It feels strange to write a race recap with all the horror going on in the world and the sadness hitting some of those closest to me. But alas, I am going to write about the race because it’s a good distraction if nothing else. And running will always be a positive force in this world and a reminder that people are good. So, let’s rewind.
Brittany and I flew into Chicago the Friday before the race. Sara, my fabulous run client and now friend, picked us up from the airport and we grabbed lunch. We were super tired from an early flight so we ended up napping immediately upon arriving at our airbnb. It was completely unintentional but apparently we needed it.
I really wanted to get a run in at some point, so we found ourselves running on the streets of Chicago in the rain at about 8pm. I told myself it was only 6pm San Diego time, so we weren’t that crazy. It was totally worth it because we were on our way to the most spectacular Whole Foods in all the land. I know it seems silly to visit Whole Foods when there are so many amazing spots in Chicago, but it’s truly my favorite. It makes me stupidly happy.
When we got back to the airbnb, we watched some Netflix and then got some pretty good sleep. The next morning, I took my time getting up. I drank coffee, wrote cards, read and waited for Brittany to roll out of bed. When she did, we met up with Sheri, Melissa and Karla at the expo. I needed to see my girls one more time before the big day.
The expo is quite the spectacle and I have to admit, I was pretty beat by the time we left McCormick Place. Expos always seem to have that effect on me.
Once we got back to Wicker Park, where we were staying, we met up with my sisters and nieces and went to a late lunch/early dinner. To accommodate our large group, we picked a place called The Pasta Bowl. I ate seafood pasta for dinner – something I literally NEVER eat. It was not a good call, but apparently I like living on the edge. We also walked a good 7.5 miles the day before the marathon (according to my fitbit) which is not ideal but I feel like that always ends up happening. I basically did the opposite of what I tell all my clients – which is eat what you know works and stay off your feet the day before the race.
We went to bed early but I was wide awake for hours with the typical pre-race jitters. Our alarms went off at 5 a.m. which wasn’t too bad for race morning. We had some coffee and breakfast and then took a Lyft to the start line. Brittany and I were able to spend some time together before parting ways and then I was off to the A corral.
I often say I have a stomach of steel and can basically eat anything without issue. This time was different. I had bathroom issues not once, but twice, before the race started. I didn’t think much of it because I figured it was over with. I guess I was wrong.
7:30 am hit and we were off! It was so exciting to be running through the streets of a city that I used to call home. The nostalgia had me smiling ear to ear in the beginning. The miles ticked by so quickly and I couldn’t believe the race was going to be over so soon. 4 months of training and race day just flies by.
I was being super conservative with my pace because I wanted to BQ but I didn’t want to hurt more than necessary. Chicago was never about a PR. I wanted to enjoy this race as much as possible while also having a decent finish time.
It was a warm day and looking back, I was probably overly concerned about hydration. I took water from every single water stop that was offered. I began with Gatorade much, much sooner than I typically do because my body was actually craving it. Maybe it was the bathroom issues, but I knew I needed the fuel. However, all that fueling was way more than I’m used to. I think the sugar and all the fluid just wasn’t helping matters with my stomach because I suddenly felt cramping and knew I needed a bathroom ASAP around mile 19. There weren’t any porta-potties in sight until about mile 20.5, but as soon as I saw one I dashed. Thank god for those because I seriously think things could’ve gone south really quickly.
After about 3 minutes of dealing with that, I had a little talk with myself. I could throw in the towel and just run/walk the rest or I could get back out there and do my absolute best. I decided on the latter, threw the porta potty door open and got back to running. At this point, I was still running in the 7s but my average pace had now crept up thanks to the bathroom stop. I knew it was totally fine and I could still have a solid finish time if I just kept moving. And so I did.
Miles 21-26 were honestly quite uneventful. Of course they’re hard, but I just ran as comfortably as possible – there was no sense in pushing it. I continued to dump water on my head at every stop and take in water and Gatorade despite the tummy troubles. I couldn’t seem to quench my thirst and I can’t seem to fuel in a marathon so the Gatorade is the only way for me to get calories. Luckily, my stomach held up for the rest of the race.
Mile 26 came and the crowds were insane! Suddenly you turn a corner and there’s the finish. It’s incredible. I sprinted from that point and crossed in 3:29 and a few seconds. I was perfectly happy with my time and I know from experience, it could’ve been so much harder and more painful. I got my medal, grabbed my checked bag, and instantly checked my Chicago Marathon app to see how Brittany and my friends were doing out there.
I met up with Sheri shortly after finishing – it was so nice to see a familiar face. We waited for Melissa to cross and then had an emotional little hug session. We spent the last four months training together for that moment of completion. We all vowed to be done with marathons … but as you might’ve guessed, I’ve already taken that back.
I tracked Brittany and she was doing so well. Way better than I even anticipated. Her training was great but marathons are hard as hell. I didn’t know how she’d handle miles 20-26.2, as they become incredibly challenging and you need to use every ounce of mental strength to get to the finish. She didn’t let that stop her and she crossed the finish line in 4:12. I was ecstatic!
The post-race uber ride looked like this —
Me: I’m retired from marathons.
Brittany: I’m not. I want to run a sub 4. :::scrolls through phone researching marathons::::
And with that, we’re considering Paris 2018. 🙂