I can’t believe that I am now a TWO TIME marathoner. All of the early Sunday morning long runs and many other sacrifices proved to be worth my time and effort yesterday when I finished the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. This marathon was really tough, as any marathon should be, but I think the conditions made it even harder. The temperature slowly approached the 80s as time passed and shade was virtually nonexistent for much of the second half. Most people I talked to after the race did not even come close to a PR. That was the same for me, sadly. Though, regardless of whatever the weather was supposed to be, I wasn’t really going for a PR yesterday. I knew going into the race that my training in 2012 was far superior to my training this year. I was OK with just running a marathon and enjoying it! For the most part, that is what happened yesterday. The morning started with a 4:15am wakeup call. The amazing Sara sent me a package to open on race day. The package included a new headband (!!!) and a really cute card:
I have the coolest friends 😀
Andy and I reserved a spot for $4 on SpotHero (NOT KIDDING, it was that cheap!) super close to the starting line. It took until 5am for me to get ready and out the door. We arrived downtown pretty early – about 5:30am, so we decided to hang out at Panera. I was in Wave 2 and the corrals closed at 7:45am. It was nice to use a real bathroom and just chill before the race. Obviously sending Snapchats to people was how I amused myself.
Repping my running club on marathon day by wearing their jersey!
Andy had some work to do, so he stuck around at Panera for a little while, but he took some breaks to watch me run. He was smart enough to buy balloons, which helped me spot him at both the halfway point of the marathon and at mile 17 🙂
I made my way to my corral at 7:30am, which was perfect timing. I’m not a very patient person; waiting around in corrals before races really annoys me, haha. Time went by fast this time around! I signed myself up to be in Corral F, which was for people who hoped to run the marathon in 4:15. I was so optimistic when I registered for the marathon back in April, LOL. I hoped for a more realistic pace for me, which would be somewhere between 4:30 and 4:40, as I toed the starting line yesterday, but stayed put in Corral F anyway. It was surprising, but I stayed with a lot of the same people from Corral F throughout the race. Many of us finished WAY later than 4:15. It was probably due to the heat.
Miles 1-10: I kept wanting to run fast because I felt so good, but reminded myself that “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” and that I needed to conserve energy. I maintained my speed between a 10:30-11:00 pace for almost the entire marathon, which was exactly what I wanted. Running through the north side neighborhoods was my favorite part – probably because I am most familiar with that part of Chicago. Immediately as I started running, I found the dashed blue line that is supposed to mark the shortest and most accurate race distance. That blue line HAD to have been a lie because my watch measured the race as well over 27 miles, ha! I followed that line religiously during the race.
Miles 11-22: I was happiest at this point in the race. At every turn, I became more and more emotional, even crying happy tears at some points. My pace was still steady between a 10:30-11:00/mile and I was optimistic that I would finish within my goal range. I saw Andy at mile 13 in the crowd, which made me so happy! Music was playing at different points and the crowds were cheering so enthusiastically. I kept thinking “there is nowhere else that I’d rather be right now.” I saw Andy again at mile 17 and gave him a big hug. I was feeling GOOD and wrongfully believed that the feeling would last until the finish line.
Miles 23-26.2: I saw a girl puking on the side of the road and it freaked me out a bit. My legs were starting to give out and my pace slowed down to 12 minute miles. This seemed to all happen as soon as we passed the mile 23 marker. The last time I ran a marathon, I don’t think I hit a wall. I know for sure that I hit a wall at mile 23 this time around, though. I moved at what seemed like a snail’s pace. My energy was completely depleted. I was incredibly thirsty despite drinking both Gatorade and water at EVERY single aid station. Later, my dad told me he was tracking me online and it looked like I was stopped for the last 3 miles. HA. The pain was awful. I never really recovered from hitting the wall, so I had to shuffle my way to the finish. It was probably not a pretty sight. I probably went down to a 13 or 14 minute pace towards the end. I did my best to run faster for the last 1/4 mile to the finish line, but it was very hard! I made it to the finish in 4:50:37 – 18 minutes slower than my PR, but finishing felt just as fantastic 😀
All I could think of during those last miles was this quote:
Running a marathon is not an easy task. To cross that finish line, you need to push your body to its limit most of the time. Yesterday, I needed to dig deep in order to put one foot in front of the other – no matter how slow my pace was at the end. Obviously, not hitting a wall would have been ideal, but finishing the marathon yesterday feels even better knowing that it did not come easily. I earned that medal.
After the race, some friends and family all went out for pizza at Giordano’s! It was such an amazing day. All I can think about is “when is the next one?!”
I will most definitely be back for another Chicago Marathon! I’m thinking even next year 😀 Despite the pain, running the Chicago Marathon was a wonderful experience. I would do it all again in a heartbeat <3
Have you ever run a really tough race?