Run reports, blogging or generally keeping up to date is hard work! Like my running and training, I need more discipline to keep this blogging up to date and share my thoughts on these important runs. However, last week was the official end of my Chicago marathon journey which I felt I needed to share.
For those people reading this for the first time, 2017 was a life changing year with the diagnosis of kidney cancer and the removal of both cancer and kidney. I had not really reflected on the impact it has had on my well being. I sailed through the operation, had 4 weeks off work and went back to being normal David; working hard, running and just getting on with it.
However when you have a life changing diagnosis, it is as it says, life changing. Outwardly I have a scar and without seeing that, you can’t tell what has happened. But my outlook on life has changed. A little bit of uncertainty has crept into my life. Ten years of follow ups and scanning await. Aches and pains that would have been ignored now can seem massive. Don’t get me wrong, I am not thinking about it all the time but there is a check in my step now as I walk. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe that’s bad.
I am a really lucky guy not just about the cancer but also with races and entering them. I was fortunate to get a ballot place for London in 2017 first time and I received a ballot place for Chicago first go for 2018. So to mark my first year anniversary of being cancer free, I decided to run for St John’s hospice, Lancaster.
My partner Chris and I flew out to Chicago in October on the Thursday before the race. Unfortunately there are no direct flights from Manchester to Chicago so with the stopover in London and the delay, we were pretty knackered when we checked in. For those that have never been to Chicago, it is an amazing city with the centre being compact for walking as well as the L (or train system) to get about.
Friday was collecting the race number at the expo about half an hour outside the city centre. It was quite chaotic with queues initially (it did not have to be) but once you had collected your race number, there were a number of stands to visit. A nice touch was to receive the T shirt at the beginning which had a standout design and many runners were wearing them.
Between the expo and race day, we visited a number of sights including art galleries, the Bean, Chicago symphony center and the cathedral. We were joined by one of our good friends Caroline, who went on to show us a number of other sights and also joined her for a meal with her husband Steve. One thing to reflect on for race day is that it is important to rest before a race, even if the temptation is to visit everything!
Sunday race start was at 8.30am and it was an easy walk from the hotel to the start. It started raining and it was about 12 degrees which was not unpleasant. It was good to talk to some of the other runner including Americans who had travelled great distances to run Chicago. The start was well organised and surprisingly we crosseed the start line within 15 minutes of the gun going off. However with the combination of jetlag and the sightseeing, I was tired before the 5 hours of running to do!
It is a flat course though with roads organised in blocks, there are lots of turns. The rain continued for another hour which made it a bit miserable but then it stopped and the humidity of the city made it interesting as the steam came off you. Support was good though not as densely packed as London. As we ran through different districts, it was good to pick up the individual feel of these areas through supporters, music played and the snacks that were offered. Unlike other races, the water and Gatorade was offered in paper cups which meant that I threw half over my face and the paper cups were mushy and slippery by the time I ran through the water stations.
I ran and walked the last few miles but was pleased I managed to banish the demons of Brighton out of my mind (where I had picked up a thigh strain at mile 14 and hobbled to the finish). GPS is notoriously inaccurate in Chicago due to the buildings saying that I done the first couple of miles at 6 minute pace – I wish! Finish time was 5 hours 15. Not my best but not my worst. I felt okay at the end and I managed to walk home with Chris back to the hotel, where he ran me a lovely bath.
The icing on the cake is that I raised nearly £6000 (after gift aid) for St John’s Hospice with an anonymous donation of £1000. I am so glad that I completed it and feel I can try and move on with my cancer now. Fundraising in 2019 is going to be much more low key but I have set myself some new challenges which I am really looking forward to.