I'm still awestruck. I ran the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for the third time yesterday, and reached a goal that seemed possible, but one which I was still a little weary. Every teacher at school got wind that I was running, and were asking me questions and wishing me good luck all week. I just kept saying that it was going to be a great day. And I was right.
The days leading up to Sunday seemed pretty stress-free. I know. That sounds ridiculous. There have been so many moments in the past where before races I felt like I was going to throw up at the very idea of running/racing. Quite the contrary, I wasn't nervous about this one. I felt confident, grateful, and prepared. Instead of running Friday morning, I took another spin class. It was the perfect way to blow off some steam at the end of a taper.
The city was already showing off some pretty!
And later that evening, Harry and I joined some of the /R/iver /R/unners for some carb-loading and great conversation.
Saturday morning, Harry and I got up for a couple of shakeout miles. We were off to the Expo, where I usually feel like I'm going to barf the entire time. But I didn't feel that way this time.:)
We ended up taking the red line to the Expo. This route took us through part of the course (~mile 22). Harry exclaimed that this was the home stretch. I made a mental note of that.
Ahhhhhh, no nervousness!
Harry and I had an *ESPN* moment (DUH NUH NUH!), where we each thought of taking pictures of one another waiting for bibs.
Celeb sightings.. I can't get enough of Bart Yasso. And HAL HIGDON!
Part of the /R/iver /R/unners crew!
Harry, who ran his fifth Chicago Marathon yesterday, insisted that we stay in a hotel downtown, rather than dealing with traffic, parking, and public transportation nightmares that happen on race morning. Here he is, attempting to decorate our hotel room with the Chicago Marathon poster.
I started receiving encouraging words through talk and text. When my Daddy tells me to do something, I do it. This message in particular stuck with me throughout the race.
Our pre-race tradition: Tacos.
Another sign that I didn't experience as much anxiousness over this race: I slept like a log. We were staying just down the street from where a concert (that was so loud it actually annoyed me inside our hotel room) was going on. I covered my head with my pillow and fell fast asleep. Up early to hydrate and caffeinate!
I didn't know how much I should pack, going from our home to the hotel. I kept it to the basics, which meant that I didn't pack any throw-away-pants for a morning that was going to be in the 40*F temps. I went to a nearby Walgreens to find some pants, and all I could find were some sweats that were size 3X. I didn't really care. I'd rather look hilarious and be warm, anyway!
We set off for the race site. It was PACKED, and there was heightened security. Everyone was searched before going into the runner's area. Yikes. Harry was actually stopped because he carries his lucky quarter with him, and it set off the metal wand.
After getting through that, we realized we had only eight minutes to get to our corrals. EEP! We still had to check our bags, and I...erm...had to pee just one last time...yeah...TMI.:) We dropped off our bags and I got in line at a portapotty. I didn't want Harry to run the risk of getting locked out of his corral (and neither did he), so we said our "good lucks" and racos (Race besos [kisses]), and he took off. I started up my Garmin while waiting in line, and it actually linked up within 20 seconds. That's a record or something. I was really worried that with all of the other watches trying to get GPS links that mine would have issues.
I made it to my corral just in time, as they closed the gates behind me! WOOT!
I chatted with a couple of other runners who seemed excited and equally as talkative. So many people looked so tense and focused. I have reason to believe that that's how I've looked in the past, since I don't remember how I was at the start of either marathon I've run before.
The race started. I made a promise to myself at this point that I was running my own race and no one elses. Even if I was starting with people with a goal similar to mine, I had a plan to start slow and low. The math game began after the first mile, and I was fine with people passing me. This was my race, and I was going to enjoy it.
It was easy going for most of the time. I started taking Gatorade and water in equal parts around mile 3.5. I had reason to believe that I have failed miserably in the past due to lack of fluids. It's difficult to convince yourself that you need to keep drinking fluids when you aren't really thirsty. I took a more preventative approach this time around, and it paid off.
I felt perfectly paced, relaxed, and of course, I was SMILING. Any time I was feeling a little yucky, I realized that I hadn't been smiling for a while, and picked the outsides of my mouth up up up! My legs and fitness felt just fine, and I kept rockin' along to my music. I got slightly emotional a couple of times, thinking about my Daddy, seeing some motivational scripture on posters, and being so excited to run in my new home's finest race that it brought me to happy tears. I thanked God for being here. For doing this. For feeling this good. For this beautiful feeling. I thanked Him often.
My nutrition was on par. I kept taking fluids, skipping every other table, not wanting to get too full. I started picking up my pace after the half marker; still playing the math game, I figured that if I hit 9:00 pace miles, then I'd be just fine for a sub-4:00 finish.
I knew that that little boost of happy could get me through several miles, and it did. Stuff started to hurt around mile 18. My energy wasn't necessarily down, but a weird twinge in my right hamstring started throbbing, and my inner thighs started to quiver. "Oh no," I thought..."This is it...I'm done.". I told myself to hang on until mile 20, and I did. I convinced myself that this was my wall, and I just had to get through it. Mile 22 brought my first walking break. I looked down at my watch and, by my math, I didn't think I could keep this pace to make sub-4:00. I gave myself three minutes of power walking (I was pumping my arms like I was in an 80s workout video!), got more Gatorade and water, then took off again. The weird quiver in my hamstring throbbed again. Someone offered me at beer just before mile 23, and I took two more minutes to walk and enjoy it. I started running again at mile 23. I saw a sign that said "It's only 5K from here!". I looked down at my watch again, and knew I could make it. I started reciting my most favorite verse.
I was truckin' at this point. It hurt, but the pace felt easy. Does that even make sense? The weird quiver went away, but my inner thighs were threatening to go into muscle failure. Jeff and James, fellow /R/iver /R/unners, said they saw me at mile 25, and mentioned how focused I appeared. I was basically sprinting the last .2, with my eyes sharply focused on the finish line.
I kept thinking about how proud Harry would be...how proud my Daddy and Mom would be...
And before I knew it: 3:59:56
After standing in a line that wasn't a line for twenty minutes, and walking kinda far...lol...I met up with Harry, Adam, Terri, and Matt. Harry was so excited, and it made me so proud of myself. The Kid sub-4:00'd for the first time, as well. Needless to say, it was an absolutely perfect day. The weather, the hydration, the nutrition, the training...everything added up to awesome experience.
I couldn't be happier with myself at this very moment. Harry and I have spent much of this day just relaxing. I will definitely post later with reflections and whatnot, but I wanted to say "Thank you" to all of you whom have supported me and my training. You guys rock my life, and I am beyond grateful for the friends and family that love me. <3