On October 7, 2018 myself and about 40,000 other runners got up to a dark, cold, and rainy morning to run 26.2 miles around Chicago. Who does that?! Well only about 1% of the population. So if you have ever thought to yourself, “I am going to run a marathon one day!” or specifically the Chicago Marathon, here is my race recap of that very cold and wet day to give you a little insight on what it is like.
First off I want to say that you can do anything you put your mind too. I am NOT an athlete or even played sports as a kid. I am just your average person who decided to wake up one day and start running.
The Chicago Marathon was my 5th marathon, but it meant more to me than that. It was the first time running as a mom. I would have my son waiting for me at mile 13 and at the finish line so it was especially emotional. Marathon Training with a newborn and dealing with the whole postpartum journey is not for the faint of heart either. I was away from my son for hours at a time on the weekends, when I already work a full time job. My husband was there to support me and be on double dad duty while I was out for all my training runs.
The training is what gets you to the marathon so I spent a good 6 months waiting for this day. To say I was excited was an understatement.
Getting to Chicago
On top of running a marathon we were also traveling to Chicago from LA with a toddler. That in itself is a task at hand. I not only had to pack for myself but also for the baby to make sure he had his bottles, diapers, toys, and all the essentials when you are traveling with a baby — I like to make it extra stressful.
We took a Friday night flight from LAX into ORD, got delayed and a 4 hour flight turned into a 6 hour flight. There was a moment of panic because of the thunderstorms in Chicago we could have been rerouted to Wisconsin and then I would have missed the expo and ultimately not been able to pick up my bib. But it all worked out and Baby Boy even slept a little.
Saturday before your race is meant for two things; staying off your feet as much as possible and getting to the Expo to pick up your bib. The Expo is such a big part of your race, you can feel the excitement.
We stayed at the Radisson Blue Aqua, which had special rates for Marathon runners. It was also walking distance to start/finish as well as the hosting hotel the Hyatt. We walked to the Hyatt to pick up the bus to take us to the Expo. We had a stroller and a toddler, so if we can do this so can you. Super easy and really well organized.
Once you get to the Expo, get a poster! I have mine hanging in our hallway, Christmas present from the Hubby! Go through security and get your Bib and your T-Shirt! DO NOT forget your T-Shirt it is in a separate area. We walked for a little while, took pictures but didn’t stay too long because I wanted to get off my feet. We took the bus back to our hotel and took a nap with the baby!
The Night Before
DON’T DO ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY. This is especially true for the night before. Don’t take any new supplements, medicine, try new foods, drink new electrolytes. Just practice everything you have been doing during your training. For me, this consisted of having some seafood and mashed potatoes, early bed time and laying all my clothes out and getting my early morning breakfast ready for my wake up.
You have prepared for months and the day is finally here. 40,000 people woke up to torrential rain on October 7th. I anticipated this and brought all the necessary clothing to throw away after I start running. I got up, put on my clothes, had my breakfast and started to walk to the my corral. I don’t really have anything wise to say to you for the start of your race, my mind doesn’t really become all inspirational. I am just a get up and do it kinda girl. Trust in your training and believe in yourself you put all this time and effort over the past months to train for this – You Can and You Will.
While you are waiting in your corral, go to the bathroom as much as possible. Go grab some water, eat a banana and go stand in line for the porta-poties.
I run with real food as I cannot stomach Gatorade, gels or gu’s. My food of choice is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a Luna bar with water and a couple of paydays if I am struggling. I rely on the spectators for bananas, pretzels, a coca-cola and candy. Basically anything they are handing out along the course I take. This race, I also was practicing with Salt Tabs and they have worked in replacement of my electrolytes.
There were so many different parts of the course. You go through all the different Chicago neighborhoods and not one was the same. From Lincoln Park, Old Town, and Chinatown there was a lot to see. I am very spoiled and have run the NYC Marathon twice so I unfairly compare all my marathons to that race. But I will say, there was crowd support probably not as much because of the rain, but they were there. Handing out food and drinks from the goodness of their hearts in the rain. And I have to shout out this one lady that saw me early in the course then saw me at mile 23 crying and she ran with me told me I was almost there. She was able to get me going again to tell my legs to keep going, because I couldn’t let my husband and son down. I had to finish, I did not train for 6 months to stop 3 miles from the finish line.
As I crossed the finish line 5 hours and 52 minutes after I started, I averaged 13 minute miles. For being about a year post-partum, that was enough for me. My husband and Son were there waiting for me at the finish with big smiles and hugs. I immediately broke down. All that training is over, the marathon is over and I dreamed about this day for months.
I have labeled this marathon the “Emotional Marathon.” I honestly couldn’t stop crying, crying during my training, crying before I ran the race and crying after I finished. Why was I so emotional??!! I thought it was because I am a mom and it means something else to me now, to achieve something like this. Well, after we got back from Chicago I wasn’t feeling too well. Turns out I was 6 weeks pregnant, I guess I know why I was so emotional, why I was so tired and why I had major food aversions. Whoops!
Take away’s to know for next time…
- Your Garmin will NOT work
- Plan for every scenario with the weather and don’t throw away your running poncho because you think the rain stopped, it didn’t
- Order your deep dish pizza before you get to restaurant or have it delivered to your hotel – do not go sit down for deep dish pizza after the marathon.
- Get a poster at the Expo
- Take it all in…