|Jim & I in Millennium Park...hanging with the pigs.|
This weekend I was privileged enough to be able to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I know it's a bucket list race for many people, and I know that I was very lucky to have been able to run it this year (for a multitude of reasons as most of you know). It was an absolutely amazing experience overall and I wouldn't trade a minute of it, but the race in general did not go as I hoped, planned, or trained.
Jim and I arrived in beautiful downtown Chicago early Friday morning. We walked around the city for a bit, and then I met a friend from high school for a brief lunch. It was awesome being able to see my friend Patrick who's apartment is also right on the marathon route...so he came down to cheer me on too.
Shortly after lunch my amazing friend Coy cruised in to town and we all headed to the expo. The expo was about 3 miles from the hotel, but they offered free shuttles from 4 different locations around the city. There was a shuttle not too far from us, but the overall process took quite a while. Once we arrived the process was pretty seamless. They scanned your "packet pickup ticket" that you received in the mail, verified your ID and then by the time you got to your assigned location your packet was ready to go. It was pretty cool and super fast.
|Chicago Marathon gear I clearly couldn't live without|
That first day went by in a blur. It seemed like we walked a million miles (7.8 to be exact according to my FitBit) and tried to cram in a million things. We had both been up since way early so we were crashed by 8:30 that night. I slept like an absolute baby, one of the best nights sleep I'd had in a long time. I have to say the Chicago Renaissance Hotel has super, super comfy beds.
|Me & Jim with Scott Jurek|
Saturday we had decided to try to take it pretty easy so we'd be rested for the race on Sunday. We headed to Millennium Park to take the obligatory "Bean" pictures and enjoy the park a little, and then we planned to go to the movies. Well, me being me, I start wondering if I wanted to go back to the expo.....we really hadn't gotten to spend a ton of time there. In the end I decided it just wasn't worth the 3 hours it would probably take to get there and back and actually look around. I opted to hit the Nike Store on Michigan Avenue instead and of course found a shirt I couldn't live without.
|Jim and I at the "Bean"|
On our way out the craziest thing ever happened. We were actually standing in front of the Garmin store getting ready to take a picture of me in front of the "Swim, Bike, Run" sign when this lady walks up and says "I read your blogs, both of your blogs, I never comment but I read them, but I did just leave a comment". I said "Are you Theresa?" and she said "Yes"! Just that morning before we left, I was reading her comment to Jim. I said this lady is from Kansas City and she's been reading our blogs and she's doing Chicago too - her first marathon. It was unbelievable in a City of that size, with over 50,000 people running that race that we just happened to be at the right place at the right time to meet up. It was so COOL! Makes you realize what a truly small world it can be. And Theresa - huge shout out-------I looked up your time and you kicked my BUTT!!! Way to rock your first marathon!
|Meet up with Theresa! Crazy!|
The next morning was RACE day. I was excited, and nervous. I was feeling pretty good. I had been sick with a cold all week, but it was pretty much gone by Sunday. Jim's race started at 7:30, but mine didn't start til 8 so we weren't leaving together but I followed him downstairs to wish him luck and get a couple of pictures. I had grabbed my hotel key on the way down and put it in my jacket pocket. When I got upstairs it wouldn't work. I took it downstairs and said it wasn't working and the hotel clerk said, "Well, that's an Embassy Suites key, and you are staying at the Marriott". Ooooppppssss...I had been in DC for work earlier in the week and didn't realize I still had that key in my purse. I had to go upstairs and wait for security to let me back in the room...not exactly how you want to start your day, but at least they were quick. I finished getting my stuff around and met Coy in the lobby.
|Race morning, I was feeling ready...and a bit nervous|
We walked to the starting location and chatted. I was starting to get a bit more nervous, but I was so ready for this! There were volunteers everywhere to assist you in getting to the proper gate, etc. There were just people everywhere! It was so cool. The environment was just invigorating. We stopped at the forever porta potty line and then got in our corral. It was pretty chilly. It was right at 50 degrees with a light wind. It was going to be a beautiful day. Within just a few minutes it was finally time to begin the race.
|Coy & I before the race|
Within the first few feet I said "hmmm....I don't feel as good as I would think I would, everything feels really tight"....this was going to be the first indication that the race was not going to go so hot. Within the first minute of running, I had a terrible cramp/side stitch in my left side. I rarely, if ever get side stiches, but I did have a few bad ones during training. The race had literally just started so we weren't going fast at all, it wasn't a speed issue. I don't know what the deal was. I ate the same thing I ate before every training run. It was pretty annoying because all I could focus on was getting it to go away, and not the race or talking to Coy. The stich finally went away about mile 2.5, but these would come back to haunt me the rest of the race.
Just as you start the race you go underground where I immediately lost satellite reception on my Garmin, and for some reason, my Garmin was flaked out after that. Within just a few minutes we hit "mile 1" on the Garmin. It beeped and I was like we are already at mile 1? No way. I looked at the time a 9:50 pace....no way....we were going much slower than that, I knew it had to be wrong. We couldn't even see a mile marker. We kept going and about a quarter of a mile later we hit mile 1 at 12:05 - that was more like it. But, my Garmin would be off that quarter of a mile for the rest of the race, which was really annoying, because I didn't know my overall pace. It always showed it as much faster than we were actually doing.
I was having fun and having a great day, but I really just wasn't feeling it from almost the get go. I kept thinking this just feels much harder than it should. Within a few miles I had another terrible side stich and this time it was on my right side. It just wouldn't go away, I had it until about mile 10. For the rest of the race it was off and on side stiches, I have no idea why, but they were so painful and the only thing that made them better was to walk a little longer than planned. Even with the side stiches, the first half went by quickly.
|Millennium Park & "The Bean"|
Somewhere during mile 12, we stopped for a bathroom break. The porta potty lines were ridiculously long. That's my one major complaint about this event, a bathroom stop shouldn't cost you a ton of time. They needed far more porta pottys for 50,000 runners. I normally wouldn't stop, but I kind of had to go and Coy really had to go, and I had yet another side stitch so I thought the rest might do me some good. The stop ended up costing us about 6 minutes and I knew I couldn't make that time up...no way. We ended up losing about 9 minutes over the course of the race for stops...oh well...I needed them anyways. While I was at the porta potty though I checked in on Jim and saw that he was at about mile 18 and was having a fantastic race!
My friend Patrick was somewhere between mile 13 and 14 so after we passed the halfway point I started looking for him. I finally saw him and stopped to take a quick picture. That was pretty cool! I so appreciate him coming down to watch for me.
|Patrick snapped a pic of Coy & I coming down the street|
|Me & Patrick around mile 13.5 - one of my best friends from high school|
I checked my phone again, and saw Jim had finished. He had set a huge new PR and BQ'd. I knew he would be thrilled. I was so happy for him. I congratulated him and told him I was struggling a lot more than I'd like to be at just past mile 14. After the extra rest in mile 14, I was able to pick the pace back up for mile 15 to a 12:38, but then they just got slower from there. It was a bummer. Honestly, I wasn't having that much fun and by mile 17 I just wanted to be done. I remember thinking, and saying aloud to Coy that "9 more miles seemed like a punishment worse than death"....yes a little dramatic. But at this point we are over 4 hours into the race. It's 12:30 and the sun is directly overhead. There is very little shade, and it feels pretty warm. My next several miles were in the 14s. I was trying to maintain my run/walk, but was doing more walking than I wanted to. My legs felt fine, well conditioned, and ready to go...but my stomach and head would not agree. Around mile 21 or 22 my legs started feeling it too. Miles 22 and 23 were the slowest of the entire race with paces in the 15s. I was really, really struggling. Coy was amazing the entire time! I felt so bad. I kept apologizing because I didn't want to ruin her race experience. She can run sooo, soooo much faster than me, and I kept urging her to go on ahead, but she wouldn't budge. She kept telling me it was hard on her too, but I really think she was just saying that to make me feel better. She's a great friend. She kept saying we came here to do this thing together and that's what we were going to do.
|Just one of the pics of Jim and I from the weekend|
All I could think about was the Fox Valley 20 miler a few weeks ago. I had such a great race. I felt so wonderful. I knew my hard training all summer was paying off....but here I was when it really mattered and I just didn't have it. In my head, the entire time, I thought I had done a 5:52 at Disney. I knew that was my time to beat. I told myself to dig deep and do all I could. Around mile 23 when I really started doing the math though I realized it would be impossible. I'd have to do a 12 min pace those last few miles and it wasn't going to happen. I guess I could have really given up then...just walked the rest of the way realizing it wasn't going to be a PR, but I pressed on and decided I was going to finish as strong as possible. Miles 24 and 25 I managed a 14:30 pace...not great, but better than the 15s I was doing. Mile 26 was a 13:30 and then my final .75 miles (my Garmin ended up saying I did 26.75 miles - off .25 from the start) was a 12:30 pace. I was proud of myself for digging in those last few miles.
|Shirt & Medal|
I was disappointed, but happy at the same time. I had just finished the Chicago Marathon - my 2nd marathon. I had a friend by my side, and a husband waiting for me. It was a good day. I thought I had blown my PR...but I looked up my Disney time and it was actually 5:54. I had a PR after all....a small one, but still a PR. This made me feel a "little" better.
I realize it's not all about time, but that was only a small part of the disappointment. The biggest disappointment was the way I felt. I had trained so well, had such a great race just a few weeks before and I expected so much more from myself. It was so hard to enjoy the experience when I was fighting with the way I was feeling for most of the race. I felt a little bit like the awesome race day experience I was expecting was stolen from me. But it really wasn't. I still had a wonderful time.
I found Jim and tried to be upbeat. I was so happy for him and proud of him. He has worked and trained his butt off all summer and he deserved such a great race. I was congratulating him, but he wanted to talk about my race. It wasn't long before the tears started flowing. I tried to hold them back, but the disappointment and exhaustion of the day just took over. I didn't let it last long. I got it out and moved on. We then walked the what seemed like 10 miles back to the hotel, though I think it was only about 3/4 of a mile.
|Jim & I after the race, he'd already showered and changed|
After I had stretched and took a minute to just sit down, I was shocked to realize it was already 3:30. Holy crap, it had been a long day. I jumped in the shower so we could go get some lunch/dinner. We went to Giordano's for a famous "stuffed pizza". It was delicious, but even after basically not eating the entire day, one piece was plenty. We walked back to the hotel where I promptly passed out. It would be up early again the next morning for a 7 am flight out of Chicago.
|Who needs a plate when you are this hungry?|
Overall, I can't say anything negative about the race itself (besides the very frustrating registration process). It was truly amazing. It was so well organized for an event of this size. The volunteer and spectator support are like no race I have ever done before. The views of the cities are spectacular. The shirt is pretty decent, but I have to say the medal could use some improvement. I've gotten nicer 5K medals here in Kansas City. But, at the end of the day, the event is just unbelievable and one I would encourage everyone to put on their running bucket list.
We had a beautiful day to run with a cool start and light winds. It might have gotten a little warm towards the end, but I don't think the temperature impacted me too much. I'm really not sure what happened. I guess that's the most frustrating part. I ate well leading up to the race. I ate the same thing for breakfast that I've eaten for months before my training runs and used the same race day nutrition that I've used on my training runs. I trained well and did 3 20+ mile runs. The only thing I can really account for is that I was sick all week. I was taking allergy medication and using a nasal spray and maybe it impacted me more than I realized. But I guess sometimes it doesn't matter how perfect the conditions, it's just not your day.
|Coy & I running with the elites at the expo..we wish we were this fast :)|
So, at the end of the day, I still did it. I finished my 2nd marathon and with a 1 minute PR. I got to have yet another wonderful experience with my husband. I got to be there for him when he BQ'd again and set a new PR. I got to run with my friend Coy. Got to see an old high school friend. And got to enjoy a great weekend in Chicago. So there's really nothing to complain about right? Nope, I guess not.
|Did I own Chicago? Probably not, but I still had a great time!|
I had really hoped we'd get to meet up with Terzah while we were there, but we just couldn't seem to get timing right. I do hope to meet her next summer when we are going to be in Colorado.
What an amazing experience overall.....I am one lucky girl!
If you want to see more pics, I have a ton posted on my personal FB page. But don't forget to also like Slowly Tri-ing on FB too!