The sunlight broke through the window in our apartment. A tower block amongst tower blocks on East Ohio Street, central Chicago.

The mornings felt so easy.

A passenger back in time, transported to a world where I woke up before sunrise and actually liked it.

Eager feet, I started the first morning walking over to the Starbucks, soaking in the accents. wondering whether my coffee might be super-sized – much like my smile.

Aly read her book, How to Kill Your Family. On brand for a woman with fire in her heart. This was our honeymoon. Our solid connection intertwining further almost a month past on the ninth of September.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

Museums, a sunset cruise, the Chicago skyline. We ate the most incredible Italian food (Eataly) and watched in awe the mechanics of a busy kitchen (Robert’s Pizza and Dough Company).

We soaked in the rebuilt city, hand in hand.

High into the clouds, we could see Indiana in the distance, and South East Illinois beneath us. A flat state. Straight roads, stretching miles into the main body of a Jack Reacher novel.

Beneath the tourist lay an anxious runner.

The Expo flashed by, a whirlwind of peach shorts and free beer. “Sign up to Madrid!”

Already going, my man.

Chicago 5K 

5K, easy-paced, my watch was in chaos.

A welcome taste of the streets.

Conversations with strangers, coffee in the sun. Another day with Aly by my side. Another memory to revisit in our six months apart.

“Sub-3 is the target,” I vocalise an already elusive goal.

“Target 2:55, trust me,” an instruction, from Aly.

Stick to the splits

Chicago Marathon

Her words, said with the strength of a thousand caffeine gels.

How could I let this woman down?

One final shout, “If you don’t run sub 2:55, we’re getting divorced.”

A promise, overheard by laughing strangers.

My world view narrowed into distance markers and time. Breaking every so often to absorb some of the atmosphere. Free energy.

Twenty-nine neighbourhoods, each one its own small town. Different people, vibrant colours. A band on stage at one, dancing in the streets at another.

The tannoy system at nineteen miles signals an announcement.


We all look to our left, then to our right.

We were there.

A world record run means world record conditions. No excuses, tuck in and dig.

Gels every thirty minutes, bang on the money. Water grabbed from stations in between.

Drive with the arms.

A swig of gatorade at mile 24. Something different. Something sweet.

A mistake.

Thought I’d make it to the finish line. No luck. Move wide, head over the right shoulder, make it quick.

I throw up.

Sixty seconds to make it in.

Final hundred meters.



How in the heck did I manage that?

She believed.

Moments later, she ran.


Two PBs for two newlyweds in Chicago.

The stuff of dreams.