So my brother said to me, "How about we run the Chicago marathon?"
Over 500 miles of training, running in four different states and six months later, there we were.
The whole experience of the marathon was incredible. First off, it was amazing to walk around the city and see so many other people who you knew would be running on Sunday (you could recognize them because everyone had to cart their "Participant Bag" around the city). There was a great sense of community from both participants and spectators. Over 45,000 people were slated to run, and over 1.4 million people were going to be lining the course along the way. It was the experience of a lifetime for so many reasons. Here are several of the highlights/details of the race:
miles 1-10: no work at all At the beginning of the race I kept getting zings of energy. I was so excited and pumped up that I thought I could probably just float to the finish line. It was still relatively cool at this point, and the sights and sounds of the crowd were incredible. I have a mental snapshot of running under the bridge at about mile 1; there were people lining both sides of the streets, going up to the bridge, and on top of the bridge. Everyone was going crazy, and the energy swell was something you could literally feel.
11-16: work At this point the sun was up and beating down on us pretty good. The blacktop was warming, so I was starting to feel baked. I started running through every sprinkler station. I also started drinking 2-3 cups of water at every aid station. Which is also when I made the first bathroom stop.
16-20: a struggle I needed to find a bathroom again. Stat. This was where I was running a mile at a time, waiting for the next aid station where I could get some more water. Thinking to myself, there's a banana coming up, there's a Gu packet coming up....
20-22: i think i can One foot in front of another.
22-26.2: pure gut Almost there. Gut it out. You can do it. Walk a little if you need to. Pick it back up. Walk a bit more. Pick it back up. I hit the wall at about 22 miles. I knew I'd finish, but it was sheer will power putting one foot in front of the other. The night before the race, the door of the L sliced my toe and so I was really feeling it toward the end. I knew my sock was bloodied and my toenails were aching. But I knew it was almost done. This is where we saw Aaron along the course. He ran with us briefly & told us he was hoarse from screaming for us a few miles earlier on the course. I wanted to sprint the last .2, but I just didn't have it in me. I gave it everything I had, took in the last 800 meters, and crossed the finish line.
My emotions throughout the entire experience were eVeRyWhErE. Leading up to the race I felt strong and confident. I knew I was on track to shave some good time off of last year's race. I was so excited to be in Chicago and enjoying every minute of every experience. At the expo I was getting teary. I don't know why...maybe because it felt like the culmination of everything, but right before the main event? I can't explain it; all I know is that I was fighting for composure most of the time at the expo. While waiting to cross the starting line, I kept getting zings of energy. I felt 0% dread, only excitement. At about mile 15 I was really glad that my brother was running with me. It felt secure and comfortable knowing that I wasn't alone among 45,000 other people. At the end of the race, I felt relief and pride. I knew I'd given it my all. If the conditions were a little different, I know I would have reached my goal. But finishing in 5:15:30 felt awesome. I couldn't have done it any better for this race.
Some mental pictures I have of the race:
- standing @ the start, Millennium Park to the left, music blasting, people throwing back Gu shots, discarding sweats into piles that we had to walk over/around on our way to the Start
- mile 1, going under the bridge, spectators all around and above you on the bridge
- running in the loop to the Chicago Theater, seeing the amazing spectators, marathoner heads bobbing
- turning the corner about 800m from the finish line, energy swells, spectators scream
The Loop--the essence of Chicago
Boys Town--a flamboyant spectacle, a party for your eyes
Nike Inspiration Zone (Mile 18?)--good music, lots of people
Chinatown--this was hands down the best part of the race, the energy completely swelled, there were dragons dancing, gongs gonging, people cheering, it was amazing
running over the river (grated beneath you so it literally felt like you were running over the river)
There were hundreds of signs along the course, but here are some of my favorites:
- Go complete stranger!
- Worst parade ever.
- Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.
- Sweat = liquid awesomeness
- Holding this sign is work too
- Pain is weakness leaving the body (doesn't really make sense, but I still like it)
- After all the training, enjoy your 26.2 mile victory lap
Runners who have stuck with me:
Wazzup guys--two guys running with a sign that said "Wazzup!" These guys would yell out to the crowd throughout the race. They'd say, "Hey woman standing on the center island! Wazzzzzzuuuuuuuppp!" Or, "Hey mile seven! Wazzzzzzuuuuuuuppppp!"
Cavemen--two guys dressed as cavemen...don't know why they stand out to me
Man running with a flag--I assume military
SO many people were running for charities or dedicating their run to someone. A few made me choke up a little bit.
- Thanks, Annie, for the kidney
- No human being is illegal
- Running a marathon is hard, living without you is harder
- People running with names written on their back of those who have died from various forms of cancer
- Every charity/group you could think of seemed to be represented: World Vision, ending aids, free Palestine
Thoughts I remember having through the race:
I'm done with gatorade.
I'll take another water. and another. and ano-ther.
Spray me with a hose, yespleaseandthankyou.
I wonder if my soles are melting.
I wish these people wouldn't keep stopping all around me, it's hard to get around them and it makes me think they know something I don't.
How can someone run AND drink beer?
I'm glad I don't need my ipod since it isn't charged anyway.
Hey, there's my old dorm window!
Need a bathroom, stat.
Vaseline? What for?
I wonder if all of this back sweat is adding to the humidity.
I highly recommend running the Chicago marathon. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute before, during, and after the race.