Today is post-marathon day 4. My legs feel like they are getting back to normal. I finally feel less ravenous, and don’t feel the need to eat everything in sight, as I did the past couple of days. My suitcase still sits on the floor. Clothes are half-pulled out, and maps of Chicago and race info lay in a pile next to the suitcase. While my weekend trip may be over, I have wonderful memories to hold in my heart.
Chicago is definitely one of my favorite cities in the U.S. The architecture is so beautiful, the shopping is wonderful, and I swear there was a Starbucks on every street corner, literally! The weather, for the most part, was very nice, although a bit chilly (better than being too warm). After all, I was there to run a marathon!
Last Friday, my friend, Laura, and I arrived to our hotel about the same time. She flew into O’hare, I flew into Midway. We checked in, unpacked, and decided to go to the race expo that afternoon instead of Saturday (hoping that I could rest my legs most of the day). Right around the corner of our hotel was a shuttle bus to the expo. We loaded on the bus, and on we went. The expo was fantastic. Very well organized, no waiting in line, my only complaint was that there was a lot of walking. The marathon organizers strategically place the race bib pickup, and t-shirt pickup far apart, to force you around the building to see the vendors.
Later that evening, we met up with some UM college friends for dinner who were in town for the Miami-Notre Dame football game. So, in addition to being a trip for me to run the marathon, I had a mini college reunion as well! Can’t say that happens very often! 🙂
Saturday, my friend Laura wanted to see where a good meet-up spot would be after I finished. Instead of taking a cab (which I later regretted), we walked. We walked to Grant Park, saw the beautiful Art Institute of Chicago, got a sneak peak of the race start, and then walked back to the hotel along the lake front. While the scenery was amazing, the skyscrapers in the back drop, this is definitely where I went wrong. TOO MUCH WALKING THE DAY BEFORE the marathon. Although I had my water bottle in tow, I’m pretty sure that’s why my legs felt heavy so early on in the race on Sunday.
Later on Saturday, we went out again, trying to find a place to eat dinner. Even at 5:30pm, every Italian restaurant was booked with a 1 hour wait. No surprise, everyone was thinking the same thing we were- “eat dinner early”. Again, we walked. We finally found a restaurant with a heated patio, that had immediate seating.
After dinner, we headed back to our hotel, I organized my outfit for race morning, and headed to bed.
I woke up at 5:00am on race morning, dressed as I ate a cup of oatmeal, and drank a cup or so of water. By 5:40am, Laura and I headed down to the gear check. I paid extra for the Balbo Hospitality tent (private heated tent with food/beverages, tables and chairs, and private port-o-potties/ gear check. I can’t even emphasize how worth the $75 ticket was. They even have escorts to the start and help you find your corral! About 7am, it was time to head to my corral (B), for a 7:30am start. I was really expecting the start area/corral to be a lot more congested than it was. The marathon organizers did an outstanding job with that part. The two wave start (7:30am/8:00am) was really helpful.
Every marathon I learn about what I did right, and what I could have done differently. This time around, my training cycle was 16 weeks. Although, as I look back in my training log, there were 5 weeks (in July), where my mileage was only 9 miles or less- due to traveling or getting side tracked. August and September were fairly consistent, and my longest long run was 22 miles, 3 weeks before the marathon. Peak weekly mileage was 57 miles. This time around, I didn’t want to make the same mistakes I had in the past. I made sure I was properly hydrated, fueled on race morning, and drank a cup of Gatorade, and only Gatorade, at most every aid station. My original plan was to try for a 3:30:00. The way I was feeling early on, I didn’t think a PR was going to be that day. (My current marathon PR is 3:28:04). My legs started feeling heavy and beat up by mile 9 (probably from too much walking the days before), and for whatever reason, my stomach felt tense. This was more of a problem than my legs because I didn’t know what to expect once I started taking Gatorade along the course. Fortunately, while the tightness didn’t subside until later that day, I never had any other stomach issues, and was able to drink a cup of Gatorade at almost each aid station starting around mile 4 (I carried water with me up until that point).
- Mile 1: 7:49
- Mile 2: 7:25
- Mile 3: 7:49
- Mile 4: 7:42
- Mile 5: 7:50
- Mile 6: 7:59
- Mile 7: 7:53
- Mile 8: 7:56
- Mile 9: 8:09
- Mile 10: 8:05
- Mile 11: 8:02
- Mile 12: 8:04
- Mile 13: 8:57
- Mile 14: 7:24
- Mile 15:8:18
- Mile 16: 8:23
- Mile 17: 8:28
- Mile 18: 8:32
- Mile 19: 8:33
- Mile 20: 8:41
- Mile 21: 8:50
- Mile 22: 8:41
- Mile 23: 8:55
- Mile 24: 9:01
- Mile 25: 9:12
- Mile 26: 8:59
- Mile 26.2: 7:47 (0.4 miles per my Garmin)
Official time: 3:38:50 (8:21 min/mi)
So long for 3:30:00; however, I achieved my alternate goal, and that was to beat 3:40:00! On top of that, even though I am not able to go for 2013, I BQ’d for a second time! That, in my books, is pretty darn cool. 🙂 Especially considering, this was only marathon #4.
With every marathon I have completed, I reflect on what I could have done differently. I feel like this one I stayed very focused throughout the 26.2 miles, instead of just the last 6.2, if only my legs could have cooperated more. Mentally, I stayed much stronger for this one, than previous. Most of all, I TRULY enjoyed every step. During the last few miles, when I saw so many runners walking or stopped, holding their leg (probably cramping), I stayed tough, and did not let my body rule my mind. I made my mind rule my body. No matter how tough it got, I was going to stay strong.
Today, I am planning on doing my first run since the marathon- a very easy 3 miles or so. It makes me so happy to think about being in my running shoes again. This upcoming weekend, instead of me racing, it will be my husband. He is running in a local 5K.
Did you run Chicago Marathon? Do you have a fall marathon planned?