Sunday was the Chicago Women’s Half Marathon. I registered to run this a long time ago but now I
was no where near prepared. I needed something to motivate me to the finish so I asked my friends,  family and Facebook who would like a mile dedicated to them. The response was overwhelming!  Each mile was accounted for within minutes!

I wrote the miles and initials on my arm on race morning as a reminder of who and what and why I was running. It looked crazy but hey…I wear a tutu!  Crazy is who I am! We drove to the race site, prepped at the car and then walked to the start.

A bathroom stop then a large sign provided a place to meet other friends and take photos prior to race start. We soon lined up, listened to some speeches (some better/less frightening than others) and the National Anthem. Then the gun went off and we were on our way. I was excited to start and was running with a new friend. I wanted to have a good run but  knew right away I had started to fast. Now it was all about covering the miles and finishing.

Mile 1 – Newtown
One of the last things a women in our group did was kiss her son. This was her first half and she was unsure if she would see him before the start. I was reminded of all the parents who would never have this opportunity again….or ever. I ran the mile feeling blessed with sassy, smart, independent kids who never fail to drive me crazy yet make me burst with pride every day.

Mile 2 – LS/GS
Two of my favorite little girls. I love my god daughters.  They light up the any room they enter and the lives of many. This part of the course took me past the Lakefront. I thought about how much those 2 girls love the water. Some of the best times with them happen on a beach!
Mile 3 – ZK
My former student who still makes me proud every day. He was a handful back in 6th grade but has become a responsible young man who makes a difference. This part of the course took me past the Chicago Police Memorial which is fitting as Z’s dad was CPD.
Mile 4 – LME
A running mom pal of mine. She has just started training for a half marathon and espouses my mantra, Forward is a Pace. I wanted to prove that forward really is a pace and I could finish.
Mile 5 – C/K/E/S/J
My kids. Through is all…good and bad…I love them with all my heart. They are one of the main reasons I run. I want to live a long time to enjoy them and make them as crazy as they make me.
Mile 6 – GL
Another former student. She was one tough cookie…and so was this mile. I knew it was going to take all I had to get through it just like I got through to her.  With a little tough love and a lot of just plain love…she turned around and now makes my so very proud every day. She gives back and helps others every single day.
Mile 7 – ALA
Oh my…I was ready to throw in the towel at this point. I wanted to quit. I wanted to raise the white flag and get a ride back….I was done. Then I heard a voice. It was loud and Italian and was yelling at me. I yelled back and for a whole mile we argued  and she yelled in Italian …. hand gestures and all!  I knew then there was no fighting her…she won. There was no quitting. I had to keep going.
Mile 8  – CA
My cousin. She and I have recently reconnected and I love it. Her mom, my aunt, was always one of my favorites. Funny, as I ran, the Journey song, “Be Good to Yourself” came on. C’s mom took me to my first concert…JOURNEY. She got me my first concert tshirt and I thought I was so cool!  Memories flooded back and kept me moving….and smiling.
Mile 9 – SD
A running pal, firefighter, and cancer survivor. He is an amazing guy and great dad. Prayer is a large part of his life and so I prayed….for many things, mostly to finish.
Mile 10 – DM
Another running buddy and truly amazing man. He is a rockstar role model for runners and for dads everywhere. He can make the best of the worst situations….with a joke and a smile. He is a great cheerleader for everyone…especially our running group members.
Mile 11 – CW/BD
This mile was for 2 people. One is the son of an old friend. He is another great dad and first responder. He goes towards trouble when others run away. Funny that it was during his mile that I passed the firefighter statue and there was a woman receiving medical assistance as well.
The other person I was running this mile for was an unborn baby. A baby that is already blessed by the  love of many. This is one lucky little child whose extended family will never let those little baby feet touch the ground! I finished the mile running past the Police Memorial. Baby D’s daddy is a cop and, like my own husband, knows too many names on that wall.
Mile 12 – DL
This mile was for an old teacher pal of mine. A man who loves his job, loves teaching and loves music. He is a reminder of the passion of teaching and learning. He is always so supportive and a plethora of information, as well as prayers. I was honored to run this mile for his intentions.
Mile 13.1 – GOTR
This short part of the run was for my Girls on the Run and all Girls on the Run past present and future. I ran as fast as I could to finish…just like they do. I ran with all my heart…just like they do. I rejoiced at the finish….just like they do.
The Finish Line – KW

I crossed the line and heaved a deep sigh. This was for my dear friend and hero, K. She is one of the most dedicated, determined, hard working, faith filled, fabulous women I know. Life is never easy for her but she makes it look easy and handles everything with such grace that I wanted to channel all that as I … finally…crossed the finish line. I didn’t want anyone to know that I had struggled or doubted …I wanted to be strong…just like her.

This race was really NOT a race but more of an endurance event. It was so cathartic for me. I feel as though I sweat out all my doubts, worries and other bad ‘stuff’. I had to push through and deal with many emotions but I just kept moving forward…pushing through it all…to get to the other side. Forward was my pace and  I finished. Not fast. Not first. Not easy. But I finished….for all of you. Thank you for running the miles with me. Forward is a Pace. Peace.

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