I say a few more blocks because my thighs were starting to hurt, they were not cramping up, but it sure felt like it. I tried to block it out and keep running, but the pain was too much that I signaled to my running partner to keep going, hoping that I would catch up with him eventually. I started walking to soothe my legs and started thinking to myself "Why are you doing this?" "Do you think you can really finish?" I knew as soon as those thoughts started coming into my head I was in for some trouble.
You see, running is a mental thing, at least for me. If I start having those negative thoughts I might start to believe them and then it's game over, but I decided to focus on the good reasons of why I was running and those reasons bought me back to the pasta party hosted by St. Jude the day before.
The pasta party was a great way for all of the St. Jude Heroes to hang out one more time before the marathon and just share stories about how their training and fundraising was going. At the event, I ran into one of the men that I met at a previous St. Jude Hero mixer and we caught up and I was getting last minute tips from him about running the marathon. While families ate and laughed at the tables we were welcomed by the event's coordinators and then shown a video about a young girl named Kate.
|The inspiring Kate|
Kate, a resident from Rockford, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. After multiple rounds of chemotherapy and a few bone marrow transplants, Kate had to have her leg amputated due to multiple infections during these procedures. Before her diagnosis, Kate was a gymnast and cross-fit enthusiast, but having her leg amputated did not keep her down. In the video we saw Kate doing pull-ups, which I still struggle to do, working on the balance beam and just being a kid. A lot of that would not have happened if it were not for the help from St. Jude.
This young girl was a great inspiration to all of us and showed me why fundraising for St. Jude is really important. Meeting Kate also showed my daughter why St. Jude is such an important place for children who have cancer. My family and I got a moment to talk to Kate and her father after the event. Talking to her about the hospital and her stay at the Target house brought back memories for me of being there. I thanked her for sharing her story with us and her dad wished me luck on the race.
After we left the pasta party we headed to the Abbott Health Expo to pick up my running bib and marathon swag. I think walking around the expo was when it really hit me that I will be running across the city in a day. I started to get nervous about the thought of running 26.2 miles, but I think the excitement of doing it was a bit more overwhelming.
|The course I will be running.|
|My running outfit.|
I could not sleep the night before the race and I ended up waking up at the time I should have been leaving the house. I arrived at the St. Jude Hospitality Suite at the Blackstone Hotel just in time to see the rest of the St. Jude heroes making their walk to their starting corrals. I got myself prepared, ate a banana and ran over to my corral.
When I got to the corral I tried getting together with my running partner who was in a different corral, but with all the noise and poor cell phone reception, we decided to try to meet later on down the course. While waiting for my corral to start I tried to relax and get ready by just stretching and taking pictures with my favorite superhero.
|Hanging with Spider-Man.|
Back to the charity block. After walking for a few to get my thighs feeling better, I started running and got another boost of energy when I saw my family on mile 16.5. Not wanting to lose my momentum, I stopped for a quick selfie with my family and that was not the only selfie I took that day.
That's right, I stopped to take a picture with the cast of Chicago Fire!
The next few miles started to feel like they were flying by. Having people cheer you on as you ran by them really helped out a lot. When people would point at my singlet and yell out "Go St. Jude!" I felt really good about why I was running. Just by looking at the signs I could tell I was approaching the finish line and then I went into a zone and just focused on finishing.
Crossing the finish line was a feeling that I can not really describe. It just felt great to be able to finish and still have enough energy to walk around and meet up with my family at the St. Jude Hospitality Suite. Walking to the suite or should I say waddling to the suite I was greeted with cheers as I walked down the stairs. Ugh, why did there have to be stairs after I just ran over 26 miles?!
My family was waiting for me at the suite along with my sister and my wife's brother and his family. It felt great seeing all these people there to share this big achievement with me. I hugged my family, grabbed some food and then relaxed for a while before I got a massage by the masseuse that was on hand at the suite.
Later that night when we got home, I laid down on my bed to reflect on the day. My wife was laying next to me telling me about her adventures with my sister and our children on the train that day. She was telling me about how the Chicago Marathon app made it so easy to track me and see where I was at any moment.
In those moments of her telling me this, I started to cry. I was crying because I started thinking about all the people that were cheering me on through the Nike app that I always use when I run. Just knowing that they took a little time out of their day to wish me luck made me feel good about my run.
I was crying because I accomplished something that I was not so sure I would do. I mean, I never even ran a half marathon and to just jump into a full marathon, what was I thinking? Finally, I was crying because I started thinking about all the children that not only myself, but all the St. Jude Heroes helped out during this marathon. As of this writing we have raised over $375,000 and counting for St. Jude and to know that it will help out so many families, makes me very happy.
Thank you to everyone that donated and you can always donate by clicking the link on the sidebar.
Am I going to run again next year? Right now it is too early to tell, but I think I am going to do it again. Although the run is not for another year, I have to start thinking about my next challenge: to conquer both the Spartan Sprint and Spartan Super on the same weekend.
Thank you for reading.