Sunday, October 16, 2016

Chicago Marathon Recap

Exactly one week ago, I finished the Chicago Marathon! I am still in awe of completing such an amazing accomplishment. I would have written this blog post sooner but unfortunately I got really sick right after the race and it has taken me a bit to recover. My poor husband got it worse than I did. He actually had to go to urgent care today to get some antibiotics. I was starting to feel under the weather a few days before the race, like the day before we even flew out to Chicago. I remember telling my husband that I felt it coming. Given how hard a marathon is on your body, I knew the second I was done with the race, my immune system would take a hit and I'd get sick. Sure enough that very night after the race by throat was hurting and I was starting to feel congested.

Anyways, back to my race recap! I want to start off by saying Chicago is amazing. This was my second time visiting the city and I fell in love with it even more this time around. I wanted to go to the expo on Friday before the race that way I would have all day Saturday to relax. Luckily there was a free shuttle from our hotel room to the convention center where the expo was being held. I am not really one to linger too much at expos mostly because they can be pretty jam packed and I just don't like feeling like a sardine in a can. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how spacious the Chicago Marathon Expo was. Not once did I feel crammed. The plan was to get my bib, buy a commemorative jacket and then high tail it out of there. We kinda did that but I managed to convince my husband that I needed a new Garmin. It helped that they had a special price during the expo. Afterwards we ended up getting a Lyft ride back to our hotel since the shuttles were taking too long. We already had plans for that night and we just didn't have time to waste.

Our hotel was super close to both the start and finish line. I actually had never had the pleasure of sleeping in and just walk to my start line on race day. It was nice since I had the luxury of using a real bathroom before the start of the marathon. No porta potty for me! I told my husband to sleep in and not worry about going with me to the start. He of course was more than excited to hear that! It was like music to his ears. Actually only runners were allowed into the park where our corrals were located. There was security everywhere checking to make sure only runners with bibs were allowed inside.

Once I was in my corral the nerves just kicked into overdrive! The heart was pounding and the butterflies were kicking in big time. I was actually able to see the sunrise towards the lake which helped calm my nerves a bit. I was in wave 2 which I knew meant it would take awhile to get me to the start. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how fast everything went. I really didn't wait that long after the first wave considering my corral was towards the end. Another bonus was the weather. It was great! I couldn't have asked for better weather throughout the marathon. The temp was in the 50s and sunny. I did have a throwaway long sleeved t-shirt to keep me warm until the race started but I quickly got rid of that.

At a little after 8:00am it was my time to start! It was go time! I have a really close friend of mine who had run the marathon a few years back and she told me I would love the course. Well she was 100% correct. From the beginning to the end, there was not one part of the course where fans/supporters were out there cheering us on. I couldn't even listen to my music during certain parts of the course because they were cheering so loud! I think I was smiling from ear to ear the first six miles. I was in awe of how amazing the fans/supporters were.  I didn't even realize how fast I was going until my friend text me saying my 5K was a sub 9 minute pace. I blame the fans. Their cheers were pushing me to keep going. I knew I was going out way too fast but I felt great so I just told myself to just keep listening to my body. Before I knew I had reached the half way point (13.1 miles) and my watch said 1:58! I was elated at that time but I knew then that I wouldn't be able to maintain that pace. At that point, I was also looking for my husband. We had talked about meeting up at mile 13 but I couldn't find him. Since my pace was a lot faster than we both anticipated, he had missed me so he just went straight to mile 16.

I can't even express how ecstatic I was to see my husband at mile 16. He cheered me on for a bit, even ran by my side for a minute. The smile on my face from the picture he took of me pretty much sums up how great I was feeling up to that point. I can say with all honestly that when mile 18 came along I was hating life. I was no longer smiling. I didn't think I would hit my wall that soon but I did. I wasn't cramping up but my body was starting to just shut down on me. The legs felt tired and I could feel my shoulders tense up. I wasn't even sweating anymore and needed to find a restroom STAT. I was getting a bit scared that I might be showing signs of heat stroke so I started to walk at the aid stations instead of running through them like I had done. I made sure to eat all my gels and ate bananas when offered to me. I knew I had to run smart from that point on. The last few miles were slow...a lot slower than I wanted. I was calculating my pace and realized I could still get my goal time if I pushed through the pain. Getting to that time helped me to speed up a bit. The closer I got to the finish line the louder it got from people cheering. It was exactly what I needed to cross and finish strong. When I looked down at my watch and saw 4:14 I started to cry. I had beat my goal time and reached a marathon PR!

The Chicago Marathon has now become my favorite race EVER! I don't know if it was a combination of the flat course, the awesome fans, or my marathon PR but I think the main reason I loved this race was because all my hard work paid off. All those months of putting in the work, all those months of waking up early, were all worth it. At the finish line I was given my medal and I all I could do was just stare at it. This is what I had trained for the last five months. Since I was a bit dehydrated, drinking that beer felt so refreshing. All I wanted to do was find my husband, hug him and thank him for all the support during my training.

I don't have any plans of running a marathon any time soon, but I would definitely do this one again for these reasons:
  • The expo was great.
  • There was security patrolling during the entire race so I felt safe the whole course.
  • I loved my medal, my t-shirt, and my free swag.
  • There was a perfect amount of aid stations.
  • During the course there was plenty of porta potties if needed.
  • I've mentioned this many times already but the support from fans was unreal!
  • The race is organized so well considering it is a very massive undertaking.
  • The beer at the end, Goose Island!
  • Free massages at the post race party (sadly I didn't partake in this)

So what now?
I am not sure.
All I know is that I am a marathoner once again and I am loving life!

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I am linking up with Amanda from Running with Spoons