Thanks be to the Precious Beloved Lord my God, I am blessed to have completed the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I finished with a time of 5:37. It was one of the happiest days of my life.
I wanted to run the marathon this year in my daughter’s honor, raising money for our newly formed charity, the Bayan H. Hassaballa Charitable Foundation. Thank God, we raised over $600 for our charity, and the day was a tremendous success.
I was overcome with emotion as I turned and saw the word “FINISH” up ahead. All that time training, all that time away from my family, all that time struggling and pushing my body to the limits of what it can do…it all paid off in the end. I knew that my baby was smiling down on me that day, and I am so very happy that I was able to run for her, that I was able to do something she could never be able to do herself.
It was a VERY hot day on 10/10/10, and it was a struggle to complete the last 8-10 miles. But, I kept thinking of my beautiful daughter and how much pain she was in her entire life. She never gave up…and so there was no way I could give up. Even though my legs were in so much pain, never did it cross my mind to not finish the race. Even if I had to crawl across the finish line, I would have done it. Thank God, however, I didn’t have to.
And so, I have so many “Thank Yous” to give out.
First and foremost, I must thank the Precious Beloved Lord. Last October, I watched my cousin run the Chicago Marathon in my daughter’s honor, and I was totally inspired to do the same this year. My cousin then told me that if I do it, he will run with me, side by side. I was then even more inspired. And so, I set out on my long journey to 10/10/10.
And the Lord was there with me the whole time. He helped me get up and run in the early morning when I really didn’t want to. He helped heal my aching legs, knees, shins, calves, and feet. He helped cure my many, many blisters. He helped me learn how to train and not to train. He made the grueling training regimen manageable.
On race day, He carried me through the tough miles. He prevented me from getting hurt during the race. Yes, I had to walk a lot of the last 4 miles, but again, thanks to the Precious Lord, never did the thought of stopping the race even enter my mind. Never. Last Fall, I decided that I wanted to run this year’s race, and it is only through the grace of my Precious Beloved that I can say that I did it. And I have Him to thank first and foremost for it.
But, I must also thank my beautiful, darling wife. My training was as hard on her as it was on me…because it took me away from she and the rest of my family for hours at a time. My work schedule is tough enough; add on a marathon training schedule, and it is even more difficult. And she took it all with tremendous poise and grace. She humored this madness in me, and I am forever grateful.
On race day, her support was beyond words. She took herself and our three children, even our infant, on the streets of Chicago to cheer me and my cousin on. It was so wonderful and inspiring to see them screaming my name in sheer delight as I passed them by. It made a beautiful day even that more spectacular. And I loved it that I was able to see their beautiful smiling faces at the end of the race. I am really blessed to have the wife I do.
I must also thank my cousin, Walead Anwar. It was his original marathon that inspired me to run this year’s race. It was his encouragement that helped me conquer my fears of undertaking such a difficult task. He pledged to be there step by step with me, and he did not betray me at all. During our race, I turned to him and said, “I will never forget this as long as I live,” and I became choked up with emotion. “You will always have a special place in my heart,” I added.
And that is 1000% true.
I must also thank the leagues of friends, neighbors, colleagues, and even strangers who cheered me on both before and during the race. Their support helped keep me going at the times when I was doubting whether I could do it. The smiles on their faces will always be in my mind forever.
Thanks must be given to those wonderful souls who donated to the Bayan H. Hassaballa Charitable Foundation in support of my run. They gave their hard-earned money so that we can share the light of our angel with the rest of the world. Thank you so very, very much.
Running the Chicago Marathon for my daughter was one of the best things I have ever done in my life. Despite all the pain and torture I put my body through, it was well worth it. Would I ever do it again? No, not really. The experience of doing this race for my daughter was so ecstatic that I want it to always remain unique. In addition, I don’t think my body can take another 16 weeks of the grueling training that is required to run a marathon (and not get hurt). The only exception to this is if my wife wants to run the race, then I promised her I will run by her side, step by step.
I wish I didn’t have to run for my daughter because she passed away, but it is what it is. Yet, if I hadn’t done it before, given the same circumstances, would I do it all over again? Absolutely.