I completed my first marathon!!!! It feels amazing/surreal that it’s all over!
Sunday morning, we hopped on the El at 4:30am to head into downtown Chicago. We were first in line for the security check and were able to store our bags right away at the bag check areas. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. In the near freezing temperatures and wind for almost 2 hours until it was time to get to our corrals. I kept a long sleeve shirt on for as long as possible before the race started. While I waited in my corral, my back started aching and I was worried that my muscles would start cramping from shivering. Then finally we were off!
Downtown Chicago was amazing to run through! There were so many people and so many things to look at that it made the time fly by. My family and friends were at miles 3 & 4, and getting to see them and high five everyone gave me a huge boost! I couldn’t wait to get to see them again! Something happened to my Garmin watch around this point, so I had to restart it–so annoying!
We headed north through Old Town and Lincoln Park to Lakeview, then turned around and headed south again. We ran by a nursing home where residents were watching and waving out their windows at runners–it was so sweet and it made me tear up! The people cheering along the course were so great! It was really motivating to see them cheering on their runners, as well as perfect strangers!
I had to make a pit stop at the porta potties at mile 8 (the lines were too long at all of the other aid stations), then jumped right back in and pushed on as we headed back towards downtown. At miles 12 and 13.1, I saw my cheering sections again! At this point I had been running for a little over 2 and a half hours and I was starting to get tired, and seeing them helped me power through a little longer.
The route headed west towards the United Center (where the Bulls and Blackhawks play), and I started getting tired and my hips were really sore, so I walked a bit then ran, and ended up making another bathroom stop at mile 16, and used it as a stretch break. At this point, my momentum was waning, so I challenged myself to run at least 1.5 miles before having to stop and walk again–this worked really well for a few times, and I kept giving myself little milestones to reach before I allowed myself to walk each time.
The course started heading south around this point, and there weren’t a lot of exciting things to see and I didn’t know anyone cheering around there, so it was a pretty difficult part of the race to get through. Fun things that I did see, though, included a guy dressed up in a sombrero shooting a spray of water at runners, and also a guy handing out Modelo to runners. Around mile 21, my body felt like it was falling apart. My knees and hips were super sore, and my hamstrings were incredibly tight, but I still tried running as much as I could. I kept on moving, and pushed on towards the finish. I saw my favorite sign around mile 24: “What does the fox say? Runrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrun….” I burst out laughing and told the guy holding it that it had made my day.
I walked alot towards the end and saw my family again around mile 25.5. I high-fived them all, then walked a bit further to the 800m to go sign, and ran the rest of the way to the finish for a final time of 5:36! It felt awesome to cross the finish, and I couldn’t wait to make it through the mass of runners near the refreshments to grab my bag from the gear check and meet up with my husband (he finished in 4:50!) and our families.
It was a great day, and while I was in a lot of pain during and afterwards, another marathon isn’t out of the question :)