Saturday, October 15, 2016

My First Marathon!! My Chicago Marathon Race Recap 10/9/16

Chicago Marathon Race Recap
Last Sunday I ran my first full marathon in Chicago!! I can now say I'm marathoner! It is pretty crazy to look back when I used to say I would never do one. Your views certainly change after running a bunch of half marathons and seeing others do it. You just get inspired and when I entered the lottery for Chicago it turned out to be the one. I followed a 16 week training plan that I found on Runner's Connect to prepare me for the race. Here's a recap of how the race went. Just to warn you, this a lengthy post with lots of pictures. :)

PACKET PICKUP: It was great because my sister, Sherry also got in to the Chicago Marathon by lottery so we got to experience Chicago together. We went to the expo Friday morning. The expo was located at McCormick Place Convention Center and we got there by shuttle bus since there was a stop located not too far from the hotel we were staying at. 

When we got there, you showed them your participant guide or email which they then scanned and told you what number to go to. It was neat because the person at the number was already expecting you (they knew your name), and they handed you your bib. After picking up your bib you went inside to get your shirt and bag.
Chicago Marathon Expo
Chicago Marathon Expo
The expo was huge with lots of booths to browse. Nike had a big area along with Brooks, The North Face, and Saucony when it came to clothing and shoes. I ended up purchasing some more Nuun because I love the bottles they give that is Chicago themed. I also purchased a shirt from the North Face and another FlipBelt. I would have bought a shirt at Nike but the line was way too long. We did however end up going to NikeTown on Sunday and I bought a shirt then.
Chicago Marathon Expo
Me with my bib.
We also go to meet some running friends from Twitter at the expo. It was so great seeing Sandy and Toni again. Last time I saw them was last year at RnR Brooklyn. Below we are showing off the participant shirt we all got for the race.
We also met up with Kat and Graham from Twitter for the first time! They are awesome! We got to see them again Saturday night at Tufanos for dinner. Such a good time there and great Italian food.
RACE DAY: I woke up around 5am to eat a bagel with peanut butter. It wasn't too hard to get up as I was already excited for the run. I did not sleep well being so excited. Along with the bagel, I had a Mamma Mia vitality beverage. I normally have one of their pouches but the nearby Whole Foods didn't have them, so we went with the beverages. We left the hotel around 6:40 to walk to the start. We wanted to give enough time to get through security and Sherry had a bag to check in and our corral closed at 7:45. Our hotel was a .6 mile walk so it wasn't bad. 
Chicago Marathon race morning
Lots of people heading to the same place made for some congestion walking especially when we went through security. However it wasn't too bad. I was surprised, no metal detectors but they did check your bags if you had one. I did see security wands later as we exited after the race so I found it interesting none were used for entering the start corrals (at least where we entered).
Chicago Marathon race morning
After Sherry checked in her bag, which did not take long for our bib color, we snapped this shot by Buckingham Fountain. We are in surgical gowns thanks to my friend Elizabeth. They are great throwaways and helped keep us warm. We know that we are wearing them backwards but it was just easier to show our bibs this way and also to get them off easily at the start. :) Before heading to to our corrals, we made our way to the port a potty's and found that there were some on the right side of the corrals that were less busy. It was a bit of a wait but not too bad. The weather at the start was perfect. A cool 52 degrees and the breeze made it cooler.
Chicago Marathon race morning
The start line made it all real. I was going to run this marathon. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I could not wait to cross the line to start this run.
Chicago Marathon start line
 At almost a minute after 8am I crossed the start line. I was feeling good.
Chicago Marathon running
We ran across some of the bridges downtown and it was nice of them to put some carpet on them to cover the grates but at the first one we crossed, I don't think it was taped very well since at times it lifted up a bit and I could see it easy for someone to take a spill, but luckily no one around me fell.
Chicago Marathon 2016 race recap
It was great running the streets of Chicago! I tried to follow the blue line as best as I could since I heard this line was the tangent which meant the shortest legal distance in a race. At some parts the line was faint and another part I saw two lines, so I did what I could. I was still over in distance by the finish as I ended up with 26.39 miles on my Garmin which isn't too bad over.
Chicago Marathon blue line
Crowd support was great! Some spots were sparse but overall a lot of spectators on the course which makes this course great. I thought this area was neat with the trees and the shade was nice.
Chicago Marathon 2016
At this point we were back in the city and you can see the Willis Tower (formerly called Sears tower) in the distance. We were getting close to the 13 mile mark which was where I saw Marcia and Wendy which lifted my spirits. I was still feeling pretty good at this point. I do want to mention though that my GPS was pretty wacky when in the downtown area. At times it was saying my pace was slower like 11-12 min miles when I was actually going pretty fast. Seeing that I was slow made me go faster than I should have and I think that is a factor on why I did poorly in the upcoming miles.
Chicago Marathon 2016
Below is the half marathon mark and I was feeling pretty darn good. I knew I was half way through and just another 13.1 to go! 
Chicago Marathon 2016 13.1 mile marker
However, things changed for me by mile 16. I started to slow down and I just could not keep a faster pace. I felt like I was going slower and slower each mile. I thought I was doing a great job fueling. I took GU every 4 miles and every hour I drank Plus with Nuun in my Simple Hydration Water bottle. I did have to stop 3 times to refill my bottle and add the tablets but it did not take long. But even with the fueling my legs felt more tired each mile. Here's mile 20 and I thought to myself, just keep going...just 10K to go. 
Chicago Marathon 20 mile marker
The crowd at Chinatown was great. The cheering helped mentally but physically my legs just couldn't go fast. My pace slowed what seemed like each mile after 20, which made for positive splits until the last mile.
Chicago Marathon Chinatown
When I came to mile 25 it was nice to know only 1.2 to go. It was nice to see signs along the way that said 1 mile, 800 meters, 400 meters to go. What really sucked though was the hill (an on ramp) very close to the finish. That was tough but I did my best to keep on trudging along. When I saw the finish, I did my best to sprint but I really did not have a sprint by that time.  
Chicago Marathon 25 mile mark
I saw this quote the other day, "It doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that." -Fred Lebow. So true. I finished and I am very happy with that. I ran a freakin 26.2 miles! I did it! 
So happy it's over. 
My time turned out to be 4:09:08 which is awesome for me. Of course I wish it were faster than that but for a first, I think it is a great time and I am very happy with it. It just gives me something to work on to beat for next time. 
It was great to see my sister at the finish. She did great and ran her first sub 4. She ran it in 3:59:14. So proud of her especially since she ran it with a bad cough.

Post race, we got the emergency blankets, there was the usual water, gatorade, bananas, protein drink, and they gave you a goodie bag with lots of other treats like pretzels, granola bar etc. I liked that they gave you a bag. Then we walked onwards to the post race party and runner reunite area.
Chicago Marathon Post race party & reunite area
Loved that there were free massages but disliked that the line was so long. We opted to skip the massage because of that.
Chicago Marathon Massage tent
There was a band playing so some nice entertainment at the finish.
Chicago Marathon post race party
The bling was awesome and I had to get a shot of it with the Bean.
Chicago Marathon 2016 medal
And of course take a jump pic. My legs actually felt fine when I jumped.
Overall I'd say my first marathon experience was pretty awesome. I got to run in an amazing city, spend time with my sister, and finish 26.2 miles and survive it without being too sore. The weather was also perfect and I'm so happy it cooperated that day. I'd heard stories of how hot it was last year so I'm glad the weather turned out great. I definitely recommend the Chicago Marathon for those that have never done it. It was a great course, well organized, and with good crowd support. It's so fun running with thousands of runners who all want to accomplish the same thing you do. I'm already thinking about which marathon to do next. Any suggestions? :) 

Have a great weekend!

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