Chicago Marathon- Part II

Race Day!  I woke up around 4:30 to eat and allow myself plenty of time to get ready.  I always lay all of my stuff out the day before so all I really have to do is shower and throw clothes on but I don’t like to be rushed.  The information booklet I had received said I needed to be in the American Development tent no later than 7:15 as that was when the last group was going to be escorted to the start line.  I had planned to leave my hotel around 6:15 to get to the start around 6:30 and then have plenty of time to get my gear ready, warmed up and use the bathroom.  That was the plan anyway :)…

A picture before leaving the hotel room

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I was right on schedule and in the lobby of my hotel at 6:10 to catch the shuttle from my hotel to the start line.  Unfortunately the shuttle (which was actually a little Trolley) took a few minutes to arrive….so now I’m a little behind schedule.  Not to worry though, because I had plenty of time, right? 🙂  My husband was allowed to ride the shuttle down with me (and he was such a trooper to get up as such a crazy hour to do so!) so we road our little Trolley down to as close as we could get to the start line.  They had warned us that with the increased security, we should plan for extra time to get to the start line and through the gates.  This was the first major marathon to be held since the Boston bombings and they weren’t taking any chances…and they weren’t kidding!  Here is a picture of me before going into Grant Park….

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I made it through security and found the tent pretty quickly.   By this time it was about 6:50 so I was later than I’d hoped but still thought I was doing okay on time.  I showed my bib and got into the fenced area and was ready to relax for a few minutes….and then I was told that I had better hurry as the first group to leave would be going in 5 minutes.  I wish I had a picture to show of my face upon receiving this information!  I went into panic mode…..I did not have my bottles ready (yes, I run with a fuelbelt and yes I realize that it’s ridiculous ;-)), had not used the restroom, still needed to use my inhaler, warm up, get all of my clothing off, etc. etc.  I’m sure they saw the look of panic on my face because they followed it up with, “don’t worry, it’s just the first group.  You have a little more time.” And by “little” they meant about 10 more minutes- Awesome! 😉  So, there went my visions of relaxing and enjoying this pre-race perk.  I somehow managed to do everything I needed to do and just as the last group was about to be escorted out, some people asked if we would have time to use the restroom again.  They told them to hurry and I figured I might as well try going one more time.

Big mistake….huge!

I was in and out fast and got out in time to catch the tail end of the line.  Unfortunately as we wove through the crowd the line got stretched out to the point that a bunch of us got lost.  I was on my own and ran to every race personnel I could find to ask where I should go to get to the American Development Start line location.  I should add at this point that all American Development participants have their official race time as gun time, not chip time.  Meaning that once that gun goes off so does your timer and every minute back you are from the start line is added to your official time.  This is just fine if you are lined up near the start line, as all ADP entrants are supposed to be.  Not so fine if you are lost in the back of the crowd.  To make a very long story short, I pushed my way to the front (I’m sure making many enemies along the way 😦 ) and got up to where I was supposed to be with only a couple of minutes to spare.  I have to say that being in that area with some of the country’s top runners was pretty amazing.   I wish I had had the chance to meet a few of them in the tent….I’m sure there were a lot of interesting stories to be heard.

Finally it’s race time!  The wheelchair participants took off first and then the elite runners came out and took their place right behind the line.  Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the start line (it was split in two- I was on the left and they were on the right) so I didn’t even see them before the race….or during or after for that matter ;-).

They started counting down from 10 and I made sure my garmin was on/synched up with satellites and hit play on my ipod.  I had my fuel belt loaded with my favorite Nuun and GUs.  The horn went off and everyone around me took off like they were sprinting a 100 yard dash.  I had planned to start out slow to gauge my hamstring but I felt like I was going to get run over.  I made my way to the side of the street and tried to get into my rhythm.  I always love the first half mile or so of a marathon- everyone is in good spirits, there are plenty of people cheering you on and they is just that excitement in the air.  Fast forward to mile 20 and things look a little different ;-).

In the interest of keeping this post short(er….because its already way too long!) I will just cut to the chase and say that my hamstring was bothering me the whole way.  I tried to stay on pace for as long as possible but I knew this wasn’t going to be the PR race I was hoping for.  I contemplated quitting several times so I’m proud of myself for sticking with it.  I alternated between telling myself to just enjoy the race and not worry about time, to trying to push myself to go sub 3:00 and then sub 3:10 as the race went on.  I stopped looking at my pace band and only paid attention to my split times so I was surprised when I got to mile 25 and realized I could still make sub 3:00 if I pushed hard.

Some pictures from the race…

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So I pushed hard and crossed the line at 2:59:53 (gun time). I can never eat right after a race so I grabbed a few things to eat later and then came upon the best thing I’ve seen in a finish chute…..a table full of beer! One of the local breweries (Goose Island Brewery) had beer right there at the end….and I’m pretty sure a beer has never tasted so good!  I very happily made my way over to have my picture taken and then as I had started cramping bad, found the massage table and had my first post-massage massage.

I finally met up with my husband (who had the nerve to complain about his feet hurting…to his credit he was wearing horrible shoes ;-)) and we made the very long trek to find a taxi.  The marathon had done a great job of keeping everything secure, so we had a very hard time getting out.

Enjoying another one of those yummy beers (312 Goose Island Brewery) post-marathon…

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So that was marathon #13 :).

*One final note- the American Development Program was awesome.  Warm tent full of pre-race snacks and fuel, seperate port-a-potties, etc.  All of the problems that I encountered were because I was later than I should’ve been- my bad!  Thanks Chicago Marathon!! 🙂

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About Paige

I am a runner, wife and mother of three. I've been running since I was a kid and had my first taste of victory when I beat all the boys (and girls) in my grade at a school run. Since then, I've had a love/hate relationship with running....I love to run but hate how the training can sometimes monopolize my time and prevent me from doing "fun" things. So, I try hard to find the balance between challenging myself with running, while still having lots of fun on the side.
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