So, I will let the pictures do most of the talking.
Crazy week at work. Lots of insanity.
Friday-stayed late to help a few kids. Came home. Ran 6 miles and felt great. Packed, and got on plane. Listened to InTransit Duo on the ride and read Women's Health. Tried to chill out a bit.
Landed in Chicago and Jacks picked me up--and instantly the stress was gone and I remembered why I was here--to spend time with my good friend in one of my favorite cities and do one of my favorite things to do: cheer someone on in a marathon.
We slept in and relaxed Saturday morning and caught up. She's one of those friends that you might not see for months, but the second you're together you are laughing and joking about old times like it was five minutes ago.
Like it was that day that we threw furniture off the porch and drew all over our house with a Sharpie. Or she tackled me in my pajamas in the snow as we rolled down the hill at 15 E Vine.
One of those friends.
So the next day, she started to get ready.
We laid everything out--I brought a race belt for her and she got her GU's ready.
Then we went to Ranalli's to have dinner with her family, which was so much fun. Of course, she took me to Lululemon to get some AWESOME clothes that I probably shouldn't have bought but oh well the store's not around here so it's OK.
And then, it was time for bed. She was nervous but ready. "Chomping at the bit," I said, "that's how you're supposed to feel according to my coach. That means you tapered well." She just wanted to get it going already. We went to sleep, and then it was 5am and she left. I headed to just before mile 5 around 8 so I'd be sure to see everyone, and look for Mouse. It was very chilly--38 is what they were saying on the news, and a bit windy. Not raining though, and for that I was very happy. These guys can run in this--they will be fine.
Soon, I saw the wheelchair athletes and they were inspiring.
And then, after several rounds of phone tag, there she was....MOUSE!
We jumped around a bit and screamed like freak shows. It was cool. We tried really hard to look for Zeke and Walchka, but we kept getting dizzy by all the people flying by us.
We managed to see E-Speed and screamed our butts off--she smiled and waved so we knew she heard us!
I was on the lookout for a bright pink headband and pink shirt...and then I saw her!
She smiled and threw her long sleeve shirt at me! She must be feeling great, I thought!
Mouse and I practically bounced a few blocks with excitement to get to Mile 10. We were so freaking pumped to see each other and our friends. Plus it kept us warm. (Bouncing, that is.)
We saw E-Speed again and screamed our lungs out for her! She saw us too and waved again. Then I saw Jacks again, too! She waved and all you can really see here is half her smile and her arms!
She was looking REALLY strong! Mouse and I were freezing so we tried to go to Starbucks for coffee. The line was insanely long. We wanted to see the Running Jayhawk again so we decided to go to....I'm ashamed to type this...McDonald's.
But they do have good coffee....right? So we warmed up a bit and chatted--what a cool chick. She will rock the Deeeeetroit marathon next week, I just know it.
Okay. Time to see if we can find Running Jayhawk. We managed to cross the street somehow in the sea of people and THERE SHE WAS!
Looking STRONG! GRRRRRRRRR!
OK. Gotta get on the L. Brown line to Green Line to 35th and Bronzeville, to meet my girl at mile 23 so I can run with her the last few miles. We got there and cheered and cheered and cheered. I barely have a voice today.
It was awesome.
You could start to see it in people's eyes--that they knew they were in the home stretch. I saw a guy with an Ironman Wisconsin shirt on and said, "Go, Ironman Wisconsin! Go....WAIT....
*takes off running, Mouse watches, confused*
It was him!
RUN BUBBA RUN! SOMEHOW I FOUND HIM IN 40,000 PEOPLE???!!! I screamed my head off for the 587th time.
The REALLY crazy part? He was RIGHT in front of Jaclyn! I hugged Mouse bye again, and took off!
"How are you feeling? You are looking so good! You look strong! Almost there!" I said. I said about everything I could think of to make her smile.
"Do you need anything?"
"A new pair of legs" was all she could get out with a smile.
"YOU'RE DOING GREAT!!!!!"
And her and Bubba stopped for some water--I mean, the irony, people?! One of my best friends and best IronFriends, running together and they didn't even know it!
Jacks and her friend Mike had been together the whole day.
Here is her Running Club's Hi-Five Stand!
Quinn, who was running 17 in preparation for the Miami Half Ironman, grabbed my camera and snapped this one.
On this stretch, the wind was pretty bad and the crowd was thinning out. I told her just to follow me and we'd get there together.
We ran side by side and kept on going. And then, she smiled and said, "Turn the corner and up the hill!" softly, but with excitement. I could see it in her eyes--that look, you know, when you know you're going to make it. When you know you've DONE it, even though it's not done.
She ran across the bridge with a huge smile on her face.
I got my last glimpse--and picture--of my IronFriend Bubba, running with Jacks as they made the final turn.
There it was: the finish line. She picked up her stride and her smile got even bigger. "You've GOT this!" I screamed! "GO, GIRL!"
And she made it, with her hands thrown up in the air and a huge smile on her face.
I was so happy to be with her and tried to get out of the way to let her have her finish line. She worked so hard to get there.
I did snap this picture though.
She got her medal and we found her family, who were so proud of her! Hugs and smiles were everywhere. We headed towards the Bean so we could grab a cab to Barleycorn for some food, but not before I got to see Walchka and give him a hug for about 2.3 minutes before I had to take off! What a great guy.
He ran a solid race and was all smiles.
And then, before I knew it, I was back on a cab back home. What a day. What a rush.
I think that's my next thing. I love running so much. I really do. I think I really will make my next goal breaking 4 hours.
I think I have it in me.
And now I've got another friend along for the ride.
As I stared out the window on Lakeshore Drive and saw the lights in the city and the sun going down, I got a little wistful. I almost lived here. I love Chicago. I applied to some schools there but really would have loved to live in the city, and that's just not easy to do on a first year teacher's salary. So I didn't.
But a little part of me wonders...what might my life have been like? What would have been different? It's like one of my favorite songs, Dancing Nancies.
"Could I have been anyone other than me?"
Probably. It would make an interesting story I bet. So many choices in life, one little choice could change everything. What college you go to--I never would have met Jacks if I didn't go to Miami. What city you move to when you're 22. Who knows?
I got on that plane and went home. It felt good to be home after my weekend, but what an amazing weekend. I am so lucky to have such a great friend. She got me through Ironman Wisconsin, so if I made her first marathon weekend just a teensy bit better than I can know I did my job.
And to all the friends I met that weekend and the ones who ran by me on that course, thanks for making it so fun to watch.
Enjoy your recovery, and for me, well, I'm thinking about what's next.
A little of what could have happened.
And a lot more about what's to come.