Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Why Chicago?"

So, many people have been asking why I have chosen Chicago to run my first marathon.  Kind of a long story but a nice one.

I have been married to my husband Lennie for 17 years.  He is from Quebec and grew up in a tight community with lots of time spent with his family and cousins.  One of his favourite cousins and bit of a mentor; Kevin put himself through university, moved to Chicago and started a wonderful life.  Lennie and Kevin reconnected after many years and Kevin invited us to visit him in Chicago one weekend in 2000. 

Lennie and I are road trip kind of people so we went August long weekend and had the most wonderful experience.  Kevin, his wife Sue and their 2 kids at the time; Sara and Emily gave us the best weekend.  We saw the aquarium, dinosaur museum and went on a boat cruise.  Kevin took us to a White Sox ball game, to many sights and hot spots around town.  We found Chicago to be beautiful, safe and had such a great history.  My favourite memories surround eating dinner in Evanstan at a restaurant called That Little Mexican Place and the day Kevin took us to his work at the Chicago Mercantile (he even got us on the floor to see what it is like to be a trader). 

Lennie and I both think Kevin and his family are wonderful (they have 3 kids now with the addition of Sam their youngest son) and had them come to Canada and stay with us to return the favour.  Since that first trip we have visited many times and enjoyed many dinners out, hockey games, poker games and adventures with their kids.

One visit, Kevin shared with me that every Chicago person has to run the marathon at some time in their life and recounted his experience and it sounded like a riot.  I can remember thinking how cool it would be to run a marathon and that it would not be easy for me as Kevin was an athlete and a runner. 

Fast forward to January 2010, I finished my first 10km clinic with the Running Room and have started the 1/2 marathon clinic with my friends.  It was going very well and one night after a Tuesday night run we were all standing around chatting about races that people had completed.  Alisha and Lindsay were recounting their previous marathon experience and how yucky the Toronto one was that they had completed.  Alisha suggested that we do the marathon clinic after we finish the 1/2 clinic and I said that we could run the Chicago marathon and everyone thought that was a great idea. 

In true Alisha form, she went home and researched it for us and found the registration date of February 1st fast approaching and that it sold out very quickly.  Lindsay, Alisha and I stayed up till midnight the night of January 31st in order to be some of the first to register - we totally forgot that Chicago is 1 hour behind London time so I ended up staying up till 1:00am to register.  We all got in, and now we are 4 sleeps away.
Honesty, I can not believe that it is here.  I can not stop crying about it - I tear up every time I hear a song about perseverance, watch a YouTube video or imagine the finish line.  This past weekend we got together again to make up our shirts, buy Canada hats and confirm our plans for the weekend.  I am so proud that my mom and Lennie will be making the trip with me and will see me finish this odyssey that I am on. 

Tomorrow I turn 42 and am already planning races for 2011 - who wouldn't thought that I would be planning another race.  Stay tuned.