Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chicago Marathon: Day 2

The boys were up at 4:30 in the morning to get dressed and ate a banana. Having to get up that early is reason enough that I will never do a marathon. But they were troopers!

They boys went to the World Vision tent for a group picture and then they were off to the starting point.

So many people:

Just about to begin the race!!!

Angie and I were at the mile 1 marker and we saw the wheel chairs go by. Then the elite Boston qualifying, hard core runners.

Then it was just a sea of people running. I didn't expect to get emotional, but the site of all those runners had me overwhelmed with emotion.

It was packed and I didn't expect to see Geoff or Garth but we saw both of them and we cheered as loud as we could. Geoff saw us, but Garth didn't. It was still really exhilarating and I can't quite put into words how incredible the experience actually was.

After we saw the boys we booked it to the mile 3 marker. We missed Geoff, but we saw Garth and he was pumped up.

Like, really pumped up. Garth swears this didn't happen, but I was behind a girl dressed as a banana and Garth ran by and yelled "YEAH BANANA!" I think this picture proves it. I thought it was so funny.

It was such a high seeing Garth there. My parents literally walked up to us and then Garth came by a couple minutes later. Talk about perfect timing! It was so good to see him. Like really, really cool. My heart was just bursting with pride as he ran by and we all screamed and yelled for him. I got to BE his biggest cheerleader at that moment.

We went to the 11 mile marker after that while my family went to the zoo. We were at the eleven mile marker for well over two hours. We missed Geoff at the 3 mile marker so we made sure to see him and we did. We cheered and took movies and it was awesome. But this was the worst mile marker because it was really cold. Really windy. Not very crowded and we were there for what seemed like forever. And the worst part? We missed Garth. I have no idea how but we did. I scoured every runner for the orange hat, but somehow someway I missed it. We were standing there and then I got a text alert he had just finished 13.1 miles. Grrrr!!!

So we booked it to the 21 mile marker because we knew Geoff would be there soon. He was doing great and running at a great speed and pace. It was totally a God thing because were had been praying God would put people in our lives that day that would be kind and helpful. I had to pee so we stopped in a Qudoba on the way and ran into a family from our church. Crazyness! Our church is big so we didn't know them, but they took us under their wing and we got on the L. It was funny because we ended up in a family photo with them on the L. We got to China Town and saw Geoff about fifteen minutes later.

I have to pause for a quick second on some background here. If you know me at all you know I'm scared of everything. I'm not a city girl in the least. Heck, I left my pass in the slot getting on the L and someone had to tell me to get it out so I could take the L back. I just don't know these things. I have never wandered the big city on my own and the thought of it scared the heck out of me.

BUT we came to a predicament -  Geoff was going to beat Garth by about an hour and Angie had to get to the finish to see him cross. Garth had just texted me that he hurt his ankle (which was such a bummer because he never had any ankle issues during training!!!) at mile 18 and was struggling. He was going at a 12 minute a mile pace to a 17 minute a mile pace now. I knew I had to stay and cheer him on. So I told Angie to go and I stayed in China Town by myself.

Now the 21 mile marker is where people tend to hit a wall. So there was lots of music, dancing dragons and I can't tell you how many people were crying. Sobbing as they ran by me at that fateful 21 mile marker. I felt honored and privileged to cheer them on at that low point of the race. And cheer I did. I screamed for everyone that ran by me. My catchphrase was "You got this!" I high fived many people. I clapped and cheered. It was an incredible experience to encourage others on. I know I didn't run the race, but at that moment I felt apart of the race.

Garth texted me and said "I just passed 21 miles. I must have missed you. Sorry." I was about to cry. How could I have missed him AGAIN?! I had been there for over two hours. I was about to leave, but decided to ask someone nearby if we were at the 21 mile marker exactly. God Bless America, the man told me we were at the 21.5 mile marker.

Then I saw Garth coming. I was so overwhelmed with emotion and excitement. I started dancing with the music and yelling for him and trying not to cry. He started running faster and he came up to me kissed me and I told him he had this. Five more miles and it was over. Bless his heart, he started asking me why I was alone and how I was going to get back. I told him not to worry about me, but to focus on finishing this.

I got on the L BY MYSELF. I found the finish line and my family BY MYSELF. I don't mean to brag or anything, but I was extremely proud of myself for doing that. I know it meant a lot to Garth that I was there. And I will never forget that moment at the 21 mile marker. It was the opportunity to literally be Garth's biggest cheerleader.

The best part! The finish line! I met my family there and it was so good to see them and cheer on more runners.



We were at such a cool spot, too. We were right at the bend that the runners turned and saw the finish line. It was so fun to cheer them on and see their expression when they saw the finish line and realized they did this. A man even got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend right by us and we all cheered. Very neat moment.

We weren't expecting Garth for another ten minutes or so, but that boy ran a ten minute mile for the last mile and all of a sudden my brother yelled, "There's Garth!!!" We all just started yelling and cheering like crazy and it was truly a moment I will never forget. I get emotional just typing this out. I remember watching him cross the finish line and thinking "He did this." Not that I ever doubted, but I worried he would get hurt and not be able to finish. But he finished. He did this thing. He completed 26.2 miles.

Words can't even express how stinkin' proud I am of Garth. I know this was the hardest thing he has ever done. The time he put into training. The sacrafice. Literally blood, sweat, and tears he put into this thing. But he will tell you without any hesitation it was worth it all. Every early Saturday morning long run. Every drop of sweat. The bloody toes. The Body Glide he had to put in crazy places. The chaffing. The soreness. The stiffness. How far he has come from struggling to run 2 miles to 13 miles to 18 miles to 26.2 miles.

This got really long, sorry. I will break this up into two posts. Next up: Celebrating the marathon being over.


Aishlea and Brandon said...

LOVE your recap! It is soooo true. I've been the spectator and cheerleader and it is an awesome feeling! I've also participated (not in a full) and had the cheers coming for me and I can tell you how much they mean! :) I can't wait to read the rest! Congrats to Garth!!!!!!!

Anne said...

I loved everything about this post. Yeah Banana!! Made me laugh, there is no denying it from that photo evidence! lol. I remember too being so in the moment I was jumping up and down and screaming crazy stuff with no thought to the people around me as Andrew came across the line. You are right, the perfect time to actually BE a literal cheerleader. And to be so proud of him for such an accomplishment. SO cool you were able to see him at so many places in the race, and that you got to see him at 21.5! Love it. And good job for you to conquer the L! That does take some bravery :)

Rebecca Jo said...

Oh my gosh... I'm teary just reading this! I know how races hold such emotion... no one would believe it until you experience it... so I can understand every minute of this post.

LOVE that he was at mile 21,hurting & tired & worried about you!! :) So sweet

I know this is a day NONE of you will forget!!!

Emily said...

I am literally crying as I read this today. I am so proud of your husband too, and you for navigating the city all by yourself!

Brandi said...

So proud! I am sitting here with tears in my eyes! It is great you were there to be his biggest cheerleader! I had my husband and mom at the finish line when I finished mine and we all cried together!

Mrs EyeCanSee said...

I'm glad I'm not the only reader who got a little teary reading this. What an amazing story and such and accomplishment!!

And go you big city girl for navigating all on your own. That's no small task either!

Charlie's Mommy (Beth) said...

This post made me cry. You are such a great wife...not only did he overcome obstacles running the marathon but you did too!!

The Kinards! said...

SO AWESOME!! Way to go, Garth! I know you both are SO proud!!! You had me emotional, just reading it!! :) What an awesome feeling! You are such a great couple!

Andrea said...

Very cool!!!!!

katie said...

I was bawling reading this! So amazing!! So proud of Garth (and you!!)

Really inspiring too. I just ran my first ever 5k. Ha, I was too embarrassed to let me husband come see me, but if I ever increase my racing distance, I'll have to let him come watch and cheer for me too!