This post title came from a close friend and not a marathon poster, but I loved it! What a great way to describe a marathon. Because every step you take and corner you round, leads to another exciting moment and marathon memory!
All of which begins 8 months before when you sign up for this great race! But the real excitement begins at the expo. And is followed by a day of prep, planning, and organization. On race day, all of your hard work is behind you and it’s time to just focus and enjoy the ride.
My race day started at 4:40am, when my alarm went off. Despite the early hour, I didn’t even hit snooze. All of my stuff was set up the night before (which led to many comments from my family about my crazy need for organization), so I got dressed, picked up my bag, grabbed my breakfast, and got into the car with my parents who drove me from Lakeview (we stayed with some friends) down to Grant Park. I found my way to the Charity Village entrance. Since I was there early (5:15am), I sat down on the sidewalk to enjoy my overnight oats with a few other runners, also eating oatmeal from tuperware.
When charity village opened at 5:30am, I was one of the first to arrive at the St. Jude tent. I was met with a round of cheers (even at this early hour) and gladly entered the heated tent packed with snacks and supplies for any runners’ needs.
I used the bathroom, twice, chatted with some of the other heroes, and at 6:15am, the group of us running in wave 1 walked to the starting line corrals.
Pre race selfie!
There were some extra security measures, but the morning went smoothly. On the way to the corrals, I chatted with other new heroes and loved all of the sweet people that I met and the stories that they shared. On the way in, I linked up with two other heroes running in corral D with me. We were able to fit in two more bathroom breaks and get to know each other while we waited for the 7:20am start. There was a moment of silence for the runners of Boston which was emotional and then the national anthem. There were some problems with the microphones which meant that the lyrics were fading in and out. What gave me chills was when all of the runners began singing along and filling in the gaps, softly but confidently, it was a really cool feeling!
When the gun sounded, the elite runners hit the pavement and my new friends and I all shared Good Luck wishes for sub 4 marathons (all of our goals). When I crossed the start line, I put on my game face and got down to business. The game plan…run the first 10 miles at 8:30 min/miles, run the next 10 miles as close to 9 minute miles as possible, and hope for the best for the last 6 miles. Unfortunately, we went under a HUGE tunnel before mile 2 and I lost my Garmin reception. When I emerged, I lost time and distance and my watch started switching between 5 and 11 minute miles. I knew I wasn’t running 5 minute miles and hoped that I wasn’t running 11 minute miles. I tried to get my watch on track but in the end decided to find a comfortable pace and reset my watch at mile 3.
My family and I had a good plan to see each other, so I hugged the right side of Clark St heading south and was ecstatic to see my Mom and Dad on the side of the road cheering me on and handing me Nuun water. I was running speedy and maintained my desired pace until mile 10ish. At that point, I stated having trouble eating my Honey Stinger blocks and my stomach felt like it might cramp up. It was a total bummer since I’d had no tummy troubles in all of my training. I hit the half way point with no idea of what my split was and continued to drink water, possibly too much.
I saw my parents, along with the BOY around mile 17 and they told me I was running 8:45 minute/miles based on the text messages they were getting. Wow! That was way too fast and my stomach was on the verge of loosing it. Around this time, I found myself with the 3:45 pace group and my legs were starting to feel heavy. I begged my parents for more Nuun and time updates while the BOY snapped unflattering pictures of me.
Help! My watch isn’t working!
I need some water!
I swear, usually I am smiling and thanking the spectators…especially my family! Somewhere, my dad has video of me doing this, but I don’t have it to post and share. I continued to push for 9 minute miles until mile 20. And then reevaluated my strategy. I knew that I didn’t train to run a 3:45 marathon and that I needed to slow down. I started off too fast and wasn’t taking in enough fuel. My legs hurt like crazy!
Although I had no idea what time I started, I knew that if I could finish the race at 4 hours on the clock time, then I would have run a sub 4 marathon. So I kept that in mind as I slogged through the last 4 miles, walking through water stations and then trudging through the miles one foot in front of the other. I never wanted to quit, but used the children of St. Jude to motivate me through those tough miles.
I had enough left to push up the last ‘hill’ passing a bunch of people along the way and kick it into gear finishing right around 4 hours on the clock. I knew that I had PRed, but had NO idea what my finishing time was. The coolest thing about the marathon is that even though I wanted to collapse (and there were plenty of people to catch me if I did), I pushed forward to claim my medal and get wrapped up in plastic. When I thought that I didn’t want to hold my wrap, there was someone there with tape to close it, and I knew I needed some water and a snack, and there was someone to hand it to me. And when I thought I couldn’t hold another thing, they handed me a plastic bag. And when I had an empty hand, they filled it with a beer : ) Two people from out of the country separately mentioned to me how much they love the Chicago marathon.
The only difficulty that I had was finding my way back home to Charity village. I met up with one of my pre race hero friend and as we tried to navigate our way north to get south, I spotted my Mom and the BOY! The BOY said that he remembered two years ago that walking back to the village on my own was the hardest part of the race and so he said I shouldn’t have do that again. It was such a great surprise to see them and their excitement as they shouted out to my final time…3:54:17! Since signing up for this race, I had in my head that I wanted to shoot for 3:55, so I was beyond excited! I hobbled back to the village, accompanied by my fans.
I was met with a huge energetic welcome from the St. Jude volunteers! I probably should have done some stretching, but was trying my best to keep it all pulled together. I drank some water and took bites of food but didn’t finish anything. I tried to motivate myself to get moving again when sitting made me just so happy!
Sub three my friends!
Woo hoo! I posed for a few photos and then bundled up before trekking to the train station to head back up to the north side of the city.
My walking wasn’t pretty and the stairs up and down were brutal! I have to say that 2 days later, my quads are still burning! We had a feast of pizza complete with Fall Mosas (apple cider + champagne = pure genius!).
My running buddy from last weekend (and close friend of my bro’s) came by to celebrate with us. She finished her first marathon which was super impressive! Everyone laughed at the tales of our journey from start to finish.
By 5 in the afternoon, I was ready to pass out, so luckily my parents were driving us back to the suburbs. They joined the BOY and I at Yogurtland for some delish fall flavors and high calorie toppings. It was the perfect dessert! And a good way to wrap up a LONG and eventful day!
The BOY and I crashed into bed at 9pm and slept easily through the night!
I’ve had a fear since signing up for this race in February that I would have a Sophomore Slump. I’m not sure why, but my training started off tough and slow. After my second 20 miler, I was feeling confident and prepared. Thankfully, all of the cards aligned for a beautiful race day and a successful PR! Post race reflections still to come…still more sleep is needed!
Half Marathon 1:51:47
Average Pace 8:57
Overall Place 9868 (out of ~37,000)
Is anyone else running fall marathons?
How’d they go?