This post is
a little a lot overdue and it is VERY long (sorry, not sorry?!). To be honest, I’m not sure why it took me so long to finally sit down and write this. It was a great experience, one I am very excited to share. I think part of my delay has to do with not knowing how I could possibly capture the amazingness I experienced that weekend in words, but here goes…
On Friday, October 10th I flew to Chicago with my mom.
When we got to Chicago we checked into the Hilton Hotel where we were staying then took a shuttle to the expo so I could pick up my race bib. We met up with my friend/teammate Shawnessy and we also saw Pamela at the Sparkly Soul booth and Jess.
I ended up buying a North Face zip up Chicago Marathon sweatshirt to wear after the race. After the expo my mom and I went to dinner at Sunda, a delicious Asian fusion restaurant recommended by my friend Diana. It did not disappoint!
Saturday morning I met Shawnessy for an easy 3 mile run. We ran to the bean and took some touristy shots.
After the run I went back to the hotel, stretched then my mom & I met Jess to go to brunch. We went to a vegan restaurant called Karyn’s Cooked and Shawnessy met us there. I had the Rainbow Mexicana- tofu scramble, onion, red pepper, green pepper, yellow pepper and jalapeño. Served with warm corn tortillas and sides of chipotle sauce and soy cheese. Mmm, mmm, good! When we finished brunch, Jess and I stopped at Trader Joes to get a few essentials then went back to the hotel to rest.
A few hours later I met Jess to get a pre-race manicure. After my mom and I went to dinner with some of my friends/Central Park Track Club teammates at Rosebud Theater District. It took a LONG time to get our food and we were starving, but it was good. I kept it simple with a gluten free spaghetti with tomato sauce and spinach. When I got home from dinner I laid out my race outfit and prepared my bag for the morning. The weather was looking good-it was supposed to be in the 50s and the winds would mostly be behind us.
I got into bed relatively early and was surprisingly able to sleep for a few hours. When my alarm went off at 5:00am I pressed snooze to rest for a few more minutes then got out of bed, ate breakfast, and got ready to go. I didn’t feel like I was about to run a marathon, but it was happening in a few hours. I met Jess in the lobby of the hotel and we walked over to the start together. Luckily our hotel was close to the start so we got there relatively quickly, but had to wait in a little bit of a line to get into the start village.
Jess and I wished each other good luck then she headed to the corrals and I went to go meet Meredith, Kristen, and Shawnessy by the bag check. I waited for a few minutes then Meredith and Kristen arrived, but we couldn’t find Shawnessy unfortunately. We had to use the bathroom so we headed that way and hoped we would find her in the corral. The bathroom lines were out of control long so we found a hidden area where other people were squatting and joined the pee party then headed to the corral with less than 10 minutes to spare. Apparently I didn’t pee enough because the second we got to the corral I had to pee again, but I chalked it up to pre-race jitters and hoped it would go away. Spoiler alert: I had to pee the whole race and even tried to pee on myself at one point, but I couldn’t manage to do it.
I still didn’t really feel like I was about to run a marathon, but the gun went off and it was time to run! Meredith and I started out together. We both wanted to break 3:20 and our plan was to run a few seconds slower for the first 10 miles then try to pick up the pace. I tried to get into a rhythm, focus on my breathing and not get caught up in the fast pace that other people around me were going. I had heard the satellite would be messed up for the first few miles because of the buildings and it was so I tried to go by feel and not look at my watch. We saw my mom around mile 3 and I was so excited to see her! Meredith and I worked together and were able to stay just around the pace we wanted, 7:35-7:40. At around mile 8 I slowed down just a little because we were going a little faster than I wanted to, but I could still see Meredith in front of me. By mile 10 I had caught back up to her and we continued to work together as we ticked off the miles. We saw my mom again around mile 13 then shortly after we saw Meredith’s family. We also saw Ben (Kristen’s husband & our teammate) cheering. Chicago is a great course for spectators!
The miles were flying by! Meredith and I were still running together as we approached the 18 mile marker and we were still on pace to run under 3:20. I was feeling strong mentally and physically and I was surprised with how, dare I say “easy” it felt, well all things considering. I really worked on the mental component this training cycle so it was nice to see all the pieces falling into place. I also read an article about “embracing the suck” so my mantra all race was embrace the suck. I was actually waiting for the pain to start instead of fearing away from it and of course it did. Meredith and I managed to run 23 miles together, which was amazing, but she started to pick up the pace and I couldn’t stay with her unfortunately. So I focused on picking up my feet, my breathing, and getting to my mom who would be cheering somewhere near the finish.
I saw Ben cheering again around mile 25 and that gave me a little boost, but I was pretty tired and my pace had slowed down a little bit. I heard Ben cheer for Shawnessy and shortly after she came up next to me. We ran for a minute or two together, but she was going faster than I could manage at that point so I tried to keep her in my sight as I continued to run towards the finish line. I heard my mom screaming my name a little before mile 26 and was so glad to see her because that meant I was almost finished. I made a right onto Roosevelt Road and ran up what felt like a monster hill as I passed the 26 mile marker, which is just mean at that point in a marathon. I managed to pick up the pace a little as I was still hoping to get under 3:20, but it would be close. I made a left onto Columbus Dr. and I could see the finish line getting closer and closer. Why is it that the .2 always feels forever long? At that point it was clear that I wasn’t going to make it under 3:20, but I would be damned if I didn’t get under 3:21 so I ran as fast as I possibly could and crossed the finish line in a time of 3:20:45. I was disappointed that I didn’t reach my goal, especially since I was on pace almost the entire race, but I had a 4 minute PR and I hadn’t PRed in a marathon since 2009 so I really couldn’t be too upset. I must give a special shoutout to my good friend Katie Casto-Hynes for making my Chicago training plan and being such a great support and believer in me throughout this training cycle. Thanks again Katie!
I found Shawnessy and Meredith and we made our way to the baggage check then went to the family reunion area to meet up with Kristen, Ben, and my mom.
We went back to the hotel and I attempted to stretch-ouch! After I took a long shower then my mom and I grabbed a quick bite before meeting up with my teammates and some other friends at Public House to celebrate.
We hung out at the bar for a while then my mom and I went back to the hotel. We relaxed for a little while then went to dinner at a delicious Mediterranean restaurant called Kurah. The night ended with some vegan chocolate sorbet in bed.
Sorry that was
so extremely long. The Chicago Marathon is the closet I’ve ever come to running the “perfect” race if there is such a thing. I will break 3:20 in 2015 though so stay tuned…
Have you ever run a “perfect” race? What’s your best marathon experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below.