“DON’T STOP! KEEP GOING! YOU TRAINED FOR THIS!!”
“Mmmm, but did I really?” I rebutted out loud to a spectator.
My 2019 Chicago Marathon was the equivalent of a college kid writing a 12 page paper the night before it was due. You know the paper, the one where the professor says “There is no way you can do this the night before.” And you try to write it in a timely matter you really do, but life gets in the way and you find yourself choking down caffeine and junk food at 4am to get through. Welp. After training by doing the bare minimum (were talking 14 mile long run), my grade actually turned out pretty well. In fact I was wayyyyy above the class average and passed with flying colors!
Friday October 11, 2019
6:40am touchdown in Chicago. My plane landed in the rainy and windy city. And as soon as I stepped off of my plane I realized my credit card was denied by the hotel for who knows what reason. I called my mom and cried. I was homeless in Chicago for marathon weekend. I spent my first hour on the floor on the phone with my credit card company learning that my information was stolen and my credit card was maxed out,.. After throwing a temper tantrum and crying on the floor of O’hare on a three way conference call with my credit card and the hotel, I finally had a hotel to stay in until monday… but no encase of emergency credit, which is fine.
I took the blue line from O’hare to the Clark/Lake station. I do have to say the train from the airport was probably one of the easiest things I have ever done. I was expecting a complicated combo of approximiately 27 trains, like it would be in NYC, all hidden in obscure locations, but I was pleased to find everything was right where it should have been in very well labeled locations!
After getting to the hotel and thanking them 9million times for not kicking me out and dealing with my credit card people I decided I earned my breakfast. (I would like to say that I CHECKED IN AT 9AM AND MY ROOM WAS READY! ) I walked to Yolk in marina city for breakfast and after a hella long wait scarfed down some corned beef hash, eggs over easy and 2 pancakes. HEAVEN.
I took school bus provided transportation from right in front of my hotel room to the expo at McCormick place. Super simple! Arriving at the expo I did my rounds. Picked up my bib, #9737, got the new Chicago Goodrs and a new Goodr singlet, said hi to my Nuun family and checked out all the beer sample stands because what else does one do two days before a marathon! When I was done I decided to take the bus back to my hotel… an hour and a half wait in line always does the legs wonders.
After getting back I had a snack of hotel nachos and a glass of red wine, before heading back outside in the just starting to clear wind and rain to take some pictures of the bean (cloud gate) and run to target to get champagne and a long sleeve t to wear under my singlet since the projected starting temperature was in the 30’s! When my excursion was over I went back and took a nap only to wake up to see Casey had arrived and forgot to eat dinner. I woke up starving on Saturday.
Saturday October 12, 2019
Back to Yolk. Cinnamon bun french toast with a side of scrambled eggs, SO GOOD, just enough to fuel me on a sugar induced 3 mile shake out on the Chicago waterfront. Then back to the expo to pick up Caseys bib and taunt the Nuunies some more.
After taking the bus back to the hotel (not an hour and a half wait this time) we dropped our bags off at the hotel and went to lunch. Sweetwater had fantastic sandwich choices which kind of helped Casey’s craving for a hotdog (I don’t eat hotdogs so I avoided the stands) I had a Southwest chicken wrap and Space Dust IPA, my favorite IPA. Casey and I have very different ways of preparing for marathons. I like to have a beer or wine before the race where he sticks solely to water.
After lunch I accidently made casey walk another 3 miles. I decided I had to go to Panera to get bagels for breakfast, then Target to get butter and nutella for said bangles, then to Old Navy to get a different long sleeve for under my singlet because I was not happy with the one I had from Target. By the end we walked a ways and our legs were tired exactly what you don’t want the day before the marathon.
We walked back to the hotel and set everything up for the morning. Tried on my outfit, laid it out and went and took another nap. When I woke up casey was getting ready to get to dinner and I felt like absolute crap. The thought of food was making me nauseous. I went down to the buffet out hotel was putting on but could not manage anything. Casey ate 12 plates of food, and I choked down a seltzer. Exactly what you want the night before a marathon.
So let’s recap my Saturday: Spent too much time on my feet, had a beer, skipped dinner. What could possibly go right during the marathon.
Sunday October 13, 2019
5am, “OH SHIT WERE RUNNING A MARATHON TODAY!” literally the first words out of my mouth. I woke up and felt relatively good. I ate a chocolate chip bagel with nutella and black coffee and went back to bed. Got up, got dressed and headed out at 6:10am, Marathon starts at 7:30.
I got to the security checkpoint for gate 3 and it was long. Everyone was panicking trying to get in. Our corral closes at 7:20, it was five to seven and we were still outside of the park. Finally the line moved and it was my turn to get through. Quick look in my checked bag of sweatpants and a sweatshirt, quick wave of a metal detector and I was literally off and running to bag check to get to my corral before it closed. In retrospect it was a good warm up, but when it was happening it was very stressful.
At 7:30 the professionals started. Being wave 1 corral D I had a few minutes to wait.. Approximately 15 minutes. Luckily my corral was full of my kind of people, or rather, maybe I just found my kind of people because we got a dance party started, we were clapping singing along to whatever music was playing and really having a good time. And then we started jogging to start and I never saw any of the people I started with ever again.
“Am I going out to fast?” you know the saying if you think you’re going out to fast you probably are, well… I thought about it, but I guess it was fine. The fun thing about chicago is your watch is just a watch, everything else is wrong. My pace ranged from 15:35 to 4:40 and I knew I was not running either one of those. When I hit the half Marathon point I knew I was 10 minutes ahead of what I ran in 2014… but my math stopped working about 12 years ago so I thought that equated to about a 4 hour pace. Which I was fine with. I had no expectations going into this marathon, all I wanted to do was beat 4:22:15 from my last Chicago. I stopped a few times for various reasons, most of them silly, but I really did not care.
And then came mile 20.
2 hours 48 minutes for 20 miles!?! Wait thats a PR in itself. That can’t be right!?!? That would put me in about 3 hours 48 minute Marathon if I kept up the 10 minute mile pace I thought I was running. That would be a PR!?!?! No, me? Really?
I was having such a good time, smiling, reading the signs screwing up the tangents AND HERE I COULD HAVE POSSIBLY BEEN BQing!!! DAMN IT. Whatever. I took the last 6 miles like the first 6, with fun as my main objective. I stopped for 3 beers and got told how pretty and how great my hair was ( I should hire the first beer table as my personal pump up-ers), I thought I was jogging and moving along pretty well. I blew past all the places that slowed me down the first time I ran and thought about that for most of the way.
When I hit mile 25 I looked at my watch and realized a 3:45 was in reach. The 3:40 pace group was just behind me ( I should have used that to realize my pace but I did not think about it), so I held on with them for the last 1.2 miles. It was magical. The wind picked up, it was brutal head wind in every direction. Then we hit the hill, I was not sure what the time was I refused to look at my watch, it worked so well for the first part of the race. Mile 26 just a few more feet.
Coming down the home stretch I looked back at 2015 and how my mom and dad watched me finish with tears in their eyes. They weren’t here this time, but it made me appreciate them that much more and helped me have a little kick to the finish.
For someone who just wanted to finish with no goal I am happy. I went in with zero expectations doing everything wrong and came out with a PR. Casey also PRed if you were wondering 2:46:37 which means I am less than an hour slower than him. I’m catching up.
In three weeks I’ll race again at NYC. A hiller course, with tired legs, and colder weather. Sounds Perfect. Lets get it.