Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chicago...I love you, I love you not

This...1,000 times this! Day 3 post-marathon and I am definitely feeling MUCH better...but those darn stairs still get me EVERY time! I've resorted to walking backwards down the stairs at may look funny, but I can confidently walk down the stairs without fear of my legs giving out ;)

At school I have refrained from walking down the stairs backwards (or taking the elevator) so I do look a bit like a zombie from "The Walking Dead" as I hobble down the stairs to my classroom...don't worry, my kiddos are getting a kick out of it ;)

Before the race I held on to the hope that I would miraculously not be too sore...It's like I blocked-out the after race soreness from last year and was living in a fantasy world...Running 26.2 miles will ALWAYS make you sore! 

I have been going back and forth all day about how I wanted to proceed with this race-recap...because on one hand I am over the moon excited with my performance and couldn't be happier and overall I was really pleased with the race...but there is still this side of me that felt a little disappointed.

I don't like to dwell on the negative and I always try to find the best in every situation...but I just can't seem to understand all the hype behind "The Chicago Marathon"

I was a great race...but I can't say that I would have felt the same if I didn't walk away with my PR and sub 4:00.

There were a lot of great things about the packet pick-up...What.A.Breeze! Most definitely the smoothest packet pick-up I have ever experienced...and with 45,000 runners I did not anticipate this at all!  

The expo was phenomenal...they had tons of vendors and lots of cool stuff. I wish I hadn't been so distracted and anxious about the race so I could have enjoyed it more! 

I also loved the course...flat, mostly shaded, and filled with spectators from mile 1 to mile 26.2! I never felt that isolated feeling that I had last year in KC during miles 23-26. It was definitely a HUGE motivator to keep moving and finish the race strong. 
But that is about where I stop with "things I loved" about the race. I feel bad saying this...because everyone I have ever talked to RAVES about the race and talks about how wonderful it is...and while yes, it was an incredible experience and I am SO grateful I had the opportunity to do a big marathon like this...I can't say that if I had the chance...I would do it again.

I'm a solo 45,000 people running the streets of Chicago with me was definitely something that had me feeling anxious going into it.

Saying our good-byes before I headed to the corral! I was a HUGE ball of nerves!

Also, when I registered they asked me what my expected finish time was, and I put 4 hours it was a huge surprise to me when I got to the corrals Sunday morning and I was in corral H with the 4:40 and 5 hour pacers...The 4 hour pacer was 2 corrals ahead of me and started almost 10 minutes before my way would I ever catch up to them! 

Corral H felt like it was MILES from the start line! I was in wave 2 and they started at corral didn't cross the start line until almost 8:30! Talk about idle anxieties!
Not having a pacer I can deal with...but dodging and weaving through hundreds of runners going almost 2 mins per mile slower than me? Not fun...not fun at all!  I spent almost 13 miles using up more energy than I would have liked trying to get out of the crowds and catch up with runners going more my pace...and even then there were still SO many people. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I got bumped in to, stepped on, or elbowed. There were even people that would come to a complete stop right in front of me without any was frustrating to say the least.

I tried taking pictures along the course...but with the congestion it wasn't easy! I stopped trying after the first mile!

The water stops were very frequent and the volunteers were top notch...however every time we came to an aide station it would get very congested and it was often tough to get what you needed. I usually like to slow to a walk through the aide stations so I can drink my water without choking...but early on I realized that I would need to figure out a way to drink my water/Gatorade while running...needless to say I spilled on myself a few times ;)

In most races I have run, the crowds tend to clear out within the first few miles...but this was definitely not the case with The Chicago Marathon. I ran shoulder to shoulder with the other runners all 26.2 miles. While the camaraderie was great and it definitely kept me caused me to miss seeing my friends and family along the course. 

While this wasn't a HUGE was definitely one of the things I enjoyed most about the KC Marathon.

Another struggle for me was my GPS connection...with the buildings it was WAY off (at some points it said I was running a 3 minute mile!) and by the end of the race I had NO clue what my finish time was...according to my watch I had run 27.28 miles...which I suppose with all the weaving I did it's possible! But can I tell you how heartbreaking it is to have your watch flash 26 miles...only to realized that you are only at mile 25!

Thankfully my friend Kristen texted me within minutes of me crossing the finish line with the good news! :)

Another negative for me was the finish line...while there were crowds all 26.2 miles, spectators were not allowed past the finish line. I crossed the finish line and walked for what felt like forever to get my medal, a mylar blanket (which it was WAY too hot for), and a beer-on second thought...this part can be added to the list of things I loved :)

I was definitely a little disoriented after crossing the finish line (I'm sure the beer went straight to my head lol!) and I was loaded up with more things than I ever want to hold post 26.2-usually AJ holds my stuff ;)

This made getting ahold of AJ a little difficult. I tried calling (poor cell reception) and texting (the sun was so bright I could hardly see the screen) so I ended up walking around aimlessly looking for him. I walked (for what felt like 26 more miles) to the runner reuniting areas (stairs were involved-MEAN!) and spent an additional 30 minutes looking before I finally found him.

While we eventually found each other (whew!) it definitely took some of the wind out of my sails. I was tired and feeling a little cranky...and all I really wanted to do was celebrate  my sub 4:00! 

Luckily, after finding the whole group...and grabbing another beer I was feeling much better and was able to fully take everything in! In that moment...nothing (not even all of the frustrations from the crowded course) could have brought me back down from cloud 9!

Family :)

No better person to share this experience with!
It's like Jenni knows us or something? ;)

No trip to Chicago is complete without a visit to THE BEAN!

While part of my review was complaining...I have to say all-in-all I couldn't have asked for a better day! 

And yes, the crowds while running were rough...

I can't help but wonder if my slower pace in the beginning helped me to finish the second half faster. My first 13.1 was 2 hours 1 minute and my second was 1 hour 53 minutes...which was a huge win in my books!

Another big win for me was that I ran the whole thing...I NEVER thought this was possible. I hit the wall pretty hard last year in KC and ended up alternating between walking and running for the last 3 miles...

Not this year...I ran the whole darn thing!! I owe this in large part to the incredible spectators and volunteers! Their excitement and enthusiasm definitely helped me to push through the pain and mental games my brain was trying to play on me. 

So again...I hate to complain because all in all it was a great experience...I may or may not still be smiling about it. All the stars aligned perfectly for me and this race. I got a PR, a sub 4, and I felt great while running the I suppose I will forgive the minor inconveniences...this time ;)


  1. I totally agree with everything you wrote. I think for my next time goal race I will pick a smaller marathon and just know that the crowd support won't be as awesome (and maybe my phone and watch will work this time:)

  2. agreed!! I had a great day and experience, but I think it was because I literally had no time goal. None. So, I stopped as much as I wanted taking pictures and enjoying it. I definitely felt like I could have run the first half faster but I knew I didn't want to waste energy weaving in and out since I wasn't shooting for anything haha. Great job on that sub 4 girl!!!! That's my goal, eventually=)

  3. Great job! Chicago is an amazing marathon and experience! :)

  4. Umm....I got a touch of anxiety just reading about the crowds! Ugh!! I am not a marathon runner and I continue to hear all of the hype (most of which seems to revolve around the ease of a PR with the flat course) but sounds like an experience. Period.
    You did great and can check it off the list, right?! :-)

  5. Girl you are so fast! It would take me days to do that many miles! haha

    Ginger Marie |

  6. I hate crowds. I'm running MCM again tomorrow and that is what I'm looking forward to the least; the crowds. Great job on your race though. A sub 4 is a dream for me.