Second year in a row I DNS the Chicago Marathon. Super.
For those that don't know >>> I sign up. I get injured. I whine. I don't run it. I cheer. I go home. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I woke up at three a.m. Not sure why. But, I did. My friend Lee heard me up. She came into the room and said, "I'm not going to run. I don't feel well." I said, "Ok. Are you sure?" She said, "Yes." Then she went back to bed. Five minutes later I crawled in bed with her and she said, "Sorry, I just don't feel like doing it". I told her no need to apologize to me. But, I asked if she wanted to wait until I got up later that morning to really decide. She said she would feel the same in an hour. I clued her in that it was only three a.m. She laughed. She thought it was 6:30 and I was up to go cheer. Lee had also signed up for Chicago. We planned to both do this. She ended up not training. So, she had planned to only run the first 8 miles. The start back to her home. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the Marathon. The night before we were out watching the Notre Dame - Miami football game from Soldier Field. We may or may not have been over served. And, by over served I mean the bartender adored us and made us some very yummy complimentary shots that were clearly not necessary each time he gave them to us. But, being ladies and not wanting to be rude..... Well, ya know.
So, Lee was out. I checked Twitter and giggled at the tweets I saw coming over from racers not able to sleep. I know those nights. A few hours later these tweets turned into pictures of themselves in their race outfits, ready to run a marathon. I got excited. Marathon race morning, baby! I got dressed in my DES gear, texted Claire. She asked how bundled up I was. Bundled up? I was wearing running shorts, DES tee and a light running jacket. She had fleece lined running tights and lots more on. I made her disrobe a bit. Mid 40's? We would be fine.
It was perfect marathon running weather. A gorgeous fall Chicago day.
I headed out the door down the half block to mile 8 to get coffee. People were already lining the streets of Boystown. Helicopters were flying overhead. It was coming. The marathon was coming.
Once again, my dear Claire and I were Do Epic Shit cheerleading. For those new to to me the cliff notes version of Claire and me (because people ask me) is that we met randomly at an internet fun run on July 4, 2011. We didn't chat much that night. However, we ran into each other again at medal engraving a few months later for RnR Chicago. We had a very intense talk about life. About us. About running. About where we were and where we were going. We talked about our running peeps. You know, the people who get us through each and every day. I had my Daily Mile peeps. She had her Tumblr peeps. We discovered we were alumnae of the same college (me much, much, much earlier than she). Somehow I told her about the Do Epic Shit shirt I had procured earlier that day. She wanted one. I told her that she would have to EARN one. First of all change that "old Claire" facebook photo to a new "Rockin" Claire profile pic. THEN, PR her next half marathon. She changed the pic. Then I epic cheered her (taunted) her at her next half, wearing the shirt and yelling at her along the course. After her PR, I took off the sweaty shirt and bequeathed it to her. She went on the DES cheer and various race around the country when she was on injured reserve. (She is chronically injured like me, sadly) She got quite internet famous doing so. Rightly deserved.
Claire is an amazing cheerleader. She makes me look like a mime next to her. She yells the most hilarious things. She has great one liners. She heckles the runners. She over compliments them and makes them giggle and blush. Eventually I just started stealing her lines. Ha. Seriously, if you haven't cheered NON-STOP for 5 hours you have NO idea how hard this actually is. The stream or runners never stops. You are on constantly. You don't want to miss any group. So, you keep yelling and yelling and yelling and yelling. Don't even get me started at how tired your arms and shoulders get. I'm not kidding. And, my voice? Fuggedaboudit. Brenda Vaccaro seks line worthy today.
|Porta John alertn level low @ mile 8. |
Well, @ 7:30am anyway. ;)
We set up shop to start at around mile 7.5 mile-ish. Just before the fun of Boystown. Last year this spot wasn't too crowded. I was able to walk in the street a bit and scream. This year we were a bit smooshed. Even with Claire and I being tall and towering over most everyone else (FYI, do NOT stand behind two tall woman holding and waving signs and then complain you can't see. I will tell you to bite me) it was hard to get our signs waving into the street. But, soon... they started to see us. "They" being one of the many runners either Claire of I, or both, knew. She with her Tumblr peeps. Me with my Daily Mile peeps. I "knew" some of her Tumblr peeps too, but not as well.
Let me say this... having people dart out of a crowd to you and stand before you for 2 seconds while you try to process some name-face recognition while also giving them some words of encouragement is REALLY hard. Seriously. I try to first get the name right (harder than you think). Then I usually go for the quick high five or hug if I can. Then some good words for them to take on their way.
Chris came flying by first. I do not know Chris. Claire knows Chris. Chris saw me at Fox Valley Marathon cheering. We mutually followed each other on Tumblr after that. He said he promised to say hi to Claire and me along the route. I said, sure, a hello, high five, fist bump, ass slap, whatever. All of a sudden out of the crowd of runners there stood Chris in front of us. He hugged Claire. Without a word spoken to me, I turned around, he slapped my ass. Then ran off. It just seemed so very right. And, made me snort with giggles.
And, so it begins. Bring it.
Kelly came by with a kick ass smile and strong high five. I saw Brian coming up way down the street. I stepped into the street and yelled "BRIIIIIIIIIIIIIAAAAAAAN Whoooooooo!" at the top of my lungs. Got a hug, sent him on his way. Jeff zoomed by, said hi. Maryjo literally zigzagged across the crowd and flew by with a wave. It was almost like she was floating. David swooped by and smiled and said hello. Then, smiling a huge grin and seemingly skipping through the crowd came Ben. Wtf?!?!? Ben had been injured with a stress fracture most of the summer. He was in the same, "I signed up for Chicago Marathon but was injured and couldn't run" boat. I literally yelled at him, "What are you doing? What are you doing?' His reply, "I'm ruuuuuunning!!!!!" Yes, you were, Ben. Yes, you were. Michelle and her sister Bobbi, yes! Oh, lookie there, it's Ashleigh. I had no clue she was running CM. Oh, wait, she wasn't. She was pacing some of her peeps 25 miles! She never ceases to amaze me. I believe I may have even seen her pirouette. . Many more Daily Milers came by. Some I had never met before. So, it was fun to get a shout out from them.
We eventually had to leave and get to out next intended spot, Mile 20ish. However, leaving the runners mid cheer is hard. We feel like shit. Like walking out before the play is over. We had to do it skillfully. First the signs came down. We kept cheering. Then, Claire stepped back. Then, I stepped back. Then we were off. Signs in hand. Claire ordering me to run. Then asking me if I could run. Yes, Claire, I will run. It doesn't matter if I can. I will. So, off the few blocks to the El. Half way there Claire yells back to me, "Hey, remember when we weren't injured, when we were skinny and ran fast?" (as in a year or so ago) Ugh. Sigh. Ugh. I believe I said, "No, I don't. It seems like forever ago" She said, "I do. I was looking at pictures from last year. I remember" I think I try to forget. It's too painful for me to look back at how great it was. How great I felt. How great I looked. It feels like another lifetime ago for me now.
PLEASE NOTE>>>>>> This might be a good time to refuel. Take a gell cap. Hydrate. Do some stretches. You are only half way through my recap.
|running into Chinatown|
Next stop China Town. I had never been here for the marathon, but heard it was a great place for the race. Indeed it was. It was loud. The music was loud. The cheering was loud. It looked like fun. Immediately, Claire and I decided it was NOT the place for us. We needed desolate. We needed space. We needed a place where the runners needed US. So, we ran about 3/4 miles away (Andrea, you doing ok? You want to walk? Can you still run? You think you can make it? Yes, Claire, keep going. I will make it. I will). We ended up in a more industrial area. Not very pretty. Not too many people cheering. Plenty of room for the Do Epic Shit show. Perfect.
|The internet in a tutu|
We missed many of the fast runners were had seen early on in Boystown. They were either done or almost done. But, we were here to catch the majority of our other runners. Lots of the Tumblr peeps came by. I recognized many of them, but few knew who I was. Claire was there to give the hugs and the encouragement, the motivation. I did get a few kick ass hugs and was able to give my own words to some. I was able to see Tumblr David twice. It was nice to meet him. We even wonder twinned powered our #DoEpicShit bands. I want to think that gave him a bit more energy.
|Michelle & dad|
I saw a few Daily Milers here. All of a sudden Jeff was standing in front of me. Just standing. Arms at his side. With a look. Not a good look. I asked what was wrong. He said, "Everything". Ugh. I gave him a hug. He held on for dear life. I SO wanted to fix him. Badly. I told him he could do this. One more hug. Then I sent him back out. If I could have I would have put him on my back and carried him. Michelle M. was suddenly in my eyesight. I hadn't seen her yet in the race. How did I miss her the first time? Huh. Was I asleep? But, thankfully, I did catch her this time. I gave her a huge hug, then watched her run off, with her dad - who surprised her at mile one - running by her side. (How kewl is that?) Then, I threw down my sign and ran after her. To chat a bit. Run a bit. Tell her she was kicking ass. To tell her she WOULD finish her first marathon. It was within reach. Finally. (Goose)
An idiot came by. A real Idiot's Running Club idiot. Dressed in idiot gear and all. I had my IRC sign ready for him. I had seen him at mile 7.5, but couldn't get my sign out in time. This time I waved it in his face. He was hurting a bit. Didn't look too happy. But, Claire and I screamed. "IDIOT!!!! Idiot's Running Club!!!! IRC BABY! Go Idiot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" He laughed continued on. Once again I dropped my sign. I ran after him. I yelled shit in his ear. Then I turned around and took his picture. Hey, it's what any good IRC Princess would do after all.
At this point, Claire had left me. These Tumblr kids, and I call them kids because I'm an old fuddy duddy fart compared to them, were amazing. The ones not running (and there were a good lot) made sure they had lined the worst part of the marathon - miles 18 to the finish. They were all over the place. Jumping in to run with someone when needed. People needed it. One of Claire's Tumblr peeps, Smitty, (<<<read this. now.) came up. Claire realized he was running dangerously close to missing his 5:00 finish time goal at his current pace. She thew down her sign and was off. To get him to that finish ( He made it by 2, yes 2, seconds. Thanks mostly to Claire's encouragement, pacing, motivation, and really.... orders. ) I was then cheering with JBizzle and KC. They had just run a few miles with someone and stopped here and waited for more runners.
|Bobbi & Michelle|
I was still waiting for Michelle and Bobbi. Michelle was fighting some serious pain in the last two weeks. I was worried about her. I knew this would be at tough day for her. But, she had her sister by her side. How amazing was that? Pretty. So, there they were smiling and running toward me. I could tell Chelle was hurting. A lot. It broke my heart to see her in so much pain. But, she was moving. Forward. She was fighting with everything she had. I gave her a hug and she whispered to me that she was in a lot of pain. I tried to say something encouraging. Then she and Bobbi ran off. Again, I threw down my sign and ran off to catch them. I caught up to Chelle and told her that she had already ran further than she had ever run. That I knew she was in pain, but she COULD do this. She WAS doing this. I eventually had to leave her. She was in good hands with Bobbi. However, I wanted to run her the rest of the way in to the finish. It's my one regret. I wish I had.
I saw most of my peeps. Sadly, however, there were a few I never saw. (Insert sad face here). I was exactly in the spots I said I would be. However, crowds get thick. Minds wander. Things happen. I feel badly I wasn't able to cheer some of those people on.
JBizzle, KC and I then went back through the race. Walking against the stream of runners. Back a few miles to find a missing friend they left behind. As we ran we waved our signs, yelled out a few things at the racers. Then we came upon a runner down. Medical crew working on him. The water station crew had formed a human wall between him and the other racers, so they hopefully didn't see what was going on. We, however, did. They were giving him some serious medical attention. Some very scary medical attention. I thought back to the man that died feet from last year's finish line. My heart sank. Shit just got very real. We walked in silence for a bit. Eventually, I think I said, "Whoa. That was scary" Then, as if we just had to... we started cheering again. For those still in it. These racers were the back of the pack. The last people running. The real heroes in my opinion. Still moving. Forward.
This area was even worse than where we had come from. Dark and dingy. I'm still not sure where it was coming from, but come it did. It was the theme for Hawaii Five-O. I know, wtf. All of a sudden, as if in a very Footloose moment, I started to dance. I don't know what got into me. But, all of a sudden I found myself literally surfing, arms stretched out waving up and down, through the runners. JBizzle and KC also were surfing. Runners smiled. Giggled. Some surfed with us .
.Next song was "Shake a Tailfeather". Once again, without speaking the three of us danced randomly. Holding our signs, dancing fools. (Almost reminiscent of the Blues Brothers scene. ha) Runners came over the bridge and giggled. One guy ran by me and smirked. Then he stopped, came back, and started twisting with me. Then started butt bumping twisting with me. I gladly obliged. Yes, I butt bumped a strange man in the middle of a marathon. It just seemed so very right. .
We then made it to literally the end of the race, as in the sweeper finish car. Stay in front of this car and you officially finish. Fall behind and you just do it for your own pride. No medal. No name in the paper. These people here were the epic ones. Not giving up. No way.
We then headed for the L. We were going to hit the finish and post finish area. I decided I wasn't going. I hadn't seen either the start or finish of this year's race. I was kind of a bit melancholy about being at the finish this year. Last year I saw many of my friends finish. It was emotional for me. In a good way. I was happy for them. This year I wouldn't be there to see anyone finish. Just where I ended up logistically at the mile markers made it impossible to beat them to the finish. But, more, I think I didn't want to see them post race. Not that I wasn't happy for them. I was over the moon happy for them. But, at the same time I was getting a bit sad. Sad that I couldn't be that too. At this point I just wanted to go home. I wanted to be done with the marathon. I was tired. Very tired. I needed quiet time. With just me.
|This girl's family loves her.|
The crowds cheering at Chicago are unreal. I only see it from a spectator's perspective. But, I've seen some really amazing things over the years. I can't even imagine what it's like from the runner's perspective. Strangers cheering for strangers. Huge families jumping in and running along side a family member, screaming, cheering, supporting. You can't help root for everyone.
The running/ walking I did that day was tough. It hurt. A lot. I didn't really tell Claire this. Ok, maybe a little. I didn't want to slow down our plan. Oddly enough, it's when I sit that hurts most after I run. After our 20 minute L ride I had a hard time even walking at first. But, suck it up cupcake I did. I had friends running a damn marathon. Geesh, I can run a few miles. Or hobble. Hell, last year while cheering the marathon I walked ALL over the place with a yet to be diagnosed tibia stress fracture. Yes, that hurt too. And, yes, I sucked it up.
The love I get back from the runners is indescribable. Seriously. The amount of thank yous I can't even count. The eye contact I make with people is intense. Often no words are exchanged. I get a lot of points. No words, just guys looking across the street at me. Pointing at me. I point back. It's our little moment. Sometimes it's just me speaking. But, I see it in the way they look back at me. It matters. I matter. It hits me hard. It makes it ALL worth it.
I somehow made it to my 11 year old niece's birthday party later that day. She ran out to greet me with a huge ol hug. She asked me how the race was. I said amazing. She asked me if I saw all my friends run. I said yes. She asked if it was fun. I said yes. She told me that she wanted to go sometime and watch me run the marathon. I said, "Me too. Me too"
Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes my 2012 Do Epic Shit cheering duties. Any races in the near future that I attend will have me participating.
Please feel free to help me get to the finish line.
I will need it.