Dearest Rachel –
It’s five o’clock in the morning. I have absolutely no idea what might be going on in Erin‘s head right now – or in any of the other runners. For my own part, even as I’m sitting on my bed in the pitch dark, wondering whether to begin the day, I’ve got butterflies in my stomach – and I’m not even competing here.
I probably should back up; from a lack of planning, I have a few things together, as you’ll recall. Got a couple of signs, bell, and a battered computer bag to carry some of this stuff in.
I’m also planning on bringing one of those folding lawn chairs that comes in a sling bag which allows for easy carrying.
But I have no idea whether there will be a place for me to set it down along the route here and there. I mean, you would think that on a route of over twenty-six miles there would be plenty of room along the sidelines to sit down and watch the race, occasionally standing to cheer members of Team World Vision on as they run by.
At the same time, this is a city of almost three million people, with runners (and their cheering sections) coming in from all over. Meanwhile, I’m dealing with a mad plan to dart from place to place along the route by hopping various CTA trans, in order to call out specifically to one runner at various points along the way. I have no idea what to expect, but I have a feeling that I’ll be as peripatetic in my own way as the folks running, even if the larger part of my motion will be on one train or another.
At least I’ve gotten enough rest before hand – or rather, I’ve tried to. For once, I didn’t nap late in the afternoon or early evening. I simply determined that I would go to bed at around ten, with every intention of waking at six-thirty. That much worked out fine, but as you can tell from my first sentence, I didn’t manage to stay asleep for as long as I wanted to – which leaves me worried that I’m not going to last for the entirety of the day.
But what else can I do? At this hour, there’s no point in trying to go back to sleep, even though there’s no call to get up and get moving just yet, either. I suppose I can send the previous letter I wrote you in a few minutes, when Erin and the rest of the team are set to meet up in Grant Park at the start of the race.
It does occur to me that I didn’t leave much room in my schedule for my usual morning scripture reading. It may well be that the Lord woke me up to tell me, “Look, I know you were in My house last night, and that’s fine, but you’re still meeting with Me this morning, like you almost always do. You’re not going out there without getting fed.”
Okay. Message received, Lord.
The plan, such as it is, is to take the blue line down from Rosemont, get one of those Ventra cards that allows me unlimited train access for one day, transfer to the red line and get off at the Clark/Division station at around mile 4. Since she plans to run at a ten/eleven minute pace, and her cohort takes off at eight-thirty, I’ll do well to get there by nine or so, and track her from that point on. I’ll also be checking on a couple other runners from the church, and once they’ve passed by, I’ll need to figure out how to hop to the brown line Sedgewick station at mile 11. To be sure, I could just stay where I am, and cross LaSalle and Wells Streets to get to mile 12, but that
- seems a bit like cheating, and
- requires crossing the race course. Twice. Even if I don’t get run over (and there will be cohorts running before Erin’s group – in fact, hers is the last to take off), it’s still a dangerous – and rude – gambit.
From there, it’s back to the red line to the Cermak/Chinatown stop near mile 21.5, at which point, I’d walk west along Cermak Road to meet up with the course at around mile 25, just near the end. Since I don’t expect to be allowed at the finish zone at Grant Park, this would be where I’d get on the green line at Cermak/McCormick, transfer to the blue line in the Loop, and head home; the family is celebrating Jen’s birthday a few days late, and I want to be able to meet them at the restaurant she’s selected in time. I’m told that getting home by six will be no problem, but again, I’ve no idea what my chance are of making any of these stops today.
There are other things I haven’t any idea what to expect; Dad has instructed me to keep an eye on everything I’m bringing down. His opinion of downtown is that of most foreigners about the whole of the United States; there’s crime everywhere, and you never know what kind of danger you’re going to get into. Personally, I think things are going to be like the sermon Jordan preached last night: crime happens mostly in the dark, not in broad daylight. I’ll watch myself as best I can, but I think I should be okay. It’s the timing and scheduling that will be the real challenge.
Between getting myself together, and looking up/telling you about my plans, I’m not out the door until after seven. It should be plenty of time, though.
I planned on stopping at White Castle on my way down Higgins, but it seems they’re no longer a 24-hour place.
I settle for a McDonald’s a little further down the way.
It’s not like John Belushi’s little chocolate donuts, but it’ll get the job done.
I’m not quite at the station before I realize I’ve forgotten a charge cord for my phone; those charging units are going to be useless. Maybe I can find a convenience stand at one of the stations en route.
The train takes a while to arrive, and I find myself boarding by 8:15. It’s gonna be close, but that’s probably going to be the story of the whole day, if I want to make each planned stop.
I barely get off the blue line train by 9 o’clock; am I going to make the connection to the red line and get to mile 4 on time?
I get out, and follow the rest of the crowd. The route is fine with people, but there’s room to stand out, especially with that bell of mine. But the tracker only shows what percent of the route she’s run; so… where is she in relation to Division and LaSalle, anyway?
There she is, with Loula at her side. I ring the bell and hold up the sign – upside down. Someone next to me who’s heard me ask about the percentage versus location issue turns to me with a grin, “Mission accomplished, eh?”
“Are you kidding? I’ve got three more stops to make.” On to Sedgwick.
Wish me – and them – luck, honey. We’re all gonna need it.