Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chicago marathon recap

The Hansons program kicked my ass the last 10 weeks of training. There were countless runs that I didn't want to do, and many others that were painful but I made myself finish. Every time I was struggling or unmotivated, I took myself mentally to that Monday afternoon at 12:20 while I was eating lunch at the middle school, when my runner status changed from "pending" to "accepted." That was months before the training started, when everything was good and I was elated to be headed back to Chicago for the biggest marathon I've ever gotten to run.

Our hotel with free parking and ample potties lol
When I woke up on race morning, however, I just didn't feel like running. I even asked Bill if he'd get a head start for me, but all he could offer was about 3 miles siiiiigh so I'd have to do the whole thing myself. I met up with Nancy and we waited together in corral G, then she immediately started faster than me, and I let her go. My plan was to stick to a 10:30, regardless of how much faster my legs wanted to go the first few miles.

The weather was absolutely perfect - mid 50s and full sun! It was slightly warm in the sun, and a little cold in the shade and early on I saw the best sign - "After 500+ training miles, this is your victory lap" I kept that in mind for the entire race.

After an hour or so, however, I needed a bathroom break!!! I'm not one to "go" while I go, but the bathroom lines were really long. At mile 12, there were a bank of potties with very few people waiting, so that had to become my stop which added 3-4 minutes to my time. I picked up the pace a little to compensate for that, and at the half, I was within 2 minutes of the time on my arm. Unfortunately I was also already 0.25 miles over the official distance.

Finish chute - I took NO photos during the race -
I had a PR to run!!!
I kept going, maintaining pretty close to 10:30s. For the first 19 miles, the only walking I did was enough steps to sip water at every table (every 2-3 miles). It hurt, but it was fun and I relished the crowd support. I savored running through Mexican Town where the crowd support was almost oppressive. I crossed through the gate into China Town, knowing the race was almost done.

I was still a few minutes over pace, then we hit Michigan Avenue, where I fell apart in 2013. Last year I gave in to the cramping and the exhaustion and did more walking than I should have. This year, however, I ran the entire stretch of Michigan Ave. with a huge smile on my face. It probably looked like an agonizing grimace, but I was smiling, knowing a PR was within reach and I was so close to the finish!

At mile 26, we turned right and went up "Mount Chicago," the ONLY uphill on the entire course. In 2013 it destroyed me and I kept breaking down into walks, but I had deliberately raised the incline at the end of every treadmill run as preparation, and this year, with Eminem's "Lose Yourself" blasting on repeat, I ran past people and crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face. My last full mile was a 10:57 and the last 0.5 was a 9:36 :D

#18 - not my best post-race photo :P
THEN I absolutely fell apart! The finishing chute in Chicago is massive and seemed like a solid mile from the finish line to where I'd meet with Bill. I was hit with a huge wave of nausea and I knew it was from dehydration and drinking water would solve everything, but the thought of putting anything in my stomach made me feel queasy. I slowly slowly slowly hobbled my way along, to the point that it took 45 minutes to reach him and I was concerned he'd employ our emergency plan if I didn't appear by 3pm. When we finally met up, I spread out my space blanket, covered up with my Hello Kitty snuggie and laid down in the fetal position. Like Kelly pointed out, though, it was worth it!

My final time was 4:54:12, which wasn't the time I wanted, but still a PR of 3:57. Bill pointed out that in order to PR, I had to get back to the best race of my life then improve on that! Looking at it that way, I improved 17 minutes over my 2013 time on the same course, which also reflected a 17+ minute improvement over my spring time. I love you Chicago marathon :)
A little food, a little water and I felt better
Still a plain ribbon, but the medal is better than last year 
Pic Bill got of finishers in my approximate time. He missed me though :(


  1. Great job! It's good to see how you've progressed in your marathons. Keep up the good work...very happy for you!