Race date: May 5, 2012 From Philly, I flew back to Denver for all of three days then it was back on another plane to Chicago. Changing timezones is as frequent as changing pairs of running shoes. Ha!
I had a super early pickup time, which always makes me think that I was made for road warrioring (think I just made up a new word!) and ultra running - both require endurance, not a lot of sleep and 3 a.m. wake up calls! I promptly fell asleep on the plane (thank God I can fall asleep on planes!) and before I knew it I was in CST and my second favorite USA city - CHICAGO! Picked up a car and got a free car upgrade because they didn't have the economy car I had requested. It made driving 750 miles in the next four days so much nicer so it was a blessing in disguise!
I made my way to my friends place and it was SO good to see them again. Then I headed back downtown for a meeting. Afterward, I made a fresh salad at the Whole Foods Market salad bar. (Another eating healthy on the road tip.) Found free parking along Lake Shore Drive and went for a nice run before heavy thunderstorms chased me away, but not before I took a few photos for my Instagram feed!
Friday I had to drive up to Kenosha, Wis., to pick up my race packet and it literally was just packet pickup. In all my years of going to race expos, this was the smallest one I have ever seen. AND I WAS OK WITH THAT. I dislike expos where everything including the kitchen sink is being marketed to you. Then I made the drive back to Chicago. Yes, it was a long day. I had a lovely meal at Native Foods Cafe in Chicago before heading back to my friends and hitting the sack. I also called Brandi and we went over our game plan for the following morning.
Saturday morning came quickly and I was on the road by 5 a.m. As I was driving up to Kenosha, heavy rain storms began to pound the window shield. Brandi and I texted and both started praying! I arrived at Kenosha and stayed huddled in the car til Brandi got there. The rain finally stopped (prayers do work!) but the sky was still dark and stormy. It was also cold. Which I don't mind. I drank my Gen UCAN, applied Skin Sake (this stuff is the bomb!), met Brandi and walked to the start line. We spotted a few cheese heads in the race start. (This marathon is tagged as the cheesiest marathon being Wisconsin and all.)
It was go time. Brandi's goal was as it should be A) to finish B) sub 4:30). Oh how I love goals! We started off at an easy pace and had fun going through town, talking, etc. And for some reason- perhaps it was the rain?-I had to go to the bathroom desperately. I found a bush around mile 7 and quickly caught back up with Brandi. I think that was the major excitement of the day :) Well besides crossing the finishing line!
The course was out and back on a few sections so we saw the leaders of both the half marathon and marathon come by us. Always fun to see them! Brandi was doing great and we started giving other runners high fives. One of my favorite things to do! It was windy around the peninsula/lake front. With no sun to warm us up, I was glad we were moving. My hands (and feet) are still sensitive from frostbite two months ago :(.
The race course came back through town and we saw her husband and sister's boyfriend again. The half marathon course turned around and we high fived the mile marker and kept on running. We had a marathon to run and finish! Once again we were running by the lake front and it was windy and cold. It would be the common theme for the duration of the race. The miles ticked by and to keep our spirits going I started high-fiving the mileage marker signs. Sometimes it's the little things in life :).
The pain and the miles started to take their toll on Brandi, but I kept encouraging her and on we trudged. We were close to her B goal and I really wanted her to achieve it! We saw her family again around mile 22 and I know that was a huge boost! And soon enough we could hear the sounds of the finish line and with that Brandi became a part of the 26.2 family with a time of 4:17! She crushed her goal! She was greeted by her parents, sister, husband whom I also met. We got our post-race food but because it was still cold we didn't linger very long. And I had another drive back to Chicago and over to Michigan to run another marathon in a few hours. :)
(Go to Flickr for photos)