Written by Claudia Parker
Evergreen Park mom runs Marathon to celebrate
her 40th birthday — and get away from the kids
Editor’s note: Reporter correspondent Claudia Evergreen Park’s Claudia Parker celebrated her 40th birthday by running in the Chicago Marathon. Photo by Jeff Vorva.Parker ran in the Oct. 13 Chicago Marathon and shared some of her amusing thoughts throughout the race
I celebrated my 40th birthday by running the 2013 Bank of America, Chicago Marathon.
Don’t be impressed. I have a confession. I ran it to get away from my kids. Running 26.2 miles through 29 Chicago neighborhoods is easy compared to some of my days as a stay-at-home mom. Trying to catch a Kenyon wasn’t my objective, I took my time, relishing in “me” time.
This race was special because it was the first major U.S. race since the Boston Marathon bombings. There was unity among us. Within the first mile of the race, I witnessed a runner turn around to grab a protein bar that had fallen from another runner’s waist strap. Then she scurried up to him to return it.
Unfortunately, when I looked down, the only thing my eyes found were remnants of furry, grey, animals, plastered to the pavement. Never mind looking down, it was exhilarating looking up into the faces of the spectators cheering.
“What at a great way to celebrate my birthday,” I thought, while belting out a few lyrics of rapper 50 Cent’s, “In Da Club,” “Go shawty it’s your birthday…we gonna party like it’s your birthday.”
I’m sure my horrid singing was like bad Karaoke to my running mate, Tracy Tryban of Chicago. Our conversation was steady the first five miles. This was her first Chicago Marathon, my second, so I knew the route.
“We’re in Lincoln Park Zoo. Next water stop is around the curve.” I told her.
We felt good.
We had energy to laugh at a little old lady who apparently missed the memo about the marathon. We were on North Lake Shore Drive about mile 8 when we spotted her waiting at a stoplight. When it changed, she began to cross, pushing a milk crate cart on wheels. A course marshal had to quickly whisk her back to the corner. She looked perturbed, as if to say, “I have the right-of-way!”
From left, Adriana Carmona of Bridgeview, Maria (Angie) Santana of Chicago, Tracy Tryban of Chicago and Lily Tong of Chicago stand behind Evergreen Park’s Claudia Parker at a belated birthday party last week at TGI Fridays in Oak Lawn. Parker celebrated her birthday by running with her friends in the Chicago Marathon. Photo by Jeff Vorva. Shortly thereafter I saw Erin Mendoza of Chicago, a childhood friend, with her family, cheering in the crowd. I hugged them hello and continued. She has a son a little younger than my preschooler. Instantly, I began to miss my girls. They didn’t attend my marathon last year because it was cold. Knowing they were there this time made the race more meaningful. All I had to do was make it to mile 23, where they would be camped.
By mile 10, I was still feeling good. Taking in hydration at every water stop along with a couple Clif Shot Bloks helped. North Broadway was putting on a show that took my mind off the miles. The ROTC soldiers had batons that looked like rifles, flipping them around like a high school drill team alongside several other performances down that strip.
My enjoyment turned to dread mile 15 after seeing my friend, Angie Santana’s, son Nicholas Carter of Chicago.
Angie and I got separated at the start line. Tracy and I had been looking for her. I yelled, “Nicholas, have you seen your mom?” He smirked. “Yeah, she passed here 20 minutes ago.”
He may have said, “passed here” but my mind repeated, “passed YOU.” My competitive nature thought, “Oh yeah, I’ll show you.”
I then accelerated my pace.
Everything began to ache. In all my suffering, I knew seeing my kids would give me a boost. “Just get to mile 23,” I thought.
My quads burned, my calves felt like knots and my feet throbbed.
But I forged ahead.
Once I arrived at mile 23, my eyes met my husband Don’s eyes.
Joy set in.
“Where are the kids?” I huffed. He began to jog alongside me. “At home.” He replied. “I’ve been tracking you. You’re estimated to finish during naptime. I know how you get about their schedule.”
I was a little shattered.
“But this is my birthday party…” I thought.
He proceeded to chat, as if I could carry on a conversation.
Tracy and I hadn’t said two words since mile 15. We used gestures. A course marshal directed him off the course as I arrived at mile 25. People screamed, “Almost there! One mile to go.”
It felt like five. I didn’t know where Tracy was. I just kept running until I crossed the finish line. Tracy finished one minute later. I found Angie. Our finishing time was exactly the same.
I set a personal record; finishing 17 minutes faster than last year. I credit my daughters. I may have started the race running away but they were the two faces I couldn’t wait to run back to.
I came in 33,501st place out of 45,000 in this race but at home, I came in first.