Monday, October 12, 2015
Race day! The Chicago Marathon!
Honestly, the security moved pretty quickly. This is me prior to saying good bye to tony and getting in line. I had my throw away coat and my gloves and UCAN to take 30 minutes before. I left an hour and 15 minutes before my corral closed, and was through and inside in plenty of time. Of course our hotel was only 2 blocks off of the park, so that made it sure easy and quick.
I had taken a few pics before we loaded in. We could hear the announcements at the beginning of the race as the wheel chair athletes left and the elites. It was very exciting even if we couldn't see the start!
This was the last pic i took before my touch screen on my phone decided not to work anymore. I was super bummed and totally forgot about trying to force quit it (which is what finally made it work again after i googled the problem when we were at the airport). I guess in a way it helped me stay focused and enjoy myself versus taking pics and listening to music. Honestly, there was so much cheering, bands, djs and people running to talk to that i didn't need any music. Tony had planned on being on the course at several spots, but he missed me every time. I am hoping for some good pics from the marathon photo people at a premium cost :)
At the start of the race, I wasn't nervous, I was just ready to get started. About a mile in, it hit me that i needed to PEE NOW. I had taken my UCAN about 30 minutes before the race and I guess it went straight through me. I saw guys off peeing under the underpasses, but no women squatting. Hmmm. About the time I was about to panic, I saw a bank of porta potties. It may have taken about 3 or so minutes to pee and get back on the course. What is funny is that my watch had been freaking out and telling me I was running a 4 minute miles. It had hit 3 miles before I had gone 30 minutes, so I knew there was NO way it was correct AT ALL! I had no music or way to take pictures, and I had no reliable watch to gauge pace by. I had a brief moment of panic, but then told myself oh well, just enjoy what you can do and run by feel. Apparently my feel got me ahead of the pace group I had intended on staying with, so by stopping to pee, they had caught up with me and I was with them. Whew. The pace group participants had bibs on their back, so I was able to keep with them throughout the race and keep them in my sights.
The race itself was AMAZING! So many crowds, so much cheering. I so wish I had pictures because I saw so many cool things. All the neighborhoods came out big time, and all of the areas had people/kids/dogs cheering. There were maybe two spots that the cheering was thin, but there would also be one or two people clapping, making noise, or holding up funny signs. There was always someone handing out something whether it be ice, pretzels, candy, or orange slices. Anything you would need was there. Even Vaseline for chaffing and sponges for cooling off. All of the aid stations were very well manned with first aid tents and gatorade first, and porta potties and water after that. Truly as everyone says, the training is way worse than the actual race! I was able to run and not worry about anything!!! There was even a Nuun stop along the way, about the time I had started sweating super salty. They were like little angels. My biggest debate on starting was whether or not to carry a hand held with some Nuun, since that is what I trained with. I can't do gatorade and gels and not puke. I had decided not do have any hand held stuff and just drink water, so it was so nice to get some on course.
Most of the race I just spent running with my thoughts. I did hear some people cheering for Team Beef (the jersey I was wearing). I knew I should have put my name on my bib, but I totally forget to grab a sharpie. Most people who had their name on their shirt or bib got lots of cheers. The scenery was really amazing, but I am not from a big city, so that kind of thing is fun for me to look at. I found for a stretch of time I was always near one lady pace wise, so I struck up a conversation with her. She was sort of chatty, but then got her phone out and started doing something with it, so I took that as a signal that she was done talking. She was from Chicago, so she was a good tour guide as we ran together for several miles. Honestly, at that point, I kind of needed someone to talk to. I also loved the blue line that they had painted on the road for the tangents. I assume this was done for the elites, but it sure did help me. Instead of my mantra being "strong" or "comfortable hard" it was more like "follow the blue line, follow the blue line". I kept waiting for the wall to come, but I never did find it, and I am thankful for that. I stayed hydrated, especially at the end, when I would take a cup from the first table or two, drink two big gulps and pour the rest over my head and then another one from the last table and do the same. I of course chaffed majorly thanks to this strategy, but it was worth it. I also fueled according to my plan at mile 8ish, 12ish, 16ish and then again at 20. I honestly couldn't get another dose down at 24, as my stomach said not only no, but hell no. I compromised and took one chomp versus the three. I finished a little slower than I started, but not because i was tired, mainly because at that point there were SO many people walking that i was weaving in and out of people constantly. In a sick twist of humor, the only big hill was at the end. That was also at then end of the section that people could cheer from, so it was very quiet. The medical personal and security guards cheered for us though, which was nice. I wasn't able to pick up the pace across the finish because of the crowds, but I am hoping that means good finish pictures:) All in all I was very proud of how I ran. I felt good the whole time and I listened to my body and gave it what it needed. I did have to take two restroom breaks and I know that affected my time. My A goal was a 4:30 and I finished with a 4:45:38 but I will take it for my first, and it will give me a goal to work for, for my next one.
Then the real marathon began. I had been warned of this, so I knew it was coming but it still sucked. We were funneled through the chute were we got our water, bananas, protein shakes, medals and heat blankets. We were also give wet wash clothes, which was nice for wiping sweat/salt off of my face. Tony and I had planned on meeting at the runner's meet up area under the letter C. Well, Tony had gotten on a train and was still in China Town which was 8 miles away. He was walking towards me, but so many of the roads were blocked off that he couldn't get to me. So after shuffling for what seemed like a mile, I then stood at a sign and waited and waited and waited. I couldn't use my phone and there was a band playing very loudly, so I couldn't hear when I tried to call him using the voice commands. I couldn't access my GPS on my phone, so couldn't find my way back to the hotel and couldn't find my land markers (the Trump towers). To make matters worse, we had a late check out and had to get all of our stuff packed and me showered. I finally put my big girl panties on, shuffled and fast as I could to a security guard, got directions back to my hotel, and shuffled back as fast as my little legs would take me. I got back to my hotel at 2:30, took a cold shower, packed, and got everything out of the hotel and into the lobby by 2:58. Whew. Tony walked up as I was turning in the keys. We then headed to the train and got back to O Hare. After standing in the security line for over an hour, we finally got through and got to eat. I didn't realize that both of us had not eaten since very early that morning, and both of us were starving! What is funny is that was probably our most expensive meal, but oh so good and worth it. After that we had plenty of time to get my phone fixed, call and talk to everyone, and nap before getting on the plane and heading home.
All in all I had an amazing experience and can't wait to do it again. I was pretty sore yesterday post race, but am not that bad today. I am trying to stay hydrated with my all day Nuun drink that i got at the expo. I got a huge blister on my big toe of my right foot, and was sore in my ankle area where I always hurt, but nothing too bad. Nothing that a week off and some cross training won't fix. I am thankful to my parents for coming out and taking care of andrew, so we didn't have to take him with us. Tony and i enjoyed a mini vacation and just laying around resting my legs versus chasing a 3 year old around. We got to watch two FULL football games while resting which is unheard of at home. I can't wait to enter lotteries for next year and would do Chicago again in a heartbeat!!! MCM, please let me in next year, please, please!!!!
I can now proudly say, I AM A MARATHONER!!!!!