CHICAGO MARATHON RECAP
It was best...Nope. It was the worst of times.
As I’m writing this my spacebar is broken which seems completely appropriate given my mood this week. It’s also why it’s taken me till Friday to finish this race recap. If you’re expecting some sort of motivational speech, you’ve come to the wrong post. But if you want a lighthearted story about this past weekend, read on…
I’m going to spend most of my time recapping the race. Obviously, the health of my husband is more important than anything else that transpired this weekend.
Was I more nervous going into this race than before any other marathon? Idk. Maybe. There was no real reason I shouldn’t have exceeded my goal. Training had indicated I’d not only run a PR but I might do something really unexpected. I had crazy hopes, and I worried I’d be mentally destroyed if I didn’t pull something great off on Sunday. I worried about all the things and promised as long as my body cooperated (no stomach problems or injuries), I’d take care of the rest.
I was able to distract my nerves with excitement on Saturday attending the expo with my friend and long-time training mate, Caryn Just. After days of denial about the event that was upon us, we finally accepted the inevitable and talked about a race strategy while waiting in the interminable line to get our covid bracelets. Caryn had a faster goal than me but was planning a conservative start and I, still hopeful, felt good and even comforted by the idea that we would run together at least for part of the race. The obvious caveat to our plan was that either one of us was released from the pact the moment one of us needed to drop back (hi). Game on!
Race morning arrived early AF. But I didn’t sleep much after 11:30 pm anyway. I went to bed at 8 watching Seinfeld. My husband’s choice and a surprisingly good distraction in my opinion since we rarely agree on what qualifies as comedy.
I jumped out of bed when my alarm went off at 4 eager to get moving and to the starting line. Not because I wanted to run but because I needed to get my anxiety under control. I have run plenty of races using nerves to propel me far enough for determination (or desperation) to take over.
Look. I know this is not the way we like to talk about running. It should be difficult but something we can look back on and appreciate for making us realize some life-altering truth. That was not my experience this past Sunday and rather than forcing anything, like my body to move 26.2 miles, I’m surrendering to my current feelings.
I felt fantastic going out at a pace of 6:20-6:30 (not so conservative for me). I told myself how good I felt and expressed how good everyone was doing around me. It was going to be a great day! I was focused on the blue line and how well everything was going! This was at mile 4.
Soon our friend Elliot Norman passed us but we were dedicated to our “conservative” pacing, and I for one proudly let him pass, deciding I was being very responsible.
By mile 8, I started to feel a little uncertain about how things were going but figured it was a blip and I'd come back around soon.
At the half, I felt very concerned about finishing. Then I remembered I could slow down. And from miles 14-18 I just kept thinking “run your own race” which meant whatever pace made me stop thinking about dropping out. That worked and I even laughed wondering how I forgot I didn't have to run that god-awful pace the entire race. Bye Caryn - be strong! (she was)
Plenty of us were struggling after mile 18 and I saw a few runners I’d started with fall behind me. I also saw Elliot. I was not happy that he was hurting but also glad to have a friend sharing in the pain figuring we could suffer to the finish together.
Miles 22-24 were horrible as usual and the fluid stations every mile really started to stress me out. I didn’t want to maneuver my way to a cup of anything and had trouble deciding if I should get water or the endurance formula. It was a dilemma I didn’t need.
As the finish line approached, the 800-meter sign was no comfort and of course, the hill was completely unnecessary. My foot started to cramp up but I told it to "fuck off" which somehow actually worked. I proceeded to empty my tank as I watched my PR tick by pretending my eyes were lying about the actual numbers on the clock so I would press on the gas pedal instead of coasting in on the fumes I had left.
I can still say there is NOTHING like the finish line of a major marathon. I came in at 2:59 - less than a minute over my PR and gave no fucks because hallelujah I could stop.
That night we went to dinner with friends where my husband got rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. His heart had gone into AFib and it took them until 4 pm on Monday to get it under control. This was just in time for us to make our flight which ended up being grounded due to weather resulting in our arrival home after midnight.
He is fine. We are still catching up on sleep, and joking about who was closer to death this past weekend. Which we can do learning that his condition is completely treatable - thank goodness!
So that is my Chicago story. My husband and I are recovering. I am trying to be an adult about not PRing. He is updating our wills. And we both agree that while comedy is subjective, life is better with a sense of humor.