Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chicago II

I went back and read the last post I wrote and it seemed to end pretty abruptly.  I've changed about 15 diarrhea filled diapers since Thursday so forgive my sub-par writing.

So where were we?  Drunk people!  Yes!

There was a wedding party at our hotel every night we were there.  They were all of Indian descent.  When we parked our car Sunday night the door to the event was open and it looked like one hoppin' party.  Maybe it was the Bollywood electric slide?

Sunday morning I woke up, showered and suited up.

Back to the city we went, and this time we went the right direction down every street!!

Until the morning of the race I wasn't very nervous.  A couple hours before the start I was sitting there with Aimee and Kaydee and the gravity of the days event set in.  I'm not always positive when it comes to my running exploits.  I'm blessed to have friends around me who tell me to cut that negative talk out and offer genuine encouragement.  All those words I had heard over the past few months came back to me that morning and nervousness turned to crazy excitement.  By crazy I mean I was going crazy....

I ate my Clif bar, a banana and drank a bottle of water.  Went to the bathroom a few times.  Gave my wife a hug and kiss.  Met up with my teammates.  Entered the start corral.  Stretched.  Prayed.

Time to run!!

It was amazing.  I have a problem with going faster than I should out of the gate but not today.  For the first few miles I felt great.  Didn't feel like I was even touching the ground.  Also, within the first mile there were signs about coming to salvation through Jesus, which were done tastefully (no flames, eternal damnation, Westboro church kind of stuff).  Which prompted a runner that was close by to say "why is this race so Jesus-ee?"  I got a good chuckle out of it (I still kinda do).   

I started the race with two of my teammates Daren and Megan.  Daren was dressed like a pirate.  This brought a lot of attention to him which made running the race pretty fun.  It got the spectators into the race. 

At one point we were talking about Active:Water and Daren made a really good point that I didn't think about:  We were running with 45k other runners and not all of them were running for a charity.  There's so much potential to build up the team, raise money and educate people.  I'm very fortunate that Active:Water chose me to be a team captain.  I'm excited to get started on recruiting a team and start training for another race under the AW banner!  If you're interested in running let me know!

Back to the race!

Throughout the first miles of the race I was told to go ahead if I was feeling it but I liked the pace we were going.  At mile eleven or twelve I felt it and just looked forward and ran.  I felt kind of turd like for leaving but I was feeling really good.  At mile twelve I also saw my beautiful wife on the side of the course which brought a huge smile to my face.  Also, she gives proof that I was feeling good at that moment via Facebook:

"just saw thomas at mile 12 and he looks good!"

The course set up for the first half to eighteen miles was great.  So much crowd participation, loud music and general merriment.  When the race hit the south side it got a lot quieter, which made it easier for me to retreat into my brain. 

At mile twenty was the first time being tired beat running.  I didn't stop but I was moving pretty slow.  Luckily that was when they started handing out bananas.  It's amazing how half of a banana and a cup of lemon-lime Gatorade can bring up your spirits!

On a side note I will try my best to never drink lemon-lime Gatorade ever again.  Knowing that Chicago was handing out this flavor I drank it during my training runs.  I also took Gatorade at almost every fluid stop on the day of the race.  Even now I'm thinking about it and I can actually taste it.....

The last six (point two) miles of the race were challenging.  Not only physically but emotionally.  Good emotionally.  The notion of finishing and being used in this ministry is amazing.

The last mile or so brought me back into downtown Chicago.  The streets were lined with cheering spectators and the last .2 miles were uphill (which I enjoy).  Sure I was tired but seeing the end of the race propelled me up the hill and back down through the finish line.  

I finished the race with a watch time of 4:55.  The race clocked me at 5:01.  I didn't count mile five when we took a potty break.  4:55, 5:01 or 6:30 (course maximum time allowed) I don't care too much about my time.  By the grace of God I finished. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chicago Part 1

I completed my first marathon this past weekend in Chicago!  More importantly than that fund-raising for Active:Water reached over $1000!!  If you're new to the blog it's the reason I started running in the first place.  The fund-raising page doesn't shut down just because the race is over and the goal has been reached.  There's always a need!

Active:Water Fund-raising Page

Last week I was a bit anxious for the trip to Chi-town.  Monday started with the girls waking up at 2:30 in the morning and not feeling like going back to sleep.  Aimee and the girls eventually fell back asleep but I did not and I zombied my way into work.  One of the first things I did was take an extra day off making last week a two day work week!  Focus was in short supply knowing what was coming up that weekend.

I approached my professors about my two days of class I'd be missing and they were surprisingly accommodating.  In New Testament I had to turn in a half page paper Friday but he allowed me to email it to him.  In Greek New Testament the prof let me take a test Thursday, that we planned on taking Friday.  Thursday I took the test and was not exactly focused.  I ended up not understanding a few questions and bombed it.  I finally understood the questions halfway to Chicago.  Another thing I realized on the trip was that I didn't email my New Testament professor the paper.  Just so I don't leave anyone on the edge of their seat my NT prof didn't mark me off any points for turning my paper in a couple days late.

On to the trip!

Early Friday morning we dropped off the girls at my mom's and embarked on our 7 hour journey to the great city of Chicago (after I forgot some stuff and we had to go back to Kaydees house to pick it up).  The time went by pretty quick.  When Aimee and Kaydee weren't sleeping we played some good car games, got some grub and Kaydee learned that Mount Rushmore is in the United States.  My wife has had similar moments involving the location of major cities.  Maybe it's just a Keim thing?  ANYWAY!  We took the rural route as opposed to the turnpike.  It took an hour longer but it was less miles and we didn't have to pay any tolls.

Chicago!  We made it!

Our only stop in Chicago on Friday was the expo.  For anyone who hasn't run a race or been to an expo it's basically a trade show for running companies.  At the expo the runner picks up their bib, timing device, race shirt, S.W.A.G. and purchase whatever treasurers they'd like. 

Picture of the race shirt.

The experience was a bit overwhelming.  I've run races in Cleveland, Columbus and Canton but this expo was about the size of Canton.  It felt like we were the only people paying attention to where we were walking too.  I don't know if it was the crowds, driving in the city or everyone walking right in front of me but I didn't enjoy the expo.  I went in and bought some merchandise, picked up my bib/shirt and left pretty quick.  Not before a forced photo opp by my wife.

She was trying to help me enjoy the experience.  I don't blame her at all.  I'm just not great with crowds (unless I'm running in them).

We left the expo and I happened to not notice any of the signs saying I had to pay for the parking before I left the garage.  I thought there would be an attendant to pay.  Little did he know...  So after taking some laps around the parking lot and finding a place to pay we left and headed to the hotel.  The ride to the hotel happened to be during Friday afternoon rush hour!

Our ten minute drive to the hotel was about thirty minutes, chalk it up to poor planning.  As I wrote in previous blogs the hotel was paid for partly by a generous donation from a friend.  Weeks later the same friend paid for the rest of the hotel so it was completely free!!

A couple months ago our car took a dump and all the money we had saved for the trip was gone.  Every last penny.  An amazing thing happened though.  In the final months so much extra money came in that we ended up having more than we expected.  Truly a blessing!  Praise God!

Because of this blessing we weren't worrying about finances during the weekend.  Everything was separated out so we knew how much we had for everything from parking and gas to shopping and eating.

Saturday was our big day in the city.  We followed the Garmin GPS thing into the city and at one point it had us going the wrong way down a one way road.  Awesome!  Fastest U turn I've ever done!  After this "experience" we found our parking garage and were happy to be on our feet.

If you don't know me personally I'm kind of a hat aficionado so our first stop was at the New Era flagship store (I'm not sure how it happened but our parking garage was right next to it..).  Any guy who has been shopping with a significant other knows the feeling of standing there, for what seems like forever, while your loved one walks past the same rack over and over again.  In the New Era store that was Aimee.  I made my choice, finally, and we left.  Aimee even bought something.

We went to most of the cool lakefront landmarks.  The bean, buckingham fountain, waterfall wall things and so on and so on.  I won't post all the pictures that we took since most of you probably clicked on this link from my Facebook.  All of the pictures are on there or Aimee's page.  We would have liked to go up Sears tower and go to the Navy Pier but there isn't enough time in the day and I didn't want to completely wipe myself out the day before running a marathon.

The city was a bit busier than normal.  The night before the marathon was a big college football game between Miami (FL) and Notre Dame.  We saw fans everywhere we went.  Other things we did while in the city:

Women shopped
Took pictures
People asked us for money (one guy just about cornered me for it)
Jamba Juice

That night we met for a team dinner with a couple other runners for Active:Water.  Aimee, Kaydee and I had the pasta and what not while everyone else ordered pizza.  I was a little jealous, I won't lie.  The pizzas looked great but I'm a bit paranoid and didn't want to try something new the day before a race.  Luckily they ship pizzas everywhere in the country so I will have one of those pizzas soon. 

We headed back to the hotel after a pretty busy day.  I had no problem falling/staying asleep that night, to my surprise considering what was coming up.  I did wake up once or twice because of a wedding reception that was happening at the hotel.  Heard a lot of drunk people outside.

That's all for now.  I'll share about the race itself next time.  It won't take a month either!