RACE DAY: Sunday, Oct. 12th. 2014
Sunday morning the alarm on the phone went off at 4:45am. It was RACE DAY! I lay in bed for a few minutes just gathering my thoughts for the day. Then I was up.
Checked the weather one last time and it was perfect!
Time to get ready for the big day I had been dreaming of.
I let the kids write their names on my arm with a permanent marker. I love seeing their handwritten names during a race with things get tough. It reminds me to not give up. Ella is such a cutie she said she wrote her name like that because there wasn't enough room. Although I hate my arm warmers for quite a bit of the race I knew it was there and I did look at it a lot the last few miles of the race. I reminded myself that I was doing this not only for myself but for all those who believed in me. It reminded me that I would see my family along the course and I wanted to be smiling and make them proud!
I ate my bagel and small banana and drank some gatorade and then had a coffee on the way out of the lobby to walk down to the race. We decided to walk, it was about 1 1/2 miles to the start which I figured would be a perfect warm-up. We should have planned a little more time as it took us a little longer with the kids.
It was a beautiful morning.
My dad and the kids
Professional photographer photo:
And where I departed ways with my family.
And it was time.
I was in corral D which was the 7:45 start time. Note to self: Plan enough time so you CAN actually use the port-a-john and get into your corral on time. By the time I made it close to my corral there was no time to use the bathroom because the line was still so long and they were about to close my corral, people were RUNNING to get in on time. If I had missed that I would have had to start in the next corral back E. Whew made it with 1 min to spare. Then we still had another 25 min of wait time in the corral.
While waiting I met these guys! They were awesome! We got each other all hyped up for the start! Having that made the nervousness go away and I started to get so excited! So thank you random runner guys, wish I knew who you were!
I threw off my long sleeve Goodwill shirt at the start and hit a guy in the head who looked my way like "WHO JUST DID THAT!", we all looked the other way and laughed so hard! They said get ready for flying clothes and don't trip on any of them at the start! Good tips for a newbie marathoner at such a big race. I was a little chilly standing there waiting but I knew I would warm up in the first few miles and didn't want to have to readjust my arm band if I had to take the shirt off later.
And then it was time, this was it, the handicap and elites went out and then the corrals started getting let off in waves. We ended up going out a little early at 7:39, but I forgot to look at the time which would have been helpful later when seeing the clock to know how many mins I should be taking off the total clock time.
The crowds were already amazing! Bursting with energy!
Be careful when running over the grids. Even though they placed a mat down in the middle of the road and girl caught her foot and wiped out about a mile into the race. Yikes! I was very careful after that when running over them.
Mile 1, I followed my plan. What was my plan? To go out the first 4 miles or so at a 9:30 pace. My long run easy pace, to slowly warm my body up and then I would slowly start chipping off time until I was running at goal pace, 9:09. And then partway into the race I needed to run at LEAST 4-6 miles under goal pace to gain the time back lost in the first few warm-up miles.
So mile 1 was great, 9:30 pace. The problem was people were flying by me. I felt like I was running way too slow, but I had to remember MY plan, remember what works for ME. Some of those people may have went out too fast with the excitement and payed for it later in the race.
The thing I didn't predict because I didn't know it would happen was because of the large buildings, bridges and underpasses, and all the people, my watch wasn't calculating my pace correctly. I looked down and I was running a 6:00 pace according to my Garmin. Bull. I pretty much know my pace by feel now. I would be laying on the side on the road had I been running 6 min miles. I thought well maybe its just this mile my watch is going to do this, but no, throughout the race it continued making it hard for me to know if I was truly on pace. I was afraid of going to fast and crashing or too slow and not hitting my goal at the end. So I did my best. By mile 2 though I guess all the excitement caught up with me also as I already did a 9:10 pace. Ooops. Then I saw my family somewhere in that miles which got me even MORE pumped up and I did a 8:52 pace at mile 3.
The one thing I noticed was that right off the bat I had like a little twinge in my knee. Nothing big but not normal. Lets hope that doesn't become a problem later I thought.
I continued to knock off time each mile and when my Garmin would beep saying it was faster I thought well now how do I know that was accurate? Ugh should have looked at clock when I went out and I would have been able to tell from large time clocks I was passing. But I did have total time on my Garmin, so I knew I was running about my goal, maybe a little fast.
Mile 4- 8:55
Mile 5- 8:52
Mile 6- 8:54
Mile 7- 8:57
Mile 8- 8:57
Mile 9- 9:07
Mile 10- 9:15
Mile 11- 8:58
Mile 12- 9:09
Already I was UNDER goal pace. The 4 hours pacer was still behind me somewhere but I wasn't sure how far. I was still running off feel too and I felt GREAT. Mile 13 was huge crowd support again and where I saw my family as you can tell by my pace.
Mile 13- 8:23
My halfway split time was 2:00:15 with a 9:08 pace so I was right on. My Garmin may have been a little off.
Not sure what I was looking at in this picture.
I continued to feel GREAT! I was having a blast! It was everything I had dreamed of!
I was smiling in almost everyone of the professional photos. I was soaking up every moment of enjoying this race. Everyone thinks because I was smiling I wasn't in pain. My motto is: When it hurts smile. Its true that overall I was feeling pretty good, but its was hard. I try to use the smile to remind my body to relax, to stay positive, to show people that I truly enjoy running; running although painful makes me feel FREE, and I really was having a blast!
Mile 15- 9:09
Mile 16- 9:27
Mile 17- 9:08
Mile 18- 9:01
LOL the look I have on my face in this picture! The guys behind me looks like he's about to blow chunks or deep breathing for labor, breath in, breath out. I'm like "Hey dude keep it down back there, your throwing off my mojo".
Mile 19- 9:17
Mile 20- 9:02
I believe it was somewhere around mile 20 or 21 that the pacer caught up behind me. Good thing was we were in single digit countdown now and knowing I was still on pace was great. But the fact that they caught up mean now if I wanted to STAY on pace I HAD to stick with them. I was just starting to feel some stiffness in my legs and hips by then but nothing too big, still felt great.
But remember that "twinge" I felt at the beginning of the race? Well that was catching up with me. It continued to get worse with each mile. Very frustrating because its not something I experienced during training and other then that I felt so good at that point.
I know everyone talks about "the wall" you hit at some point. You body depleted of energy and you feel like you can't go on. Well I never felt like I hit that wall as far as energy goes, it was only the knee pain that slowed my down because it got so bad after 22 or so that I could no longer keep up with the 4 hour pacers. It killed to know it was just because of that. At that point I was just like don't stress over the time, JUST FINISH. Fight your hardest.
Chinatown was amazing! Loved running through there!
I tried to soak up the energy and started high-fiving kids and shouting with the crowds! These pictures crack me up to look at them! But you do what you gotta do and races pictures are not always pretty like you think!
Mile 24 got bad FAST. I was limping at that point and it took everything not to just walk. My knee hurt sooo bad!
By mile 25 I was walking. But the thing is walking didn't make it feel any better, in fact it felt worse. I would run some then walk but then starting again hurt so bad I decided it was easy to just keep running a slower pace and just dig deep.
I'm not sure when this photo was taken but maybe it was around this time because I wanted to cry.
I had to pull myself out of the misery state and begin pulling energy from the crowd at the point. I kept telling myself smile, shout, cheer with the crowds that were building at that point, drown out that pain and go to another place. Remember the months you have pouring into this training, the people at home tracking you on their phones and computers, the crowds cheering on random strangers reminding them to fight for this...
Remember your dream
I saw my family and started crying!!!! I just saw the beauty of where I was running. I started taking it all in again. I am so close. I am about to be a marathoner. My dream is about to come true. The best feeling in the world!!!!
Mile 24- 10:00
Mile 25-10:24(Hardest mile)
Mile 26- 10:02
Then we hit this dang hill, right at the end, right before the finish and it felt like a mountain. It was probably the smallest incline ever but it felt huge. That was the .2 miles that got you.
Then we turned the corner and there it was.
THE FINISH LINE!
I finished in 4:06:10
By the way dumping water over your head in the last few miles results in the peed your shorts look in your finish photos, oh well. At least I did what I had to do to finish. Even those arm warmers got hot at about mile 21. So to those people wearing runners leggings and long sleeves, I felt bad for you, less is more.
MY FAVORITE PHOTO
The Buckingham fountain
First selfie post race finish
Finally sat down but then almost couldn't get back up!
After I found my family we started walking back to the hotel...ok they walked, I hobbled.
I decided it was best to stop and eat before going all the way back to the hotel in fear that I would not be able to walk after that. We got into the place we originally had reservations to and had missed the night before. It was so good! So glad we got the chance to eat there.
After sitting then I was really hurting, hard to walk again, but we made it back to the hotel and I did a long epsom salt bath and then iced my knees a little later.
Yeah I was in pain, so badly that I lay in bed for over 3 hours that night not able to fall asleep, but my temporary pain was far worth it for the pride I held finishing that race.
Chicago was everything I had dreamed of.