Race Reports,  Running,  Travels

Chicago Marathon Race Recap

What.A.Weekend. My head is still reeling, and I came home from Chicago a week ago. I’m pretty sure that I haven’t stopped smiling about it yet, either.

Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Sub 4. Done and done.

CliffsNotes version of the race: I ran, I loved it, I PRed with a 3:56:32.

Full recap with photos that tell the story better than I can:

I didn’t even know that I was going to Chicago for sure until the day before. Yes, you read that right. I owe a lot of people my firstborn children, and tomorrow’s post will highlight them all. But I got there (save a few wild speedbumps), spent Friday with my grad school friend Lindsay, and spent the rest of the weekend with the 30+ runners from Bham who all traveled together. All races are fun, but it’s something special to travel and experience new places with good friends.

Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
A few of the BTC runners heading to Chi-town on the party plane

Chicago was my first big marathon, and it was cray! It’s positively electric to be around 45,000 other people who share the same passion for running as you. Runners were everywhere—on the El, in every single restaurant, running up and down every street. I loved it! And the expo was so much fun that I went twice.

Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Cheesy photo op

So. Race day. I was in Corral L with the 6-hour marathoners and about 40,000 people in front of me. Not ideal conditions to immediately settle into my planned pace, but what can you do? Coach Alex had said not to waste energy weaving through the crowd, but I had to get around the walkers if I had any hopes of setting a PR. So weave I did. I treated the Chicago course like a trail—running on sidewalks, grass, curbs, concrete medians. But I could only do so much, so at a certain point I decided to sit back and enjoy the ride until the crowd thinned.

Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Benefit of running slower – capturing shots like this

Once I stopped worrying about the crowd, I had a blast! The miles and hoods (all 29 of them) flew by as I soaked in the different crowds and cultures. I choked up when we ran past a nursing home in Lakeview where the residents were cheering and holding signs in the windows. I loved the cheerleaders in drag near Boystown, the dragon in Chinatown, and finally seeing Old Town. My left palm ached from high-fiving everyone with an outstretched hand.

Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
26.2 miles of nonstop fun

Right after the starting line, we ran through a long tunnel (watch out for all the guys peeing!) and I lost my GPS signal. My/ first two miles according to my Garmin were all sorts of wrong, so I just ignored my watch the entire race. No obsessing over splits for me!

Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Partying in Chinatown

I had asked the hubs, my dad, and some other friends to be my “virtual pacers” and text me either words of encouragement or help kick my ass into high gear if needed. And boy did they deliver! At first the texts trickled in and made me smile or laugh, but when my half split showed that I was behind pace, I got an onslaught of texts telling me to hurry the fuck up. So I did.

Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Love this boy

As I mentioned the other week, I was a little nervous about hitting my goal after running slower during training. Not because I didn’t trust the training or I didn’t feel prepared, but because I hadn’t trained this way before. And the unknown is always a little frightening. But when the time came to run all-out, it felt effortless. Yes—16 miles into a marathon it felt easy to start clocking mid-8 minutes miles. Wut.

Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Photobombing like a boss

The only explanation is that all of the weeks of training I put in with Coach Alex and Resolute Running paid off. All of the tempo runs, speed work sessions, and slow long runs came together and helped me when I needed it. My body knew exactly what to do. And here’s the craziest part—I wasn’t sore after! Not even a little. I’m kind of mourning my post-marathon shuffle. But that just shows how strong I’ve become, and how I could have given more. And while annoying, having more in the tank when I finished makes me want to run another marathon soon and see how much more time I can shave off. All in all, I believe 17 Resolute Runners PRed last weekend! I really can’t stress it enough—this shit works.

Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Resolute Running in the Windy City!

The last two miles weren’t difficult, but I was ready to finish and drink a beer. I loved “running to the buildings” and hearing the roar of the crowd as I neared the finish. The final “hill” people had mentioned was actually a welcome way to tap into different muscle groups, since the course is so flat. Because of my Garmin issues, I had no idea what my time was when I crossed the finish line. I had to call Zack and ask. And then I celebrated.

Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Captured on the phone with the hubs, grabbing a beer. Priorities, people.

This was by far my best race ever. Hell, it was my best run ever! I was just so damn happy the entire time. Like, who-spiked-my-Gu happy. Chicago, I will be back.

More photos for your viewing pleasure:

Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Breakfast of champions at BHM airport Friday morning
Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Just call us both Lindsay
Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Because I’m a cornball
Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Shakeout run to the Bean with some lovely ladies
Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Leaving my mark on Nike’s #ownChicago display
Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Race day on the El
Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Sexy boys dancing to Miley
Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Even in the middle of a marathon I can spot some great advertising – “Make more love” for an apartment complex
Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
5K left to go!
Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
Mile 25 – home stretch
Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
See guys – I read EVERY text!
Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
PRs all around for this Bham bunch!
Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013, Birmingham Track Club, Resolute Running Training Center, marathon race report, fall marathon, sub 4
BUTS girls tearing up some asphalt

17 Comments

  • Rachel Buzbee McPhillips

    I fucking love this!!! I was literally following your every move (creeper, alert!!) and being like, “Why hasn’t she crossed the start line yet??” I am so proud and this gives me MAJOR hope on the RR Team. I love you photobombing that girl and the text reading– that’s totally something I would do!! Keep on rocking, girl!!

    • tlsylvan

      Not creepy at ALL! I love it! And something happened with the timing chip at the start – I got a text from Zack at mile 11 saying “have you started?” And I was like “WHAT DO YOU MEAN?! I’VE RUN 11 MILES! TELL ME MY PACE NOW DAMMIT!”

      But anyway 🙂 I am SO happy that you’re on the RR team! You will love it! Seriously. It’s nice to be part of a group of winners. And that’s all we do – collect the AG award bling and hang our bibs on Alex’s PR wall! Trust. the. training. Do it!

  • Running Girl

    LOVE IT! Glad you had such an awesome experience (although I do think someone must have spiked your Gu for you to have THAT much fun….). For what it’s worth, I was a virtual pacer for one of my friends running Chicago and gave her the positive encouragement of MOVE YOUR ASS!!! when I saw she was close to a BQ time. Glad to see she wasn’t the only one getting cussed at while running!

    Congrats again! Sub 4! Woohoo!

  • Al DiMicco

    Great post Tanya! When you can feel the writer’s emotions, you have connected to your readers and you sure did that. Congrats on your PR and thanks for the pictures, but especially for sharing. Hope to see you soon.

    • tlsylvan

      Thanks Al! It’s impossible to convey how giddy I was on race day (and still am), but I tried! I would love to see you out on the trails sometime soon! Making an appearance at Pinhoti?

      • Al DiMicco

        No Pinhoti. In Boston with the grandkids. My 100 mile trail days are way behind me. Can’t believe I used to run 100 miles on the roads. And that was w/o Hokas! Hope to see you at Tranquility 50k.

  • Budding Fashionista

    i don’t even know you and I’M grinning from ear to ear for you! that was a great read! I have done a couple of halfs, but my only training was trying to run 13.1 miles without dying. Your method sounds amazing and i think I need to stalk coach alex in the bushes next time he starts training someone else. Wow! I’m proud of you, girl!!

    • tlsylvan

      Thank you! Do you have any halfs coming up? I used to run without much training either, but I’m hooked on having a team, coach, and real training plan now! Resolute Running is always accepting new runners, I’ll send you their link!

  • Robyn

    I am going to run Chicago this year and have been kind of obsessed with reading everything I can about the race, especially peoples’ blogs. I really appreciated your race report and noticed your photos that you took along the course. Did you carry your phone through the entire race or put it away sometimes? I really want to take photos along the course but I don’t want it to slow me down. Thanks! Robyn

    • Tanya

      Hey Robyn! Congrats on running Chicago – you will LOVE it. I mean, there was not a single thing about the race that I disliked.

      I run with my phone in my hand all the time, so it’s easy for me to snap a picture when I see something cool. I try to remember to tap the screen to focus the shot so it’s not blurry, but sometimes the action shots are fun too!

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