October 24, 2014

Chicago Marathon 2014: The Big Race Recap


My race recap of the Chicago Marathon is going to be long, and I'll probably think of a million details I wanted to mention right after I hit publish (le sigh). 

Since it's been almost two weeks since the race I mostly just have feelings from different parts of the race and my overall happiness with the Chicago Marathon left so this won't be a mile by mile breakdown if that's what you were looking for. 

The morning of the race I was lucky enough to crash at the apartment my friend was staying at on Michigan Avenue RIGHT across from Grant Park and the start line. This was a life saver since I was staying on the edge of the city and would have had a long train ride to the start and was still sick. All of my rest, medicine, and homeopathic immune boosters must have worked some magic because I woke up feeling pretty good Sunday morning.

I wasn't sure how my sinuses would feel once I got running, but the lack of feeling like a congested, sniffly mess like I had been all week was a good sign. 

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All my gear laid out-Flat Lauren is ready to race!



I got up around 6 AM, got dressed, and ate my pre-race meal of a banana, almond butter, cinnamon raisin bagel along with a big glass of Nuun. I was rocking my Wonder Woman shirt because I needed some superpowers today! I double checked that I had everything I needed (packing my gear check and laying everything out the night before helped!) and walked down to the start.  

Since it's a huge marathon with 45,000 runners (hello Marathon Major race!) it was obviously crowded so I was cutting it a little close trying to head to gear check at 6:50 when I was in Corral C and the first wave started at 7:30. I hate waiting though so the timing was perfect!  I had worn a throwaway shirt and gloves but honestly didn't really need them. The temperature was mild, the sky was clear, and I ended up throwing the shirt away in the corral and keeping the gloves on only a for a few miles.  

Now I hadn't run AT ALL since the Tuesday before the race, but once I had gotten a full blown cold I had thrown most of my goals  out the window and just prayed I felt good. I wanted to have fun and soak up the energy of Chicago. The runner inside me still wore my 3:35 (8:12 min/mi) paceband to try to stick to loosely if I continued to feel well.

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(credit)
Before I knew it we were running, and I was just soaking in all the energy from the crowds and spectators. I saw my boyfriend and my friend's wife who were a spectating/cheering tag-team  for the day at mile 1 and 3.5 which was a great motivation boost.  I was cruising along around 8:20 min/mile at the start being super conscious of the mistake made ALL THE TIME by marathoners of going out too fast, especially since I didn't know how my legs would be feeling.

The course goes from LaSalle up North, around Lincoln Park, to Lake Shore Drive, and the back down South to reach the Loop again as you are getting to the halfway point.  It's very scenic and full of spectators.  After a little tunnel in the beginning of the race my Garmin's GPS went bonkers, and I spent some time trying to get it unsuccessfully synced with the race clocks at timing mats so I really only looked at my average pace and my paceband splits during the race.

My nutrition plan was to carry my Nuun Energy and take a salted caramel Gu every 4 miles (around every 30 minutes).  I was stopping at mostly ever water stop and grabbing water or a few gulps of Gatorade. At mile 4, I felt super nauseous (probably due to post-nasal drip), but I forced down a Gu  followed by Nuun anyways-I did NOT want to get behind on nutrition and bonk at the end of the race.  
I managed to find my friend on the course again around mile 9ish so we stayed together until miles 14ish to see our tag team of significant others at the halfway point.

 I had put my name on a piece of duck tape on my shirt and everyone keep cheering out "Go, Lauren!" the whole race which was awesome.   It was great to have someone to run with for a bit, but I ended up pulling back since he was moving a little faster than I wanted to at this point, staying cautious knowing I still had another 13 miles to go. After the halfway point I turned on my iPod and jammed out. I ran in to Chrissy and got to finally chat with her in person for the first time!

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Cheesin' for the camera. Yes, not thinking about ordering photos until I get a coupon code #sorrynotsorry. 
People complain about a lack of spectators at certain parts of the course but compared to other races I've run, I felt like there were spectators & fun all over including drag queens, an Elvis impersonator, and bands along the way.  By the time I got to mile 20 I was anxious about hitting the wall but was feeling pretty good. I was sticking to my pace, taking in my nutrition, and having FUN (my number one goal for the race!).

I couldn't even believe I was in the midst of running my second full marathon. 

Around mile 18 I started picking up the pace started to get cruising a little faster. Around mile 21 we got to Chinatown, my legs started to hurt, which is to be expected at this point in the race. I ran into my other friend who says I zoomed past her-I blame it on Beyonce on my iPod.

 The next few miles were tough so I played games in my head about how I only had to run a 10K and then only a 5K along. Miles 24 started the final stretch up Michigan Ave where the #OWNCHICAGO giant Nike letters were displayed on the course. These last few miles from 21 on felt like an eternity, especially since it was long, straight stretches of road. That part of the race was killer, but I tried to keep trucking.  The hill right before the finish that everyone talks about is nothing like a Baltimore hill, but after almost 26 miles of running it hurt when all I wanted to do was be done.

 As I saw the finish line in sight I knew I'd almost hit my goal time and broke down in tears.  Yes there are plenty of awful race photos online to document it.I got my sore legs across that finish line in 3:36:01. Just over a minute shy of a Boston Qualifying time and from my goal of 3:35.  Yep, one of my race day mantras was indeed true-I'm stronger than I know. 


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Not bad. 
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Cried and then smiled and then cried some more. 

After I crossed my legs hurt pretty badly and all I wanted was a water, which took forever to get to. I started crying again because a day before I just wanted to finish and now here I am almost hitting my goal, getting a 9 minute-ish PR, and having a mostly great time running.  I slowly hobbled along and got my medal, snacks, and took some photos with both of my friends who finished right after me. 

 I thought the post-race chute was a bit long and took forever to get to the after-party and friends meetup, but that's the post-Boston race world we live in.

 I was handed my free Goose Island beer pretty fast. Usually I'm starving after races, but I wasn't hungry for a while. After waiting in a big gear check line I went down to a grassy area of Grant Park to rest my really sore legs and soaked up the sun with a smile on my face. 

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I didn't take many photos, and just spent the afternoon hanging out with my friends on the couch, having a few beers (after downing a protein shake for recovery!). I felt much less sore after this marathon than my first, in general. I went to my appointment at Chicago Recovery Room for an ice bath and compression which greatly helped my recovery.  

The evening ended with getting showered and grabbing a burger and a beer with my medal on with my boyfriend and friends.

 I wouldn't have it any other way.  

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What's your favorite post-race meal? Do you get to races early?

This post was linked up to Fitness Friday and in the Fit Dish linkup!

35 comments:

  1. congrats again, lady! that's amazing. i would be crying the entire time, too! i'm pretty sure my favourite part of running would be a burger and shiny medal!

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  2. Congrats on finishing your marathon. What a great time! Chicago is on my bucket list. This weekend it is MCM for me. Hope you are recovering well. -L

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  3. I'm so excited to hear that you had such an amazing experience in Chicago, Lauren! I would love to do this race one year, especially since it is not as far from home as some of the other "big" races (not to mention Majors!). Congratulations on your PR, and I hope you are enjoying some well-deserved recovery time. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Thanks so much! I definitely recommend Chicago!

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  4. You are such a rockstar. Let it be known that I was tracking you the entire time and kept telling my parents about "my friend running Chicago who is sick and still hitting her goal time." They were so confused. I'd say that's pretty amazing, and now you KNOW you can crush that time when you're fully healthy!

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    1. Haha thank you for cheering me on virtually :)

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  5. Congratulations! Another awesome race!

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  6. Congratulations - you were definitely very close to me in the corral, but wasn't sure if it was you or not! Great job.

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    1. Haha, awesome. Luckily I didn't have much time standing in the corral!

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  7. Yay! Awesome job Lauren! No doubt you'll get your goal time in no time!

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  8. Congrats! What a great recap. Sounds like you had a pretty solid race! Whoop!

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  9. I always get to races early especially big ones. Great finish! Congratulations! Chicago is one of my all time favorite marathons. I think my husband and I have decided to run it next year. It will be his first time running that race.

    Thanks for linking up with Fitness Friday! Would you mind helping me spread the word by including a link back in your post or the badge on your sidebar? Thanks so much!

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    1. Thanks Jill, I'm thinking about running it next year too! Sorry I just included a link!

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    2. Thanks so much! We will have to plan a blogger meet up in Chicago :) Seriously!

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  10. Awesome job!! Congrats on that amazing PR and coming so close to a BQ! You will definitely get it net time!

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  11. Congrats on the full! My favorite post meal really is anything I can get to eat because I am usually hungry post half marathon. I only eat oatmeal before a race, so by the time I am done I want food of any kind.

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    1. Haha, I am usually starving when a race is over. Oatmeal is one of my fave breakfast and fuel!

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  12. Amazing! You areso speedy and you were sick too! I can't imagine. Awesome job. If I ever train for a full I will be coming to you for advice!

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    1. Thank you so much! Definitely I have plenty of advice for marathon running now!

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  13. Great time - congrats on a great race! My favorite post-race meal was at Panera. A BBQ flatbread sandwich with tomato soup and a cappuccino :)

    Amy @ http://www.livinglifetruth.com/

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! Ah I definitely had a big latte later in the day.

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  14. WOW! Congrats on a great time and to think you were sick!! You are a rockstar!

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  15. Congrats on the huge PR! You will most def BQ next marathon!

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  16. Loved the recap! So sorry you were sick beforehand, how stressful, but you pulled it out, speedypants! Seriously, you rocked that thing, and I love how much you enjoyed yourself. and, those salted caramel guus sound amazing! YUM. Thanks for linking up! I love getting toknow other bloggers! @theFitSwitch.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading it. I LOVE my salted caramel Gu! I'm glad I found your blog and will definitely link up again.

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  17. Great job and an awesome time!! Well done!!!

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