We are exactly 21 days from the big day. As I think about this milestone approaching, I reflect on the following random topics:
1. There is something to be said for running the streets of your city in the pre-dawn hours. You get introduced to facets that you did not know existed. Such as, deer eating grass along a very busy highway; the smells of kitchens gearing up for the morning crowd--some smells good, some smells not so good; police officers going over their nightly call logs while drinking coffee; how people take care of their property -- from the pristine to the dilapidated; the various shapes of runners -- all shapes and sizes and the one you least expect to pass you does; how nasty the single sex bathroom is in the 7-11 at Manchaca and Dittmar [perhaps it gets cleaner in the day....one would hope so]; trains that take FOREVER TO PASS so you can keep running; geez....and the list goes on.....
2. There is something to be said for your itunes hitting the right songs, time after time -- even though you have the tunes set on shuffle. I knew I had Saturday's run within the first two songs -- Started with Blister in the Sun and then I will Follow -- the two songs that stand out in my mind during my last Chicago Marathon. This is in stark comparison to my 4 mile run earlier in the week when I hated every song in the cue and wanted to throw the ipod in the lake! '
3. Amazing what running does -- for every good day; you have a bad. You just have to remember to keep going. With any luck -- Chicago will be a good day.
4. Further explanation on Number 2 above -- during a desolate part of the marathon [of which, very few exist given the crowd support] -- there was this lone guy with an amp and his electric guitar. He was singing blister in the sun. I needed a pick me up at the moment and by george -- in the middle of the barren warehouse district was this lone soul supporting the runners. He could not have known but he made my day. I LOVE that song. College years came back to memory. Anyway, During the last .2 of the marathon -- as we entered the grand stands -- I will Follow was blasting and the crowds cheering. I will Follow was one of my favorite dance tunes in college. I could not have ended the day any better. So, to start my run -- the one that I was dreading and fearful of finishing-- with these two song randomly selected by my ipod -- heavenly intervention. I knew I had it from the get-go! Hope to repeat that feeling in Chicago.
5. October 7, 2001 -- my first marathon. The Chicago Marathon. A mere few weeks after 9/11. There was a question of whether the marathon would even run. It did. We ran. We finished. At mile 18, the USA started bombing Afghanistan. I'll never forget it. One of the guys running near us must have been listening to the radio as opposed to tunes [we were not doing either] and he shouted it -- oh my, we are bombing Afghanistan. We all stopped. What did this mean? Is the marathon still going? As quickly as we stopped -- it was not lost on us that we were staring directly at the Sears Tower from the furthest point from the Tower -- it stood high in the skyline. As quickly as all of these events took place -- we all realized that they only way to get back to the start was to continue running. So, run we did -- but quietly. Almost surreal. Someone started singing Amazing Grace and we all joined in as we ran. I'll never forget that moment or the fact that while folks were losing their lives -- I was free to run and to run carefree. And, run we did.
6. One must have a marathon song -- in light of my notes above -- I have been searching for that "it" song. I finally found it. It's an unexpected tune. Not heart-pumping or energetic. It's actually mellow in comparison to the songs on my Chicago marathon playlist. But, it hit a cord with me -- particularly in light of note number 4 above -- it's Free by the Zac Brown Band. Something about it - it just fits for me. It makes me want to stretch my arms out to the sides and run with careless abandon -- much like I felt at mile 18 in 2001-- until the reality of the challenge at hand came back to focus -- shit, I still have 8.2 miles to run!
7. There is something to be said for the fact that when I hit 13 miles -- folks will have already finished the marathon; and many of them!
8. There is something to be said for the Mind-f*** that happens when you hit 26 miles. You know you are there but you still have .2 to go. You can see the finish but are not there yet. Your legs are dead; energy depleted; soreness is setting in......Nothing can prepare you for the adrenaline rush that happens. Your body takes over and you go -- whereas. you have battled your mind the entire run and this is the one time that the body says f***-it brain, I'm going for it and get the f- out of the way. Pardon the vernacular -- but that is exactly what happens and exactly what you say to yourself or think regardless of whether you cuss outside your head or not. And, for that last .2 it's you and finish. Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie may be running right next to you and you will not notice. Your focus is keen and you go, go, go. Just remember -- to look up before you cross so you can have a picture of you smiling as you kick this milestone out of the ballpark!
Chicago 2010 -- We're ready for ya! Wally, you done good. Take us the rest of the way. Go Piskuns Go!!