Chicago Marathon RR

Wow.  So much has passed since I started training I don't know where to start.  In fact, 2019 has been a roller coaster of the kind I've never experienced in my 44 years of life.

The year started out with a government shutdown and me having to work throughout the shutdown for 35 days straight without pay and basically sick the whole time, all while trying to train for the Houston Marathon.  It was no surprise that when I started Houston, I quit within 1/2 mile because I felt drained of all my energy, cold to the bone and unable to breathe.

The shutdown ended and I started trying to get better but it took weeks until I did.  We decided to defer the Myrtle Beach Marathon to get better (and my husband had hurt his calf so he wasn't running much either), and rather concentrate my efforts into the Glass City Marathon and the Wisconsin Marathon.  Training went OK on my new TM but I never felt like I had kicked whatever ailed me since December.  When Glass City started, I felt OK but my foot went numb at Mile 7 or so and I just quit trying, finishing the half marathon distance instead.  I thought I could vindicate myself in Wisconsin.  But when Wisconsin started, I felt like I couldn't run more than 2 minutes at a time and even then, I felt fat, horrid, and just unwilling to try.  I cried on the course and stepped out of the race at around mile 7.  I remember texting my coach and telling her I needed a break.  Mentally, I was burned out and I thought all those months with the shutdown extra work and the training were too much.

A few weeks later, we found out I was super low on Vitamin D and that (partly) the reasons for my tiredness.  No one should feel like they had already run a marathon as they are starting a marathon (unless you ran a marathon the day before, mind you, lol).  The first half of the year was horrible for me.  Something needed to change.

I was supposed to run my 50th Marathon in 2019 and I had three DNFs instead.  They just play with your mind.  After 49 marathons, you wonder, do I have what it takes to finish a marathon?

After starting VitD supplements and taking a break from running (only a week but we also cut my training days to 5 and lowered my miles by a lot), I started feeling better.  Hubby and I also decided this was the right time to make a change so I applied for a transfer from the Miami to the Indianapolis office of my government agency.  And I got it!  We basically decided to uproot ourselves and five cats after 15 years in Miami to halfway across the country all while training for my 50th Marathon, the Chicago Marathon.  No biggie, right?  It's not like I've had issues with burnouts or overdoing shit before, right?

Before training started, coach gave me some suggestions on books about the mental aspect of running.  VitD was a physical issue, but I also understood mentally I have not been very strong.  I quit marathons when the going gets tough and I just didn't have it in me to try to PR anymore.  I was at a loss as to why this was happening to me and how to get out of this rut.  Also, that little DNF chip was still on my shoulder, so I read five books on the mental aspect of running and took away many things that I put to use in Chicago.  One of my favorite books was Deena Kastor's Let Your Mind Run and Elizabeth Clor's Boston Bound.  Both books touched me and I identified with most of their issues and took their suggestions to heart.

I also did some research on Vitamin D deficiency and it looked like low levels of Vitamin D could make asthma and BP worse, and also might make it hard for someone to lose weight.  I just realized I've been fighting high BP (higher than my normal high BP), bad asthma, and higher weight, even when I've been dieting and taking care of myself.  Once the VitD was more leveled, my asthma issues went down, my BP was back to normal, and I started losing weight.  By the time I moved to Indy, I was down 10lbs.

Training went well and I really didn't miss many running days until I reached Indy.  Moving a family across the country is no easy feat and I underestimated how tired I would be once I got here.  The trip alone, the drive with 5 cats in the back of the van, the stress of buying a house, starting the same job in a new location, living apart from my husband for a month, it all took its toll. I am surprised I didn't miss any runs until after I was in Indy and they were mostly due to work and exhaustion.  The exhaustion raised its head when I fell on the pavement in Indy while running one night, scraping the knee badly and apparently spraining my ankle (the ankle was still swollen as of today and it needed an ER visit just before the Chicago Marathon).  Without my dad spending time here helping with the move, I don't know what we would've done.

So with all that, I headed to Chicago with one goal in mind.  To finish.  I didn't care about my time, or whether I could run, walk or both.  The sole goal was to get rid of the DNF on my back and start over.  I felt better than in early 2019, especially mentally, and I couldn't wait to toe the start line.

For the first time, I drove to Chicago instead of flying.  I had less stress since I was only 2-3 hours away instead of having to depend on an airline to get me there.  Hubby was flying in from Miami later that day, so I spent the day with my friend Richard and his sister, went to the expo and got settled in the hotel.  I managed to take one picture before the race:

I tried to nap a bit while hubby arrived but was unsuccessful.  We headed to dinner nearby and then went to bed.  Slept well considering I have not slept much in the last three weeks.

Race day arrived and it was a gorgeous 45F with the windchill in the 30s.  I wrote WWDD on both my palms to keep my inspiration going.  WWDD = What Would Deena (Kastor) Do.  Keeping her in my thoughts got me through the race in one piece.

The only bad thing was the wind, which would be in the 20mph range with gusts in the 30s.  Normally that hurts my lungs but this time, it wasn't even an issue.  Since it was the perfect marathon weather, I wore a tank, shorts, and arm warmers.  Put a throwaway long sleeve, my custom Headsweats visor that celebrated the occasion and headed to the start line.

First person I saw heading to the corrals was my friend MapRuns, who I also met through the course once again, by chance:

Then I met a fellow forumite from the RA forums, KCRuns:

And also fellow INKnBURN alumni and Indy local, Angi.  Angi and I have been trying to run together since I got to Indy unsuccessful, so we decided to run as many miles of the marathon together as we could. We had a blast!

We started off and Angi and I headed up at my easy pace.  I wasn't having a great day, with my swollen foot and the leg hurting the whole way, so after Mile 6 or so, Angi asked if I would like to run/walk and I was like hell yeah!  That made the miles easier on my leg.  We passed the HM point at around 2:39 or so and I knew I was only going to get slower from them on as my hip and groin were awful.  For the first time in a race, I took Ibuprofen from a medical station at Mile 16 or so.  Falling down at 44 is not as easy as when you are 22, let me tell you!

I was getting slower on the run breaks so eventually Angi got a bit too far from me and we lost each other.  So, I put my music a bit louder and tried to keep that same run/walk ratio for as long as I could with stops to stretch or to get some BioFreeze on my quad which was on fire the whole time.  I was able to keep that run/walk and mentally I was all in.  At Mile 20 I thought, I am almost done!  The time sure flew by and even when my leg was at times painful, I've never felt better.

Most of the pictures this year show me smiling and having fun. I guess I was!

By Mile 22, the pain in my leg was gone (Thanks, Advil), and those last three times were the fastest I did in the last 21 miles and it showed.  I passed people left and right and thought of running straight through but sanity prevailed.  The leg wasn't bothering because I wasn't running all the time, so keep it like this and get there.  Suddenly, Mt Roosevelt was there and I've been training at incline for a while but I was for sure tired AF so I walked part of it.  Then headed to the finish and started to bawl at Mile 26.  I was like Fuck no, last time you cried during this race you gave yourself an asthma attack and

Then I was done.  Ran almost the exact time I ran last year in Chicago (5:35:44).  My last finished marathon until this one.  I couldn't believe it was a year since my last marathon finish.  50th marathon and all.  I actually felt good, without many aches except the quad which was still like WTF did I just do.  The foot wasn't even swollen, thankfully (it swelled all this week, though). I did it!

Two years ago, Deena Kastor gave me my finishers medal in Chicago.  I wish she had been there so I could bore her with my woes and how she made them better.  But Paul Radcliffe was there this year and she gave me my medal!  I've met three elite marathoners so far in the last two years, OMG.


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