I had a friend run the New York Marathon last weekend. She did great, and with the app (which was awesome, btw), I was able to track her every step. As she approached 26, and I knew that she only had the .2 to go, I felt my heart start to beat faster and faster as I replayed scenes from the last bit of the Chicago Marathon in my head. When she finished, and her bubble disappeared from the tracker, I let out a sigh of relief – I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath – and shot her a quick text. She was done, and she’d done it well!
As I chatted with her about how good she’d felt that day, I really got excited about the prospect of possibly doing Chicago again in the fall of next year. As I was prepping for the race, I told myself that maybe I would hang the marathon shoes up, and run for enjoyment. Get back to doing more yoga, cycling, and more hanging out with my hubs. But there’s some part of me that’s dying for the experience of Chicago.
Blue skies. One of my dearest friends of 5 years. Food. Drinks. The Cubs winning things. Texts from friends as I made my way through the course. My husband telling me that I “look so good” 19 miles in. I find myself absolutely consumed with the idea of running through the streets of Chicago, high fiving folks, reading signs, and flopping down in the grass in the park after I run.
So, back it up to Friday. Friday, I went to work, and had to actually do stuff, but I was really really preoccupied with getting things together for the race. Did I have shoes, did I have shoes? Did I have a little something to carry water in? Had I glanced through the participant packet?
So Saturday, we woke up and it was cloudy and gloomy here. We packed, cleaned the house, and called an Uber to take us to the airport for our fight to Chicago. I’m not a great flier, so I passed some time on the plane when we were waiting to take off by making fun of how poorly designed the safety cards were.
I’m not 100% on who did this artwork, but NO REMOTE CONTROLLED CARS ALLOWED! Bummer, right?
Once we touched down, we took an Uber to the expo, where I was able to pick up my packet. I have to admit, even though I’m smiling in photos, I was not in the best mood. We sat in some traffic, and my anxiety was really starting to get to me. I’m incredibly social, but something about being that the expo was a lot for me. There was a lot of noise, a lot of people, and I found the expo a little confusing to navigate.
After the expo, and after we got a chance to get our bearings (we took a dumb pointless trip on the Metra, a stupid train that we had no business on), we hopped on the blue line to Logan, and met my friend, Lindsay, who let us stay with her.
First-off. Lindsay is amazing. We met at camp like 5 years ago, and were like, immediate besties. She has a cute place, a cute french bulldog, and allowed us to stay at her cute place FOR FREE. It was SO nice to sleep in a bed that wasn’t a hotel and spend time with friends.
So the night before the marathon, Lindsay took us to an AMAZING pizza place. And it wasn’t a regular pizza place, it was Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder. So the place featured a delicious salad with amazing dressing (my favorite was the poppyseed), a flat bread, and a pizza pot pie, none of which I could finish. We headed home, set clothes and an alarm out, and I was in bed by 11pm the night before the marathon.
The Day of.
The day of the Chicago Marathon, I didn’t sleep well. I don’t think you can before a race. I woke up a few times, for fear that I may have overslept, and finally ended up getting up a bit after 5. I’d laid my clothes out, and only needed to jump in the shower for a rinse. I put on some BB cream and some mascara, and headed out to Lindsay to our metro stop.
AND THEN REALIZED I FORGOT MY BIB IN OUR ROOM AT LINDSAY’S.
I need to take this second to apologize to my girlfriend, Linds, who went BACK to her house, grabbed my bib, and basically single-handedly saved the race.
So I have my bib now.
Austin and I rode to the start, and I started to feel myself getting a bit more anxious once we started walking toward my corral. The night before, I’d purchased a men’s shirt for like $4.99 from Walgreens, so I was somewhat warm(ish). I hung around with Austin long enough, and then got into the corral before they told us we couldn’t do it anymore.
By the time I got to the front line, nearly an hour after the race had started, it was about 8:18am, and the sun was up. I started with some music, and the first song I listened to was Stevie Wonder’s “All I Do”. I tried to take it all in. Even now, I don’t think I will ever forget the streets, the shade, the sun. About 4 miles in, I decided to ditch the shirt, and laid it neatly on the side of the road. 6 miles in, I had a Shot Blok with extra sodium, as the temperature started to climb to the mid-70s, and then the upper 70s really quickly.
I’d decided not to run with my GPS, so I was just keeping track of things really loosely by the folks around me, the 4:40 group, and keeping an eye on where I was at each hour. Because of how warm it was, and how quickly it warmed up, I refilled my little handheld often, and I chewed a lot of margarita-flavored Shot Bloks with extra sodium to avoid cramps, stomachaches, barfing, and pooping. Just keepin’ it real.
The first 13.1 miles flew by. The crowds were amazing, and I gave a lot of high fives, smiled a lot, and made it through my amazing playlist. After 13.1, I focused on 19, where I knew two things. One, that I’d made the Paul Ryan Finish, and two, that I’d get to see Austin. So I focused on making it to 19 in good time, while I refilled my bottle, grabbed vaseline, and generally, watched my speed as the temps climbed close to 80 degrees.
Mile 19 came, and a few tenths of a mile in, Austin waved me down.
My dear, sweet husband found a friend. Dawn was not super comfortable with public transit, so Austin and her rode all over Chicago together on an unlimited pass that I clearly was not using at the time. She was so sweet, she opened my Coke for me, and told me how pretty I looked when I got there. She wins.
Miles 20-26.2 sucked, but idk what to say about that because it’s gonna suck and it always will. It was really warm at that point, and I really focused on drinking and staying limber.
Mile 25.5, I was like ::side eye:: but I knew the end was nigh, and decided to chug along. The ONE thing I will say that made me sad, was that as we came to the end, the crowd was pushed further and further out for security reasons. By the end of the race, after we had climbed a small hill, there was no one but volunteers left, and it made me sad to think that two idiots had changed the entire game for everyone.
But I made it to the end, trotted through the finish, and took it all in!
Covered in salt, and sweaty, I made it through, and hiked another mile or so to catch my dear husband, who wasn’t allowed anywhere near the finish line (no one was).
BALLER. Do Chicago. Do it. It was amazing. I want to move there. Minus the freezing cold in the winter. Everything else. The food, everything. It all can stay.
If you are in a place where you have seen blue skies and you have seen the sun in the last week or so, please get on your knees and thank God. Here in North Carolina, I have not seen the sun in over a week. I’ve run in the rain nonstop. And on Friday, I actually experienced my first cold rain in a while.
But whatevs. It’s Monday. It’s a new week. A new day. And here are a few things I’m planning for this week.
Make a list for everything I want to do/buy for the house.
I hope you guys get what I mean. But I woke up a few days ago and decided I hated everything in the house. I hate the color. I hate this couch I’m sitting on. So I’ve popped by some boutiques here for inspiration. I’ve been poking around the Pinterest. And I’m picking out a new color. ANNND as we do all of that, I will be photo-ing and taking pictures. My mom knows EXACTLY what I’m going through. She used to do this all the time in our houses.
Chicago. I’m going to Chicago at the end of the week for a quick trip to run the marathon. I’M RUNNING THE CHICAGO MARATHON THIS WEEK. I don’t have a time goal. I am not putting a ton of pressure on myself. I am just going to run and have a nice time. I have a block about this distance since I got so sick during Greensboro a few years back, so we’re not making a big deal about it at all. Nope.
I need a new outfit for Chicago. But I don’t want to break the bank so I need to either go to the outlets, OR (whispers this quietly) go to Dick’s. Which is so irritating, but I don’t have time to do an order through my job, because I’m a big fat idiot. I definitely need a new tank, I have a bra and bottoms, I need a new pair of socks, and I think I want to do a Flipbelt so I can carry my phone during the race. Which brings me to this aside.
I’m not sure if I’m going to wear a GPS or listen to music during Chicago. During my last long run, I relied on Kathryn’s gps, and didn’t have one. We mostly talked, and it was nice to not be locked into my watch. I wonder if I can just hitch a ride with one of the pace groups and hope for the best? I’m interested to see what you guys think about that.
Write write! I talked about this maybe last week? Two weeks ago? But writing/being creative makes me feel good. I am doing more of that this week. I am MAKING TIME for what I want to do this week.
I don’t know a whole lot about Chicago. Yoga Kerri, who used to make an appearance on this blog every now and again before she moved to Cali lived there for a time. And I met one of my favorite camp friends, Lindsay, who came from Chicago to grace us with her presence. We spent an entire summer not really showering and talking about how much fiber our favorite meals contained. Both good.
So it seemed like sort of a no-brainer to apply for the Chicago Marathon, especially given the fact that as soon as I got into Marine Corps, we got a save-the-date for a wedding that we really couldn’t miss. So MCM was out (and I’m trying to unload that bib if you’re into it), and Chicago was in. Tuesday morning, when we were due to hear about our status in the lottery, I checked my email nonstop, refreshing it by swiping it down on my phone with no results. I checked Twitter and saw the tweets trickling in, that some folks had gotten their results. I sort of assumed (annoyingly) that I hand’t gotten in, but found out later by way of a tweet that the approvals were being made on a rolling basis.
Anyhoo, so I got tired of waiting, and logged into the Athlete Center, and right on top was a banner with the word “Approved” along the top! I sort of waited to say anything, especially given that that protests in Baltimore were still full-swing, and I didn’t want to come of insensitively. But this came later…
…And just like that, I’m running one of the major marathons in October.
I’m pumped. A little nervous. Already got my training plan together. And taking extreme measures to make sure that we can get my knee back to working order, to where it’s not so stiff.
Have you ever been to Chicago? What should I do while I’m there?