What an incredible experience. I have run many marathons up this point but I have never experienced anything like this. It was like the whole state of Illinois came out to support the runners. I came to Chicago with very tired legs, having just completed the Tahoe Triple and then a 39.3 mile combination the following week. My big concern was getting to the finish line within the six and a half hour cut off time. Once I found my groove on the course, I knew I had no problems, as there were 45,000 runners out there with me. As long as I kept a steady pace, I would make it. Sure enough, I did, and it certainly helped that I had all my Marathon Maniac friends out there to make sure that I stayed on my Titanium track!
|Lots and lots of Marathon Maniacs!|
The Chicago Marathon left me completely speechless for 26.2 miles. It's not every day that a non-elite runner like me can say that he got to run one of the five world major marathons. Along with the awe-inspiring crowd support, the volunteers and other runners on the course cheered me and everyone else on. Once I hit the half way point, I stopped worrying about the cut off time and soaked up all the positive energy all the way to the finish line.
|I was so antsy at the start line. I wanted to fly!|
|What's the male version of Lady Ga Ga? Lord Gu Gu! I think I took a shot of GU at this point in the race.|
|Cheer leading Maniac!|
|One of my all time favorite signs at a marathon.|
|Yay! The finish line!|
When I hit mile 24, I noticed a guy struggling. I could see it in his step and in his eyes. He looked defeated. The two of us had been keeping pace all the way back at mile 18, but I could see that he was ready to throw in the towel. I moved over to him and introduced myself. I asked how he was doing, and sure enough, he admitted that he was struggling. He explained that this was his first marathon and that his legs were cramping up and he just didn't wanted to do it anymore. I looked him straight in the eye and said I was going to get him to that finish line.
|I knew he could do it, and he did!|
Sure enough, I stayed with this first time marathoner all the way up to the end, and when we crossed the finish line, I could see his pride emerge. When it was time to collect his bling, I took the medal from the volunteer and placed it around his neck. This guy finished strong, and I was so proud of him! There have been many times when I struggled to get to that finish line, so I really wanted to be there for this guy. I'm sure he could have gotten to mile 26.2 on his own, but I'd like to think that I helped him out just a little by keeping his spirits up and mind off of the pain. We definitely shared a special bond for 2 miles. I congratulated this young man and wished him the very best.
|Yes, we are two different people!|
|Me and my Marathon Maniac Family! From left to right: Randy Donaldson, Heather Ziegler, Lori Alderman-Denton, and Lien James.|
With my medal around my neck, I shouted out to all of Chicago, "HEY EVERYONE! I JUST RAN THE CHICAGO MARATHON!!!" I couldn't help myself. The runner's high was just too much. I was smiling ear to ear as I limped along the rest of the day.
|Titanium Score Board: 34 Down, 18 to go!|