(warning-this post may be all over the place.)
I wasn’t running a marathon on October 7, 2007. Hell, I wasn’t running any type of race that day.
But somehow, I felt connected to those who struggled that day…the day that Mother Nature turned several popular fall marathons into infernos…
Backing up…I was following the Chicago Marathon online, tracking several Flyers, as early as 9 am (our time) I knew that it was going to be a warm one, however it looked like my teammates had decent first halfs. Maybe they would be spared the worst of it…sigh of relief.
But then, the paces started seriously slipping in the 2nd half. The 5K updates were further and further apart. Clearly, the situation was worse than I imagined. And then the tracking went down (overflooded with people trying to get updates!) and then the news stories broke about there being no water/Gatorade, the medics on double duty and the race getting called around 4 hours in. Shit. To cancel a race…especially a major marathon…things must have been horrible, as you never hear about this happening!!
My concern turned then to my teammates. I knew Crazy Bandana was OK, as he was reported to have finished (and pretty damn good for the conditions too!) but the others…they hadn’t come in yet. Were they still on the course? Would they be allowed to finish? Were they OK? Damn tracking server…couldn’t you have anticipated all the traffic? Luckily, one of my teammates had updates sent to him, and it appeared that everyone had finished-whether or not they completed the full 26.2, or completed it walking vs. running, we did not know, but at least everyone was accounted for.
The remainder of the day…I swear, I could not tear myself away from the coverage. Why was this affecting me so much? So many people I felt bad for…
Those that weren’t able to make it to the finish line OK…and their families/loved ones…
The marathon “newbies”…it was horrible that these people got robbed of their first marathon “experience”…
Those going for an OT qualifier…at least for the women, they have an extra couple months, but for the men, this was their “last chance at the dance”…seems like everyone who ran a marathon on October 7th (be it Chicago, Twin Cities, Steamtown) with a lofty time goal in mind got screwed by the weather…
And everyone else inbetween…I’ve been there, I know how much time and dedication training for a marathon takes-whether it is your first or 100th, and it broke my heart to see the goal prematurely ended for thousands-due to something out of their control.
And then the thought…My god, that could have been me out there.
Yeah, remember I was considering signing up for this race. But I couldn’t commit to a marathon so early in the year-didn’t want to drop $110 on a race that I wasn’t sure I was going to run (plus it filled up in April as well.) And knowing how horribly the heat affects me, it may not have been a pretty sight. Would I have known to stop or slow down? Would I have been one of those who ended up in the med tent-or worse? If things happen for a reason…I’m glad whatever chain of events led to me skipping out on this one. (And I have a feeling several other Flyers-who were originally signed up but had to drop due to injury-may be thinking the same…)
And thinking back on my one and only marathon experience…I had it pretty damn good. The weather was perfect, I got my time goal, and with the exception of some sore quads, I was no worse for wear at the end. Why me? Why did I deserve the positive experience, and to get my goal? And the thousands of people who ran yesterday didn’t?
Made me think too, the allure of the marathon is kinda bittersweet…to complete it, the payoff is so huge. But when there are things that can’t be controlled-like yesterday’s heat and the Nor’easter this year in Boston…it sucks that there are all the weeks of training and nothing to show for it-and I can’t speak for other people, but for me-I feel like there would only be one shot per training cycle-my body doesn’t recover as fast as others. Unlike shorter races, where if you don’t get it right the first time…you can always try again in a week or so.
Well all things said-congrats to all who survived yesterday (whether Chicago or elsewhere.)
And Crazy bandana-head, and Flyers ES, JT, AK, JC, DC, FR (and sorry if there is anyone i forgot!)-you guys are rock stars.