I did it! I ran a marathon and yes, I’m alive!
I raised $1,413.20 for Team LUNGevity and finished in 5:01 (click here if you want to see my sweaty pics)! I can officially say now that the marathon was a better experience and in my mind easier than registering (and getting my results which took 2 days). Here’s my breakdown of Marathon Weekend (see photos at the bottom):
Fleet Feet Shake Out Run: Saturday morning I went to Fleet Feet in the South Loop for my final pre-marathon run. It was a great experience to be able to get out with others doing the marathon and Bart Yasso! We met at Fleet Feet and checked in and then headed out to the Shedd for a quick there and back 2-3 miles. I had the chance to talk with a few out of towners who were in Chicago for the first time and several people who have run marathons before. I was able to get some last minute questions answered and calm my nerves a little. When we got back, we had coffee and breakfast waiting for us and as we a finished up, we listened to Bart Yasso talk about some races he’s done and answer questions.
Expo: Steve and I headed over to the expo around 10:30am and met my family (my uncle was running as well). We got our bibs right away and then waked around to the different booths picking up our t-shirt, taste testing, and visiting all of the Chicago Marathon exhibits. They had a few pretty cool things! There was a video playing where they showed the entire course and every mile marker and then they had a mural of Chicago buildings with magnets covering them and participants could take a magnet and sign their name in the spot. They also had the alert level flags which Samantha mentioned was a great photo op!
Saturday Evening: After the expo Steve and I hung out for a little and then drove his car to my apartment so that my family could park in his spot in the morning. Saturday was my youngest sister’s first homecoming and since I wasn’t there, my other sister took pics and sent them to me all evening. I planned on going to either Home Slice or Vapiano for dinner in Lincoln Park but then as we were on our way I changed my mind and said I wanted to go to Lou Malnati’s. Since there is one by Steve’s we just headed over there on the red line toward that location. I should have stuck with my original plan because we got there and it was packed! So instead of putting our name in or listening to one of Steve’s several other ideas, I cried that I was hungry. We ended up eating at Flo and Stanto’s a few blocks away and ordered soup, bruschetta and pizza –everything was great! When we got back to his condo I laid everything out including my breakfast and pinned my bib to my shirt and then we hung out and I went to bed.
Marathon: I slept pretty well the night before and got up around 5:30 rested. I had coffee, ate some of my bagel, oatmeal and banana and waited for my family to get there. Right before we were about to leave I got nervous and started crying. . . yep, that’s right. . I was crying! I got it together and then we headed out and walked to Grant Park. Uncle Tom and I took a few pictures and then parted from our cheer section — we took a pit stop at the porta potties and then got into our corral. We waited for about 10-15 minutes, listened to a few announcements and then took off. The first 2 miles or so were easy (thank God or I would have been in trouble) but they were a little congested. When we turned onto State between mile 1 and 2 there were a few points were we almost started walking again because there were so many people. As we got to the 2nd mile though it cleared up and I found my pace. I spotted Lindsey first right before mile 2 and then my Aunt Karen, Steve and Mr. Daar right after! Thankfully we planned out where they would be standing and I knew where LUNGevity and my other friends were so I was able to breakdown the miles in my head until I saw someone again which helped a lot. Miles 2-5 were pretty boring. We went up LaSalle and I people watched and listened to music for the most part. Aside from seeing my family and friends, mile 6ish was my favorite part of the race. There was a retirement home that had 2 floors with windows facing the street that we ran in and so many of the residents had signs (one said ‘run while you still can’) for us that they held up to the windows and they danced and cheered!
After that I only had about 2 miles until I saw my aunt, Steve and Mr. Daar again! I spotted them on Broadway about a block or so after I turned on from Addison and heard them cheering! Then about a mile after that I saw Katie, Kelly and Katie!! I continued to run down Sedgwick and then Wells where I saw Lululemon and a few girls I run and do yoga with — they had music and some pretty funny signs that kept me entertained for blocks! Then right around mile 12 I saw a fellow Team LUNGevity runner ahead of me so I sped up to talk to him. We chatted for a few minutes and then parted ways after the water station.
Mile 13 and 14 were my favorite miles of the race. I still felt really good and then as I passed 13 I heard my dad and uncle cheering for me really loudly! A few blocks later I saw my sister’s sign that she had put up and then at mile 14 I saw Samantha, Rejane, Brett and Anne cheering! Since I knew I would have family and LUNGevity at 13 and 14, I spent a lot of that time skimming the crowd so by the time I hit Samantha and she grabbed and hugged me, I was in a daze! I heard her ask me if I was okay and I said hi to everyone and grabbed pretzels, but everything happened so quickly!
Then it got tough. . .
Mile 15 or so my right hip and knee started hurting (and continued to for the rest of the race). My hip had hurt for my 20 miler as well so I was prepared for this to happen. What I wasn’t prepared for was my foot to go numb! I figured as I ran that the pain in my hip was causing this but then I realized around mile 17 that my shoe was just tied too tight (phew)! So once I loosened up my shoe laces I felt a lot better. The next 3 miles felt long but pretty steady until I hit the bridge at mile 20. I’ve heard people talk about hitting the wall but it felt more like the wall hit me! Miles 20-23 were definitely the hardest of all. My hip hurt, the view was terrible, there was barely anyone cheering in that area and it was boring! By then I was pretty much over my music so it took everything in me to get to the end. Once we hit Michigan though with 2 miles to go I could finally see that I was close to finishing a marathon and my mood turned around completely! Mile 24 was tough but the cheering started to ramp up again and there was music and people dancing and enough going on to distract me from being uncomfortable. Once I hit mile 25 though it was pretty much smooth sailing to the end! I knew I would see my family and the Daar’s so I looked forward to them being near Michigan and 14th. I saw them and then I was so distracted by everyone cheering that the bridge at the end felt like nothing at all! I turned the corner and sped up toward the finish and then went through the most efficient end chute I’ve ever seen! They wrap the blanket around you then you get your medal and as you walk people just come out and hand you things and you continue to feel better and better along the way! I got to the end and grabbed beer and waited for my uncle to finish!
Post Marathon: After I met up with my uncle we headed over to find Steve, my dad, my Uncle Joe and Aunt Karen. We all met up on Michigan, took a few pictures and walked back to Steve’s. Once everyone left, we headed straight upstairs to the hot tub where I immediately got in with my clothes on (I’m pretty sure that’s not recommended after but it felt great). Then I showered and we went to Eleven City Diner for a post race meal. I couldn’t decide between waffles or a burger (I know, such a bad problem to have) so I let the waiter pick. He came back with a bacon cheeseburger and a plate full of fries (phew) which I proceeded to inhale along with my pickle and some of Steve’s soup! After we ate we walked back and the rest of the afternoon and evening I napped! The worst part of the experience was when my time was posted online and it was my clock time instead of my chip time. I thought they would update it within a couple hours or so but it was an emotional roller coaster (sorry to all of those that were harmed by me along the way). I checked it for 2 days and it was still at 5:44 and I called to see if I could get it updated so I could have my medal engraved Monday at Fleet Feet and the person on the phone told me I could ‘put whatever time I want on it’ which made me even more upset! Then at work the next day they updated the time to 4:59 which I was super happy about and then just after I finished telling everyone and their mother, I went back to look at photos and I saw that it was updated again to 5:01. Yes, I know that it’s only a 2 minute difference but above and below 5 hours seems like way more! So I gave up checking it until I started writing this and it’s still at 5:01 so that’s the time I’m sticking with. I ended up getting my medal engraved (not with a fake time. . . like the Chicago Marathon staff suggested so kindly) but with my name and ‘1st marathon’ on the back which I’m okay with now.
Recovering: I feel great now! I walked around Monday and Tuesday and then Wednesday I ran for the first time for about 20 minutes. This week though I’m back to running . . .for fun. . . which is nice! I’m able to run a few days a week and go back to things I missed while I was training like hot yoga! The one downside is that I can’t eat nearly enough as I was before if I want to fit into any of the bridesmaid dresses in my near future (3 so far). . .
A few things I know now:
1. Oranges are a great running food! I ran the whole thing without any stomach problems and not once did I feel sick! I decided to go with the Clif shot bloks and had 3-4 bloks every 5-6 miles and then I had a few oranges toward the end of the race!
2. Don’t tie your shoes too tight!
3. Water stations are tricky! I was afraid of not getting enough water but also of drinking too much so I stopped at every station and took small, slow sips. If I could do that again I would probably have stopped at 2-3 less water stations and gone through them a little more quickly than I did. The water stations were really where I slowed down and I was not prepared for the amount of weaving or the amount of banana peels there would be at the last 3 (seriously, why didn’t anyone warn me about the bananas).
4. Miles 18-24 are boring! The views suck and there are a lot less people cheering! Just my opinion: they should reverse the route. . .
5. Something weird happens after you finish a marathon for the first time. You’re so happy and proud of yourself and your day (well week) is consumed with people telling you how great you did and you spend time recovering and then once you finish the week of ‘recovering’ you think. . now what? It’s weird not to be training and have to schedule your life around runs and you miss it!
1. You run better than the CTA and government
2. If it were easy it would be called your mom
A few non-running things that I learned from this experience:
1. I have the world’s greatest boyfriend. Not only did he schlep around the city to see me 4 times at the race, he listened to me complain about being sore and starving (and full) for months and devoted the entire weekend to marathon events. And thank you to Mr. Daar who came out to cheer for me!
2. Samantha Guelda. . . I mean Kellgren (woo she got married!) is a phenomenal runner, coach, Team LUNGevity Manager, eater and motivational speaker (she’s funny too, check out her blog)! There is no way I could have run it without her — her advice is amazing and her food stories are even better. If anyone is looking for a coach, I’m sure she’d happily assist you in exchange for Luna Bars.
3. LUNGevity is a pretty great place! Aside from supporting the largest national lung cancer grassroots events program and having the largest online cancer support network, LUNGevity Foundation is a wonderful and supportive place to work. I am lucky to have amazing co-workers who supported me through the training and several who came out on marathon morning and cheered! And all of my volunteer event coordinators kept up with my progress and cheered me on! We also had a very solid, inspirational group of runners on Team LUNGevity this year who raised $48,074.48 so far (blog about Team LUNGevity to follow)!
4. I have some pretty great friends and roommates! My friends have been incredible through my training and my roommates and friends came out to support me in the cold at mile 8 of the race! Sign and flowers in our apartment!
5. My family is the best! My entire family has been cheering me on for months leading up to the event and my dad, uncle, aunt and sister came to cheer us on. Having family and friends every few miles was extremely helpful and gave me something to look forward to while I was running. I’ve always looked up to my Uncle Tom (it was his first one too) but I am even more proud of him for training and running the marathon!
So, people keep asking me: will I do it again? YES! I plan to do Chicago again next year and beat my time and fundraising! It took me only about 6 minutes after crossing the finish line (and 2 beers) to come to that decision! In the meantime, I am doing a Thanksgiving Pie Race in the suburbs and tonight I will be feasting on this gelato doughnut sandwich (obviously a review will follow).