It has officially been a week since the Chicago Bank of America Marathon. I just completed my first run since the marathon this morning. I have had ample time to digest the events of the day. Where do I start? The good, the bad, and the you should be grateful… My training season did not go as well as it did last year. Why? I am not really sure? Maybe I spread myself too thin? I managed to get in every workout except for 1 but the runs were not as effortless and fulfilling. I really tried to not let the training program consume me. I tried to make sure that my family time was not affected. I had no major injuries. My tacky hamstrings were however in full force come the beginning of September and I decided to make my way to my chiropractor but I never stopped running. The summer was seasonably cool (pause here, more to come on weather) and I just did not bond as well with my running group during my long runs. So that weather I made mention of… We had the hottest September on record. Days of record breaking 90s and humidity. What? Why? My 20 miler was horrific. The following week I started at 5:45 am just to get 10 miles in before the sun fully rose. I was already concerned about the weather on the day of the marathon. Some were worried it would be super cool or snowing while I went the other approach. Hot and humid since we missed it in August. All of this being said, I was hoping for reverse psychology. When race day came I was hoping it would all come together for a stellar performance. Last year I had a great training season and wheels started falling off at mile 13 so this year would be the opposite.
Race day. I was nervous, more so than last year and slept horribly. I was thankful to be spending the morning indoors with Aubrene and other racing buddies passing the time until we needed to enter corrals. Going in we knew it would be warmer than ideal and I prepared with hydration on the days leading up and adjusted my clothing appropriately. Unfortunately, our corral did not start until after 8:35 am. I knew I was running the entire race by myself and mentally prepared for it. I started out at a good pace and just took in the sites and atmosphere without turning on my music for about 7 miles. Once I settled in I turned on my music and felt as if I was in a running groove, enjoying the spectators and different neighborhoods of Chicago. I unfortunately, needed to make a pit stop but was successfully running through aid stations, taking nutrition at set points, and looking for my fans along the route. At the half way point I had a little pep in my step and thought I was going to hit my goal time. And now for that weather segment again… By mile 16 everything changed. I was in the cement prison of the West Loop with the sun beating down upon me thinking how miserable I was. When I saw my family, I wanted to cry and just stop but seeing how excited my daughter and nephew were I trucked on barely getting out a “I think I need to slow down”. From there on my goal time started to vanish in front of me. I began walking through aid stations, making small goals in my head, and again walking more than I would have liked. Those pesky hamstring were of course crying too. Somehow, I managed to run the last 5K faster than the few prior and by the last 1.2 miles I gave it all I could. I actually managed to make myself feel strong. When I seen my family at the finish line bleachers I could not look at them because I started to hyperventilate and I knew that was definitely not going to take me down so close to the finish line.
The Good- The city of Chicago and the Marathon team put on a spectacular event. The race was done so well. From security to added misters and water to cool everyone down. It was a different race from 2016 and they made the necessary adjustments. I was born, raised, and have never left Chicago. I know we get a bad rap as a city but by god does the city come out to celebrate this event. The crowd support is amazing! Just writing this gives me chills. From people cheering to providing entertainment, candy, tissue, and even beer if you like and the special family that was providing iced towels at mile 19. My family and friends, I would have never made it without looking forward to all of these people cheering me on mile after mile. Their support means more than I can ever tell them. My body, minus the heat, I physically felt okay. I did not have the strange aches I had in 2016, when I finished I could keep walking instead of the dying need to sit down and the day after I could actually walk up and down stairs. Trust me this is a huge deal.
The Bad- The weather. Why 80 and sunny in October? Any other day I would have welcomed this weather but not when you are running 26.2. My time and disappointment I felt at the end of the race.
You Should be Grateful- I did not end up in a medical tent, I did not sustain any injuries, I did not get sick, I finished running on my own two feet. Many were not as lucky. After talking to many people, the day was not kind to most. Did it make me feel better? Yes, misery does love company. After the race when I saw my family I almost lost it from disappointment in myself. I definitely needed a moment to pull myself together and that is the most important thing I did on race day. Why? My daughter and nephew were so excited. They could not wait to tell me their race plan on how they are going to train for a marathon and when they would be running one. It made me realize that regardless of conditions or time you did just complete a marathon and maybe just maybe you inspired two nine-year-old kids in the process.
Where do I go from here? I run for fun. I run because I love it. I am definitely taking next year off for marathon training. Maybe I run a few halfs, run more races with my daughter, find other goals to achieve. I just know I am taking next year off from marathon running. Who knows what the next year or two will bring but I say 2019 I will be back. I will be in a new age bracket and will have new experiences to get me through.
The big day has come and gone. I feel a bit of the post marathon blues but also I am enjoying some time to relax on my training. I have been training for something for close to a year. I had a few short breaks, one after Gasparilla in February before I resumed training for the Esprit De She triathlon. My other break was due to a stress reaction/fracture of my ankle. So what did I think of all the training and of the race? Keep reading to find out.
I signed up for Chicago at the expo for the 2016 marathon. I knew I wanted to hire a coach for accountability so I hired Lisa with tri to def. Lisa works with female athletes from everyday women looking for a first challenge to the more seasoned athlete. I also had the resources of the Train Like a Mother club. In April I signed up with Oiselle Volee for extra camaraderie. It seems to the outsider like I was over supported but it takes a tribe/village sometimes for support. I wanted as much as I could get for this first (possibly only) marathon.
My training had been in my mind pretty amazing. I was sick before my triathlon in May but otherwise had been the most healthy I have ever been during a training. In August I had done speed work and more work than typical for me on the treadmill. I believe my stride was off and that lead to a stress reaction/fracture of my ankle that kept me off running for almost a month. The good part of it was I was able to cross train and non weightbearing strength work. I also had accomplished a 17 mile run prior to this so I did not feel impending doom.
It did not seem promising for my ankle to return to marathon training based on the diagnosis. Fortunately, I was able to return to land based running (pool running is not awful) after a month. The downside to being off a month was more on the mental side. While Marie was ramping up to 18 and 20 milers, I was doing 16, then 18 then my 20 miler. I missed the group CES 20 mile run and while others were on taper I was still ramping up. I also had 10 vs. 6 the week before the race which made me feel a bit nervous but overall think it helped me.
Race day was a whole bunch of nerves. I am not sure anyone sleeps well the night before a big race. I tried everything in my arsenal including calms forte and tart cherry juice all with no help. I checked and rechecked all my packing. My morning routine proved successful and breakfast went down smoothly. I arrived to race day resort provided by CES/Fleet Feet around 6 am and met Marie who was already there. We spent time chatting, picture taking and relaxing prior to the race. We went to the corrals early due to security concerns and sat. The waiting was worse in the corrals than inside. The start to the race, was uneventful we just started moving up and then we were off.
None of my downloaded music or Rock my Run app decided to work for race day. Thankfully Motigo did. I put on my Motigo messages and got one right at the start (thanks Lydia) and then I began my crying for the first two miles of the race just in awe that this was really happening and that I was able to run this race. Up until mile 9 the run was in the shade and the weather felt nice. I was just over my pace holding back some for the second half. I stopped for high fives, chatting with the senior living residents, took a picture with a dinosaur. I saw my family once and missed them twice. After mile 9 the temperatures were becoming really warm and the shade was not present like before. I began to melt and my hips started to really ache. By mile 14 I needed to stop and stretch my hips and did so again at mile 16. I was able to keep a smile on my face for much of the race and still found joy even with the pain. At mile 17 my Oiselle crew had food and fuel for me as well as hugs (sorry for them with my smell), the miles were then a blur I saw Marie’s family before my turn up Michigan Ave and stopped for high fives, and a glimpse of baby Matthew. As I started into a pain cave my BAMR friend Katie found me (thanks Liberty Running Group) and got me going again. I was good for a mile then I saw an Oiselle teammate struggling, I tapped her and asked if she wanted some company for a bit then we should run. We pushed each other to the finish line stopping for hydration and to see my family just past mile 25. We even ran up Mt. Roosevelt not letting it crush us. My goal was to finish upright with a smile on my face and uninjured. I accomplished that goal. I did want to be at 5 hours or under but when the conditions deteriorated I knew that was not a possibility. I also wanted to enjoy every moment of the race, see my family and friends, give lots of high fives and meet new people, after all you only get one first.