Team 40/10 finishes the 2010 Chicago Marathon!!!

Mission accomplished!!!!  After almost a full year of preparing for the marathon, 10-10-10 arrived and Team 40/10 completed our goal.  Ever since Team captain Julie emailed her suggestion that we should complete the Chicago Marathon to mark our 40th birthdays, we’ve been dreading… I mean looking forward to this day.  I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties for a number of reasons, the best one being that I’ve been distracted by training for this event.  So this is the post I’ve been waiting to write since announcing the goal last year.

I’ll spare you all the details of pre-race prep.  Suffice it to say that we were all a bundle of nerves. As we stood in the open corral with 45,000 of our closest comrades I was astounded by how warm I already was just waiting.  A 65 degree morning in October means it’s only going to get hotter. I did my best to take in the whole experience, but it was tough.  I was in awe by the sea of humanity all around me.  I started reading all the shirts and had to stop as I began tearing up reading all the tributes to family and friends.  Facial expressions ranged from super happy, prayerful, scared, deer in the headlights and everything in between.  My expression was a combination of all these things.  Julie, Colleen and I made small talk waiting for the crowd to start creeping toward the starting line.  We hugged one another and wished each other luck. I had a sudden slight panic attack as I thought of family and friends tracking me via text, but calmed myself and focused on just finishing.  It was a bit of déjà vu when we stepped under the starting banner because we had done this same thing at the Shamrock Shuffle in March, but this was clearly a much bigger deal. 

As predicted, Colleen took flight soon after the first block despite battling varying ailments for a full week prior all the way up until last night.  A true warrior, she is.  Julie stuck by me for a mile and then she too was off to the races.  I resisted the urge to try to keep her pace because I knew I would feel like poop later in the race and there was a whole lotta pavement ahead.  So I was alone but surrounded by positive energy all the same.  The choice to wear my running tank with my name emblazoned on the front was one genius decision.  I’ve never heard my name yelled so many times, by so many people in one day! I felt like I had millions of supporters lining the streets.  Many friends had told me where they were going to be and what side of the street.  I tried so hard to remember, but “one foot in front of the other” was what I was focusing on at times.  Remarkably I saw my family at mile 12.5 and they were a sight for sore eyes.   All of a sudden I saw more friends just  a ½ block further and still more friends in the few miles ahead.  I had a couple of friends hop on to the course to run a block or so to check on me, hold my hand, and encourage me.  The first 13.1 miles was great. I walked only through the aid stations to drink or have a GU packet.  Soon after that, stopping to hug and greet my family and friends started cramps in my legs and feet.  Laurie (my nutrition angel) said less water more Gatorade.  I listened to her and it saved me I’m sure. 

My beautiful cheer squad!

The next 10 miles were full of more of the same. Great signs “run like Pheobe”, “toenails are overrated”, “run, people are watching”, “I’m missing da Bears game for this”, “You are all crazy”, “Run happy”, “Poop if you have to”, “Mommy, enjoy your ‘me’ time” “smile, smiling is your favorite”.  There were so many more and each one funnier and more inspiring than the last.  There was great music and dancing in some of the neighborhoods. I even heard my name yelled over the loudspeaker in a couple of spots.  Totally felt like a rock star. A bedraggled rock star, but a rock star all the same.  I took the opportunity to run through every hose I could.  The red alert flags were up and I wasn’t about to ignore that.  I had Gatorade and dumped water on my head at every station. 

I hit my wall at mile 23. The last 3.2 miles felt longer than the first 23.  It was at this point that I started seeing runners collapsed along the route, ambulances screaming by, lots of people dropping out at the aid stations.  My pace went from slow jogging with a little walking to walking with a little (very little) very slow jogging.  I kept visualizing my little 3 mile runs in the neighborhood, but I couldn’t fool my body into running again. Then I saw the “1 mile to go” sign and willed myself to run.  It is absolutely mean that there is that hill at the end and I remember this finish from the Shamrock Shuffle as well.  I was determined to run the rest of the way in.  I felt myself choking up a little as I rounded the last corner and caught my first glimpse of the finish line.  It was the most beautiful sight!  I threw my hands up and stepped across.  Done, finished, caput! Despite feeling like I had run pretty well, my 6:01 finish was less than ideal.  I had predicted a 5:45 with dreams of maybe a 5:30 but it wasn’t meant to be. 

As I sit here with legs that yell at me with the slightest movement, I don’t know that I’ll try this again.  Today is not the day to ask that question.  I will say that I will have to do some speed work because I have to get faster.  Never again do I want to do something like that for that long! I did it and I’m proud to say I am a marathoner.  Having never run more than 2 miles in a row just over a yeear ago, I just ran 26.2 and lived to blog about it.

Thank you to Julie and Colleen for being my concience throughout this process. It is because of you that I logged all those miles.  It is because of you that I could do this.  Thanks for helping me realize a dream I didn’t know I had.

Team 40/10  – official 2010 Chicago Marathon Finishers!!!

Team Captain – Julie  5:09:04
Team Watermark – Colleen  5:11:01
Team Rookie -Toni  6:01:37

Until next time…Live well! – Toni Kuhel