MY FIRST MARATHON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM A MARATHONER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My friend Abbie took this photo!
Yesterday I ran the Chicago Marathon and finished with an overall time of 5:37:42. It took me longer than I thought it would to finish, but I am extremely proud of myself nonetheless. I have a lot to say, so let’s get this party started!
WARNING: This is VERY long. No shame! Skim and read what you want – I organized it in to segments for that purpose. The segments will be THANK YOUS, THE RECAP (probably where most people will want to go), THOUGHTS ON MY PERFORMANCE, THOUGHTS ON THE CHICAGO MARATHON ITSELF, QUESTIONS FOR YOU, HOW I FEEL and WHAT NOW?
First of all, I have to say THANK YOU to all of the amazing spectators, whether I saw you or not, it means a lot that you were there. I know that Nilsa, Kevin, Amy, Elizabeth and Jen (a reader who did IM Madison this year!) were out there from the blogging world. A few of my college friends (Mike, Jennie, Tom and Sarah) and our close friends Eric, Abbie, their daughter Alice, and Abbie’s sister Rachel were there as well. And of course, Steven was out there cheering for me! He was such a trooper and made it to a lot of different spots to see me and I am so happy he did!
Also, I must say THANK YOU to all of my friends (bloggers and non bloggers) and family who sent me emails and texts to ask how I was doing! It meant SO MUCH to me to know you were thinking of me. Seriously. You guys are awesome.
I went to the Expo on Saturday with Erin. It was the first huge race expo I had ever gone to! I had a fun time, and bought myself a new visor (seen above!).
Steven and I stayed at Erin and Jason’s house overnight on Saturday (thank you Erin + Jason!). At 5:45ish Sunday morning Erin, Steven and I rode the blue line in to Chicago. We met up with two of Erin’s running club friends on the train. We stopped and used the bathroom at Erin’s office before the race (thanks Erin!) then made our way to gear check. Amazingly, I ran in to Shari, the woman I ran most of the 20-miler with! I said good luck to her, then went to check my bags. After that, I said goodbye to Erin (and her friend Jacob),
and goodbye to Steven,
then I went to look for Carla and her friend Tracy. Carla and Tracy were in the bathroom line and it wasn’t moving, so we finally left the line around 7:30ish (after the gun had already gone off for the elites) and made our way to the open corral. This is when I realized I checked my sunscreen without putting it on! I was freaking out, and called Steven, who assured me I would be fine. Thanks for calming me down Steven!
It was an obstacle to get to the open corral, but I passed Bobbi on the way there! What are the odds, right? I was really pumped to see her and wished her good luck!
We got to our spot somewhere near the 5:00 pacer and waited until about 8:00 to cross the start. It was 59° F when we crossed the start.
Then we were off!
I knew Steven was at mile 1 and was super excited to see him (funny note, I was already off by .2 miles by mile 1!). His bright yellow shirt really stood out! I selfishly used our nice camera during the run and gave him an old crappy one to use, so the only photos he got of me were at mile 1 (because the camera was messed up). But you can see me under the arrow below, and I am using this photo as my masthead right now.
I felt great – my legs felt fresh and I was in a good mood. Unfortunately, Carla and Tracy left to use the bathroom after mile 1, so I only got to run a bit with them! But I was still enjoying myself, running along, taking everything in. I kept telling myself to take it nice and slow. My plan was to start slower mile splits and finish with faster ones.
I had pre-programmed a bunch of texts in my phone so I could tell Steven where I was and he could look for me. We planned to see each other at 1, 4, 11, 17 and 26. I saw him at 1, and told him I was nearing 4, and he told me where he and his friend Eric were, but I missed them. Oops! I kept trucking along. I really enjoyed the first 6 miles of the race because they were mostly in the shade. Then we got near Lake Shore Drive and were in the sun.
Yuck. At this point, I realized my back and shoulders were REALLY TIGHT. I have mentioned this before – how when I do yoga the day after I run I can barely move my neck. Well, I am not sure if it is from tensing up, or my running top being too tight, but it really hurt. It was a constant ache for the rest of the race.
Also, at this point, I realized my cell phone stopped working from getting too sweaty (I had it in my pouch then moved it to my bra so I could hear it). It still does not work. If you are trying to get a hold of me, that is why I am not responding to calls or texts. I tried not to be upset about my phone and passed it along to Steven when I saw him next, so I wouldn’t think about it.
I had a lot of fun running through Boystown and was really excited to see Steven, Abbie, Rachel and Alice at mile 11. Steven ran with me a bit and asked how I was doing. I said “thirsty” but I had water. That is just how I felt. I bet it was in the 70s by then!
At mile 12, I stopped to take a walk break, and then saw a bathroom with no lines. I decided I better go – I was having slight cramps. When I got back on course, I realized at that point there was no way I would meet my 5:00 goal. Although I passed the half marathon point at 2:30:27, I knew I couldn’t do that for the second half. My friend Gina got a text of my predicted finish time after I passed the half – it was 5:30:49 – pretty close, right?
I am not sure how I knew at this point I would not make my 5:00 goal. The sun was intense and I was fading, but I still felt strong and energized. I just knew it wouldn’t happen.
Honestly, a lot of times during the race, I thought, I wish I was running this with someone. I felt a bit lonely, despite the huge crowd.
So after the half marathon point, I started taking a one minute walk break every mile, then, around 17 or so, started walking quite a bit more. There was not much shade and I just felt blah. The temperature reached the mid 80s, and while I was telling myself “you trained in this heat!” the truth is, I DID NOT. I ran short runs in the heat. On the weekends, I got up early to run when it was cool, and in the shade. Live and learn!
Not much of the course was shaded like this! It was more like this –
I put my music on around mile 14 (I could barely hear it because of all the crowd music, but it was there). I saw Carla again around mile 16. Then I saw Kevin and Katie around mile 17 and was SO HAPPY to see them! I stopped and gave them a hug and said “This is awful! The heat is killing me!”
I saw Steven shortly after, and he walked with me a bit. He was so encouraging! He told me I was averaging 11:30s and that was how he was keeping track of me. I knew I wouldn’t average 11:30s after that, but didn’t tell him. I should have so he could have seen me at mile 26. He waited there but I never came when he thought I would so he went to the runner reunite area.
And after that, the rest of the race was a lot of running then walking, with very liberal walk breaks. As soon as I stared walking more, I could feel I had blisters all over my toes!
I talked to a lot of random people (I asked a lot of struggling/injured people if they were okay). I saw a girl that ran the 20-miler and talked to her. I saw Janelle, the woman misszippy blogged about, and talked to her (she was leading her blind cousin on the race). I met a guy from New Jersey who had his knee scoped three weeks ago. I saw a coworker and asked for a sweaty hug. I saw another coworker at a water station, who also gave me a hug. I saw a guy in an Eiffel Tower Costume and told myself there was no way in hell he was beating me.
I met a woman from Iowa near the finish and encouraged her to run the last mile with me. I WAS SO HAPPY TO SEE THE “1 MILE” SIGN. I finished that last mile at about an 11:00 pace.
I even saw Kevin and Katie again near the finish!
I got my medal, a ton of food, a cold towel. And made my way to runner reunite. I ran in to Erin’s friend Jacob, so we walked there together, and met up with Steven, Jason, and Erin! I was so happy to see them all! Lots of sweaty hugs!
How we really felt -
Jason and Steven, our awesome spectators! I love the sign Steven made!
Me, Jacob and Erin
I immediately took my shoes off and put on flip flops. My toes were so swollen, and my long toe looked like it was trying to grow another toe on to it (picture here if you’re interested).
Erin, Jason, Steven and I hobbled our way to the blue line to go back to Erin and Jason’s place. We ordered Thai food. I still wasn’t hungry, but knew I needed to eat! After chatting a bit, we headed home. No shame. I wore my medal the rest of the night!
Running stats (notes for future reference for me):
Shoes/Outfit: I wore my Brook Adrenaline GTS 10s sans inserts. I vaselined up and had no bra area chafing – just chafing around my crouch, which really, really hurts. I did get a sunburn. I took my knee brace off around mile 20. I didn’t feel like I needed it. Steven said my shirt was not that distinguishable enough. I had to iron the “B” in the morning, and the “T” was peeling a bit at the end of the day. People said “Kimbo” or “Kimbot.” Not many people said my name. I need to use darker letters and just “Kim” next time.
Food: I had a tri berry GU at 6, half a peanut butter cookie Lärabar at 13, a piece of licorice around 15, a vanilla bean GU at 17, a piece of a banana around 21, and the other half of the Lärabar around mile 24. I was worried about feeling hungry but felt fine – probably because it felt too hot to eat.
Water: I took water at EVERY stop. I filled up my water bottles many times and have no idea how much I drank. I did not want to become dehydrated. And the water wasn’t sloshing around in my stomach or anything. My bottles kept falling off toward the end – I think I wasn’t putting them in right. And it was a challenge to bend over and pick them up. I also took ice/water to pour down my back.
Walk Breaks: I took a one-minute walk break every 3 miles until mile 14, then walked a minute every mile until about 17 or so, then walked when I felt like it. Oops.
Overall Pace Stats: Distance: 26.5 | Start Temp: 59° | End Temp: 83° | Time: 5:37:45 | Avg Pace: 12:45 | 1: 11:18 | 2: 9:57 | 3: 11:18 | 4: 10:48 | 5: 11:01 | 6: 10:58 | 7: 11:25 | 8: 10:56 | 9: 11:14 | 10: 11:32 | 11: 11:10 | 12: 11:04 | 13: 15:02 | 14: 10:59 | 15: 12:14 | 16: 13:05 | 17: 13:36 | 18: 13:15 | 19: 12:28 | 20: 13:43 | 21: 14:22 | 22: 16:02 | 23: 17:46 | 24: 14:40 | 25: 17:15 | 26: 15:07 | 27: 10:46
Here is a link to the garmin stats.
THOUGHTS ON MY PERFORMANCE
What exactly happened? Why did I do so well in the first half then fall apart? Was it the heat? Was I under trained (I didn’t do speed work or intervals)? Am I a lazy runner? Am I too overweight? Was it just mental? Does it even matter?
When it comes to the end of the day, I still finished my first marathon. It was a messy one, but I am proud of myself, and will have to use what I learned in Chicago for my next race! I feel like I did the best I could, in those conditions.
I do think a bit of the mental thing for me was being “alone” on the course, and not having many personal spectators. I can not even describe how invigorating it is to see someone you know cheering for you. I found myself wanting to see more people I knew. It really gave me energy. I shouldn’t rely on that.
THOUGHTS ON THE CHICAGO MARATHON ITSELF
Spectators: Hands down, the best thing about the Chicago Marathon is the spectators. There were very few spots on the course lacking spectators, and I bet there would have been even more if I was a faster runner! Seeing all of those people really pumps you up, especially when they call your name and cheer for you.
I saw A LOT of cool signs and took a few pictures of my favorites. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the Star Wars signs or the Zac Efron cut-out cardboard figure sign!
I love this sign this runner was wearing: “Caution: This Vehicle Makes Frequent Stops.”
I also saw a lot of cool outfits:
And many spectators hand out candy and food, hence the licorice I snagged!
I gave lots of high fives to spectators, and talked to a lot of them. And I did some dancing too – to YMCA, Single Ladies, and We Will Rock You. I think Charity Village had the best “organized” spectators. Those charities really cheer on their runners (well, ALL runners).
A lot of people were spraying us with water too! LOVED it! (I had to make sure to cover the Garmin though).
THANK YOU SPECTATORS!!!
Volunteers: The volunteers are AMAZING! There are so many of them out there, giving you water, and being encouraging. They also handed out vaseline and sponges with water. I did not take a sponge, but walked over a lot of them.
THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!
The course itself: The course is flat. I cannot imagine what hills would have been like in that heat. People always say it’s too crowded, but at my pace, it wasn’t! Score for me!
You see SO MUCH of Chicago and it really is a treat. I probably WOULD run it again, if I could somehow guarantee it would be cold.
The Gatorade/Water stations were VERY evenly placed. They did a wonderful job with them! However, I felt like they were dangerous because they were so slippery… then sticky. I wasn’t planning on my shoes feeling so sticky! And of course, many people walk through those (I didn’t at first) so that was tricky. It was just a new experience for me!
Some stops were supposed to have bananas, but they were mostly gone or not cut up while I was there. Oh well. I did grab part of a banana at one point.
I heard a lot of people complaining about the way the race was organized (getting from gear check to the start, getting to runner reunite, etc.) but I really thought it was okay. I expected it to be a big clusterf*ck. I mean, there are 40,000+ people running it!
So overall, A LOT OF FUN. It wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, but it was still exciting.
QUESTIONS FOR YOU
- Any insight on what happened to me in the second half?
- Is it OKAY to throw GU wrappers on the ground in the aid station areas?
- Any advice on training for the next marathon?
- What should I do now to recover?
- Is there a Garmin Watch that doesn’t die after a marathon? Maybe the 305?
- What was your first marathon like?
- Have you ever spectated at a marathon?
- I’ve been thinking of getting a new type of shoes – is now the time to try some out?
HOW I FEEL
My legs are stiff, my feet are swollen (enough to affect my walking) and my upper back is still sore. I really feel tight in my IT bands, and have a bit of left heel pain. BUT… I finished injury free. GO ME! I expected to be sore like this. I am sure it will go away soon.
This will be a low-key week for me. I want to let my body rest. I am running a 5K on Sunday, but just for fun. My long term plan is to keep my mileage up so I can run half marathons for fun.
Also, I need to lose about 20 pounds, so I will be working on that! I lost about 15 during training, but have a ways to go. I run faster, and easier, when I am lighter.
I do think I will do another marathon someday! I would love to run one with Erin, when we are the same pace again.
THANK YOU FOR READING ALL OF THIS
CONGRATS TO ALL OF THE FINISHERS!!!
I cannot wait to read all of the other recaps!