Finally! Cellcom weekend was here. This race is a favorite of ours and we make sure to make the most of it when we run it – this year was no different. Can you say “Girl’s weekend!”
Rhonda flew in to Marquette Thursday (5/19) evening and spent the night at Sue’s house. The fact that she even made it to Marquette meant we were already on the right track, since last year she missed her connection in Detroit and had to fly directly to Green Bay, with me (Sue) making a short detour to grab her luggage and driving down alone. But not this year. The flights went smoothly and everything was on time. Unfortunately Rhonda was still suffering from the bug she had last week and obviously wasn’t feeling 100%. Despite a lot of coughing, heavy chest and breathing difficulties, she soldiered on the entire weekend.
Our drive to Green Bay the following day was uneventful, but enjoyable as we were able to catch up again and talk about our plans for running and fundraising. Two retired women out running 60+ races all over the country attempting to raise $20,000 is a pretty daunting undertaking when we stop and think about it. Certainly not as daunting as battling ALS on a daily basis, but when we think of those who are fighting that daily battle, it makes us that much more determined to succeed. Imagine a world with effective treatment or even a cure for ALS!!!
There’s a lot of construction going on in the area, so we decided to go directly to packet pick up and the expo and scope the area out. One thing I love about this race is how well organized it is. We were able to execute a quick and simple bib and shirt pick up for ourselves and two fellow 100 Half Marathon Club members, Andrea and Christin, who were running the Fargo Half Marathon on Saturday. We walked around the expo for a bit, but were a little disappointed that it seemed smaller than last year. I think Rhonda bought some fuel or electrolytes or something, but that was it. Well, at least we saved some money. Ha!
As any good Yooper woman knows, a trip to Green Bay means shopping in some form and we felt it our duty to carry on that tradition Saturday. Nothing major, but I did pick up a few items at stores I don’t have access to in Marquette. We then went on a walking tour of the stadium area; starting with the Brown County Veterans Memorial on Armed Forces Drive across from Lambeau Field, Packer Walk of Legends – a series of granite monuments depicting Packer history, Lambeau Field itself, and the Packer practice field. We even did the Lambeau Leap! While out walking, we looked up at a marquee and saw “Boston in Concert May 22” – well, what were we to do? There was really no choice but to walk right into the Resch Center and buy our tickets! As Rhonda said, a very Thelma and Louise thing to do! Our traditional pre-race pizza for dinner and preparing our clothes and gear for Sunday’s race rounded out our Saturday before we headed to bed anticipating an early Sunday morning wake up.
Finally it was race day and Sunday morning went smoothly. We easily found parking and walked the short distance to the stadium, getting there early enough to use indoor bathrooms WITHOUT WAITING LINES! This really was shaping up to be a great day. We milled around for an hour or so and enjoyed people watching. We love seeing the excitement and trepidation on the faces of those doing their first big race knowing how accomplished they will feel after. The weather was a bit warm, but Rhonda is used to it and warm running is my preference, even if it does slow me down some. Before we knew it, we were in our corral, listening to the National Anthem, and making our way to the start mat. Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon did not disappoint again this year. There is just something about this race…it is extremely well organized, has some of the best volunteers, is relatively flat, and you run a lap through Lambeau Field! One thing that must be noted is how courteous fellow runners are. Both of us remarked on the excellent “flow of traffic.” The last few races we’ve done have had their share of bottlenecks and similar issues. Here it seemed most runners accurately predicted their pace so that the corrals flowed well, walkers moved to the side, and everyone was friendly and kind. As an example, we “Galloway” – meaning we use specific walk/run intervals. In doing this, protocol is to safely move toward the right side when a walk interval is coming up, raise your hand and loudly state “walking!” I do this most of the time, however, that Sunday was the first time ever I was thanked for doing so…on several occasions.
For the next 13.1 miles, we ran down tree lined streets, residents and runner families lining the yards and sidewalks holding encouraging signs and yelling encouraging words to all; there were high fives to the little ones; plenty of water and electrolytes from volunteers; running through sprinklers and misters set up along the route; then the coup de grace of running through the tunnel and a lap through Lambeau Field! Unfortunately, by that time my quads had seized up I was in pure pain the last two miles – but I knew and Rhonda reminded me this was nothing compared to what those who face ALS deal with every single day. The difference was…my discomfort would pass and I would be back to normal in a day or two. That is not necessarily the case for those with this horrible disease which continues to progress and shows no mercy. I hurt, I walked, I whined, I ran and I crossed that finish line proudly wearing my 20 for #20 Sole Sisters shirt! Of course, Rhonda was having difficulty breathing and a foot that started cramping, so who was I to complain?! We collected our medals (one more piece to go to get the trifecta), Tru Moo (an absolute post-race must), Wisconsin Brats and (root)Beer, and recovered a little before heading back to the car; and running into Andrea once more. We said good-bye to her hoping to meet at another race soon.
Once again, we were amazed when fellow runners would give us a shout out for the cause we are running for. A man whose best friend passed from ALS, a young woman who said her father is suffering from the disease, at least one other with a personal connection, and many more who just would say – “Thank You; love your cause.” It really is why we are doing what we do.
The remainder of Sunday consisted of the obligatory nap, dinner, and BOSTON! OK, I’m a geek – “More than a Feeling” epitomizes a very special time in my life – I graduated high school the year that song was ranked in the top 10; so yeah, I’m old(er). Rhonda has her own personal memory, but I’ll let her share that. Lol.
It was back to my house on Monday with a stop at Sequin’s to stock up on authentic cheese curds and Wisconsin wine. Nothing squeaks between your teeth like a Seguin’s curd! Although Rhonda wasn’t leaving until late afternoon on Tuesday, the weather forecast told us if we wanted to do anything outside, we best do it Monday. So I put her back in the car and we drove up to the base of Sugarloaf Mt. where we made the brief 1.2 mile climb of about 450 feet to a spectacular view those of us who are native take for granted. I’ve forgotten how healing and restorative that place can be.
Sadly – VERY SADLY – we had to say our goodbyes on Tuesday. I brought Rhonda to the airport and with more than one tear in my eye, I said farewell – see you in a few months my friend! For the summer, we go our separate ways. We will continue to run for Tim and for ALS awareness and research, but individually. I’ve almost forgotten what it is like to run without her. We will come back together in September at the Air Force Half Marathon in Dayton, OH. Then…oh my gosh, October and November will be epic; but you will just have to wait and see. Next up – after a couple weeks of “rest” – actually regrouping and taking care of our real lives, we both head west at the same time, but separately. Rhonda to Montana , Wyoming, and Idaho – me to Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Lots of adventures coming up; so stay tuned!!!