane, go”, “You can do it, Jane”, and “Go, Canada” encouraged me to keep running – or switch back from walking to running. Thank you, Chicago spectators (and especially our own imported spectator, my sister-in-law). You were terrific, especially considering that you had to have been awfully cold, since you weren’t running.
The intriguing finale was that, having taken two different “strategies” in the second half of the race, my brother finished 40 seconds ahead of me! I beat my NYC time by 3 minutes, coming in at 5:46:59. My brother beat his NYC time by 8 minutes, coming in at 5:46:19.
Perhaps the most impressive of all was my amazing husband. He had hoped to do this marathon, but had some injuries and other issues that sidelined his training, so he had decided to run the first half of the marathon for the experience of being involved and that would be that. He had finally managed to fit in a 13-mile training run two weeks ahead of time. However, a few days before the race he got it in his head that he was going to try the whole thing – nothing ventured, nothing gained. I knew when I got back to the hotel and he wasn’t there that he was going to finish. And, at the age of 72, my husband completed his first marathon, all without proper long distance training. Now that is inspiring!
I have promised that I won’t sign us up for any more marathons, just half marathons. But what about London? And what about Paris?!