RACE DAY: CHICAGO MARATHON

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

chicago-marathon-expo

chicago-marathon-start-line

On Sunday, I had the privilege of lacing up and heading out onto the Chicago Marathon course as a coach of a charity running team.  One of my favorite things about Team In Training is the course support that runners receive.  There are coaches at every mile cheering on runners, hopping in to run with those that are struggling and offering words of encouragement to anyone that needs them.

As I left the hotel Sunday morning and escorted participants to Grant Park, I found myself thinking about what a sacred, vulnerable space marathon miles are.  Individuals find themselves at the starting line for so many reasons — running in remembrance of a loved one, on behalf of a cause that is near and dear, in honor of a personal transformation or in pursuit of a goal that once seemed impossible – and this quest for a marathon finish demands nothing less than a commitment and offering up of our whole selves.  Regardless of pace or finish time, this resolve is something I find to be incredibly beautiful.

On Sunday I hopped in with a first time marathoner near the end of the race.  She was moving forward, but was quite clearly in a lot of pain.  Well into mile 25, I knew she would finish, but as she started talking to me I could tell that she was on the verge of tears.  I reminded her that she was making progress by walking and that in a matter of a few minutes she would complete the race.  She started to cry and told me she didn’t think she could run anymore.  I reassured her that this was her race and she got to finish it on her terms, but regardless of how she got there she would most certainly make it to the finish line.  I was mid-sentence when she took off – she just started running.  She turned over her shoulder to look at me, then pointed and shouted, “My family!”  Sure enough her whole pack was just at the side of the road and she ran over to be greeted by hugs, shouts, tearful cheers and all manner of hoopla.  Then, off she went with a huge grin on her face, running along to complete her first marathon.

We commit, we run, we push, we feel as if we are on the verge of breaking but we are not broken.  We are sustained by the endurance we’ve built, we hold tight to the reasons that led us to the starting line in the first place, we are tucked in by spectators, and we are held up by our pack.  What sacred moments, indeed.

8 comments :

  • Abby @ Change of Pace

    What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing. And your last paragraph is so true!

  • Erika Lee Sears

    Yah you did it! I just started running and have a small goal of a 5k and maybe in the future to run a big race. I think one of the best parts is knowing you did it and that great feeling of accomplishment. You should be so proud of yourself. :)

  • Laura @ Mommy Run Fast

    What a great experience to see a piece of her journey! And you’re right- we can get so down about a race, but so much is in our head and our perspective. Awesome that she finished strong!

  • Cat

    What a lovely story! Your last paragraph is so true. I ran my first race yesterday, an 8km, and seeing my boyfriend at the finishing line gave me a surge of speed I did not know I had in me. And I´m running my first half marathon in two weeks and I hope to get to the finishing line, hopefully with some endurance, holding tight to the reasons that led me there and seeing my family.

    • Kristin

      congrats on running your first race, cat! i am sure you will get to the finish line of your half — best of luck.

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