I felt like I’d been waiting for race morning all week. I had spent all summer laser focused on the Chicago Marathon and by chance found myself in town most of the week for work. This turned out to be both good and bad, I think. Good because I was able to get acclimated and such. Bad because the travel took me out of my normal routine – and I had two sleepless nights because of noise outside my hotel room. Luckily, I switched rooms and floors and then slept fine in the couple of nights leading up to the race. But anyway, I’m excited to share my Chicago Marathon recap – I started writing this in my head during the race.
Race morning started bright and early. I met up with my friend Deb and we headed to the RMHC tent. I’ll be writing separately about the RMHC experience but it was amazing. We had plenty of time to use the bathroom, fuel up and get ready for the race. Finally it was time to head to the corrals. It was a gorgeous day and I was nervous but ready to run.
The race started off after a bit of a wait in the corrals, but before I knew it we were off! I turned off auto lap and my plan was to just hit the lap button at each mile marker. This worked relatively well but the first few miles downtown were still a bit wonky. I wanted to start slower and run within myself to not get too excited. I couldn’t tell if the pace on my watch was accurate because I knew the GPS was wrong. I should’ve just looked at the time only. I came up on Pam from Two Runners Travel early in mile 1 and was excited to say hi. I’ve been just missing or quickly spotting Pam and Christine both at races for a couple of years now, so it was nice to say hi and chat for a minute. The tracker says I came through the 5k in 30 minutes and a 9:50 pace. After saying bye to Pam, I trucked along and saw a couple of Oiselle singlets ahead of me. I caught up with Katie, a fellow bird, and we hung together for a couple of miles, just chatting and having fun. All the chatting caused me to slow down just a hair and I came through the 10k in 1:01.
The next seven miles were pretty uneventful in terms of the actual race. I felt good – not great – but good and my pace settled in to a 9:36ish range. There were so many people out cheering, which I really appreciated. I was surprised though, because I didn’t feel like the course was super crowded. Yes – I was aware that I was running with my 40,000 new best friends. But I didn’t feel hemmed in or boxed in at all, which was really really nice. I saw my first set of friends right at the 13 mile marker – blogger buds Wendy and Marcia – thanks for being there ladies! I crossed the half at 2:07:58 and felt really good. I had some friends and colleagues coming up on the course so I was getting excited. My legs felt like I was working but I didn’t feel tired. I also didn’t feel thirsty. This would later come back and bite me in the butt. I was drinking very little water / Tailwind from my handheld water bottle. Oops!
I continued to feel great as I was running and after I crossed the half, I had a number of fun things to look forward to. One of my work colleagues was at mile 16, my Oiselle teammates were at mile 17 and my boss was at mile 19. So my motivation was to just get to the next friend. I ran some of my fastest miles during this stretch and felt amazing. I loved running through Pilsen – there was SO much energy. Right before mile 20, I spotted my boss and that was fantastic because I was just starting to cramp. I hit the 30k right at 3:00:44, which put me on pace for a 4:2x finish. I knew at this point my 4:10 was out the window, and also realized that with the quad cramps, I’d slow down so just tried to make sure I could come in before 4:30.
These miles were the worst of the race for me. My cramping was pretty intense at this point – I even stopped at a medical tent to try and get some relief — I’ve never done this within a race. I’m actually really lucky that the medic let me hop back into the race quickly – he kindly ignored protocol and let me go. At this point, I was just in extreme pain but kept pushing myself to fight through it. I reasoned that it hurt as much to run as it did to walk, so I might as well try and run the best I could. I hit the 35k in 3:34 and the 40k in 4:14. Two good things happened during this stretch. One – I keep moving forward. I’ve had bad cramps one time before while racing (Richmond in 2014) and they pretty much derailed my race. I was determined not to let this happen this time. Two – I saw friends at miles 23 and 24. That honestly was incredible and so needed. Finally I reached the 800m to go marker. I thought to myself, “okay just two laps around the track, I can do that.” Then we turned right one final time and headed up the small incline towards the finish. I was not pleased that after 26.1 miles of FLAT FLAT FLAT, the race was giving us an incline in the final tenth of a mile. Not awesome but it was short, so that was okay. Finally – I reached the finish! Marathon number seven was done.
Final time: 4:29:21.
While I did not reach my A goal or my B goal, I’m really quite pleased with how I was able to hold on to come in under 4:30 when I had some unexpected problems late in the race. I am pretty sure I can pinpoint exactly what went wrong – my under fueling early in the race was a big mistake that came back and bit me in the butt. I’m very proud of my 21+ minute PR and thrilled to see my hard work pay off. I’m still figuring out what exactly is next for me so more on that to come. I’ll also be sharing more thoughts on the Hanson’s method and on running for a charity over the next couple of weeks.
Tell me about your goal race this year – did you hit your goal?