Chicago Marathon Part 2

001.MP4_000013436It was a bit of a surreal site walking the half mile or so to the main attraction. Temperatures were hovering in the 40’s in the still dark morning, but throngs of people were making their way to the race clad in shorts and whatever disposable top they were using to keep warm. I blended in perfectly. Along the way I passed a convenience store and thought about getting more bandages-just in case. The two they gave me at the hotel would have to do.

The crowds grew larger as what was to become the starting line drew closer. Daylight was starting to make its presence known, and with it, slightly warmer temperatures. Cold wasn’t really a factor though. With all the adrenaline pumping through me it may as well have been a summer day. Michigan Avenue was mob of people, and I looked for the gate that my corral was supposed to enter. Corral K, the last corral. That was alright with me though. The race was on. The entrance area was well marked, and I joined the rest of my fellow corral mates in a long security line. Yes, bibs and metal detectors. The world has changed.

Even with the security precautions, there was no feeling of danger. Chicago’s finest were in full view and patrolling the immediate area. At one point a guy-not one of the runners started to make his way across the bridge into Grant Park. The police were after him immediately. Suddenly, he ran to the side and swan dived off the bridge onto the train tracks below. We couldn’t see from the line what was certain to be serious injuries at the bottom, but judging from the reaction of the police he did not get up and run off. It was startling, and kind of threw me off my game, so to speak. This was the moment though. Nothing could get my head except the race. I tried to put the incident out of my mind as the security guy wanded me. I passed.

There was a huge area for gear check, and rather than toss my sweater when the race started, I stored mine. That left me and the bandages. I found a suitable spot and placed them across my nipples, creating that protection that would allow me to run the race in relative comfort. In fact, the thought didn’t cross my mind again. Now it was time. 100_0282.MP4_000017219 Runners milled around, and motivating music blared from loud speakers near the starting line. I took a few shots with my video recorder, not sure how it would fare for 26 miles and more than a little sweat. At least there would be this moment recorded. Here I was, alone and focused-all of a sudden a guy came up to me and struck up a conversation. Gregg was running his first marathon, and I told him that this was my second. Immediately, I became an expert. Gregg was going to stick with me for the duration of the marathon because I knew what I was doing. Yeah. Well, if that was comfort for him, then I was an expert. It would be nice to run with someone for a while anyway. He was a native of Chicago and would be somewhat of a tour guide through the neighborhoods. His wife, who was in a different corral stopped by and took a few pictures before we go underway. I took a few of my own.

The elite runners were long gone, and now it was time for us. It took about 45 minutes to get to the starting line, being back of the pack of a 45,000 runner strong field. START loomed in front of us as we dodged mounds of sweaters that had been cast aside when the race started. I thought about mine in gear check. That was a million miles away though, and the start line was right in front of me. The MC’s encouraged us on over the roar of the music, and as we crossed the starting line, that flood of excitement, coupled with a little trepidation came over me. It had begun.

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