After 18 weeks of training, the weekend had finally arrived, the Chicago Marathon. I felt good about being able to finish, as long as no injuries occurred, but I was still super nervous about my first marathon. I kept trying to imagine running with 40,000 others, along with over 1 million spectators. I’m not a big crowd person, so that thought alone was scaring me!
I’m going to leave the expo for another post, and just write about the race in this one. Trying to keep the post short, but it was 26.2 miles, and there is nothing short about that. 😉
Saturday morning my mom, who was also running her first marathon, and I, headed downtown on the Metra. We stayed at the Congress Park Plaza Hotel. This was a last minute change, and turned out to be perfect! Checked into the hotel and this was the view out my window:
Went to the expo, picked up bibs and other expo goodies, and took the bus back to the Hyatt. Relaxed at the hotel,then decided on Crispers Mac and Cheese pasta for dinner. I do realize that is extremely unhealthy. 😉 Headed back to the hotel,and laid out everything for my morning wake up! I find this to be super helpful the next morning when getting ready. Once everything is picked up I’m ready to go and won’t forget anything!
I ended up getting a really good night’s rest,which isn’t what normally happens the night before a race. I did wake up around 3AM having a nightmare that I overslept through my alarm and the race had already started without me. Thankfully,it wasn’t true. 😉
I woke up around 5:30 and started race morning routine. Had a bagel with peanut butter for breakfast while getting dressed. Definitely wish I had a toaster for a better taste. The hotel rooms had a coffee maker,so that was a nice add on. I then spent time doing a lot of stretching,foam rolling, and just relaxing.
Around 6:30 we headed down to the lobby and were greeted by mobs of people. Apparently no one wanted to wait outside and used our hotel as their warming shelter it seemed. We made our way outside and across the street. It was cold outside,but not nearly as bad as I was expecting. I had on a throw away zip up hoodie,pants,and gloves. We crossed the street and got in line to go through security. This part seemed to take forever,and I wasn’t even checking a bag. I may have missed the express line though,still not sure on that. After getting through security, we wanted to make one last potty stop. Walked over by Buckingham Fountain,and wow long lines everywhere! Went to the back of one and waited….and waited..and waited. During this time I kept checking the time. I knew corrals were closing soon,and if you didn’t make it in them in time, behind K corral you go! Finally made it through the porta potta line,with 5 minutes to jump into the corral. While I was in the area that feeds into G corral,they yelled out “All corrals closed.” There definitely was panic amongst those of us in that area,but in the end we were able to get into the corral.
Once I was in corral G, the nerves really kicked in. I tried to do everything to relax. I didn’t want to touch my phone since I knew I needed every darn percentage for my music. Before I knew it,I could finally see the START sign.
I kept repeating to myself, “think of this as a training run,only with 40,000+ others”, “you’ve done 23,you can definitely make it 26.2 today” and so on.
Once I crossed that start line and hit my Garmin the only thing on my mind was that Finish line.
I’m not going to do a mile by mile breakdown,since I don’t know the the course that well,nor do I remember exactly what happened at each mile.
I started out doing mile 1 straight running through. I do this at all my races even though I do the run/walk at 1/2 marathon plus distances. Mile 1 I do remember running through a horribly smelly tunnel and seeing tons of men over on the sides peeing lol Yep,the race officially started.
At mile 2,I turned my Gymboss on and was ready to get into a groove. I had trained at a 1/:30 and that was what I had planned to use for the rest of the race as long as I was feeling well. I instantly knew the first few miles were going to be a bit of a struggle. The course was still fairly packed which made it a bit difficult to get my speed up. Mile 3 seemed to take forever,and when I saw my time, 10:24,I felt a bit discouraged. But I kept at it,and after about 4 and 1/2 miles in,the race seemed to be not as packed.
Around mile 5,I took my first Hammer Gel,apples and cinnamon. I spread this out during the whole mile taking a bit at each walk break. I chose to wear my hydration belt so I could have water when I needed it,specifically when taking my fuel. The water stations were super packed. Everyone seemed to be walking,or in the case of the Gatorade area, which was so sticky,sticking through them.
This whole time,the crowds just amazed me. Young and old everyone cheering on random strangers. This was a huge reason for me choosing to do this race as my first marathon, and it was holding true! It definitely kept me motivated and moving.
The weather was cool outside,but in the open areas the sun was definitely hitting the later into the morning it got.
Around Mile 10,I took another Hammer Gel,espresso. I thought I could use a good caffeine boost around this time. I took the lemon line Gatorade at every other water station. I hated the taste. It was more forcing myself to drink one little sip.
Once we hit the 13.1 marker,I knew it was all downhill from there! I just had to do exactly what I did in the first 13.1 and everything would be grand. I was at a 2:07. I knew there was a hill at the very end,so I figured my 2nd half would be slower than my first half.
I was feeling great,but still did something I probably shouldn’t have done. My Gymboss had run through 99 cycles so I had to restart it. I thought I was feeling great so I upped my running to a 1:10/:30. I think I just wanted to get the race done with quicker. Around mile 15 I was getting ready to take another Hammer Gel and started feeling super nauseous. I still forced myself to take the Hammer Gel thinking maybe I was just hungry. I kept pushing on sticking with the intervals and it wasn’t working. I had some Jelly Belly Sports Beans and popped one in my mouth and just sucked on it, and that seemed to settle the nauseous feeling a bit.
I had heard so many people hit the wall around mile 20,China town. Aside from the nausea slowing me down I still felt pretty energized. I could tell though people were dropping like flies and started walking during that time. I saw the first station that gave out bananas and thought I’d take one at the next station I saw. I took one bite of that banana,and thought it was the worst thing I tasted in my life lol Definitely did not help me!
Around Mile 22,I thought I spotted one of the men in my Galloway group holding a sign,and that gave me a bit of a motivation boost. I did later find out it was him and I wasn’t imagining things =) At mile 23, I repeated over and over,”5K left, 5K left,5K left.” That was definitely the longest 5K in my life! 😉 Once I hit the sign that said, 800 meters left, reality was hitting me. I was really going to finish my first marathon,and in a time much better than I had imaged I could. We were headed up that hill and I could see the sign that said 400 meters. I kept thinking,almost there,almost there. Once I saw that finish line I was running,but there was no sprinting going on lol The emotions that went through my head as I crossed that finish line were crazy. After 18 weeks of training,I had finally done it! Ran my first marathon!
Final time: 4:18.20!!
Splits: I’m sure these are off a bit even though I never actually noticed losing satellite reception
The finishers shoot seemed to last forever. We finally hit the medal area and never in any of my races have I had them actually put the medal on me,today was the first. We were given space blankets to get warm,I didn’t end up using that till my walk back. Mariano’s provided bags with food,and we were given a bottle of water along with some vanilla Gatorade drink. Next up I saw the 312 beer. I hate beer,but still insisted on grabbing one and taking a picture.
After I took one sip of the beer,it sadly needed to go in the trash, 😦 If that was a margarita,no doubt I would have drank it.
I then proceeded to get a picture in front of one of the Chicago Marathon backdrops. The Marathonfoto one looks better than mine.
I then walked over by Buckingham fountain area and had a photographer take my picture over there as well. I had plans to walk over to the Bank of America customer VIP tent area and relax till my mom finished. It took forever to get over there,and my phone was quickly dying. I was thrilled to see they had iced cold blue Gatorade! My saving grace that finally got my nausea in order. My phone had died,so I decided to head back to the hotel and shower and pack stuff up.
Overall thoughts: This experience has taught me many thing. Never give up! When you think you have nothing left in you,keep pushing through! Have faith in yourself and pray when times are tough. Take the inspiration from the crowd when needing a boost!
The big question is, would I do this again? Definitely! I’ve already thought about things I would do differently next time! 🙂