I find it funny that the last time I wrote here was when I got accepted through the lottery to run the Chicago Marathon and here I am 5 months later to recap the race (sorry guys!).
Brittany, Anne, and I arrived in Chicago early am on Friday. We decided our first task was to get our bibs and explore the expo! Thankfully the marathon had organized a bus pick up/drop off from Nike town just a little east of where our hotel was. From the get go we were super impressed with how organized everything seemed to be at the expo and how friendly everyone was too! Gotta love the Midwest. I got my knee taped up (surprise, I tweaked my knee a few weeks ago and it wasn't ever the same... more on that later). We spent the rest of the day running a couple of errands and then relaxing in our hotel room. Our main goals for Friday and Saturday were to rest and hydrate as much as possible.
I really love this pic of us!
I slept relatively well Saturday night and had gotten lots of rest in the week leading up to the marathon so on Sunday morning when I woke up I felt refreshed and ready to tackle 26.2. Even though this was my 3rd marathon I still found it to be just as special. We took the train a few stops to the start area and I met up with Liz. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning with no clouds in sight. It was about 50 degrees and we truly couldn't have asked for a prettier day! Before I knew it will was just before 8am (the start of Wave 2) and we began to make the shuffle all the way to the start line. We were in the second corral of the second wave but it seemed like there were sooo many people in front of us. I was really thankful to have Liz with me those 15-20 minutes as she calmed my nerves and made jokes and reminded me it was just a Sunday long run and not to be nervous. Thanks, Liz!
As I crossed the start line I was a little overwhelmed. I reminded myself that I had put in the miles and that I have run this distance before. I tried really hard to get into a comfortable pace, not too fast or slow for the first couple of miles. As I mentioned before, I tweaked my knee a couple of weeks ago and since then it just hadn't been the same. I then was over compensating for how my knee felt and the pain moved to my hamstring (yay!). When I hit the 5K, yes the 5K split, I knew that the pace that I had planned to run for the day just wouldn't be happening. Instead of being discouraged, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and decided that today was about finishing and nothing else. To be honest, when I accepted this so early on, the race became a lot more enjoyable. I tried to take in the sights and the first 10 miles ticked away very quickly. The crowds were awesome and I was smiling and enjoying the race. I saw a couple of girls with some shirts on from an Austin running company and chatted with them for a while. A girl next to us chimed in and said she was from Texas too! People always know I am because of the famous shorts! Ha! I knew that my old NYC roommate who moved to Chicago would be around mile 11 and I was ready to finally see someone I knew! Somehow I spotted her on the left hand side and yelled her name. It was a huge motivator to see someone who knows you well. It was definitely a boost I needed right after getting to double digits. I knew that I might see an old NYC friend at the halfway mark, but with the intense crowds we somehow missed each other! Bummer. At this point I was still feeling pretty good. Despite my leg being a little off I knew that I wasn't going to stop running. My goal at this point was to not stop AT ALL until I got to at least mile 20 then evaluate. I kept trucking along, slowly but surely. I repeated: where there is a will, there is a way. One foot in front of the other, keep going, keep believing, keep moving forward. I felt like before I knew it I was to mile 20 and then I thought to myself all that's left is a Central Park loop. I can do this. No walking, no stopping! At that point I had also passed my favorite part of the course that was mainly Mexicans cheering. Their cheers, music, good food smells honestly made me so happy. It reminded me a lot of my family and it brought a lot of joy to me despite the pain I was feeling after running so many miles! I knew that a friend of mine was also going to be towards the end of the course but we never communicated the exact location. As luck would have it at Mile 23 I hear her yell, "Leticia!" and there she was cheering her head off for me! It was just what I needed. I knew that all I had left was a little over a 5K! So close, so close, but yet so far away! The last 3 miles were definitely the hardest. The crowds from 23-25 were really really minimal which is so opposite of NYCM (Central Park). It was tough, I cannot deny that. But at this point without having walked once I was not going to give in now! At 800m to go I finally caught back up to Liz! The only hill with any sort of climb is seriously the last 400m of the course. This is just cruel. But as soon as we rounded the corner off the hill I saw the most glorious sign ever: Finish! I crossed not knowing my time but knowing that I had just run 26.2 miles WITHOUT STOPPING ONCE. While I didn't hit my time goal in any shape way or form (5:21:16 finish time), I surprised myself with running the entire thing and for that I'm grateful.
Liz wanted to take that pic of me before the race and then we found each other at the end! Hooray!
All in all, this weekend was incredible. I had so much with friends, seeing old friends, seeing the city and finishing my 3rd marathon. I could not have to done it without ALL of your support, cheers, prayers, and well wishes. I am forever thankful to this community and thank you for being my biggest cheerleaders. While I was out on the course I knew you were tracking me and thinking of me and each time it made me smile. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
And to answer your top 3 questions:
Would you run Chicago again?- Maybe someday? I enjoyed the course, city, great crowds, etc. It was really tough to not be in 'home turf' and not have a ton of spectators that were friends. I realized HOW vital this was last year and I appreciate that support so much.
What's your next marathon? N/A! I joked that I was retiring starting yesterday. Right now I'd really like to focus on the half marathon. That distance is way more manageable and I love running 10-13 miles.
How do you feel? Mostly really good! My quads are hurting but other than that I do feel pretty good! I went on a recovery walk tonight in hopes of getting rid of some of the stiffness in those quads. I do plan to take a couple of weeks off from running in hopes to let this knee rest and get better!
Again, thanks for the support! You guys are the BEST.