“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.
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.
What’s next on your race calendar?
Who’s up for Chitown in 2017?