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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: