Ah, the 2017 Chicago Marathon, yes. If you have followed my blog since the beginning, you know the Chicago Marathon holds a special place in my heart (last year’s, epic race recap here.) The course holds some of my most memorable race moments and still holds my PR. However, this year, my third time taking on the course, was not quite what I envisioned. It’s taken me a while to process this race and I’ve thought about a lot of things that went wrong, thought about my training, and even questioned if my heart was still in the distance (spoiler, IT IS!) But I am finally ready to get the whole experience down on paper… errr. e-paper.
Race weekend was exciting, busy and the normal hustle and bustle. I got to Chicago early Friday morning where I took the train to my brother’s office downtown and worked there all day. Then I went to my best friend’s new apartment and was able to catch up with her and grab some dinner. We both went to go cheer on the Take the Bridge runners in the rain, which just happened to stop right as they started their exhilarating fast race. I was able to reconnect with many runners that I met when I did this race in NY before the NYC Marathon last year. The community and energy was buzzing with endorphins and excitement for the big race on Sunday.
Saturday I let myself sleep in as long as my body let me, then grabbed breakfast before heading to meet my running twin Jho to go get our race packets. The rest of Saturday was super low key as it rained all day, we went to Runner’s High Studio to hang and watch some baseball but that was about it. I had a fabulous pasta dinner with Ali then went to her place early enough to get some good sleep, however… this is where things starting going wrong. I couldn’t sleep for the life of me and that 4:45 am alarm was creeping closer and closer.
Sunday morning quickly came and after I managed to get a few hours of rest, I had my usual breakfast, packed my checked bag and got ready for the main event. I met some of my Concrete Runners to head to our corals together before we all split off to our assigned gates. I got to my corral with just seconds left before it closing, the security was super strict and it took a lot longer to get in and check my bag and use the restroom, but I made it, though a little stressed. I found the 3:30 pace group which my goal was to stay in-between them and the 3:40 pacers and see how I was feeling. This was probably too aggressive, but I really thought I could do it.
Doubts started to creep into my head already at mile 4 where I was still keeping a good solid pace, but it was already extremely sunny and much warmer than I am used to. My friend Ali was at mile 6 and 9-ish and it was so great to see her there. The crowds in Chicago are amazing, but having friends and family on the course is always so amazing. Around mile 10, I felt my pace start to slow down a bit, then at the half it slowed some more and I completely lost the 3:30 and 3:35 pacers, I eventually lost the 3:40 pacers and even the 3:50 pacers right at the end of the course, this was devastating to me, it was a huge blow to my confidence and mental game. At mile 16 I wanted to stop and walk the whole damn thing. But at mile 18 I saw the 3run2 crew cheer station which gave me a jolt and shortly after that my training partner, Jho, caught me walking and encouraged me to pick up the pace and run with her. It was such a treat to run with her a few miles, we were both struggling big time, but having each other was huge. My brother was around mile 19 and his smile and cheers gave me what I needed to just finish.
Watching my finish time from last year go by at mile 24 or 25 was also extremely heartbreaking and I felt like I failed myself. I was mad, I was tired, and I was so ready for it to be over. But you know what I didn’t do, I didn’t give up. I walked the water stations and ran everything else as fast as my legs would let me go. I crossed the finish line at 3:53:36, 10 minutes and 18 seconds slower than last year’s Chicago Marathon which is funny in a sad way because I wanted 10 minutes faster, but Sunday October 8th, 2017 was not my day.
I don’t have any big races coming up for the rest of the year, I have a 5k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and maybe that is what I focus on for the short term. I do know I need to work on my strength and the speed will come. I know that I also need to take a look at my diet and have a few less “cheat meals.” I know that within a year I will qualify for Boston, I have no doubt in my mind that I can do it. I just have to really put my heart and soul into it. This race season had some really high points, but a lot of low points. I was sidelined by injury for half of the year, and I am just really happy to be healthy again. I am going to spend the next few months thinking about what I want for next year and put a little more effort into my strength. You can still find me putting in miles along Marina Green, Embarcdero, and the Presidio so say hi when we pass, hit me up to run a few miles, or lets go to a strength training class together.