10*10*10 –> What a beautiful day for a race!
An even more beautiful day for a marathon in Chicago – my very first marathon! I woke up bright and early on Sunday morning ready to get my run on. I was anxious and nervous and just excited to get out there and do what I came here to do – RUN!
I eventually made my way towards the start line and into my seeded corral entrance.
There were lots of lines to get into the corral’s – It took a while to get to my spot and I didn’t have much time to stand around in line. On race day, I believe, there is a fine line between getting to a race too early and getting there too late. I never want to stand around too long waiting to start running, but I also never want to be rushing to my corral either.
There was a pretty big gap between the seeded corrals and the open corral. All these volunteers kept people in their spots. It was a little bit of organized chaos, but it worked.
Before I knew it, they were starting the wheelchair leg of the race, which started 10 minutes before my official race time.
As you can see, 45,000 runners + volunteers + fans = a LOT of people!
I was starting to get butterflies in my belly! I couldn’t believe the moment I had been working towards for the past few months was finally here!
But I was feeling good and ready to run!
I made my way up to the start line about 6 minutes after the Elite runners took off, which I thought was a pretty good start!
And then we were off! My first marathon was officially underway.
With all the thousands of people surrounding me, I thought it would have been a more difficult start than it actually was. Since I was in a speedy corral everyone was ready to start running as soon as we passed the start line.
My friend Aileen had given me a pep talk the day before reminding me that I should want to try to get negative splits also known as making the second half of my race faster than the first.
I decided from the very beginning of the race that I was in no hurry. I wanted to take this race slow and finish strong with a smile on my face. That was the most important thing to me.
By making that decision early on, I felt I had no pressure to run a certain way or finish a certain time. This was my first marathon and I wanted to have fun and enjoy myself!
While I was starting the race my Superfans were getting ready to watch their first marathon.
My parents made some sweet signs for me.
And my future in-laws and fiancé were excited to cheer me on too!
What do you think of their shirts?? I love them!
My Superfans were camped out along the first mile of the race and they got to see the Elite runners whiz on by.
Is it me, or do they look like they are flying??
I can’t even imagine running that fast!
While my family was waiting for me, they saw lots of fun people run by them. They were most surprised by the Eiffel Tower and those running a marathon barefoot!
Eventually I saw a sea of green and made my way towards my cheering section.
Mile 1 of the marathon baby!
I had been told that the crowds for a marathon like this would be crazy, but I really didn’t expect them to be as amazing as they were. There were so many people on the course running and there were so many people on the sides cheering for about 90% of the race! People where everywhere!
Within the first 3 miles we went over 3 different bridges which was fun. The first few miles went by super fast with the excitement of the start of the race and the energy from the crowds.
Before I knew it I was passing the by the 5k mark and it was time to see my family again!
I came passing by with my parents cheering like crazy. It was an awesome feeling and I was feeling great.
Throughout the entire race I was trying to visualize the course map in my mind to get a better idea of where I was. For some reason, this really helped me get a better feel for the race and the distance I had come and how much more I had to go, since I was running in unfamiliar territory.
We went through a few different parks and this is where lots of people stopped off the course to use the bathroom behind trees!
One turn from the parks and we were back in the city area.
And before I knew it I was in familiar territory!
When we hit mile 7 I knew we were at the peak of the course and we would be heading back down south for the rest of the race.
At this point I was so thankful for the back of my shirt – runners started around this time to stop by my side while we were both running to ask how my first marathon was going.
Throughout the race SO MANY people commented to me either “Congratulations” or “Good Luck” or “How’s your first marathon going?” It was amazing to have people stop and talk to me that way! I loved it!
From mile 8-10 I got into a little groove and was just listening to my music, taking in the sights and enjoying the crowds.
Then before I knew it, it was time to start looking for my family again. Can you find me in the picture below?
Fiancé had told me they were going to try to meet me between miles 11/12 on the right side of the race, so I held on the right and starting looking for my sea of green superfans!
I was feeling really good at this point, and the excitement of seeing my family only made me feel even more awesome.
Lots of waving and peace signs and arm flailing was going on!
And then I was on my own again for a bit!
Before I knew it, I was halfway done! This was a daunting moment for me because I was feeling good and had already come a long way, but I still had another 13.1 miles to go!
Like I said, I was feeling good, but how good is good when you have come 13 miles and still have 13 more miles to go?
Around this time, the heat started to pick up. I know I had been running in the heat all summer in Philadelphia, but running 26 miles in the heat is a whole new world of pain.
I tried to counter the heat by taking water at all the stations, sometimes mixing 1/2 water and 1/2 Gatorade. I also started spilling water on my head and on my body to cool my temperature down.
I also made a good attempt to keep fueling throughout the race. I had a shot block every mile or two from mile 3- 18. I really wanted to keep putting calories in my body because I knew if I started feeling hungry, then it would be too late.
I was supposed to meet up again with my family at mile 17 and then again at 21, which would have been awesome times to see them, because I was needing some love then, but they got stuck in some serious traffic on the metro.
When I didn’t see them where we planned to meet, I knew they probably had travel issues. I kept on running with a smile on my face – the race must go on!
At mile 14 was a Charity Block Party which was where all the charities people were running the marathon for, were all lined up. They were giving out food and water and cheering up a storm!
After the halfway point I decided not to think of how far I had gone or how far I had to go. I started taking in the sights and enjoying all the hilarious signs fans had along the way!
Some of my favorite signs said:
“Run? I thought they said Rum!” – One had a giant cutout of Edward (from Twilight) and he said “You are so close to Eclipsing your PR!” – Lots said “Beat Oprah” – And so many said “ Free Beer at the Finish”
My favorite sign said – “You started this race a runner and will finish this race a Marathoner” – That was so inspiring for me!
Before I knew it we were at mile 21 and I knew halfway through this mile, every step I would take would be a new PDR! Bring it on!
Because I kept fueling and hydrating throughout the race, I never really felt like I hit a wall during the marathon. When I was feeling weak, I took a banana or some water or I stayed to the side of the race and let the crowd cheer me up my motivating me and cheering my name! People were awesome at that!
The only thing that bothered me during the race was that towards the end my quads started to tighten up, so I started doing some high knees to loosen them up.
After mile 23 I was starting to struggle. I felt find endurance wise, but my legs were starting to tell me they didn’t want to run anymore, which was pretty understandable because I had been running for 4 hours at this point! I took another banana half and then made my way up to mile 24 where the Nike Powersong section was.
This gave me a little boost because the MC was announcing “Only 2 miles left” “ You are almost finished the 33rd Chicago Marathon!” At this point I wanted to just be finished with the race, so I just kept on running, hoping to see my family soon!
I eventually saw them right after mile 25 when I knew I had one more mile left. Lots of people were walking at this point and I wanted to finish strong.
Can you spot me in the picture below?
I was hurting at this point and praying the finish line would appear sooner than later!
I saw my family and then started to push towards the finish line.
That 26 mile marker came and went, and let me just tell you that the last .2 miles were the longest 800 meters of my life! It took FOREVER for the finish line to appear.
There were two additional curves and turns in the course up a hill to get us where the finish line was in sight. The only thing that kept me going at this point was that the crowds were going crazy!
I made my final push and saw the end in sight and I couldn’t help but thinking to myself – “ I am finishing my first marathon!”
What an amazing feeling.
I ended up finishing the race in 4:36:38 – which is a little longer than I thought I was going to run it in, but since I made the choice to slow it down early on, I knew that would cost me some time, but in the end finishing the race feeling strong made me feel better than finishing any time goal would have made me feel.
After hobbling around I eventually found my family for some finisher photographs.
I can now officially check “Run a Marathon” off my bucket list!
After running for 4.5 hours straight, I was tired and sore, but very proud of what I accomplished. I thought of all my blog friends who have run marathon’s of their own and everyone who was tracking me on race day and that helped me push through!
Thank you for your support!
I am pumped to add this new piece of hardware to my race board.
Then it was off for an ice bath and some more deep dish pizza!
Stay tuned for What I Learned from My First Marathon!