Does this marathon make me look fat?
It was 2001. Exactly one year and 3 days after quitting smoking, a pack a day of true Cowboy Killers, Marlboro Reds no less. Most of you don’t know this about me. I smoked for years. I loved smoking. In high school we actually had a smoking lounge. I even smoked on airplanes on the way back to college in Upstate New York. I once smoked on a horse. Why? The opportunity just happen to present itself and I just happen to be on a Western saddle. Just seemed right. I actually met my ex-husband because of smoking. He lived right across the hall from me. Shortly after I moved in I saw him in the hallway and I could smell smoke,
Me: “Do you smoke”?
Him: “Why yes. Yes I do” (Paraphrasing)
Me: “I smoke too but I don’t smoke in my apartment”
Him: “You can come over any time you want to smoke”
Me: “Ok and after that we can go on our first date, become friends with benefits, run across the hall naked to each other’s apartments, you will have to walk around the circumference of my freshly vacuumed rug, then we can break-up and I can hear you having sex with someone else because after all you are right across the hall and then we can fall in love for real, get married, you can hate my mother, we can get divorced and why not get sued by our landlord while we are at it”.
Any happily ever after ending three years later, I decided to quit smoking and run a marathon. Ok, it wasn’t that simple. I got a job offer for a company based in CA and learned I would be going out West for 3 weeks for training. I thought no one in CA smoked because CA was really the first state to banish smoking in restaurants etc. I threw on the nicotine patch after an ill-fated attempt a few years earlier when the doctor accidentally wrote me a script for the estrogen patch and I left the drugstore with a carton of smokes. I soon realized after only a day in CA that people actually did smoke in CA but they definitely didn’t wear Ann Taylor suits. Holy harsh hemline lesson!
I had never been a runner. I had actually started running 5Ks a few months before quitting smoking. It was fun. I would get done running, hack up a lung and my boyfriend who later become my husband would meet me with a Starbuck’s and my smokes. I would proudly strut back home with my race bib still pinned on and a cigarette dangling from my mouth. I did however; work out all the time and mostly partook of the Stairmaster hanging on for dear life after setting it on the highest level to insure I was burning the most calories. Any anorexic tendencies, I would always shower before going to the gym in order to hide the cigarette smell.
I loved training for my first marathon. I loved the camaraderie of my training group. The friends I made in my running group. I literally loved running. It came so easy to me. I loved each next milestone run and would exclaim, “This is the longest I have ever run my life”. I loved singing while running,
So here it was. Marathon morning. I hardly slept the night before. Not because of nerves but because I had been bleaching my teeth for my upcoming wedding and the bleach would cause these crazy zappy shocks that kept me awake on and off through the night. My teeth were now as white as Chiclets but hey; you can never be too thin, too rich or have white enough teeth. If you ever want to see the results, let me know and I will send you some of my wedding photos where I am straining to get the most teeth visibility possible. I look like I’m either in pain or have to take a really big sh…vow.
The entire marathon experience was magic. It was all energy, nerves, and excitement. I can’t even explain it. It was extraordinary. I had my name on my shirt and would smile every time I hear “Go Shelley Go”. It was nothing less than mesmerizing. So many friends came out to cheer me on, my then fiancé had a poster made and it was hanging in our living room window. We lived on LaSalle right on the course. He was out there with our dogs and ran over to hug me. The last few miles were brutal but I made it.
My Mom and Dad were waiting for me and I was so exhausted, elated and proud however; my ex-husband was nowhere to be found. Turns out he couldn’t find the Chicago Area Runners Tent and went home. That’s an entirely different story in itself resulting in me limping away from home, sitting at a diner by myself, crying with my medal on and then limping at to the park where I cried some more.
I finally went home, we did get married, he did hate my mother,we did get divorced and were sued by our landlord. I ended up running 20 more marathons, 6 ultra marathons and countless halves.
I don’t run marathons anymore after a lumbar fusion. I hug my ex-husband when I see him. I feel blessed to have been able to run so many races, train with so many awesome friends in Chicago and NC…
The days leading up to the marathon are bittersweet but I will be out there clapping just as you did for me.
Tomorrow is Marathon Morning…