This late in the morning blog post comes to you from one sore but truly inspired blogger. I have so many things to be grateful for today and I don’t even know where to start. While I will likely blog a bit more about the actual marathon at some point and lessons learned along the way, today I need to share just a few highlights and offer up some serious thanks where it is deserved.
Marathon weekend started on Friday morning with a trip to the expo. I went with my husband and my childhood friend Jerry that I convinced to come join our team and run the marathon. I was expecting all craziness to be going on there but somehow Carey Pinkowski and his team have this process down to a science. Within minutes of my arrival I was checked in and had a bib and was sent to pick up my shirt near the back of the expo. I assumed I would be seeing long lines when I got there but instead went right up and got my shirt. This process was perhaps the most painless of any race check in I have ever done and clearly this was my biggest ever.
After we checked in we went to find the MDA Team Momentum booth. I was so excited to see all of our awesome volunteers and see what we had in store for our athletes when they arrived. To my surprise, the RRCA booth was right next to ours and Mitch Garner the Vice President of the RRCA was hanging out to greet people. Mitch is also the head of the Ann Arbor track club and was our host for our RRCA coaching certification. He is a really awesome guy and it was so fun to reconnect with him and share a little about our training with Team Momentum.
I also finally had the chance on Friday and Saturday to meet all of the athletes who are members of Team Momentum but had been training virtually. It was a really fun to finally see these people because we have been e-mailing each other, talking over the phone and chatting on Facebook for a long time. They had trusted me for months as their coach and I already felt like I knew them so well. To finally put a face to their names was beyond awesome. The cool part was that each and every one of them was as fantastic in person as they were virtually.
Saturday night we had our team dinner. It was incredible to finally be in the same room with all 140 athletes and their families along with several MDA families. Carey Pinkowski even came by to give a little inspirational pep talk. That was pretty cool because as you can imagine, the director of the second largest marathon in the world probably has about zero free time on his hands the night before the big event.
I finally got the chance to meet SuzLyfe! I have to tell you, this girl is beyond awesome and after chatting for weeks about meeting up, this was a pretty cool place to finally do so. As our team approached the race we were hoping to find someone to help our athletes near the end of the course. We needed someone who was a runner and could be encouraging during those last few miles and jump in if needed to help assist. When I heard the job description I knew she would be perfect. We hadn’t met in person yet but if you read her blog you can see why.
I barely slept a wink Saturday night. I was riding high from our team dinner and with the excitement and anticipation of race day. I was excited and nervous for all of the athletes. They had worked so incredibly hard to get to this race. Some had dealt with injuries and other struggles and I wanted this to be a great experience for everyone.
Team Momentum didn’t disappoint on their end. They secured an incredible pre and post race location just blocks from the race start at Lake Shore Fitness. We had full access to the gym, a great warm up area and bathrooms. Who doesn’t love prerace plumbing?!
I was so nervous at the start of the race. To keep things legal I had a bib and started in one of the first corrals. Although I wasn’t actually racing, the excitement of everything that was going just really got to me. At the start of the race I took off and kept a nice even pace until I reached mile 14 where I waited at Charity Mie in our cheering tent. I got the chance to cheer some of our first runners along. Then I started meeting up with athletes and running a half to a full mile at a time with them. I would run one section and then wait for another athlete to come along. It was so fun!
When I finally hit mile 20 I ran into Susie who was waiting to meet up with any of our athletes who needed some assistance. At this point I started finding athletes along the course and running those half to full mile sections and then walking on the sidewalk back to mile 20. I would see Susie doing the same thing with our athletes which was way cool because she didn’t even know these people. It was just an incredible understanding among athletes who were out there to help each other.
Finally I met up with one of the athletes and a friend of mine, Michelle, who was running her first marathon. I took off with her to finish the race. At this point my quads were singing some serious hard rock songs and my GPS had died a long time ago reading in at 24 miles. We ran together and cheered on other team members that we met along the course.
It was truly inspirational to run the entire course with the team and watch the crowds and all of the support along the way. It made me even more proud of all of their accomplishments and to be a part of this group.
After the race I walked back to Lake Shore Fitness where MDA had set up an amazing post race party for the athletes. As I approached the gym there were dozens of volunteers ringing cowbells and cheering for us. Then I entered the gym and our private space to be welcomed by all of the staff and our team cheering on each person as they entered. I tear up just thinking about how awesome it was to be a part of something bigger and to see runners unite.
A special congrats goes out today to every athlete who finished the Chicago Marathon yesterday. A huge congrats and thank you to every Team Momentum member who stuck it out for the past few months and trusted me and didn’t strangle me for putting them through the rigors of training. You guys inspire me and I am so incredibly proud of you. And a special thanks to Susie and Jon for running the course with our group and helping out along the way. People saying running isn’t a team sport. But it takes a team to truly make it a success.