Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chicago Marathon 2014 recap

I needed to wait at least a few days to let the emotions from this past weekend die down a bit before putting all of my thoughts down here. It's hard to believe another Chicago Marathon has already come and gone, and I have a whole lot to share (yes...that's a warning!).

Why does the year have to go by so quickly? When I registered and signed up to run the Chicago Marathon for the second time as a member of Team Ronald McDonald House Charities, we were still stuck in the Polar Vortex and dealing with snow/wind/ice runs. It was nice to think about that fact that eventually it would warm up, and I'd be complaining about training in the heat (and yeah...I'm pretty sure I did). I went into this marathon season with the best-laid plans, and vowed to train better and smarter than last year. Unfortunately, due to a whole lot of other circumstances, that didn't happen. I trained....but I definitely didn't train my best. So this marathon really became about survive and move on.

My emotions leading up to the big day ranged from "meh" to "yikes" to "woo hoo!". Chad, the boys, and I had a room booked at the Embassy Suites on Columbus for Saturday night, which was the perfect spot for us. I headed down on Friday to hang out at the Expo, pick up my Team RMHC wristbands, and meet up with some other amazing women I met through a group on Facebook.

Always exciting to see this at McCormick Place!

On Saturday the family and I headed back down to the city. The boys enjoy checking out the free samples, spinning to win things, and I like to share some of the excitement with them. It was a beautiful day, and tons of people were out enjoying all Chicago has to offer. Unfortunately, since traffic was so bad after leaving the Expo I missed the Team ADPi meet-up by the starting line. But luckily I was able to say hello and share hugs with my sisters at our incredible Team RMHC dinner at Union Station.

Dinner was over fairly early, and I was back at the hotel by 8:00. Luckily I remembered all of my gear for Sunday, so I laid everything out and attempted to sleep. That was easier said than done, but I had caught up on sleep over the days leading up to marathon day and I woke up without a problem at 4:45. After getting showered and ready, I joined the mass of other runners making their way to the start. The sun was just starting to come up as I got into our Charity tent for breakfast. We got a team picture, and before I knew it, it was time to head down to my corral.
Team RMHC - 811 runners strong!!
The excitement among all of the other runners in the corral was electric, and it was like one big party back in corral K. I ran into Sara, and it was great talking with her so I didn't freak out. Luckily I was able to make one last quick pit stop before we crossed the starting line, so that was one less thing to worry about.
Chilly, but excited! much better could the weather have been?!

Almost there!
I had one huge embarrassing (and painful) moment less than a mile into the marathon. On the first bridge I decided to run on the mat covering the grates, and TOTALLY wiped out. It was road rash on the knees, bruises on both knees, and the right side of my body. It hurt like a mother, but I tried to shake it off. 

I felt really strong through mile 13, but when I didn't see Chad and the boys where I was hoping to see them I started to get a bit emotional. Last year they didn't get to come down for the marathon, so I was looking forward to seeing them this year. But I knew I would see several friends at the aid station just up the road. Getting hugs and high fives from them gave me a great boost to get me moving strong again.
SO happy to see Pat, Mark, Tom, Jen, and Megan at Aid Station #10!
I finally saw my family right before mile 17, and had a bit of a breakdown. At that point, I was in a lot of pain, and was starting to doubt if I had another 9.2 miles in me. They all gave me hugs, said they knew I could do it, and that they would see me after I finished and earned that medal. So off I went! I shared some time with a fellow LOCM runner, and another couple of ladies. I made a comment about how I was starving, and one lady gave me a fun-size Snickers bar....OMG, it was heaven!! 

This was the part of the marathon where I had to dig deep and just keep moving. There were several other RMHC runners in our little pack, so we all checked on each other to make sure we were all okay. Yep, we all hurt, but there was no doubt that we would all finish. The spectators at this point were incredible, which really helped. One woman had two bowls of food, and asked me if I need sweet or salty. I yelled back "salty!", and she ran over to me with a bowl of almonds and nuts. Others gave us Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers, and even little cups of beer! Hearing them yell my name (I had used sparkly letters to spell it out...if I'm going to be slow, I might as well shine!) helped me put one foot in front of the other. 

Just as I was getting to Chinatown I saw my friend Andrea - otherwise known as the "Do Epic Shit" lady! She jumped in, gave me a hug, and walked and talked with me as we got into the main part of Chinatown. Just as we were getting to the great photo op spot she said we were going to run through here so I could get some great shots. She was a lifesaver for me!! And luckily I got to see here again around mile 24-25.

Finally we turned on to Michigan Avenue, and it started to hit me that I was going to finish my second Chicago Marathon. I got a bit emotional, but struggled with some disappointment. I had been on pace to finish under 6:00 until I got to about mile 15, and at this point I was just hoping I'd be an official finisher, coming in right under 6:30. The sweeper car wasn't too far behind, so I kept running as much as I could. I even ran up most of Mount Roosevelt, but backed off right towards the top so I'd have some in the tank to finish strong. I ran into my friend Jamie right as we made the turn onto Columbus to head for the finish line, and getting to see her finish her first marathon was so moving. We hugged and sobbed once I got through the finish line, then went to collect our wraps and medals.
Yep...totally worth all the pain!
We had to part by the gear check, since I had to head on down to the RMHC tent. Luckily some marathon official showed me a shortcut so I didn't have to walk quite as far as I though I'd have to go. I rounded the corner on Jackson, and finally I was back! Everyone gave me a rock star welcome - cheers went up, I saw my lovely ADPi Sisters, and I made my way down the red carpet to collect my well-deserved champagne. Renee, our team "mom" and amazing supporter, jumped over the ropes and gave me a huge hug....I was so happy to see her! Chad and the boys were there, and I made them my personal assistants from there on out.
This was pretty freakin' awesome! Thanks for the great picture Jen W.!

Throwing diamonds with my sisters
All throughout my training, I swore this would be my last marathon. But before I left our happy little team village I told Renee I'll be back to run Chicago again next year. After all, I get to raise money for such an incredible charity! And I want to redeem myself from my less-than-stellar time this year. I know I have it in me....and I will welcome the challenge next year!