My 400 mile journey to the Chicago Marathon

On February 19 the registration for the Chicago Marathon opened. It was my first choice to be my first and I knew it would be hard to get in but I was surprised after the whole craziness that I was one of the lucky ones to get in. I didn’t know that it would be the decision that would change my life and quite possibly saved it.

Honestly, I never would have thought I would have made it this far in running. When I first started getting into running in 2012 the thought of running for 30 minutes was nuts and anyone who ran a marathon was just plain fucking mental. Ha….My how things have changed. My first half marathon was Nov 2012 at Disney Wine and Dine. Since then I’ve done 4 more races. Each getting slightly faster and making me fall more and more in love with the people and the sport. Which is why I decided to do a marathon. I wanted to be part of that 1%. I knew how I felt after each race and I learned something new each time. I always knew that I could do more. Go farther. I have also run quite a few mudruns which is a whole different world. I love getting muddy and nothing beats a beer after climbing shit and swimming through mud with your buddies. It brings you closer, you meet new people and then sign up for more. The endorphins are the voices in your head saying one more race.

I had been training hard, running 3x a week and hitting the gym 3x a week. It was my routine. It was what I had come to enjoy. Get it done first thing so no excuses could be made. I had to make sure I was good for my last race of the season. You see, I was headed to Europe with my parents. My mother is a 2x breast cancer survivor and she wanted to hit up Spain and France before the summer heat. I had looked to see what races were happening and found Rock n’ Roll Madrid in April. GREAT. that would be the start of our vacation and I get to run a race in Europe. It was a very cold day that morning. One that I had not prepared for. 33* with a chance of snow. Whaaaaaaaaaaat… This Floridian has never run in snow. I bundled on ALL of my race clothes and then some. Just so happens I ran my best half that day. Through that trip I made sure I ran in every city we visited. I got to explore areas I wouldnt have been able to find. Which is the great thing about running. It allows you to get in with nature. VIP status with nature really.

Go through Spain, make it to France and decided to make a detour over to Geneva Switzerland. Why? Why NOT I always say. Plus cheese and chocolate :) However, what happened after dinner I couldn’t have ever planned for. My mother went into cardiac arrest at 1030PM. That means she died. I saw her stop as if she had hit a wall. She fell back and hit her head on the concrete. I was to far to catch her but I picked up her head and felt blood. She was also making gasping noises with her eyes open but no response. It was dark where we were. It was a cold night out and I was stubborn and didnt bring a jacket so we were rushing back to the trolly. I noticed her lips were turning blue so I started doing CPR. I haven’t done that since i was maybe 10 years old when they taught us in school. I just knew I had to do something. I couldnt let my mother die. I started screaming for help but Geneva is French and I do NOT speak French. Luckily a nice couple came over to see what they could do and I said GET HELP. They spoke English and French. I kept doing CPR what seemed like forever. Then a man shoved me out of the way and continued the CPR. I asked if he was a doctor and he said yes. More like an angel. The couple was translating my mother’s history to him so he knew what he was dealing with. The ambulance finally came 12 minutes later but honestly it felt like a life time. It was incredible what they did. they worked on her for an hour in the street trying to get her to life again. Shocking her 3x. I just had to stand by and hope that anything and everything good I’ve ever done in my life could be cashed in to save my mom. I’m not religious but that moment I was. We should have never been in Geneva but we were. A place where the best medicine is available in the world. They finally got mom stable enough to put her into the ambulance and bring her to the hospital. Dad rode with mom and I rode in the cop car. They had to put her into a 24 coma and drop her body temperature so that her heart could recover. It took my mom 4 days to come out of the coma. There were some complications and with the head injury we had no idea if there was other damage. We spent an hour each way commuting to the hospital. we got really good on the public transport system. We also were very lucky to be at a hotel with an incredible staff that went out of their way to do whatever they could for us. My mother was in the hospital for 10 days. they put in a defibrillator so that this instance does not happen again. However, the doctors still have no idea why it even happened in the first place. She was cleared for travel. My mother had no head trauma and once she woke up out of the coma she bounced back fairly quickly. Tough cookie she is.

There is nothing in life that could ever prepare you for a moment like that. To take responsibility for someone’s life. To see someone die in front of you. All these instances were something I did not know how to cope with. I have never doubted that I will ever crack in a situation that I am needed… however, afterwards, I’ll need time to recharge. It took me many months to come back from it. Took me over a month to stop playing that first 5 minutes in my head over and over again.

So…This is how training for the Chicago marathon saved my life. I would have fallen into a deep depression. I am sure I was depressed but I kept running. It was what kept me from losing my shit while in Geneva and dealing with my asshole Aunt and cousin. Nothing like family to be selfish pricks in a stressful time and your friends to be there at the drop of a dime for you. I ran my fastest 3 miles on a treadmill at 12am the 2nd night mom was in the hospital. 21 minutes. That is why runners survive. I cried through that run, i screamed, i shouted and I ran some more. June 24 is when I officially started. It was already summertime and the humidity sucked. I pushed on. I never gave myself that option of maybe I shouldn’t. I signed up. I paid the money. I was doing this. I had developed planar fasciitis and just popped tylenol before each run and iced. Again. Stopping wasnt an option. Later, 2 friends had said they wanted to come cheer me on. Then that was it. No matter what, I was doing this. I couldn’t let my friends down. Week after week. Month after month. I charged on. It got hotter. Harder. Mileage was increasing. I had a running buddy now for long run saturdays. It helped a lot. We understood each other. I never gave myself the option to quit. I knew I was depressed and I knew I was coping by running. I can’t imagine what shape I would be in if I didn’t have running to turn to. Friends help for sure but running changes your state of mind. I had so much support from all my friends and my parents. I made great friends on twitter and instagram of other runners either training for Chicago or another race. After a certain point, you go into caveman mode and you drift. Those are the moments that helped. I stopped thinking and just enjoyed being. Watching the sunrise and seeing it in all its glory every week. Seeing baby sea turtles and rescuing wounded birds. These are all things I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. It took longer than I wanted before I started feeling myself but really how long is to much or to little. My coping mechanism is running. The feeling of the pavement under my feet. The smell of the air…even if it is hella muggy out.

For every runner, there is a story. For me, this is only one story. Why I signed up for a half marathon is a whole different story. Why I started running. Why I keep running. It’s like an onion, there are many layers. I will keep running till the day I can’t then I’ll run some more. This community. The support. The friends. My parents. You are all part of my story and my journey. It’s sweaty and messy.

So here are the stats leading up to Chicago Marathon on 10/13/13. The 26.2 is just the finale.

Chicago Marathon-Week 1 Day 1
Chicago Marathon -Final Run

Current Stats

Current mileage: 401.7

Current hours: 73:30
Current calories burned: 50,864
Training started: June 24, 2013

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4 Responses to “My 400 mile journey to the Chicago Marathon”

  1. Penny Lane October 14, 2013 at 9:21 am Permalink

    Thanks for sharing your journey. You are amazing, girl! The metaphors between running and life are endless. Enjoy yours.

  2. AnnOhio October 10, 2013 at 1:07 pm Permalink

    You my friend amaze and inspire me! Run Amanda RUN! I wish I could be there to cheer you on at the start and to be there when you cross the finish line. Close your eyes…feel my huggin’ the stuffin’ hug. I am so proud of you!

  3. John (Daddy Runs a Lot) October 10, 2013 at 11:23 am Permalink

    Damn, woman — quite the story . . . glad your mother is back to her normal self, and VERY glad the ordeal didn’t derail you.

    You’re going to rock Chicago – can’t wait to read all about it.

  4. Kevin October 10, 2013 at 10:46 am Permalink

    The Marathon isn’t just about the race. It’s about the journey that gets you there. The journey isn’t always easy, but it definitely makes you stronger. You have put in the training, you have the determination, you are going to have a great race this weekend. Take all that emotion you have been building up this year and leave it all out there on the course. Enjoy every mile. Can’t wait to follow you on Sunday