Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rocking the Chicago Half Marathon with a Grateful Heart

I don't even know where to begin.

Four months ago, immediately after completing my first half marathon, I felt over-the-moon about the accomplishment and anxious wondering what was on the horizon.

I impulsively registered two days later to run the Chicago Half Marathon.  I assumed that one of my runner friends would join me and that we'd have a wild and crazy time taking the windy city on.

One by one, something came up for everyone and I soon discovered that if I really wanted to do this, I'd be going alone.

Scared and deflated, I told my husband that it probably wasn't meant to be and that I should just write off the registration costs.

And then, out of the wood by friends emerged and made my trip a reality.

One friend (and I'm crying at O'Hare airport as I write this) offered up her family member's condo in a fantastic neighborhood.  Knowing that I was petrified to take public transportation, she mapped out my itinerary and gave me step by step directions and emergency contacts of all of her friends in the city.

The condo was steps away from Wrigley Field and both nights, I heard Springsteen singing to a packed stadium and felt like I was at the concert without paying a dime.

College friends that I haven't seen in over a decade, called, wrote, and insisted that we get together.  One by one, they traveled to me, took me to fabulous restaurants, listened to me talk about my family, my running journey, and gave me heart felt encouragement, hugs, laughter and tears as I prepared.

My husband graciously took time off of work and planned fun activities for he and our three kids to do while I was away...and then tucked a note into my shoe letting me know that I was an amazing woman.

My family and very dear friends sent me text messages, letters, emails, cards, and notes all reminding me of why I was going and letting me know that I was already a winner.

And now, I'm moments away from flying home and all I can remember is this:
  • Waking up to a 68 degree day
  • Running along a breathtaking lake front with sunshine sparkling off the water
  • Feeling a body that was strong, steady, and trained
  • Having a heart filled with joy while bands played and people cheered
  • Eyes that wanted to cry, but an ear-to-ear smile that wouldn't let them
  • Feet that never stopped running and never let me down
  • A watch that showed me a time I've never seen did I run that fast?
  • And a belief that I was meant to be in Chicago on this day doing this by myself
There is no question that I am a changed person.  I am inspired.  I am motivated.  I am passionate.  And I am extraordinarily grateful.  There are no words to express that throughout all of this process, I was never alone.  This journey was a collective effort.  I just got to selfishly wear the medal at the end.

If I thanked God, my family, friends, and Chicago would not be enough.

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