I’m still processing all of my thoughts and feelings regarding the Chicago Marathon. I’m glad I finished, no doubt. It was a struggle this year, unlike last year. I’ll admit and to all non-marathon runners this may seem crazy, but I am a bit disappointed. It was at some point, pretty much in Chinatown, that I decided this wasn’t going to be my last marathon. I was in pain, my legs were hurting, from my hips all the way down to my feet, especially my feet. I was on 33st Street planning to take a walk break on Michigan Avenue. I completely forgot about the turn south on State Street to 35th then to Michigan. I couldn’t believe it and I can’t describe how bummed out I was by that little detour. If that moment would have coincided with an aid station, I might have quit. Even so, again I don’t know if this feeling is relatable or not, but after the horror of a right-hand turn on State I had to walk, I had too. So I did. I felt like shit, I wanted to cry but I just couldn’t run anymore.
I turned on to 35th Street and felt a little better; funny how it all can change so fast. I decided I would walk until Michigan Avenue then start running again; and I did and didn’t stop. Which is why I’m not as bummed out as I might have been otherwise; I started running at Michigan Avenue and I didn’t stop until the finish line. I was moving remarkably slow. People were walking faster than I was running, but I didn’t care. No, that isn’t true, it pissed me off. Not at them, but at myself so I kept going. I stopped caring about the mile markers. It was all about the blocks, counting down to 1200 South, Roosevelt Road. I cheered every time I hit a milestone I had made up on the way; I’m in the 2000’s, “Whoo!” 24th Street! Whoo! Twelve blocks to go! (and who the fuck put 24th Place in here?) I’m in the teens, “Whoo!” 18th Street! 14th Street! I could see the finish line, the big video screen at the sharp right turn on to Roosevelt. But the best part of the finish was seeing my family on the final turn, trudging up that damn hill on Roosevelt Road. I wasn’t expecting to see them there, so the surprise and resulting lift was awesome.*
*Later my wife commented on how I was limping. Ever since high school I’ve had good form while running, deathly slow, but good form. When I get back to the gym I’ll be curious to see what kind of damage I’ve done by limping along for 2+ miles. At this point everything hurts, so now isn’t the time to figure out what needs work.
When I crossed the line and looked at my watch, I confirmed my disappointment. I finished well past 5 hours, 5:53 to be exact, almost a complete hour slower than last year. I know I can go back and look at the training schedule and see what was different, where things went wrong, or maybe not quite right, but that’s for later. I’m still sore, both in my body (and I mean whole body) mind and soul. There is just too much going on right now in my head and it’s too hard to sit for too long, to really ponder 2013 at least as far as the final result is concerned. One thing I am sure of, however. This is not my last marathon, no way. I’m not going let this be the last memory of an activity, a lifestyle really, that I’ve come to embrace as a part of me. I was already thinking that about skipping Chicago next year and looking at some of the smaller races nearby. As disappointed as I am, my determination has been renewed. As sore as I am, I’m finding it difficult to take a break, heal, relax and reset. I want to get started on the next training plan. I want to exorcise the past and quiet my demons, if only for the next marathon.