I don’t have any updates for you with regard to our final Alz Star “team tallies” but I should know better tomorrow.
As a continuation of yesterday’s post, I wanted to share some more thoughts about this year’s race.
Chicago is known for its awe-inspiring crowd support.
But I have actually noticed, in my four consecutive years now running this race, that the support has become stronger … to the point where there is really NO PLACE along the entire 26.2 route where you don’t have at least one group of fans cheering you on.
As someone who has ran races more for their beauty than their crowd support (Deadwood is an obvious one that comes to mind), this is particularly amazing.
In 2009, my first Chicago and first marathon ever, there were spots along the course that were very quiet. Of course, this was much later into the race when you need the support the most. I am not complaining by any means. I’m not one of those runners who needs to have cow bells ringing and supporters yelling. I’m a very “lonely runner,” and almost always go out on my own – whether it’s an easy 6 miles or a challenging 20.
But I did have to note that there was a short fall-off in support that first year. With each year, things have got progressively improved to the point where there was not one section I can think of that DIDN’T have at least two fans standing on the sidelines. This includes areas by bridges and overpasses that are not exactly “spectator-friendly.”
If you are a runner who absolutely needs that crowd to carry you through the last 6.2 miles when it feels like a completely different and new race, this is the marathon for you. No doubt about it.
That lump in your throat
At the risk of sounding completely corny, as I was crossing that finish line, knowing that I had ran for my grandmother and really in honor of my grandparents’ sacrifices, I did have to struggle to hold back from getting really emotional.
I know there were other people around me that were getting pretty choked up, but it appeared that these were first-timers who were thrilled to be finishing, or they had a very hard finish. It can definitely be hard on the body, especially if you’re not used to it.
I ran this time around not so much for time. I had to make two stops that set me back a good 20 minutes as my “gut” (again, not going to go there – TMI) had been having some issues in the weeks leading up to the race. Stress throughout my training had been wreaking havoc on my body.
To be honest, it almost got irritating – hearing from people who were caught up with my time and I would have to remind them, “I’m running for something bigger than that.”
It really wasn’t about the time this time. As a veteran marathon runner now, you know that so many races, the stars have to be aligned. You can train and train and train only to have unexpected humidity throw everything off. Only to have hills that you hadn’t trained properly for also throw everything off. Also to have runs that are normally easy suddenly become challenging thanks to a new injury or some new physical problem you’ve never experienced before …
I’ve said it so many times throughout my training for Chicago ’12: Raising funds for a cause you are passionate about is so much more challenging than going the 26.2 itself.
For me, I had to confront so many memories – often, bittersweet ones, as well as confront the demons of what Alzheimer’s/dementia was capable of … these manifestations that I had seen firsthand.
I’ve been trying for some time now to really confront these memories in book form. That said, I am once again “signing up” for NaNoWriMo. Ever heard of it?
It’s a contest that challenges writers to develop a 50,000-word manuscript in one month – throughout November.
I successfully completed the contest back in 2009, when I was also training for my first marathon. A full manuscript did emerge from that, with parts of it inspired by my family (particularly the house so central to the piece, which was inspired by the “Castle on the Prairie” built brick by brick by my great-grandfather and his father).
Please note: the link I have here does take some time to load. It’s actually the full National Register of Historic Places application. Turns out, and I had heard rumblings about this throughout my life, but my family was critical in establishing commerce in the county – at the time when Lowell, Nebraska was a railroad boomtown. Fascinating stuff.
I also plan to continue to update this blog and provide my thoughts and news related to Alzheimer’s support services and research on Twitter.
If you ever have any suggestions for stories for me to explore, or just care to share your thoughts and memories, please feel free to reach out to me.
Just because this year’s Alz Stars are winding down, doesn’t mean the race to outwit this awful disease and its related illnesses is over. So much work to be done, if only for prevention which can go a long way if a “cure” is never to come.