I woke up Saturday morning with a sore throat, one of those stuffy nose colds. There was no way I was not going to run the marathon on Sunday after all the long runs and time I had spent training.
I was feeling pretty good at the start. I had been drinking from my water bottle so didn't feel the need to stop at the first water station. When I got to the second one I needed water and they were out of water! I couldn't believe it! I was back with the 11 minute mile runners which is pretty far back in the pack and evidently the runners before us were taking two or three cups of water and dumping them on their heads. It was very hot, the hottest on record for the Chicago marathon. I was still doing pretty well and managed to get to the next water station, but I could see people were really suffering from the heat and not getting enough water. I couldn't help but think about the people I met in Africa who would walk for miles to get water in the scorching heat. I was glad I was running for a cause. It made a big difference.
Just past the 15 mile marker they announced through a megaphone that we had to get to the next half mile marker in six minutes or we would not be allowed to finish. Of course, we all took off. By the time we reached the half mile marker people were fainting around me. It was kind of scarey. I saw lots of runners go down. That's when I began noticing ambulances from Western Springs, Elk Grove, Mt. Prospect, etc., so I knew there must be a lot of emergencies.
I was on Taylor Street at about the 18 mile marker when they announced that the race had been cancelled because they had run out of water. I wasn't sure what that meant. I thought maybe the streets would no longer be blocked off and the finish line closed. At one point they diverted about half of the runners off the course onto a side street to head them back to Grant Park. It was confusing. I wasn't sure which direction was the official course. Somehow I managed to figure out which way to go. By then they were announcing that the race was over and that we needed to walk. Someone announced that we all had to take a bus to the finish line at the next aid station. I just kept moving on the course, really hoping to at least finish. One police officer actually said (I think jokingly) that we would be arrested if we were running. He said the health department had issued a warning that running was too dangerous. Everyone around me started walking. I ran occassionally, but pretty much walked the last eight miles.
I think if I would have been faster earlier on in the race, the experience would have been different. I would have gotten to the water before it was gone, etc. I was trying to pace myself. At one point I saw a bank sign flashing the temperature at 93 degrees. It was really hot and there was the constant challenge to get water. Someone in front of Moody gave me a water bottle which I kept refilling. I even picked up a cup from the ground and dipped it in someone's cooler at one point. Anyway, I had hoped to run the course in less than five hours and it took me six hours and five minutes. Pretty embarrassing. I felt better when I learned that more than half of the runners didn't finish and that one guy died and more than 300 were hospitalized, some still in critical condition.
Anyway, thanks to those of you who came out to watch and for your calls and notes of encouragement. I'm feeling good. Just some tightness in my legs. I kind of want to run another marathon so I can experience a more normal one. It shouldn't be too hard to improve on my time!