Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Victory Lap

Thursday Blog Project Topic: Have you ever won anything? If so, tell us about it. If not, tell us about something you'd love to win. 

Disclaimer: I did not even come close to winning the Chicago Marathon.

My last conversation prior to the Chicago Marathon with my brother and sister-in-law Alan & Ann was on Thursday, September 25th.  I had been at their home for Rosh Hashanah dinner that evening.  I'm typically the last to leave their house in recent months which might have something to do with how close we've become over the past couple years and as strange as it may seem my training for the Chicago Marathon tighten the bond even more.  Here is why...

Since living in the city, I've had great access to all the different cultural experiences such as the Opera at the Lyric, art exhibits at the Art Institute and Civic Orchestra concerts at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Sure, these are all things I could have done while living in the burbs, but now that I have access to more public transportation options what use to be a hour trip to and from based on a rigid train schedule is now a half hour trip with two different train systems to utilize.  As the months have gone on, I've shared my comings and goings with my family which includes A & A.  Being symphony patrons for many years, they were delightfully surprised to hear of my interest in such an art form.  One evening in June, my brother A and I attended a Chamber Orchestra concert together as my sil was unable to attend.  During the evening, my brother, who was once a runner as well, shared with me that he had always wanted to race, but never did because he knew there was no way he would ever win a race and knew that he couldn't settle for just finishing.  He told me he impressed with me for racing in the first place.  I was taken aback.  I was amazed.  I had always wondered why Alan never raced, however I figured it just didn't interest him.

In the months to come I'd have similiar conversation with Alan including one about two and a half months before the marathon where he told me how impressed he was with all the training I was doing and that I was taking on a marathon.  My heart stopped.  The brother whom I had looked up to for so many years, the one whom impressed me and whom I admired was impressed with me.

At that moment I wished more than anything in the world that I could share my marathon experience with him.  I wished more than anything that his knee that caused him to end his running tenure was a-okay.  I wished that he had in fact raced all these years and a marathon, with his sister, was the next step for him.  But alas, that was not the case.

In the weeks that followed that conversation I struggled with what I could do to honor my brother and all he has meant to me.  I struggled with how I could make his marathon dream come true.

About two weeks before the marathon, as I was saying goodbye to Alan and Ann after Rosh Hashanah dinner Ann said to me, "No matter what happens at the marathon, you are a winner."  I smiled.  Alan, who was standing a few feet away from us, was leaning against a wall.  After Ann was done he said, "She's gonna finish." I glanced at him to see his admiration and confidence in me shining through.  That night it hit me how I was going to take him along with me for the upcoming journey.

The week before the marathon was a very busy and emotional week for me.  Up until that point the whole idea of completing a marathon was hypothetical in my mind.  Sure, sure, I had completed the 20-mile race which is part of the training program; however, we were talking 26.2 mile, not 20.  The jump in mileage wasn't the only thing heightening my emotions.  In additional to that, the fact that I had no only dared to dream of taking on such a challenge, but actually trained for it had set in.  In the days leading up to the marathon I truly realized all that I had achieved just by getting myself ready for such a undertaking.  It was at that point I began to appreciate and give thanks for how far I had come in the past 6 years not only physically, but as a person as well.  I gave thanks for all the obstacles I had overcome and how I don't give a crap monkey's uncle about all the haters over the past years who made me feel like shit.  I realized I wasn't the one with the problem - they were (are).

The Tuesday night before the marathon, the charity team I was part of had a pre-race celebratory dinner.  At this gathering the head of the team spoke and shared with us the once again the words he spoke when we all gathered for the first time back in May.  He told us to enjoy the experience.  That we've done all the work and that Sunday was the victory lap.

On Sunday, October 12, 2014 at approximately 8:26... 7... 8... I began to approach the Start Line of the Chicago Marathon.  I knew I wasn't going to win the race that day, but I also knew that I had won  so much more because at that moment I knew I was indeed ready to take on my victory lap.  It wasn't the first start line I had ever crossed, and I don't expect it to be the last; however to date it was the most meaningful and life changing one... and for that I have an extraordinary amount of gratitude.

Just moments away from the start of the victory lap!

Oh, and as for how I honored Alan....

We attempted to finish in 5:45, but fell short by roughly 11 minutes... next time!

Now that I've talked about my "winning" moment, please take a moment to read about my fellow bloggers big wins!

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)


  1. Very sweet and touching way to include your brother. I got verklempt by what he said to you about being impressed and when he said you'd finish. Great post!!!

    1. Thank you! Him telling me he was impressed and admired me was surreal. It was a very special moment when he made the comment about me finishing. Especially since it took place in the same area of their home we had had one of our first really long, meaningful conversations over 10 years ago. The conversation was so long that we ended up sitting on the floor because we were getting tired of standing.

  2. I agree with Ann; you are a winner!