Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Twenty-six point freaking two

Chicago Marathon 10.7.12   ---   Team Bright Pink

 Well, here is my race day report.  I am going to try and remember everything.  I got up around 4:30am on race day in order to make it to the FFC South Loop to meet up with the other girls from Team Bright Pink.  They were kind enough to provide lockers for us so that we did not have to wait in the hell that was the gear check line.  We headed out of FFC around 6:45am for our 8am start time and walked 3 blocks to the start.    We were at the start line over an hour early and it was already crazy!  There were people everywhere and a bunch of marathon volunteers checking our bibs to make sure we were legit.  I was in corral “L” (they only go to “M”) but at the expo I realized that the pace team I wanted to run with was in corral “M” so I headed to port-a-potty and then to the last corral with a couple new friends.  You can see the 5:25 pacers in my picture at the top. 

The starting line.....I can see really......

It was about 40 degrees by the time we got to the start.  I wore a long sleeved nike dri-tech shirt with a t-shirt overtop and then a throwaway sweatshirt on top of that.  I bought an ear covering headband at the expo as well as some cheapie anti-fog glasses and I was sure glad I did.   I also wore a pair of throwaway gloves.  I was plenty warm (and seeing as we waited almost 45 minutes to actually get to start) by the time we crossed the start I was feeling plenty warm so I took off the sweatshirt and left it in a pile with some others.  The start of the race was like dodging landmines.  Clothes everywhere, people everywhere, I just tried to stay within a few rows of the pacers. 

Got to see Doug around mile 4-5
Before I knew it I was already at mile 3, there were people cheering everywhere and I was just trying to take it all in.  My husband was going to be at mile 4-5 so I was looking forward to seeing him.  I really felt great and couldn’t believe I was actually doing this.  My husband texted me and told me the exact corner where he was standing and that he was on the right side of the road.  That was a huge help.  I wasn’t even thinking about running, just about seeing him,  and him seeing me run in my first marathon.  I managed to get a quick photo with him and then I was off again.  I had a little catching up to do in order to get back with the pace group but it wasn’t bad.  Then somewhere between mile 5 and 6 I had to go to the bathroom.  So did everyone else apparently because as we ran through a park so many people just ran to the side and did their business on the trees/grass in the park.  I opted for the port-a-potty where there was a line about 15 people deep in each stall.  The line seemed to take forever but I ended up coming out at the same time as another guy from our pace group.  He was like, come on we can catch up.  We had to have gone at least 2 miles before we saw the pace signs but they were for the 5:45 group.  Crap!!  The guy beside me was still trying to catch up too so we kind of ran hard together and finally made it back with the group.  My nike watch says I ran my fastest mile ever during the marathon.  I know it was about the same time that I was trying to catch up.  Before long, it was mile 11 and I got to see my husband again which was awesome. 

Look....I'm really at mile 11, you can see it in the background........

The pace team ran the whole time until the halfway point and then adopted a 2 minute run – 1 minute walk routine.  That worked great for me.  I felt totally fine, like I could run all day at that pace.  The pacer just kept encouraging us to get to mile 20.  “You’ve already done this” he said to us over and over.   “20 miles is no big deal.”  We got to the halfway point at about 2:40.  My previous half marathon time was 2:27 but I injured my foot during training so I was fine with that time.  I just did not want to push things and get hurt again.  At the halfway point I had already engulfed 3 GU gels and thought I had brought along a 4th one to get me to the GU station at mile 18 but I did not.  I know it was totally mental but I really needed that 4th GU.  I just kept taking Gatorade at the water stations  and when we got to the GU station at 18 miles, I took 2 of them.  I used one immediately and another at mile 23.  Honestly the miles between 18 and 23 are kind of a blur to me.  I was just keeping up with the pacers and following the others in my group.  The crowds really started to thin out around the 22nd-23rd mile and that’s when things got really tough.   My legs were feeling heavy and even the run-walk combo was difficult.  Honestly I just really wanted to quit.  I had this inner fight with myself that probably got me through a good half mile.  I had come this far and I was going to finish no matter what the time.   It was around that point that I had to abandon the pace group.  I stopped to walk for at least a half-mile, maybe three-quarters.  I couldn’t actually tell you because my nike watch battery died somewhere after mile 22.   (damn)  At any rate, by the time I got to 23 miles I just kept telling myself, okay just a 5k left, just 35 minutes and you’ll be done.  At mile 24, I kept saying over and over okay this is just like at home, just to the fire station and back.  Then at 25 miles I was like okay just 12 minutes or 13 minutes or 15 minutes and you’ll be done.  Before I knew it the finish line was in sight and I was so darn glad.  They handed us food and drinks and beer and wait, where was my MEDAL?  Before I could get it I had to walk past more food, more drinks, and then the medals.   Whew.   (I heard later that they were about 2,000 medals short, I would have been sooooooo mad!)

It's all about the medal

Here are a couple things I would do differently in a big race like Chicago:
1.      Hydrate the day before the race but drink just one bottle of water or whatever in the morning when you first wake up on race day.  Go to the bathroom before the race as much as possible. Then don’t drink again until the first water stop.  If I didn’t have to stop to go to the bathroom I could have easily cut 10 minutes or more off of my time and finished ahead of the pace group instead of behind. 
2.      Take one more GU with you than you think that you will need.  Believe me, you will need it.
3.      If your family is cheering you on, pick which side of the road you will be running on, there were so many people that I could not possibly have moved to the other side without losing my pacers. 
4.      Pick an exact location to meet your family after the race.   Look at the map of the finish and realize that your family probably cannot go anywhere near there.  Pick someplace that you know you can get to after the race and meet up there.   It took my husband and I nearly 45 minutes just to find each other.

Have a great race first timers!!!



  1. I came across your blog on Pinterst from your Elf on the Shelf ideas. I ran the marathon too and was in the 5:25 pace group. I was stunned to see me running next to you at mile 11! I'm in the orange running for Opportunity Enterprises. Small world, too funny. Great blog! :)

  2. Christa - OMG! Now that is a small world!! I'll look and see if I have any more pictures of you and send them your way. That is just too funny!

  3. Aw, thanks! My email address is camarocat19@ I only have one decent pic of me running and didn't want to spend the $ for the professional images. It was my first marathon too! What an amazing experience!


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