First things first, the Chicago Marathon was a blast.  The city is beautiful and the spectators were fun and full of energy.  My post race limp is completely gone and I can happily report I raised over $1500 for Girls On The Run ($1900 if I include the Surf City fundraising from earlier this year). Now that I’ve got the positive bullshit out of the way I have to admit I am sorely disappointed with myself and how I did.  I don’t feel like I set unrealistic expectations for myself- so coming in right in the middle of my past marathon times just blows chunks.  Now that I’ve gotten the negative bullshit out of the way, here’s my recap.

Bib Pick-up

We arrived into the city on Saturday via the Metra from Aurora after visiting some family.  Older high rises are like pieces of artwork, and this city is filled with them.  I loved seeing the skyline from a distance and felt a kid-like excitement build as we got closer.  The expo was about 4 miles south from where we were staying.  At first we attempted to walk there then realized it was a ridiculous idea after having to stop at two red lights.  The expo was typical except for the Chicago Girls On The Run tent.

The gals at the GOTR Chicago booth were GREAT!!

It was very cool for me to see the organization I’m involved have a large presence at such a huge race!  It reinvigorated my hopes for the San Diego Chapter and what it can grow to be. The group gave out free shirts to Solemates (those who raise money for the charity) to give to their family and friends who were cheering for them.  Since I wasn’t sure if my family could make it, I signed up for two just in case.  GOTR also had a spot in the goodie bag in the from of a bumper sticker.

...confident!

The returning shuttle lines were extremely long and the waiting area was overcrowded.  That made me nervous and irrational and in that state my solution to get out of the area was to hop on the shortest shuttle line no matter where it took us.  I don’t make the best decisions when I’m nervous, but it ended up working out.  Close by the drop off point we found this cute place to eat called Eleven City Diner.  Two thumbs up!

The first sign of trouble for me started as soon as I walked out of the hotel room race day at 7 a.m.  I normally need to prance around and wear a throw away shirt to keep warm.  There was absolutely no need.  It was already a warm day and at any other time I would be thrilled to have such great weather.  Not race day though.  We walked up to the start just in time and snuck in between the 9 and 10 minute per mile pacers.  Wishful thinking on my part.  45,000 runners it surprisingly took us only 10 minutes to cross the start line.

Chicago Marathon start

My strategy was to start off and at an easy pace that I would be able to sustain throughout the race.  Normally pacing at around 9min/mile for a half, I thought it was realistic to think I could run a 10:20 pace the entire time. In fact, a tiny part of me was even thinking I was shooting too low.  By the half I was already off, pacing at 10:37.  Strange enough I didn’t feel horrible, my legs just didn’t want to move any faster.  “Move legs, move!” I thought, but they had a mind of their own that morning and they weren’t giving my brain any say.  The 4:30 finish pace group passed me shortly after. I tried to stay with them for about 30 seconds before giving up and noted how fast they were losing me.

I always have a little bit of an issue with my thunder thighs rubbing together.  Even with Glide, the chaffing during the marathon was persistent.  I don’t know if it was the combo of heat and humidity but I was burning in places that normally aren’t an issue.  At mile 15 I finally had to make a stop at the first aid station to lube up with petroleum jelly.  Not so fun standing on the side of a crowded route, in an attention getting tutu, legs spead eagle and greasing up in between the thighs.  Sigh… the not-so-glamorous side of long distance running.

I don’t mean to be a tutu pusher, but it really did make the race more enjoyable.  It’s hard to be down when so many people cheered me on simply for wearing a little bit of tulle around my waist.  I must have heard “Go tutu girl!  You can do it!” about a hundred times.  How could that not make me smile?  I ended up going with the “Punk Rock Girl” tutu because it has GOTR colors with a little bit of edge.  That’s me, I’m edgy.

Too edgy to pay for a picture.

I didn’t hit the wall at mile 20 because I’m pretty sure I carried it with me the entire race.  There was so much energy in the crowd running through Chinatown.  Had I enough moisture in my body I would have teared up.  There were also many humorous signs throughout the race that kept me entertained.  Had I enough oxygen going to my brain I would have remembered them and quoted them here.

Love and Marriage go together like a horse and carriage!

After crossing the finish line I was greeted by my shirtless husband carrying a beer for me.  What a beautiful site!  He’s not only gorgeous, but thoughtful too.  I learned he PR’d even with two bathroom breaks and stopping to take a couple of photos.  Most importantly to me, he completed the marathon without feeling sick to his stomach.  Refueling in the right ratios for long distance activity has been a challenge to him in the past, but he was all smiles after the race.  I give partial credit to the headband he received at the Girls On the Run tent.  I think it gave out good mojo.  The splash of pink also makes his eyes pop. 

Finishing 5:09 made me torn between never doing another full marathon again and signing up for another one quickly to prove something to myself, I went with the later.  Carlsbad is in 15 weeks, hopefully not giving myself any time to fall into a slump.  Yes we are at the mercy of how our bodies feel on any given day, but in order to succeed I need to train smarter to give myself the best advantage I can get.  Luckily, I think I’ve recruited a running buddy for the race who runs about the same pace.  I’m hopng the $110 price tag doesn’t scare her off.  This weekend is the SheRox triathlon then I’m ending the year with halfs in Santa Barbara and Las Vegas.  All in all I consider this year a great success, despite one sucky marathon time.

Good friends make bad marathons not so bad.

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