If you read my previous post, you’ll know that I didn’t exactly make the smartest eating choices the night before the race. LOL. Oops! You live and you learn though. 🙂 And I learned to not eat really fatty foods the day before a marathon. FYI: This is A REALLY LONG POST. 🙂 You have been warned.
I woke up the morning of the marathon feeling fine. I slept a good 7 hours and despite walking around the expo a lot the previous day, my legs felt really strong. All the rest I did the week of actually paid off! Getting to the marathon start line was SO MUCH EASIER than getting to New York’s. I hopped onto the Green line and took it all the way down to Millennium Park where the start was. I barely had to do any walking and within about 45 minutes, I was near the gate entrances. Security was very tight due to recent events and I very much appreciated it. Runners had to walk in a single file line through the gates while being screened by security wands. Despite the initial bottleneck, I was through the gates in 10 minutes and made my way to gear check and the corrals.
As I was waited for the race to start, my stomach started to feel kind of funny. I thought about going to the porta-potties, but since they had already closed the corrals for my wave, I made the decision to just hold it and hope it’d go away. I didn’t want to go use the porta-potties and then have to start at the end of my wave. Also, never have I ever had to use the porta-potty before or during the race. Spoiler alert: I can no longer say that. LOL.
As I crossed the start line, I felt the excitement and nervousness that I felt in New York, but I also felt a lot of pressure. I had never trained so hard for a race before and anything other than my goal time would be considered a failure for me. So off I went. It was difficult to keep my pace slow because the energy around me was contagious. Almost immediately, we went underneath a tunnel, and I experienced what I will quite honestly describe as “Uh WTF” moment. Guys who apparently didn’t want to use the porta-potties either were finding corners in the tunnel to pee. LOL. So weird. Anyway, I had to get out of that tunnel asap so I sped up a little bit. Haha.
For the first few miles, we ran around the Chicago loop in downtown. Chicago is truly a beautiful city. The architecture is amazing to look at and the skyscrapers around us kept us nice and cool.
Then at mile 3, my stomach started feeling funny and since my biggest fear is probably accidentally pooping myself during a race, I darted to the nearest porta-potty. The lines were long and I lost a few minutes at each stop that I made along the race. Sadly, I made three during the first half of the race. After each stop, I increasingly became frustrated with myself. I knew I had lost precious time, but I wasn’t sure how much because for reasons unknown, my tracking app was anywhere from 0.5 miles to 1.5 miles off during the entire race and it was really difficult to gauge my progress. I was also really worried about my fuel plan because my stomach was so uneasy. I didn’t want to take the gels and make my stomach feel worse, but I also didn’t want to hit the wall at mile 20. I had to play everything by ear and luckily, my stomach eased up at the halfway point and I was able to continue on with the race.
To make up for the lost time, I sped up quite a bit after each stop, which made the race less enjoyable for me. I was so set on reaching 26.2 miles that half of the race was a blur for me. Since I felt better after the halfway point, I started to pick up my pace. Unfortunately for me and the other runners, the 2nd half of the race was not well shaded and it was also getting hot. The race at this point was still a blur for me, but I think it was because crowd support for this race was neverending. There were always people cheering for you, little kids wanting to high five you, and more “Touch here for power-up” signs than I could count. I know. I tried. For the last 6 miles, I ran through as many sprinklers as I could. I grabbed wet sponges that volunteers were handing out to cool my body and I kept drinking water.
At mile 22, my legs started to experience fatigue. By that point, I had a feeling I wouldn’t have hit my first goal, but I knew that at the pace I was going, I’d still beat my person record so I pushed on. At 25.5 miles, I was DYING. Everyone that says that Chicago is flat as a pancake is WRONG. They’re 99.8% right, but that last 0.2% is during the last half mile of the marathon. WHYYYYY????? was my exact reaction. I turned the corner and was just devastated that there was this hill at the end. In retrospect, this hill isn’t that bad, but at the end of a marathon, it might as well have been life or death. LOL.
As soon as I crossed that finish line, a FLOOD of emotions came over me and I just burst into tears. I had just finished my second full marathon, a race I had trained so hard for, and no one was physically there to celebrate it with me. It was really hard for me and to help me get through it, I spent the next few minutes posting to social media and thanking all of my friends who sent me texts during the race to keep me going. I was so distraught after the race and my body was in shock. I remember calling my boyfriend and telling him that I’m not sure I’ll ever run a marathon ever again, only to remember that I was signed up for the Dopey Challenge in January. Not to worry though, I’ve changed my mind since then and am still planning on doing Dopey. LOL.
If you’re still with me and have read this to the end, here’s how I did:
Chip time: 4 hours, 23 minutes and 30 seconds (I beat my previous record by 25 minutes and 19 seconds!!!)
So there you have it – my Chicago marathon experience. Hooray! Would I do it again? Sure, but not any time soon. I have a whole lot of other races I want to check off my bucket list first. ☺️