My weekend start on Friday as I made sure to take extra time off work. I had days to burn considering how crazy work was earlier this year. I got myself together and headed to the brown line to start the journey to McCormick. On the platform there were 3 other girls who were obviously runners and looking lost and checking their smart phones. They figured out that they needed to transfer trains so I didn't say anything yet. When we got to Fullerton to transfer to the red line I struck up some small talk since we were all heading to the same place. It turns out 2 of the girls were from North Carolina and the 3rd was from Columbia and all were very lost. I decided to turn into mother hen and help get them to the expo. They asked about hills on the course and I pointed out "Mt Roosevelt" which made them feel relieved since its an ant hill compared to what they are used to. We caught the 3 bus and were greeted by a large contingent of runners from Argentina who were chanting and having a grand old time. They were very interested in talking to the Carolina girls.
I split ways with everyone and we all did our own thing at the expo. I just got lost in everything, soaking it all in. I wound up buying an official long sleeve marathon shirt from Nike as well as a quarter zip running jacket. I picked up some Gu and Nuun. I also got a new SPIbelt, one that has loops for gel since I decided I wasn't going to wear the water belt for the race. I originally was just going to wear 2 belts, 1 for the phone, 1 for the Gu, but having everything on 1 belt was nicer. As I left the expo, who do I see sitting on a bench outside - the Carolina girls of course, and they needed directions again. We headed over to the bus stop and were greeted once again by all the Argentinians. Talk about timing. We took a few group pictures and took a very crowded 3 bus back to Michigan Ave. I showed the girls where to get off to do some shopping. I also wound up helping a family visiting from Augusta, GA to find a place to get some grub. I jumped on the red line and took it up to Belmont. I wanted to stop at Michael's on the way home to get some tape to decorate my running shirt for the race. I wound up using neon green tape to put my name on my shirt.
After doing nothing but being lazy and preparing on Satuday, I got up nice and early on Sunday. I got myself together and worked out issues with a nervous stomach. I caught a bus full of other runners and got to the race site around 6:30AM. I paced around while having a light snack and drinking my Nuun water. I decided that I should use the rest room before the race started, but guess I took too long because all of the lines were now crazy. I headed toward my corral a half hour early since I knew more portajohns would be there and hoped the lines were shorter - they weren't. I was still 8 or 9 back in line when the national anthem was sung. I was a few people back when the wheel chair racers went off. People started to ditch the line to get into the start corrals. I finally was able to go and basically finished up as the elites started. There were so many people trying to still get into the D corral that I was basically waiting in the overflow area in back, but quickly got in as the corrals in front started moving. At approximately 7:38AM my journey began.
The race started well enough. I knew what to expect having run the same start for 2 Shamrock Shuffles. I didn't lose my signal under Wacker, but it still threw my GPS off. It rang up the first mile about .18 early. I also had some shin issues the first mile or so. It wasn't as bad as it had been during my taper period, but I kept trying to get myself a bit more relaxed and it subsided a few miles in. The next few miles flew by. I was anticipating getting into Lakeview and Lincoln Park and seeing some familiar faces. The first I saw was Maggie at mile 7. She barely got her camera out in time to snap a picture. Its still the best one of me all day.
Near the 15K marker was Jennifer. I tossed her my arm warmers that I no longer needed. I looked for others who said they would be out in the area but didn't see them. So the whole thing with having the name on the shirt is true - people will shout encouragement to you. This was nice, but sometimes distracting. I could never tell if it was someone who knew me or just some random stranger. I totally got lost in my thoughts when someone was screaming my name like crazy near the 13 mile mark. I looked back to catch Erica. This was funny since I was yelling her name at the start and she missed me. I also caught Gingerfoxxx volunteering along the course. I know other friends were also volunteering but didn't see them. Some I'm glad I didn't see since they were working medical tents.
The first half of the race went about as well as expected. I coasted to a 1:58 half which was slightly slower than I wanted, but hoped would keep me strong until then end. After the 25K mark I started to slow down a bit. After the 30K mark my legs were basically done and I wound up walking most of the rest of the way with some stretches of short runs. I think this has to do with the fact that I didn't run longer than 16 miles during my training and even though that was planned - I didn't stick close enough to the actual plan to make it work effectively. I held pace for 18 miles - far harder than anything I did during training. After that I decided to just enjoy the rest of the race, even if I did have to walk. I'm too stubborn and know there will always be another race to improve my time.
So after switching to run/walk at mile 18 due to legs that were about dead I kept at it. I know it was far too late to do this and going from walking to running would be painful, but I wasn't going to drop out this far in. By mile 21 I realized my stomach wasn't quite right. There was some sloshing and I didn't seem to be digesting the Gu, but I still felt thirsty. I had been alternating Gatorade and water so everything should of been balanced. I spent a few miles trying to figure out if I needed to just get a good burp out or find somewhere to heave. At mile 22 I actually slipped on a banana peel. People weren't good about getting them off to the side of the road and I happened to catch one just right. Luckily I stayed on my feet and didn't injure anything. That could of gone far worse. By mile 24 I knew the end was near and my legs had basically gone numb. I started to do a bit more running than I had the previous few miles. I walked most of the way up the Roosevelt Hill before looking at my watch and realizing I had a new goal. I bolted up the last 1/3 of the hill and down the home stretch as fast as my legs could take me. I crossed the finish line in 4:26:32. This is just 6 seconds slower than double my very first half marathon which I ran only 16 months ago. The pace works out to the same - 10:10.
I made my way through the finisher's chute and started to tear up a bit. I actually completed a marathon! I only started running 2 years ago and it took me 12 minutes to barely do a mile then and here I was running 26.2 miles at a 10 minute pace - talk about improvement. It was also 10.2 miles further than I've ever run in my life. I got my blanket, got my medal, got some snacks, and grabbed the beers they were handing out at the finish. I was going to enjoy this one even if I paid for it later. I found a spot to gather myself and sent out my first update. I saw so many likes on FB since I had the runner tracking posting to my page. It definitely felt nice to be supported my so many friends out there.
I walked through the 27th mile finisher party but didn't see anyone I knew so I headed back to take the train home. I didn't want to stick around too long in case I started having post race issues. I wound up riding an adrenaline high for a couple hours before crashing hard. I was also wise enough to take Monday off of work. I got up slightly later than my usual time and had some initial trouble moving, but soon got myself together and headed down to Fleet Feet for my free medal engraving and also picked up a finisher's shirt and 26.2 magnet. I earned this so I'm taking it for all its worth. Fleet Feet was followed by my first trip to McDonald's since the first week of June. I've been tired and sore today, but I'm not completely incapacitated. We'll see what Tuesday brings when the delayed onset muscle soreness is really supposed to kick in.