Where should I begin …
Well, I survived the 2007 Chicago Marathon and actually finished. That’s about all that I can say about it other than the Marathon itself was a huge disaster. But I’ll get into that later. First, I will start with Thursday, when the trip began. So, if you have time, come on this journey with me as I recount the trip from Hell. Be warned, this will take a while. If you want to skip directly to my account of the race, click here.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Well, the day started out pretty good. We rolled out of bed and got Iliana ready to go to the morning half of daycare so that Amy and I could finalize all of the trip preparations. Worked out good. We wanted to time it so that we picked up Iliana on our way out of town so that she could sleep for the first few hours of the trip. While I was out, I pick up a few last provisions.
Leave the house with Iliana. Only leaving about a 1/2 hour later than I planned, which, if you have children, that’s like leaving early for a trip with just adults. We get about half a mile down the road and Iliana says, “I need go potty.” Which is great because she is telling us now. So we pull over in a parking lot and she goes potty … not in the parking lot, but in her potty seat. TIP: If you have a toddler that has a potty seat, set the potty seat up in the back of the car. Makes finding a place to “go potty” a lot easier. About 15 minutes later, we are back on the road. So far, we’re not making really good time.
Marion, AR. Iliana wakes up just as we are getting to I-55. Another potty break. Now we have the pleasure of trying to drive 4 to 5 hours with a very active, awake, toddler strapped in her car seat. Who, by the way, has just learned that saying the phrase “I need go potty” instigates this huge procedure in finding a safe place to pull over and getting her out of the car seat that she hates. Who says kids a) aren’t sadistic and b) aren’t quick learners.
Well, we just got back on I-57 from refueling. Good news is, we are a few miles outside of IL. Also, Iliana is pretty good at picking lottery tickets. Since there is no lottery in Arkansas, I think it’s pretty much mandatory that all Arkansans buy lottery tickets every time they leave the state. I think it’s a law or something. Anyway, Iliana’s pick wins us $27! Heck yeah!!! This is going to be a great trip.
After Iliana’s 5th meltdown in the last hour and a half, we decide it’s time stop for dinner. I can’t remember the town we stopped in, but like most things with this trip, I probably blocked it from my mind. We ate at Fazoli’s. Good food. Can’t really go wrong there.
After having successfully pried Amy off of the roof of the car somewhere in the middle of IL, we arrive in Mattoon, IL, the site of our mid-trip sleep stop. We stayed at the Baymont Mattoon. It was fine for me. Amy would tell you to avoid it at all costs. Iliana didn’t care as long as she could play on the “ev-a-later.” I did have a problem with the price, though. I paid $78 online when I booked the room. Well, when I checked in, they gave me a receipt that said $56. I inquired about the difference and they said that was what the booking agency charges and the hotel gets $56. Here’s a tip: Print the actual amount paid for the room on the bill. That way the customer doesn’t feel like he/she got the shaft. The hotel also had an indoor pool. That was good for us. We definitely needed it to relax. We all got in bed around 10 and I was relatively happy about our first leg of the trip. Granted it took us about 8 to 9 hours to do what Yahoo called for a 6 hour trip, but hey, we got there. We would soon find out that this day would be the easiest day of the trip.
Friday, October 5, 2007
After rolling out of bed and wondering how in the world the whole family slept that late, I rush down to the lobby to grab some of the complimentary breakfast before it closes at 9. I was a bit disappointed in the selection, but thought it was just as well because I originally wanted to get on the road between 8:30 and 9. Well, we didn’t leave until 9:30 am. We are about 3 hours away from Chicago at this point.
After a few different potty stops, we stop to grab some lunch to go and refuel in Kankanee. I can honestly say that I now am grateful that I live in Arkansas. We may not have a lot to do, but the scenery is gorgeous. I have never been so bored on a drive in all my life. Nothing but flat farmland as far as the eye could see. All of it corn. Thanks to the high demand for ethanol. Anyway, we are about an hour outside of Chicago now.
After the 1,000th time (not exaggerating) of Iliana saying “I need go potty,” I begin to wonder why I quit smoking. We are stuck in Chicago gridlock. On the Interstate. It seems someone in the city government had the great idea to commence construction on 2 lanes of traffic and filter all the other 20 lanes into 1. Bravo. That guy deserves a raise. So, it takes us about an additional hour to get through construction. So much for going to the zoo today before we go on our boat tour. Acceptable loss. We can go to the Lincoln Park Zoo Monday, before we leave.
Setting: Hyatt Regency. 151 E. Wacker. Chicago. 23rd Floor.
Soundtrack: Iliana Kennedy’s breakout hit, “I Need Go Potty,” is stuck on repeat.
Dusty: “What room are you in? Wait what? Iliana, I know you have to go potty.”
Dusty’s Mom: “2314”
D: “I don’t see a 2314. Are you in the east or west tower?”
DM: “What? There isn’t an east or west tower. Just come in and get on the elevator and go to the 23rd floor.”
D: “What hotel are you in?”
DM: “The Renaissance Chicago.”
DM: “The Renaissance Chicago.”
Pause. “I Need Go Potty” still playing in the background
D: “Where is that?”
DM: “1 W. Wacker. At the intersection of State and Wacker.”
D: “Alright. We’ll be there in a little bit. We’re at the wrong hotel.”
We finally arrive at the correct hotel and we find the right room. And much to my surprise, the people in the room were the people we were looking for. Let’s hear it for small miracles. The only problem now, or at least the best I can remember after Amy revives me, is that valet parking is $40 a night and internet is $15 a day. What the heck?!?!? I just stayed at a $80 hotel the night before and got all of that free. Suddenly the Baymont in Mattoon is looking pretty good. Well, I figure, I can live with out internet access, but that pretty much tanks all the plans that revolve around me actually finding the location of where we need to go. But I have to have a place to park the car. So, I ended up spending $120 so my car could sit in a garage somewhere. But, and this was the best selling point the hotel could come up with, we had unlimited in and out privileges. Well, whoopty-frickin’-do!! I expect to have unlimited “in and out” privileges with my own car. Anyway, it’s now 2:40 pm and we have 10 minutes to walk about a mile to get to the boat tour. Inner Monologue: Odd. Has Amy always had that twitch in her eye?
Still waiting on the boat to leave the dock. Seems like we are still waiting on some people. Not their fault. It seems like Delta didn’t feel the need to inform all of those in advance that the flight that they were on was canceled. So, they finally get there. I’d like to take this time to thank the folks of the Jackson, MS Marathon Makeover. Great people. First class all the way. Mark, Robin, and the rest of the team, you guys are tops in my book and I hope your group continues to grow. Anyway, back to the boat tour. I found a lot of it very interesting since is was an Architectural/Historical tour down the Chicago River. Although, that doesn’t really hold the attention of a 2 year old. TIPS: Don’t take a toddler on a trip that most adults would find boring. I start feeling a stabbing pain in my neck at this point. I turn to see Amy with a voodoo doll of me and a straight pin sticking out of its neck. I’m starting to feel like Amy is not having such a good time.
About 30 minutes later though, one of the more enjoyable parts of the trip takes place. Iliana falls asleep in my arms, a cool breeze blows through the lower deck of the boat and Amy is enjoying taking some great pictures of Chicago. All is well in the world…for now.
Well, we just got off the boat and are now going to go to Giordano’s. Now we just have to find a cab. Here comes one. The following is the conversation:
Cab Driver: “Where ya going?”
Dusty: “Giordano’s on Lake.”
CD: “Where’s that?”
D: “Giordano’s on East Lake. I thought this was you city.”
CD: “Where’s that?”
D: “You know what, just take us to The Renaissance Chicago on Wacker and State.”
It’s pretty bad when your cab driver doesn’t know how to get around. Although, he was fast. My mom and aunt said they felt like they were in a movie and I had just said, “Follow that car!” That guy had a lead foot. I turned around once to see everyone in the back. It wasn’t so much voluntary as it was the G forces pulling my head around. Everyone in the back had a look of horror in their face…except Iliana. Before I blacked out because of all of the force being applied to my body, I think I heard Iliana say, “Again…again.”
We finally got to Giordano’s. Turns out, it was just 2 blocks from our hotel. (This next part is for Dustin. I enjoy his food reviews. So here’s mine.) I ordered the Small (10″) Tropic Delight Stuffed Pizza. It’s basically a pie of cheese, canadian bacon, pineapple, and pizza sauce. I could only eat 3 pieces. Tastes great, more filling. All in all, we had 4 small pizzas. The waitress looked at us and said, “That’s a lot of food. (Pointing behind us) That’s a small.” To which I replied, “That’s okay, we’re really hungry.” Little did I know …
I hurt. A lot. Turns out, the waitress was right. That was a lot of food. I think we all ate a little over half of everything. I still hurt.
On our way back to the hotel, with all of our pizza in tow, my mom calls one of her friends and asks if she has eaten. She says no. So, now we know what to do with all the pizza. About that time, a homeless guys tells Amy that he can finish that pizza off for her. I didn’t hear him and Amy tells me this. We just happen to be standing and waiting for the crosswalk, so I told her that all of our pizza would probably end up in the trash anyway, so go give it to that guy. I’m not trying to brag or pat ourself on the back, I just suggest that everyone do that every once in a while. It’s better to give food than money, because then you know that they are going to eat and not waste money.
Once we get back to the hotel, it didn’t take long to get in bed and go to sleep.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
“I need go potty!”
Uh! What! Where am I? Oh, okay. Still in Chicago. We finally get up and around and decide to go to the Marathon Expo to pick up our packets. We have a full morning because we are going to try to do the Expo and go to the Shedd Aquarium before Amy and I go see Wicked and then get back in time to go to the pasta dinner at 6. Once again, I’m getting that look from Amy.
We set off in search of some breakfast and the Metra. Evidently, the Metra runs right under the Expo. Okay, we have a few blocks we need to walk before frantically scrambling to the Metra from the closest McDonalds. We make it to the train with seconds to spare. We barely scarf our food down before we get to the Expo. So, for the next hour or so, we wander around the Expo taking pictures and looking for swag.
We just missed the last Metra to the aquarium for the next hour. Time to get a cab.
We arrive at Shedd. I think Amy is on the phone with a divorce lawyer. Anyway, we have just about 45 minutes to an hour before Amy and I need to leave so that we can be ready for the 2:00 pm performance of Wicked. Amy and I decide to get the cheap tickets seeing that we are leaving soon. My mom and aunt are staying with Iliana and they get the tickets that will get them into all the shows. Okay, here’s another gripe I have about Chicago. The Marathon comes to town and suddenly, all of the prices all over town skyrocket! It was only supposed to be $15 a ticket for the good stuff. Instead, when we get there, you can tell that they have put a sticker over the old price and tickets are now $23. It’s not enough that I’m being gouged at the hotel, now I’m getting bent over by fish. What is the world coming to?!? Anyway, we go around and let Iliana look at all of the fish. She really enjoyed it. Amy has pulled out the voodoo doll again.
We have successfully arrived at the Oriental Theater. I’m so excited, I’m about to pee myself. Yes, yes, go ahead and get it out of your system. I like musicals. I’m straight. I like theater. I’m straight. Okay, now that that’s out of the way … I was, like, totally excited about this totally awesome musical that I was about to, like, see. I mean, c’mon! It’s, like, the Wizard of Oz like you have never seen it. OH…MY…GAWD! This is gonna be so totally awesome!!!
Intermission. I almost cried during the last song of the act. I still have goose bumps. Seriously, I’m straight…I think. We go out into the lobby and buy some really neat Wicked Merchandise. Amy and I both are enjoying the show.
We got back from the show at about 5, and I started to get ready for the pasta dinner. We’re now sitting in one of the conference rooms at the hotel enjoying a very nice pasta dinner. We are also listening to the organizers of Marathon Makeover talk about the culmination of everyone’s training. I’m in a room full of people who have be training together since January. These people come from all walks of life. Most of them are not the people you would expect to run a marathon, but they all share a common bond of wanting to push themselves and defeat the dragon called Marathon. Listening to a lot of their stories really inspired me. One of the runners had just gotten out of Chemo-Therapy when she started training. Once again, I can not speak highly enough about the Marathon Makeover organization. If any of you Marathon Makeover folks are reading this, I want to thank you for the friendships that you have formed with my mom. I have never seen her so excited about anything. She talks about the runs you all go on with the same intensity and enthusiasm that a 4 year-old uses to describe his latest adventure in the back yard. When she got hurt, she was absolutely crushed that she couldn’t run with you. Everyone was there to lift her up and encourage her, which, in turn, was so that she could be on the curb crew encouraging all of you. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
After watching LSU beat Florida, it’s time to turn in and try to get some sleep before the big day. All my gear is ready and Amy has made all the shirts (more on that later).
My alarm goes off and it’s time to start focusing on the race. I’m up before everyone else. I take a shower and try to focus on what I am about to do.
The Marathon Makeover group leaves from the hotel to walk down to the race. We get there around 7:30. I check my gear and get in the 4:45 (that’s hours, not minutes) pace group. I figure that I can start out there and if I get swallowed up by the 5 hour group, that’s okay. I settle in and strike up a conversation with a guy from Chicago. Nice guy. I would meet up with him off and on during the race. I think his name was John. I could be wrong, but I’m going to call him John.
After Jo Dee Messina sang the National Anthem, and the wheel chair start, the elites start. Everyone is bubbling with energy.
I cross the starting line and my chip time starts. Yeah, that’s right. Twenty minutes after the start, we finally make our way across the starting line. I’m so pumped that I forget to start my watch. It takes me about 2 minutes to remember that. From here on out, I’ll use the mile markers or aid stations as reference.
Aid Station #1. 1.75 miles into the race
Still excited. Probably going a little faster than I need to. Got water and Gatorade. My original plan was to walk through all aid stations. I’m feeling too good to walk. So I keep going. I couldn’t find my family back at the 1.5 mile mark so I figure I’ll see them at mile 3. Let’s keep going.
Aid Station #2. 3.4 miles into the race
Missed my family again. That sucks. I’m really starting to need to see a familiar face about now. Maybe I’ll catch them on mile 12 when I come back buy. I’m now right behind the 4:45 pacers. Feeling good. Start to notice that the water tables are folded up and on the sidewalks. A girl is standing in the median with a megaphone saying, “We are out of water. Move on to the next aid station.” A little bit of panic sets in. This is my first marathon and I start to think, “Is this normal? Is this just the cost of being slower than everyone else?” I worry that this will happen all day. Then I start to convince myself that it’s okay. This was their first mistake and there is no way that the organizers will let this happen at another aid station. It’s at this point that I start to regret leaving my water bottles behind. You see, on all of my training runs over 10 miles, I carried a water belt. My theory about the race was this: There will be water every 2 miles. Why carry the extra weight? Never again will I not take my water bottles.
Aid Station #3. 5.8 miles into the race
The last couple of miles were tough. Once we got to Lincoln Park, we were all looking for water. Just so happens that some sporting goods company set up a tent next to the course. All of the runners swarm the tent thinking that had water. Turns out they were just giving out water bottles. Empty water bottles. A few runners found a water fountain in the park and went and cooled off in it. We get to the aid station and, lo and behold, they had water…but no cups. Runners were grabbing jugs of water and drinking what they could and other runners were yelling, “Don’t waste it! Don’t waste it!” Starting to get a little scared now.
Aid Station #4 thru #7. Miles 6-14 into the race
This part of the race started getting better. All the aid stations here had water and Gatorade when I went through. I actually got to see some really neat parts of Chicago. Running through downtown was great, but this felt a little more open and we could feel a breeze. By this point it is starting to get hot. Everyone is running on the left side of the street trying to stay in the shadows of the buildings. I think it was around mile 6 that I noticed the guy in the testicle costume. That’s right. Two giant testicles were running through Lincoln Park. He was running for Testicular Cancer. I’m pretty sure that guy is regretting his costume choice now. I also got to feel like a real Chicago native when I had to duck down an alley to pee at Aid Station 5 or 6. Good times. I rolled through the half with a time of about 2:28. On track to finish right under 5 hours.
I just heard a cop say to stop running because the race was over. I was kinda puzzled. At first I thought she meant that the winners had already crossed the finish line so there was no use hurrying now. I felt that was pretty obvious. I don’t think anyone around me was going to set any land speed records anyway. Then I decide to pull out the contraband: my cell phone. All cell phones are banned on the course. As are mp3 players. I think just about everyone around me had both of these. I called my mom, who was on the curb crew, and she told me that the race was over. I asked her what that meant. She said that they called it off and is asking everyone to come back to the finish line because it is too hot and they are out of water. I was stunned and told her that I would call her back. She told me to pass the word. As I got off the phone, I started telling everyone around me. Everyone was like, “So, what’s that mean?” “What do we do?” “Have they turned off the clocks?” “What are they going to do about the medals?” Everyone was pretty confused. I called my mom back and told her that I didn’t train for 4 months to walk back to the finish line or ride a bus back. I was going to finish this race. She started getting worried. She said that the officials were closing the course which meant that the protection was going to be removed. She was worried that if I got in the wrong part of Chicago, I would get mugged or something. I assured her that I was not alone and a lot of people were doing the same thing. She told me that everyone would still get a medal. I told her I didn’t want a medal if I didn’t cross that finish line. That’s just me though. I’m prideful that way.
Aid Station #8. 16 miles into the race
Guess what. No water. No Gatorade. I meet up with my buddy John again. He managed to get a cup of Gatorade concentrate and was looking for water to mix with it. It was insane. I’d like to point out now that if it weren’t for the spectators and residents of Chicago, there would have been a lot more people in the hospital. The people would bring out bags of ice from their houses or bottles of water. Some homeowners had their water hoses hooked up and were spraying the runners down. I would like to say thanks on behalf of all of the runners. There’s no telling how many lives were saved because of these people.
Mile 17.7. The PowerBar Power Gel Zone
I was actually looking forward to this spot at first. Now, with no water, what’s the point in using the gels. John jogs by and tells me he had to go and fill up his water bottle in Subway. Crazy. I don’t even notice the aid stations from here on out. There’s no water. I start getting my fluids from spectators. It’s about here that I picked up a cup and carried it the rest of the race hoping and praying that I would be able to find water or ice. Right after mile 18 was when they diverted the course. Cops were trying to direct people down Randolph. This street ran straight to the finish line. I asked one cop if that was the course. He said, “There is no course anymore. The race is over.” I saw a few people going past him and decide to follow them. I would later find out that the cops started making people divert and wouldn’t let people by.
I would occasionally see people jog for a little bit and then stop. By this point, just about everyone was walking. This is also where I first started seeing the fire department trucks along the course spraying people down. Also, around mile 19, we got to Pilsen. I thought it was a really neat community. From what I’ve been told, it’s the neighborhood that has the highest concentration of Mexican-Americans in Chicago. The food in this neighborhood smelled great. The only bad thing was that there were a couple of thug looking guys standing on a stoop with a homemade megaphone shouting obscenities. That pretty much spoiled Pilsen for me.
Aid Station #11. 20.6 miles into the race
Everyone is walking by this point. My feet are killing me. I didn’t realize this before the race, but when you run for 15 to 17 miles and are then forced to walk, that hurts. It was the most pain I experienced throughout all of my training. Some people may say, “Well then, just start running again.” Well, I just have to go back to the fact that they had RUN OUT OF WATER. So, running the last 7 to 8 miles without water in 90 degree weather (sign at a bank at one point said 93 degrees) with high humidity would have ended up with me in the hospital. Then, the back of my ankles started hurting where the shoe meets my foot. I was trying out some different socks. Here’s some free advice: Don’t do that on race day.
I later read in the numerous articles that the organizers had set up misting stations and had sponges at the aid stations. Well, I never saw the misting stations, but I did see sponges. The only problem is that they were all on the ground. This aid station looked like a deserted ghost town. I didn’t see any tables. There my have been one left, I can’t remember for sure, but I don’t remember any water. But I still have my trusty cup.
Final stretch. I look down and notice that the backs of my ankles were bleeding. The previous aid station was all but deserted. This final stretch is where I felt the loneliest. Granted there were still other runners around, but all the fans were gone. I had taken for granted the fans that were screaming my name earlier in the race. I needed them now. I really needed my family. I’ll be honest, I almost broke down a couple of times. I’m man enough to admit that. The only thing that kept me going was my girls: my wife and my daughter. You see, my wife had just made all 3 of us shirts the night before with our last name and a picture of us on them. On my daughters shirt, she put a little extra something on the front. It said, “My dad ran 26.2 miles … what’d yours do?” (Patent Pending, so back off.) I got such a kick out of it at the time. Now, at mile 24, it was the only thing keeping me going. I couldn’t let that shirt be a lie. I know it sounds silly, but it got me through.
It was also here that some of Chicago’s finest (not) decided to have a little fun with the runners. They got on their PA systems and said, “Do not run. Give it up. It’s not worth it. Dr. Phil has advised that you not run. If you run, you will be arrested and prosecuted by Marcia Clark.” … Yeah, I didn’t think it was funny either. If anyone from Chicago reads this, I expected law enforcement in that town to have a little more tact and not mock the people that are bringing more money into their city. But hey, I expected more out of Chicago in general. I was disappointed in it, so why not be disappointed in the law enforcement.
About half a mile back, someone gave me a bottle of water. I decided to throw my cup down and carry the bottle in case I need it or in case I run into someone that needs it more than me. I see the sign that says, “1 more mile.” I decided I was gonna cross the finish line running, so I threw the water bottle down and started running again. This goes back to how I said that it was more painful to walk than run. This is where I learned that. It actually felt better to run (with bloody feet), than it did to walk.
I get to Randolph where we have the only real hill on the course. I’m not moving fast, but I’m running. Once I got to the top, I saw the first familiar face during the whole race: Robin Simpson, one of the directors of Marathon Makeover. Robin, all I can say is thanks. It was great to see you even though I don’t even think I have spoken to you before. I rounded the corner and had about 350 meters to go. I knew where my family was so I position myself in the far right lane so that I can see them. I am the only one in that lane. Everyone else stayed to the left when we rounded the corner. I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was crazy running out there by myself. I then saw my girls. That was all I needed. I almost started crying, but I didn’t. I held onto it and crossed the finish line 6 hours and 15 minutes after I had started. Not exactly the finish I wanted, but it was a finish none the less. The crazy thing was that after the finish, volunteers were handing out mylar blankets. My first thought was, “What?? Are you nuts? We’re burning up and you are trying to give us blankets!! Give me one reason why I shouldn’t punch you right now!” I got my medal and turned in my chip. Someone handed me some Gatorade. I took a drink and it was hot. I immediately threw it away. I grabbed a banana and some Organic Fig Newtons. They were really good. I called Amy and eventually met up with them. My body felt like it had been broken. I grabbed my gear and met up with my mom. I decided to fore go the after party. I just wanted to get back to the hotel and get clean. We ended up walking the 1 to 1.5 miles back to the hotel. Not really what I wanted to be doing after a marathon. But there were no cabs. And that was the end of my first marathon. If you want to read more about my thoughts on the marathon itself or if I would ever run one again, click here or read on to the end.
Well, I’m feeling a bit better after having an ice bath and then a shower. I am starving by this point. All I had all day was 2 bites of a granola bar and 5 gel packs. That’s it. So we all finally decide to go to Ed Debevic’s. Good food and good fun.
Time for bed. We have a long drive back to Searcy tomorrow.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Check out of the hotel and head off to the Lincoln Park Zoo. You definitely need to go here if you are in Chicago. The admission is free and it is open year round. The only downside is the rates for parking, which is about standard for all of Chicago. We paid $16 for an hour and an half. That’s why admission is free. For a free park zoo, it was really good. Still a hot day though. We got so see some polar bears up close and personal. I’ll try to post a pic.
We’re finally on our way out of town after having stopped at McDonald’s and getting lost. Unfortunately, we hit gridlock again. Remember what I wrote about on Friday. The same construction was still going on. Amy is still plotting on how she can get revenge for this trip. I don’t think she had a good time. I see a car on the side of the road in the middle of the gridlock and say, “Honey, at least we’re not like them. At least we have a car that runs and we’re not stuck on the side of the road.” Little did I know…
Well, to think this trip couldn’t get any worse. To think that it couldn’t suck any more. Here’s a tip: Never say, “Well, at least it can’t get any worse.” We’re on the side of the road because our car just stopped in the middle of the interstate. I’m cruising along at about 80 mph, and my car just stops going. It’s like the accelerator stopped working. I look for any lights to come on and there’s nothing. Not even the gas gauge is lit up. I’ve got between 1/4 tank and Empty. I was about to pull over at the next stop and get gas anyway. Why couldn’t the car have stopped there? Well, I immediately call roadside assistance. They tell me the closest Hyundai dealership is… in Mattoon, IL. About 5 miles down the road and the site of our first night in Chicago. The operator dispatches a tow truck to me and informs me that the dealership closes at 5:30. I call the dealership. The service department tells me they close at 5 pm. I’m up a creek now. I have managed to crank my car and get 3 miles down the road and I am within a mile of the exit for Mattoon. Long story short, the tow truck gets there, we check the girls into a hotel, the very same hotel we stayed at on Thursday night, and proceed to the dealership to drop off my car. On the way to the dealership, I get a call from Amy saying that the room we got wasn’t clean. Turns out, it looked like someone had puked down the side of one of the beds. Just when I thought the trip couldn’t get worse.
We get there and the sales group is still there. I meet this one guy that restored my faith in car salesmen. If you ever have to go through Mattoon, IL and have to stop at a car dealership, stop at K.C. Summers. I can’t remember the salesman’s name, but he was a great guy. I told him what was going on and he asked me how I was getting around. I told him the tow truck guy was going to give me a ride to the hotel, but I didn’t know how I was going to get back to the dealership the next day. Well, he hooked me up with a loaner at no charge. What a guy.
We just got back from eating and Wal-Mart. We also just switched rooms. This room is better. We pray that God will revel to us why he wants to keep us in Illinois. We also pray that nothing terribly drastic is wrong with the car. We settle in and eventually get to sleep. Glad that this day is over.
Tuesday, October 9
I call the Service department and he says he’ll call me back because they just got there. We get ready and go grab some breakfast. Once again, the selection is kinda sparse. We get back to the room around 9 and get a call from the Service department. He asked me if the gas light was on when it died. I told him no and that I specifically looked to see if any lights came on. He told me that when they started it up, the gas light was on and they drove it for about 20 miles and it was running like a top. Okay, this is where I got a little upset. All of this because it was out of gas? Turns out, according to the service manager, the gas tanks have baffles in them that, at times, prevent the gas from moving around in the tank. Evidently, since IL is completely flat, the gas couldn’t move around in the tank to get to the fuel line, or something like that. So, the car still had gas, but didn’t have the pressure necessary to feed it through the line. When the car was lifted onto the bed of the tow truck, the gas was able to move to where it need to go and activate the sensors. God does have a sense of humor. I get to the service area and they give me my keys and tell me to have a nice day. I asked how much I owed them and he said nothing. Once again, I really gotta tip my hat to the folks at K.C. Summers. Great people. We finally get back on the road around 10:30 am. Please let us get home.
We finally pull into the driveway at home! Nothing really eventful happened on the way home. Iliana did pretty good considering we all wanted to be home. We unload the car and crash, glad that this trip from Hell was over.
Well, I have used a lot of your time to basically say this: “Chicago, I’ll see you next year!” Even though it was the trip from Hell, I learned a lot. Next year, Iliana will stay with Gaga and Pepaw, Amy (if she would ever want to go to Chicago again) and I will fly, and we will not plan to do anything while we are there. A lot of people told me that Chicago was the best marathon around. I hope that is true and I aim to find out next year. People have asked if I would ever do another marathon after the experience I had in Chicago. To that I say, yes. I wasn’t planning on doing the Little Rock Marathon this year, but after what I went through in Chicago, Little Rock, with all of its hills, shouldn’t be that much harder. So I will do Little Rock, possibly the Music City Half Marathon, and then as many triathlons as I can fit in before Chicago next year.
If you ran Chicago this year and are reading this, I would love to hear from you and read about your experience in Chicago. Thanks for enduring this novel and I’ll try to have pics posted soon.