I can truly say I have never experienced anything like it! This was probably one of the most challenging physical things I have ever done in my life.
During the week preceding the marathon, we all continued to keep our eye on the weather channel to see what would be in store for us. On the Sunday and Monday prior to the race, the weather called for heat up through Friday but then a major cool down for Saturday and rain but cool on Sunday. Not that I am a big fan of running in the rain, but I thought it would be better than 80 degrees. As the week progressed, the weather system was pushed out a day - now the heat was expected through Saturday - no big deal I thought. We still have til Sunday - well, not so much!! By Thursday it was clear that the weather was going to be brutal on Sunday, we just didn't know how brutal.
On Friday, Bill, Steph, Mike, Jodie, Carol, Melissa and I had some fun and took the train into the city to go to the expo - talk about cool!! There was so much awesome running stuff there I felt like a kid in a candy store.... and then Jodie and I made the big purchase - the 2007 Chicago Marathon jacket. This was a big risk - I knew that if I didn't finish the marathon I would have never worn the jacket but I took the chance!! I went with the traditional black - Jodie took the vibrant green - way to stand out, Jodie!!!
Sunday came and Bill, Steph, Mike, Melissa and I met at Jodies house at 4:45 a.m. It was already 72 degrees at this time. - most people say they just don't get runners and why they do what they do, like meeting in the middle of the night to head down to a race. But, we made it there in record time and even found a parking spot in the Grant Park parking garage - I thought this was a good sign!!
We immediately made our way over to the long line by the port-a-potties - a race tradition!! Afterwards Jodie and I headed toward the front of the pack and Mike and Bill stayed back a bit. In hind site this was a good decision.
Things were moving well in the beginning - we saw Steph and Melissa at mile 2 just to say hello!! By mile 10 Jodie was stronger than I so I slowed a bit while she forged ahead - you go girl!! At mile 13 I saw Melissa and by this time Rich had come down to watch as well (thanks Rich!!). I pulled over to say hello and wanted to get out of the mainstream in case I puked - a very distinct possibility at this time. As I was standing there I felt my skin get goose bumps - never a good sign in the heat, but I waited for a few moments and slowly continued on.
By mile 17 I again met up with Melissa and Rich - it was awesome to see a friendly face in the crowd. There was serious question at this point as to whether or not I could keep going but I forced myself to slowly move forward. It was less than 10 miles at this time - I had run 10 miles millions of times!!!
I continued to forge ahead and then at mile 22 I heard them say the race was officially over but they did not close the course. The crowd was still awesome and very encouraging. I clearly was too far along at this point to stop moving forward. Needless to say the moving could not have been mistaken as "quick" but it was forward.
At mile 25pointsomething I again saw Melissa and Rich who reminded me the race was officially over and I should just walk in but now it was personal. I had to run across the finish line! (and now I can wear the jacket).
This was soooo difficult. I could not believe what I was seeing through so much of the race. Running around people who had passed out and were laying across the road, passing people left and right who were tossing their cookies on the side of the road, hearing people yell for help when the medical people were off assisting someone else - - I continued to ask myself why would I keep doing this?
The best part of the weekend.....preparing for the run, spending time at the expo, getting to the marathon and being with an absolutely great group of people throughout this process. For all of those of you I run with or spend time talking about running, I thank you. You are all awesome and I would NEVER be able to do this without all of you, nor would I want to.
And Bill..... this is for you. I read your blog and I disagree with one thing you said....you do deserve the medal. Mother nature pulled a fast one and it was out of our control. You have more internal fortitude than anyone I know and you would have finished!! YOU EARNED IT!!!