So, we are one week and one day post marathon. It is time for a recap.
Race day started out at 4:30 AM. I slept well-ish. When I was sleeping I was sleeping well but I woke up quite a few times. I’m not going to lie I was very nervous. I felt undertrained and doubtful I could do it. I got up and got ready as quietly as I could, the husband and I were staying with my cousin and her husband and I didn’t feel like they would appreciate the 4:30 AM disturbance. I got changed, made breakfast and packed up all my things. We had scheduled a cab for 5:15 AM. My cousin doesn’t live far from Grant Park (the race start) but I had no idea what to expect from the traffic or which streets would be closed. Luckily we got to the Chicago Hilton with no trouble at all, I got out and the taxi took my husband to the hotel we were going to be staying at that evening to drop off our luggage (this was a great plan btw). I was dropped off at the Chicago Hilton because my charity team UPS for DownS Endurance Team had a spot in the charity compound area. If you met your fundraising goal you were able to access this area, it offered a special bag check, bathrooms, and each charity had their own food and drink for their athletes. Let me tell you, this was AWESOME. It was warm! I was able to finish my breakfast, stretch, use the restroom several times, ha! We took a group photo around 6:30 AM and then the first wave runners found their corrals and I went back into the Hilton to hang out indoors before it was time to line up for my wave.
Trying not to look nervous!
My husband had met up with me just before the group photo and we were able to spend a little time together, he ate breakfast and I used the restroom a couple more times. Eventually, we made our way to the corral entrances. The increased security at the Chicago Marathon was blatant. In addition to bomb-sniffing dogs and hovering helicopters the people who weren’t running the marathon were unable to get anywhere near the corrals. The husband and I went out separate ways and I headed to my corral.
I showed up about 15-20 minutes before the cut-off time and spent time trying to relax, listening to the announcer, and the music. It was so exciting and surreal to be at the start of my very first marathon. We were waiting and waiting for what seemed like forever. Finally, it was time to start! I kept repeating over and over to not start out too fast, this was going to be crucial to my success. Luckily, I was able to hold myself back, despite the most perfect running weather and energetic crowds. I was so excited to be running and I was loving the crowd support. I was having a blast! The Chicago Marathon has AMAZING crowd support, people are there to party and they are having so much fun cheering for all the runners. I loved reading the creative signs people had made. (To ensure that this recap doesn’t take days to read I won’t recap mile by mile.) The first few miles ticked by so quickly, I was doing a great job pacing myself and started eating my Clif Shot Bloks at around 45 minutes. Unfortunately, the water I filled my Camelbak vest with that morning tasted terrible! I hadn’t planned to take any water/Gatorade from the aid stations but I did because of the terrible taste of my water. I was still feeling relatively strong but had to slow down a little, I saw the husband around the 13/14ish mile. We had planned on looking for one another at Mile 14 where the Charity Block Party was. The UPS for DownS team had a tent and I thought it would be a good place to look for him. He caught me a bit before that and it was such a great moment to see him, he even made me a sign. He is the best! A few miles went by. It was really strange but I wasn’t nearly as compelled to take in fuel as I was during my training runs. It was pretty strange. I was taking Gatorade at every aid station but I didn’t even eat two full sleeves of Shot Bloks. I don’t think it negatively impacted my run though. Around mile 17 was when things began to change. I had begun to have some mild IT band pain. I had experience this intermittently during training but I thought between my pre-race massage and stretching/foam rolling I would be ok but it was not to be so. The pain increased and I switched over to a 2 minute run/2 minute walk interval. This worked for a few miles but my IT band just got tighter and tighter. I stopped to stretch frequently but I was unable to maintain the 2/2. I then just ran as often and as fast as I could and speed walked when I couldn’t. I started to get really down on myself. The pain was bad and I was frustrated. I had not wanted to be in pain or stop having fun and that was exactly what was happening, I knew I wasn’t going to meet my very very loose time goal. I started to walk more than I was running and I was really sad. At one of the stops I made to stretch I texted my husband to share my frustration. He was nothing but encouraging and that was so helpful. I really was doing everything I could to keep moving forward as quickly as possible. I would run when I could but I had to do a lot of walking, at around 21-22 miles my feet were killing me and I could tell I was developing a blister! I couldn’t believe it. I had never had issues with blisters before but I also had not run this far before. I just put my head down and focused on one step at a time. This continued for awhile. Once I hit mile 25 I decided I was going to run again. I ran as much as I could for the next half mile. I took one more walk break and then ran the rest of the way! I crossed the finish line feeling strong and ecstatic to be done! I had been warned that after the finish you had to walk quite a ways and it was true. I got my space blanket, medal, bottle of water, and food box. I felt like I walked forever. I called my husband and we planned to meet at Buckingham Fountain. I was quite a bit of pain, mostly my IT band and the blister on my foot. Due to the increased security my husband couldn’t get to the fountain. I had to walk farther to meet him. We found each other and I saw he had bought me flowers! It was so sweet.
Officially a marathoner!
He gave me a big hug and told me how proud he was of me. It was so nice to see him. At that time I was feeling pretty down still so I wasn’t able to enjoy the moment. We made our way back to the Hilton to meet the team, eat, and get my bag from bag check. The team made a huge deal of each of our runners that walked into the room, they clapped and cheered, rang bells, it was AWESOME! I had two boxes of chocolate milk, some pretzels, and water. I stretched some and when I felt ready we made our way to the hotel. Slowly.
I’ll be back this week to share more of our trip, my post-marathon thoughts, and plans for the future.