Crossing the finish line in the 2011 Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon brought a feeling of accomplishment, pride and a Super 6 Heavy Medal. Several months before I had made a commitment to my athletic goals, but felt alone on my journey. On my days off from work I would be running my errands, training, or sewing my race gear for my next race. The exhaustion from my goals consumed me and fueled my fire to work harder. Living in the French Quarter of New Orleans has a celebratory vibe to the lifestyle that is very distracting. I did not want to fail in my commitments but I also had to find a balance in allowing myself to enjoy my life and not work all the time.
Traveling to Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series races gave me access to a community of athletes with similar goals, fun attitudes, and athletic; a sort of mobile family. I remember the feeling I felt during the races before this and I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was; but I was excited to run! I crossed the start line and ran towards lower Wacker Drive in Chicago. I smelled coffee and bacon and laughed as I saw a spectator dressed as a pig. The sign they held said “RUNNERS ROCK”.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll races are more than just 13.1 or 26.2 mile distances; but a journey together.”
All I could think of was ‘what would chocolate & bacon flavored GU taste like?’ As I passed the Chicago Theatre I was taken aback by the roar of the people cheering us on. Then I saw a running friend I had met at the Country Music Marathon and we talked for approximately 2km before reaching the West Loop. I enjoy the cheer teams along course in their costumes, and the creative “rock star” costumes they create like KISS or a version of Desperately Seeking Susan!
We headed back to the city and the people were alive with energy. I remember seeing a runner next to me and I thought “ooohhhhhhh I love her tutu”! I had about 45 minutes of running left and I saw one of my running friends from Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas who introduced me to even more friends on course. I was laughing so much I lost track of about 1km of the run. The last leg of the race I could hear the roar of the crowd from the finish and it hit me like a bag of throws during Mardi Gras that I am not alone.
Rock ‘n’ Roll races are more than just 13.1 or 26.2 mile distances; but a journey together. I feel inspired by the communities I run through and the way athletes cheer one another on. Each race I run is unique but crossing the finish line in Chicago gave me strength and pride. It feels great to be part of something powerful like a half marathon because the journey for me became a unified focus of positive energy, friendship, and endorphin driven humor. It does not matter if you are a runner, volunteer or spectator; together we are all part of what makes the journey ROCK!
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