Friday, October 18, 2013

A Marathon Weekend: Race Day

February 19th:  Chicago Marathon opens registration.  I registered Steven.
May 27th: Official Training for the Chicago Marathons begins.
October 13th:  Race Day

When I think about the 8 months that passed from the time Steven committed to the training until the time he actually ran the race, I am astonished.  He set a goal and he achieved it.  Erica set a goal and she achieved it.  Sarah set a goal and she achieved it.  40,000 people set a goal and they achieved it.  Watching dreams come alive as they ran was unbelievably touching. 

The actual day of the race, Mark, Erica, Steven, and I woke at 5:30am and headed downtown.  Since the spectators and racers were expected to be over 2.7 million, we decided not to take the rental car and use public transportation.  We took the bus a few blocks and then hopped on the train. 

 {Waiting for the train to Magnificent Mile}

When we came up the stairs to street level all you saw were runners...and spectators...and more runners.  It was madness.  The excitement was mounting whether you were running or not.  However, rarely do you pass the Art Institute of Chicago on your way to a race.  I had to have them stop for a pic.  At this point Steven had his 'race' attitude on.  Asking him to stop for a pic was a stretch, but he did it.  I'm sure now he is glad to have this moment captured.  There's a lot of emotion wrapped up in this pic...

{Mark, Erica, and Steven}

A few blocks away from this pic is where we dropped Steven off for his corral.  This is where I lost it.  I was getting ready to let my husband navigate through thousands of runners and begin the hardest physical challenge he has ever known by himself. By. Himself.  I held on to him, prayed over him, and cried.  CRIED.  I'm crying now thinking about it.  He worked so hard.  I was so proud of him, yet I was also so nervous.  As he turned to walk through bag check, I put on my big girl panties and walked with Erica and her husband to find Sarah.  After a few phone calls and texts we found her, snapped a pic and let the ladies get to their corral.

   {Jeremy, Sarah, Erica, and Mark}

From here Jeremy, Mark, and I walked a few blocks to catch the runners at Mile 2.  So many people told us it would be nearly impossible to see your runner.   We still stood there scanning through all the racers.  I'll let you figure out if we saw them or not...
Who is that crazy lady yelling for my husband?  Who am I kidding?  I was so stoked to see him running.  He looked amazing.  Proud wife moment for sure.  I was so excited about seeing him that when Erica and Sarah came I stuck out my hand for high fives, but didn't get a video of them.  I'm a bit mad at myself for that.

After the girls passed we headed to the train to try and get a glimpse of them at Mile 8 near Wrigley Field.  As soon as we arrived, I quickly learned Steven had already passed Mile 8.  I hung around for Sarah and Erica and we got to see them.  They looked amazing. After them chunking their outerwear at us, we headed back to the train.  This is when I realized if I hoped to see Steven again I would have to separate from Mark and Jeremy.  Jeremy, being the only one who has lived in a big city, showed me the best way to catch the train by myself to see Steven.  I was so thankful for him taking the time to get me where I needed to go.  I got to Mile 23 and waited for Steven.


By this time I could tell he was hurting.  My heart hurt.  Seeing your loved one in pain is not easy.  Maybe that's how he felt as I was popping out his 3 kids...

I hopped back on the subway by myself and headed to Mile 26.  Right when I got off the train my phone died.  I thought for sure I would catch Steven at Mile 26 right before he turned the corner to the finish line.  I waited and waited and waited.  I saw many runners he was with at Mile 23.  I waited a bit longer.  I never saw him so I headed to the Runner's Reunite area to wait for him.

He never came there either. I stood there by the 'S-T' sign for 2 hours.  I was afraid to leave.  I had no phone and was surrounded by foreigners waiting for their loved ones.  My only thoughts were, "If I leave here, we'll never find each other."  So I stayed.  And stayed.  And stayed.  It was the most awful wait ever.  I began to think something happened.  Why wasn't he coming to the Runner's Reunite area?  Just as I was beginning to find a race worker or Chicago PD I spotted Erica's husband.  He knew where Steven was and took me to him.

Just as I was about to wrap my husband up and tell him how proud I was, he grabbed me and CRIED! Steven didn't recall the conversation we had about a meeting spot.  When he realized I was no longer with the husbands he looked up the location on my phone and saw it was at the train station.  He thought I had been taken.  Like the movie Taken.  He called his uncle, a retired Chicago detective, and cousin, a current Chicago PD officer, and they were beginning to contact other officers to find me. 

Now it's funny.  Then it was not.  My heart hurts that at the time he should have been celebrating his biggest accomplishment, he was so stricken with fear that his wife had been kidnapped.  On the other hand, at least I know he cares.  OR, maybe he was worried that he was going to have to raise these hooligan kiddos all by himself.

Once he realized I was safe, he let his guard down and began to show how hurt he was from the race.  His hammies cramped up during the race right after Mile 23 causing him to stop and stretch them out multiple times, and his knee was in bad shape.  It was hard to watch him in so much pain, but he did it.  It completed a goal he had been working on throughout the entire summer and beginning of fall.  What a man!


The above picture was taken by Steven's aunt and uncle.  They were able to catch him out of the exit gate.  I am thankful for them traveling from IN to cheer him on.  We seriously have the best families ever.

Steven,  I am so proud of the work you put in.  Your determination and mental toughness makes me strive for better personal achievement.  You set the example of toughness and a 'Can Do' attitude for our children.  Thank you for pushing us all to be better.

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