Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Race Recap: Chicago Marathon 2011

Well it's official I ran a marathon. I freaking ran a marathon. It is still sinking in that I actually trained and completed something like this.

I am so incredibly thankful to my friends and family who have supported me through all of the training. I was completely overwhelmed with the support and congratulations I received via text, e-mail, phone, twitter, facebook and in person before, during, and after the race. It really means the world to me. I can't believe the response I got from this little facebook post!

Picture 3

There are so many things I can write about, but I think the thing that has stuck with me the most was a tweet I received from Nathan (Krissie's Nathan). He asked me "At any point, did you think I'm never running again?" The honest answer? NO!  This surprises even me.

My strategy for this race was pretty different to most races I ran this year. Most races were fueled by the Garmin. I wanted to improve my time. I set goals and I wanted to meet them. I mean I did after all run a sub 7 minute mile this summer, which had been a long time goal. However, I had been reading about the Garmin and how it isn't quite accurate in Chicago due to the skyscrapers and underpasses we would run under. So I read a few things about auto lap and auto pause and turned them off. I instead planned to use the manual lap function and lap it every time I saw the mile marker trying to keep as close to a 9:10 pace as possible. After mile 1 I soon realized this wasn't going to work too well and I didn't have my average pace displayed so that all went out the window and I pretty much said F-it and changed my strategy. My new strategy was to just run at a comfortable pace and enjoy myself.

Miles 1-3 were probably my least favorite miles of the race. I saw a lady trip while running across the bridge less than a mile into the race. I am just glad she didn't get trampled. I also realized it was going to be damn near impossible to find anyone in the crowd because I had no idea where anyone would be except for one person. The crowds and runners were more plentiful than I could have imagined. It was crowded and people were trying to find their pace. There were lots of turns and lots of other runners close by. We ran through the Zoo and Lincoln park up towards Wrigleyville. Right around mile 8.5 was where my friend was supposed to be. He had sent me an e-mail and text the night before with pretty detailed description of where he and his girlfriend would be. I remember thinking the directions were pretty detailed, but once I was running I soon realized it was necessary. So at the point I thought I was supposed to see him, the crowds were still pretty thick. And I had resigned myself to the fact that I missed them. And then I saw them. I stopped running for a split second and gave him a hug I was so excited to see someone I knew and then waived at his girlfriend, who I had just technically just met at that very moment.

As I headed back towards downtown I caught up with the 4:15 pace group. In the corrals they were ahead of me, so I knew they would be running about 9:45 miles. At this point my goal was to stick near them and maybe run ahead since they don't slow down for water. I ended up throwing that plan out of the window and just running. My goal was to now finish under 4:15 and to not have the 4:15 pace group pass me at any remaining point of the race. Somewhere back into downtown they had the best thing ever, blue sponges that they handed out. I could get some of the salt of my face and cool down my head a little bit. It was also around this time that the runners started to thin out a bit and at points it felt like I had plenty of room around me. I felt like I was running with a big smile on my face. As we headed back into downtown, I started to realize I still had a large part of the race left, but never did I think I was not running again.

At exactly the half way point I heard Brittany yell "East Nasty". I honestly couldn't believe with all the crowds I saw another person I knew. It was also at the point that I had my eyes set on this tall guy who looked like he was running my pace. I was totally going to let him pace me in, but I ended up passing him and losing him in the crowd.

At some point between miles 13 and 17 were kind of a blur and kind of boring. Mile 17 I took some Jolly Ranchers from a kind gentleman passing them out to runners. It was a complete crap shoot as to what flavors I was going to getting. I ended up with cherry and apple. My two favorite flavors! At mile 17.5 we ran past the place we had eaten dinner at the night before.

18-21 were another blue. Around mile 21 I hear someone yell my full name. I turn it is my friend and his girlfriend, who at this point I felt like we were old friends since she was cheering for me again and I had literally just met her 2 hours ago. Super surprised to see them again. And then less than a half a mile later I saw another friend in the crowd. And then I was in Chinatown. The crowds were huge here.  Sometime after Chinatown we started running next to a freeway. This had to have been the most boring part of the race.ho

Miles 23-26 were all a mental game. I had to tell myself that this was just an easy 4 mile run at Shelby Bottoms- one of the flattest places to run in Nashville. I just kept telling myself that. Before I knew, the finish line was near. We ran up a slight hill, which I was actually sort of grateful for. A man on the sides cheered me on by name (I had my name on my bib) and before I knew it I was done! I didn't cry at the finish, but I did get a little emotional that I had just finished a marathon.

4 hours 12 minutes and 9 seconds later I was a marathoner!


Picture 2Random thoughts on the race:

  • I wish they had seeded the entire marathon and just not those who they thought would finish under 4 hours.
  • I seriously wanted some hills about halfway through.
  • A good nutrition plan is necessary. I had salt pills and gu/cliff shot blocks every hour or so.
  • It is possible to run a marathon and have fun!
  • My two favorite songs from my marathon playlist: My Oh My by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. If you ever went to a Mariners game at the Kingdome, this song is for you. I love this song so much that I had to listen to it twice in a row. My other favorite: Show Me by Mint Royale. 
  • The support crowds were amazing. If you ever run a big race, put your name on your bib/shirt.
I had such an amazing time and I can't believe it's over. Thank you for all of your support. I can't wait to hear about which one of my friends is going to get the marathon bug next! I am off to Arizona for a trip to the Grand Canyon, Tucson, and Phoenix!