I registered for the Chicago Marathon.
This makes me slightly giddy.
I missed it last year because of a friend’s out of state wedding, so this will be my 5th (un)consecutive time running. I love love love the Chicago Marathon so much. Yes it is crowded and sometimes hard to snake through the thirty five plus some odd thousand runners, but the sheer volume of people is what makes this race truly special and amazing. And not only the volume of runners, but especially the more than one million spectators who come out and line the streets, cheering you on the entire way. The picture in my blog header is me running Chicago in 2003. My dad and brother were standing on the Michigan Avenue bridge with a huge sign, and amazingly, I saw them and yelled up there in time for my brother to snap the photo.
At any point in the race, you can look around at the thousands of runners who surround you, and think about how each and every one of them has their own story of how they got here, their own journey. While you are running solo, you are far from alone. I have had moments when the race was getting especially tough, was toying with me mentally, where all I had to do was look around and feel the energy surrounding me. It is like a wave of support to carry me through.
And if that’s not enough, you can just look to the sidewalks in either direction and you will find that they are lined with people screaming and cheering you on. The energy is incredible, it’s like the city is pulsing. There is something different at every turn. Whether it be a rock band, a cheerleading squad, or a group of little kids handing out cups of water or lemonade; it is amazing.
There is one point in the race that I look forward to more than any other. It is the turn into Chinatown somewhere around mile 21. It comes after a slight lull in the crowds, and as you turn the corner, you see a man dancing around in a giant traditional Chinese dragon costume, and you hear a deafening roar. There are so many people packed into the next two blocks cheering and screaming and shaking noisemakers it is unreal. I don’t know what it is, but every time I turn the corner and hear this, my eyes well up and I am totally overcome by emotion. I feel such joy to be a part of something this huge, and such pride to be a runner. It gets me every time.
Part of what also makes this race so special to me is the traditional post-race steak dinner with friends, where we all share our stories of the day over wine and red meat. This is usually followed by a late night out at the bars, celebrating our victory over 26.2 miles. I am especially excited this year that one of my good friends will be joining me and running her first marathon ever. Just writing this post has me all worked up and bursting with energy.
Is it October yet?