So … where do I start the race report for Chicago Marathon 2012? The injury scares in the beginning of the season, gingerly putting my feet back in and following a slightly modified long run schedule, then getting into the full swing of things and busting to train to this time goal I had in mind, excited and nervous and more excited and then … The week before the marathon – was I getting sick or was it nerves? A bit of chest congestion never hurt anyone, did it?
Flew in on Saturday and headed straight to the expo with Dana. They were out of Tshirts in my size and it took forever for me to get a decent fitting shirt.
Race day dawned and I woke up with a slight temperature and a not-so-light elephant on my chest. Seeing Megan and Maggie dressed up in the cutest ugly Christmas sweatshirts, I got that excitement spiked up again. Slight logistical mistake on my part on not defining the side of the road to meet and we missed Olga, Beth, Teri, Barry and Doug. Oops. (Next race, I’ll get it right.)
Plan! What plan?
After busting to train and after pondering strategy for days, I was very very very put-off that I wasn’t going to have a good race. It just wasn’t fair and I dared anyone to say otherwise. I was either going to run and bonk or run bonking. I had given up even before I had started. (Was I afraid to succeed and giving myself excuses to fall back on? I don’t know.)
Miles 1 – 5 Struggling to get into a groove
Being mad at something unexpected beyond your control is not a great way to start a race. Certainly not for someone who is generally always happy. I was mentally yelling at myself and everything. Barry and his pace group passed me just before Lincoln Park zoo area but I did not have it in me to talk or even smile at him. I just wanted the earth to open up.
Miles 13 – 17 Steady but Demoralized
When it came time to increase my intervals after half way point, I did exactly that. Moved on to 3:1 and then to 5:1 or until I needed to walk to drink. And usually my pace starts increasing through all this. Sadly today, it was not to be. I was just out of breath. Very out of breath. That demoralized me a lot. So although I kept with the increased intervals, I stopped paying attention to pace.
Miles 17 – 22 Getting through the Wall. No Excuses
When I passed Teri and Kim, the breathing was not getting any easier and I was in a kind of daze.
Miles 22 – 25.8 Another Reason I love Running
I remembered one more reason I love running – I love talking to people!
Running loosens my tongue which is why my running group sees a non-stop talking side of me while others see a socially awkward side of me. I started spotting people who were walking and I’d go up to them and talk for a bit.
I spoke to a girl doing her first and upset that she lost her pace group. Talked to her about running her race and not the pace-group’s race.
Another guy with whom I discussed miles to km conversions and he ended up asking Siri for the answer.
The people running for the Fox Foundation who were trying to encourage one of them to keep with it for a little longer and that she’d never have to do it every again. Never listen to a handsome man in the middle of a marathon, someone said.
The Indian guy who was hobbling badly and was upset that he wouldn’t be able to take care of his 2 week old baby and wife because he was selfish enough to show up for the race. We swapped mother-in-law stories!
The countless people who were dedicating their runs.
The blind runner and his guide, visibily suffering and grunting but moving forward.
The girl walking in her boot, yes, THE boot!
The surprising thing was that most people were happy to talk to me, except for one who gave me an absolute stink eye.
Bringing it Home
I sent my husband a very emotional text which got him to call me the very next second wondering what happened (he got my race updates and knew I had finished, but I hadn’t told him about being sick and all that). More tears followed. Sigh. I was just an emotional mess that day.
Once the looooooong celebrations started, it went on – swapping stories (and thankfully no more cry-fest from me!) that evening.
And ending with ….
But as I was told, there will be good races and there will be not-so-good ones. If I don’t learn to accept the bad ones, I’m not really learning anything from this journey, am I? And for me, training for a marathon and running the marathon is a journey of self-discovery that continues to amaze me with every run.