Well hello. If you’re reading this then now you know for certain: I survived. Before I go into full throttle recap of my marathon weekend – let me just say one thing: Chicago 2015, I’ll be back.
My preparation for this may have started months ago – but last week, I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I carb loaded- a glorious process I will put into a different post. But my weekend prep started Thursday night- when I paid my physical therapist one last visit. Friday I went to the expo with Pat, and it was amazing – I was like a kid in a candy store. I have been to a lot of expos – never a marathon expo – and it was insane – I was literally running up and down the aisles.
I obviously had to get my picture taken/take as many pictures as possible….it being my first marathon and what-not.
I picked up my packet, did some shopping, signed a big #ownchicago sign – it was magnificent. From going mid-afternoon on Friday I missed long lines, and crowded booths. I was able to easily navigate the expo, and stop by all the booths I wanted to. So overall it was amazing, and enjoyable.
After the expo Pat and I made our way to 9th and Wabash, where Nike had a pop-up store, and were doing special t-shirt orders – they had gotten the screens for a lot of run clubs, so you were able to customize your shirt which was really awesome. They also had a happy hour from 4-6pm, and runners from clubs all over the world were there – so it was great to meet runners from Amsterdam, Russia, NYC etc.
After this – my run club had their annual pizza/pasta party at Connies – a local pizza joint (and a delicious one). Again runners from all over the world were gathered here – there was so much camaraderie, and excited packed into one room – it was such a great night.
On Saturday I did a shakeout run with nike – and you guessed it – ran with runners from all over the world – we started at the Nike store on Michigan Avenue, and ran down to our “old” Venados meeting spot.
Where we were greeted with friendly faces, and some Greater Than Coconut water. After our run we made our way over to the expo to take a big group photo in front of the “OWNCHICAGO” sign. Saturday was a super fun day – my mom came into town, I saw one of my good friends who was there with her husband, and cutie of a baby- who my mom and I later had lunch with. After my mom and I got settled and had lunch we went out with some of my friends to watch the MSU game (I was so good – I ONLY drank water), and see Pat for a bit to finalized their marathon travel plans.
After the game, my mom and I stopped at Walgreens and Noodles and Co. We decided on the Walgreens stop because leading up to the marathon I had been battling the beginnings of a cold so I got the basics- tissues, sudafed etc, but we also purchased a GIANT red and black balloon that said “I LOVE YOU”. I’ll explain this more later.
Both Friday and Saturday nights I slept well, and was up very early on Sunday. I had laid out my clothes, and cooked some oatmeal the night before. For the low low price of $25 I purchased a ticket for one of the hospitality suites at the nearby Congress Hotel- this allowed me to be with my run club prior to lining up, and gave me a warm place to go potty, and stretch – there was food and coffee -but by the time I arrived at 5:45 – I was too nervous to eat. All I managed to do was use the bathroom, drink water, and stretch.
This part – was easily the hardest part of my day – THE WAITING. I arrived to the suite at 5:45, and left the suite to line up around 7:15-7:20, I started running around 8:15. So for 2 1/2 hours – I essentially waited. I essentially spent two hours wondering if it was too late to back out. I kind of got over that once my wave made its way to the start.
Overall the race, was not my best performance. The only miles that something on my body didn’t hurt- were the first three. Around mile 4 my left hip was really aching – it felt like it needed to crack – but wouldn’t, by mile 6 it was radiating down my leg, knee, and calf, and I legitimately remember thinking at the 10k “how the f#$k am I going to make it 20 more miles”, fortunately the pain was coming in waves, started to die down a bit around mile 12-14. Around mile 16 my knees really acted up – and by mile 17 I had to stop and walk for the first time – trying to massage my IT Bands, and hips.
I stopped at an aid station in Pilsen – all they were able to do – was make my tape already on my knee worse. The same thing happened again at mile 21- where the aids “Franken-taped” my knees. It didn’t help not even a bit, and by mile 24 I ripped all the tape off. Around mile 22 I was ready to jump in front of the train, and by mile 24 I was so happy to see Michigan Avenue that I was numb – I could have hugged the pavement. At that point I knew I was going to finish. When I got to the last mile I don’t know how my body was able to make it up that hill, or how it was able to truck down Columbus – that was all irrelevant when I saw the finish line. When I saw the finish line my pain was gone, (don’t worry it came back as soon as I stopped running). In fact I was so excited that when the volunteer put my finisher medal on me- I kind of flopped over and gave her an uncomfortably long hug.
Because I got the hospitality suite at the Congress, my mom and Pat were a short walk away from the finish, so once I collected all of my food and water treasures I made the snail crawl over there.
The course was amazing – and I am already excited for 2015- I WILL be on that course. I attribute the issues I had to a pissed off hip flexor and then my gait changed to compensate hence issues with my knees.
But I’m over that.
The positives and the highlights:
1) The course, I know there are a lot of other amazing marathons out there, and I am sure I’m a little biased, but I can’t imagine a more exciting, more scenic, more amazing course out there.
A few of my favorite places were: on Sedgwick between Webster, and North Ave- that was such a gorgeous stretch with the tree lined streets, there were people out on the street handing out popsicles. I also really enjoyed the stretch on Adams street around the half mark, although I got a little excited – too excited- around the half and got a little bit caught up in the crowd and sped up a bit – fortunately I calmed back down and it evened out.
And lastly – gotta give it up to Pilsen. People warned me about how much excitement the crowd would exude in Boystown – but no one warns you about Pilsen. Pilsen was wild! I’m not being biased because my club was in Pilsen – in Pilsen I LITERALLY could NOT hear my music on my iPod the crowd, and the music were SO LOUD.
Some other amazing highlights were seeing my mom and Pat at Mile 9 and 17 – this is where the big balloon came in – they were easy to spot from that God-awful balloon.
I saw (very unexpectedly) a friend at mile 1.5, and another friend at mile 21- who had made a beautiful sign for me (thanks again Tara!!), and another friend at mile 24 – who did me the great honor of not taking a photo (bless you Brittney).
All in all – while I didn’t run the way I had pictured – IT WAS A GREAT DAY.
And it wasn’t just about Sunday – a lot went into this endeavor – and I couldn’t have done it without my friends, and family. I ran over 500 miles in training for this, I missed parties, outings, I was grumpy, I was chafed, I had acid reflux struggles, toenail casualties, I tested Pat with my insanity at times, and I’m sure I tested a great many with my sleep deprivation.
Chicago 2015 is a go, I’ve already made up my mind. Next question….
Spring Marathon?……… 😉