In August, I learned Chicago Athlete Magazine selected three photos as finalists for the October issue cover. One of those was of Wendy Jaehn guiding me through the 2014 Chicago Marathon. In September, I learned the picture of us was the runaway winner. To celebrate, Wendy and I took part in Universal Sole’s Twilight 10K on October 2. I registered with the intention of breaking forty minutes not realizing the challenges I would encounter in training nor considering a 7p.m. race on an October evening along a not so well lit lakefront would present problems for Wendy navigating me through the course.
Race night was cold and windy. I worn my Pinnacle Performance Company race top over my Pinnacle Performance jacket. I opted to wear my pants over my Pinnacle Performance shorts. As Wendy lead me to the start line, a man approached. “You’re Antonio. You’re on the Chicago Athlete cover, right? both of you are. You’re inspiring.” The 10K was my second run of the day. Jenna parker said to run strong, but do not be a hero. It was dark. Wendy planned to ease us into the run to finish strong.
Gun sounded. Wendy found some space for us. I ran out fast. Wendy had me slow down. Footing was bad. We ran by the lake. Wind howled. Waves crashed down. Sand piled up on the course. Wendy masterfully moved me through the sand. Screaming wind made it colder. three fourths into the opening mile I reached behind my back. Wendy, “Are you okay?” In disbelief, “My pants are falling down.” she laughed. My warmups were looser than I realized. One more challenge with which to deal. The opening mile was the fastest mile Wendy and I had run together in a race or training. Miles two and three. I hated the cold, but I ran strong. My pants slipped down again. I raised it on the fly. It was so dark Wendy could not inform me of our pace as frequently as she would otherwise do. I felt a side stitch starting. I felt winded. Wendy had me increase the speed. I stepped in crack almost twisting my ankle. I caught my other foot in a tree branch laying on the path. I shook it off within a few steps. Final mile. Wendy estimated we were in the top third of runners. Cold, wind, and pants bothered me. Wendy could see the finish area. We veered off the path on to grass. One final hill. It was steep. Wendy encouraged me to power through. Apex. Time to fly down hill. It was steep. I almost fell over. I clutched to Wendy’s elbow. My pants slipped down. Wendy’s elbow in one hand back of my pants in the other. Flat ground. Finish shoot. Race announcer called our name. I could no longer keep my pants up. Final sprint. Finish! Wendy and I finished in the top third.
Thank you Wendy Jaehn for guiding me. Thank you Jenna Parker for coaching me. Thank you Pinnacle Performance Company for sponsoring me. Thank you Joel Feinberg, Universal sole owner for ensuring I ran in this event. Thank you to Universal Sole social media manager and store employees for always engaging with me when I reach out.