October 15, 2015

Race Recap: 2015 Chicago Marathon

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this race over the last three days and every time I've tried to put pen to paper, I've just come up blank. I can tell you that the 'lessons learned from the Chicago marathon' post I've started drafting has been much easier to write...that should give you a little bit of an idea of how the marathon went.

I should say that going into this race, I knew that I was realistically looking to run around a 4:45. That's what my training runs indicated and I was OK with that. Remember, the goal was to make it to the start.

I'm going to write this recap backward because that's the way I keep thinking about it. I tried writing this post in my head as I was running and I just couldn't do it, so let's start with the finish.

I crossed in 4:52:34...not very far off from where I predicted. I didn't sprint to the finish line. I wasn't happy, proud, or ecstatic,  I didn't feel accomplished, I was just so glad it was over. I sobbed when they handed me my medal so I think deep down I felt all of those things but shit, this race was hard.

I crossed the Finish Line and it took me almost 30 minutes to get to the family reunion area because I had to keep stopping to lie down. When I found my family, I just threw myself on the ground and laid there for almost 30 minutes, not saying anything to talking to anyone before finally heading to the medical tent for some Gatorade and pretzels.

In past marathons, I've hit the wall at Mile 20 or 21...or not at all ...so when I got to Mile 22 and hadn't hit it, I thought I was in the clear...and then Mile 23 happened and I felt like the world caved in on me. My mom and The Pilot were just past 23, outside the White Sox stadium, and when I saw them, I just came to a dead stop and started sobbing. Through tears, I said, "Everything hurts and I don't want to run anymore." A kind spectator offered me some water, which I declined (I had my own), and I begged The Pilot to come with me. I didn't say much to him except "My Garmin is broken. I started it late and it says I'm at Mile 24 and I know I'm not." He told me I was at 23.2 and I told him to go back and find my mom.

My watch was a mess the entire race. By the time I finished, it showed me at 27.1 miles. Thank God for mile markers, or Mile 26 would have been a huge surprise! My pace ranged from 2:00 to 16:00 minutes the entire time. Part of this had to do with the satellites being confused by the tall buildings, the other part has to do with the fact that my Garmin is 5 years old.
I actually pulled out of "the wall" as soon as I hit Mile 24. My favorite quote came to me and I knew how I needed to approach the rest of the race. This was it. I had used up all of my weak. There was no way I wasn't finishing at this point. It wasn't going to be pretty, but I was going to do it. I needed to just put one foot in front of the other and get it done. 

That's how this whole race felt...like something that needed to get done. Start to Finish, it felt like a task and I think know that that's why I'm so disappointed. It has nothing to do with time. My goal was to get to the starting line healthy and go out there and have fun and I just didn't have fun and that kills me.

Miles 16 through 21 were kind of a blur. My legs had started cramping early...like Mile 12 early and it was hot. I wanted to take a walking break at Mile 17  but convinced myself to make it to 21 before doing so because I was worried that not having trained above 20 would make stopping before 20 disastrous.

I didn't feel like I was overheating because I was used to running in the heat, but I was drinking so much more water than I've ever drunk during a race and I think that the early onset of leg cramps was due to the heat. Spectator support in those miles was...sparse. I was excited to run Chicago because of how incredible the spectator support is supposed to be but I don't think a lot of people stuck around for the back of the pack runners and that made those later miles really tough. Miles 24 and 25 were practically empty of spectators and that was hard.

The whole first part of the race, I was focused on getting to Mile 17. I never count down the miles in a marathon, but I knew that if I made it to 17, with less than 10 miles to go,  I would finish. I actually felt better in these middle miles than I did at the start of the race. I started picking up the pace at the Half and was feeling really good...I slowed down a little bit around 18 but still felt strong until 23.
My knee had been hurting for the first 10k and I spent the whole first part of the race readjusting my running form, implementing all of the tricks my PT taught me to prevent a flare up, and they worked! By Mile 10, I felt fine, by the Half, I was ready to pick up the pace and I did, not really slowing down until Mile 18.

I ran a good race. I know that now. It's taken a few days to wrap my head around it. Monday, I felt like crying all day. I was so inexplicably upset. This race beat me up. The extended taper as a result of going back to PT, while allowing me to finish, made this race a lot harder on my body than usual. I don't think I made mistakes with this race, but I learned a lot. I'm finally smiling about the race. I think what it ultimately comes down to down to, is that I just had a bad day. I'll expand on that in another post, but I took a lot of lessons away from this race.

That's the beauty of the marathon. You learn something new with every single race. In this case, I learned a lot. What's important though is that I finished. I made it to the start line without reinjuring myself. I made my comeback. I already know what the next few weeks of recovery are going to look like (read, easy), and what training for #7 will look like because you better believe there will be a #7.

Who's racing next? 

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