Myself, my awesome Chicago Marathon training group, and our friends and families carbed up at the Tuscany on Saturday evening before the race. Wow. It was SOOO good. I may have overdone it though, with the bread. Chalk that up to things to remember for next time. If there is a "next time"- talk to me several months from now about that!
Saturday evening, I laid out my gear, set the alarm for 4:45 a.m., and went to bed (a bit later than I should have). Sunday morning came so fast! I got out of bed, got dressed and prepped, had my usual morning routine (2 cups of coffee and a protein bar) and headed to the train.
It took me a bit longer to get downtown than I anticipated so I was late to meet up with everyone at a hotel near the start. Here we are (photo above), bright, shiny, nervous, ready to go! We began the short walk down to the starting area as the sun was rising above the lake. Temps were in the 60's, very comfortable.We checked our bags (to have dry shirts, flip flops, etc at the finish), made last minute bathroom stops, and got in the corral.
A handful of us started the race together, but split up pretty early on so we could run at our own paces. I planned for a finish time of 4 hours and 30 minutes, which I thought was generous and would be no problem. HAHAHAHAHA. My finishing time was 4:45:39. And that took everything I had.
Here I am after the finish, about to reunite with everyone. What an epic feeling of accomplishment and relief! But, let me tell you more about what happened prior to this moment:
The first 10 or so miles were lovely. We ran along the beautiful lakeshore, and Jon and Seth came out and cheered for me at mile 7 and 8. There were lots of crazy fun "cheerleaders" along this part: great costumes, music blasting, plenty to look at. Seth also jumped in and ran about a mile with me here.
The next 6 miles or so began to decline in loveliness. I think I got a little bored, at this point I was running alone. The crowds were a little calmer, and I didn't feel their energy as much. Or maybe I just zoned out. Not sure.
The next 4 miles or so got a little better because a sweet girl by the name of Jenny Magill ran into me. She is an East Nasty who now lives in Chicago, and decided to run the marathon. She is an incredible runner: fast, ultra-marathoner, experienced, and super motivating to run with. She really supported and talked me through some tough miles, even though I was running a pace minutes slower than I know she would've done on her own. THANK YOU!
The next 6 miles got really hot. At this point we are headed back into downtown, no more shaded neighborhood streets, and the midday sun is beating down. I walked through every fluid stop, drinking a bit of gatorade and of bit of water. I took salt tablets, too, and never cramped up. At this point though, my legs just felt heavy. Heavy and so tired. Maybe I should have had caffeine at some point midway through the race. I took my shirt off because of the heat. I hate running hot and wearing extra layers. In retrospect, I question that decision becuase now in all my end of race photos I notice the flab around my waist and how I look like I might pass out on the street. Oh well! The last couple miles Seth, Cristina, and Nicole jump in and run with me. What angels they are. Their pride and belief in me carried me through the most miserable part.
The last .2. Wow. What a mix of very intense emotions. I want to stop. I wonder why I chose to do this. I wrote my name on my race bib; total strangers yell my name and words of encouragement. Thousands of people are watching, I can't show weakness now. I see the finish line, and grandstands full of spectators on either side. I know elite runners have crossed this line and broken records. I know tens of thousands like me will cross it today and break their own records- not just of running, but of what they ever believed they were capable of. I'm getting chills just typing this out.
The post 26.2. Jon and Seth met me, and got me to our group of friends. I was glad to regroup, but also just wanted to go home and lay down! We walked a couple blocks to the red line and rode back to Seth's apartment on the north side of town. I have never been so happy to take an ice bath in my life- odd as it sounds, it felt great. So did a shower and some dry clothes. Next, I hobbled to Joy's noodles and had the best Thai curry ever!
I spent the next several days walk /hobbling about Chicago. Sore muscles, aching knees, and a bit of chafing were the worst I was left with. It's been 5 days, and I think I'm back to normal now! Will I do it again? Maybe I'll decide that after I can't remember anymore how terribly painful those last several miles were!