This is Home: My Chicago Marathon 

“It’s good to be home.”

Nine days after my first Chicago Marathon, I said that to myself as my cab pulled around the curve near McCormick Place onto Lakeshore Drive coming home from a quick work trip to Houston. I looked at the skyline, took in every inch of Soldier Field as we drove by, and I realized it’s been about 7 years since I really felt like I was home somewhere. And that this was why the Chicago Marathon was more than just a race to me. 

A year ago, I knew I would be at the start line for the Chicago Marathon this year. After volunteering and cheering last year, I needed to be part of it. I basically started base building last fall, knowing I wanted to make big progress. I was all in for training. I knew what it would mean to the rest of my life, and I was willing to make those sacrifices. I worked with an amazing running coach starting in January, focusing on building a good base, increasing speed, and preparing me for the long miles ahead. 

Leading up to race day, I enjoyed every minute of Chicago. I relished running along the blue tangent line the week before race day. I teared up at every Bank of America commercial. I vigorously followed the Marathon Day Forecast by my favorite weathermen at NBC5. I was beyond excited for the day I’d been working for all year. 

When race day arrived, I found myself oddly calm. I had some nerves, especially as the clock ticked away and the lines at the porta potties were SO long, but overall I wasn’t freaking out. I was ready to make it happen. 

As I got into the corral, I realized my pace group was in the corral in front of me, which threw my game plan off completely. My plan to stay with a slower pace group until the halfway point was going to have to be up to me. 

After waiting forever for our corral to start, it was finally time. 10 months of work summed up in 26.2 miles. 

Yes. 10 months of work summed up in 26.2 miles. 

That’s a lot of freaking pressure. Add on that my paces during training had been spot on. I was chasing a PR of more than 90 minutes. I was in MY city. This is my home. 

But off I went. I enjoyed running my streets, listening to my jams, high giving my people, and taking the first 13 miles as they came. 

  Until they stopped coming. Instead of running through the miles, I was wincing through them. I was spending more time each mile thinking through how far off my goal I was. I was angry, and sad. The legs that had gotten me through months of training were failing me. Everything I had pictured about running my first Chicago marathon was quickly eroding. 

By the time I made it to mile 25, I wanted nothing more than to just be done. My legs were beyond wrecked, I was happy I had chosen sunglasses over a hat because they hid the giant tears rolling down my face. The finish line might have been the least happy moment in my life in years. All I wanted was to collapse into a ball, except my legs wouldn’t bend, like they hadn’t for the last 10 miles. 

  It wasn’t my race. It wasn’t the race I had trained for. It wasn’t the race I had given up Friday happy hours, and Sunday brunches for. 

Moving On

This wasn’t what I’d hoped for with this race, but dwelling on it isn’t going to change it. I did, however, I need time to get past it. I needed to mourn my race, and try to remember what running happy was again. 
And so here I sit:

– Ready to take on my next race training: WDW Half Marathon

– Ready take on a new year: today I’m 35!

– Ready for a new challenge: I’m kicking off my own run streak from Halloween to New Year’s Day (perfectly timed for taper and perfect for keeping me accountable for training while working my speed) #GhoststoBallDropRunStreak

So what did I learn from this:

– It’s just a race. It’s always just a race.
– Marathon training isn’t something you do alone. Being independent and stubborn left me in a bad place in the middle of the Chicago Marathon. Next time: training group. 
– Chicago is still a freaking amazing city, and I cannot wait to run it again in 2017. Yes, I need a year off from the marathon distance. 

How do you deal with a bad goal race?

What’s next on your race calendar?

Who’s up for Chitown in 2017?

11 thoughts on “This is Home: My Chicago Marathon 

  1. Maggie

    I am just proud of you. For your determination to get it done, and not only in the race but through training, that is admirable, the training is no easy feat! That scares me more than the race itself! It is just a race and doesn’t define who you are as a runner, it does prove that you are a determined and dedicated athlete, who doesn’t give up. You didn’t get the time you wanted, but you made it through and can call yourself something not many can…a marathoner…x2!!!!! 🙂

  2. Jess from JessRunsATL

    I’m so proud of you for pushing through and finishing. We can’t control what happens on race day but you handled it beautifully. Looking forward to following your training for wdw! I may be up for Chicago in 2017 🙂

  3. I know this wasn’t the race you imagined and that can bring incredible heartbreak. I think you have a good attitude though and you’ll move on. And sure, the wounds of “wtf happened, I trained so hard” may take a little while to heal. When you work hard for something and it doesn’t quite go the way you anticipated, that sucks! After Richmond, I felt so defeated and it took me a really long time to recover. In some ways, I still mourn that race a bit. But I caution you to not let Chicago become bigger than a race….don’t let it define you as a runner and don’t let it haunt you for your future races. I let Richmond become this apparition on every run and it wasn’t healthy. Hugs! Congrats on a PR! 🙂

    1. Yes, such great advice! I am prone to the “what if” scenarios and pretty much want to run out and try again right after every race. It is amazing to me how we can train and prepare and over thing every little detail and then come race day things can fall apart so quickly in the most unexpected ways – the marathon trull is a mysterious beast!

      You Cyanne are AMAZING for pushing through this race, like Christine said, I know it’s not the race you imagined, but faced with the situation you were in not everyone would have made it to the finish line, you worked hard for this finish and you deserve to celebrate it!

  4. I’m insanely proud of you. Thank you for sharing this – especially as I’m 14 days away from my next marathon. You’re right. It’s a race. Some are amazing and some just teach you how strong you are. You’re strong. And that’s the lesson. The training and the sacrafices were worth it. They got you to the start and the finish line. Hugs.

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