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Five area women "cross the line"

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Rexanne Laue, Teri Chamberlain, Jane Neier, Michelle Oehler and Amy Griffith, of Clay County, completed the 26.2 mile Chicago Marathon on Oct. 12, at Grant Park. The ladies were a little more chipper, here, before the race than they were at the end.

If you've ever wondered what it's like to run a Marathon, Teri Chamberlain can tell you.

"We all compared it to childbirth," Teri said. "After it's over it doesn't seem so bad."

Teri and four other Clay County women ran the Chicago Marathon Oct. 12, at Grant Park. Rexanne Laue finished in 4 hours, 53 minutes. Michelle Oehler took 4 hours, 49 minutes. Teri's time was 4 hours, 53 minutes. Jane Neier crossed the line in 5 hours, 3 minutes. And Amy Griffith made it in 5 hours, 12 minutes.

The ladies, all members of the local YMCA where Teri works, began training for the 26.2 mile race in June. During the week, sessions varied individually, ranging from daily to three times a week. But Sunday was their big run. They started at 10 miles, increasing the distance each week, building up to 20 miles.

"You can't prepare your body for 26 miles," Teri said. "You can only prepare the body for 20 miles. After 20 it's all guts. At 23 miles I thought, Oh, there's that wall they talk about!"

All of the women had physical problems they had to overcome to compete in the race. They had everything from a sprained ankle to a broken leg. And Teri had IT Band Syndrome. That's a condition where a muscle extending from the hip to the knee rubs across the knee causing friction and a lot of pain.

But with desire and determination they somehow managed to train with the pain, work through the injuries, and get healed and in shape in time to participate in the race.

The 26th running of the Chicago Marathon had a record 40,000 registered participants. Unfortunately, a 29-year-old lady from Plains, Ohio, collapsed right after crossing the finish line. She died shortly thereafter. The cause of death is still not known but it's speculated that it could have been from dehydration or heat exhaustion.

The winner was Kenya's Evans Rutto with a time of 2 hours, 5 minutes and 50 seconds. This was his first race at that distance.

Considering the physical trauma and danger involved with the endurance marathon, Teri was asked why she wanted to do it.

"It was a goal we all wanted to do," Teri said. "We've run for years. We wanted to be able to say that, one time in our life, we had done a marathon.

"I ran with my sister, Kathy Sawrie, from Indianapolis. That made it extra special for me."

"And we had lots of support. We had prayer coverage. People all over town said they were praying for us. And our spouses and families gave lots of support."

Teri told about one of their 20 mile training sessions. They ran from Forest Park to the International House of Pancakes in Terre Haute on U.S. 41. They had breakfast there and still made it to church.

"My husband, Jeff, was a great help," Teri said. "He followed in the car and provided us with water, energy gel and Gatorade. And after we ate, he drove us home.

After the race we were exhausted, stiff and sore. We were just wilted. Jeff said 'Now this is it, right? No more? Never again?'"

"It is grueling," Teri acknowledged. "When the race was over, and for several days afterward, I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. But it's the most gratifying, rewarding thing just to be able to say you've done it.

"I've already decided I'm going to do it again," Teri said with a big grin. "But don't tell Jeff."

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