Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I'm going to Chicago!

O.k.... I'm not OFFICIALLY going to Chicago. But my plans are to go to Chicago! The last time I was there, I was 15 years old. It was for a Girl Scouts program that centered around careers in the media. Lots of classroom time, but also lots of exploring the city. I loved it! Rich and I have talked for years about going there. He's never been, and I'm dying to go back!

So now for the running part. Bucket List item #10 = Complete a marathon. I had always known about the Boston Marathon and thought maybe someday I'd give it a try. Then I read into how you get to participate in the marathon. Unless you are raising money for charity, you need to QUALIFY to run Boston. Which means you not only have to run another marathon first, but you have to run another marathon in a certain amount of time. For women 18-34 years old, you have to finish in UNDER 3 hours 35 minutes (for the 2013 marathon) - that is a pace of just over 8 minutes per mile. If you're not really into running, try to think back to the track in high school. You would have to run each lap in 2 minutes, and run about 105 laps. Ummm... maybe someday, but probably not in the near future :)

So doing some more reading, I found out that you don't have to qualify to do the Chicago marathon! You can go the charity route, or you can pay the registration fee and do it! While I would love to do it for charity, I already do the Penguin Plunge in the winter and ask for donations for that, so I don't want to ask too much of people who are already donating to one of my causes.

So this is it... my proclamation! I WILL BE RUNNING IN THE 2012 CHICAGO MARATHON ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2012! This is truly going to take a lot of hard work. A lot of training. A lot of money. I am only at the 5k stage right now, and would still like to participate in a 10k or 2, and a half-marathon before I head to Chicago (Bucket List items #8 & #9). There are going to be nights and/or weekends when you'll want to get together with us for dinner or drinks, but my training and scheduled races will have to come first. There are going to be places I'd love to go, things I'd love to buy, but they will have to wait. It is going to take around $2,000 at least (probably more) for Rich and I to go - the hotel cost, the airfare, the registration fees, the food, the souveneirs - nothing is free! I am starting with $50 in our fund (donations are greatly appreciated!) but I will make the sacrifices I need to make to be able to do this. If you consider yourself one of my friends, you will support me in this. I'm not saying I won't have time for people, but changes need to be made for this dream to become a reality. Don't be upset that we can't afford to come out for dinner - come run with us instead! Sign up to do a 5k with me and then start the Couch-to-5k program - you'll be surprised by how much you can accomplish too! If you think you can be really determined, try to get to Chicago with us! There is no reason why I can make it there next October and you can't! I certainly don't have the body, don't have the stamina, and don't have the money - but I will! Make a positive change in your life like I've made in mine! I promise we can have one hell of a celebration when I get back from Chicago :)

This is going to happen!
In less than a year, I WILL BE A MARATHONER!

Monday, October 17, 2011

ING Hartford Marathon

The last couple weeks I felt like a little kid waiting for Christmas to arrive! Rich was going to do his first marathon on Saturday, 10/15, and it felt like it took forever for that day to get here. Every day was like an eternity! I asked him numerous times how he was feeling in the 2 weeks or so leading up to it. If you've ever met Rich, you know we're a lot of the same, but a lot different at the same time. I'm more outspoken, to say the least, and Rich is much more reserved and not very talkative. It seemed he got more and more excited as the days went on, but lets not forget that we have different meanings of excitement. He was ready to just get out there and run, not talk about it for 2 weeks. One night he asked me how I was feeling about the marathon. I wasn't even sure why he really asked me. I told him I was anxious. I couldn't wait to be there - to see him start, to see him finish! And then I said, "a little jealous." He responded, "wow... that's honest." And it was. As proud as I was of the feat he was about to tackle - and conquer - I still wished I was at the level that he was at so that I could get out there and do it with him. If I had gotten off my ass years ago and started making the improvements in myself that I'm making now, I could've been there too. But that's water over the bridge and we are where we are. And if I couldn't get out there and run, I knew for damn sure I was going to give him all the support I could! I read for hours and hours and days and days about suggestions, recommendations, stories that other marathoners had told about their first marathon or their 50th marathon. I passed on every little bit of info I could - even if it didn't mean much to him this year, I knew it would stick with me for when I eventually got to that point.

Thursday night we went to the Expo at the XL Center in Hartford to pick up his bib. You could pickup on Thurs., Fri., or Sat. morning, but we figured that the sooner we got everything straight, the easier Saturday morning would be. Plus, they were giving out free beer between 5-6pm on Thursday night. 'Nuff said - Rich was there!

He got his t-shirt, his bib number, and we walked around looking at different booths. We ran into a woman who used to come into Mobil years ago when we worked there (she was giving out free granola bars). I also ran into a guy that my mom used to work with years and years ago. Another bonus was that Rich was able to pick up the Gu he wanted to bring with him on race day and a stick of BodyGlide, saving us a trip to Dick's on Friday after he got out of work. We walked by a mannequin wearing an ING Hartford Marathon sweatshirt and a medal around its neck. I pointed it out to Rich. He said, "Oh that's the medal that the winners get?" I said, "That's the medal that YOU are going to get!" He had no idea every finisher got a medal!

In true Rich fashion, all of his stuff was laid on out Friday night - highly recommended for an easy Saturday morning! Bib number was pinned to his shirt. Shorts, socks, sneakers were out. Gu. BodyGlide. KT Tape. Not sure if I'm forgetting anything. Also, the tuna casserole for carbo-loading worked out really well! Saturday morning we were up at 4am so we could leave by 6. You never would have known he was about to run his first marathon!

The drive to Hartford was smooth - that's probably the first and last time I'll ever say that! It was a little bit of a chilly walk to where the start line was. We had just over an hour until the gun. I know he just wanted to get going and hated waiting around. Better to be there early than late though. The people started crowding in and I couldn't believe how packed Hartford was! This was by far the biggest event (outside of a concert) that I had ever been to. It was AMAZING! We people watched for the most part until it was time for him to run. I love looking at all the cool outfits people put together. One of our favs was a guy (with a CRAZY moustache!) in a t-shirt that said "Where the ___ is the finish line?" Rich wants that shirt :) I left him around 7:45 as he got in with the crowd and I made my way to the opposite side of the start line so I could see him take off.

They played a recording mentioning 11 of their highlighted runners, did the National Anthem, and then it was go time!

The runners just kept coming and coming and coming! I spotted Rich as he ran by, but he hadn't noticed me. I started to cry a little. I couldn't believe my baby was running a marathon! As soon as all the runners had gone by, I hiked my ass down to the Mile 5 point. I didn't think I'd have a chance to get to any other spot on foot to catch him, but figured out I could make it there and still have PLENTY of time to make it back to watch him cross the finish. I got there in time to see a good majority of the half-marathoners (who had split from the full around Mile 1) pass by. It was about 5 or 10 minutes until the marathon leaders ran by. It was barely 25 minutes and these people were already at Mile 5! Little by little, more marathoners were coming by and I clapped and cheered for all of them. It was so overwhelming being there! The smiles I got, the people saying thank you - these people were running 26.2 miles and they were thanking ME! It was so inspiring seeing these people of all shapes and sizes out there running. Just under 50 minutes, I saw Stephanie (actually, she saw me!), a girl I had gone to high school with who I just connected back up with in the last few months or so. She ran from the other side of the street over to me to give me a high 5! This girl had to run another 21 miles still and she was using up energy to give me a high 5! I was so happy to see her! I knew her pace was just a little faster than Rich's normal pace, so it wouldn't be long until I saw him. I had my eyes out for his bright green shirt like my life depended on it. And then I saw him! Ahhhhhh!!!

Rich didn't think he'd see me again until the finish line, so I was happy to be able to surprise him there. He smiled when he saw me, and gave me a high 5 too as he ran past. It felt so good to see him out there in the middle of the race :) I knew it would be at least another 3 hours until he finished, and I was just going to be waiting around anyway, so I stood there and clapped for every other marathoner that walked and ran past me. All that clapping though, my arms HURT! But I told myself that if these people could get out there and run 26.2 miles, I could deal with the pain for an hour or so of clapping. I know from personal experience how good it feels to have someone cheering for you, especially when you're at the end of the pack. I've been there many times, when most people have gone back inside or headed to the finish and you're left with no one out there but yourself. I made sure that every one of those people got the support they deserved!

I walked back towards Bushnell park, talked to Rich's brother to give him an update, and walked around where the finish expo/celebration was. I had plenty of time to kill! Then I made my way to the finish line. I watched numerous half-marathoners finish. I saw the winning male AND female marathoners finish - and I'd like to add that the winning woman was running her FIRST marathon! I saw people collapse. I saw people cry. I saw people puke. A lot. I was as close to the "after" side of the finish line as you could get - right on the fence. I told Rich I'd be there at the finish and I had no intention of leaving until he crossed that line! When it hit 4 hours, I knew it was getting close. Rich had said he'd finish in around 4:20/4:30 as long as all went well, but it could be much longer if anything happened. At 4:15 I saw Stephanie finish - YAY!

Rich was only about 4 minutes behind her when I saw them at the Mile 5 mark, so I figured he should be there not long after her. 4:20 came and went. 4:30 came and went. 4:40 came and went. Even with a few port-a-potty stops along the way, he should've been there now. I thought for a second that something had gone wrong. I was supposed to get texts at 13.1, 17, and 20 to tell me where he was (not from him, from the organizers), but I never got a single one. I was worried for a minute, but told myself I had to keep positive. I kept the camera on the whole time, afraid I'd run the battery out, but afraid that if I turned it off he'd get to the finish line and I wouldn't catch it. And then, just a few minutes before 5 hours, there he was!

YAY!!! I can't put into words how happy I was at that moment! I pushed my way through a couple people next to me (and kind of into the elite area) so that I could get to him. He walked over to me and I hugged and kissed him. And then started crying :) I noticed him limping though as he walked over to me, so after what seemed like the longest hug ever I asked what had happened. It was his hip - an issue he had a couple months back when he was walking home from work one day that had disappeared up until Mile 18. He said he started to feel it around Mile 17, really felt it at Mile 18, and knew at that point that he shouldn't push it. So he walked (super fast!) from Mile 18 to 26.2, and did a quick run just to get under the finish line!

I met him around the side to take his picture and help him hobble over to his free beer (pretty much his whole motivation to make it from 18 to 26.2!). The guy at the Ten Penny Ale booth where Rich got his free beer had a severe lack of personality to say the least. He was actually pretty douchey for someone who was greeting people who had just run 26.2 miles! It's great that you're giving something away for free, but you're still promoting a business dude. Along with his free beer, there was a hot dog table in the beer garden for the runners to get some free grub. As I helped Rich make his way over there (through the Bushnell Park mud I must add, after the downpours the night before), the woman told us that there were no buns left, just hot dogs. WTF?!?! So he got 2 hot dogs and put mustard on 'em and ate 'em with his hands. I suppose it's better than only having buns left and running out of dogs, but still! Also, the port-a-potties in the park were pretty scarce, and the ones that we did find were pretty full. I'd say that the beer dude, the hot dog buns, and the port-a-potties were really the only big complaints of the day though. It was a very well organized event, and Rich said the most well-organized event he'd ever done.

In the end, he finished with a time of 4:56:24 - still under 5 hours! An AWESOME time for his first marathon! Next year he will run one with me. For now he's working on recovery, and lots of eating :) Congratulations to him and everyone else who finished the ING Hartford (full and half) Marathon - and everyone else who sets out to conquer a goal!