Chicago Marathon Rewind

36 hours ago, I was just over an hour into marathon #4 that was the Chicago Marathon. Now that the dust has settled and I’ve had a chance to digest the weekend, here’s the race that was!

Friday
I left for Chicago Friday morning. This month, I could make my own schedule for work, so I decided to to take Friday off. I changed my flight and flew out Friday morning. I landed in Chicago around 10 am and headed out to the race expo at McCormick Place, luggage and all. Once you get to the expo, it’s officially race weekend! I picked up my bib (#13957), and my shirt, I checked in with ACS at the DetermiNation tent. Not hard when you have an ACS arch to look for. They were impressed I came right from the airport! I ended up staying to volunteer at packet pick up for a few hours. At 4:10, I left and was to my friend’s house. The nice thing about having friends in Chicago means I have a couch to sleep on while in town. Later that night, we headed to Lake Forest for a bonfire and some fun.

Saturday
Woke up and headed back to the expo for some retail therapy. A pair of shoes, a long sleeved shirt, a pint glass, a sweatshirt, a bibfolio to hold my bibs and a few other things. I was a happy camper. Any good runner grabs carbs for lunch, so I headed to The Italian Village. Good food right there! I stopped in Nike after lunch and met the one and only Paula Radcliffe. She was giving a talk about marathon day and what to expect. She reflected on setting the world record at Chicago 10 years ago. Shortly after, she signed my bib for me, a touch of good luck! After stopping at my friend’s apartment, I got my bib on my ACS shirt, pinned on my in memory of and in honor of ribbons. Later that night, I headed to dinner with my friend and his girlfriend. Of course, there was some OSU football watching as well (of all nights for them to have a night game). With all my stuff laid out, I hit the sack around 10pm.

Marathon Morning
Only crazy people run marathons, that’s for sure. I woke up at 4:30 am. I felt like I was on a surgery rotation! I changed into my white base running shirt with my ACS shirt on top and red capris with some black mixed in. After getting my stuff together, I grabbed my luggage and headed to a downtown hotel where family friends were staying. They were kind enough to let me leave my stuff at their place and shower there afterwards. A group of 8 ish of us headed towards Grant Park. Once we got there, the group of 7 went to the CARA meet up while I hustled around to find the ACS tent. I dropped my stuff off around 7 and used the bathroom (no lines!), grabbed an orange and dashed to the start. At 7:30 the gun went off and the Kenyans and Ethiopians took off. About 9 minutes after the gun went off, I crossed the start. It reminds me of the scene of the start of the Marathon in The Spirit of the Marathon. The temperatures were cool, perfect of running at 42*, an indication of good things to come. People were hanging over bridges cheering us on and waiting for us under underpasses. Mile 1 and all cylinders were working well. I found a good pace and went with it.

Come mile 3, I detoured for a quick bathroom break. Oh hydration. The crowds were out in full force and that is always a plus. Come mile 7, I had hit the 10K mark in just under an hour and was looking for my friend N who let me crash at his place, but we missed each other. Running through Old Town, Boystown, Lincolnwood reminds me of my undergrad days. At the halfway point, I was running about 9:57 miles and was at 2:08:12. Less then a mile later a saw my friend K’s husband. He recognized me because of my crazy pants and was impressed how well I was doing. Just after that around mile 14, I saw my boss from undergrad. A quick hug and a ‘go go go’ of encouragement and I was off again. I had been chilly the whole race and after mile 14 I threw on my arm warmers. I then hit the charity cheer section and was greeted by a group of DetermiNation cheerers who cheered loudly for me! Mile 14-16 and I was still under 3 hours. I had the Just keep running montra in my head. Through Little Italy, Chinatown, passed UIC and their marching band. The don’t stop was in full effect. 10 miles left and I was beginning to think if I could PR and by how much.

Mile 18, 19 and 20 came and went and I was in the mindset of just a 10k left. I also realized I was still under 4 hours and by a good amount. I started thinking this was going to a decent PR. However, my hip flexors, quads and feet were aching. I had to walk a few times just to work the issues out. At mile 23, I was at 4 hours and that kept me going because there was going to be a PR.

Mile 24 brought more cheers stations. I saw a DetermiNation coach and then passes Mister DetermiNation himself DPTurtle. 1.2 miles later, we hit one mile to go. The point of where you’re almost done is welcome. After the 800m sign, we turned a corner and had to deal with Mount Roosevelt. After getting through it, I ended up with a bout of dry heaves. After making the last turn, we hit the last straight away and there was the hallelujah, we’re there phase. After 4:32:53, I crossed the finish line. I PRed by TWENTY MINUTES. My goal was for 4:45 and I went well below that. My friend N called me right in the chute. After collecting my medal and some food and headed to the exit.

I headed back to the ACS tent and got a much needed massage. 2 pieces I pizza, a hot dog and cake later, I began hobbling back to the hotel for a shower. Once i got a good pace, I just went with it. A warm shower does wonders, let me tell ya! Before my weekend came to a close, I got lazy and took the bus 3 stops to Nike to get a finisher’s shirt and my medal engraved. It was a good weekend all and all with a wonderful ending and PR!

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Marathon Packing List- What’s in your suitcase?

On Sunday, I’ll be hitting the streets of Chicago for marathon #4.  It’ll be the 3rd time I’ll be coming from an away rotation and have had to pack ahead of time for my weekend getaway of torture… er, running.  Since away rotations mean living out of a suitcase for a month, I set aside 2 suitcases, a marathon bag and a rotation bag.  Wondering what’s in my bag?

  1. Running shoes.  First think that went in and won’t be coming out.
  2. Running clothes: this includes DetermiNation clothes, running shorts, running spandex, running 3/4 length pants, long sleeved base layered shirts and a throwaway shirts. Let’s face it, it’s Chicago. In 2010, it was 93* at the finish. in other years, it was in the 40s-50s.
  3. Socks and undergarments
  4. Gloves and arm warmers  Let’s face it, it’s Chicago and the weather is bipolar
  5. Jeans and normal everyday clothes
  6. Confirmation book and a print out of the confirmation emails
  7. My DNation timeline of events
  8.  The Fuel belt and gels
  9. Body Glide
  10. Compression Socks and Calf Compression sleeves [let’s face it, I need variety]
  11. Foam Roller, travel version
  12. Deodorant and all the bathroom supplies
  13. If I could bring alcohol onto hospital housing, I would. That’s typically illegal though
  14. Extra strength tylenol for my post race aches and pains

What’s on your packing list?  Or, what am I forgetting?

It’s Marathon Time, DNation Style!

I seem to have forgotten the 95 degree temperatures that met me at the finish of the Chicago Marathon in 2010.  October in Chicago is pretty unpredictable- in 2006, we had snow October 12, 2006 (ish) and in October, 2007, we hit the 90s and the marathon was stopped around 1130 AM because of the heat.  Thus, for whatever reason (I just want the weather to cooperate with me, it’s a flat course and Chicago is my second home), I’m coming back!!  Chicago Marathon, I’m preparing to tear you apart on October 7.  You’ve been warned!  I’ve seen part of your course as of last weekend.  This year, I’m doing it with a chip on my shoulder, because, let’s face it, I have some beef with the 95 degree finishing heat from 2010.

This year, I’m running for the American Cancer Society.  It’s one of the larger teams that runs the marathon, with the goal of raising money for cancer research and to put an end to cancer.  As they say, they want more birthdays and quite frankly, I agree.  How did running for ACS and team DetermiNation?  I blame my friend Jay.  I met Jay when I ran Chicago back in 2010.  At the time, he was working for Ryan and Sara Hall’s Step Foundation.  Since then, he’s taken a job with ACS and begged me to join the team.  What can I say, for Jay yes, yes I will.

This year, however, will be special.  Yes, running the marathon in general gives you a small piece of immortality as Katherine Switzer puts it.  However, at the end of June I received an email saying that I was a potential match as a bone marrow donor for an individual needing a transplant.  So, while training, I’m going through blood work and waiting to see if I’m helping someone out with a bone marrow transplant.  Who woulda thunk…helping someone with cancer while running for ACS.  Want to read more of my story?  Head over to my DetermiNation page and help me out.  I’m trying to raise $1000 for ACS and again am not asking for any physical birthday presents.  Peace out and help out a runner!!

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