Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Hero's Journey: A Windy City Odessey (10/7/18)

Urvi and I on Navy Pier
Race: Chicago Marathon
Goal Time: 4:00
Actual Time: 4:49

(translation of a recently disovered manuscript in the Meteora monasteries from Greek heroic hexameter.)

Sing of legs and man from Cantapontem!
Who came west to these Wolverine lake shores,
destined to run in the City of Winds
and plowed the asphalt fields from the Loop
to Boystown and to Little Italy.
Driven by the rage of blonde Demeter
his knee bore bony battles of Greektown
and Pilsen t'ward the finish in Grant Park.

So, Kalliope, Chief of all Muses,
remind me of Iessai of the morning,
and how he overcame the Sheep-Bearer,
with assistance of fleet footed Hermes
to travel the turbulent travails
Pheidippides once ran in Attika.

Willis (Sears) Tower
Blonde Demeter, from her art-deco mount,
watched with ire as Iessai ran down Halsted -
at the home of flaming saganaki.
She dashed to Olympus, her former home.
and called to Zeus, "Oh Brother, King of Gods,
from my aerie atop the Board of Trade,
I watch with anger as morning Iessai
who once disturbed my sacred rams at Vik,
now race thru my Illini city streets.
To finish with glory would spoil and mar
my sacred pastures in the icy North."

The Cloud-Gatherer answered his sister,
"Giver of Goodly Fruits, Iessai disturbed
your sacred rams and ewes six summers ere;
for one last time you may punish him thus.
I will allow you to keep him from fame,
but he must [fragment missing]

Bad photo of medal

Thus lovely crowned Demeter spirited
back to her home away from Olympus.
She saw Iessai was drinking Gatorade
on Adams sea toward Santorini.
Though born of the morning star, mortal and
knit together through joints and ligaments
was he.  When dipped into the Karolos
as a boy, it left his MCL vulnerable.
To this point the Bringer of Seasons struck.

Thus like a poisoned dart as Iessai turned
onto Halsted his knee was pierced in pain.
His gait went from Olympic to a limp.
The previous 17 miles now struck
knee and hamstrings brought him down to a walk.
As he fought between running and walking
Iessai combatted urges to stop and sit.
By 17.5, he could not.
At the lair of Illinois Chicago
embattled Iessai sat upon the curb.

Race winner, Sir Mo Farah making an appearance at our tent.

An archon approached, "You need assistance?"
Iessai declined. And the archon then asked:
"How has this race gone for you until now?"
"Leaving the chariot," Iessai began,
"Eos streched her rosy fingers over
the lake, we awaited the call to arms
as the gates closed and athletes climed fences
high as the mighty walls of Troy once were.

"Upon the launch of Apollo's arrow
the athletes, more than thirty thousand strong,
furiously charged the up wide Via Colon
and into the Chicago catacombs.
An easy pace, I ran behind Brendan,
but had to let him speed away ahead.
After the [fragment missing]...
... like snakes ... aged Anchises..."

And thus Iessai continued his story:
"By 15k, I had to stop again.
The knee had started to hobble a bit;
My hamstrings started to waddle a bit.
I whisked away from the field of battle
and on a wobbly gate, I stretched my knee.
Then heard my name and looked around to see,
Victor, from the Land of Trolley-Dodgers,
with Batavian Flor and Megan too.
Megan and I around mile 10
"Thither I dashed to join them on the road
the next two miles running concurrently -
serpentine shape slithering and sluicing
like a black and gold river over rocks
through the host of heroes battling the race.
We saw the Old Town and our Stop and Shop.
By the eleventh mile, it was no more.
I had to drop away from the phalanx
of the golden hoplites of Saint-Omer.

"By mile 12 I sat and watch the L train
for a while before battling forward
to West Loop where I stopped again to rest.
My knee was now thus a real problem;
I considered whereabouts of the L;
considered wherewithal of surrender.

Mile 12.4

"Is it dark before rosy fingered dawn?
Perhaps; I perchanced to be passed by yet
another of mine own golden hoplites.
Liz dashed by with an air of confidence;
whilst I could not maintain her pace, she got
me from that place, heading to better space.
And back through Greektown and saganaki,
I went." Iessai paused to stretch out his knee.
"Then I was struck by a bow's iron arrow tip,
I hobbled here and look for the L home"

As wounded Iessai wound up his epic,
the Archon nodded a touched his tortoise
shell shades, and began speaking in god-like
voice, "So now you sit here building defeat!
Blinded and oblivious to your fate!
King of Gods - whose power sways Earth and sky -
sent me down here from brilliant Olympus,
bearing commands for you to race the winds.
If glorious destiny cannot fire
your spirit, perhaps the fires of the Blaze
commemorated here for hundred years
can move you on toward fateful fortune!"
With these holy orders still on his lips,
the Archon vanished.  Iessai now knew
it had been fleet of foot, tricky Hermes.

Wounded Iessai arose to continue,
like Agios Yiorgios his battle
would start taming flaming firedrake.
Thus with just the power of will he stopped,
and forced Sparky D. Dragon to submit.
Driven by duty now, Iessai moved on
t'ward shops of Italia Minor.
Emboldened by beating machinations
of Demeter, Iessai fought with himself.
Each desire to stop met with a walk
then back to a run until he could not.

Sparky D. Dragon and I

But fleet Hermes had a trick up his sleeve.
Chicanos of Pilsen were out in droves
cheering all athletes but Iessai saw them
as carrying him.  The Sheep Bearer had not
given up her quest to avenge her rams.
And as wounded Iessai crossed Charon's bridge
on Cernak, Demeter's daughter lashed out.

Another pain drove into Iessai's knee,
he couldn't turn over or bend for the run.
And he found a port bench on which to sit.
Shy of 21 miles - five more to go -
Iessai had descended down to Hades,
in the dark thoughts, perhaps ne'er to return.
Persephone roamed the harvest belt
and now in the guise of a volunteer
offered wounded Iessai a banana
and pomegranate juice. Iessai declined
knowing the fruits would offer return
to the land of the living nor finish.

The bench I sat at for far too long

Once he rested his skin-clad human ship
and strengthened the the boat's ligament-built ropes,
Wounded Iessai left the land of dead,
bid farewell to his bench, made for Sina
and built back his speed. Hoping to finish
in fewer than five hours, ran faster
thru Sina and the South Side of the Sox.
And was shocked he'd made it to 24!

But, alas, Demeter had another
pain shot through his knee, at twenty-four - five,
hobbled Iessai was forced to stop again.
An archon said he could walk to the end.
Iessai nodded but replied, "I'll just rest
until I'm ready to run." Iessa knew
Hermes was with him and wanted him done.
His destiny was to run to the end.

Jo Ann and I at mile 25.5 
Up the broad, wide Michigan Avenue,
spectators cheered all the athletes with beer.
Iessai continued his hobble and wobble.
Stopping here for a picture with Jo Ann
(While Jo Ann's friends questioned his choice this late),
High fiving there some children on course.
With a half mile to go, with one last hill,
wounded Iessai fought slowly as runners passed.
But in the home stretch, rugged Ithaki
came into view.  A giant red banner:
the end was a blast and FINISH, at last.

Some of the SRR finishers - Chris, Robert, Liz, me, Brendan, John, Keiran and Pickle