October 27, 2016

The Big Chicago Marathon 2016 Recap {Expo and Race}

I have been putting this off because I don't even know where to begin talking about the Chicago Marathon. I've also been dealing with some foot pain and grad school midterms which can take a person's mind off blogging. Anyone else feel like their marathons go by in a blur? After it's over I only remember certain sites, certain miles, and certain feelings (including those steps across the finish line). 

The Big Chicago Marathon 2016 Recap {Expo and Race}

Because of my grad school schedule I missed some fun things and had to get into Chicago late Friday night. I was feeling like a cold was coming on all week which had me thoroughly freaked out about the race. Saturday morning I ended up taking the train downtown to meet up with Kelly Robert's #SportsBraSquad Shake-Out Run at the Westin on Michigan Ave. I had met Kelly briefly at the November Project Summit in Ontario in July but finally got to have a quick chat and snap a photo with her.  She's fabulous and had a nice big group for a 2 mile shakeout run that included lots of beautiful city views and selfies. 


run-selfie-repeat-shakeout-run

Also kudos to Oiselle for hooking us up with some swag. I am in love with this shirt! 

oiselle-shirt-hat

You should totally go to Kelly's NYC Marathon shakeout run if you are in town for it! After a quick pit stop at Trader Joe's for bananas, bars, and beet juice with Emily  before heading over to the expo. 

Since this is my third year in a row, I knew what to expect. Things were still really organized as I expected. I suppose I was feeling a little bit anxious about the race and that my boyfriend hadn't up with me yet so I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Also the expo is far more crowded on Saturday than it would have been on Friday so that is something to get used to if you haven't been to a big race expo, particularly a World Marathon Majors race one. 

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-1

So I quickly grabbed my bib and bothered strangers to take photos of me, despite still being kinda gross looking since I didn't shower post-shakeout run. 

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-2

No big race expo is complete without a stop to the Nuun booth to say hello and grab a cute new water bottle to add to my collection. 

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-3-nuun

I also got to check out the Moji booth and try out some massage products that I took home with me. This Moji Foot Pro is fabulous on the bottom of your tired feet, especially if you freeze it first!

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-4-moji

As always, I love all the awesome Nike graphic photo backdrops around the expo. Perfect for getting pumped about the 26.2 miles happening the next day!

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-5

I also co-hosted the We Run Social meetup with the fabulous Heather which was nice, despite some people being confused that we were not in fact speaking on the Runner's World stage but rather just meeting near it! 

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-6

There was a few more photos before getting showered and relaxing. I grabbed some pasta with Erica for dinner. I had some pasta with chicken and marinara sauce as my pre-race dinner. 

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-7

Before bed was iPod and Garmin charging as well as laying out all the goods I needed for the next day. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-gear

{Lululemon Run Swiftly tagged shirt, Lululemon shorts, Ciele hat, Feetures! compression socks, Brooks Launch 3 running shoesHoneyStinger Ginsting gels & Huma gels, Nuun Hydration Lemon-Lime Energy, and Run Gum in peppermint} 

I had worked with Coach Suz (she's fabulous!) to have her consult on my training plan and race day plans and offer her suggestions so I had a general idea of how I wanted to run the race. I was feeling anxious and unsure of how I felt about the race pretty much up until I got to the starting area.  Once I felt the chilly weather (despite not being quite as chilly as I prefer) and all the marathon excitement in the air, I was really happy. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-1

It was also possibly that things were going super smoothly. I got dressed and had a banana, Salted Caramel HoneyStinger waffle, and Nuun. I took the train into downtown and caught one just as it arrived from the Austin blue line station. I moved through the security checkpoint super quickly this year and EVEN found a port-a-potty with only 6 people ahead of me in line. There were Nike pacers in line too so I'm almost positive it wasn't VIP or anything and was just covered by bushes so it was less crowded. The realist that I am, I was thinking that things were going too smoothly to be true but tried to roll with it. 

Miles 1-5: Pace groups make me anxious because of my self-placed pressure to keep up with the group, but I decided to line up with the 3:30 pacers anyways. Hats off to the guys that were super fun and amazing.  The start is really crowded which kind of helps with runners starting out slower and not going out too fast so I didn't worry. The beginning miles with the pacers was super crowded and for the first 5 mile I was almost tripped and bumped into people multiple times which was really freaking annoying.  It's such a big race and the 3:30 pace group seemed popular. Especially since I have run this race now twice before, I really tried to soak in the race and excitement with no music or anything. My GPS was yet again messed up because of the tunnels so I really focused on just staying with the pace group.

chicago-marathon-2016-race-2
My boyfriend got this cool shot of me running by and smiling at around Mile 3ish. 

Miles 6-10:
 I told myself to just try to settle in, stay comfortable, and follow the pace group but not freak if I wasn't right next to a pacer. The pacers were great with one guy telling the guy in front to pull back. I was feeling great and tried to settle in and stopped at most of the water stops. I wasn't carrying any water because it annoys me so I made sure to stay hydrated.  The miles were moving past especially because I wasn't paying attention to my watch. It was nice to feel comfortable with the pace group and not have to worry about anything but running and keeping them in sight.  Still no music and lots of crowd support! 

Miles 11-15: I feel like in my marathons I always am dreading and waiting for the wall so I talked to Suz about throwing in some faster strides and changing my mentality. This time I stuck with the pace group but was feeling really good and was annoyed by the crowdedness of the group behind the pacers so decided to run in front of the pace group around mile 14. I kept my mentality the same as I had at the Philly Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon this year where I tried to just run where I felt good and not get freaked out by the pace. I also took an extra gel around mile 12.5 as Suz suggested to give me an extra boost when I usually start to freak out on the inside.  The pacers reminding everyone from Mile 11 onwards to stop at the water stops was also super helpful. 

Miles 16-20: Around Mile 16 I turned on the iPod. I also peeked back behind me a couple times before I just kept running and knew that if I saw the pace group pass me, I'd have to keep up-but I didn't see them. I kept telling myself my mantra "I am comfortable, I am strong" and reminding myself how crappy I felt at this point last year and how my legs felt good this year. My breathing wasn't heavy or labored, and I was having fun. Once it hit 18 I tried to periodically check out my watch but not let it determine the race for me.  Around 18 the thoughts that I had a fast enough 3:30 BQ (and PR) in reach but tried to not get ahead of myself because as I knew, the marathon is a 20 mile warm-up with a 10K race.  I saw my boyfriend at Mile 18 who had some water and was literally stunned as I ran by smiling and giving him the thumbs up, telling him I felt great. 

Miles 21-26: Obviously my legs started to hurt after mile 20 as is expected with a marathon. I knew at this point that I was crushing it and only had to make it to the finish. Mile 22 on was just giving it all I had left in the metaphorical fuel tank. I had my music and the crowds to help push me. At Mile 22 was the November Project-Chicago cheer station which was a huge boost to get some cheers and high-fives.  During this last stretch I focused on just getting to the next mile marker.  Making it to the next mile was a nice mental game that helped push me to the end.  The miles blur together now. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-3
Around Mile 23, pushing it to the end. 
As I got to Mile 25, all the emotions start to hit me. It was different because usually I get more emotional during the race but was surprisingly composed during this marathon (mostly because of my mental game).  Once I was at this point I knew I would make it and tried my best to push it to the end.  As I crossed the finish line I was in tears and just broke down sobbing after I finished. Two different people asked me if I was okay, and I told them it was just happy tears, no worries. 

As I waddled towards the fountain with my Goose Island beer in hand, which tastes effing amazing after a marathon, I was SO damn happy. You can see it in this photo below. That moment of relaxing, with a beer in hand, all by myself was is my favorite post-race moment to savor. 

 I was ahead of the 3:30 pacer, completely surpassing my A goal for the race. I grabbed my bag and had texts from friends. Suz texted me that I crushed it. I was confused because friends were saying I had run 3:34 because the live tracking on the app had gone by gun time not chip time (which I later found out) and caused me to freak out that my results were messed up. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-4

Suz texted me my actual race results which made me feel awesome. 3:27? WHAT?!


I met up with my boyfriend and some friends and was on top of the world. ON TOP OF THE WORLD. I was kind of in disbelief that I ran a marathon in crushing my goal time and it wasn't that painful. I mean my legs hurt, and I don't think I could go faster but I did it. Despite not really believing in myself until race morning. Over a 7 minute PR and a nice cushion over my 3:35 Boston Qualifying time.  

Third time's a charm, Chicago. I LOVE YOU. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-5

The race was a little warm (not as much as last year thank goodness), but perfect for hanging out afterwards. After frantically finding the results tent I learned that their tracking system was down and others had messed up tracker times so I felt confident that my time was not completely messed up. I threw some sandals on and just hung out with friends jamming to the live band. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-6

Oh and I used my beer ticket to grab my free beer (the one at the finish doesn't count-I love you Chicago). It was so sunny out I actually got a little sunkissed on my face.  

chicago-marathon-2016-race-7

After a shower and some relaxation, I headed out to Small Cheval for my post-marathon meal of choice-a burger, fries, and a beer. Amazing

chicago-marathon-2016-small-cheval-burger

Finally the night was ended with a few more beers and some Jeni's Ice Cream in Wicker Park. I was going to go for the double scoop, but the triple scoop was the marathoner's special for the same price so obviously I went with that. The perfect end to the day! 

jenis-ice-cream-wicker-park-chicago-marathon

The race day was better than I imagined and now I'm a little worried I won't have a better marathon!  Thank you again everyone for all the love, support, and good vibes!

What is your favorite big race moment? 

21 comments:

  1. You killed it!! So happy for you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. So well deserved! Pure amazingness!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Literally could not be more excited for you! I was tracking you that day and kept saying to my mom "Lauren's KILLING it!" And my mom was like, huh? who? SO FREAKING HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!!!!! And can't wait to either watch you crush boston, or hopefully run it with you <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw this makes me so happy. Yes hopefully Boston 2018 is all the friends!

      Delete
  4. Congratulations on a great marathon! It sounds like you had a really good race and the pacer helped- so neat that you came in ahead of your goal and have such a big cushion for Boston. I love your expo finds (I have that foot massager) and that you got a good expo experience despite having to get to the city a little later due to school. Plus you definitely had a great ice cream and post-race meal. Looks like it was an all around great trip and race for you, and I hope recovery has gone well too. Congrats on the BQ and PR!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm so happy for you! You did IT! Congrats to you dear! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you SO much. Feels so good.

      Delete
  6. It was such an amazing day and so happy we were able to run this together. Congrats girl!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woohoo so awesome that we both crushed it!

      Delete
  7. Awesome job!!! Congrats! Sounds like a great race day!
    Annster's Domain

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was fabulous-couldn't ask for better!

      Delete
  8. Congrats! We were at mile 13 and looked for you but somehow you slipped by! What a great race for you. I do love Chicago as well--I've had some really great races there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw there was so many people it was hard to spot everyone!

      Delete
  9. It felt amazing to journey through your Chicago Marathon experience. Congrats Lauren on the BQ and PR (slowly learning what these abbreviations are. Haha!). Bask in that cloud nine!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw thank you! Ah I sometimes forget that people may not know what those mean!

      Delete
  10. Woohoo!! I'm seriously SO happy for you! You absolutely crushed it. All your hard work paid off amazingly, and I think that's just the greatest thing ever. Congrats congrats congrats!!

    Bethany @ Accidental Intentions

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am new to your blog so first of all - HUGE CONGRATS!! You are so fast and it's so awesome that you felt so strong!

    I am fairly new to marathons (preparing for my 2nd) and was curious if you coach yourself or hired someone and if you recommend one over the other?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay awesome-hope you keep reading! Thanks so much! I had trained for my first two marathons with a training group at a running store (which I now coach at but beginner runner groups) and have read lots of running books, etc so I pretty much just changed a plan that has worked in the past and added in the workouts I want to do. I used Coach Suz that I mentioned in the post to consult and see if there was anything she thought I should do differently as well as get advice for a race day plan. She's awesome- http://suzlyfe.com/coach-suz-training/

      Delete