Before I move on, I do want to say a couple of things "on the record":
- I confirm many of the reports about the lack of water and Gatorade. Patti and I had to stop and drink some dirty standing water from a big fountain (there were many others doing so too) after not getting water for 5+ miles. We finally found water at the 3rd station...almost 6 miles in. The first tables were all out and we did get some at the end of that aid-station. Patti had to get water poured from a gallon straight into her mouth and I got a cup finally at the end table. There was no Gatorade at any of the tables.
- Despite the race organizers repeated claims that they knew they might have to cancel the event and were prepared for having to do so, I experienced what was close to chaos and did not see an ounce of indication that there was some sort of structured contingency plan.
- Communication about what was happening was nill. I was informed by (what looked like) High School volunteers at the aid station just before the 16 mile marker that the marathon had been "cancelled". From that point I did not hear any additional information until we reached Grant Park. The majority of the runners and spectators around me did not have a clue what was going on - and we didnt really believe what we heard. I called my husband who was waiting for me further into the course, and he hadnt heard a thing.
- From the point where we heard, we had to walk 2.12 miles to Grant Park. Even if there was water at the aid stations (as organizers claim) ... there wasnt a single aid station on the re-route until we got to Grant Park. So in addition to the confusion, there was a 2+ mile walk (or run, for some who had no clue what was going on) until a temporary aid station was set up. That station had water only (no Gatorade).
- Organizers claim 24,933 finished. But when I got to Grant Park and went to chip removal - they told me I had to cross the finish first. I had to walk several more blocks to the finish line, cross, then walk back to chip removal. So individuals were basically "forced" to finish - and now organizers are reporting those as some sort of official finisher count.
- Many articles, comments, bloggers, are talking about the one positive note: the support of spectators. The amount of injuries (and perhaps deaths) was kept LOW in compared to what it could have been - thanks to the awesome people out to support the event. Individuals were setting up their own aid stations - offering water, ice Gatorade, hoses, YOU NAME IT! I have never seen so many selfless acts. Individuals buying water/Gatorade/ice at local Walgreens and standing on the course just handing it out to runners. People standing in front of their homes spraying hot runners with hoses. Strangers asking runners "is there anything you need?" or "is there anything I can do to help?". It was simply amazing and I applaud each and every one of these individuls - they truly made a difference and likely saved some lives.
As I said, I dont want to keep re-living this experience. Instead I do need to move forward ... and more importantly think of the positives :)
I have trained for a Marathon, and I intend on completing a Marathon. I have done some searching and there are still some events that take place before the year ends with some open spots. I have a feeling that I am not alone in thinking this - and so many of these events may be seeing some increased registration in the next few weeks. I need to figure out what one I would like to do soon so I dont miss out on the opportunity in the event spots fill!
Grand Rapids (MI) – 10/28
Raleigh, NC - 11/4
Philadelphia – 11/18
Atlanta - 11/22
West Palm Beach (FL) 12/1
Sacremento (CA) - 12/2
Las Vegas – 12/2
Jacksonville FL 12/16
Can "good thing" actually have come out of this whole experience? Its hard to think of this in a positive light, I know - but I need to try.
- More time to work on healing/improving my back problems
- More time to train
- Opportunity to travel to a new destination
- The next Marathon I attempt should practically be easy compared to yesterday's experience. At least ... its impossible to have any worse of an experience!!!!
Finally, I want to thank my family and friends. Jeff and his family were there to cheer me on repeatedly during the course, and to console me after. My sister met me just as it felt my world was about to collapse - at mile 16. Her support and silent understanding helped me keep my cool, and I think is a large percentage of the reason I feel more optimism than anger or regret today. I also want to thank the family and friends of those I have been running with (specifically Patti's family & friends. Her sister was a guardian angel). You were there to offer us bottles of water and Gatorade. To offer us hugs. To offer us support.
While yesterday was one of the most challening experiences of my life - it would have been entirely different had these individuals not been there. They made everything seem ok, and made me optimistic that I can still do this. I WILL DO THIS.