Saturday, October 19, 2013

Marathon Weekend

For starters, what an amazing weekend! It went by so fast! The BoA Chicago Marathon put on world-class event. The expo was well done and easy to navigate, and race day went off seamlessly. The volunteers and spectators were fantastic, cheering for everyone all day. Traveling through all the different neighborhoods of downtown Chicago as a participant was awesome! I felt like I was on a sight-seeing adventure. To top it off, we had perfect weather too! I couldn't have asked for a better experience for my first full marathon.

My weekend began early Saturday morning with a 2 mile shakeout run. I had been so nervous and anxious that it felt really good to get a short run in before we left for Chicago to get my packet at the Expo.

The Expo on Saturday was pretty cool. Packet pick-up and lots of vendors to look at. I didn't buy anything, but I did try several different samples of protein bars and energy gels. If I would have had more time, I would have looked around a little longer, but none of us had eaten lunch and I was anxious to get to the hotel and eat!

I got my bib#! So exciting!

We ordered dinner from a place called Giordano's. Yummy! Carbs!

After dinner, I got all my gear ready for the following morning and set my alarm for 3:45am. I tried to get to bed early, but it ended up being 9:30 pm anyways. We didn't stay downtown since the hotel prices were $300-$400 per night. Instead, we stayed near O'Hare airport and I had planned on taking a shuttle to the train station and then took the Blue ('L) Line all the way to the start.

This is my "omg it's 4 am on race day" face!

I left the hotel at 5:00 and road the shuttle to the train station to get downtown by 6:00. There was a lot of runners and spectators on the train with me. It was really convenient, and the 45 minute ride was well worth saving $$$ on the hotel room.

I was set to start in Wave 2 at 8:00am in Corral H. It was kind of chilly waiting to start, but I wore a throwaway sweatshirt and gloves and that worked really well. (The only complaint that I have for the weekend is that there was not enough porta potties, and the lines were long. Really long!) Right before the start, I tossed the sweatshirt into a large pile of throwaway gear. 
I finally crossed the starting line at 8:15am. For the first mile, my Nike + watch was really off. My watch said I ran the first mile in 10:38; it should have been 12:38. I'm guessing that the tall buildings and running through tunnels at the start threw the GPS off a little bit. The first few miles went by really fast. I had to stop at 5 miles to hit the porta potty and waited in line for at least 5-6 minutes. I knew my family was coming a little later and was planning on seeing me around mile 16, so that was my whole goal for the next 11 miles. Just get to mile 16. Keep moving forward. I had my headphones in, listening to some podcasts, but there was so much to look at and tons of spectators yelling and cheering, it was hard to pay attention to the podcasts, so I switched to music instead. When I finally got to 16, it was the best feeling in the world to see my family. Liam was such a trooper! He gave me a high 5 and told me he made a sign for me! What a sweetie!

Miles 18-26 were really tough. My feet hurt a lot and my hips felt really tight. I just wanted to get to the end! I stopped at the porta potties again at 18. Then saw my family at 23. Next stop was the finish line. One of my only goals race day, was to run the last 1.2 miles across the finish line. I saw lots of people walking in the last mile, but I just kept running until I crossed the finish line. Ahh, sweet relief! Official time: 5:45:04

After a quick ice bath and shower, we went out for dinner and to celebrate. Naturally, we went to the Hofbrauhaus! Beer, Bratwurst, and a Polka Band, just like being in Germany, sort of. 
The perfect ending to a perfect day!

18 weeks of training has come to an end. So what's next? I'm not sure exactly. Will I ever run another marathon? I don't know. While the end result was worth it, and I learned so much about myself along the way, it was a very time consuming, exhausting process. Will I keep running? The answer to this is YES! Running has changed my life in such an amazing way, I will definitely continue, but for the time being I am sticking to 5ks or 10ks, with maybe a half  marathon every so often. But, at the end of the day, I did it! I am a marathon finisher!

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