It was cold, dark, windy and early when we dropped the runners off at their gate. With one girl on the top of the stroller, one in the actual seat and one perched on the foot rest, we quickly became Chicago’s Finest Spectator Mobile, off on our own adventure.
After months of training, my dear friend, Jayne, and her husband, Matty, were in town to run the Chicago Marathon.
While they would spend the next 4.5-5 hours running, I was responsible for keeping their two girls and my kiddo alive, safe and in one piece. Confession: I may have laid awake from 3-4am wondering how the morning was going to play out. A 3:1 kid to adult ratio with energetic girls under the age of 6 in a huge city with 45,000 people running through the streets just sounded a tad bit overwhelming.
Nevertheless, I put on my brave that day and headed down Michigan Avenue with one Bob stroller, three girls, two blankets, a plethora of snacks, an activity bag filled with crayons and coloring books, three posters, one iPad with kid shows pre-loaded because sometimes we all need a little mental break, and a partridge in a pear tree, for good measure.
Panera became our base. It was warm, comfy and served kid food and coffee. God bless those saintly employees. Every single one of them helped me with all of the water cups, all of the extra bowls and extra spoons and I’m so sorry, but can I get one more GoGurt, and all of the door holding (getting a stroller piled with 120lbs of children in and out of narrow doors is no small task).
I’m pretty good with kids, but little things can suddenly get very tricky when you’re out-numbered 3:1. For example, potty breaks. After catching a quick site of our runners at the two-mile mark, everyone needed to go potty. Back to Panera we went.
“Quinn, go ahead and wash your hands, but stay in the bathroom, okay?”
“Adellyn, it’s your turn. Remember to wash your hands when you’re done.”
“Maeve, come with me, honey. We need to go potty.”
I was so in the throws of shuffling the girls through the potty process, that I hardly noticed a lady standing against the wall, making her way through her own potty process, quietly observing our little potty-stop.
“Excuse us,” I said, trying to shuffle one of the girls out of her way.
“No worries at all,” she said, smiling perhaps one of the most encouraging smiles I’ve seen in a while. “We are all running our own marathons today.”
Indeed we are all.running.our.own.marathons.today.
Indeed I am. Indeed you are. All running our own marathons. What a statement.
I don’t know what your marathon is today or this week or in this season. I don’t know which mile you’re at or how you’re doing. Maybe you feel like you’re sailing along or maybe the next water stop can’t coming fast enough. Maybe you’re nearing the finish line or maybe you’re doubting your ability to see this thing through to the finish line. Maybe you’re the runner. Maybe you’re the spectator.
The marathon requires endurance and a steadfast commitment to grinding it out, one step at a time. It requires resilience. Determination. And the will to just keep going.
The beautiful thing? When we run with each other, with our communities, with the people who love us no matter what through all of the things for all of the years, we find the strength we need for each race. Sometimes you’ll be the runner, sometimes the spectator, but always a critical part of the team.
Whatever marathon you are running today, run your race strong, my friend. The finish line is just ahead.
*Jayne and Matty, this post is dedicated to you. Biggest congratulations on a great race!