Roll the credits
There's a long list of folks behind every great film. Our marathon was hardly a masterpiece, but it's time to thank those who made us come as close as possible.
The Wisconsin Marathon was often like a movie. It was surreal. And the last several miles were not unlike a horror flick.
We didn't come away with The Godfather II. Heck, it wasn't even The Godfather III. But it was our first, we'll never forget it, and will never be able to fully express our thanks to everyone who made it possible.
But you had to know I'd try.
- My beautiful bride, Kayla. You never cease to amaze and impress me. What we conquered - not just Saturday, but over the past several months - makes me eager for what's to come for the next, oh, 70 or so years.
- The incomparable Sara Falkiewicz. Honestly, I get a little bit verklempt when I think about how lucky we are to know you. Kayla's eyes welled up with tears upstairs as we cleaned up after the race and talked about how wonderful a running partner/friend you've been.
- Andrew "Don't call me Steve" Cherney: What's next, bud? Tough mudder? Ultra? Doing the worm over hot coals? As long as we're taking it on in tandem, I firmly believe there's nothing we can't do. Your quiet confidence was only trumped by your boisterous singing throughout the race. Cheers, bud.
Let's start with leading up to the race. We'll call it...
- Cheers to our running family. By that I mean all the smiling faces we've seen on paths, sidewalks, streets and (yes, unfortunately) treadmills. As I always say, we're in this together. The moment you lace 'em up, you join a unique fraternity/sorority. Mad props to Keith Aurand (you know him as Pete Durand from my previous posts). His insight, encouragement and unbridled optimism buoyed our spirits.
- Thanks to Sauk Valley Media for letting me do the blog. It's my first, and it's been a blast. It's also been a great tool that's held me accountable throughout the training process. Thanks to all the folks who've interacted, whether by email, in social media, or other ways. The overwhelming interaction has been in person. It seems wherever we've gone in the Sauk Valley, we've become "those running people." It's been pretty overwhelming to find out just how many folks have been tuning in.
- Thank you to everyone who wished us well. There are simply too many of you to notate, so forgive me for just hitting a few highlights. What stood out the most to me is the confidence exuded by folks who'd never seen us run. One exchange that stands out in my mind is with SVM news reporter and fellow blogger Kiran Sood, who assured me we were going to do awesome. That sort of faith goes a long, long way.
- How about those who have seen us run? Or, better yet, have run with us? Beginning with the former category, my most important source of zen during the homestretch came from a text message Kayla and I received on Marathon Eve from our close friend Sarah Lambert. It was a picture of her crazy blue heeler, Ranger, looking up longingly at her phone. Beneath the picture read, "Ranger would like you to kick some serious (epletive) tomorrow." Despite Ranger's potty mouth, reflecting on afternoons of him and Dexter playing at the doggie beach proved the ultimate distraction. As for those who have run with us, I have to send a thankful shoutout to Mindy Nienhouse and Andi LaForge, with whom we ran the River Bank Run in Grand Rapids, Mich., last year. Kayla met them while we lived in Musky, and I must say they had a huge impact on her life and, in turn, mine.
- As we were en route to the starting line in bumper-to-bumper traffic, my stomach was in knots. But they quickly unraveled over the first few miles. And every time we saw a familiar face, my heart nearly leapt through my chest.
- Thanks to Sara's mum, Deb, whose cowbell was like a cooling salve on my fever all FOUR times I saw her during the race. She's the bomb, and it's no longer a mystery how Sara turned out to be one of the coolest cats I've ever met.
- On the subject of parents, thanks so much to Kayla's folks (Ken, Karin and Adam). Ken "handled" our black lab, Dexy, throughout the race. I only got to see them once, and Dexy was relieving himself, which made me laugh, for some reason. But Kayla saw them several times, and I know seeing her dad and her boy was a huge source of strength. As for Karin and Adam, they caught up with us during the race and even shot some video. So now I have footage of myself as close to death as I've been. Sweet. All jokes aside, they were dynamite on the other side of the finish line. And they had ibuprofen, which was just, well, amazing.
- Kudos to Sara's close friend, Laura, who crafted some of the most clever signs I saw in the galleries. My personal fave read, "I trained 5 months to make this sign." Thanks for the boost, it was a pleasure to meet you.
- Thanks to one of my best buds, Johnny McNally, who was waiting for us at the finish line. Dude's going to run his first 5K, the Sausage Race at Miller Park, in a couple of months. I won't be waiting for him at the finish line. Because I'll be running alongside him.
- How refreshing to see our good friend Jillian Ketterhagen covered in medals after the finish line. When she slipped one over my head, that was pretty cool. I wasn't even ashamed that she would've run it about an hour faster than we did.
- There are so many folks who transcend categories. One person who literally does so because he was so involved in the entire process is SVM Online Editor Angel Sierra. He's been working with me since Day 1, when we came up with a logo and a title for the blog. He's edited tons of video, he shot our epic failure of a 20-mile dry run, and has been an uplifting soul throughout. Also, kudos to his wife, Christina, who ventured to Kenosha for the experience. More on her in a moment.
- Again, there are so many folks who I can't thank enough, because they've believed in us. Friends, family, you all know who you are.
As soon as the credits rolled, the reviews came pouring in. I was greeted by a slew of emails when I returned to work Sunday evening. Local runners offered their congrats, and one email really stood out. Martha Anderson of Dixon shared the story of her daughter, Natalee, who ran her first marathon just a week before ours. Her tale's a pretty inspiring one. Give it a read.
When we set out to do this, you might recall that one of my goals was to inspire. Maybe that's a bad word. I wanted to point out to folks that they could run, whether it be a mile or 26.2. As it turned out, we did inspire at least a few. I got a text from Angel on Sunday afternoon letting me know that we inspired Christina, who went out for her first run that morning.
Come on. Does it get any better than that? I love my medal, but I'll wear inspiring someone like a badge. That's the happy ending I so fervently sought.