**Continuation of the previous post Out of all my years of running, finishing that race was the single hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It was also one of the most humbling. I've grown accustomed to being able to go to just about any road race and beat most of the people there. I don't win many but I've always been one of the stronger runners. This was quite the opposite. I was passed left and right by hundreds of people that last 10k. Some people whose faces I remembered blazing by on the lakefront path during my training runs. I've heard of people blowing up during marathons but I never thought I'd be one of "those guys."
However, blowing up and all, I finished it. My time was 45 minutes slower than planned but I finished it. Despite the shortcomings, I would not consider the race a failure. I've been part of state championship teams in high school, conference title teams in college, have won races and even set a couple of course records in my life. However none of those things took near the will power and mental fighting than running nine minute mile pace did those last few miles of the Chicago Marathon. So far, I would rank finishing last Sunday one of my greatest athletic accomplishments.
This event made me thankful of little things. I've never been grateful in my life to just "finish." Aside from my one DNF from a concussion, I never saw finishing as a challenge. After taking my "finish or die" mentality truly seriously for the first time, I have a much greater respect for the sport - and all of those individuals (whether 2:05 or 6 hour marathoners) who all actively participate.
I also became increasingly more thankful of spectators. The atmosphere of the marathon was INCREDIBLE. Nearly 2 million people line the streets cheering you on. They don't know you from Adam but are out there yelling for you, holding up signs and encouraging everyone out on the road. I'm quite certain that incredible support from all the people standing on the sidelines made finishing the race possible.
I was remarkably thankful for one spectator in particular - my future wife - who stayed with me Sunday and took remarkably good care of me, cooking me dinner, keeping me hydrated and constantly reminding me how proud she was of me for crossing the line. I always knew I was lucky but I had a solid reminder of that over the weekend.
Will I do another marathon? Absolutely. But not anytime soon. I've still got what is either a bone bruise/stress fracture or something in my foot to heal up from the race before I run another step. Plus my wedding next year is right in the middle of training season for Chicago 2011. I'm not about to do a 20 mile run on my honeymoon.
- Chicago's Best: Locations to Watch Chicago Marathon (chicagonow.com)
- 2010 Chicago Marathon countdown: 10 days (timeoutny.com)
- Wanjiru blows away Chicago marathon rivals as temperatures soar (reuters.com)