Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Missing the Marathon.

This past Sunday was the Chicago Marathon. For the last couple of years my son, Jeff, has been in town to run the race.  This year, other travel plans have taken the priority and he was unable to make the trip into town.  I missed seeing him and I missed getting up at the crack of dawn to drive downtown and see the race.
The drive into the city is a relatively easy one on Sunday mornings.  There is no real rush hour on that morning--the day when many people are still sleeping in, perhaps recovering from Saturday's activities.  Seeing the sun just beginning to rise over the lake is inspirational  Its rays slowly wash over the skyscrapers, giving one the feeling that the city itself is awakening to the start of a new day.  

The downtown area is fairly deserted, but less so than it would be if there were no race to run.  It isn't until reaching State Street that the population increases as spectators begin to mill around, staking their claim to the best vantage points for seeing the runners rush past.  The atmosphere sparkles with excitement; spectators are an important piece in the puzzle as they applaud, cheer and encourage the runners. Some have horns or bells; others bring drums, signs and flags.  Colors, sights and sounds combine to create a festive atmosphere. It truly is exciting to be a part of it all!

And so I missed it--the early morning sleepiness of the city, the excitement and anticipation that define the event, even the hustle and bustle of working my way through the crowds gathered at the finish line.  Yes, I would go again to mill among these strangers who truly feel like friends that I have not yet met.  Something like a marathon creates that feeling, the sense of comraderie caused by people coming together for a common cause.

I briefly considered going down for the race this year in spite of the fact that Jeff wasn't running, but I decided against it.  As much as I may have enjoyed it, his participation is what made this event my own as I watched for him in the group.  It wouldn't be the same without that--the chance to look for that one special runner and experience the thrill of spotting him amongst the other runners.  As much as I missed being there, my attendance would have felt empty somehow, a shallow reminder of past years.  Missing the race is one thing, but I didn't need to be reminded that I missed seeing Jeff most of all.

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