Sunday, October 13, 2013

Chicago Marathon race report

It seems so surreal that I ran a marathon this morning. It has been a REALLY long day for me. I woke up around 3:00 in the morning, and knew I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep, so I just watched TV for a while. I was planning to go down to the race at about 6:30, but once 5:00 rolled around, I started getting ready for the race, mainly out of boredom.

I had everything laid out the night before, so it didn't take long, and I was ready to go!


I wore my black/pink capris, the shirt that I posted about a few days ago, and the new Flip Belt that I bought at the expo--with two and a half packs of Shot Bloks, two Gu's, and my phone.

Caitlin had accidentally bought an extra Balbo Hospitality ticket when she registered for the marathon, and she gave it to me. I wasn't sure exactly what it was, but from what I read on the website, it sounded like a VIP ticket for private tents, gear check, etc. before the race.

I really didn't want to try to rely on a bus or train to get to the race, because that was a disaster yesterday so I just got a taxi--much easier! The taxi drove me the two miles to just outside the Balbo Hospitality tent. We had to go through security to get in--they used the wand thing to scan my body, and they searched my bag that I planned on checking. After the Boston bombing, they weren't going to take any chances!

Once I got through security, I was able to check my bag--literally no waiting!--and go inside the food tent. The Balbo Hospitality was awesome! They had private gear check, private porta potties, free breakfast (tons of options, hot and cold), music playing, a tent to sit in until an escort took us to our corrals, and other things. I felt very special ;)


I also felt like a nerd, taking pictures, so this one is all I got! I sat around there for a while, and ate a very small breakfast--just enough to give me some calories, but hopefully I'd digest it before the race started. I had half of a bagel with some peanut butter.

I used the porta potties once before it was time to leave, and then an escort took a group of us to the corrals. I was in Corral G, starting at 8:00. I was freezing cold, so I was really ready for the race to just start already. I tried to make my way up to the front of the corral, between the 4:10 and 4:25 pacer. I didn't have a goal time or pace, but when I did my long runs, I was running about a 9:30 pace, so I figured that was a good spot to start.


Finally it was time to start. The only thing I really knew about the course was that people described it as "pancake flat". Well, I quickly learned that those people have never been to southeast Michigan! The course wasn't nearly as flat as what I run daily, so I definitely felt the hills (very small, but enough to make my legs feel heavy).

Around the first mile, I saw a sign someone had made that actually brought a tears to my eyes. It said, "Remember when you thought you couldn't do this?" and it just seemed like it was meant for me to see! I never thought I could do a marathon, or a half-marathon, a 5K, or even a MILE. I loved that sign, and I thought about it through the whole race.

I wanted to pay more attention to my surroundings, because I was running in Chicago, but I was just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. I kept thinking about how much I still had in front of me, and it seemed like the race would never end. During the Detroit Marathon, it seemed like I blinked and I was at 10 miles! This race felt MUCH longer.

My legs felt really great, and everything was going so well. I was eating my Shot Bloks every couple miles, alternating water and Gatorade, and didn't have any stomach issues. I wasn't trying to hold a specific pace, but I noticed my splits were around 9:20-9:30. For miles 2-3, I don't think the pace on my Garmin was correct. There were lots of super tall buildings, which I'm sure messed with the satellites. I know I wasn't a running as fast as 9:00/mi or as slow as 10:20, which is listed for mile 3. I was starting to wonder what to do, because the pace on my Garmin was incorrect. I didn't want to run too fast. I just tried to pay attention to the times on the clocks at each mile marker, and see if my pace was at least a little on target (no faster than 9:15--that would have scared me).

I was surprised that it wasn't super packed (like sardines in a can). Yes, there were a ton of people in the race, but thankfully, there was room to move around them. There were a couple of spots where it bottle-necked, but other than that, the number of people running wasn't an issue at all.

The crowds were amazing! There were SO MANY spectators, which was awesome. It was actually so loud that if I wanted to chat with someone (and I did!), it would be difficult to hear. The crowd support helped a lot when I just didn't feel like running anymore.

Once I hit the 13.1 mark, I was pretty excited to see that I was on course for a 4:10 finish. That's faster than I ever expected! I kept moving on, feeling really great. At around mile 18, I was feeling really hot with the sun beating on me, and someone was offering popsicles. I almost passed by, but I grabbed one, and I'm so glad I did. It was SO GOOD. Yes, it was just a popsicle, but at the 18-mile mark of a marathon, when I was hot and starting to get tired? It was HEAVEN.

I kept up the 9:25 average pace until halfway through mile 20. I ate my second Gu (when I noticed that an entire pack of Shot Bloks had fallen out of my new belt!), and shortly after that, my stomach revolted. I got really nauseous, and it was all I could do not to stop and vomit on the side of the road. I slowed my pace into the 10:00's, which was discouraging because I had less than a 10K to go, but there was no way I could have kept that pace with the way my stomach was behaving. My legs felt great! But my stomach wasn't happy.

After that, I stopped eating/drinking anything at all. I tried a tiny sip of water, but it made me super nauseous, so I just kept running at the slower pace, hoping the nausea would pass. At around mile 24, someone offered me a Jello shot. My stomach was starting to feel a little better, and I just thought about how fun it was to be offered a Jello shot during a race, so I accepted. It was pretty strong (I could definitely taste the vodka), and surprisingly, my stomach felt better after eating it. I picked up the pace for the last mile.

At around mile 25, there was a man next to me that turned and ran to the side of the road, where the small wall barrier was. He put his hands on it, and then the whole thing feel over, and he fell right on top of it, stiff as a board. He'd completely collapsed! I panicked for a moment, because I'm the last person anyone would want to be around in a situation like that (I tend to panic and am no help at all), but a few other people went over to him; so I felt bad about it, but I kept running. I think I saw him at the medical tent later, and I was glad to see he was okay.

At around mile 25.5, I saw one of the wheelchair participants with course marshals around him. I felt awful for him, because he was struggling so badly to finish! The wheelchair racers usually finish early in the race, so he was out there for a long time after the others finished. I can't even imagine how hard it would be to do the entire marathon with arm strength alone.

There is a hill at mile 26, and I was surprised how many people stopped to walk there; it's the last two-tenths of a mile! I wanted to walk, believe me, but I was so ready to be done. I was SO HAPPY as I crossed the finish line! I finished in 4:16:38.


Compared to my Garmin:

I cannot believe I didn't take any pictures after the race! When I crossed the finish line, it took FOREVER to walk to the hospitality tent. I was really achy at that point. I sat down (with a beer), and Caitlin met up with me there. I decided to go take advantage of the free massage. There was NO wait at all, and within seconds, I was lying on a comfy massage table while two women massaged me for about 15 minutes--one did my back and the other did my legs. It was amazing!!

I was absolutely freezing after that (my whole body was shaking uncontrollably, and my teeth were even chattering). Caitlin was leaving, so I said goodbye to her, and then picked up my bag from gear check and changed in the semi-private changing area. I felt much better in a dry sweatshirt and pants. I realized that I could possibly make the 2:30 train back to my sister's house (if not, I'd have to wait until 4:30, and I really didn't want to have to sit around waiting).

I walked as quickly as I was able to where I was told I could get a taxi, and I tried unsuccessfully for about 10 minutes to get a cab. I decided to just start walking to the hotel, which was two miles away--ugh. At this time, it was just before 2:00. I had to go to the hotel to pick up my suitcase, and then hightail it to the train station. I started running (this is AFTER running a full marathon!) the two miles to the hotel, dragging my gear check bag with me. It felt like forever, but I finally got to the hotel at around 2:15. I got my bag, and the concierge got me a cab super fast.

Thankfully, my cab driver was a speed demon, and got me to the train station  at 2:26. I quickly paid him, ran into the building, dragging my luggage, and booked it to the train. I got on the train at 2:28, and it left the station at 2:30. The only downside was that I was super thirsty, and I didn't have time to stop and get a drink.

I totally made up for it later, though, because I went out for Mexican with my sister and the kids, and I ordered a huge margarita.


Dinner was amazing. I ate too many chips and salsa, so unfortunately, I was nearly full when my entree came, but it was the PERFECT post-marathon meal. I'm back on track tomorrow, but I wanted to splurge today after such a great race! With my 4:16 finish, I PR'ed by 35 minutes from Detroit (and 70 minutes from Cleveland!).

Tomorrow, I rest. :)  And the day after that, and the day after that... for at least a week, maybe two!

60 comments:

  1. Congratulations!!!! You knocked it out of the park!

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  2. Congrats on your great finish time! One of my friends from college finished just ahead of you in 4:15:51 -- I swear, you almost should've been able to see him in front of you! Maybe you did! ;-)

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  3. Congrats! I have been waitingball day to read this race report. I was dying to know how you did after using Hanson's training and it looks like it was a good thing. You rocked it! Congrats again!

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  4. Congrats! Glad you had such a good run! Thanks for posting even though I'm sure you are exhausted!

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  5. Congratulations on the great marathon run and super finish time.

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  6. It sounds like you had a good time for the most part. Congratulations!

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  7. Awesome job Katie!!! Congratulations on such a great race! I thought about you today and hoped you were having a good run.
    -Lydia

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  8. Congrats on an amazing race! Great finish time too!!! So glad to have gotten to meet u..too bad we couldn't meet up after the run. But we still have April!! And more time to get to know each other!
    Strong work today! I loved every step of every mile of this race. Had major stomach issues too but my body felt amazing and I never got hot (guess its all that south Texas summer training)

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  9. I love this post! Congrats to you Katie....you are such an inspiration to me!
    -Becky

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  10. Wow! and I loved the sign in the the crowd. What a great race. bask in the beauty of all of your hard work, Katie. You deserve it!

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  11. Yay! You the you the best :) CONGRATS!

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  12. Congrats Katie! What a fantastic time! I am assuming you found the Hansons method of training to be quite effective?

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  13. Wow!! Congratulations, amazing time!

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  14. congratulations! you are so inspiring to me.

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  15. Aww congratulations! I've literally just come in from my week 2 of C25K (huffing and puffing away at 90 second intervals haha) to find your race report up! I feel a little pathetic now heh, but your story is so inspiring because you've chronicled your starting point to where you are now. It feels possible for us non-runners! Also, my god your time is so impressive too. You are amazing (and you look especially cute in your outfit :D)
    It's so scary hearing about people collapsing at marathons (or long runs in general) I know it's a LONG way off before I get to the point of even thinking of running for that long but it's a worry for me and I wonder if I'd ever attempt it. I know it's morbid but have you ever worried about collapsing at a marathon? I think I'm probably doubly paranoid because my grandfather suffered from a heart condition so I'm naturally quite wary.


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  16. Congratulations on an awesome race! Like the people in the video said, Run Katie Run, and you did! Huge Congrat's on your PR!

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  17. Awesome freaking job! I cannot believe you were running to your hotel after. As soon as I finished I could barley walk, let alone run. Super impressive. I guess the Hanson's method really worked, sounds like you had a strong race. Congrats on the PR!

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  18. WOO-HOO! Yay, Katie! It sounds like you had a great time - and a 35 minute PR? Congrats :)

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  19. Congratulations Katie! You are such an inspiration! You made this sound SOOOOOOO easy!

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  20. I couldn't wait to come on your blog today and see your race report! I knew you were going to do amazingly - and you did! Congratulations! If you have time, maybe you could do a blog post on how you feel about the Hanson method and its effectiveness - I've been thinking of using it for my first marathon.

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  21. Congratulations on a great race!!!!

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  22. Congrats Katie! I was tracking you and looking hard for you just past Elvis at Mile 10, but you flew through there and I missed you. Was so happy to see your finish time though. You did great! Sad we didn't get a chance to meet, but maybe next time!

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  23. SO proud of you! Amazing job! What a wonderful time! I'm so sorry that you had stomach issues, but you are so strong for pushing through it and finishing so well!

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  24. Wow! Awesome time, Katie! You really do great when you don't set a goal for yourself :) I'm still amazed at everything you do! Good job pushing through the anxiety. I get it, too - and it's scary, but you know it will pass eventually. Cheers!

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  25. Great job! I was looking forward to this post all weekend :) Love your blog - you give me so much motivation to continue running!

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  26. Sounds like you had a great run!! WTG!

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  27. Congratulations, Katie!! You rock!!

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  28. WOOHOO!!! Soooo excited for you! What a great race and report. That drink and those chips were very well earned :-)

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  29. That margarita looks amazing! I hope you have a great time during your stay here :)

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  30. Congratulations Katie! So inspiring! I'm so impressed with your marathon finish and overcoming the panic before. I suffer with that as well and know how difficult it is.

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  31. Good Job on your run and working through anxiety.

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  32. Amazing Katie. I was thinking about you on sunday and wondering how you did (as stalkerish as that sounds haha) I am glad you had such a great race.

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  33. WTG that's awesome! Love the sign too :) You make me want to push myself to do a full marathon. I'm thinking of doing one one next year. We'll see haha.

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  34. Wonderful! Congrats on a great race and on taking us through your journey to the finish line. The video from your friends was lovely...and funny!

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  35. You did sooo amazing! Happy for you!

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  36. Congratulations!!! I cannot even fathom running for FOUR hours!

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  37. Positively inspiring!! Congrats, Katie!!

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  38. I inspire to run like you someday, congratulations and enjoy the break, your body needs it.

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  39. Congratulations girl! I'm so proud of you! I will be doing the St. Jude half in December and I keep saying next year is my year for a full. I think I will be aiming for Chicago. Keep up the good work!

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  40. Jello shots? Best 25 mile treat ever! Great job Katie. We are all super proud of you (even those of us who only know you from blog only). You have inspired me to do a half (trail) marathon. Can't wait to read some more.
    Next time, no trains and buses, only cabs!

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  41. I couldn't fathom running AFTER a marathon! You did awesome, congrats!! (long time reader if you remember me, I'm super behind by about 2 months but I'll get caught up!)

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  42. Congrats, Katie! You are pretty awesome! My boyfriend ran in the Baltimore Running Festival over the weekend and we saw the Flip Belt at the expo. I was considering the purchase but now I'm anxious to hear how it worked for you! Hoping you will review it soon! :)

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  43. Katie, you rock! I'm still working up to running a full mile, but you make me believe I could run a marathon one day! Congrats on the awesome race and incredible PR!

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  44. Congratulations Katie!!! You did so awesome!! 35 min PR is huge!!

    I ran Chicago yesterday as my first marathon and finished in 4:46 and am ecstatic!! Wasn't the crowd support just amazing?! I also got a little too warm in those middle miles out in the industrial area on the west side, I thought I was the only one! I was splashing water on my head and arms to cool myself down. And no fair, I would have totally taken a popsicle had I seen those! And you crack me up about the "hills", I'm in KC where I run hilly routes every single day (can't avoid them) and I'd heard most people say Chicago is pancake flat, and then a few people say "it's not really that flat" and I now can say, "yes, it's pancake flat"! The only "hills" I even noticed besides mile 26 (and I agree, come on people, you can see the finish line, run!) were the bridges we kept going over, and honestly those "hills" didn't bother me as much as the weird grating hurt my feet, even the sides that had carpet over them. I feel like I'm spoiled for all other races now with the flat course, almost perfect weather (would have liked a little cloud cover, but that's just being picky!), and amazing crowd! Congrat's again!!

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  45. Katie!!! You totally rock!!! Such an inspiration to people on every level. I wish you had had people at the finish line but I understand how that goes too!! And you ran this race for YOU. Great job!!! So very impressed:)

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  46. Congratulations!!!!!!! I'm thrilled to hear that you ran a successful race (despite some tummy issues)! Your story is so inspiring and I love to read your blog every day.

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  47. Awesome job!! I was spectating. Three of my friends ran it and I only saw two of them during the race. Everybody looked alike in those big packs! It was a blast watching the race and so glad you had a good time!

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  48. Way to go! I was also fooled by my Garmin and was left doing math at every mile clock marker (subtract my start time, correct for incorrect lap length). Unfortunately, I forgot my pace band and it threw me. Once I accepted I wouldn't get my ambitious goal, I settled back in the last six miles. Those six kicked my butt! Since it was my first marathon, I guess that's the only way to find out.

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  49. AWESOME JOB!!!! (I'm a bit late catching up, but still..) Thanks for the great race recap too. I hope you're enjoying your week off. :)

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  50. I just got home from Chicago so I'm just now reading this! For me, also, that was the farthest I've ever had to walk after finishing a marathon. It was a long walk just to get the medal. I kept looking at others to see if they had medals and I had missed them! I just wanted to sit down so badly. I sat on a curb but was immediately told to move on or I'd have to go to the medical tent if I was not able to walk. I also wanted to use the bathroom and kept asking where they were but was just told to keep moving. A friend later told me that it's an even longer walk after finishing the New York Marathon.
    I didn't think there were any hills other than bridges. I didn't like those grates either. My Garmin got messed up not too far into it when we went through a tunnel or under a very long bridge or whatever that was. I ended up with 26.8 miles on my Garmin. I did pretty good until mile 23, then it got tough but I got a second wind or something for the 25th and I was thinking to myself that this is going to be the easiest last two miles of a marathon I've ever run but that didn't last and after the "1 mile to go" sign it was really tough. I wanted to stop and sit down on the curb for a few minutes then get up and finish, I was actually looking for a place where there weren't people standing! Of course, I kept going but it was tough. I thought the finish was going to be right around the corner where that big screen was and when I didn't see it I almost stopped but then I realized that we had to turn again before the finish line! It was the biggest marathon I've ever run. It's only 3 days past and I'm already thinking that I want to run it again! I didn't see popsicles but around mile 19 some people had huge boxes of chocolates and I took one.
    My daughter and sister were by where the guy collapsed, they said that people helped him up.
    Congratulations on your PR! You had a great race! Did anyone comment on the picture on the back of your shirt? I looked for you in the start corral but where I was it was packed like sardines! I guess I should have tried to get up to the front of the corral! I was bumping into other people during the whole entire race, there was always a crowd around me. I don't know how anyone manages to qualify for Boston there!

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  51. Great job on your PR! Sounds like it was a (mostly) good race with the exception of the brief nausea.

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  52. Congrats on a great race and a PR! It's truly awe-inspiring to see how far you've come.

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  53. You are so inspirational Katie. I currently only do 10k's though I'm unable to run at the mo due to a prolapsed disc in my spine BUT one day, one day Katie I am going to run a marathon and the Chicago marathon has been a secret wish of mine for a while now. Here in the UK we have some good marathons but the Chicago marathon is where I have always wanted to be.
    Until reading your blog I never believed that such a thing would be possible - I'm 42, over weight and have Narcolepsy and Fibromyalgia but the more I read and the more I achieve the more I see that my only limitations are those that I impose on myself.
    Thank you Katie :)

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  54. I just happened to come across your blog today through Pinterest and want to share how much I've enjoyed reading through it this afternoon. This post hit me in particular because I was at the Chicago Marathon this year, volunteering in the charity village and cheering n my friends at mile 26. I was screaming so angrily at the people walking up that gang hill with so little left to go that I have no voice on Monday. haha. I'm planning on running it myself next year, and there's no way I'm walking that hill. So glad I'm not the only one annoyed by that!

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)