But regardless, no, I did not run Chicago. I have only been running for a little over a year and I have my first half marathon one week from today. I'm not even close to being ready for a full marathon. I don't even know if I want to do a full marathon (we'll see after my half if I'd at all consider that).
But I found another way to get involved in the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. My running club, Oak Park Runners Club, has manned Aid Station 13 (just before the Mile 18 marker) for over 15 years. I certainly wasn't going to be running the marathon, so I signed up to volunteer.
We arranged a small carpool beforehand, and I drove three of my fellow OPRCers to the aid station at Taylor and Loomis in the Little Italy neighborhood of Chicago, in the shadow of Rush University Hospital. Obviously the traffic was light at 6:30ish on a Sunday morning, so we arrived at the station just before 7. Our club had already been setting up well in advance, so we signed in, got our credentials and sweet BoA Chicago Marathon jackets and hats, and asked what we could do to help.
I was assigned to take empty gallon water bottles (after filling cups for the tables) to the recycling truck. So I went back and forth between the sidewalk and the truck for a good hour or so (I would like to thank Albert from Chicago Streets & Sanitation for being so kind and helping with that). After what seemed like only 15 minutes, the alarm was sounded that the first of the wheelchair racers were coming through (their wave was the first at 7:15). It was so inspiring to see these folks pushing through. I can't even imagine how exhausting it would be to push my own wheelchair through 18 miles, let alone 26.2.
Shortly thereafter, American Dathan Ritzenhein came through by himself (he ended up finishing 5th). After the remainder of the major elites went through and the field started widening a bit, it was time to shine.
I fully admit, I was totally terrified to be handing water off to people. I'd never done it before, and as a runner, I know how much this race can mean to people. I didn't want to totally miff a handoff, or even worse, dump a cup of water on a runner unintentionally due to a miffed handoff.
Once we got to the "normal folks" (i.e. what I would be) of the race, it got a bit more crowded and I was absolutely loving it. People were so thankful to us for volunteering, and I was just trying to cheer on as many folks as possible. The whole experience was just so uplifting and positive that I was totally inspired. It almost made me want to run a marathon. For a moment, I literally thought "a marathon wouldn't be so bad!"
Literally, I've always been of the mind, even now, that I would never want to run a marathon, because 26.2 just does not sound fun to me. But after working Mile 18, it almost makes me want to run a marathon. It makes me think that I could, if I really wanted to. We'll see, but I know now that I absolutely could do it.
I'd like to thank the wonderful people who ran Chicago today (you guys were beautiful and amazing and so kind!) and my fellow volunteers who made my job easy and fun. Congratulations runners, I am so proud of you!