Here we are, months later and I can say it - the Chicago Marathon was not fun for me. I enjoyed very little of it and my finish time was not near what I wanted. So I kind of tucked it away, spoke as little as possible about it and just tried to move on. But while on a run the other day, reflecting on 2018, I realized that I did myself, and Chicago, a huge disservice.
In and of itself the Chicago Marathon was a great race. It’s a beautiful city with gorgeous architecture and vibrant spectators. The starting line was organized and easy to maneuver. Volunteers were friendly, and fellow runners upbeat. Even though it was a bit drizzly, the weather really wasn’t that bad. I felt rested and hydrated and was so encouraged by stories of my EMC teammates, several of whom were running their first marathon. It should have been a fantastic race, but then I got stuck in my own head.
Despite hearing from numerous people how wonky GPS gets, and to trust the mile markers, not my watch, I still somehow got mixed up. When I hit mile 13.1 on the course, my watch told me it was 14.4 and it went downhill from there. If anyone got close to me, I am sure I reeked not of sweat, but of bad attitude. I wasn’t likely I to hit my time goal so I contemplated stopping. Not because I couldn’t physically run any more but because my goal was getting further and further away from me. I actually had the conversation with myself about what I would say to people – “oh I just stopped, no reason other than because I wasn’t going to hit my A goal. Or my B goal for that matter. I just stopped and got a ride to the finish.” I was serving myself up a big ‘ol pity party of one. Suddenly a guy next to me barfed. Just barfed all over the side of the road. I perked up a bit, realizing maybe I didn’t have it so bad after all. That positive thinking didn’t last. Even though everything hurt, especially my pride, I kept on with forward motion. Walk a bit, run a bit, walk a bit, run a bit. Grumble, grumble, grumble. I don’t remember much of the end of the race, I was so full of discontent and discouragement. The medal was placed around my neck, I received my free beer and made my way to where I was going to meet my friend and teammate Traci. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Disappointment filling the space where elation should have been.
Traci and I waddled back to our hotel and had celebratory drinks and burgers. We relaxed in our room, telling tales and watching Kevin Hart’s recap of his Chicago finish, and laughed and laughed. It was behind me. Marathon number 4 in the books.
I returned home and quickly got comfortable with my answer to everyone’s question of How was it? Hard, I replied. Of course it was, it was supposed to be. I felt like I was lacking a highlight reel, so I didn’t say much.
The thing I realized this week though is that running 26.2 miles, and crossing the finish line on my own two feet IS the highlight reel. Accomplishing a goal that only 0.5% of Americans accomplish IS the highlight reel. Pushing past my physical and mental limitations IS the highlight reel. Raising $3026.26 (doubling my goal) for Every Mothers Counts IS the highlight reel.
As the great Teddy Roosevelt said, comparison is the thief of joy. I compared Chicago to my previous NYC marathon experiences and when it didn’t come close, I diminished it. When I didn’t get the result I wanted, I minimized it. I robbed myself of the triumph of finishing a marathon. Simply put.
I have plans and goals for 2019 but something has to happen before I can tackle them. I need to honor my body, and my spirit and relish in that which I worked hard for and succeeded.
So here you go…
On Sunday October 7th, 2018, I ran the Chicago Marathon. I cried, I cursed, I laughed, I high-fived. I encouraged. I crossed the finish line with a time of 4:43:05 (which I figured out weeks later was actually my second best time by 47 seconds). I finished my 4th marathon in as many years. Cut. End highlight reel. Screen fades to joy.