I did it! I ran the Chicago Marathon in 4 hours in 34 minutes – factor in a bathroom stop and I achieved my 4.5 hour goal on an 87 degree day. What an experience. Here are some highlights…some serious, some not…in no particular order:
1. Experiencing contact work. In Young life we focus on going where kids are, entering into their world, and showing we care by our presence. I got to experience that while running the marathon. I saw so many people I know who battled traffic, crowds, and heat just to see me for the 5 seconds (or 10 minutes depending on the mile) that I was running by them. My small group came. Young Life friends came. College teammates came. What a blessing!
2. Team World Vision. I ran in Team World Vision Orange, and what a blessing to be a part of something SO MUCH BIGGER than myself. There were over 1000 World Vision runners raising money for clean water in Africa. As of now, the team has raised over $750,000. As I was fighting to get as much water/gatorade in as possible, I was thinking about the kids we were running for who walk miles and miles and can’t even find clean, safe drinking water. What an experience!
3. Trash talking the White Sox mascot. I’m never too tired to get in a good dig on the Chicago White Sox. The lonliest/hardest stretch of the Marathon involves running down to the desolate Sox/35th El stop and turning on 35th street before heading back to Michigan Ave. for the home stretch. How appropriate that the most wretched portion of the course involves the White Sox. Needless to say, the mascot was out and I gave a good ol’ Tigers cheer in his face. He withdrew his high five offer and I laughed for a good half mile.
4. The Chicago Neighborhoods. The race tours Chicago. What a beautiful city and what beautiful people. I especially loved the people who hooked up their hoses and sprayed us off during the run!
5. The Competition. My competitive spirit is in overdrive. I was pacing for a 4:10 marathon and then the heat got the best of me. But, if I could do 4.5 hrs in crazy heat while NEVER completing a full week of training, imagine what I can do if I put all the training in and get some good weather…yes, I will be running another marathon. Don’t know if I’ll make it back from Guatemala to do next year’s, but I will run Chicago again!
6. Cousin John. I saw my cousin in the morning – he also ran for World Vision. I passed him on the course when I was still doing well, but was pretty sure he’d catch me. Sure enough, he caught me at mile 22 right when I was completely falling apart. We finished the race together. That one goes down in Witte family history books!
7. The Eiffel Tower. Some crazy proud Frenchman ran with a 10 foot tall Eiffel Tower strapped to his body. My mantra: “I will not be beat by the Eiffel Tow
er.” I do, however, respect his deep love for his country which clearly transcends sanity, comfort, and running.
8. Food. Running a marathon is the ticket to eating whatever whenever for the days leading in and out. Thank you, Lou Malnati’s and Oberweis for helping me consume a marathon’s worth of calories in the past few days!
9. Pastor Tim. Last year my friend Maddie and I ran with my pastor – the guy who ran 50 miles to raise 50,000 for Team World Vision. It was a battle. This year I logged about 13 miles with PT and we were able to talk, joke, laugh, and run a decent pace. What a blessing and difference from last year!
10. The Medal. Love hanging that around my neck, looking back, and realizing I JUST RAN 26.2 MILES!!!!