Saturday, October 24, 2015

Race recap - Chicago 2015

Just after 7 am, I stepped in Corral G. I was one of the first 50 in the gate, which would later hold probably 5,000. The empty corral and the skyline loomed before me and I started crying already. I was full aware of how blessed I was to have the chance to run my third consecutive Chicago marathon. I had asked God, St. Sebastian, and the lottery fairy to get me there and they all helped me. I was healthy (the cold symptoms had thankfully disappeared), my body was ready to run 26.2 miles, and I had been given the opportunity to do it on my favorite course. I was truly blessed, and I knew it.

10 hours earlier, however, it wasn't nearly as good. I sleep horribly if I'm not home in my own bed. Every person we ran into at the hotel was there for the race, so you'd think it would be quiet. I was in bed at 9 pm, with a dose of Nyquil, and 2 minutes away from deep sleep, I heard a radio screaming "I don't give a f**k about you." Well, that was obvious. It ruined my sleep trajectory, and I spent the rest of the night in a half-asleep state, never going into deep sleep.

I was dragging when I got out of bed, but like any other race morning, I went through my getting ready routine, because what else would I do? We were able to find a cab quickly, arriving at Grant Park way earlier than any other year. It was cold - low 40s, and we were there before 6:15. I wouldn't start running until after 8. Before practically every race, I go to the Salvation Army and get a throw-away shirt, but for whatever reason (exhaustion, fighting against a cold), I didn't make it this time.

It was cold. I was dressed for the heat, so I spent over an hour shivering in the cold.

I started abreast of the pacing team, but not necessarily with them, because I like to run Chicago on the side, to see and interact with the spectators. They're the primary reason to run Chicago, at least for me. For the first several miles, I was right with the group. My first 5k time split was spot on, 10 seconds under pace.

My watch, however, was a mess. Almost immediately we run under a skyscraper, and she lost satellites and was screwed up for the rest of the race. When I hit the mile 1 marker, she thought I was at 0.6 miles. Then she had me at a 5:13 mile, then the next was 13+. Ah well, that's part of why I write my target time splits on my arms (same idea as a pace band, but big enough to read).

After an hour, the sun rose and it got HOT!!! The forecast had been for low 70s. Liars! It topped 80 in the first half and I found myself slowing down. As proof of the crazy heat, the city opened all the fire hydrants on the back half to provide a constant stream of cold water. We were later offered blue sponges that had been soaking in a kiddie pool of ice water. I used mine to wipe off the sweat, and squeezed the cold water on my hair - anything to cool off!

Once I stopped being so obsessed with 9:30s, it became really FUN!!!! The seniors' residents were watching again, but they added signs this year: We would join you, but we're busy eating donuts and drinking coffee.

Another group - one that I don't remember from past years - was the congregation of Moody Church. The street was closed in front of the church, but that didn't stop them. Before their service, hundreds of parishioners were out front in dresses and suits cheering for us.

Time-wise the miles were slow, but in terms of a fun experience, they went so fast! At one point I was talking with a runner from Grand Rapids, when a man on the side pointed to me with both hands and said "Go Michelle!! You got this!! Finish strong!!!!!!" I raised both arms and waved to him, then admitted to the runner, "I have no idea who that is." lol
Love the shirt. Brought home the size I ordered :)

Shortly thereafter, a group had Dixie cups of beer. Yes, please :) If I wasn't going to hit my goal time, I was going to enjoy every second of the race. A woman had a "free hugs" sign. I took one, even though I don't normally like being touched. She wrapped her arms around my sweaty back, squeezed me tight and said something encouraging. I don't remember exactly what she said. Something nice.

Something funny - I always say I don't notice what we run past, but I can tell you which spectators I saw more than once on a course - I saw a woman I had seen in Cincinnati. I recognized her by the same sign - Free hugs, especially to hot guys named Chris. Must be her husband or bf, or whatever. Another funny one - The Chicago Marathon, only a few more runners than the GOP presidential race.

We ran through Mexican Town, through Chinatown, and onto Michigan Ave, where my body always takes a huge sigh of relief. It's still 3 miles away, but we're sooooooo close!!!! Run straight towards the Sears Tower, turn, and finish!

With 10 minutes to go, there as a DJ. "Who are my first time marathoners?" he asked. "Who's running your second?" Then "Who is never ever running again after today? Ever?" he asked. I raised my arms and cheered lol I didn't mean it. Of course not, I was having too much fun.

Bill watches for me on the shady (left) side of Michigan Ave right by mile 26, so I was staying on the left side of the road, even though the shortest distance blue line was on the right. I was nothing but smiles at this point. The goal time wasn't happening, but I was finishing my 21st marathon, I was healthy, I wasn't injured, I've been blessed with the ability to consistently finish marathons. I was tougher than Jay Cutler, according to several signs lol :D

I finished. My pace runs were always extremes. When they were good, they were very very good, and when they were bad (when it was hot), they were horrid. Weather in the midwest is a total crap-shoot, and it worked against me this time. Ah well, there's always next year. 2015 was time-wise my worst Chicago marathon, but I've never had more fun during a race.

One of the secretaries I work with asked if I had a good time. No! Well, yes!!!!! But no! It all depends how I define a good time :) It wasn't my best time, but it was the best time I've ever had!
Why is there a whale on the medal? I know it's supposed to be "The Bean" sculpture, but it looks awful haha
Sometimes I wonder if they're in a race to the bottom with medals. They get worse every year lol :P
#21!!! You can't see my knee socks - I looked so cute!!! hah

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