What a run the past month or so has been.
On Sept. 23, I flew to Montreal for the city’s annual marathon, which was two days later. I stayed at the Candlewood Suites Hotel which was a great hotel, circa 2001. No comment about this property circa 2011. I’ll never forget the hotel guests who were literally yelling – and I do mean yelling – in the hallway at midnight on Saturday night. Normally, I wouldn’t care too, too much, but having to run 26.2 miles in a matter of hours, I thought a call to the front-desk was necessary. OK, I had to call three times over a 30-minute span before security did anything, but that’s beside the point.
Thankfully, they eventually stopped yelling and I was able to sleep … until about 3:30 a.m., when the fire alarm went off.
I first thought it was simply a prank. But no. I called the front-desk and was told, yes, it is a real fire-alarm and that I had to evacuate my 11th floor room immediately. (I’ll skip the comments I made at that time, but you can believe there was an F-Bomb or two, or 20.)
About 30 minutes later, we were given the all-clear and allowed back into the hotel. Nothing like walking up 11 flights of stairs at 4 a.m.
The marathon itself was uneventful in comparison to the hours before the event. I ran my second-best marathon and was, for the most part, happy. But I realized at, oh, about Mile 18 or 20, that the plyometric training in the Insanity workouts that I used diligently to train for the Tel Aviv Marathon last April was greatly missed; my quads were rather tight in Montreal, but felt fine after Tel Aviv.
On Wednesday, Oct. 5, I got an email from CC with the Team To End AIDS (T2), the endurance-training program I have been a Coach for this year. She had my duties for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday morning, Oct. 9.
They wanted me to “essentially” run the whole marathon, pacing T2 runners who wanted to reach a certain time.
I immediately asked what her definition of “essentially” was and she told me to, well, run the entire 26.2 miles.
That meant two marathons in two weeks.
Hesitation? Not for a second. It was, instead, a challenge for me personally and I really wanted to be out on the course with the T2 runners.
I started with about 15 runners and, for the first 13.1 miles, I really was having a good time. Sure, some of the 15 dropped back and some sped up, but I was thrilled that I got the runners still with me at the half-way point to within one minute of where they needed to be to hit their pre-race time goal.
The second half of the Chicago Marathon was, though, spent dealing with injured or aching T2 runners. Not sure if it was my words of encouragement, a suggestion for eliminating their painful cramps, or a simple re-assuring hug that, yes, you will finish. Ultimately, each one of the T2 runners who endured problems on the second half crossed that finish-line. And each, as I made them promise me, ran across the finish-line.
The 2011 Chicago Marathon wasn’t my marathon. It wasn’t my finishing-time, per se. It was, instead, all about the T2 runners. It was their moment, their day to shine. (See the special video at the end in tribute to all the T2 runners.)
But for me, as I crossed the finish line in my 13th marathon, it was my most rewarding marathon ever, without question. I’m not sure if the T2 runners, as well as T2 staff (including AFC president and fellow runner David Munar, plus CC, Dan, Teddy, Maryann, etc.) and fellow coaches (Katie, Dan, Jamie, Laurin, Emilio, Jim, Bill) know how much joy (and a little pain) I had sharing in their day.
The post-race hugs, celebratory drinks, and the day-after thank-you emails from runners made the 2011 Chicago Marathon a memory I’ll never forget.
I ran with T2 runners along the lakefront on Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 in preparation for the annual Monster Dash Half Marathon on Saturday morning, Oct. 29. Dan and I ran this 13.1 mile ran at a pretty fast clip, and ultimately he finished a few minutes before me, but we both had a great time.
The weather has started getting cold in Chicago, so that means the annual Honolulu Marathon is rapidly approaching. I am super excited to step to the starting line, at 5 a.m. local time, for my fourth consecutive Honolulu Marathon and my 14th overall marathon. I’ll be running with Dell, as always on this race, and perhaps CC, Disa and others from T2.
What a month of running memories it’s been.