Soldiers

I have to admit that I have been a total slacker in the running/working out department. I just have not had the time nor energy to do either and it is not a good thing. I see not only the intake of food (BAD food) increasing and the scale moving in the wrong direction. Last Monday I decided to go for a run mostly for my mental health but that was disastrous. 4 miles in the heat was more than my body and mind could handle. There was walking, tears and even throwing of various items (which I picked up…guilt got the better of me!).  All week I worried about my upcoming race and wondered what would happen once I pinned on my number. I was not ready…and I knew it.

Saturday’s race was the Soldier Field 10 miler. This is a race I have run before and really love. It is a great distance along a beautiful course and I finish on the 50 yard line of Soldier Field. What more could a girl ask for?!  Not much….or so I thought.

The TMI truck was full of my running girls as we took off early for Soldier Field. We parked in the garage, relaxed and waited in the warmth for a while. Eventually we all had to use the restroom and decided it was time to get ready to run. We headed out of the lot and into Soldier Field to take some pictures and go to the bathroom. I had some water and an AcelGel. I was trying something new this race…gel prior to running as opposed to just during the race. I was hoping and praying it would not lead to tummy issues! We waited inside and watched other runners until we could wait no more…it was time to find our corrals.

How it happened I am still not sure but as we walked we were herded into a faster corral than planned. Not to worry…we would be starting sooner thus…finishing sooner! We met some other runners we knew, chatted and waited for the gun to go off….and then we were off and running.

I am not a fan of the first part of the course. We run through the dark tunnel of McCormick Place. It is filled with bumps and holes and uneven pavement. I am always afraid I am going to fall thus I go more slowly in this area. It is scary to run in the dark! Once we exit the tunnel the course opens and we have a beautiful view of the lake and Lake Shore Drive.  About mile 4 I had some water and an orange AcelGel. I love that stuff!  We ran south until about mile 5 and then turned around and ran the Lake Front Path on the return. This is a much narrower part of the course but the the runners have thinned out and it is a tad bit easier to maneuver.  This is one of my favorite parts as I have the Lake on my right shoulder and the city in front of me. I was feeling good and running well at this point. I had lost my running buddies and, in hindsight, this was a good thing for all of us. We could each run our own race.

I was unsure what to expect as far as time goes for this race and was just hoping to finish. Meeting my PR seemed impossible with my lack of training so my goal was to have fun, run well and FINISH. Forward was my pace….I think I looked at my Garmin once but was so confused I gave up trying to figure it out.

At mile 7 there was water and a DJ. As I got closer I heard Francesca Batistelli’s song, “It’s Your Life”. This is my ringback on my phone and a sort of anthem for me. It is not a common song that people listen to…so I was shocked to hear it. As I ran up to the DJ I asked if this was his choice of music and he said yes!  I hugged him and told him thanks. One of my Sole Sisters has said that she thinks I need to hug at least one person during each race and I think she is right. I get so much from those moments! That song was just what I needed to hear at that moment. I was starting to doubt myself and my ability to finish. I was walking more now than running and I was tired.

I figured I had come this far and only had 3 miles to go…I had to finish. I could finish. Running around the back of McCormick place the crowds start to increase and the momentum really picks up. I was going to leave it all on the course today. I was not going down without a fight today. Leaving the path and heading onto the street then into the parking tunnel was just the motivation I needed. I knew I was almost there. I ran out of the tunnel and was tempted to stop and take a picture but changed my mind. I wanted the finish. I kicked in to high gear and raced towards the finish line and crossed it with a little twirl,  a curtsy and a huge smile.  I looked down at the Garmin and saw my time. It was faster than I thought but then again, I am still learning how to use it so I was not sure if it was right.

I caught my breath, took a few pics and soon my running buddies were by my side. We got some water and headed towards the BLING!!

We were surprised to find that this year, the 10th anniversary year of the race, that things were a tad bit different. This year the people

giving us our medals were active duty service members. As the young man put the medal around my neck and said, “Congratulations! You are amazing!” I started to cry. I was not amazing…he was.  I was no hero…he was. I didn’t deserve a medal…he did. It was a moment, and a young man,  I will not soon forget.

When we arrived home, I checked my time. I had PRed by 3 whole minutes!!  Not seconds…MINUTES!  WOW! What a shock and surprise. However, the PR paled in comparison to the moment that young man gave me my medal. I am forever grateful to him and others like him for their service to our country. I am forever grateful to those who have fought and died to protect all I hold dear. I am forever grateful to those who have more courage than I every day…they are the heroes  They deserve the medals.

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