I woke up the morning of the race feeling really calm. Weather was good and I felt ready. My morning of my first marathon I woke up and shook like a leaf until I ran my first step due to nerves. I ran 621 miles in preparation for this race and I knew I would throw down my best effort.
We went to the Balbo Hospitality tent. My mom and dad treated the four of us to getting tickets for it and it was wonderful!
There was food there, and you had a menu before hand so you knew what food would be available. I knew I would have my Generation Ucan, so I didn’t have any, but I loved that they did that.
Having access to the tent gave you less people to work your way through. The gear check was small and the porta area wasn’t packed at all (that alone was worth it). It was expensive, but because Chicago is a World Marathon Major, it was so worth it to have less hectic energy (and more porta potties).
The lovely and amazing volunteers who walked us to our pace corrals! Thank you so much to everyone who volunteered for this race!
I bought my race photos from the website and this photo was included. There were over 41,000 runners!
I know race photos can be expensive, but I always buy them if I am going to use them. Those photographers need to make a living too! Anyway, it gives you an idea of the sheer amount of people in the race.
I found the 3:15 pace group and decided to hang with them. We started off conservatively and I could tell right away my watch was going a bit haywire with the tall buildings. It showed an average 6 minute mile or 10 minute mile pace sporadically. I felt good and chatted with the pacers and group.
As we approached the third mile, things started getting really congested. It was elbow to elbow. I felt my right shoe be stepped on from the back and it popped off. As it started tumbling away from me in the flurry of runners and feet, I felt my left shoe be stepped on from behind as I was (accidentally I am sure) pushed down. I went down and kind of rolled and that shoe came off too.
After a few tries, I was able to collect both shoes and had to scramble to get to the median in the road. I put them back on and repeated to myself, out loud, “You are fine, this is fine. You are ok. This doesn’t matter.” I really thought I was calm and fine.
Except I wasn’t. Here is where I made my fatal mistake.
I had already gotten attached to having that pace group support. I (irrationally) felt that I NEEDED to get back to them. I decided I would “just” catch back up to them.
Even as I type this, I can’t believe what a bad decision that was. I clocked a 6:30 mile from miles 3-4. Like what?! So stupid. At any rate, that is what happened. I found them and knew my parents would be at mile 4. I ran by and saw them, and shouted I had lost my shoes.
After a bit, I realized the 3:15 pace group was a little behind me. I worked on slowing own and was able to hang on to my pace until about mile 8.
I knew my glycogen stores had taken a huge hit at mile 3-4 when I ran quickly to get back with the pace group. I took my Gu at mile 6 instead of 7, hoping to the mitigate that damage. Unfortunately, the damage was done. My stomach roiled when I took the Gu down.
Things started coming back up at mile 8. I knew my parents would be at mile 11, and decided not to tell them things were getting rough. As I ran past, I shouted to them and kept trucking.
I told myself the Chinese dragon would be dancing at Mile 21 (when we ran through China town). I had been so excited for that. 10 more miles to the dragon. I knew at this point that I had to let go of 3:15. If I pulled back now, I could try to save myself and clock at least a 3:30. I was able to swallow about half another Gu at mile 13, but it didn’t stay down. I decided to abandon the Gu method and alternate Gatorade and water at every fuel stop. Marathons are too calorically expensive and I knew that tossing my cookies wasn’t helping matters.
As I drank the Gatorade, I felt it go straight to my tummy, which almost felt distended. It was like my body wasn’t absorbing fluids at all, and I was so thirsty. As it was not a hot day, I don’t know why that would have been happening – except maybe that my stomach was just PISSED haha.
I cranked up my music and got to work. My stomach sloshed and cramped. I finally got to mile 21 and found the dragon dancers. Unfortunately, they were not dancing but standing with their costume off haha! I decided to take my earbuds out and feed off the crowds best I could.
I shuffled in those last 5.2 miles. I never phoned it in, I never gave up. Even when I knew 3:30 was out of the question, I didn’t quit because I wanted to know I left it all out there. I texted my parents and John to let them know why my tracking dot was going so slow, but that I was going to finish. I wanted to celebrate my finish no matter what.
There was supposed to be a hill at mile 25, but I didn’t see one. I saw an overpass at mile 24, so I thought maybe that had been it? I saw John at mile 25 and waved to him. He had made a sign and it made me happy to see his face.
When I rounded the corner for mile 26, THERE was the hill haha. UGH. It was not quite what I had in mind, but nothing was that day lol!
I saw my dad and he was shouting for me to go go go! I gave it one final push to get across the line strong. I knew him and mom would be there with big hugs in a matter of minutes.
3:37:19. Not quite what I had planned for. But you know what? I’m proud of the way I finished that race.
I think one of the most special parts of a race are right after you cross the finish line, and right before you get your medal. You are usually walking next to someone, and you are both kind of having a “I just did that” moment. It is only you and those who have done the same race. You are all alone in your achievement, yet together.
We went back to the hospitality tent and I could not get enough water. The only thing that sounded good was a chocolate chip cookie, so I had some of those.
The tent has a massage area which was awesome! The people working the area were from a local massage school. They got to get their hours for their certification and the marathoners who had paid for the tent, myself included, all seemed very appreciative!
I had felt a blister forming on my left foot since I had to put my shoes back on in a rush a mile 3. I took off my shoe to see the damage and it was blood blisters all over my toes on my left foot. Yikes. Poor massage ladies – I put my shoe back on right away lol!!
We met this awesome gentleman, Butch, in the tent. He was from the Philippines.
After the race we went to dinner with my parent’s friends. We went to a steak house and it was so much fun to see everyone in Chicago wearing their medals out and about. The city really loves this race.
After dinner, I requested cupcakes 🙂
Red velvet, Nutella and chocolate peanut butter – so yummy and the four of us sampled them.
It was really fun to see my name in the paper the next day!
Of course I am disappointed with my race in some ways. In other ways, I am not. I made a mistake, and it was something I had no idea or thought would have happened. Two years ago, I was running my first half marathon right about now. Two years ago, running 8 miles in a row was a big deal for me. Two years ago, I would have proclaimed to you I did not see a marathon in the cards for me. I have learned so much in such a short time. I am proud of the time I was able to run given the circumstances – basically bonking at mile 8.
I was in good spirits after the race and loved celebrating with my family. I think they were all a little worried about how I would handle everything after the race was over haha! And that is not an unfounded concern. I train hard and I love racing. Still, just because my race wasn’t perfect was not a reason to be upset. I wanted them to enjoy their time in Chicago and I wanted to enjoy it with them. Me pouting was not going to gain anyone anything.
I would be lying if I said there have not been any moments where dark thoughts crept in after the race. That my CIM marathon time was a fluke, that everyone had a good day but me, that I’m not good enough. I acknowledge those thoughts and move them along. They simply don’t matter. I think it is pretty normal to think that kind of stuff when anything in life doesn’t go as planned. The thing to do is not let them consume you.
And you know what? I am so excited to do it all over again!
I have so many internet friends that PR-ed that day and I want to wish them all huge congratulations and a big hug! I also want to congratulate my dear friend, Kindal, on her stunning sub 12 hour first time IRONMAN finish – so proud of you!