Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pulling the trigger

Registration for the 2012 Chicago Marathon opened up yesterday at noon CST.  I set up a calendar alarm notification to remind me so I could be on the website repeatedly hitting refresh for the two minutes prior.  (I do the same for things like Southwest flight check-ins and when Blackhawks tickets go on sale.)  However, I've been thinking about this day for many months, so truly no notification was needed.

The Chicago Marathon sells out quickly, but it's not like some marathons that sell out within hours or are on lottery systems.  However, I was still anxious during the registration process because I figured you never know what accidents, mishaps, or computer implosions might occur.  I ZOOMED through the questions, just wanting to get my registration confirmation.

The process reminded me of last year when I took the NPDP (New Product Development Professional) exam.  The exam is administered electronically so you get your results within just a few moments of completion.  Those few moments, of course, feel like eternity. 

I remember hitting the "Submit" button on the NPDP exam and bracing myself for impact... only to then be asked "a few survey questions before you get your results."

Waiting frantically for the moment to pass
Are you kidding me?  Who wants to answer survey questions when your professional livelihood and all that you stand for as a card-carrying member of the Milky Way Galaxy are on the line?!?!

OK, maybe it's not that dramatic.  But at the very least, who wants to be answering survey questions when your test results will determine if you can:

A) Report back to your boss with triumph!


B) Skulk back to your boss like a dog with its tail between its legs.

I ended up answering those NPDP survey questions with as much dartboard-like lightning accuracy as I could muster.
Some people keep a wall of rejection letters while they are seeking employment.  
In my time, my rejection letters could have covered the Great Wall of China.
(In case you were wondering - very thankfully I did pass the exam on the first try, and yes, I enjoyed my opportunity to gallantly exercise Option A.)

I felt very much the same with the marathon registration.  I felt as if I needed to do it quickly, as if someone could come take it away from me at any moment.

Once I did receive my confirmation at exactly 12:03 PM CST, the nerves really started to hit.  Despite everything I had said about feeling confident in the days leading up to registration, all of that went out the window after pulling the trigger.  I really didn't think I would experience any paralyzing fear in those immediate moments afterwards, but I did.  And those moments also felt like eternity.
Waiting frantically for the moment to pass
Afterwards, I did what anyone would do in this situation and I went onto Facebook and Twitter to check on the state of the Milky Way Galaxy.  It was great to see so many other people - friends, coworkers, people I've never met - also buzzing about registering!  I was amazed to find out how many people I know that are registered.  It feels like an instant bond between all of us and it'll be terrific to see so many familiar faces on the big day.  I love the great moral support just from knowing that all of us are collectively working together to achieve the same goal.

A few weekends ago I had gone out for a run in the slush on a miserably overcast and dreary day.  It was fairly early and the streets were almost completely devoid of pedestrians, but I passed by one woman waiting at a bus stop.  We smiled at each other and said good morning.  She said, "You're running on a day like today?" and I said, "Yes, I'm trying my best!"  She asked me how much longer I had to go.  I told her (about a mile and a half).  She said very assuredly, "You can do it.  You'll make it!"
(For illustrative purposes only.  The woman I met didn't actually flex her biceps.) 
The entire exchange took less than 20 seconds and was about as simple as can be, but it really did make a difference.  The encouragement felt so good, even from someone I'd never met before and will probably never see again.  I ran the rest of the way home feeling uplifted.

Similarly, during the beginnings of my marathon journey, I have already received such wonderful support from dozens of friends, family, coworkers, and strangers.  (Special mention to Adam, who has already had to listen to me talk incessantly about this journey for months.  Little does he know what he's still in for between now and October 7, 2012!)  I am truly humbled and grateful and I can't express my heartfelt appreciation enough for everyone's encouragement - it means more to me than I can ever say.

They say that the crowd at the Chicago Marathon is terrific, and that the crowd will carry you to the finish line.  Thanks to the amazing support I've already received from so many while I'm just in preparation/training mode, I think I am now starting to really understand what they mean.  It is incredibly inspiring!

Bring it on, Chicago.  =)


  1. Yay for registering! I would be all nervous about it too, wondering if it would go through. They are predicting it will close even earlier this year, so it's a good thing you got it in!

    Definitely read the blogs of other people running it. That will make you feel motivated!!!

    1. Thanks so much! I am curious, too, to see how quickly it sells out this year - last year it took 31 days, yes? To be honest, I'm surprised that it took even that long, considering how popular it is! It would be interesting if Chicago started getting like Marine Corps or New York.

      Indeed, runner blogs are the bestest! I'm enjoying reading your blog, as well! =)

  2. Exciting! I bet it feels so good to be officially registered! Best of luck with your training!*

    1. Thanks so much, Amy! It does feel good but it's also still surreal. It'll really sink in during those 15-mile training runs, yes? =D