Monday, October 23, 2006

A Picture Tells a Thousand Miles

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.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We laid everything out--I brought a race belt for her and she got her GU's ready.
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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.
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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.
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And then, after several rounds of phone tag, there she was....MOUSE!

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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.

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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!


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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.


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!

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Jacks and her friend Mike had been together the whole day.

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Here is her Running Club's Hi-Five Stand!

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Quinn, who was running 17 in preparation for the Miami Half Ironman, grabbed my camera and snapped this one.

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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.

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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.

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She ran across the bridge with a huge smile on her face.

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I got my last glimpse--and picture--of my IronFriend Bubba, running with Jacks as they made the final turn.

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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!"

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And she made it, with her hands thrown up in the air and a huge smile on her face.


First marathon.


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.

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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.

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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.


jkrunning--Just Keep Running said...

What an awesome recap!! And the pictures were awesome. I want your friends back muscles. She looks awesome in that pink shirt. I must get to the gym....

E-Speed said...

great pics girl! So great having you out there! I'll have to return the favor next year, need paced for a 5k PR or cheered on at Cleveland??? Just ask! You and Sarah were the only spectators I saw out there that I knew and you guys kept me going much faster than I expected for much longer!

Running Jayhawk said...

oh man...those are some...stunning photos ;)

You totally rock!!!

If you can, could you please send me the files so I can add them to my collection?

You're the best for being out there cheering everyone on! You really kept me going!

Rae said...

Love the pics!! It looks like you guys had so much fun. Chicago is such an awesome city!!! I am just dying to run now!!!!!

Have a great week and hopefully one day we'll be in the same city at the same time!

Cliff said...

This is such an awesome race..the pics..the crowd...the atmosphere...

Thanks for sharing with us.

i gotta do this some day.

Cara said...

Wow, sounds like a whirlwind of a time. Chicago rocks!

Chad Austin said...

Awesome report. That little pink top makes me cold just looking at it.

Love the part about your 2 friends running side-by-side and not even knowing it. I had some friends doing that at Grandma's this year.

Just so you know, I did draw inspiration from your IM performance during my race - especially the last 5K. So thank you.

Bolder said...

what a great post. about just cheering on a friend.





RunBubbaRun said...

You were great out there. Supporting JACKS and really getting me thru the last couple of miles. I would have really slacked off otherwise. CHicago marathon '07? You have to run it now.

Really, thanks again, might have to start calling you IRonMAN Paprazzi.

Wes said...

Another amazing post, T. You are such a good writer. Getting me excited about distances I'm not quite ready for LOL. It will be great if I can have a few supporters like you around for my first marathon.

Send Jac my congratulations on a job well done as well.

mouse said...

hahaha! what an awesome time! [and we will ignore the fact that I look so groggy in those pics :)]

I am SO glad that we got to meet up on Sunday. It was such a blast cheering everyone on with you! we've got to plan to run a race together sometime. it would be a total blast.

mouse said...
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Habeela said...

I got all nostalgic and wondering what my life would have been like if I had never left MI when I went back for Steelhead. It meant even more to me knowing that I never would have started triathlon if I had stayed there. The cool thing is that when you look back, you see all the awesome things that were unplanned that make you who you are. :)

Steve S. said...

I would've stopped at the Boston Market in the background of that one image. Perfect refueling station!!

LoneStarCrank said...

I love the fact that even when not running... there are still tons of "runners" who know what it takes to put in the miles and finish races... and they are always there putting all of their energy into cheering on others.

Good job and kudos to all those who spend their "non-race" mornings cheering and volunteering at races!

Lana said...

What an awesome time you had!!! I am so jealous!

Kurt said...

Great pics and your a wonderful friend and great support to your buddies.

This is fun as a friend of mine says!

BuckeyeRunner said...

What a great post! You are a terrific friend - I KNOW that you made her marathon experience one to remember. I want you at MY next marathon! :)

qcmier said...

So you thinking of a spring marthon? Or wait till the fall. Would love to help you go sub 4.

Glenn said...

Another awesome post! I ran Chicago the last 3 years (not this year though). It is such an awesome race & an incredible city. So are you planning on running a sub 4 in Chicago in 2007? Thanks for sharing your story & pictures.

walchka said...

Thanks for all the support Sara! It was great to see you at the race if only for a couple of minutes. Great pics!

Siren said...

I'm so JEALOUS!! I really wanted to be there Sunday to cheer and to see you, I'm glad you had an oustanding time in our fair city with your awesome friends!

Seeing those pictures made Chicago 2008 seem really, really close...

Michele said...

What a great race report and pics.
You are an awesome friend. Glad Jacks did so good, tell her congrats.
Sounds like you had a wonderful time.