Before I start writing this, I feel the need to offer a disclaimer of sorts: I completely understand why things are in place the way they are for the Chicago Marathon — I am not complaining at all about this truly world-class event! However, I am just offering up some wishful thinking.
My marathon time of 8 hours, 7 minutes, 21 seconds is an accomplishment that I am proud of — because I crossed the finish line. That was always my goal. I never had a time goal in mind. But there are some things I just don’t get to experience because of that time, things that I likely would have been able to experience had I been able to keep myself within the 6 1/2 hour time limit.
One thing I missed out on was some crowd support. The first half of the race was absolutely amazing. I could not believe how much the crowd buoyed me up. People who had run the marathon kept talking about the crowd, but I could not comprehend how much the crowd would mean until I was there. I wish that some people would stick around for the stragglers like me who would benefit so incredibly much from their cheers. I really missed experiencing Chinatown. It’s supposed to be spectacular, but it was a ghost town by the time I got there.
I knew I would likely lose my course support, and I did, but I lost it a lot earlier than I anticipated. I lost it at about the halfway point. I really lost my oomph when that pace car passed me, and I was completely deflated as I came up to an aid station and watched a volunteer turn over an entire table of cups filled with Gatorade. I wish the aid stations could stay on the course a little longer. Especially in situations like I was in that day, where the temps were close to 80 degrees and the EAS level was yellow. When the temps are warm and the EAS level is at yellow (or even red!), runners are advised to slow down their pace. It would be so helpful to be able to have those aid stations around a little while longer, especially if it is as warm out as it was that day.
I crossed the finish line, or at least the timing mat for the finish line. There were people there cheering me on as I approached. They were handing out medals. It was a thrill! But I was rerouted to the sidewalk; I didn’t get the opportunity to run underneath the big “Finish” banner. Workers were already starting to dismantle the finish line structure when I got there. I wish I could run under the big “Finish” banner.
Like I said in my disclaimer above, I know that there are reasons for all this. I know the streets can’t remain closed indefinitely. I know that there is a tremendous amount of clean up that needs to be done on the entire route. I know that there is a formidable amount of labor involved with tearing down the finish line and the volunteer compound and the kiosks in Grant Park. I know that the marathon did me a tremendous favor by allowing me to finish and cross the finish line despite being far beyond their maximum time of 6 1/2 hours. They could have easily swept me off the course. And rightly so. technically, I violated the rules. And I hope I am not coming off as ungrateful for my experience, because I’m not. That race was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had, and I have tremendous pride in my accomplishment.
But I still wish.