|A reminder of what is important
Each year I write up a full report of my marathon adventure. I write it all down mostly for myself so that I can remember all that took place on a whirlwind day but also to inspire other to create their own “marathon memories” either by running a 5K, marathon or just doing something they never thought possible.
My mantra is “Forward is a pace” both in running and in life. It gets me through my toughest of times and roughest of runs. I preached it to my pace group all summer in order to get them though and learn to have faith in themselves. What I didn’t realize was that I was the one that needed to hear it, learn it and have faith the most.
Marathon morning dawned early, cool and crisp. A perfect day for a run. I was more nervous for this marathon than any other in the past, second guessing myself into a panic almost daily for the 4 days prior to Sunday. This morning would be no different.
I met up with friends and we walked to the Congress Hotel to meet other runners from our group and hang out until it was time to start. We all stretched and nervously chatted as we waited for the time to head to our corrals. One of my friends chose to lead a small group in the most beautiful and moving prayer before we headed out. It was the perfect reminder of what was truly important that day.
We bundled up and I donned my signature tutu. Tutu spirit was going to carry me though this distance today. We were all in different start corrals so it was time to part ways. My friend and I headed to our corral and at the entrance met Fr. Rob S. Fr. Rob and I have run several races together but I did not think I would actually meet up with him in a sea of 45,000 runners…but there he was waiting for a friend. We talked a bit and I introduced him to my friend asking him to keep us both in prayer as he ran and he agreed.
At 8:00am the gun sounded and we were off….my friend was running her first marathon and I was running #4. I agreed to stay with her and get her to the finish. She was so unsure and scared but I reassured her she could do this. She was ready. So off we went….Forward was our pace to the finish line.
At the Mile 1 under the Michigan Ave bridge, I chose to take off my ‘toss’ coat. This would prove to be a costly mistake. It was dark and as I moved towards the sidewalk to throw away my coat, I was cut off by another runner who shoved me as she passed. I was paying attention to her and not the street thus tripped into a pothole and rolled my ankle falling down on both knees. I jumped up and got right back to moving forward. My friend was stunned and wanted me to stop at the nearest med tent as my knee was bleeding pretty badly….NO WAY! Been there and done that! I told her emphatically NO! ….that I would just shake it off and had to keep going. Nothing was stopping me today…slowing me down? Maybe, but not stopping me …so on we went. Forward.
At mile 2 she said, “We are at mile 2 already? Did I miss mile one?” as she checked her watch. “Yup, “ I answered, “We are slow but not that slow!” We laughed and kept moving forward.
At mile 4, I heard someone yell, “Mrs Nader!!!” and there was one of my Girls on the Run with her mom and sister. I took a minute to give them all a quick hug and we were off again…Forward.
We ran through the Lincoln Park Zoo and then headed further north as I narrated the run for my friend coaching her along as we ran. Lake Shore Drive looks so beautiful from a runner’s perspective with people honking as they drive by!
At mile 7 the course turns off the lake and heads into Boy’s Town. I was reading signs when I heard my maiden name being yelled over and over as I turned to see someone chasing me. A woman had jumped out of the crowd to come hug me and say hi. It was a friend that I had not seen since college. She told me that she had been watching for me all morning and wanted to wish me luck. I was moved to tears as we hugged and she disappeared into the crowd again as I kept moving forward.
Running through Wrigleyville and Lincoln Park is always a thrill as the crowds are amazing. I wear my name on my shirt so people call me by name as I run which is so motivating. It really kept me going during the tough times. But soon I realized that my friend had fallen back and gotten lost. I tried to wait and look for her but could not see her so I kept moving forward thinking she would catch up with me.
At mile 12 I heard Fr Rob behind me again saying hi. He had passed me once before so I thought he was ahead of me. Not so. So we ran together for a bit but soon he was well in front of me and I lost sight of him.
As I crossed the bridge to head toward Greektown, I heard my name again. It was another family from school! We had a quick hug and I was off again. Spotting family and friends during the marathon is no easy task. You not only have to know WHERE there are but also what SIDE of the street they are on. So chance encounters like this are magical and meant to be.
I was making good time and feeling really great at the half way point when I saw the cheering section from my running group. That was awesome! They are like family to me so knowing that they were there to support me and the other runners from our group was great!
Mile 14 is the Charity Mile so I found the Girls on the Run cheer sections and high-fived my friends, did a few courtesies and kept moving forward only to hear my name again from a familiar voice. Suddenly I was 10 years old again hearing my mom call my name. There she was with my dad and a big pink sign. Again a quick hug and kiss before I was off and running forward again.
The cooler weather and a water belt allowed my to skip every other water stop and drink when I felt the urge rather than every mile. I think that this helped me move faster this time and run better. No walking other than water stops this time. Always forward.
Soon I had a companion again who said, “No, I am really not stalking you!” It was Fr. Rob again. How he managed to find me again was amazing. We ran together again for a bit and soon he was well ahead of me. I would not see him again even at the finish.
Mile 17 brought on Little Italy. I love this part of town as it holds many good memories for me…mostly food memories…but good memories none the less! I came upon an older (late 60’s) gentleman in a wheelchair. Not a fancy racing chair but a common, every day wheelchair. His helmet bore a sign that read “Do not tap” …I wondered how many people had, in fact, tapped his head as they ran by and how that would get old! I began to run next to him as he said, “Did the race start yet? Am I winning?” He was clearing joking and I laughed with him as we talked a bit more. He was a Rabbi on a mission to raise money for his synagogue. I wondered how long it would take him to finish the whole distance. He finally said, “Go now! You go with my blessing! Keep moving and don’t stop til you get to the finish.” And away I went. Forward.
A few young guys passed me and made a comment about my tutu. We chucked a bit and as they sped past me I noticed the one 20something had “Jesus Saves” and a cross written in marker on his shirt. The other young man had Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Written on his bare back. Underneath that was written Type 1 Diabetic.
Shortly thereafter I saw our fearless Running group leader along with his wife. They were a sight for sore eyes. What fabulous cheerleaders they are and right where I needed them. Another tight embrace and I was off again moving forward.
Entering Pilsen behind a group of runners from Mexico was amazing. The roar of the crowd was deafening! There were also folks handing out slices of oranges. I took one and devoured it. So yummy!
I kept running though the lonely part of town along Cermack. The crowds are thin but the promise of Chinatown on the other side kept me moving forward.
|Running on faith and tutu spirit at this point.
Chinatown is one of my favorite parts of the Marathon. The tall gates upon entering and the crowds there are fabulous. But the best part is that I know that the finish is only 4.5 miles away. What made Chinatown even better this year was another chance encounter. My best friend’s sister calling my name! My friend wanted to come down to cheer but due to her heath, could not. Seeing her sister was just what I needed at that point. I could feel my friend right there beside me guiding me along forward to the finish. Forward.
I crossed the bridge at 33rd street with only a few more miles to go. And it was there I spotted my running group cheer team again…right when I needed them. I asked who had passed them already and told them I was feeling really tired but they promised me I was less than 5K from the finish…now I needed my last push forward. I was making silent deals with God and the devil at this point…praying and cursing at the same time.
As I left my friends and began up Michigan Avenue towards the finish, the two young men passed again. This was our 4th encounter of the day. I jokingly said, “Ok really….why can’t you two stay ahead of me?” The shirtless one turned to me with a smile and said, “I am a severe diabetic. I have to stop every 2 miles and check my blood sugar.” It was then that I noticed the insulin pump on his hip as well as the test kit he had been carrying. No water belt or anything like that…just his test kit in his hand for 26.2 miles. I had taken the opportunity to get out my sport beans and was chomping on one as we ran and talked. I offered some to both and the shirt wearer took several but shirtless said no…he did not want to stop again to test with only a few miles left. With that they both said, “God Bless you” and then they took off…faster than ever towards the finish…all of us headed forward.
Before I knew it I saw the Mile 25 sign and felt so great. Then I ran past the 800 Meters sign knowing the most challenging part was still to come….Mount Roosevelt! It never seems like much of a hill until you are in the homestretch on the marathon then it seems insurmountable. In the past I have never has ‘gas in the tank’ enough to run this hill but this year…it was not going to get the best of me so I leaned back and headed up. Forward and uphill.
I got to the top and could see the final corner. As I rounded the corner there it was…the finish line! I was almost there! Forward …and I was sprinting with the last of what I had left. I felt great…tired but great. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face and angels on my shoulders.
This was my best run to date and the clock proved it. I had a new personal best! My first marathon was all about the finish. The goal was to get across the finish line. The second time was about the journey. Crossing the finish line was icing on the cake. The third time it was all about determination. Always moving forward despite the obstacles. This time it was about faith. Having faith in God, others and myself.
During this adventure I learned so many things about myself. Every single run taught me a lesson. Those lessons got me to the finish. I learned that I am a better, stronger, smarter runner/person than I was a year ago. I learned that hard work pays off. I learned that tutu spirit is a real and powerful force. I learned that I need to have as much faith in myself as I do in others. I learned that God reveals himself in so many ways…we just have to open our eyes. I learned that everyone needs inspiration. Some days you inspire and some days you need to be inspired. I learned once again that if you simply put one foot in front of the other…you move forward. Forward IS a Pace. I realized that I did something that many people can’t do, won’t ever start….I completed a marathon…not once, not twice, not three but FOUR times!!
|Marathon finish number 4!
And a Personal Best to boot!
Faith, Forward and Tutu Spirit!
Thank you to all of you for your months of encouragement, generous donations, faith and abundant prayers. I am forever changed…..…..
A 4 TIME marathon FINISHER!