Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bank of America Chicago Marathon 10-13-13

I've been very slow to get all of my thoughts down from this past Sunday, when I ran the Chicago Marathon. Part of it is due to being busy and dealing with some weird illness thing with Thomas, and part of it is because I feel like if I actually write it all down then my marathon season will really be over. As much as I said I could not WAIT to be done, it's a bittersweet feeling.

I signed up for the Chicago Marathon back in the middle of February, and had already decided that I was going to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities. This amazing group is the philanthropy for which my sorority Alpha Delta Pi raises money, and it's one I'm so proud to support. I was part of Team ADPi for Team RMHC, and together we raised over $30,000 of the almost $800,000 raised overall. Knowing that children and families will benefit from my blood, sweat, and tears (well, luckily there wasn't any blood) helped me keep moving. Plus, having our ADPi team of 25+ ladies and Team RMHC with over 600 runners provided amazing support.

The weekend of the marathon was busy, but wonderful. I headed down to the city Friday after work to pick up my packet and wristbands to give to my friends so they could join me in the Charity Village after the marathon. The shuttle service was great (although I would LOVE to see one by Ogilvie Transportation Center next year), and I had some time to walk around. It was great running into Caroline, Denise, and Glen at the Asics booth....I loved seeing some familiar faces. Oh, and I finally got to meet Renee Halpin with RMHC!! She has been such a rock and huge support to our whole team, and I know it wouldn't have all come together without her. After the expo I had a chance to meet Jennifer A., Jen W., and Laura M. - three ADPi sisters running the marathon with our team. It was a late night getting back home that evening!

The next day Chad, the boys, and I headed back down to the city so they could experience the Expo. Since Chad had to work Sunday night they weren't going to be able to come down for the marathon, so at least they got to experience some of the excitement. It was packed! But we did get to enjoy lots of free samples, won some cool items, and Chad bought me Superfeet insoles (which have felt incredible!). We took the shuttle back to the stop near Millennium Park, where I parted ways with the boys. They had to head back home, and I was going to meet up with my team near the Start line for a group picture. It was great to finally meet this amazing group of women! For some this was one of many marathons for them...for others, Chicago would be their first. I think we ALL had some of the same nerves and jitters! We were lucky enough to have a great pasta dinner put on by the RMHC family, and then it was time to head back to the hotel with my roomie Sarah to try to get some sleep.

The morning came way too soon, as it always does on race day. Sarah and I grabbed a cab to get us down to Charity Village, and we made it there around 6:00. It was a cool, but fortunately perfectly clear, morning. RMHC had breakfast all laid out for us, and it was great not having to worry about that. We did a huge group picture, then everyone headed to our corrals.
Team RMHC - before the marathon
The sun had started to come up, and it looked like it was going to be a perfect day to run 26.2 miles. 

Seriously...the weather couldn't have been any better!

We made it to our F corral with plenty of time to spare, and having some of my ADPi sisters with me kept me from totally freaking out. Before we knew it, our wave was starting off!
With Sarah and Laura
I honestly cannot believe how quickly 26.2 miles went for me! While I was only a tiny bit faster than my Fox Valley Marathon (had I not stopped twice for the porta-potties, it would have been even better), there was always something to see and distract me as we wound through 29 of Chicago's neighborhoods. The crowd support was unbelievable! People were cheering for everyone, passing out candy, pretzels - and even beer at one station. There were tons of aid stations, with amazing volunteers...there was never a time when I wondered when the heck we'd get to a water station. It helped SO much to see my awesome cheering squad (Dave, Christine, Michelle, Pat, Sue, and Erin) at mile 13 for hugs, and then again at mile 16. I did falter some the second half of the marathon, but there was never a doubt that I would make it. I met up with Patsie around mile 22, and we stayed together for a couple of miles...even threw a diamond for the photographers!

The last two miles, while painful, actually went by pretty quickly. I made myself run as much of it as I could. I won't lie - that hill at mile 26 looked like a mountain, and I did walk up that. After that I took whatever gas was left in my tank and poured it in to the last 0.2 miles to the finish. Right after one of the lovely people holding medals placed one around my neck, my friend Dawn (who was volunteering at the finish line) came over and gave me a huge hug. My time was 6:18:41, and honestly I was pretty happy with that. 

After I made it through the finish area I made the trek back to meet up with my crew. I felt like a celebrity walking out to the runner reunite was a huge crowd of people, with security lined up to keep them back. Sue and Michelle came running up to me, along with everyone else. Those were the best hugs in the world! 
Sprinting through the finish chute

Best hug ever!

Yeah....I have no idea what I'm doing here lol!

With Christine!

My groupies!
We still had a long walk to get back to the Charity Village, and I was so ready to eat. My brother Keith was waiting there for me, too! After some amazing food, champagne, and chocolate milk, we made our way back to the hotel. My awesome friends were kind enough to shuttle my smelly self back home so I didn't have to ride the train. 

I was so sad to see the weekend, and my second marathon, come to an end, but being with friends and family made it so much easier. Without their support I never would have made it to the starting line, much less the finish line. Thank you to everyone who has listened to me, read my blog, and supported this crazy idea of mine. And a HUGE thanks to all those who supported RMHC through your donations!

Now....on to recovering (which, luckily, I'm already feeling almost 100%)...and planning for next year's Chicago Marathon!!