It’s still sinking in, I can’t stop smiling! I can’t believe this all actually happened! I hope they post the race pictures soon So I can really believe it!
I tried to give you all a shortened version of the race recap… Haha as I was typing it kept getting a bit too detailed. Alright, get comfy because here goes the recap:
I slept surprisingly well and only woke up once, at 4, and then back up again at 5:20. I had half a banana with almond butter while I was getting all my stuff together (photo of partially eaten banana…), and I’m glad I had an hour because I took some time to just breath, say a prayer and relax.
I headed out at 6:30, taking the L downtown. Girls On the Run had space in a high school near the start so I headed down there to eat my pre-race fuel, stretch, and use the bathroom.
Our corrals closed at 7:45 so I headed over and decided to use the porta-potty one last time, haha nerves! The line took so long I almost didn’t make it into my corral, but luckily the people at the entrance were so KINDLY letting everyone in even if they were a minute late.
Waiting to begin I, again, was weirdly calm. I just don’t think it registered – I was standing there surrounded by thousands of people but I was so focused on making it through the marathon, thinking about each place I’d look for friends and family, how I needed to start slow and pace myself.
Then we were off! The first few miles really flew by, winding through downtown. I was also surprised at how it wasn’t too crowded (the runners, not spectators – SO MANY spectators!), although I definitely still had to bob and weave to get around people.
When we headed up LaSalle I expected that stretch to be awful since that’s the route my bus takes every day, but again it just flew! When I got up to Lincoln Park I was on the lookout for my family around mile 6 and I spotted them right away. Even Molly was there to cheer me on! Haha, she looked very excited about all the people and the cheering.
We were up to Addison and heading back south before I knew it. Around mile 8 my legs started to hurt, along where my IT bands are. I expected this since they’d done the same on all my recent long runs, but I just hoped it didn’t get any worse. At this point, the course felt crowded with runners and I kept having to move around people. I saw the 4:25 pace group and freaked out. I was hoping for 4:15 so I started having a mini panic attack and picked up my pace! I had to keep reminding myself: run your own race, ignore them, you’re doing great!
We headed back into downtown and then made a right on Adams, passing the Willis Tower (most know it as the Sears Tower) and then out west! I hadn’t ever been that far and kept thinking "where in the world am I?!?!” I knew I wouldn’t see anyone for a while so I just tried to get lost in my head, singing along to songs. Each mile marker came and went and eventually we were heading back towards the city.
Well… that’s what I thought was happening but looking at this map everything is making way more sense… Haha, I was wondering where I was going! We also got to go through Chinatown which was SO COOL! It only lasted a couple blocks but it looked so pretty!
At this point, I was getting hot (which everyone told me would happen but I didn’t believe since it was like 42 degrees) and really thirsty. From here on out the water stops could not come soon enough. I was drinking Gatorade and water at many stops and then water only at ones right after taking a GU. I was taking a GU at every 4.5 miles and I based it on my Garmin, not their mile markers since I was technically running further than 26.2 with all the turns and weaving back and forth.
I saw Chelsey and Tina again at mile 20 (thanks for the candy corn ladies!) and I was supposed to see my family after that. I had taken off my long sleeve and gloves and was holding them, hoping to pass them off. However, I couldn’t find them anywhere. At this point, I got really frustrated but I kept telling myself: I REFUSE to hit the wall!
I was slowing down a bit after 22 but I kept pushing, my legs were getting tighter and tighter but otherwise, I felt pretty good. The sore legs were making it a LOT harder to bob and weave and I wanted to hit a few people! Don’t worry, I resisted. When we FINALLY turned around to head north I was really ready to be done but I kept on chugging. I tried to keep it under 10 min/miles but once we hit 2.2 miles left I picked it up. The last few miles weren’t as bad as I expected, I could barely move my legs but still, I felt way better than I expected. Once we hit the hill I knew I was almost there, I turned the corner and sprinted for the finish!
(lol… no way to look pretty after finishing but I wanted to capture the moment! At least I took my visor off…)
After finishing I wanted to just fall over, unfortunately, they make you walk like a mile to the family meet up area. It. Was. Ridiculous. Luckily I ran into Molly! We’d been following the same training plan for months and talking constantly, it was awesome that we got to celebrate with each other!
photo courtesy of Molly!
The whole finish was kind of weird for me, it just didn’t’ sink in that I’d run a marathon! Haha, I hurt like I’d run one but the whole thing went by so quickly that I couldn’t believe it was over! I spent four months training and BOOM! It was done! I was almost disappointed! I guess I’ll just have to sign up for another!
I never understood why people ran Chicago so many times, I always thought I’d want to run all different marathons. However, I totally get it now! And I’d love to run it again now that I better understand the course. It was such a cool race, with spectators lining the ENTIRE COURSE and getting to go through so many areas of Chicago! Plus it was pretty flat… a few little “up-hills” but nothing that got me breathing too heavily! I would definitely run Chicago again!
THANK YOU, everyone, for all your encouragement! I was BLOWN AWAY by all the comments I've received the past few days.