It seriously took me about a week to come down from the runners high from the Chicago marathon. My legs are feeling back to normal and I am ready to start the short ramp up and re-taper for NYC! But first I wanted to recap the best race of my life!
Since I ran Chicago in 2014, I kind of knew what to except. I knew the expo was huge and exciting, I knew how flat the course actually was, and how the sidelines of the course is PACKED to the brim with spectators, but what I didn’t know was how well I would do in this race. A lot can happen in 2 years, especially since my training has never been so consistent and my body has never felt more prepared and healthy. Knowing all of this, I picked a safe time to start my race at and started with the 3:50 (8:45 min/mile) pace group.
The morning of the race I met up with a group of my Concrete Runners fam to walk to the course together and we gave big hugs as each person was dropped off at their gates. I was the only person that I knew in my coral so once I left the group I was alone for the first time in probably a solid 48 hours, it was kind of weird, and I had my normal pre-race nervous energy so being alone kind of made that even worse. I was nice and early so didn’t have to feel rushed waiting in the lines for the bathroom (I remembered from my mistake last time! Make LOTS of time for the bathroom lines at the start!) I walked over to find bag check and was so thrilled to run into a few of the speedy boys of NRC SF. We again walked together until I split from them and found my corral and the 3:50 pace group. I got to know a few of the runners around me and we all talked a little bit about where we were from, our race goals, previous races… if you haven’t had the chance to run in a pace group I’d for sure recommend it! I’m obviously big on community and you immediately form this bond with the other runners.
At 7:30 on the dot, the gun goes off and we wait a few minutes for the first few corrals to start and we are off! It was actually so helpful for me to start with this group because I tend to go out too fast (all that nervous energy) and this was a sure way for me to go out steady and get a read on my effort. About 3 miles into the course I felt really good and picked up my pace a tad until I felt like I could sink into it for a long time that ended up being around 8:20 pace. I saw my parents at two points right away on the course which was so great! I was even able to give them a quick hug the second time!
Around mile 6 I had caught up to the 3:45 pace group and warned myself NOT to pass them because I would surely be going at a pace too fast to keep up for the next 20 miles. Not even 2 miles later I looked around and they were nowhere to be found. I was in the zone and totally lost them. I may have gotten too excited to see my friend at mile 7 and again at 9.
The rest of the race was amazing, I didn’t even have to use the bathroom, but I felt comfortable, not too dehydrated, but still kept taking on liquids throughout the course. It wasn’t until mile 20 when my legs started to get sore and feel a little heavy. I didn’t even walk up until mile 20 where I walked through the water station, I almost didn’t even want to walk at all in fear of my legs cramping up, but it felt good to rest them for a few seconds. Around mile 20 was when I saw my brother and his sign which gave me a burst of energy and motivation. When I reached mile 22 was where I really had to dig deep and fight the urge to walk the rest of the way. I knew my pace was on track to finish way faster than I thought I would, but I didn’t want to just finish, I wanted to prove to myself how strong I was. I pushed through, walked through a few more water stations, and picked back up the pace a little slower than the first 20 miles, closer to 9 minute miles. But when I saw my parents at mile 26 and turned off my headphones and listened to the biggest crowd cheer for me and the other runners, I found the last bit of energy to pick up my pace and run through the finish! 3 hours 43 minutes and 18 seconds later not only finished, but finished with a new personal record 30 minutes faster than my last marathon time. YES, 30 whole minutes!!!
Seriously, I am so proud of myself and how far I have come with my running, I was beaming with pride for at least three days straight! There really isn’t a better feeling than finishing something so great that seemed so impossible even just a year ago. Huge shout out to the city of Chicago, the race organizers, the MASS amount of spectators, Nike, NRC, Concrete runners, and my family and friends, I don’t think I could have achieved such an amazing finish time without your support.