2014 Chicago Marathon Race Recap
What an incredible weekend. I just returned home from the airport about an hour ago. I wanted to nap but to be completely honest with you, I think i’m still on cloud 9 from yesterday and my mind is having trouble unwinding. Thankfully, I’m on vacation for the next 8 days! Nothing but relaxation & the Cayman Beach starting tomorrow:)
I honestly don’t even know where to begin with my recap. There is so much to cover and I don’t want to forget anything so here goes nothin’.
I first would like to thank from the bottom of my heart my family & friends..both those that came to Chicago to watch me run and to those of you who cheered from afar/tracked/sent me text messages/FB messages-everything! I can’t tell you how much it means to me. I kept thinking about that while running yesterday how lucky I am to #1- have two healthy legs to run on & #2 a support system like I do. Dare I say it…there were times in the past when I questioned what type of “support system” I actually had in my life. I never knew what that looked like or should look like. I often told myself I just flat out didn’t have one. I was wrong. Yesterday proved to me more than ever before I have one….and it’s a pretty damn good group if I do say so myself. Thank you…everyone! I sincerely mean that. I can’t say it enough.
Now, as for the race… I couldn’t have asked for a better 1st marathon. The weather was gorgeous, the temp was perfect, and the crowd along all 26.2 miles of the course was absolutely indescribable. I ran with NO music. I knew I really wanted to engage myself in the entire race. I wanted to listen to every person yell ” Go runners!” or ” don’t poop your pants!” I wanted to hear it all. Here is a breakdown on how the race rent. I will recall it all, from what I remember..the best way I can!:) Yes, at one point I did get slightly delusional but it was beyond worth it.
The night before Ashley,Kris, Andrea and I met up with Megan north of the city for a delicious Italian dinner. I had plain pasta with some marinara sauce and a piece of bread. Nothing too crazy..I wanted to eat enough but not too much that would leave me feeling heavy in the morning. I woke up around 4:15 a.m to eat my usual pre-race/long-run breakfast (honey stinger waffle, 1/2 banana, PB2, and a small portion of dry cheerios) Midge chased down a cup of coffee for me in the weee hours of the morning while I got changed, stretched, and took care of my pre-race jitters!
Corrals & Start Line
I walked a couple blocks down from the hotel to the corrals around 6:15 a.m. I knew I wanted to use the bathroom, do some more stretching and relax when I got down there..so I took my time. I had butterflies in my stomach walking the whole way. Once I entered through the gates it all started to feel real. It was amazing to people watch and take everything in. Around 6:50 a.m. I officially entered corral D and found a nice little spot to camp out for another 15/20 minutes. Around 7:20 the elites were announced along with the wheelchair wave. A woman sang the National Anthem and I could feel the tears rolling down my face. There I was, standing among 45,000 other runners..in Grant Park getting ready to run my 1st marathon. I couldn’t believe it. Start gun went off..and my corral started to move. I quickly unzipped my jacket & tossed it on the side of the road. It was go time…
Amazing. the first 8 miles I’m 100% sure I had a huge smile on my face. The streets were PACKED. The sun was beaming down on the course and I was just flat out happy! The only minor thing that happened was i lost signal on my Garmin shortly after the start so I had zero clue what my pace was. I went solely on how I felt. I really tried to pull back and stay conservative because I knew I was going to need that energy later. Finally, I picked up my signal again and had a more accurate read. #garminprobs
These miles were my favorite!! Right before mile 8 I saw my Midge, Jim & Megan for the first time. They had a HUGE unicorn balloon and three gigantic signs so I couldn’t miss them. All three were jumping up and down screaming so loud…there was NO way I wasn’t going to get an extra boost of energy from them. I spotted Megan and got to the left side so I could blow past them with a smile:) Shortly after I passed that crew, I was running in the center of the road when I heard “Go Cait!!!” It was one of my best friends Andi & her mom cheering from the sidelines! Andi lives in San Fran and was visiting for the weekend. It was perfect. Just perfect and I was so happy to see them both! (big hugs ander & linann!) At this point I was feeling great. My pace was holding steady in the mid 8’s where I wanted to be. My hydration and fuel plan was working out well and mentally I was in great shape. Once I hit the 12 mile marker I spotted my dad. He put his hand up in the air and yelled ” Go Big Buddy!!” ( he has called me that for years) I grab his hand and gave him a big high five. I could tell he was getting emotional and so was I…I knew I had to keep going… It was too early for the tears! Shortly after that, I heard my name again! It was Kris, Ashley & Andrea..signs and all, screaming at the top of their lungs! They’re the best ladies around…:)
Once I passed the half way mark, I knew it was time to focus. The battle was only about to begin and I needed to mentally get ready for it. At this point my legs were still feeling good. I was slightly low on hydration in my hand held, so from this point on I utilized every water/gatorade station. I took one cup of gatorade followed up by one cup of water. I started to ramp up my salt pills and continue a good cadence with my shot blocks. The crowd started to thin in a few parts. This was where the course jetted straight west away from the city.
A daze. My entire body was feeling it now. I knew I needed to start making mini goals for myself. My pace was slowing but I kept reminding myself..this is your first marathon. It’s OK! I started to approach the rest of the race in 2 mile increments. My legs were numb at this point and my feet were barkin’. The course led us through Chinatown around mile 20/21 and the crowd was fierce! I can honestly say I knew i just needed to keep my damn legs moving and feed off the energy of the crowd. I saw my Megan & my mom once last time before the finish. I knew I was in the home stretch…Mentally, I had two people I kept channeling in my head at this point ( Amy & Ashley) both unbelievable runners who have been incredible sources of inspiration and knowledge for me throughout my training. It was time to find my strong….and that’s exactly what I did.
A complete daze…and delusional state of mind. I remember hearing the girls scream my name and all I could do was put my hand up in the air and keep moving. I ran by a man who was video taping himself as he ran the race on a prosthetic leg. He was talking into his video camera and all I could do was listen to his voice and his inspirational words. Again, I had to choke back the tears and at that point, It was time to finish. I picked up the pace, and used everything left I had in the tank. I saw the sign that said 800 Meters left..along with the hilly overpass I needed to cross before I saw the finish line. I heard Midge & Megan one last time along with many other spectators screaming ” this is what you have worked for!!..you’re almost there!!” I struggled up the hill..and turned the corner. The finish line was in sight and my smile re-appeared. I let my legs carry me home…with my hands up high and one gigantic smile on my face. I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:57:19.
The walk from the finish line to the Runner Reunite area was unbelievable. I wish someone could have got it on tape. I felt 1000 emotions at once. My body was utterly exhausted, my legs were numb, I was crying, I was SO HAPPY, I was talking to myself..not a clue what I was saying but I was just chatting. I was trying to catch my breath at the same time I was trying inhale a banana and chug water. Lets just say there was a LOT going on at once. The most important of all is that I was literally on cloud 9 and the happiest little lady:)
I enjoyed a delicious cheeseburger & beer at Miller’s Pub afterward with Midge, Jim & Megan. Surprisingly, i am not overly sore today. I flew back to Columbus this morning with a stop in Minneapolis/St. Paul (yeah, don’t ask about that flight path). I have some slight soreness but nothing major. I credit the 800 mgs of Motrin i’m poppin’ every 8 hours:)
Here are some pictures from the weekend!
At the Expo on Saturday
The Cheer Squad!! Ashley, Kris, Andrea, Hans & Ferg!
Dad! The picture is super dark..He celebrated harder than I did;)
Jim & Midge after I finished- Can’t thank you both enough for everything!
Thanks for the post-race foot rub Steppy!!
This lady..right here..made the weekend PERFECT!
Thank you Megan!!
“Unicorns don’t sweat, they glisten with glitter!”
Here are my splits from the race. You can definitely see where I started to struggle and where my Garmin lost it’s signal in the beginning. I definitely know what I’m working on for marathon #2 Pace/Speed/Negative Splits!
Well guys, I did it. I am a marathoner. Yesterday was one of the best days of my life. I’m already scouting my next 26.2 adventure!
Have a great week everyone. See ya’ll when I return from the beach!