Thursday, November 13, 2014

Chicago Marathon Recap 2014

I always wanted to run one of the big city marathons so when my cousin Erin moved to Chicago, it was the perfect time to make that happen.  I suggested Erin and her husband Alex run the marathon with me and what do you know, they signed up for it too!  2014 was the first year for the Chicago Marathon lottery and as luck would have it, all three of us won the lottery and registered to run 26.2 miles through the windy city!

After 20 weeks of training, with a slight interruption for influenza B, Mike and I were on our way to Chicago for the October 12th race and my 5th marathon.  We arrived Thursday afternoon so we had plenty of time to visit with Erin and Alex and see some of the city.

Walking along Lake Michigan

Relaxing our nerves at the ale house

On Saturday we visited the Expo for packet pickup and shopping.  This was a nice, big expo with lots of venders and fun pre-race activities.  Even Mike enjoyed the expo samples!

Marathon morning was finally here!  First time marathoners, Erin and Alex, were a little nervous.  I tried to give helpful tips to ease their nerves.  One tip was to use body glide in lots of places because races cause you to chafe in weird places you've never chafed in before.

The temperature was in the high 40s that morning but Erin and I stuck with our matching running tanks.  We kept warm before the start with throw-away jackets that I found at Goodwill.  It warmed up nicely to the mid 60s which was perfect running weather!  FYI - all throw-away clothes are collected and donated to local charities.

Alex, Erin, and Me

My fellow Suncoast Striders
Our corral started slightly after 8:00am.  I was a bit chilly at first without my jacket but warmed up by mile 1.  My goal was to finish around 4:30, ideally by 4:29:59, so I started off at a nice pace that I hoped I could maintain throughout my 26.2 miles.  I needed an average pace of 10:18 to finish under 4 hours 30 minutes.  With all the tall buildings and tunnel we ran though, my Garmin's GPS was all over the place.  I didn't have an accurate average pace so I just ran and did my best!

The streets of Chicago were filled with spectators cheering for runners.  I loved the huge cardboard heads on sticks.  With over 40,000 athletes passing by, that was a great way to get a specific runner's attention.  The hand made signs were funny and made me smile. Especially the one that read "Smile if you just peed a little".  The energy in each of Chicago's neighborhoods was electric!  This was a perfect first marathon for Erin and Alex (and maybe their only according to Alex).

Around mile 7, I passed a young, fit looking, man lying in the middle of the race course receiving CPR by paramedics.  I thought about him throughout the rest of the race hoping he was ok.*

By mile 10 I thought, why am I doing this...I don't like the marathon distance...this should be my last marathon.  That was an early wall for me...usually I don't feel that way until mile 17-18.  I remembered my body was tired from three nights of not sleeping in my own bed.  I was in Chicago, maybe running my last marathon, so I made the best of it!

After that, I ignored the signs, tuned out the people and focused on the blue marathon course line...which I didn't notice until halfway through the race.  I also watched the road for uneven pavement and manholes that weren't flush with the road as I felt my legs get heavy.

In the last couple of miles, I really thought I might pass out.  I felt overheated, my fingers were tingling and my head was out of it.  I stopped for Gatorade and a short walk before hurdling the bridge on the last piece of the course. I ran in place on that mile 26 bridge.  There was no sprint in me at the end.  I felt like I might fall over at any moment.  My legs had never hurt so bad in my life.  But through it all, I finished my 5th marathon with a new PR!

I met my goal of around 4:30, coming in at 4:34:15.  My Garmin had me over 26.2 miles probably because I didn't stick close to the blue line in the first half.

Erin and Alex also met their goals coming in at 5:05 and 3:56 respectively.

I relaxed on the grass enjoying the gorgeous weather and sunshine.  I replaced my running shoes with my beloved flip-flops, noting that I didn't have a single blister on my feet. I met up with some running buddies and enjoyed our victories over the Chicago Marathon!

Place Gender: 7995/18402
Place Age Group: 1157/2641
Place Overall: 22215/40598
Avg Pace: 10:27 min/mile
Finish Time: 04:34:15

That's a new PR for me!!  I shaved off over 15 minutes from my previous PR at A1A Marathon.  Another plus, no areas chafed and zero blisters on my feet!

*The man I saw receiving CPR on the course was 29 and ok after a hospital visit.


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