This past weekend was the Chicago marathon. And though I’m not a Chicagoan, DD and I made the trek from Detroit because he’d signed up to run his first marathon.
Leading up to it, we were a bit worried. He’d been having knee issues that had impeded his training and aggravated his body to the point that he was worried he may not be able to run at all.
Once we got to Chicago, things seemed to change. He got caught up in the excitement of the pre-marathon expo. He connected with his friends who were also running and the worries seemed to wipe away.
Saturday night, we had a big pasta dinner, he iced his knee, and he seemed good to go.
Sunday morning, he woke up and headed out bright and early. I left the hotel shortly after and met up with his friends at the 5K marker. We saw DD and his buddy, happy as can be, running strong early on.
We moved on to mile 12, hoping to see them again. And we waited. And waited. And waited some more. We began to fear we missed them. That they’d increased their pace.
As we began plotting our next spectating move, I got the text.
His knees had given out. He couldn’t run. He’d had to drop out and was boarding the bus to return to the finish line in Grant Park.
Now, I’m not a runner. But there’s something about marathons that has gotten under my skin the past couple years. As I meandered through the Magnificent Mile toward the 5K mark on Sunday morning, I caught glimpses of the elite runners speeding by. For some reason, I always get a little teary eyed watching. Something about people accomplishing their lifelong goals, I’m sure.
That’s why, when I got DD’s text, my heart dropped. This was something he’d been working toward for the better part of the year. And something he’d been thinking about and dreaming of for years.
And he couldn’t get it done. I can’t even imagine how that must feel. He was especially frustrated because he realized he could do it — his endurance was high — but his body just wouldn’t let him. Not this time. And on Sunday, we weren’t sure if his body would ever let him do it.
The rest of the day is a blur. There was a rush to Grant Park and a frantic search through the crowds to find my injured boyfriend. There was his bittersweet glances at all the runners crossing the finishing line as he limped along, just out of reach. There was the Nike market research chick, who saw his Nike shoes and pushed him to answer questions — even after he admitted that he hadn’t finished the race. There was a cab ride with a shady cabbie, more ice for the knee, and a long drive home.
Tonight his buddy, who practices sports medicine, looked at his knee and it looks like the issue is fairly common. And completely treatable. Which means that with a little rehab, and a better training program, DD will be able to run a marathon some day.
I think the next time will be the time. And I think crossing the finish line will be so much sweeter.