I am not a natural runner and I actually don’t really like to run. So why would I once again torture myself by entering another marathon? I don’t know. Glutten for punishment? Seriously though it was on my bucket list to run a marathon outside of Canada. And why choose Chicago? Well I always wanted to visit the city so why not cross two things off the bucket list at once.
The training for this marathon was ok. I didn’t put too much pressure on myself. I had some good long runs and some bad ones. My best long run was one of the 32km’s we had to do. The worst was the last 32km’s we had to do.
I spent a lot of time between chiropractor appointments, physio appointments and massage therapy appointments to keep my body working well enough to make it to the race and perhaps even finish.
As the days got closer to the race, the nerves got worse. And then it was race day. The morning of we got up early to go about our morning prep routine. Eat, stretch, bathroom, hydrate etc. And then we walked to the race start with thousands of others. It was pretty crazy walking up the streets of Chicago that morning. We just followed the crowds and new we would eventually get there. We checked our bags and then waited in line for the bathrooms one last time. Before we knew it, it was almost start time.
The corrals were jam packed and we had to climb over a fence in order to get into the open corral. And then slowly we walked towards the start and then a slow jog and then there it was…. the start. Here we go!!!
It was was overwhelmed as we ran through the start with how many people lined the streets. It was incredible. How could you not feel good about starting such a thing when so many people came out to support and encourage!
I felt good for the first 6 miles. Kept a slow steady pace. By 6 miles though my knees started to hurt. By 10 miles every step I took sharp pains went through my knees. My back at this point started to hurt. I had this weird foot pain that I had never had before. At that point, I knew that today was not my day for a good race.
I run 10 & 1’s. Meaning I run 10 minutes and walk 1. This gives me the slight rest I need to pick up the pace slightly during the 10’s. I tried to keep up with them but after 13 miles the walks were a little longer. And eventually it became more that I would run when I could. Sometimes, I could run without pain. Sometimes, not so much. But I kept moving forward. I tried to stay out of my head but knowing that I still had so much of the race left, it is hard not to second guess yourself. There were so many times that I thought I should just stop. But deep down I knew that I had to keep going. Even if I walked, I knew that I had to cross that finish line.
And mile by mile I got closer to the end.
At about mile 23 some guy asked me how I was doing and told me I could keep going. We walked together and chatted. Turns out he was a 9 year lymphoma survivor. He had a great story so I walked with him and then, just like that, we had one mile to go. He asked if I felt like I could run the last mile and I said “Yes!”. And he said “He knew I could do it”. So we ran…. I let him go after a while. His pace was faster than mine. I won’t ever forget that guy. An inspiration.
But then before I knew it, I saw the 800 metre sign. And I picked up the pace. I turned the corner and what the hell? There is a hill? What? At the end of the race? That is just cruel!! But I picked up the pace again and I ran up that hill and then I turned the corner and there was the FINISH line. And I picked up the pace again. As I crossed that finish line I laughed, I clapped and I teared up. And then I grabbed the beer they had waiting for us.
Running a marathon is an accomplishment no matter how long it takes you to complete it. I was happy to see my friends at our meeting spot and high five them on a job well done. We did it.
And with this run, I say goodbye to my running life. I may go on the occasional run but no more races for me. My body has rebelled against it and this time I am going to listen. I left my shoes at the park in Chicago. Said a farewell. And wished them well.
Leaving my shoes behind, I put my flip flops on and waddled back to the hotel. There is pain during the race but there is also pain after the race. You know someone who ran because of that waddle. You grimace going down stairs. You use props to get up from seats. It is pretty hilarious. Is it worth it? Oh probably.
Overall, the Chicago marathon was a great experience. I certainly didn’t have the race I wanted but I am so happy to have done it.