Crushed it My journey to the finish line

As a child, my feet were always on a court or a field.
When I went to college they became planted in the bleachers, itching to compete.

Then, I started running.

I loved it, but the thought of running a race was terrifying.
Why? I didn’t want to just finish, I wanted to crush it.
After college, I worked at a marathon expo and spoke with runners.
Their passion was inspiring enough to squash my fear of races.
And so I registered for a marathon.
The night before my first long run my brain went into overdrive.
What if I can't finish? What if I have to walk?
I ran 13 miles, then 14, 15, 16 and beyond.
One mile more than last week. I've got this.
Race day. The moment I was anticipating.
Relax. Deep breathes. Stay calm.
I set out on a 3 hours and 47 minutes running tour of Chicago.
This is my one chance to crush it.
Miles 1-10: A trip down memory lane through Chicago's north side. Crowds lined the course screaming, ringing cowbells and holding signs.
So many people! This is exciting! I can crush this!
Miles 11-14: An adventure into the "West West" of West Loop and Greektown. As the crowds waned so did my familiarity with the the streets.
Halfway! Where did all the people go?
Mile 14: Silence. The only sound was my feet hitting the asphalt as I made my way down streets littered with Gatorade cups and banana peels.
I feel good. How can I pass the time?
Miles 15-17: Highway to nowhere. I ran past concrete barricades, barbed wire fences and an elderly women shoving handfuls of unwrapped Jolly Ranchers into the clenched fists of runners.
I wish there were more people like her.
Miles 18-21: "The Cultural Corridor" of Little Italy, Pilsen and Chinatown. The crowds reappeared this time cheering in a variety of languages.
My legs are so heavy.
Mile 22: The miserable mile. With each step my calves felt as though they were being ripped apart.
I can't do this. Don't walk. Don't stop.
Miles 23: A blur that I do not remember.
.............
Mile 24. The last push. "Camille!" I turned to see my parents cheering. I smiled, stood a little taller and the pain in my legs disappeared for a few moments.
I think I can. I am so close.
Mile 25: The longest mile. My entire body hurt, each step was painful, but hearing the names of finishers over the loud speaker propelled me forward.
I will not stop. I will finish this.
26.2: It took every ounce of strength to my arms in the air as I crossed the finish line and then I smiled.
I crushed it.
Two years later, I crushed it again.

Credits:

Created with images by skeeze - "runners silhouette athletes" • Memekiller - "mountainviewelementaryBASE 059" • paulbr75 - "stadium seats sports recreational" • hypotekyfidler.cz - "Country road" • Dan Bock - "Chicago Marathon Expo" • thomas_sly - "IMG_1071" • Rex Roof - "sunrise on lake michigan" • AbsolutSara - "Lakefront Trail & Monroe Harbor" • gsregalado - "IMG_5116" • bradhoc - "Cheering in Lakeview" • andrewzahn - "IMG_2638" • gsregalado - "IMG_6266" • pchurch92 - "Brooklyn Heights" • khawkins04 - "Freiburg Marathon shoes" • Horia Varlan - "Crossing an empty street" • The Nick Page - "Running" • gsregalado - "IMG_5115" • gsregalado - "IMG_6243"

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