the 26.2 that almost never was

So, there was a tiny bit of drama surrounding the little race I was involved in yesterday.

This is my story of a girl and her hopes of running 26.2 miles to glory (or at least mild satisfaction and pride).
For a week I have known that the heat was going to be bad. That "bad" is just a number or vague "that will suck" thought until you actually get out into it. Apparently, the officials of the marathon did not watch the weather on WGN to know that the temperature was projected to be into the 90's. It was the hottest temps on record for the 30 years of the marathon.

The race started at 8am with me crossing the start timer at 9 minutes 42 seconds later. It was such a blessing to hook up with a friend of a mutual friend; Kelly. We ended up running together most of the way. We kept each other going. When she was tired I was energized and when I was tired she would kick my butt to keep going! I remember feeling pretty bad early on, around mile 6 my head just felt so hot, like it would explode but after dousing with some water I was reborn and could run again (at least til the next water stop). We kept going out of sheer stupid stubbornness. I was spurned on by my amazing friends and family that ran around the city in the heat to cheer for me, knowing they would do all that work to see me for less than 10 seconds. I want you to know that it meant so much to me. Every time I got a text or phone call I could keep going, every time I knew there would be Beck at mile 7, Andrea at mile 9, Jim at miles 12, Joni at mile 17, Laura & Nicole at mile 18, Jason, Annikah, My mom, and sis Katy at mile 18 I could just put one foot in the front of the other and get there.
I know the sacrifice you made (especially those with babies) to be there cheering me on in this crazy endeavor and for that I am so grateful.




So, the drama starts at mile 21 for us. We were pacing awesome (if I may say so myself) targeted to finished at 4:30 (which would beat my time in 2003). Of course, it was hot and we would see overflowing AID stations throughout the race and people on stretchers and holding their own IV fluid bags at every water stop but at around 20 miles it started to become insane, mile 20 is what runners call the infamous "wall". There were people laid out grasping their screaming muscles with a look of utter disappointment and sheer confusion on their faces. There were people laying on the sides of the course everywhere. We also would hear ambulance sirens every few minutes. We knew this was not good but the extent of the chaos did not reach us until mile 21 when after stopping to walk the water stop (as we did throughout to recharge and drink without choking) a police officer with a bullhorn started yelling "the race is over! stop running!" Now, to some that may seem like a huge relief but to us crazy people who just pushed through 21 miles in 90 degree heat index this guy was about to get a beat down from some sweaty and nasty people! I have to say I realize the cops were "doing their job" and of course, running a race is never worth some one's life but to people in our state stopping was not an option. We kept running not sure if he was serious or what was actually happening.

Cut to 1/2 mile later, more police officers screaming "you are running at our own risk, there are no more ambulances in the city! Please walk to the next AID station and a bus will take you to the finish line" All I knew was that I had not run 21 miles to arrive at the finish via the CTA. It was so close to the end I could smell it, feel it, there was no way I was stopping. We kept going but taking more frequent breaks for walking careful to not exert ourselves. At mile 22 Kelly and I split as I needed a longer walking break and some water (we actually ended up finishing 4 minutes apart :). But when I arrived at the water stop near 22 and then again at 23 there was no Gatorade and very little water being poured into cups we had to pick up off the street. I knew then that my time was going to suffer and if I was going to finish I had to let that goal go. I kept walking but after 22 miles of running walking actually hurts your feet more than running so I would run every chance I got with police officers yelling at all "offenders" at every turn. Although they were trying to keep us safe I think they grossly underestimated the strength to resist we had left in us after 4+ hours of running as curses were flying everywhere, "we just ran 22 miles, F*%$ you the race is over," "maybe your race is over!" Then there were helicopters over us with loud speakers but I could not make out anything; it was a scary situation. At mile 24 there was water and Gatorade (I swore I could hear the Hallelujah chorus swelling in the background. ok, maybe that was just the heat) and a call from Jason saying he was at the finish waiting. That was all I needed I picked it up and started running again and ran continually until the end. Right near the end there were very few people cheering but there was one guy standing yelling at the top of his lungs at every runner that was still running, "you are awesome, only 1% of the population will EVER finish a marathon, YOU are my hero" and he even personalized it with my name (written in permanent marker down my arm). While I would never call anyone who chose to run 26 miles a hero or anything remotely close he did give me a boost that I needed. All it took to finish was everything I had left and I made it, crossed the "unofficial" end at 5:18. While I was a bit disappointed with my time after getting home realizing the scope of the situation I am so excited I finished well at all . Of the 45, 000 runners 10,00 did not even start the race. Another 10, 900 dropped out before the finish, and over 350 were treated for injuries or heat stroke with one man dying. So, I feel pretty ok that my biggest aliment is some soreness and a bad sunburn and shirt burn (from the rubbing).
For some I know even running a marathon at all seems ludicrous and I actually agree. I was talking with some of me fellow nut jobs as we were running to the end after the race had "been cancelled" and we agreed that you do have to be a little off to try this. I guess the only way I can describe why I would do it is that I wanted to succeed at something that for most of my life I would never have even tried. I wanted to reach a goal made attainable only by my hard work, sheer will power, and vice grip dedication. I want to see how far I can push myself physically and mentally perhaps to move the line of what is possible for me personally. I am so amazed that God engineered our bodies to do such crazy things and then recover so quickly (although I am sore today but after a walk this AM and feeling much better). I am also blessed that He gave me the strength and ability to run and the desire to do so. I find a quietness in my spirit while running that often alludes me in my daily life. I will never run a marathon to win, but for me I won, I finished well after having a baby last year and training for 5 long months, and best of all my friends and family supported and encouraged me and truly made me feel like a rock star for this accomplishment!

*there would not be enough rock star awards to go around to all those who supported me so if you prayed for me, sent a card, an email, a text, stood in the blazing heat and cheered, drove through traffic hell to find me, threw me a party, came to my party, called me, listened to crazy running stories, or in any way supported and encouraged me- thank you!


Comments

Michelle said…
You inspire us all, Rox. Congratulations!!!
SheWesty said…
you are definitely the rox star! congrats... and so glad you followed jason's advice! :)
Lola said…
You are awesome, Roxanne! I'm so proud of you.
Laura S said…
I love the picture of Anni and your sister mugging for the camera.
Grandma Ronnie said…
I'm so glad you made it safely. Someone died the last time you ran too. I'm glad you slowed down for Anni's sake. You get your strong will and strength from someone be sides me, because I had trouble just walking to cheer you on.:) Love you!
Lizzy said…
I loved reading the blog on the race. You're amazing. Hope to catch up soon :)

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