Suburban stroke survivor Kirk Disrude and his wife, Beth, finished the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in a little more than five-and-a-half hours on Sunday.
The Mundelein couple ran the full 26.2-mile course together and crossed the finish line as a team, too.
"There wouldn't have been any other way to do it," Kirk Disrude said Monday.
The Disrudes were cheered on by countless runners who had seen last week's Daily Herald profile of Kirk and a similar report on local TV news.
"It was unbelievable," he said.
A physical education teacher and athletic coach at Maine East and Maine South high schools in Park Ridge, Disrude suffered a debilitating stroke in September 2011. He had to relearn to walk, talk and even eat properly, among other tasks.
In last week's profile, Disrude said he saw the marathon as "the ultimate test of my recovery."
The extent of the accomplishment hit Disrude after he and Beth finished the race. He found himself reflecting on the last 13 months and his recovery.
"It was overwhelming," he said.
Their official finishing time was 5:31:35, according to the results on the marathon website. Kirk was listed as finisher 32,143, and Beth was ranked 32,144.
As often is the case for marathon runners, the last few miles were difficult for the Disrudes. They got through the last six by dedicating them to stroke survivors they'd met, the medical and rehabilitation workers who treated Kirk and, of course, to each other and their son, Logan.
"It just kept us going," Kirk Disrude said.
Beth Disrude called the marathon experience "surreal."
When practicing for the marathon they ran on relatively quiet forest preserve district trails. But on Sunday morning they were surrounded by enthusiastic crowds who rooted for them with every step.
"There was no way anything was going to stop us yesterday," she said. "We were finishing that race."