Breakfast at 5Am- Bagels, peanut butter, bananas!
We arrived to the start line super early so Joe motivated us by watching Rocky segments!
Go Team Brothers and Sisters!
The back of our shirts!
Minutes before the race began...thousands and thousands of people lined up
I was the first leg and I was nervous! I'd run that far before but not in a race. I had been struggling with plantarfasciitis and was in pain and I was scared I wouldn't get through it.
But I was so excited too- there is so much energy at a race. I loved every second of it!
My leg was 6.8 miles. It started out AMAZING! I love, love, loved it. I very quickly got deep and reflective. As I passed the turn to my church, I thought of my 33 years there and how I had taken that turn thousands and thousands of times and of the countless amazing memories there.
I found myself thinking about everyone else. Looking at the people in front of me and wondering about them. Listening to the people behind me and occassionally turning around the peek. Then, at that turn to my church, this HUGE wind gust came and nearly knocked us over. Hats went flying, people braced themselves. It took my breath away. I caught myself and felt this calm come over me. A voice in my head said, "katie, stop looking behind you. Keep your head down and look ahead. Stay focused. DOn't worry about anyone else but you." And that's what I did. I pushed. Literally against the wind.
Just a few blocks later I passed the Illini Union where my wedding reception was. It was an incredible night but mostly, I thought about my incredible husband ( as you all know). I found myself thanking God for him and our life together. I told you I got deep!
My first 4 miles were delighful. Really. I loved them! So many people, college students included, who were up at 7AM cheering and playing music and holding signs for us! I saw church friends along the way and even a friend from Monticello who was volunteering. Our shirts had our names on the front so people could yell our names. While it may sound selfish, when you are in a run- especially with thousands of other people and not alot of personal spectators, hearing your name and knowing those people are cheering for you is priceless. It got me through some tough moments through the race and made me so happy!
The first 4 miles were so great and so much fun as I watched others, listened to conversations around me and thanked volunteers, that I considered the half marathon next year. Yup- ME! 13.1 miles. I considered it. I was running sub 10-minute miles and feeling great. I told my self that at mile 5 I was going to really push it and beat my goal and love ever second of it.
Then, right at mile 5, we got into the roads around StoneCreek Country Club. No houses. No trees. Tremendous winds. Few spectators. No music. Just me. The winds were so strong that I literally had moments that I felt as if I didn't push against the wind, it would knock me over. I felt like I was going no where yet I was working harder than I ever had. It went to my head. I starting worrying. All of a sudden my feet started hurting ( they had been great before), my mind was racing about what would happen if I disappointed my team with my time. Then, a heard this pack of marathoners behind me talking about the wind. One of them lost their hat and let it go. They used words like "BRUTAL" and said " Dear God!" and "You're killing me!" and I realized I wasn't alone again. There weren't race fans on the side of the road but there were runners. People like me who were in their first relay or 10K or marathon struggling against their personal battles and the winds. And then there were people who had been marathoners for years and years and they too were struggling. I wasn't alone. I could do it. We could.
At mile 6.5, we turned the corner into a subdivision. The people were outside their houses. The music started again. The signs of encouragement were back. And the wind was gone. Thank the LORD for houses and trees. I only had .3 miles to go but I pushed it up the hill. Grateful that the golf course and the winds were behind me and again keeping my head down and looking ahead. Looking for Brian. My love, and the person running after me!
Marathoners keep running while relayers have to take off their belt and literally pass it to the next runner on their team ( as it contains the chip to record your data). Brian waited anxiously and gave me a fast kiss before he took off like the wind ( pun intended).
And, just moments before I arrived at the relay station, Brian went to get my camera ready to take pictures and it broke. Lense Error. They tried and tried and nothing ( this picture and the ones of me running were taken on Joe's IPhone-thankyou Joe). Brian knew this would be a problem for me. I mean really, after my husband and kids, my camera is just about the most important thing to me. I go NO WHERE without it and take pictures everyday. You can see the worry on their faces.
No camera was NOT an OPTION. Absoultely not. And luckily, my handoff was in the Meijer parking lot. We had just minutes before we had to leave to get to Brian's exchange. I hauled ass into Meijer, just moments after I ran by 6.8 miles and sprinted through the aisles as I tried to find camera. The poor ladies who were working must have thought I was crazy ( I was, kinda). I started saying I was in the race and my camera broke and I needed a cheap camera NOW and I needed them to start moving, and it needed to be compatable with my cannon batteries ( as I knew a knew camera wouldn't be charged. They started to show me a $39 one that wasn't compatable. I said. NO- I need a Cannon. Of course- all out of the cheapest model they had. There was a box marked DISPLAY. I said I wanted that one. I told one lady to get the camera ready for me and the other to get me checked out. The hustled. $108 later, I was again running back to the car with my new camera...hoping we would get from one side of Urbana to the other side of Champaign in time to get Joe to the exchange with Brian...
We did! But just barely. Within just a few minutes of our arrival, our blue shirted team mate was seen kicking ass!
He handed off to Joe and Joe took off. It really wasn't until that moment that I felt like I finally took a breath and took the magnitude of this amazing day in. It had been such a whirlwind. I was finally done. So was Brian. We got there in time. I could finally enjoy! And I did!
And the reason why we are called brothers and sisters....Brian and his sissy, Anita!With my new camera in hand, I waited and waited for Joe to arrive. And there he was- running like crazy!Go JOE!!!!Joe handed off to Anita. She was super nervous. Her stomach had been upset all morning, her neck was hurting, and she'd never run her distance before. We sent her on her way and encouraged and cheer her on.
Brian, Joe, and I went to a spot about a half mile from the stadium to meet her and run together in. She would need it to finish strong and we all wanted to run in together.
And who did we see coming out way? Anita! Smiling!
She did amazing! And we all began our journey into Memorial Stadium together.The last half mile was the most fun. We were together. laughing and cheering on Anita. The crowds were great. AND....my husband shined. He LOVES working a crowd. As we ran along, he yelled ahead to cheer on Anita and her longest run ever. We saw someone who had a sign that said, "you are a rockstar" He yells back. "Who's a rockstar?" and of course, she yelled, " YOU" he screamed like crazy. He asked the crowd to get loud and make some noise. These are things his sister was probably embarassed by, as siblings are that way but I was so proud he was mine. I was watching him in his element and benefitting from it at the same time. I loved watching him work his magic! Oh, and he took pics while he ran for me!!!!
We entered Memorial Stadium together and crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 3 minutes- way better than our goal of 4 hours and 20 minutes.
We looked up into the crowd and saw our family cheering for us! It was great...especially to see the kids!Anit and Joe and their first race togetherAll the brothers and sisters...little ones too!
Bubba and Sissy loved having their own jerseys
Mara was so proud of her daddy!My favorite people
We headed back to Monticello for Mexican and Margharitas and Beers and Amara gave big hugs to her daddy to tell him she loved him- too sweet
Then back to our house where we sat on the back porch for the next 3 hours talking and playing with the kids ( Amara loves her Uncle Joe and calls him her boyfriend)
Aunt Anita and Uncle Joe read lots of books to the kids before they headed back to ChicagoWhat a wonderful day!