Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chicago Marathon race reflections without pictures

Well, my daughter still hasn't sent me the pictures that she took from the sidelines of the marathon so I'm going to get this post finished.
When I woke up I checked my countdown app on my phone and was greeted by:
Today is the day!!

My Sister-in-law's cousin drove us downtown to as close as he could get us to where we had to go.  We jumped out of the car and began following the masses of people on the sidewalks.  My sister and daughter were then dropped off at Union Station where my daughter put her bag in a locker because she was taking a train back in the afternoon.  They used a spectator guide handed out at the expo to plan their spectating. We knew that the first place they would be would be at mile 2. 
We found the gate we were supposed to enter through, we got in line for the porta potties, got that out of the way and then we found gear check.  It was chilly so we didn't want to give up our jackets any sooner than we had to.  We should have had throw away stuff.  I don't know why I didn't think of that.  I have several things on hand for that.  It was cold when I finally took off my jacket and the shirt I had on over my tank top.  We got in corral G with about 20 minutes until start.  We were at gear check when the first wave went off, we could hear the National Anthem and the gun and all the screaming.  They did the National Anthem again for the second wave.  We never heard a gun go off but the mass of people began moving toward the start line.  It took 12 minutes to get to the start line!  There were so many many many people!  I have never seen anything like it.  It was slow moving for the longest time. 
This was the biggest marathon that I've ever run!  The spectators were just amazing! The entire course was lined with crowds.  There were no breaks in the crowds!  There were so many signs too!  The latest thing in marathon signs has to be a saying such as go fast, go hard, you're almost there, etc etc and then followed by..."that's what she/he said"!!  I saw that so many times!  Another popular sign subject was something along the lines of "you're running much better than our government"! I also saw a lot of signs saying, "I like your stamina" or "you've got great stamina" and then followed by - "call me later!" And, of course, the ever popular total stranger signs!! (I'm proud of you, total stranger, etc, etc).  I saw one sign saying, "Remember when you thought you couldn't do this".  Yes, I do remember a time when I'd have never imagined myself doing anything like this! 
So, anyway, back to running a marathon!  My sis-in-law and I planned to run together, I went into this with no time goals.  We saw my sister and my daughter at mile two!  That was the first time I've ever had anyone at a race waiting along the sidelines!  I always go alone.  We saw them again at the halfway point.  We were still running together at that point.  I can't remember for sure when it was but she started slowing and having some problems somewhere around 14 or 15.  I kept getting ahead of her but I would wait for her at mile markers and aid stations.  She was never very far behind me, she's really tall so I could spot her easily when I turned and looked back while running.  She was always just a little behind me.  Mile 17 was our slowest at 12:53.  At mile 19 I couldn't find her.  I stood to the side and watched all the runners run by and I was sure that I had somehow missed her so I continued on.  I couldn't spot her up ahead of me or behind me.  I felt so bad.  I saw my sister at mile 20 and went over to the side and asked her if Karen had went by yet and she said no and to just go on.  It was so hard and I was so sad about leaving her behind.  I was crying as I passed the 20 mile marker.  Once I was running my own pace I had a hard time getting through the crowds.  There were so many people walking and just shuffling along.  I've been there and know what it's like and I felt kind of bad just flying by all of them.  I actually felt really good and was thinking that this is going to be the best last 6.2 miles of a marathon that I've ever run.  HA!  Don't worry, I didn't get out of it that easy!  The 23rd and 24th miles got tough. The 25th mile, for some reason, was better and I was feeling good again.  There was a 25.2 mile marker and right at that moment it all got ugly.  The last mile was the worst.  I had thoughts going through my head of stopping and sitting on the curb for a few minutes and then getting back up and finishing.  It's a good thing that there was no places along the sides where there wasn't crowds of spectators!  I had looked at the time on my Garmin and thought that it said that I was already in the 4:50s and I thought that I could at least come in under 5 hours.  Even though I was crashing and just wanted to stop, I was pushing as much as I could.  I could see the 26 mile sign ahead but it wasn't getting any closer!  We turned a corner at the 26 mile marker and had to go over a bridge which was not fun!  It seemed to be so steep but it probably wasn't.  I thought I'd see the finish when I turned the corner but there was one more turn and then the finish came into sight!!  Crossing the finish line of the Chicago Marathon was the most emotional I've ever been because of having to leave my sis-in-law behind.  I just started crying.  My Garmin said 4:49:42 when I stopped it. I got my mylar blanket.  Something I've never seen before was a big sticker, like an oversized piece of tape,  that they used to stick the two sides together so I didn't have to hold it.  That was the best!  I've never had to walk so far after finishing a marathon as I had to after this one.  I kept looking for water and my medal.  I thought I had missed the medals so I was looking around at others but nobody else had one on either.  Finally, a medal!  Finally, water!!  There was still a lot of walking after that.  It took forever to get to gear check and then the reunion area was so far away that I could barely see it!  My feet were hurting more and more the farther I walked.  I finally found my sister and daughter.  My sister was getting the text tracking updates and told me that Karen had finished.  I was still so sad about having to leave her behind.  My sister told me that my time from the text was 4:49:36.  My sis in law came in at 5:09. 
One thing that always hits me after a marathon and was no different this time is that it's all over.  Training is long and tiring and then it's over so fast.  The sister-in-laws marathon adventure that had been in the works for over two years was all over. 
The splits from my Garmin:





























The sign my daughter made for me:
Proud Chicago Marathon Finisher:
Runner Nerd finishes the Chicago Marathon!
Marathon finishing Sister-in-laws:
We did it!! 

My daughter had some good pictures on her camera but I can't get her to send them to me.  I should threaten to withhold Christmas presents until I get them!!  She took pictures of the leaders of the race passing by at the 2 mile point.  She also has some pictures of me running by at the different places she saw me.  Hopefully, I will get them someday.  I still haven't ordered any pictures.  My finish line pictures were so disappointing.  I was crowded by so many other people.  They is only one good one but I'm right on the edge and one arm is cut out.  I'm going to eventually order a couple.  I will share them when I do. 
When took a cab to Union Station because my daughter was leaving on a train at 5pm.  There are shops and restaurants in  Union Station so we ate and hung out there until it was time for her to check in.  We ate at McDonalds.  I've eaten McDonalds after marathons before.  I have a hard time eating after marathons but I know I have to.  The fries actually go down easily.  I had a cheeseburger but didn't eat very much of the bun.  There was a popcorn store that had really good caramel corn!  I couldn't eat very much of it at the time but it was sooooo good!  I'm glad there is nothing like that where I live! 
When it was time for my daughter to check in and get ready to board we were both all teary saying good bye to each other.  I really enjoyed having some time with her.  Saturday afternoon was fun.  We had to walk to another train station that was only a couple of blocks away to get on the train we needed to get back to Mt. Prospect.  We got our tickets and had about 20 minutes to wait.  We were able to board right away so at least we could be sitting.  We finally got back.  I don't think I've ever had as long a time until I showered after a marathon! 
The Chicago Marathon is a lot of fun!  I said that it was probably going to be my last marathon but all I can think about is running it again!  I'd love to run it again.  I think it would also be fun to just go and spectate. 
Soooo, there it is, my Chicago Marathon adventure!  I can hardly believe it's over. 

Runner Nerd
Chicago marathoner