I absolutely do not know how to even begin this post to capture the awesomeness of this past Sunday...I can't even. But let me tell you it was freaking amazing!
Upon arrival we freshened up and then very swiftly caught the shuttle from Nike Town to the McCormick Place to pick up our race kits.
View from the Bus.
We explored around the expo and bought a couple of cool Chicago goodies along with a slice of amazing Connie's Island Pizza...delish!
|Plan for the race...all of the above!|
The Callaghan Crew!
I got my flat self all prepared and we hit the hay early!
After some Pizza from Blaze of course...second Pizza meal of the day, lol.
My amazing running friend, Christy has become quite the mentor to me. She recently ran a kickass marathon in Berlin and is the most positive person I know! She gave me some simple, but important advice for the race:
Stacey and Rachael were also running marathons that same day! Stacey in Minneapolis and Rachael in the Valley, NS. I sent them a race morning bathroom selfie to pump them up! They probably just thought I was nuts, lol.
I ate a Pumpkin Spice Superhero Muffin from my incredible Shalane Cookbook and an Chocolate Coconut Cashew Energy bar from the same book for breakfast. Christy said she ate "only Shalane foods" during race week so I did the same. :) Plus it's what I ate for breakfast every morning of training on my long runs so I was glad I packed some for the road.
Upon stepping outside we discovered that the race day rain had indeed arrived. I was glad we packed garbage bags to keep ourselves dry. Note to self, don't grab the Febreeze scented ones next time, lol. Let's just say I smelled great at the starting area....LOL!
We walked a bit over a mile with other runners and when we got there we were basically separated immediately. My gate was the Van Buren Gate and Matt and I immediately made a reference to Seinfeld, lol. I dislike this part. I was a little emotional because I was worried that my lingering cold congestion would cause me laboured breathing, (I had needed to take my puffer for the previous two days). I was also feeling a bit defeated from working so hard at school, stressed about Lola's surgery and then showing up on race day with a wheezy chest. I was hopeful though that my strong consistent training and rested taper would have me breathing clearly! Fingers crossed.
I made the decision to be positive no matter what and I have to say I wasn't nervous for the first time in a long time. Just a Saturday Road Hammer workout I said to myself...just a bit longer. ;)
|Before...wearing my freshly scented garbage bag! LOL.|
It started to become daylight as I entered the corral. This place got packed quickly! I was back pretty far in D but I could still see the start line waaaay up there. I took a gel with 30 minutes to go as Lee suggested.
It was pretty chilly. I kept on my throwaway and garbage until 7:26. I was staying as warm as possible!
The race began promptly at 7:30 and I crossed at almost 7:37 (according to post race results)!
"This is it," I said.
The organizers said that the 45000 runners would see approximately 1.7 million spectators out on course! The weather was amazing for running, but spectating may have been a bit uncomfortable in the rain and wind.
We headed under the bridge almost immediately. I remembered needing to pee when I got there last year, but not this year. It was dark in there. My garmin said I was running much slower than I was. I guess following my race plan from Lee was out the window. Running by feel was Plan B.
I felt good, I felt calm and I felt strong. I prayed this feeling lasted.
When we came out from under the tunnel people were cheering excitedly and I could feel the adrenaline flowing.
The ground was also very wet. Organizers warned runners about the slippery footing and they weren't kidding! The ridges on the bridges and the painted lines on the street were not safe to run on quickly. I imagined a total wipeout and runners crashing like dominoes...I did not want that to happen.
Check out this cool shot from Fleet Feet!
|I love running the streets of Chicago. There are so many cool things to see in the 29 neighbourhoods.|
My GPS was a gong show. Even though I knew this I continued to obsessively check my watch splits anyway. Lee's advice was playing in my mind. I kept running, feeling like this was probably faster than planned pace, but very unsure since it was saying 5:30/km.
First 5k split clock was up ahead and I hit it at 23:25...yep too fast! Pull it back Heather! Darn legs still feeling freaking fresh and strong!
Second gel at 6k. I used the lulu Rack Pack bra and fit 7 gels in there! No chaffing either!!!
I kept running hoping to see the 3:25 pace group but I couldn't find anyone! Well, there were people everywhere actually. To the point that I received several elbows from taller guys in the head and shoulders. I actually even got pushed at one point! On purpose! I was like, 'Hey buddy, we can't ALL fit on the tangent line!' LOL, so I didn't actually say that I just thought it.
I took water and gatorade and every second station. I was feeling thirsty and wanted to stay fueled and hydrated. I thought I was pulling in the reigns. 5-10k split: 23:52. Still too fast. This is going to end very badly I thought and EVERYONE I know will see! That's what I thought anyway.
I kept pushing along and with each 5k checkpoint I felt like I was saying, "Hey," to everyone back home. You guys have no idea how much you helped get me to the finish on Sunday. Thanks!
I was feeling good splashing the puddles and chugging along. I thought of all the crazy hard workouts I had completed over the summer with Christine, Bea, Natasha, Sarah, Charlotte, and so many others! It was amazing motivation and mental strength to pull from. It made me feel confident to know that I had done all my homework. I took a gel after every 6k and was like something to occupy my mind.
Boom, here they are: 3:20 pace group...did they catch up to me or did I catch up to them, who knows?!?! I have no idea what's going on today with any numbers or clocks or people! I'll try to stay with them! Water station at 8 miles: snatch and sip, Hey where'd they go?! Oh well, it was a good two minutes I was probably on pace with them lol. They didn't have the tall signs like some other pace groups did at Chicago. They were just wearing a bib on their front and back indicating that they were Nike Plus Pacers: 3:20.
Just keep focused and don't quit Heather.
At Mile 12 I spotted Haley from IG and she gave me some awesome motivational cheers! She later told me I looked relaxed and strong. She had no idea that I was checking my soaking wet shorts right before I spotted her to see if they were completely gone! I was so wet from the rain/gatorade/sweat/etc. that it felt like I wasn't wearing any! LOL.
At halfway I was feeling fine at 1:39. Yikes...this is probably going to end badly. Enter runner math: What's 1:39 and 1:39? Who am I kidding I'm not going to maintain this! LOL. Well, how much longer until the next checkpoint? 25-21 is...... is..... what the heck is 5-1 anyway? Goodness, I hope my student's parents don't know I can't even do single digit subtraction! <- Just to give you a glimpse.
Regardless, I was still having fun. It was kind of youthful to run straight through the puddles. My new black/rose gold Mizunos that Christy and I ordered were squishing but at least they were very clean! Christy and I decided that these would be our speedy fast marathon shoes and they are doing their job today!
I felt like I was cruising and for a moment I think my GPS started to actually acquire signal! I was like Whoa Nelly, and pulled back a bit. I tried to stick between 4:45-4:50 but I still don't know if it really was that.
And just like that the Garmin paused, not once but TWICE! Great, now I don't even know my actual time. :( Who cares: Work hard, have fun, don't quit...I repeated.
I was running blind. At least until I could see the next checkpoints and even then I had no idea how long it took me to cross the finish so I would just run my butt off until the end!
It rained on and off and at points the wind blew.
The spectators were doing an incredible job in keeping us motivated. I felt like I was still going strong and was hoping that the clock would say the same. I was feeling good and still having fun.
This was a super effective strategy and with each friend I thought of it made the KMs fly by! Thank you <3
When I started to get tired I reminded myself that this is work and I can rest later. This is what I trained for. Don't quit!
There were two slight inclines that I didn't remember from previous years. I'm sure they are mini, but at this point in the race I was like "really?"
Once I hit 40k my toes started to cramp. I tried to push through it and ignore it. The clock was reading 3:13 at 40k and I KNEW that wasn't MY actual time since it took me a bit to actually cross the start so I was super pumped!
Gun it to the finish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, as fast as legs that have already hammered out 40k can gun it, lol.
When I saw 1 mile to go I felt like a million bucks mentally. This I can do!
With about 1km to go a girl wearing a lot of neon yelled at me to go with her, so I did. We sprinted past the 800m sign, up the annoying incline to the finish and past the 500m to go sign. I heard finishers names being called and I saw the freaking chip mat. I sprinted with all I could.
The clock was saying 3:26 and I thought Oh my goodness I got a PB I bet!!! I soaked in the joy of completing such an exhausting task and the tears flowed. I thanked God for my health and my heart was full.
My phone was buzzing on my back and several messages of happiness and congratulations were coming in! I had to again ask Jennie my time, lol. When she said 3:19:29 I hadn't even got my medal at this point and I was in total shock! I never in my wildest dreams imagined a run in the teens! Ever! That's nearly a 4 minute PB for me!!!!!!!!!!!!
I looked up and saw a running legend as I got my medal. I couldn't believe all that was happening.
|No big deal just a post PB selfie with Deena Kastor!!! She was so humble and kind. She told me I did amazing and I felt like she really meant it. I was such a cry baby, it was weird, lol.|
I left the medals and immediately saw Matt. I think he was in disbelief when I told him my time and I was thrilled to hear he got in under three hours again! 2:59:07!
We were Runner-sicles! So chilly.
Thanks to all of you for reading and for the messages of support! I read every one and am truly blessed.
Have a wonderful day and Happy Running!