As I'm sure you remember (all week you've no doubt been saying to yourselves, "wow, we're sure finding ourselves thinking about this all the time"), last Saturday's 23-mile run got pre-empted by some stupid rain. And some stupid tornadoes.
But! This morning's weather was perfect for running. (OK, it was about two degrees warmer than perfect, but we'll still take it.) And at 6:00 the entire 2008 AIDS Marathon population found ourselves gathered along the lakefront for our pre-run pep talk:
The weather remained perfect (well, two degrees warmer than perfect) all morning. And we had a fabulous first 12 miles. We were all smiles just after the turnaround ... way down on 31st Street beach. It's weird to contemplate that we ran from Foster to 31st Street and back, but when you're in the middle of it you just kind of focus on the miles in front of you and you don't take in the big picture until you're done. At least I don't.
Unfortunately, we lost a runner soon after that when an old injury of his flared up. But the three of us who remained (our pace group is down to about four regulars from the 10 or so we started with in April) continued to plug along. Here we are at North Avenue beach, which I think is about six or seven miles from the end. You'd think after running in Chicago for eight years that I'd have a better idea of how many miles are between landmarks, but I don't.
Since my longest run this summer had been only 18 miles (everyone else had done 20 but I crashed in the heat on our 20-mile run), 23 was quite a jump this morning. And the last four miles were pretty painful. But I crossed the finish line just moments after everyone else. And since the AIDS Marathon training program is filled with gays, we had balloons and flags and even a drag-queen bar mitzvah clown waiting for us:
We also got medals! But we always get medals for any run over about 15 miles. So my cumulative medal collection is well over the paltry eight that Michael Phelps won in Beijing. What a loser.
Of course nobody was really watching us cross the finish line because somebody was shooting a damn Abercrombie & Fitch-type ad right there. Seriously. Matthew (being a completely impartial photojournalist) took pictures, which I am posting here only for the sake of being a dutiful, news-reporting blogger: