Chicago Marathon Race Recap

It feels like forever since I’ve wrote a race report, and it honestly feels good to be writing one here again. I feel like so much is different in my life this time, and the way that I felt about this race, so it’s kinda cool to evolve through the years while maintaining this blog and be able to reflect on that. Chicago Marathon is a marathon that I hope everyone can do at some point. It's so well organized and such a PR course, and the city is amazing. Gosh, I just was so present in the moment this weekend and had such a great time. 

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As stated in the post before this one, I had no goals for Chicago. Honestly, I flew out on Thursday and wasn’t even sure I was going to run it. I know that might make some like roll their eyes, but I just didn’t run a long run in so long, I questioned my capability. But I wanted to experience the race day and the energy so I wanted to show up to the start line no matter what. I didn't run for two days as I was traveling, and then did a shake out run with Tanner.

This is the first time he has run in a very long time due to high hamstring tendonopathy, so this was really hard but great for him.

This is the first time he has run in a very long time due to high hamstring tendonopathy, so this was really hard but great for him.

If you’re reading this blog, I hope we are close because I’ll get personal here right quick. I thought I had an impacted bowel on Wednesday night before we flew out. I took very serious measures to produce a movement and got NOTHING, and I contemplated going to the ER in Chicago. Finally, through the second night I was there, things happened AND IT WAS GLORIOUS. That’s all the details you need. HAHAA! 

But with that said, marathon was like “okay it’s done. Just time to enjoy Chicago.” So, we did. I didn’t walk excessively, but did the touristy thing (I'm going to do a full blog on Chicago). On Friday, I started feeling WORLDS better, I haven’t felt the anemia feeling in probably 2+ weeks, and as it got to be Saturday, I thought “well heck, maybe I can run a few miles. I’d run miles at home so might as well do them on the course right?” Right, Katie. 

I was staying with my client and very best friends, Annabelle, and we went to the expo together, and she cooked for us the night before the race. I honestly think I'll always do a home cooked meal after how great I felt. It was a garlic basil shrimp linguine with basil and crushed tomatoes, and yes, it was as good as it sounds. haha! She made us hot tea later that night to just relax and we hung out and watched New girl with the boys. I stayed with her last year and now this year, and I'm just so dang thankful for my friendship with Annabelle. She inspires me in so many ways to be a kinder, more giving, more thoughtful person and so glad we have gotten close.

On the morning of, we rode the train in to Bethany’s hotel to meet her and Mel. It was Annabelle’s first marathon, which she did so wonderful, so I was talking to her about how she felt, and just chatting. I cannot believe I didn’t take one of just her, but we got a photo together right before she went into her gate. Beth, Mel and I headed to our gate and corral which was all the same.

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I showed up to the start with every intention of just finishing. Everyone was talking goals, and I just didn’t have any which I was in NO WAY upset about, and it felt good to have zero pressure. I never felt nerves the entire time. 

I told Beth and Mel to just go ahead from the start and I planned to run around 8min/mile. I didn’t start my watch. The GPS signal on the Chicago course is horrible anyway so I just thought it was useless to turn it on and only wore it because it completed my running outfit. Just being honest. LOL

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I started the race and everyone in the corral was flying by me. I was in the first corral and wave, so it was people shooting for sub 3’s and early 3 hour marathons and I thought maybe I’d pull out at 3:30-3:45. I figured I was going about 8min/mile and it felt super easy. I got to mile 2 and felt like I was going so so slow, like walking, and the clock said 16:02, so I thought “okay good, 8 min/mile-this is smart and safe.” I got to mile 3, and it was a touch under 8, and as I progressed through the next 5 miles, I knew I was progressing into like 7:45 average but thought it felt the same exertion after my warm up so why not?

At mile 8, I saw Tanner and Ross. Ross is Annabelle’s finance who let Tanner borrow a bike and he got to see me FOUR TIMES on the course. COURSE RECORD FOR US! And we are so thankful to them…for their friendship, for their hospitality, for just freakin everything, I love them so much. HA! So Ross hugs me, and I was just annoyed to be running slow TBH and said “Tanner, don’t let me sign up anymore. I’m just bored today. I’m physically fine, but I’m in a funk.” I realized later that it was because I was not going at a pace that is natural for me, and that doesn’t feel good. It just feels like BLAH. 

After mile 8, I asked myself if I was going to finish and I told myself that I would finish. You kind of have to make those mental decisions. So, I told myself that it was useless for me to decide to run the race and be such a drama queen. I love running. Snap out of it Katie. Enjoy the race. So, I did. I stopped thinking about my pace and going slower, but just trying to keep my same pace while looking around at the crowd and thinking about other things.

this is my selfie at like mile 5 hahahah! I'm a dork

this is my selfie at like mile 5 hahahah! I'm a dork

I started thinking about my clients and how they were doing, and about the other girls I knew were running and how I hoped they had a great race day. I thought about Tanner and how good he is to me, and how sweet he was when I saw him. He lights up when he sees me on the course. It’s adorable. I thought about my to do list, because who doesn’t do that right? I thought about how I wanted to work harder in other areas of my life that I’ve been a little less present in, and how I wanted to be more like Annabelle because she inspired me so much with the things she did for me this weekend even though she was letting me stay in her apartment (she bought fresh flowers, my favorite gus, my favorite cliff bars, made me dinners, paid for things constantly during the weekend, had recommendations for everything prepared, made sure to have our favorite foods to prepare, coffee, TV, and music-literally I can’t explain how much she did lol). 

By that time, it was the half. Tanner had said he would be at the half, and he wasn’t, but I was in such a better mood that I didn’t care. I thought how I was going to apologize to him for my attitude at mile 8 and that I was totally fine and loving the race and the energy of the crowds. He said that he had stayed with Ross to see Annabelle, but with her being in so many corrals behind me, the gap between us became too wide that they had to separate and he actually went to mile 16 instead. At mile 13, I thought that there was a half marathon left, and I felt fantastic with so much energy. I had hit a 1:37ish split? That might be wrong, but somewhere around there, and thought “well if I do this split again I’ll get under 3:20, so why not shoot for better than that right?” 

I picked it up. At mile 15, I wondered if my GPS would work on my watch so I tried it out. “GPS connected” SCORE. I started running by what I felt was more natural at this point. That mile was a 7:13 and I thought “hmmm… maybe I’ll do a negative split! That would be fun!” 

Mile 16-18, I continued to go by feel. I didn’t see Tanner, but he said that he saw me very closely behind Bethany and Mel and thought “Lord, what is she doing?” HA! Ooops, sorryyyy honey! ;) At mile 16.5ish, I saw Mel. She looked strong, and I passed her and asked if she was okay. She said she was going 7:30’s at the time, and honestly, I’m a jerk for even asking that. I felt really bad at the finish for saying that because she was like “uh yea I’m fine.” WHOMP, KATIE YOU SUCK. She asked what I was doing, and I just told her that I felt really great and that I was going to just go by feel. 

Mile 16-18 were 6:30-6:45 splits for 3 miles. I know, I know. I was shocked too, but I felt fantastic and felt I could stay at that pace. I knew at mile 18-20, I planned to pull back as those paces might not last me to the finish. Who knows? 

At mile 18, I saw Bethany. I was honestly really nervous to catch her. HONEST ALLIGATOR HERE: She trains really really hard. She never misses a day. Rain, sleet, snow, sunshine, 99 freakin degrees doing 800m sprints, she never waivers, and I do. I complain to her, I skip workouts, I contemplate even doing the race, etc etc. I felt really stupid, and I felt like it was truly unfair for me to catch up to her. I felt I didn’t train to run the race with her. She deserved to run HER race, but I tapped her on the shoulder. She looked like she was struggling. I said “hey girl, are you okay?” I think she wouldn’t hate me that she said “WHAT THE F ARE YOU DOING HERE?” HAHAHAH! I’m pretty sure I apologized, and then she said “Will you help me get through this thing?” 

So, that’s what I did. I wanted to help her get the 3:10 that she trained for, and that she CAN do. Bethany sweats a lot, and excretes twice as much sodium as most, and her stomach was a bit upset. Each mile, I would ask her how she was, and she would update me. I asked her how much she wanted me to encourage her because there’s a fine line in encouragement and annoyance. She said “No.” She told me later she thought I asked if she wanted to WALK. LOL!! And she was like WTF NO. 

At mile 20, she said she wanted to do a fast mile and then a slow mile, so we did 7:45 then 7:30 then scaled back to 7:45 again. I told her at mile 23 that if she could hold 7:30’s to the finish that she would get her PR, and she said “I’m truly happy to just get close to my PR” and she held true to that, and I’m so so glad. She freakin fought so hard in moments I probably wouldn’t have. We kept quiet and just ran. When she would have spurts, I’d run with that, and when I could tell it would get to her, we would scale back. I just followed her rhythm and flow.

At mile 24, we start picking it up. I couldn’t believe how these miles I was able to be an active participant in because I was so lucid. I was there, in the moment, in the screaming crowds 100%. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I felt cheesy and thought “Katie, stop smiling. You look silly” 

At mile 25, we started going around 7:20ish again. I hear someone say “GO KATIE. GO BETHANY!” And I get chills and tears typing it. I look over, and there is Gregg Bard (formally @nycsweat now @g__n__b) and he has this hat on and he was just SO enthusiastically cheering for us, just so genuinely had this look of proudness and friendship on his face. I can’t describe it. I got chills. I hear “KATIEEEEE!!!” I look to my left, and Tanner is on the freakin course with both hands over his mouth yelling my name. I couldn’t believe it. Mile 25?! Again, he’s here. I LOVE MARATHONS SO DAMN MUCH YALL. GOSH. 

We see the marker of 1 mile to go and we kick it into a higher gear. We fist pump and then fist bump one another. Hahaha! Yep, we sure did. No words needed. We held hands as we went through photo areas, and then it said 800m to go. Bethany points to it almost like a signal of “let’s do the mother freakin thang” and we just went. We kicked it into that 800m speed work gear and freakin got it. I’ll never forget it. They have signs that say 400m, 300m, 200m. You turn and you go up the hill. The crowd isn’t there, but it was just us. We sprinted to the finish and held up our hands and just like that, we cross another finish line!!! 

YES! SO MUCH JOY. NO PAIN. NO FATIGUE. JUST ABSOLUTELY BLISSFUL JOY. 3:16:05! 

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We walked a little way and then we hugged, started crying, and said how much we loved each other. Hahahaha! Such a post marathon thing to do, but dang, it’s just so emotional. There’s nothing like it. I live for that feeling. That is my bliss, my safe haven, and the reminder of why I do this. I went and found Tanner after, and he said he was more proud of me than he has ever been and the rest of our trip could be amazing due to me staying smart and just having a good time. YAY! 

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I was disgusting haha!

I was disgusting haha!

The feeling I felt after this marathon was different than others. It was a feeling of feeling like I have an extra gear I didn’t know I had. It was a feeling of feeling like a drama queen and that this entire cycle was just another example of the drama I cause myself, and how I’m truly honestly disappointed in myself because of that. It was a feeling of pure joy for getting to finish it and pace a friend to the end, and not worrying about my time as I had planned. At mile 18, I was getting all super crazy in my head like I was about to run a huge negative split for a 3:05 and that was unnecessary. I didn’t train for that, and the way things happened made me so happy I can’t even express. I can’t believe I felt so incredible with a 3:16 when 1.5 years ago, I fought with everything in me for a 3:15.

I’m definitely not done (#duh). I hope this doesn’t come off as putting myself down, but I’m just honestly disappointed in myself at the end of the day and really tired of showing up to races unprepared. I don’t think I’ve come to one marathon, ultra, or ironman having completed the training plan as written or intended. I always think that I’ll just wing it, and I do, but it just leaves you with this pit in your gut like “Man, Katie, why can’t you just do it right like everyone else?” I know I had some health issues, but I caused them with an almost arrogant attitude of "oh it won't happen to me."

I’m tired of exhausting my real life friends with my melodrama and swearing that I’m done, or that I’m not gonna run this or that, and that I’m serious and fully meaning it when I say it, only to turn around and tell them I want to try for a sub 3. I know marathoners get it. We have those moments, but my real life friends aren’t marathoners, and that’s unfair in our friendship for them to be there for me only for me to hop right back in and then circle back through the melodramatic emotions again as I kick up training. My two best girlfriends, Brandy and Rachel, have been there for me a lot the past few months, and I'm so thankful for their friendship.

I’m entering a season of that 3 month self love experiment, and a period of time of just less drama in my life. Of course after a marathon like this, I immediately am like WHENS THE NEXT RACE?! WHERE CAN I GET THAT SUB3? But I think it’s a bit misplaced, and I need to allow myself the excitement while also being mature in the way that I felt PRE-race and allowing the excitement to fade to see if that’s really what I want. There will ALWAYS be other races. There will always be more time to reach goals. I’m very young, and still in my “prime” of running.

So, when I return to this sport to “compete”, I want to be serious. I want to say I’m going to do something, and follow through with it. I want to show up on that day, execute and be proud of the effort that I put in to get there all the way to race day. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the extreme fluctuations in emotions that is so typical post marathon. The excitement for all of the time that you will have to do other things. The excitement of organizing your life from all the things that you have put off, and working hard on new goals, but also the post marathon blues that after all the build up, the fun is over… until we meet again <3

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