The scene on the way to Grant Park this morning was exciting. There was a buzz of energy in the air. The sky was clear. The temperature was cool, but not cold. I followed the crowd and finally located corral H. It took about 40 minutes from the time wave 1 started at 7:30am to get to the start. There were 40,000 runners! To put it in perspective, 27,488 runners lined up at the start of the Boston Marathon this year. Despite Chicago’s massive number of runners and more than 1.7 million spectators, the race went smoothly.
I ran a really strong first half. I had no clue what my time was along the way because I forgot to look at the clock when I crossed the starting line, but I sensed it was a good pace. I don’t think I went out too fast. I’m not a negative split runner no matter how hard I try. At a race I go with how I feel and inevitably in long distance races my second half is slower. I keep working on it though. Today everything was in sync for at least the first 15 miles.
Side note: I was having major iPhone battery issues prior to today. I bought a Mophie charging case so my battery wouldn’t drain during the race. I have worn my wireless Plantronic headphones for long runs and last year’s Hartford marathon with no issues. Darn it if the headphones didn’t die around mile 15! I had warnings from around mile 11. I know they were fully charged going into the race, but maybe they are getting warn out. This was good practice for Big Sur next April. That marathon prohibits headphones. However, I don’t think Big Sur has the incredible spectators that line nearly every inch of the Chicago Marathon. They are fun, loud, energetic and very supportive.
I may have lost a little pep in my step, but I kept chugging along, smiling, and high fiving spectators especially the little kids. The aid stations were plentiful. I got a kick out of the vaseline offered at nearly every aid station and then I started to feel like the body glide I had used on my
bat wings under arms was no longer effective. I thought aha vaseline will be coming up soon!
Two things happened in the last 8 miles which made me slow down as well. My feet hurt all over, nothing I couldn’t run through, but an awareness that these shoes need to be replaced. I knew I was taking a chance with them. The other issue was my stomach was not enjoying all of the sweet options on the course, Gatorade, shot blocks, and Powerade strawberry banana gel, my least favorite flavor. I drank water, but could no longer tolerate the Gatorade. I had brought a Larabar which I ate earlier from mile 6-10. I grabbed a couple of pretzels from a kind spectator who had a bowl of them out for runners. They were difficult to chew and swallow. Then at mile 24.5 like a glowing light saber appeared a cherry freeze pop in the hands of another angelic spectator. It was a little sweet, but the cold icy treat hit the spot.
Other than that nothing major happened. I ran the entire way save for 30 second to a minute walk through aid stations towards the end. I finished in 4:34:02. This represents 9 minute improvement on my 2015 Hartford Marathon time. I’m proud of it. I trained really well during a very hot summer while balancing work, Carlos on school vacation, and beginning grad school. I worked hard during the race too. I enjoyed myself and can honestly say I did the best I could.
We hung around for a bit after the race. Then walked the mile and a half to the hotel. In all honestly I probably did the equivalent of 2 full marathons since we arrived in Chicago! After a luxurious shower (because seriously every shower after a marathon is the best!), we went out to dinner. We decided to go back to the Chicago Diner because it offered something for all of us, it was open, and we didn’t anticipate that we would have to wait for a table since it’s a little bit removed from the race area. Also many restaurants were closed. I had cauliflower curry soup and the Soul Boul – blackened tofu, quinoa, flashed greens, mashed sweet potato, black beans, chimichurri. I really wanted this decadent peanut butter dessert, but I couldn’t even finish my meal it was so filling yet not heavy if that makes any sense.
We stopped by this Millennium Park on our way home to check out this interesting illuminated photo exhibit. The photos were stunning and all were captured with a mobile device or tablet.
It has been a truly wonderful weekend. We leave later tomorrow so still have time for a little exploring, but we all agree Chicago is a place we would love to visit again!