Four years ago today I ran what would be my last marathon. I did not know that at the time but I had an idea….I was tired. Training is difficult, time consuming and takes a toll on the body.
I just could not sit on the sidelines. The FOMO was real and I needed to be out there on Marathon day….so what is a girl to do? VOLUNTEER!
Two years ago my friend Khit asked for help with her aide station and jumped at the chance. I was put in charge of Gatotrade. Now, to some that would not be a big deal, but to me it was huge. I was in change of a battalion of volunteers that mix, pour and serve Gatorade to runners. Mixing it correctly is important…too weak and runners do not get enough nourishment. Too strong and runners get sick. Prepping table to serve it all is a big deal as well. Layers of cups are filled and often blow off the tables.
The day is long and starts early. I was up and ready to go by 4:30am, finishing about 12:30/1pm. And yes….wearing the tutu!
In between all that time, we are serving and cheering runners. Our aide station is about mile 12. Today it was unusually busy, even though the number of runners was lower than in past years. Why? Medical tent. Today was hot and humid. The conditions went from yellow to red as the day progressed and that progression was evident in the faces and bodies of runners.
Spotting hurting runners and keeping spectators off the course as well as out of the medical area was a full time job today. I mean….people do not like to be told no and feel a bit entitled sometimes. I was called a bitch 39 times. I was shooting for an even 40 but….it is a dream deferred! Like the Cub fan I am…there is always next year!
I was cheering runners all morning. The elite runners are a site to behold but the wheelchair athletes, endurance athletes, and those with special needs? Those folks are my inspiration!
“You got this!”
“Today is your Day!”
“You are going to finish and get a medal today!”
“You look so strong and amazing!”
I shouted and high fived runners as they passed for hours. Eventually a spectator called me over to the side. She looked at her young son and said, “tell her what you just said…” The teacher in my thinks she is trying to teach a lesson…..and yes, she was.
“I said that you are really inspirational. If I were running this, you would make me feel so good.”
I stood, stunned for a minute and replied, “These runners are MY inspiration. I know what is takes to train for and run a marathon. It is not easy and someday WHEN you run the marathon, I will be right her to cheer you on!”
He smiled and so did I….and then I was back to cheering on the runners.
I saw 2 of my former students running (one of which cheered for me once before!). I saw my friend, the running priest! I saw so many friends who knew just where I would be. The two most important, my BRF (best running friend) and another running buddy of ours gave me tight long sweaty hugs that I will never forget. The transfer of energy was electric!
As the end drew near, there were still runners on the course….walking now but determined to finish. We started to break things down and clean up and the crowds thinned. I took a moment, standing in the middle of the street and took it all in…all that had been accomplished by not only the runners, but the volunteers as well.
The Chicago Marathon only happens because so many people work so hard in tandem with others to make it all possible. It is no small operation.
Once everything was picked up and packed up, it was time to say goodbye and head home. Another year in the books. My heart is so full.


Peace. It is a word that means a great deal to me. There are lots things in my home with that word. I have many pieces of peace sign jewelry. I have shoes with peace signs on them. I sign my emails and blog posts with “Peace.”
I always thought I loved the word Peace because I am a hippy at heart. I love all things 60’s and 70’s, especially the music and fashion. I truly think Stevie Nicks is my spirit animal. While all that is true, it is not really why I love that word and all that it embodies. I realize now that peace has been my end goal….it is what I have been looking for in my life.
During my marriage, my life was chaos. I mean, having multiple kids all going different directions and a wasband that was rarely home, chaos was a given. Or so I thought. The times the family was all together, things were no better…..they were often worse. I failed to realize at the time that I was constantly walking on eggshells, as were my kids.
Do not get me wrong, there were many fun, good times but, what I realized after my divorce, was the true cost of those fun and good times. Family activities were enjoyable but there was always a great deal of drama involved. Family dinners had a great deal of laughs, until things went too far with someone always leaving the table crying. Homework and school activities were all my responsibility (I mean I was a teacher, right?). I made excuses so regularly, it became the norm. I was always going places on my own with the kids…so much so that people joked about my invisible partner.
I felt like a ballerina because I spent so much time tip toeing around all the moods. I was constantly on alert, and constantly trying to shield my kids from the next mood swing. It was exhausting. Living in a state of hyper vigilance takes a toll on the mind and body and I was falling apart. All the while I leaned on that word….Peace.
I just wanted peace. So, I started running. I ran for miles and miles looking for peace. Running was my time to quiet the voices in my head and physically exhaust my body to the same level as my brain. Recently, I was lamenting about not training for the marathon this year and a friend pointed out that I no longer needed to train for or run the marathon. I had used marathon training as an escape, trying to find a place of peace in my life. I had finally crossed the finish line with my divorce and the race was over.
I have now retired the toe shoes and tossed the eggshells. I walk, and run, with new purpose. I stand on my own two feet that are firmly planted on the ground. I breathe deep, inhaling the present and exhaling the past. I look forward and move forward from a place of peace. My life, my head and my heart are finally at peace.