Monday, October 11, 2010

10-10-10 Chicago Marathon

10-10-10 The Date to Motivate and the day I'd been counting down to for a very long time. The Chicago Marathon had arrived!! After a painless flight Roxie and I arrived in Chicago and navigated the CTA to our Hotel downtown.
We were living the posh life at hotel burnham on the top floor.
Lovin the animal print robes.
Once Teresa got in we decided to walk the 3 miles to the expo center, since I get stir-crazy if I don’t move at all. The walk was gorgeous, perfect weather, and we got to see a bit of Grant Park and downtown Chicago.

I love how open it was. Big and bustling, but not as stressed/anxious as NYC and more big-city feeling than Boston. Plus the people were tall and friendly. I can see myself returning very soon.

I also love race expos. The excitement of picking up your number,

being surrounded by running feigns

and then digging into your swag bag just builds the excitement even more. A lot of great vendors were present, and we snagged some mini larabars, and a whole myriad of the other goodies.

truth-also check out this fascinating article about the diet of kenyan marathoners

Check out this haul!

The people at Tribe Hummus even gave me an “I’m Veggie” T-shirt-LOVE IT! We also just haddd to get a beer mug from Goose Island Brewery, the official brew of the race. We also each decided to register for a Nike Pace Group. Since I totally forgot to submit a race time, I was in an open corral rather than a seeded start, and I figured a pace group was a great way to keep yourself paced right. I knew I wanted to get under a 4 hr marathon so I picked up a 3:55 goal.

We had an excellent dinner at Zapatistos, a busy Mexican restaurant in the Western loop, and then we got to bed early. The night before the night before the marathon (Friday for a Sunday race) is most important sleep-wise. I’m blessed in that I can sleep on and through anything, anywhere, so I had no trouble getting a full 8 hrs sleep.

We were pounding water like it was a drought all day. Saturday we decided to get a little pre-race jog in, and the Green City Market was located a perfect 2.5 miles away, so off we went.

Such a great, year-round market! Thanks Jessica for the recommendation! T got Apples,

Roxie a delicious smoothie,

and I snagged some Kale. Lunch at the hotel and then we wandered around until R’s boyfriend Dan arrived and we went to a Pasta Party some of his runner friends were having. We made sure our outfits were laid out before heading off to bed, trying to subdue any pre-race nerves.

28328 10-10-10 I love symmetry

Race morning arrived, warm. It was 65 degrees when we left the hotel at 6 am, and would only get warmer. I ate oatmeal with chia seeds and a peach for breakfast at 5 am, and then an orange at 6:30 on our way to the start.

sleepy eyes. but we are ready to slaughter this race!!

After checking our gear we waited in an impossibly long line of last-minute porta-potty-ers, and then hurried to the started corral, which was beyond packed. At these point we hugged each other farewell, with good luck wishes, and went to our separate nike pace groups.

I enjoy running with others, but everyone runs their own race, and unless you know you will be running the same pace, I find it difficult to plan on that for an entire race. I tried to find Rebecca Scritchfield, since I knew we were planning on running the same pace, but she was lost in the sea of people. Not very surprising since we started with other 38,000 other racers. At 7:30 the race officially started, but I could barely see the start line from my corral. We slowly walked forward, and watch-less I crossed the start line. Later I would find out we started about 8 minutes behind the official time, but during the race I was never sure exactly what my pace or time would be. I just went with it. I stayed with my pace group for a while, knowing that I would be under 4 hrs if I just stayed with those steady stallions. I was feeling good though, and started to push to the front and pass that group, as we looped around downtown and headed north. I caught the 4:50 pace group around mile 7. I had to make a super speedy bathroom run at mile 9, but sprinted back to that pace group afterward, causing that split to not even deviate from the prior ones. At this same time loudspeakers announced that the “threat level” had changed from green to yellow-moderate threat. In 2007 there were record heats and over 300 runners were hospitalized and one died. After this race officials added more aid and water stations and enacted this “threat” system. I was very glad for the extra hydration, but seeing a threat level rise is not exactly something you want to hear when you’re a third of the way done with your race. Around mile 10 somehow Eric Kaye found me and we ran together for a mile or so. It was great seeing a twitter-friend on the course, and I have no idea how we could find me, since we’ve never met in person. It really made my day though! The course was packed though, and I felt like I was constantly weaving and dodging through people. The entire race. I expected it to thin out a little at some point, but start to finish you were elbow to elbow with other racers. While this was a good thing in that it was very motivating, it was also a bit annoying at some points. 26.2 miles is the shortest length on a marathon course, and with all the dodging and weaving I did over those 4 hrs, I know I did at LEAST 27. My shoes/feet/legs/outfit held up great though!

I really have to applaud the thousands of volunteers and spectators who devoted their Sunday morning to the race. Their efforts were a tremendous help. During the entire race I had three gels, and Gatorade + water at about every other station. I didn’t take any of the bananas or oranges they were handing out (even saw spectators handing out gummy bears, hard candy and pretzels), because bananas and I don’t get along when I’m running. The water and Gatorade were a saving grace, as the temperatures climbed between 86-88 degrees.

Mentally and Physically it was a great race for me. There was so much going on around me I didn’t feel bored at any point, and only had to use my mantras near the very end. The clearly marked miles, and constant cheering really pushed me forward. It was a pretty painless morning. Around mile 22 I was ready for the race to be over, and I ran with a middle-aged man for a while. He came up from behind me and said that I was looking great, and was quite a bit ahead of my pace group. I thanked him, and it really gave me extra confidence that I could finish this race ahead of my goal. I stuck with the 3:50 pace group for the last 3 miles, and gathered all the extra strength I had to push it for the last mile.2. One hill, and a straightaway and I had reached the finish line. My legs felt ready to crumble. Slowing down to a walk with oh so painful. All I wanted to do was sit, but I knew I had to keep moving to slowly cool my muscles down and work out some of the lactic acid. I wobbled to take my medal, grab a banana, bagel, water, and a beer. One sip of that beer was wayyy more than enough for me and I tossed it soon afterward. I just can’t do that run and beer thing. I was oh so lucky and spotted Teresa right there, and we hobbled together to the gear check. Sun rays beating down we just stood for awhile, so excited about what we just did, in the heat, and trying to cool down. We needed to find some shade so we headed to the “27th mile”

Before seeking shade under the Bank of America Pavillion we checked our official times. I couldn’t believe it when I saw that I got 3:47:04! I was ecstatic! For their first time both Roxie and Teresa killed it! I was so happy for them, and I’m so glad they committed to doing this with me. Once again, I have some of the best friends in the world.

We eventually got showered and ate dinner at Goose Island Brewery near Wrigley field. Even though our race came with a complimentary beer ticket, the last thing I wanted at mile 27th was 32 oz of brew. But several hours later, Sweet potato fries and a vegan veggie burger hit.

sweet potato fries with cinnamon and spicy chipotle dipping sauce? divine.

Such a perfect weekend!

What’s next? Well I know that with more speedwork in my training I could qualify for Boston (I would need to run under 3:40). I am looking in to winter/early spring races. I know that I want to keep my mileage high (we’ll see what happens once the first ice storm hits). Perhaps I’ll also attempt some shorter races, since anything under a half scares me, and I need to face those fears. I want to complete a 50 miler before next September and have been talking with some friends that may want to train with me.

What did you do on 10-10-10??? Hope it was memorable!


Janel said...

I'm SO proud of you!!!!!!! XOXOXO

KC said...

Congrats on a fantastic race! All those training runs this summer really paid off. Glad you enjoyed Chicago, it's a fun city.

Lauren Slayton said...

Great race (and great post). I had visions of 4 hours and then 4:10 but it wasn't in the cards sunday. I do agree the course was never boring and a little too crowded. I can't handle being body checked for the sake of some gatorade. Keep me posted on the 50 miler, that's on my bucket list. Way to go.

freak4fitness said...

wow, amazing finish time!! You're so lucky to have experienced this with friends! It sorta sucks doing this alone.... Your dinner looks realllly good too. Glad you had a good race!

Eat Abundantly said...

WHOOO HOOO!! you go girl!
Looks like you had a great time in Chicago, and congrats on another completed marathon.

Jess said...

What a great recap!! Nice job. I think you're totally ready to qualify for Boston!

Kara said...

Loved reading your story! What an amazing experience! Congrats on a great race!!!

Mandiee said...

Wow, girlie, this was such an inspiring post to read! I loved hearing about how passionate you are for running and that having fun was what it was all about for you. I know how serious the Chicago Marathon heat threat can be since my aunt had to stop her marathon because of it. Great job motoring through and taking care of yourself at every step of the way :)!

Have a lovely day!