As most runners know it is VERY important to take care of business in the morning before a long race, or you have the possibility to be miserable the entire race. Gastrointestinal problems are very common for long distance runners. The key is to figure out what works for you, some people take Imodium ahead of time, others have a morning routine that works for them. Me, you never know. (Sorry if this is TMI, but it is a serious issue for some runners!)
I woke up @ 4:30 am, drank coffee, ate a Nature's Valley, Honey 'n' Oates granola bar, tried to do my usual morning routine, and no success! :( This set me up for a bad mood, and after eating as much as I did the past few days, I didn't feel so well. The weather was very warm for a marathon (lows in the 60's highs in the 80's!), which didn't help my mood either. One main reason we signed up for this particular marathon was for the cooler weather! Go figure, it was warm the entire time we were there! I was just not mentally ready for the marathon. Physically, for the most part I was, but mentally... I JUST COULD NOT GET THERE! I was ready for it to be over... or to feel better, or for my calves to not be sore from that stupid walk I took on Friday. None of which were happening for me.
I suited up for the race with my new marathon gear and put on my arm pace tattoo (WHICH BY THE WAY WAS SO NEAT! I want one for every race I do. They are so much more convenient and easier to read than arm pace bracelets!!).
We met my dad in the lobby @ 5:30 (race didn't start until 7:30), and headed out to walk about a mile to the start line. With 45,000 racers, we wanted to make sure we got the best spot for our pace group. You line up by the pace you want to run so that the people around you are all running about the same pace. This way you don't have people in your way slowing you down, and you don't slow other people down. You would think that getting there this early would give my body enough time to wake up and get moving... STILL NO LUCK!
Some pre-race photos:
This race was like no other race I have ever participated in. (and I have participated in 15+ races). They had runners from all around the world there. It was so neat to see all of these people in the same city that came together for this very race! The foreigners were wearing jerseys with their state flag and country on the back so you can see where they were from. Of course, USA Marathoner, Ryan Hall, was up front with all the Kenyans! Those people amaze me! I mean, they must have an extra muscle or bone in their body that allows their bodies to run that fast for that distance in that amount of time! ...I envy them.
The National Anthem was sung by a wonderful male opera singer, the gun shot, and we were off! Kinda... (OH DEAR!) We were in an Open Corral (not racing to qualify) so we were much further back than the Kenyans and rest of amazing runners. We finally crossed the start line about 7 minutes and 28 seconds after the gun shot and we were off with our 8:45 pace group. It was so hard to tell what pace we were going because my dad's Garmin watch was going all out of wack in between the high buildings downtown. We averaged just under a nine minute mile the first few miles as we were trying to find our groove. We lost Andrew about four miles in as he stopped for a potty break.
Disaster Witness #1: First it was the smell... oh the smell was AWFUL! Then I saw it. A girl about 10 feet in front of my dad and me had already lost control of her bowel movements. It was all over the inside of her legs and I felt so sorry for her. She didn't look embarrassed and just ran like she didn't even notice it. Thank God, it has never happened to me, but people, IT HAPPENS! Make sure you figure out your routine ahead of time so you do not have to go through this yourselves!
It was only mile five or six and it already hit me! I had to go to the bathroom. (I drank an entire large water bottle of water/cytomax) and it kicked in quickly! I wasn't sure if my dad was going to wait for me or not since we had such a good start. As soon as I saw the first group of port-a-potties, I said "I got to go!" and my dad said "see ya!" and went off with the rest of the 3:50:00 runners. Going to the restroom during a race is one of the most frustrating things. You don't want to alter your time in any way, sometimes there is a line, it stinks in there, your legs are a little tired and you don't want to use your muscles any more than you have to, and you gotta be quick! A whole bottle of water, certainly didn't make it quick, but I got in and out as quick as I could and I was off again.
I am not kidding friends, the entire race I was just off mentally. I was determined to meet my goal, but just couldn't get my brain in the mental state of mind that a runner needs to feel good and have the best race of their life. I was so excited to be there and experience what I was experiencing, just couldn't get to that right happy place I needed to be in. As I was running I started wondering where everyone was. Was Andrew ahead of me or behind me? I wonder how far my dad is ahead of me? This was quickly stressing me out... I HATE BEING LEFT BEHIND! So, I stupidly picked up the pace and decided I wouldn't slow down until I found either Andrew or my dad. My right knee was bugging me a little (not sure why, but lately is has been feeling like there is a lot of pressure when I run) but I just ignored it and pressed on.
The crowd was AMAZING!!! There was not a spot during the race that there was not people cheering us on. To most people, this would be so cool! But, like I said, I wasn't in the right state of mind, and it was SO ANNOYING! I couldn't get into my groove and I just wanted them all to SHUT UP! It was so loud and hard to think. Don't get me wrong, I love supporters, I love people, and it was so neat that all of those people came out to cheer us on. I just couldn't think AT ALL with all the bells and screaming the entire 26.2 miles, so I turned on my music on my new nano and tried to tune them out like white noise. It worked for the most part, but was really hard.
OH LOOK, mile 9 and there's ANDREW! I must catch up with him! "YOU SURE ARE HARD TO CATCH UP WITH!" I said. "What do you mean?" He said. "I finally found you!". We crossed the 15K together, and I kept picking up the pace. Andrew decided to let me go on ahead, and I wanted to catch up with my dad. I knew he was running with the 3:50:00 pace group, and I wanted to finish at that time, too.
I was off, and the sun was getting higher in the sky, and the air was getting MUCH WARMER. Luckily, the first half of the race was mostly shade, so the sun didn't play too big of a part on my race experience. But, it sure was getting warmer.
Mile eleven and I could see my dad running around the guy with the big sign that said 3:50! I FOUND HIM! I finally caught up with him, and quickly regretted pushing myself so hard to do so. We passed the half marathon line and I was ready to say, "I AM DONE!" Unfortunately, this race was a marathon only so there was no option to back out (unless you quit). In the past with races, we have always given ourselves the option to quit at the half if we are not feeling like doing the full, and 90% of the time, we did just that! It was GREAT! But, in Chicago, we didn't have this option because there was no half! We crossed the half marathon line at the perfect pace to finish the entire marathon at a 3:50:00 time. I knew I could do it, but was starting to feel more and more like crap. The sun was at its best, the second half was practically shadeless and I could feel my back and face getting burned. The temperature was already in the 80's!
About every mile and a half on each side, they have a long row of people handing you Gatorade 2 (Performance Drink) then behind the Gatorade row, they have tons of people handing out water. I grabbed a Gatorade and water (sometimes 2) at every station. The problem was, my body started rejecting the Gatorade (either too acidic or not enough room in my tummy for all of the water and Gatorade I was consuming) so a lot of the times, it came back up. I didn't necessarily throw up, it just felt like horrible reflux with burps that tasted like throw up and lots of air behind it. I pressed on. I kept drinking the gatorade because I knew I needed to stay hydrated and needed that energy since at mile three I had accidentally dropped my Gu Chomps I had in my hand for energy at the half way point. (OOPS... oh whatever they were annoying me anyway). TRICK TO DRINKING OUT OF THE CUPS DURING THE RUNS: Once you grab the cup (and you might accidentally splash it on the people handing it to you since you don't want to stop... its okay, they are used to it. Just say sorry and keep going) squeeze almost all of the top of it together and only leave enough room for just a little hole for the Gatorade to come out and not splash you in the face. This way you can drink it while still running.
My dad and I stuck together until about mile 16 where he had a horrible leg cramp and needed to slow down. At this point, my hams were KILLING ME, my knee was throbbing, and my ankles felt like they were broken. (I have run this distance many times before, but at a MUCH slower pace and like I said, I wasn't there mentally). I knew I only had 10 miles left and I couldn't slow down. I have run ten miles EASILY at least once a week in the past, so why couldn't I do it then, right?
Mile 17, I am still on pace, maybe about a minute behind, but a 3:51 finish I would take any day. I was getting more mentally there. (Its about time right?) I saw a guy from the sidelines join two other runners and run for four miles with them. They were running at my pace and it was so neat to see the camaraderie between the three of them. The guy was rooting them on, grabbing their water for them and handing it to them. He made sure they were okay and checked constantly if they needed anything else. So neat! He stopped at mile 21 and let the guys finish on their own.
About mile 18 Disaster Witness #2: A racer in the middle of the road just start seizing and looked like he was out of his body and about to fall backwards. He fell on me and I didn't know what to do. There was nothing I could do. Other people came running to him, so I kept going. I would have been no help, and he had other help there.
Mile 19, Disaster Witness #3: A spectator was on a bike on the sidelines ( I have NO IDEA what happened) but as I looked over at him, I watched him and his bike do an entire summer-salt, role on his head and then over. He screamed "OWWW!" and again, people came running to him. So I would have been no help, and kept running.
Mile 20... HOLY CRAP! I still had 6 more miles and I was ready for this race to be over. But hey, I run 7 miles almost every day.. I could SOO do this! Less than an hour to go and I had this race!
Mile 21: I lost the mentality and I was exhausted. Legs hurt, lower back was KILLING, and people were dropping like flies. (Seriously.) I was weaving between people that would just stop in front of you, practically dodging them so that I wouldn't run smack into their backs. I was about half a mile into mile 21 and I needed a minute to myself! The crowd was so loud, and I needed to stop. I went over to the side lines, bent over to my toes and my back went ::CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK:: all along my spine. I felt a little better and pressed on.
Mile 22: Okay... I felt horrible, everything in me wanted to quit, but I knew I couldn't. I started walking at the next water stop. When I started to pick up running again, my legs would barely move. I told myself to suck it up, and that I told my friends I wanted to make it at a certain time.. I absolutely could not let them down.
Mile 23: I decided I would walk at the water stops... which quickly turned into water stops and a few times in between. My body was giving up quickly!
Mile 24: SOMETHING CAME OVER ME! Even though I was exhausted, I wanted to give up and hurt so bad, I knew that I could run 2 miles! I told myself to suck it up, I turned to God and asked for strength, and thanked Him for this amazing opportunity, and the ability to have two legs that could run so that I could fulfill my dream. (We take so much for granted... last time I was in Chicago about a year ago, I had 8 stitches in my knee and I could barely get around Chicago. I felt like it was God's way of giving me a second chance to be thankful for what I have been given, and given the ability to see Chi-Town by foot.)
Mile 25: HOLY COW... 1.2 to go. I FEEL HORRIBLE. I wish I was already done. OKAY LINDSAY... you have 1.2 to go... you absolutely, no matter how you feel, CANNOT STOP! Even if you are barely gimping... you have to finish!
There were people just speeding past me and I wanted to punch them in the face. WHERE IS ALL OF THEIR ENERGY COMING FROM? How did they do that? Who are they? What did they eat? I wanted some of what they were having, that was FOR SURE!
If they could do it... I could do it! PASSED the 500M mark. I remember thinking, Please God... Please God... hold my hand and help me finish without having a heart attack. My chest was hurting so bad...400M... that's a lap around the track. 300M, YES! 200M, I turned the corner and could see the finish line I've got this, I've got this. Another girl speeds past me. What the heck! I thought. So I picked up the pace even more and followed right behind her. Thank you God... Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I remember just saying that over and over and over in my head. I felt so relieved to see that finish line and knowing that I couldn't have done it without Him.
I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face so happy I did it, so relieved I was finished, and so thankful for having the ability to finish such an amazing race. I finished in 4 hours 1 min and 27 seconds. My ultimate goal was 3:50 but my more realistic goal was 4:00:00 and my last marathon was 4 hours and 13 minutes. This means I PR'd by 12 minutes! At that VERY moment, I decided it would be my last marathon. At least for a while. I have decided that I enjoy half marathons so much more. I can improve my distance, and recover so much quicker. They are so much more enjoyable than a marathon! Granted, a marathon is so much more rewarding, but I am a much happier person with halves!
After the race, I am always filled with so much emotion. It took everything in me not to cry. I didn't want to look stupid, but something comes over my entire body and I just want to cry for joy, cry because I am done, cry because I am thankful that I could do it, cry because every part of my body hurts! But I didn't (Thank you God again for not letting me make a fool out of myself).
There is a long line you have to walk down to get your finishers medal (the whole reason I run these), aluminum jacket to stay warm, water, Gatorade, beer, food, pictures, cold rag to put around your neck, ice packs... etc. etc. You seriously don't have enough hands to hold it all. I just wanted to sit down. I found a nice spot on the side of a curb and enjoyed that nice ice-cold beer.
My dad finished the race at 4:08 and Andrew finished about 4:25! I am so proud of them, and couldn't imagine running that race with anyone else. I feel so lucky to have the ability to run these races with my dad and husband. I am so proud of them for their hard work to finish these races with me, too!
Us in front of the spectators waiting on the friends and family to come through the gates.
Us in front of the bean! :)
Two days later, I can barely walk. I am super sore and trying to just rest up. My knee surprisingly isn't bugging me at all, as during the race I thought I tore something. My ankles hurt a little, but they will recover and I will hopefully be running again by this weekend!
If you ask me if I would ever run a marathon again, I would say, probably. I just don't have plans running another any time in the next few years. I have run two so I can now officially say I am a marathoner (if I left it at one, I would only be able to say, "I have run a marathon before"). For now, it will be just halves, and I am perfectly happy with that.
There was one fatality and one birth during/after the Chicago marathon: