Chicago Marathon RR

I ran the Chicago Marathon this weekend (once again!) and had a lot of fun.  It was a hot race, as Chicago has been famous lately for, but I was still able to improve on my post knee surgery times and inching closer to my old times little by little.  Managed 4:58:51, an 11 minute post surgery "PR" and closer to my best times of 4:34, which I have not been even able to see in 2+ years.  I really didn't expect to see a 4 until later this year, if at all, so I was really happy to have managed to break 5 hours once again.

As every year in the last five (5) years, I ran one of my favorite races in my favorite city.  The Chicago Marathon is an amazing race and I noticed that from the first time I ran the course (I DNFd that year) and every year since.  I am going for legacy status so that I can get guaranteed entry and I am one year short of it, so I hope to complete it next year (hoping they don't change the rules, ha).

For those that don't know this, an asshole hit my car in late December which resulted in a meniscus tear on my knee and arthroscopic knee surgery on January 31, 2017.  I was running 20 days after that and finished PT in due course.  Ran two marathons after surgery (Ottawa and RnR Seattle) and then managed to get my patella out of place at Orange Theory doing a 12 minute distance "challenge" :)  Serves me right for thinking "I got this!", LOL.  I started PT right after that and, with 3 weeks until Iceland, I had basically the deepest taper in known existence.  Finished the marathon well and managed a 21 minute improvement post surgery, so hey, it worked!

Since then, between PT, Orange Theory, and training, the knee has been feeling good and I felt in my heart that I had a sub-5 hour in me already, but didn't know if I could pull it off at Chicago, the race I always do badly at.  It's always a race where I put a lot of goals into it and fail each and every one. So, this time, I decided to just not care about the result.  After all, I have another marathon next week, so worrying about a goal for Chicago would be stupid, right?  Went into the race not really caring about the time, so long as I finish.

We arrived in Chicago on Saturday around noon and had lunch at our favorite brunch place, Yolk, followed by the expo.  It was raining and super windy, not good weather to run a marathon, so glad the marathon wasn't that day.  Sunday would be warm but sunny and hopefully, not windy.  We got to the hotel after 6pm and managed dinner at Carmine's, one of our favorite spots in Chicago at 8:30pm and was in bed by 11pm, my normal bedtime.  

Carbo Loading:

We were staying at the Congress, a hotel I love with the exception that at 5:22am on the dot, the loud speakers for the race started (last year they were loud and wouldn't let me sleep) but this year they were low.  Managed to sleep on and off until 6:30am and got ready.

I had brought my normal pre-marathon breakfast of two Krispy Kreme donuts and a Mtn Dew from Miami.  For someone that barely eats any carbs, the sugar rush is always nice!  Met with my friend and fellow INKnBURN Alumni, Andrea, got our picture taken, 

and headed into the corrals at around 7:30am.  I was in the second wave, starting at 8am.

The pics are not all in but based on the ones I've gotten so far, I think I'm going to purchase them.  Here is one of mine from the corrals:

I normally hear the first wave go out but this year, they had a lot more security and different corral placings (the extra security was added after the Las Vegas mass shooting), so I heard only music unrelated to the first wave.  Talked to some people in my corral for a bit and finished my breakfast.  We started on time and I started around 8:13am or so.

Miles 1-13.1
Since I have the Detroit Marathon next week, my plan was to run/walk this race at an easy pace.  And of course, I did the opposite, ha.  The pace felt really easy and my knee felt amazing, so I continued.  I knew the race was getting warm quickly and I wanted to run as much distance as possible before the sun started to kill me.  I had a successful first half (haha, famous last words) and maintained a pace around 10:30mm crossing the HM point in 2:19 or thereabouts.  Texted my husband on a walk break that I was past the halfway point (last year I texted him at 10-11 and told him I felt like shit and wanted to quit, so I thought telling him I was doing fine was helpful :) ) and he texted back, thought you were taking it slow?  Oops.

Miles 13.2 - 18
The second half takes us out of downtown and where there is no shade.  I was doing fine until Mile 15 or 16 where I got my first calf cramp.  I had been dealing with some calf cramps and calf tightness ever since Iceland and I had not been able to find out why.  I got some cramps during the Reykjavik Marathon but not as bad as today.  I had kept with my gels (every 4.5 miles) and took Gatorade and water at every water station, so it wasn't an issue with nutrition. It was also not an issue with pacing, since I ran Iceland super easy and still got them.  It's just something I need to figure out why it's happening in some runs of 5, 10, 15, and 26.2 miles without reason.

Here is the view of the amount of shade we had during this part of the course.

Man, I'm not short but this woman makes me feel like I am. :)

But hey, there was some shade on the course indeed.  But only for less than a mile:

Miles 19-26.2
I fixed my shoe hoping it would help the cramping/tightness and continued on.  The second time I got the calf cramp on the other leg was at Mile 21 in front of Chinatown and in front of the photographer.  I bet you that picture opportunity will turn out amazing. LOL.

I had to stop to stretch right there and then figured running would loosen it up faster and it did.  Continued on until Mile 23 where the guy in front of me was running while asleep (best way to describe it).  The guy probably had heat exhaustion, if not worse.  He kept tripping on the sidewalk, his head was to the side, and he was running like a drunk.  I asked if he was OK and forced him to stop and sit down where there was some shade.  Crossed to the aid station and requested medical to find him.  I didn't wait for them to get there but the guy told me he would not move from there, so I continued on.  I hope he didn't because he was close to passing out when I grabbed him.

It was hot!  I texted my husband on another walk break and told him about the cramps and he said, it's hot AF.  We're from Miami, so this is not considered hot where we come from but it was hot for running a marathon for sure.  I wouldn't even run a marathon in this crap; wait, I just did, ha.  It was sunny, it was hot, people were dropping like flies.  Above my music, I could hear the constant wailing of the ambulances driving near us all through the race.  Every time I saw a medical car they had someone on it.  People were laying on the side of the road like crazy.  I felt fine, but I was so slow in the last 5 miles, I thought I would never get to the Willis Tower, LOL.  It looked so far at Mile 24!

Somewhere around here, I look to the left and I looked at my friend and former coach Walter, on the side.  Managed to whisper his name and he saw me.  Gave me the biggest hug in the world and asked me how I was doing. Told him that I was fine, even though I started out too fast and had calf cramps and rambled some more until I continued running and left him talking by himself, LOL.  Marathon brain at its finest!  Sorry!

Anyway, I continued with the run/walk ratio I started with but, of course, the walks got slower, and the runs too, so the drop in pace was brutal.  I lost close to 20 minutes on the second half. I am sure I started out too fast, but I felt fine other than it was hot and I felt the sun was draining my chi.

The water stations got harder to manage.  People were there taking 3-4 cups, throwing water over their heads, walking in tandem. It took a while to get a cup and continue. You could see it was hot for sure.  I was taking two cups myself, one for drinking, one for throwing over my head.

As I got to Mile 25, I texted my husband I had one mile to go and when I passed the sign that says One mile to go, I dropped the walks. I ran straight through. I knew I had to run the last hill or I would lose the sub-5.  I was so tired at this point and wanted to walk the last two walk breaks but pushed on.  Didn't want to run the hill but I did.  How much do you want the sub-5 again, eh?  Lots!  Then run, bitch, run!  LOL.

As I am heading through the chute and listening to everybody's name (missed mine or mine was not mentioned), at Mile 26.18, I got a calf cramp from hell.  The finish line was right there, damn it!  I couldn't even move my knee so I ran the last 0.02 with a straight leg. I bet the finish line pictures will be awesome too. LOL.

I finished in 4:58:51, I had done it!  It's been two years since I was able to break 5 hours, between my blood pressure scare and meds and my knee surgery, so it was awesome to see that time especially on a hot day.  As I stopped at the finish line, I couldn't move an inch.  Two medics came to me and asked if I needed help.  Told them no, just a cramp, and started moving slowly.  Two more volunteers asked me the same as I headed down the medals.  Apparently, I looked beat, ha.

And when I got to the medals, the first person handing them was none other than Deena Kastor.  OMG!  She was so complementary to the finishers, so happy to be there and witnessing people achieving goals!  She truly is very nice. And of course, I gushed and got a picture. :)

What a way to end a great day!

Now on to the next one...


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