Race Recap: Chicago Marathon 2012

Well after 7 months of thinking about it and 5 months of actually training for it the day had come...The Chicago Marathon.

Before I jump into the race recap, I'll start by summarizing the past 12 weeks of training. I had once again been suffering through rounds of knee/IT band pain. My training run of 18 miles had gone AWFUL resulting in me having to be picked up by a teammate because I just couldn't finish.
Another set of Doctors appointments led to the fact that my knee was once again inflamed and I should/could get a cortisone injection to ease the pain. The only problem being that the race was less than a month away and he could only administer the shot once, either now or right before the race. I decided to hold off on the shot (mostly because I'm a baby with needles) and see if I could toughen it out. I managed to take the entire week off to rest and that following weekends had an extremely strong 20 mile run. Special thanks to Reed on that run for keeping me going. Once I knew my knee could survive that without pain I decided against any form of injection and would take my chances on a strong race.

About two weeks before the race we found out that Adam was going to be able to join Janelle and I in Chicago and we were pretty darn excited because we now had our race Sherpa and someone to take care of us that weekend! The closer the race got the more nervous I got. I really wanted this to be a positive marathon experience and make me forget about the awful end to Publix. Ultimately I wanted to be able to run this race between 4:20 and 4:45. Everyday at work for about two weeks I stared at the following chart trying to determine best and worst case.

Three days before we are set to take off for Chicago, Adam decided he was going to do the full marathon after all. This was going to be his first marathon and his justification was if everyone else is doing it, maybe I could too. He had me convinced that his longest run had been 16 miles the month prior and that he'd take it easy on this race. Janelle and I were bummed to be losing our Sherpa but figured we'd manage.

After work Friday afternoon, I jetted home to pick up Adam and then we were off to the airport.

Janelle and I had initially intended on sleeping in and if we made it down for team run great, but more than likely we were going to be getting our beauty sleep. Our bodies were so use to getting up early that sure enough we were up and ready to go by 8AM. We headed downstairs to meet our respective teams, but the one thing that worried us both was "were we going to be warm enough?". The weather forecast had it in the low 30s but more than anything it was going to be windy! I guess it isn't called the windy city for nothing. We went on a nice easy mile run with our respective teams and figured out where the race began. After that we headed back to pick up Adam & venture off to the expo.

Overall the expo was pretty similar to what you'd expect at other races. Lots of vendors, lots of free stuff, and not too overly crowded. We were getting more and more excited for the next day. We met up with a friend for a late lunch after that then over to the Fleet Feet store so Adam could get a new set of shoes for the race (Yes he did everything he wasn't suppose to do before a marathon). After that it was naptime then finally getting ready for the Team in Training, Inspiration Dinner. Since I wasn't able to attend the dinner prior to the Publix race, this was my first one. I had heard it was always such a wonderful experience to hear about someones struggle with overcoming cancer and a reminder of why you are out there raising funds and training. This night was no exception. To watch a young child overcome so much was truly an inspiration. I was going to take that motivation with me when I was struggling during the race. After dinner it was back to our room to finish our last minute shirt decorating/race day prep and then lights out around 10.

The alarm went off bright and early and it was time to head to the race. I had been counting down to this race for nearly seven months and it was finally here! That morning it was FREEZING outside. I had worn a pair of sweats that I could throw away at the start of the race but boy it was still cold! Once again all of these conditions pointed to the exact opposite of Publix. We dropped off our things at the check-in and headed to our corrals. I had my iPhone to listen to my Spotify playlist and four packets of GU all tucked into my spybelt. Janelle and I had taken off on our own and had lost my GA TNT group that I normally run with. Their plan was to take it slow and then gradually increase (i.e. negative splits). The more I analyzed that plan the more I knew I simply couldn't over compensate to achieve the time I wanted.I opted to run comfortably

During the first mile of the course you pass under a bridge which alters your Garmin time and pace. I had heard from expert runners to make sure I didn't touch the watch and by mile 2.5 it would normalize. Sure enough the Garmin was going crazy. Janelle and I kept checking w/one another on the pace and it wasn't making any sense. By the time it re-calibrated we were averaging between a 9 and 10:30 pace. Throughout the entire race I never really had a "consistent" pace but kept it within this ball park. Some miles I'd really feel great and push harder, others (especially right before taking more GU) I'd start slowing down. Janelle and I stayed together for pretty much the first 10 miles. She would run through the water stations where as I would walk. I would nearly catch back up with her and then another water stop would come. Around mile 8 she veered off to use the bathroom and I kept going (I have a huge anti-porta potty rule and have so far lucked out when it comes to going during the race). Around mile 12 I could kind of see her out of the corner of my eye but assumed she would catch up soon enough. At the halfway point I glanced down at my watch saw 2:10 and honestly felt amazing. I ran into Mike and he ran with me for the next mile encouraging me on how I should finish the 2nd half of the race...continue doing what I was doing and if I felt good during the last 5 miles or so really pick it up. 

This point of the race is the point where I tend to completely space out and continue to just run. Mile 13-20 I just enjoyed the crowds and just didn't think about anything. I had my music going and I loved it. Right as I passed Chinatown, my iPod shut off and I thought it had lost battery. All the sudden I hear "hello..hello". It was my husband :) He had called to inform me that despite his minimal training he managed to run a BQ time of 3:04. I was super proud of him but still new I had about six miles to go. My paces per mile started to slow but I was determined to get in under 4:30. I opted to skip the last two water stops and just had to tell myself that all I had left was a 5K. I kept looking at my watch knowing I just had to slightly pick it up and I'd be there. Sure enough...I crossed the finish line at 4:30:04. That was an hour and fifteen minutes off of my previous marathon time!! It felt amazing to finish a marathon injury free and with so many people I had enjoyed training with.

Post Race
Well the thoughts of ending my marathon career on a high note and retiring from this distance was short lived. I had so much fun and ultimately am excited to experience this again. Knowing what I could achieve injury free was amazing! With that being said Janelle and I have agreed to do the Marine Corp Marathon next October. Registration begins in March and my goal is to continue running injury free and achieve a goal time in the three hour range. Until then it'll be winter training and enjoying a variety of workouts without the pressure of sticking to the training schedule.
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