I don’t even know where to begin with this. What an absolutely perfect, incredible weekend.
I flew into Chicago from North Carolina on Friday night. We were a little worried about my flight because of Hurricane Matthew, but everything ended up going smoothly. I met my parents at the airport and we headed to our hotel. After we got everything settled in, we walked over to Whole Foods for some dinner and to pick up some necessities (aka pre-race meal). I went to bed pretty early Friday night.
Saturday morning, my momma and I woke up early to go to the Oiselle meet up and poster making. I met Jess Barnard and fan-girled really hard. She’s even more adorable in person. It was so much fun to meet new Oiselle teammates!
After that, we headed over to the expo. It was run very efficiently and was not as crazy as I thought it would be! I picked up the Saucony limited edition Kinvaras and a jacket as well as a tank from Nike. After the expo, we headed to lunch at the Protein Bar. Highly recommend it! It was delicious and great if you have food intolerances.
We spent the rest of the day chilling at the hotel, walking around a bit, and doing some shopping. For dinner, we went to Harry Caray’s around 5:30. I wanted to eat on the earlier side so that I could go to bed pretty early. I had gluten free pasta with chicken and marinara and it was SO good. I went to bed I think around 9 and actually slept really great.
My alarm went off at 5:30 Sunday morning. I got up, got ready, and ate my pre-race breakfast of a plain GF bagel with almond butter. I left the hotel to head down to the start around 6:40. Everything went really smoothly as far as getting into my corral (F). I had a Honey Stinger Waffle around 7:20, took my throw away gloves and jacket off around 7:50 and was starting the marathon at 8:03.
Miles 1-3: I started with the 4:00 pace group as per my plan. The first three miles went perfectly and honestly flew by. I saw my parents at mile 3 and was so happy.
Miles 4-8: This is when I started to feel like “hmm, this pace doesn’t feel very easy.” I was starting to feel really sick and trying to get a gel in me at mile 5-6 did not help. I also was starting to have some mini panic attacks and I’m not sure why. I was still holding the 4:00 pace through this time, though.
Miles 9-13: I think I hit somewhat of a wall here. I slowed down, had to make a bathroom stop, and started to incorporate one walk break per mile. I just needed something to look forward to each mile. This was the darkest part of the race for me. When I saw my parents again at mile 13, I started crying a little bit.
Miles 14-18: I started focusing on taking it one mile at a time. This was so mental for me. I had “I Run This Body” (from @mileposts) written on my arm and I was looking down at that constantly. I was starting to feel a lot better though at this point.
Miles 19-25: I kept thinking to myself “I think I’m supposed to be in a very dark place right now, but I’m not. Is that wrong?” This was my favorite part of the race. I was picking up the pace without even really trying, my walk breaks were getting shorter or disappearing altogether, and I had a stupid grin on my face the entire time. I was loving it.
Mile 26: When I saw the Mile 25 mile marker, I got chills all over my body and started to tear up. I could not believe that I was so close to becoming a marathoner. I pushed hard to the finish and ended up crossing the line at 4:25:54. Not under my A goal, but still under my B goal. I was so happy. As I walked through the finisher’s chute, I started to cry because I was so happy. I realized how much I love this distance and how much I cannot wait to do it again.
The logistics post-race were a bit of a nightmare, but once I found my mom, I started happy sobbing. That was the best hug ever!
I could not have asked for a better first marathon experience. Chicago’s crowds were absolutely incredible. I didn’t listen to music at all (I didn’t even have my phone with me), but I didn’t feel the need to ever. The crowds were so loud and pretty much throughout the entire course. I had duct tape with my name on the front, and so many people were cheering for me by name which was an amazing feeling and had me smiling throughout most of the race, even when I felt bad.
I cannot wait to tackle the marathon distance again. If you have the chance to run Chicago, DO IT!
Until next time,