The Chicago Marathon was more memorable than anything we could have dreamed! Our whole team really appreciated all the support, notes, and video cheers along the way. I was touched by how many of our friends and family followed us online during the day.
As I barely rolled into class on time Monday, a colleague who didn’t know our story asked me, “Did you win?” I said, “Hell yeah, we won!” [As I explained, with a little too much emotion, I’m sure he was sorry he asked.] Here are some of our team’s winning metrics:
Friday night, Ann was honored with the Heart of a Champion award from the American Cancer Society. Just wow. Such a surprise, and so well deserved.
Saturday we learned that a few final donations put Down. Not Out! over $15,000 in fundraising for the American Cancer Society. Geri also raised $3500 for the Ronald McDonald House! Go team!
Sunday morning brought perfect weather and excitement to get started. We waited nearly 20 minutes to cross the starting line. 6 hours and 27 minutes later, the five of us crossed the finish line together.
Maybe most importantly, for others diagnosed with metastatic cancer, Ann showed that you don’t have to put your goals and dreams aside. Finishing the Chicago Marathon promised hope and inspiration to others.
We had an amazing run and walk through the streets of Chicago, told incompletely here with a few stories and photos.
- The Sears Tower (now renamed, don’t ask me what, something with a W) was always in sight, seemingly always in a different direction.
- Highlights of a big-city marathon like Chicago included the colorful neighborhoods, funny signs, and wacky people along the course.
- I found my running shoes after a momentary panic attack where I couldn’t find them, then calmed down and started considering just how bad it was going to be to run 26.2 miles in Doc Martens.
- Geri discovered the magic of Fritos and candy during long-distance running. She, Rebecca, and I did a lot of silly dancing with the music along the course.
- Our cheering section was unmatched! We saw Jeff, Grace, Rose, Frank, Marie, Bernadene, Emalee, and Megan all over the course with their awesome signs.
- Reading messages of support sent before and throughout the race carried us along.
- Ann kept pushing forward, doing run/walk intervals for over half the race, and never complaining even as the sun got hot. She looked for and celebrated moments of joy even during a very tough run.
- We kept a similar pace as a woman whose husband was wearing a loud, watermelon-print shirt. We started calling him Watermelon Guy and he cheered us on too. He was a hoot!
- At a few points during the race, my emotions got the better of me, and I pulled my hat down and dropped behind to shed a few bittersweet tears.
- Even when we were mostly walking, Rebecca encouraged us to run short intervals, which kept us on track for an official finish.
We carried so many family and friends in our hearts for 26.2 miles. ❤There are far too many names on this list! I hope that research done by the American Cancer Society will one day lead to a world without cancer.
I felt really confident about Ann’s pace, and it was probably more nerve-wracking for those tracking us from afar as we slowed during the race and our projected finish time crept closer to the “official” time cut-off, 6.5 hours. For better or worse, I thought we were fine until I looked at my watch and realized that we’d be a lot closer to the cut-off than I’d originally realized. Fortunately, it was close enough to the finish that I knew we’d make it. We crossed the line together with joy and relief.
As I told Andrew afterward, each of us is struck with a few instances of clarity in our lives, times when you know that you are exactly where you need to be, with exactly the right people, for exactly the right reasons. Yet I’d trade our entire memorable weekend in Chicago, gladly and without hesitation, for Ann not to have cancer. Since that isn’t possible, I felt lucky indeed to be in the best place I could be. On October 8th, 2017, I saw Ann win Chicago, achieve her goal, and bring hope to others with her indomitable spirit. I will remember it always!