Monday, October 13, 2014

Chicago Marathon 2014

Let me preface that I am never going to do a marathon again. The pain I felt from mile 19 on was excruciating. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but a part of me is scared that I'll sign up for one of these things again and *forget* the pain.

I had butterflies all week before the race. I didn't think I was stressed about it... but I guess that I was subconsciously aware of the pain from my 2012 marathon. I had forgotten about it at the time I signed up.

So, I'll start with the expo. We got there Friday night at 6:40 pm. It was the perfect time!! A lot of people were heading out, so it wasn't too busy. Well, I guess you could say it wasn't busy:

Chicago Marathon Expo.
It was a very exciting expo and there were a lot of vendors, but I do have to say that I was disappointed with the marathon shirt. It's so boring and fits a little small. I purchased a shirt from Nike, and I'm sure they made such plain race shirts so we'd purchase more items.

Loot from the Expo.
We didn't spend too much time at the expo... we spent most of the day driving and sitting in Chicago traffic, so I was ready to get checked into the hotel and get some much needed rest.

On Saturday we did some touristy things. I just wanted to walk a bit to get the legs warmed up. We went to Nike Town where I bought two more Chicago Marathon shirts (those Nike people are pretty smart, making us spend more money), and went to the Bean. It was a beautiful day!

Bean at Millennium Park.
I actually got a good night sleep Saturday night. I set my alarm for 4:40 am so I could eat some food and rest a bit before the race start. I was feeling good and positive. My husband walked me to my gate, which was a little over a mile away from the hotel.

Outside of the entry gates.
We said our goodbyes and I walked into the gate. It was super crowded and really had no clue where I was going. I found the J corral and then got in line to use the restroom. The lines were super long. I waited in line until 7:40 am, and was no where close to the front. The corral gates were closing at 7:45 am, and I could use the restroom and start in the very back, or try to use a restroom during the race. I decided to stick it out and use a porta-potty on the course so I could start sooner. The first wave started at 7:30 am, and my wave started at 8:00 am. There were so many people!! I've never been in such a large race before!

Race Start. Can you even see the start line??
I started running at 8:23 am... but it felt like I was waiting for eternity. I have been waiting for this moment all week. But mainly, I was ready to be done!! I was hoping for a miracle (i.e., no pain and a PR).

The race start was so exciting. I didn't have in my headphones. I really wanted to take it all in. We went through a tunnel and people were screaming with excitement. I saw one guy peeing in the tunnel and that made me mad. For one, I'm not able to do that (and I really had to go), and secondly, gross! My GPS was off, so I really had no clue about my pace. I knew I was going slow. I wanted to pick up the pace a bit, but it was so hard to pass people (esp. those running with friends), but then I thought that maybe this slower pace would help in the end (nope).

I found Josh around mile two and gave him a kiss and my long sleeve shirt.

There I am!
There were toilets after the first 5k. I knew the first porta-potties would be incredibly busy, but I was so darn uncomfortable that I really had no choice. If I wanted to enjoy myself, I knew I had to stop. There was a long line and I was there for about 6-7 minutes. I know, right! I should have just gone before the race (although I went many, many times before leaving the hotel).

I was having so much fun after that. We headed up towards Lincoln Park and I was feeling really strong. I was kind of amazed. I kept thinking to myself, that I would feel like this for the entire race (nope). Not really much else to say before I hit the wall, just that I was passing people right and left and that was kind of annoying, but I was really enjoying myself. I put in my headphones somewhere around the Lincoln Park area. I was in the zone.

We hit the half marathon mark in downtown Chicago. Then we headed out west towards the West Side and I was walking through every water break and running everything else. Then I thought to myself, maybe this is what I'll do until the finish. It was working for me.

Then mile 19 came and I hit the wall. I tried to run as much as I could, but I was so darn tired. My legs didn't want to move!! Then I would walk, and walking hurt more than running (if you can imagine that)!!! I was in a bad, bad place, but I was there with several other people. I saw many other people fighting their own demons. I kept thinking, we're all in this together!!!

I was in so much pain. I really wanted to sit, but that just wasn't an option. I kept moving and did a lot of walking, but I think I ran more. At least I was still passing people. I knew at that point I wasn't going to have a PR and I was a little pissed about that. Why did I train for this marathon and not even get a PR? Why did I do better two years ago when I had an injury?? What should I have done differently? This is what went through my mind those last 6 miles. We made the last turn back to downtown and I took out my headphones because I really needed to hear the spectators to get me to the finish. I heard lots of encouraging words, and I just wanted to cry. What's the point of doing a marathon when it's just shitty?? You hear about people dying at marathons (two were taken to the hospital yesterday. One is in critical condition.). Is it really worth it? I think my mind is still in a bad, bad place. As I lay here with ice on my legs...

I *finally* got to the finish line and I didn't want to stop running because I knew walking would be much much worse. One guy even commented, "she doesn't want to stop!". Truth is, I wanted to cry and get the hell out of there. They have everything so spread out so the finish line doesn't get congested (which is smart), so I ran up to the people giving away the medals and accepted my medal, almost in tears. But looking at this picture, I looked so happy!! Hello, you just finished a marathon. What an amazing accomplishment!!

And maybe that's why I love the marathon. It really shows what you can do... even through all of the unbearable pain, you can still finish.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Mo' Cowbell 2014

Since I'm running the Chicago Marathon next weekend, I didn't think I'd do this race. I was pretty bummed because I love this race... it was my first half marathon, and it has a special place in my heart. I signed up Thursday night.

St. Charles Historic Main Street.
It was a pretty chilly morning. Which is usual for this time of year... However, last week's half marathon was totally different. I was wearing shorts and it was warm. Being packed together with other warm bodies helps, though.

Race Start.
My only goal for this race was to take it nice and easy. I was only scheduled to do 8 miles... so I definitely didn't want over do it. I took it nice and slow and felt super strong! The first two miles were a pain however. I overdressed and was way too warm. DOH! I'm so glad I signed up for this race so I could learn my lesson here and not in Chicago. I'm just so used to warm weather, and when I hear it's going to be a 38 degree race start, I freaked out a bit. I'm still unsure what I'll wear in the marathon, because it might be rainy.

4th Mo' Cowbell in the books!
I finished the half in 2:18:09. Seems to be the usual time now days! I hope one day to break the 2 hour half, but it isn't going to happen this year. I hope to have at least one PR this year... (Marathon).

Anyways, so glad I signed up for this last minute. I don't think it will hurt me... I think learned some lessons.