Chicago Marathon Recap

Brace yourselves people, this will be a long one. So grab some coffee or wine, sit back and enjoy.*
And just like that, it’s over and done with.  After months of preparation, training, sweat and tears, the Chicago Marathon weekend came and went in the blink of an eye, and it could not have been more amazing.
Larry, Madelyn and I met my mom and sister at a park & ride on the way to Chicago on Saturday at 8am and they followed us to our hotel in Rosemont, which is right near O’hare airport.  Months ago, I had looked up hotels in downtown Chicago, including the marathon host hotel, The Hilton, and even with “special” marathon deals, I couldn’t believe how outrageous it was.  It would’ve cost us over $600 for a two night stay.  Luckily, my husband has some  connections in the hotel industry and was able to get us a really great deal at the Aloft Hotel.
aloftAfter we dropped off our bags and got settled into the room, we all piled into one car, headed to Panera for a quick breakfast and drove down to the McCormick Place to brave the race expo.  When we got off the expressway, you could feel the buzz and energy that the marathon created in the city.  There were people everywhere carrying their clear, plastic expo bags.  I was getting even more excited and slightly nervous.  The packet pick up at the expo was very well organized.  The only issue I had with it, was the way they had the BIB pick up and T-Shirt pick up on two completely different ends of the expo.  Since I was planning on walking around, I didn’t mind so much, but for someone who wanted to get in and out, I could see it being a hassle.
IMG_2151The expo wasn’t too insane and Madelyn was being the perfect angel, so we were lucky enough to get through all of the booths.  I wish we would’ve had a little bit more time to spend there because there are some booths that I would’ve liked to have spent more time at but the little one did start to get antsy toward the end.  The main thing is, I was able to give my remaining donations to Team Salute and visit my wonderful friend, Kristine, at the Garmin booth.  I was having a crisis with my foot pod the night before the expo and lucky for me, Kristine and the people at Garmin were able to fix it.  What a lifesaver!
IMG_2170The expo also had a lot of fun & interactive stuff set up:
Take a magnet, write a message
take a magnet & write a message
IMG_2160 IMG_2180After the expo, we headed to the Niketown on Michigan Ave to pick up some Chicago marathon swag.  The Nike clothing exhibit at the expo was INSANE!  Niketown had a much more stress-free atmosphere plus they had a DJ spinning and the employees were all dancing.  It was a lot of fun and it helped pump me up for race day.
When we were done shopping and mom and Melissa were done standing in line for popcorn, we headed to Scoozi! for a pre-marathon dinner.  Before we left for Chicago, I “googled” Chicago marathon pasta dinners and Scoozi! was one of the restaurants that came up as having a special pre-marathon dinner.  I had a couple of Italian restaurants in mind that I would’ve liked to have taken my mom and sister to, but I wanted something that was definitely kid-friendly, as Madelyn’s behavior in restaurants is very unpredictable these days.  And of course, she was on her best behavior.  We even received a compliment from the people next to us about how well behaved she was 🙂 {Proud mommy moment}.
Back to food.  Scoozi! was offering a family style meal.  We picked what kind of salad we wanted (Caeser-soooo good!), two pasta dishes, and tiramisu for dessert.  Everything was phenomenal and the service was excellent.  The only thing missing was a glass of wine, which I wanted so badly, but decided to wait until after the marathon.
scoozi
After I carbo-loaded, we headed back to the hotel, organized all of my stuff for race day, and was in bed by 8:45pm.  It was awesome getting to that early.
The next morning, I woke up at 4am.  I got ready, drank some coffee, and we were out the door and in the car by 5am-bagel with peanut butter and banana in hand.  We drove to the CTA blue line stop, parked for $5, and took the blue line all the way to the Monroe stop.  It was super early for everyone (not so much for me, since 4:30 is my usual wake up call), but my cheerleaders were excited and in good spirits!
lpicWe arrived at the Monroe stop at around 6am.  I couldn’t believe how many people were up and around.  It was pretty neat to see Michigan Avenue buzzing with so many people at that time of the day.  We walked to the Hilton Hotel where Team Salute had a room set up for their runners and at about 7am, I said good-bye to my family and I was out the door to my start corral.
startIt was a brisk morning, so I brought a light jacket with me.  Looking back, I wish I would’ve just sucked it up, or better yet, bought a cheap jacket at Goodwill to just toss because I really liked that jacket!  Oh well, I just keep reminding myself that all the tossed clothes went to a good cause and that hubs needs to take me back to San Francisco so that I can buy another one 😉
By the time I got through the gates and past security, I waited in my corral for about a half hour.  It was nice to talk to other people around me and shake off some nervous energy.  At exactly 8 am we were off and running!
IMG_2197
I couldn’t believe how fast the first mile went.  I looked at my watch and realized that I was running a lot faster than what I was planning for.  When I first set out to train for the marathon, my ultimate goal was just to finish.  I had never ran a marathon before so I didn’t know what to expect.  As it got closer to race day, I thought maybe I’d like to try and run it under 5 hours.  In planning for that, at mile 2, I slowed down my pace and kept it up the first half of the race.  Miles 1-13 were a breeze.  The weather was gorgeous, the crowds were AMAZING!  My favorite neighborhoods to run through were Boystown and Old Town.  There was a point in Boystown when the cheering of the crowd completely drowned out the music I had going in my right earbud.  I couldn’t stop smiling!  The crowd was just as amazing in Old Town and the Lululemon cheering squad was so much fun.  I love all of their signs!
When I approached the second half of the race, I had never been so excited to see a 13 mile marker.  I was at the halfway point and well on my way to finishing within my goal time.  At about mile 16, the top of my left foot started to hurt.  I ran through it because the pain wasn’t too bad, but by mile 17 I had stopped to check it out.  I thought maybe I had tied my shoelace too tight, so I retied it to be a little bit looser and continued on my way.  It seemed to have helped until mile 18 when it started to hurt a little bit more and instead of powering through the pain, I stopped to walk.  I alternated walking and running for the rest of the race, but by mile 20 I knew that my goal time was not going to happen and at that point, my main goal was just to finish this thing with all that I had.  I saw my family again (the first time was in Lakeview at around mile 7) at mile 23, and I told them that I wanted to die! A little dramatic I know.  I thought to myself, “okay only 3 more miles to go-you run that all the time!)  I tried my hardest but my legs (and injured foot) could only take so much.  It wasn’t until mile 25 when I got my second wind after a spectator shouted, “You only have one more mile! You can do anything for a mile!!”  With that encouragement and Salt & Pepa’s Push It blasting in my ear, I got my second wind and gave that marathon everything I had left.  For anyone who’s ever ran the Chicago Marathon, you know how awesome the turn is at Roosevelt.  As I was still running on Michigan Avenue, approaching Roosevelt, Ray Charles’ “America the Beautiful” came on my playlist.  I lost it.  To hear that song while making the turn on Roosevelt, up the hill to the finish line is scene that will forever play in my head.  When you make that turn, you know you’re almost there.  The cheering section is out of this world.  You know that when you make that turn, nothing else is standing in your way to the finish line.  I cried when I crossed the finish line.  I had made it!  I set out to accomplish a goal and to fulfill a dream of mine for 4 years and I did it.  I wanted to hug the stranger next me I was so happy, but I refrained.
After I sprinted to the finish, my legs were completely useless.  I could barely walk.  I texted my husband to tell him that I had finished and, because of security, he wanted me to walk to meet them.  I had to sit in the grass and stretch a bit before I could set out to find them.  When I did eventually get to him, I hugged him and with tears in my eyes, I said to him, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”  Which is exactly what I said to him after 6 hours of natural childbirth 🙂
After a lot of stretching and usage of “the stick”, I was able to muster up the strength to head back to The Hilton to change clothes and freshen up.
winner
Looks can be deceiving.  I’m smiling on the outside and crying in pain on the inside 🙂 It took me forever to walk to Lou Malnati’s for pizza, but that buttery deep dish and 312 were totally worth it!
postracemeal
Drooling as we speak.  Later that night, I added a charm to my necklace that my mom had bought for me at the expo the day before.  I earned this runner girl necklace at the Zooma 1/2 marathon where I PR’d and took 15 minutes off of my time.  I waited until I had completed the Chicago Marathon to add the 26.2 charm-I didn’t want to jinx it.
necklace
20 minutes after I completed the marathon, my sister asked me if I’d be signing up for another one.  I laughed.  It’s like asking someone who just went through childbirth if they were ready to have another baby.  I told her I couldn’t answer that in my current state of being 🙂 But that night, I knew the answer.  Looking back at my training, and even race day there are some things that I should’ve done differently (saving those details for a different post).  But yes, I do want to sign up for another one because I know that I can do better.  I remember the first 1/2 marathon I ever ran.  I didn’t train as properly as I should’ve.  My time was not what I was capable of, and my body felt like it had been hit by a truck.  3 half marathons later, I felt just fine after my most recent one in August.
I completed my first marathon in 5:07:41.  The one thing that I learned that day is that the body will do anything you set your mind to.  If you believe you can do it, you can!  If you sit and doubt yourself and you don’t try, then you fail.
Chicago has, once again, stolen my heart.  I’m so happy that I was able to run my first marathon in the city where I truly fell in love with the sport of running.  I miss the city and the lakefront running path a little more every time I have to leave.  Hubs and I talk about how when we retire, we’re going to buy a condo and retire in the city, which is completely opposite of what people do.  Until then, I’m lucky enough to be a 2 hour car ride away.
ChitizzleP.S. Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win the KIND bar giveaway!
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5 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Recap

  1. Jade October 24, 2013 / 11:51 am

    I totally agreed when your friend asked you right after if you would do another one and it is like asking a lady if she wants to have another baby RIGHT AFTER going through labor. My friend and I did our first marathon this August, I had a really good experience, she didn’t really so as soon as she crossed the finish line she said “Never doing that again”, but around a week later she said “yeah, never mind, I do want to do another”

    Good Work!

    Like

    • Maria C October 24, 2013 / 9:00 pm

      Thank you! It can become addicting! 🙂 A marathon in August? You are brave! The hardest part of training for me was dealing with the heat.

      Like

      • Jade October 25, 2013 / 8:55 am

        Oh don’t worry, I live near Edmonton Alberta, and our average summer temp is like 70. It was the perfect weather!!

        Like

  2. Kami May 7, 2014 / 7:22 am

    There’s definately a lot to know about this issue. I like all of the
    points you have made.

    Like

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