I know that in my last post I said that I would be talking about my third marathon experience next, however, after re-reading what I wrote previously about my Chicago Marathon (my first), I realized that I left out so much that was GOOD about that event that I really have spend more time on it!
First of all, I didn't explain my reasons for deciding to finally DO a marathon. Even though I had previously done many 5 and 10K races, as well as several half-marathons, I had always insisted that I REALLY had no interest in running a marathon.
After talking to my friend Johnny about his first marathon...I have to admit that I WAS a little intrigued by the whole idea of going 26.2 miles! He must have spent 10 minutes telling me how horrible and painful it was running those hills in NYC after his legs cramped up and how he felt SO terrible and that he was doubting his sanity for doing such a thing and I was thinking, "SEE....this is why I would NEVER want to do a marathon!" Then, almost immediately after describing the pain.....Johnny said, "SOOOO.....I KNOW that my NEXT marathon will be so much better!??" Your WHAT?? Your NEXT marathon? Honestly, you are planning to run ANOTHER one? You must be out of your freakin' mind!! Johnny then proceeded to tell me that even though he was in so much pain at some points.....it was an amazing feeling to DO it! He spent the next 10 minutes telling me how it had changed his life, and how he knew that if he trained a little differently and prepared more, that he could make his next one even better!! At that point I was ALSO doubting his sanity just a bit!! Even so....I just kept thinking that maybe ONE DAY, I would give it a shot and find out for myself how something so painful could also be so satisfying!!
Johnny and I in Boston the day before he ran Boston Marathon 2012!
Not too long after talking to Johnny about his experience, our dear friends from our church (Jeff and Debbie), found out that their beautiful 10 year old daughter had leukemia. Ginny was such a warm, happy, friendly, loving little girl. Ginny had been in the 1st grade Sunday School class that I had helped teach in GA. This was my first experience teaching SS and I have to say that we had some VERY challenging kids in that first class. I remember at one point my co-teacher and I were so frustrated with some of the behavior problems that I didn't feel we were accomplishing ANYTHING good or spiritual at all. I was seriously questioning whether I wanted to continue teaching......and then this beautiful little girl came up to me at the end of the class....hugged me and said, "I really enjoyed the lesson today....Thank you!" I later told Ray that I had totally decided that I was NOT doing this anymore, because I felt that nothing good was coming from my being there and that they weren't paying any attention anyway......and then, that one little girl made such a difference. I felt that if even one of those kids was getting something out of it, then it was worth it!
When I got the call about Ginny being in the hospital and her diagnosis, I absolutely could not believe that this beautiful child could be so sick. I just KNEW that she would be all right....I mean....the world NEEDED more children like this, right?
Just before Ginny was diagnosed, I had heard about Team In Training. This was a group of runners who ran marathons and raised money for The Leukemia Society. They had training groups all over the country. Almost immediately after learning about Ginny, I signed up with TNT. I thought that THIS was a good reason to put myself through the pain of training for and running 26.2 miles. I wrote my letter to send out to friends to ask for donations, saying that I was running in honor of Ginny. Shortly after finishing that letter and starting to train,I had to change the letter to.....Running in MEMORY of Ginny Phillips. Even now, all these years later, as I write this I can't help but cry a little. It's not that I was so very close to Ginny.....I didn't spend an extraordinary amount of time with her. I saw her at Church and we occasionally went out to eat with the Phillips family or went to their house for a gathering of church friends....but there was just that special feeling for Ginny that came from having her in my SS class. After she passed away, I remember thinking that when I had her in my class, I felt like she was a little angel, and now she really was one. I have to say that after Ginny's death, I did a lot of questioning of God and his reasons for taking such a sweet child, but I also kept remembering how one Sunday in the midst of her illness, Ginny was able to attend Church and during the service, even though most of us didn't know if she knew just how sick she was, Ginny took her Daddy's hand and said, "Daddy, it's okay....I'm not afraid to die.".......Ginny's favorite bible verse was, "This is the Day the Lord hath made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it."........Ginny had faith, maybe a lot more than her Sunday School teacher had. To this day, when I hear that verse...I see Ginny.
I WOULD run Chicago Marathon and I would do it for Ginny.
Just after Ginny's death, we relocated to Minnesota and I had never even visited MN until we moved there, so I knew that training for my first marathon in a new place would be a challenge. I had just really started to train for Chicago when we moved. Although I had never been to MN, I found out that my old friend, Marilou who had once lived in Atlanta was living only 10 minutes away from where we were moving, so at least I knew someone there! When I told Marilou that I would be training for a marathon, she said that there were some wonderful running trails nearby but that I couldn't run that kind of mileage by myself on these trails! So, I told her the only option would be for SOMEONE to run them with me!! Marilou had always insisted that people who go out and run are just CRAZY! Being the kind woman that she is though....she finally agreed that she would train with me up to a point but that she would NOT be running a marathon! Well, we started pretty much from scratch with the running, beginning in late June and by September, we were ready for our first 20 miler!! Marilou who had never run before.....turned into my trainer! She was TOUGH and made me adhere to our schedule! Phone calls early in the cold MN mornings insisting that it was NOT too cold to run.....she was a maniac! After we did our first really long run, I put a Chicago marathon application in front of her.....handed her a check for the fee and told her to sign her name on the dotted line!! She promptly did as told......She figured she had done all of the work, she may as well get the t-shirt!! And anyway, she was born and raised in Chicago....how could she NOT go??
Wow, I just wrote a LOT about Chicago Marathon, but nothing really about the actual running of the marathon!
If anyone is interested.....I will put a Chicago race report on my "My Marathons" page, later.
I have to stop writing about running now and actually get out the door for a run!