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Chicago Marathon

The night before my 9th Marathon I was having dinner with Al and Jarisse.  Watching a Cubs game, at an old Irish pub in the heart of downtown Chicago.  Al grabbed the tab, we argued about it and our gentlemans agreement was that Al would get half of my prize money from the Marathon the next day.

I told Al that since I don’t know the course, I should let a couple of people go ahead of me. I think the winner gets like $100,000.

36,320 people were ahead of me.

Don’t think there is any prize money for 36,321st, I owe Al a dinner.

The Chicago Marathon was 44,341 people, but a lot more people want to do it, so there is a lottery to get to do it.

I once had a girlfriend from Chicago, I entered it that year (2012).  Turns out she was a competitor of mine this year in the marathon.  Her official time was quicker, but I beat her over the line…

Paige is such a cutie and she must have been running on one leg not to beat me by a couple of hours.  For me it is only about finishing first…… hahaha (Paige was used to that).

(C’mon, this is my blog I get to tell real jokes – I ran this by Paige before publishing and she has a sense of humor)

Recently my adopted folks Al and Jarisse have spent some time in Chicago so I entered the lottery in 2014, 2015 and 2016 as an excuse to go and hang out.

I didn’t try very hard, for the Escape from Alcatraz I used 4 different drivers licences and got a spot on my first attempt.  For the Marathon, I just put in my Aussie drivers licence.

On December 12th, 2016 I received a horrible email “Thomas Grindlay, Congratulations, you have a starting spot in the 2017 Chicago Marathon!!!”

Bugger.

I haven’t run a bloody Marathon since 2003, and I remember how horrible the last one was…. bleeding nipples, my thighs were shaffing so bad my knee caps were bleeding.  It was the Gold Coast Marathon and I lost a case of Bundy Rum and it took me 6 hours.

Just because I like pussies, doesn’t mean I have to be one.  Of course I accepted the invitation.

My adopted folks, Al and Jarisse, spend some time in Chicago and hanging out with them was amazing.  First night we had some drinks on the deck…  sensational!!!

On Saturday I had to go and check in and all that business, it was a wee short bike ride…..sensational!!!!

Sunday morning, 4am start and I walked the 2 blocks from Al and Jarisse’s place to the start line.

This isn’t my photo, but I saw this after I had checked my gear – well done Chicago!!!  I thought it was 42.2 like my previous Marathons….. that is great news.

It was a little cool.  I had an old ski buddy, Steve, who hooked me up with a front of the house starting position.  He and I both knew this starting position wasn’t reflective of my finishing time, but Steve was OK with it and so was I.

Around the start line there were some fair dinkum athletes.  I was definitely the fattest.  I was surrounded by lovely, gorgeous young ladies wearing not very much clothing riddled with goose bumps from the cold.  I just wanted to give them a hug and warm them up but that would have been weird and I was in the ‘elite’ starting group so I was supposed to be focusing.  My nipples were double taped, this isn’t my first rodeo.

5 minutes from the start I ran within sign of Al and Jarisse’s place….. Al took this photo from his deck.

I didn’t think I’d finish.

Before the race, I didn’t want to be negative, but I looked up where there were cars to bring me back if I gave up.  I didn’t tell anyone else, I was thinking about the prize money to pay for last nights dinner.

It was a gorgeous morning….  I am right up the front.  Brilliant spot.

I didn’t overtake many people, but 30,000 people over took me.  How cool is that!!!

At 10 miles I was hurting…..  I started the old man shuffle…..

At 20 miles, I was walking…. I was buggered.

The first text message I received in the finishing tent was from Al “We saw you at 20 miles.”

My response was “That was just when I was putting on a burst of speed, I hope your camera shutter was capable of capturing me at high speed.”  I thought I was walking at that point but I was running…. maybe shuffling.

Al took the photo above and the photo below.  I’m not sure if I’m dribbling or foaming…..  But I am surrounded by some very fit looking people.

I am kicking arse!!!

I walked the last 6 miles, I wasn’t ready for it, my time is horrible but I loved it.  I was as ready as I could be, my clothing was great, my morning routine was great.   Minturn Steve looked after my post race routine which was a dozen beers to rehydrate and three massages in some VIP tent.  Everything about Marathon day was perfect.  Except it took me 2 hours too long.

I had an awesome day…..

After a dozen beers and 3 massages I headed the 2 blocks home to Al and Jarisse’s place.  I was walking with a few people from the marathon and we were all walking so slow that we had to step aside for a lady with a baby stroller because she was walking faster…..

That night, after a hottub and a couple of scotches, I think I went to bed before Al for the first time ever.  Sensational!!!

The next day, I was a little dusty from the scotches so Jarisse took me for a bike ride.  Sensational!!!!

I finished my 9th Marathon.  The time was horrible, brother John told me he went surfing that day for 6 hours, nearly as long as my Marathon the cheeky bugger (he is an Ironman).  I didn’t think I’d get it done, Al and Jarisse were just awesome and they were so sweet saying how great I was…. like the fat kid crossing the line hours after everyone else.  Big shout out to Minturn Steve, the VIP tickets, the starting position and just knowing I had someone to ask about anything was amazing.

My time is 2hrs and 25 minutes off my PB.  I walked the last 6 miles.  I had so much fun, I high-fived hundreds of people, I had jello-vodka-shots far too often, I stopped and played the drums, I had thousands of people encourage me.  It was in South Chicago and old black church ladies were calling me ‘brother’ and telling me get on with it.

I think I nailed it.

At least 5 times I was running with people who pulled over because their family were there, Mum and Dad’s who were running seeing their kids and family on the sideline.  Just a wonderful amosphere and I bet I would have been walking at 10 miles if not for all the fun that was going on.

At least twice I was running with people who pulled over to thank some of the security people – seemed like they were friends which was awesome.

At every intersection there were bobbies and their cars (it is 40kms – there are a LOT of intersections!!!), I bet you every snow plow and garbage truck in Illinois was blocking some kind of intersection that day as well and I got thumbs up and claps from hundreds of guys in full military gear that looked like they were about to step out of a Humvee in the middle of Dirka-Dirka-Stan.

I love America….. Well done Chicago and thank you.

PS

There were lots of signs on the course, some Jesus people but most were fun and great.  My favourite sign was early in the race, fat chick with a sign that said “I like your  endurance, call me 555-123-4567”.  I’m good with numbers, I remembered and I called her, Jane is a skier and you might meet her this winter.