The post below was originally posted by Kevin Leathers, coach for Team McGraw. Apart from being an experienced and knowledgeable athlete and guide, he also inspires our team with his spirit and dedication. Read more from Coach Kevin in his blog titled "Can't Stop."
Sunday, October 11th, 2009 - The Chicago Marathon was awesome. After two years of hot weather and spoiled races Chicago finally enjoyed nearly ideal marathoning conditions. The race started with chilly temps in the low 30s but warmed to a sunny 45. Cold for spectators but perfect for running 26.2 miles.
I was on the sidelines this year coaching Team McGraw. It can be tough sitting out watching the battle but I thoroughly enjoyed cheering for Team McGraw. Our weekend started with the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner on Saturday. This is the first opportunity for everyone to meet the rest of the Team. Besides getting acquainted and sharing nervous race eve chatter, the runners share their reasons for running with Team McGraw. Their stories are always heartfelt and humbling. It is easy to see where their motivation to train, race and raise funds for brain tumor research originates. No coach on earth could deliver a better pre-game locker room speech!
Race morning started out chilly. We met at our traditional spot on Michigan Ave for Team pictures around 6:15 am. This convenient spot is also in close proximity to a somewhat-secret indoor, heated restroom. (Don't ask...I am forbidden from providing specific information!) Once the runners headed into Grant Park my good friend Doug (who served as our official photographer) and i headed out to find coffee and a good place to watch the race. We ended up at several locations: 1K, 5k, 20k and the last stretch from 23 - 25 miles. We would watch the elites fly past then wait and try to spot as many Team McGraw runners as we could.
The thrill and positive karma achieved cheering on runners attempting to scale their personal mountains is amazing. Many runners write their name on the front of their shirt so they can hear positive feedback all day: "Go (fill in your name)!" Or they have a school name, city, sports team or other personal identifier: "Go Bears!", "Go Irish!", "Go Fat Guy Running club!" (yes, I saw that one) It became a mission to cheer for as many as i could spot. Hopefully they received a small dose of encouragement, distraction or motivation. There was much feedback from the runners: thumbs up, smiles, fist pump, the occasional
I am proud to say that our entire Team finished and all achieved personal bests! I left Chicago proud, rejuvenated and humbled. And the best part? I get to do it again in three weeks when Team McGraw attacks the New York City marathon for the third time! Can't wait!