26.2 — in moments, snippets and pictures

#teamsutera has taken it’s sweet time in processing all that was marathon weekend in Chicago, huh?
…I guess that’s because we’re both kind of still in awe, still sorting through what those 26.2 miles meant to each of us. It meant a helluva a lot, I’ll tell you that. ;-)

So today, we’re co-writing this post to share some of our favorite moments from that weekend — in moments, snippets and pictures (in no particular order)

Walking forward in our corral, slowing marching towards that starting line. We were corral “K.” There was someone upfront carrying a big sign with the letter “K” emblazoned on the front of it. Every time it moved. We moved. That is, until we were thisclose to the starting line. The moment we saw that “K” drift to the side of the road instead of directly in front of us? Awe-inspiring. Stomach-dropping. It was go-time. And we knew it. 

Setting out our race gear the night prior — this was the wifey’s job. Pinning our bibs on the front of our shirts, setting out our sneakers – putting the d-tags on our sneakers (the hubs job, way too technical for the wifey), laying out our socks, throaway tops and shorts. We both wore the same exact outfit we wore for every single long run. Shorts and a tank for the wifey; shorts and a t-shirt for the hubs. In Scott’s eyes, we’d ‘hurt their feelings’ if we left them behind since ‘they’ (meaning our long run attire) would be offended if we didn’t take them out on race day. <—he’s so cute ;-)

Running along around somewhere around the midway point in the race — we passed a retirement home…the smiles and waves from the windows was heart-warming. As our eyes gazed up from the second floor to the third floor and beyond, we caught the smiles of more faces in the window…all smiling, joyful, perfectly content watching the runners whiz by. I remember distinctly thinking man, I am so able, I need to enjoy this more. 

Reaching the top of the first incline and setting our sights on the road ahead — everywhere we looked there were runners. Filling the streets from side to side, front to back. It was awesome. 

Rounding the corner around mile 7 and seeing a blog reader — Nikki! — with a bright #teamsutera sign and the BIGGEST smile and loudest, most energizing cheers ever. Her energy was contagious and made me giggle…we both pumped our arms into the air and cheered right back at her. I loooved that moment. (you’re the best, Nikki!!)

Practically jumping out of my skin with excitement as we entered the marathon expo — talk about the one trade show floor that I’ve always wanted to walk but never had a chance to (I’m more used to high-tech trade shows with lots of techy geeks everywhere you look). I’m pretty sure we’ll have to take a second mortgage out on the house after the amount of cash we dropped at the expo. I just couldn’t contain myself. At. All. 

There was Elvis. Drag queens. The Queen of England. And I’m pretty sure around every single bend there was at least one group of spectators playing “Gangnam Style” — a song we just so happened to have talked about more than a few times during dinner the night prior. Random, much? 

Hitting a big-time mental block around mile 17. Trying to take some fuel but even that wasn’t helping matters. I was toast. It was too soon for that. Way too soon. I was ready to cry. We rounded the bend and Scott saw them first — it was my mom and her boyfriend Mark. They were RIGHT where we needed them to be. I don’t even remember what Mark said but it was something very motivating I remember that much (lol). And my mom? Well she was too busy trying to get the best possible shot to say much other than a yell of support. (she told me after that she probably took a picture of 100 different runners all who rounded that bend before us…she was so afraid to miss the shot that she just kept snapping pics. so cute.)

Miiiiiike Ditka. ‘nuf said.

Feeling inspired around every corner. First – we saw a blind runner with his guide running right beside him. I mean, how awesome is that? And then we saw an amputee runner who was most certainly running much faster than us…I have to believe he was propelled purely by joy that he was able to run at all. I know that’s exactly how I’d feel. I tried to pick up my pace after that. 

Around mile 20 or 21, when all I wanted to do was to stop moving, sit down and cry. I looked over at Scott, saw the pained expression on his face and heard him say “stay right by my hip, I’ll bring you home.” And I wanted to cry both out of relief that he was with me, as he always is, but also out of sheer adoration that no matter how much he was hurting, he would push that down as hard as he could to keep me going. That’s love. <3

Thinking about all of our friends, family, and #runsherpas who were receiving constant updates via text every time we crossed one of the timer mats. Every time I stomped over one I thought about them. It made my heart smile to think about them grabbing their phones to see what the text would tell them. Little did I know that many of them were also following along to my sister Jo’s constant tweets and Facebook messages. I spent a good two hours laying on the bed in the hotel room after the marathon reading and re-reading them all. Often crying through my responses because it meant so much to me. So, so, so much. (annnd I’m crying again while blogging, this is becoming quite the regular occurrence up in here). I was in awe when I searched #teamsutera in twitter and saw the giant stream of tweets. Seriously, unreal. 

Mile marker 25. Yayyyy. Mile marker 25.2? Slap in the face. C’mon really?? That and all the “one more mile” chants we heard were infuriating when we were well into that last mile. We kept yelling “we have less than that!!” clearly perturbed that the spectators were *so* wrong in their distance estimations. 

Mile marker 26? Scott doesn’t remember much here. But I do. I turned that corner and started bawling (sensing a trend here??). It was just too much to bear. We were thisclose to our goal. 18 weeks of work. Rounding that bend and seeing the finish line? It felt like a freakin’ dream. We fought so hard to get there and suddenly it was upon us. We grabbed hands and crossed that finish line with arms held high, and a quick kiss at the end. I wish I could’ve frozen that moment in time. I don’t think I fully lived it in that moment. I was in too much pain, for one. ;-)

Jo and M — our ‘onsite #teamsutera #runsherpas. Neither of us have the proper words to explain just how grateful we are to both of them. They were there every time we needed them. When we first woke up, a bundle of nerves: they were there. When we walked the mile to Grant Park from our hotel, still nervous: they were there. When we parted ways at the start line, they were there…with hugs for both of us. When we (or at least I) started to feel tired at mile 8 (way too soon), they were there: so happy to catch us whizzing by. At mile 17 after we saw mom and Mark and were so elated by that boost of energy, they were there too…about a quarter mile down the road. And at the finish line, they were in the stands, they saw us cross that finish line. They were there for us, cheering us on, lifting us up, crying right there with us. Talk about 26.2 miles of gratitude. <3

And at the end of that very long day. Barely making it to 9pm before calling it a night. Not only was that the best night’s sleep ever (despite waking up many times groaning in pain), but it was the most content night’s sleep. 18 weeks: done. Goal: crushed.

We are marathoners. #teamsutera4lyf

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57 thoughts on “26.2 — in moments, snippets and pictures

  1. You really did crush your goal! And it’s so true that seeing people along the course like your mom really has a huge effect! I think that non-runners don’t realize that. I’ve run races where all I look forward to is seeing someone cheering for me at whatever mile.

  2. Awesome job! I ran my first marathon (Boston) this year and it was very emotional. Those familiar faces in the crowd really lift you up too. Congratulations!

  3. Again, making me cry, damn you ;-) I love this, every moment you recalled. I loved the retirement home moment, wow! And I am so glad that we could do just a little to boost you up when you needed it, even though there was still so much more I wanted to do! Love you both!

    • Lots of tears up in here lately huh? I just can’t help it, it was such an emotional weekend and it was especially emotional (in a good way) because I felt so loved and uplifted by you and M all weekend. You guys are the best. I love you both so much!

  4. You really are putting your first marathon into amazing words and will be so grateful in a few years to come back and read all this. I read your post and kept picturing my own races and my own similar moments. Thanks for sharing. Such a fun read!

    • Now that I’ve had time to sit back and let the emotion of the weekend, the whirlwind of it all settle, I really wanted to collect my thoughts here…for the exact reason you said: to look back on those moments fondly and with pride. I never want to forget that day, ever ever.

  5. I loved reading about the snap shots of your race…the retirement home and when Scott told you that he would ‘bring you home’….GAHHH! Tears!

    You captured the day, emotions, and gratitude so beautifully. Sometimes when I tell people that I ran a marathon, they ask me WHY I would ever want to run for 26 miles…you answered that question perfectly…for moments like these.

  6. You are going to LOVE looking back on these posts.;.. you are doing such an amazing job summing up the experience.. Of course I had a tear trickle down my face, but that seems par for the course with these posts. I know I sound like a broken record, but I am so proud of you, and love you so much.

    • That’s mainly why I’m writing them in such detail…I hope you guys don’t mind LOL. So selfish of me ;-)

      Clearly coming to my blog lately requires tears, it’s quite the trend these days. LOVE YOU!

    • Sorryyyyyyyy for making you cry at work LOL

      I’m so glad you loved it though…even though you weren’t in Chi town to see this all go down, you were most certainly there in spirit! xo!

    • Thank you so much! It’s been very emotional to recap everything but also very joyful all at once. I love sharing it here. GOod luck with your marathon in May! Embrace the journey!

  7. I love this so much more than a “recap” – these moments are going to bring back a flood of memories when you re-read them. Those three pictures that your mom took? Awesome. And the part when Scott told you to stick by his hips –> tears. Thanks for that ;-)

    • Exactly. Scott and I have this Word doc that we add to at the end of each year — where we jot down memories from that year, anything and everything we can think of, just for fun. And then we come back to that same word doc the next year and make a new list…while having fun re-reading what we’d written from the year prior. We kind of did that here with this post, so we have that to look back on next year while reminiscing about that day we ran 26.2 miles together. :-)

  8. …aaaand now I’m crying again!! geez, mile 20 or 21… I’ll bring you home… GEEZ that is awesome.

    and wearing the same clothes – that is awesome too. you guys are the best.

    • Seriously, everytime I think back to that moment, I get teary too. He’s the best, seriously. <3

      haha isn't he a riot about the workout clothes comment? He made me giggle when he said it but was clearly very serious!

  9. Your blog makes me feel so so good after reading it! After seeing you and Scott run by I was shaking with excitement for the two of you!! Glad you were able to take in your scenery and thanks for the mention in this post. I have been living in Chicago now just 2 months and one of my favorite memories so far has definitely got to be seeing you two marathoners out there.

    Hope you are recovering well :-)

  10. THIS. THIS THIS THIS; “stay right by my hip, I’ll bring you home.” LOVE HIM. This is what it was all about…you two, just being Jess and Scott busting some serious marathon ass. You have really helped motivate me to keep pushing through the miles the past few times I’ve run…the pain of pushing through tight, under-trained muscles has been REALLY mind-effing. I am SO proud of you and Scott…as individuals and as a team.

  11. Dang, you make me cry every time I read these posts!!! “Stay right by my hip, I’ll bring you home.” Good grief that is such an amazing thing to say at really any part of life during a marriage!

    My favorite music to run to is Florence and the Machine’s album Lungs. There is a song called Rabbit Heart and it gets me every time when I run. It really is such a gift! I am so appreciative of my ability to move!

    • Haha I’m sorry for making you cry agaaaaain!!! I love how you compare that phrase to being a real ode to marriage at any stage in marriage, not just while running a marathon. How TRUE is that, huh?? We try to live that way as much as we can — being eachother’s cheerleaders and biggest fans. So important to always be a team!

      ohh I’m off to check out that song now…I too am with you, I fully appreciate and embrace my ability to move. It’s a gift, and a blessing.

  12. I’m not sure how I missed your initial race report but I went back and read it just now as well as this one. GREAT JOB! So exciting and you guys are so adorable. I love reliving people’s first marathons with them (or any marathon # for that matter!) It was so great going through yours with you! — Ericka @ The Sweet Life (sweetlifeericka.com)

    • Thank you so much Ericka! We had such a blast together…funny how race amnesia happens huh? A few days later and I’m calling the most difficult thing I’ve ever done a “blast” LOL! But seriously, such a rewarding experience for us!!

  13. “no matter how much he was hurting, he would push that down as hard as he could to keep me going. That’s love. <3"

    This made my heart flutter. It is so beautiful that y'all have both found your perfect counterpart. Congratulations on an amazing race, guys!!!

    the "he doesnt remember much at this point" part cracks me up too. there is a part in EVERY race that I just don't remember. I get into the zone and the rest of the world disappears.

    Amazing job! :D

  14. I looked over at Scott, saw the pained expression on his face and heard him say “stay right by my hip, I’ll bring you home.” – I just cried like a baby… complete admiratioin

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  17. I just burst into tears when I read what your husband said to you…stay on my hip and I’ll take you home! I have a feeling this will carry you to your 50 year wedding anniversary too!

    Congrats on an amazing race. I’ve really enjoyed following your journey!

  18. Reading about your first marathon experience is such an inspiration and gave me goosebumps all over! I am training for my first marathon – DC Marine Corps – and have been training 16 weeks with my husband! I loved reading about your experience and all the emotions that came along with the race. You have given me so much to look forward to!!!! Thanks for sharing!

    • AW!! I just poked through your blog after seeing this comment and LOVE you two!! So cute — can’t wait to read more about all you’ve learned while training together!! GOOD LUCK!!

  19. I just want you to know I’ve loved reading every word and looking at every photo from the Team Sutera marathon experience! I haven’t dedicated the time to blogging/commenting as I used to, but I am reading, and so inspired by you (as usual). xo

    • Aww friend, I know you’ve been following and loving every word even if you haven’t commented every single time — you are a true #runsherpa at heart and I love you all the more for it!!! xoxo!

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  22. Okay I’m seriously late to the party on this one and am only now getting around to catching up on commenting on all the starred posts in my Google Reader. Major congratulations to you friend! I love reading your posts through your training cycle and was so happy to read how well it went! So inspiring!

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