Chicago is Amazing, I loved the city and miss it already. We did a lot of tourist stuff but decided I had way too many photos to post, so in a nutshell we: went to the top of the Willis Tower, got Italian beef sandwiches at Portillos, ate dinner at Big Bowl, saw The Bean, went on an architectural boat tour, had lunch at Gage, and then finally a celebratory steak dinner at Benny’s Chop House. My only and deepest regret is that we never found time to get deep dish pizza, but we will be going back to see the museums at some point too because it was just love at first sight with the city.
We met up with my friend on Saturday and took a school bus to the expo for our packet pickup. My friend Megan and I were both running the marathon, although starting in different corrals (she had a seeded half marathon time this year – which is definitely the way to go, the open corral is for boners and me).
Expos are great, there are a million vendors and a million people but if you want you can just get your stuff and get the Eff out of there via school bus… so we did just that and went back to Niketown.
On the posters this year, they listed everyone’s name and we were actually able to find mine. Niketown was probably the busiest place in the whole city this weekend, although the marathon in general seems to be really good for the city from restaurants to cabs to hotels, etc. bringing in mass amounts of revenue (we helped their little economy a great deal).
Where’s Waldo? Clue: crazy ponytail.
Things learned from this marathon experience…
Most anyone can Run a marathon, not many people can run a marathon well
I had a goal time in mind, and I was off by about 40 minutes… however there are obvious reasons for that. 1. I didn’t train hard enough. In order to run a marathon well you need to train hard with high mileage and speed work or just decently high mileage. My injury took 2 weeks of training away from me, and beyond that it lowered my mileage for the next 1.5 months as to not risk a flare up which seriously impacted my end result. I get mad just thinking about that unfortunate event. 2. Seriously, just about anyone can finish a marathon: just getting from point A to point B isn’t that hard, it’s how fast you want to do it that makes it really difficult.
If you choose a marathon, make sure you choose a big one
What made this marathon the best one to run (I do think it is the best one) is that there is so much runner support: water stops at just about every mile, bathroom stops every 2-3 miles, and a million spectators lining the very flat route for the entire race. There was only 1 very memorable mile where there were no spectators… and it was a running graveyard. Instantly the people who were hurting needed to walk, to stretch, to sit down, or to completely fall apart. We could see that the spectators were about a half mile away, so people decided to take a breather, and let me tell you that once you stop or slow down like that getting back up to speed is beyond challenging. One small problem with Chicago is the bathroom situation at the starting line… I had to wait 20 minutes for a bathroom, and when I got out I literally had to run into my corral that was already moving…there were Not enough bathrooms at the start and I drank too much coffee.
Have a water stop strategy
Luckily this race provided ample water and Gatorade for runners, I couldn’t believe the amount of volunteers that they had. My strategy at first was: run, grab 1 Gatorade, and then run while drinking at every single stop since it was higher temperatures… that’s a stupid idea. Later, although I did still hit every stop I slowed almost to a walk as I guzzled it down and then ran out of the stop to make sure I actually got enough in without spilling it all over myself. I really think I need to work on this aspect of a race, and starting at mile 17 I walked through every water stop both out of pain and out of need for more water, it was a hot one out there.
Walking is not the answer
I was warned that miles 1-20 are one race and miles 20-26 are another race. I don’t think that is true at all, I never really hit what I felt was a wall… because I was hurting at mile 12! I powered through the first half, mainly to get through some of the crowding (hello open corral) and although I didn’t take it out too fast, I was just Tired. From miles 15-26.2 were kind of a disaster for me, and the urge to walk was there, my legs just weren’t up for it… should I walk or should I tough it out? I stopped to stretch out and then kept on running. I didn’t fly to Chicago using all our frequent flyer miles so that I could walk the course. I walked through water stops, but then immediately started running again, even if it was much slower than I even imagined possible! Like I was actually running, because walking hurt even more than running for some reason, but I didn’t know that I could Run a 14 minute mile – that’s barely faster than walking. Right about mile 23 I just wanted it to be over and the only way to make that happen was to keep on moving.
Mile 1: 8:39
Mile 2: 9:00
Mile 3: 9:43
Mile 4: 8:55
Mile 5: 9:22
Mile 6: 9:32
Mile 7: 9:19
Mile 8: 9:10
Mile 9: 9:27
Mile 10: 9:31
Mile 11: 9:18
Mile 12: 9:47
Mile 13: 9:30
Mile 14: 9:35
Mile 15: 12:04 bathroom break
Mile 16: 10:42
Mile 17: 10:53
Mile 18: 10:48
Mile 19: 11: 29
Mile 20: 12:05
Mile 21: 12:51
Mile 22: 12:20
Mile 23: 14:46 stretching
Mile 24: 12:19
Mile 25: 14:06
Mile 26: 13:38
2:06 at the half, mostly on pace.
Finish: 4:48 Mehh.
I’m glad I did it, I’m glad I finished, but I do wish that I had finished a little stronger than Weak. The second half is such a disappointment to me.
It’s going to hurt, just accept it
As with my long runs, the pain was almost entirely in the bottoms of my feet and my groin area. I guess this is kind of strange, but I use SuperFeet insoles, and am not sure what else can be done about that. You go into this expecting that it’s going to hurt a lot, and with that expectation I was pretty much Ok with it… I mean people were dropping like flies left and right due mostly to the 85 degree weather I’m sure, but I was able to keep moving and that’s all I was concentrating on. We had to walk a mile from the finish line back to the hotel and I made it about half way and the hopped into a cab. I think my husband was expecting me to be completely unable to walk, but the reality is that yes it all hurt a ton but when it’s over it’s over and recovery comes next. The afternoon after the race, everything below the waist hurt a lot. I could still walk around and do things, but just at a much slowed down pace. The day after the race… I’m walking really oddly. All of my muscles are so stiff: my legs, lower back and shoulders, and the thought of someone massaging my legs sounds like torture so I’m just going to try and stretch out on my own.
I would do it all again
It was worth the 4 months of training, the loss of social life, the waking up early on Saturdays, the ice baths, the doctor visits and physical therapy, the bad long runs, the good long runs, and everything in between. I would do it all over again, not tomorrow, but I would consider doing another one again for sure – I have my heart set on NYC but it could take a couple years to get through the lottery system which is fine with me and by that time maybe I’ll have become a more developed runner. Until then I plan to concentrate on 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons. I guess it was pretty unrealistic to go from being a novice to pulling a marathon out of my ass, next time will be better although just as painful I’m sure!