Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Hero

I want to mention, and congratulate, my husband's huge accomplishment this month. I am proud to tell everyone that Sven Ran For Survival in the Chicago Marathon on October 7, 2007, and did a fantastic job. Not only did he raise $4,000 for the Young Survival Coalition, but he also outran experienced marathoners in some brutal heat. He finished a little slower than his target time (of under 4 hours), but considering the horrible conditions (heat and humidity in October!), his time was fantastic. He looked strong the whole race through. I can't give justice to the intense feeling of pride and excitement I got the first time I saw him run past me. His dad and I went to about the 3 mile mark, I found a newspaper box to stand on, and I watched for him, scanning every runner that came by, zooming in on anything pink. He was wearing a pink Fighting Illini basketball shirt because the YSC custom made shirt didn't get to our house in time (they screwed up the address, sending it to Champaign instead). I am glad he was wearing pink because it made it a lot easier to spot him.

To surprise him, I made some signs on some hot pink poster board while we waited for him. "Go Sven! You Rock! Run breast cancer into the ground!" I screamed like crazy and waved the sign for him as soon as I saw him coming. He blew me a giant kiss, and I think that made my whole day. My heart felt so full and my eyes teared up with pride and happiness. Jon and I ran to our next lookout spot that we had planned the night before: right about the midway point, just before mile 13 when they go over the Chicago River. I found another newspaper box to stand on, and thank goodness this time. Some very selfish people started crowding into the street, narrowing the lane for the runners to only 2-3 abreast. It was crazy and inconsiderate, and made it so anyone else on the ground couldn't see anything coming down the road. Sven almost didn't see me standing up on the newstand. The guy next to me yelled his name in a huge voice, and that got him to look at the last minute. He still looked strong, and he wasn't pushing it, so his dad and I felt a lot better about it. It was starting to get hot even at that point.

Right after the midway sighting, we headed for our third lookout point: Chinatown. We got on the CTA Red Line and headed out. On the way, we chatted with some other folks who were supporting runners. A woman with a toddler sat behind us and I asked who she was supporting and she explained her husband. This was his fourth time running the marathon. She advised that Chinatown could be really crazy and too crowded to get close enough to see. We almost waiting to get off after Chinatown, but when we got to the stop we saw that it wasn't too bad and some really good spots were still open. So we jumped off and parked ourselves right up front. This was one of the more entertaining places to wait. There was a dragon or two dancing, music booming, and a DJ doing some talking. This was at mile 21, I think, so by the time runners got to this point, you could start seeing some exhaustion. Still, the people we saw were still going pretty strong. Again, we were really relieved to see Sven come by. He was looking more tired, but we were so happy to see him still looking strong. My heart jumped for joy to see him running by. He blew me a kiss, and I think I smiled for the next 2 days thinking of that. :-)

The final spot for looking out was closer to mile 25, the final mile. That's when we started seeing more people walking, some sitting, and a few wheelchairs. A lot of hurting people. Sven came running by and you could see sheer determination pushing him every step further. I can't imagine what your body must be feeling like during the last mile of a marathon, but his dad and I decided we might just mark off "Running a marathon" from our list of things to do in life. It didn't look fun. We were sweating and dehydrated just from watching these runners, so when you looked at the runners, you could only imagine. I wanted to run with Sven the rest of the way in, to give him my energy, to show him how proud I was of him, and to keep his body moving forward. After he passed me by, I couldn't help yelling at Jon that I was going to run to catch up with him. I started sprinting down the sidewalk after him (he was finally going a pace I could keep up with). When I caught up with him, I starting yelling and cheering and jogging with him. He smiled through the pain, but in the end wasn't too happy that I was making him run harder. (whoops) I could only hope that I helped to keep his determination going, and that he knew how proud I was of him.

After that short burst, we didn't see him again until we finally got to the family/friend meeting points that were set up closer to the start/finish area. By this time I could tell I hadn't eaten any lunch and hadn't drank enough water. I was getting grumpy and my feet hurt after running in my sandals. It was really hot. Sven was really exhausted when we finally met up. He wanted water, and I couldn't find any bottled water anywhere for him. None of the vendors we passed had any water left. That was pretty sad. He drank the gatorade we brought for him, but we only had 2 small bottles. We made our slow trip back to the el, back to our car in Forest Park, and drove on home. He got to rest a little bit (me, too) before we departed again for a very yummy dinner hosted by the Young Survival Coalition at the China Grill restaurant in the Hard Rock Hotel. China Grill ended up donating the dinner to YSC. How awesome. It was a great day and a lovely dinner.

China Grill is a great restaurant. Check out their menu, and if you ever get a chance to go, I'd recommend any of these appetizers and entrees we had:
curried chicken satay
lobster pancakes (or was it shanghai lobster?)
thai shrimp cakes
pan seared spicy tuna
grilled garlic shrimp
sake marinated "drunken" chicken
a beef dish (I didn't eat this, so I don't remember what it was)
wild mushroom profusion pasta
one other meat dish

Sven's Race Results:

Stephen Johnson | Bib # 23151 | Champaign, IL - USA | Age 31 | M
START 5K 10K 15K 20K HALF 25K 30K 35K 40K FINISH
0:08:17 0:28:21 0:56:26 1:24:06 1:52:50 1:59:16 2:23:34 2:58:30 3:32:41 4:11:27 4:25:02
TIME Chip Time: 4:25:02 Clock: 4:33:19 Pace: 10:06

Placement Overall: 7224 Gender: 5039 Division: 801

Sven, you are my hero!

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