I’ve been contemplative on my running history as I train for the Illinois Marathon at the end of April, my second marathon. My first marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 2006. This was five years ago (!), and I don’t remember everything, but I want to share what I do remember with you! I suppose that this is basically a recap of the 5 months of training in addition to the race itself.
Inspiration: On new years 2006, my friend Lindsey & I both said we wanted to run a marathon. Later that spring, we decided to train for the marathon with Team in Training. We signed up in April, and started training just after the Madison, WI Crazylegs race at the end of April.
Training: Team in Training provided a great support for marathon training. They provided a training plan, weekly training runs with a group, fundraising support, and overall support for people new to running. I hadn’t ever run more than a 10K before, and we worked all the way up to 20 miles. Highlights:
- Hill workouts
- Running through the University of Wisconsin Arboretum
- Running in my new Madison neighborhood (after my move)
- Runs around Lake Monona (12-13 miles)
- Running in St. Louis (I spent a lot of time for work there during this time)
- Runs along Lake Mendota, through Maple Bluff & by Mendota Mental Health Facility
- 20 mile run: the Janesville YMCA Half Marathon + 7 miles before that, done with TNT group
- Tricia – my TNT running buddy. She was the same pace as I, so we did our long runs and ran the marathon together.
- Erin – part of our training group. She was probably mid thirties with kids, and I recall being inspired by her – her dedication, spunk, and that navy bandana she always wore when running!
- Doing long runs & then fundraising activities later that day. And then falling asleep at 8 PM at my boyfriend’s apartment. After he made risotto from scratch. (that’s called reverse carb loading!)
- Overall, I remember the training being really hard. Not just the long runs, but getting in runs on weekdays, motivating myself to run sometimes. It was the money I had fundraised that carried me through to the starting line.
The Race – Day Before:
I had been in Houston for AMIGOS earlier that week, and flew to Chicago for the marathon on Saturday. I checked into the hotel that TNT participants were staying at, and then met up with M (my new boyfriend, only a few months at that time!) to go to the Expo. Since I wasn’t familiar with Chicago – not having lived there yet – it was a challenge to figure out how to get from downtown to McCormick Place and we ended up cabbing it. The Expo was CRAZY!!! I had never been to anything like this. Ultimately, we met my Dad, who had flown in to cheer me on, at the Expo and then
escaped headed out. The Team in Training Pasta Party was later that night, and my Dad accompanied me to that. It was overwhelming to see so many people, since the Madison TNT group had been about 10 people. We heard John “the Penguin”Bingham speak, and I recall being motivated by the “enjoy the scenery” type of speech. Later that evening was preparing our singlets for the race… putting on names of people we were running for… and then getting cozy in the Swisotel bed. I was roomed with the Madison TNT mentor, Pam.
The Race – Day Of:
I remember waking up waay early! I went downstairs to get breakfast. Funny – I don’t recall having a plan for what I would eat, as I do remember that I didn’t have whatever I was looking for that morning. We got ready, got our warm clothes & trashbags together. When we left the hotel, my Dad surprised us and was there too! It was a cold morning. We walked to Grant Park, checked bags, got in line for the port-a-potties (a few times), and then finally we got in line for the race!
I remember running out of the start line, through the tunnel and across the Columbus Street bridge. A long run had been laid over the bridges to dampen the steel grates underneath. As we were running (first mile or so) I smelled rice krispy treats and remember thinking about them for most of the race! We ran north, through Lincoln Park. I remember dropping my sweatshirt at some point—maybe mile 2 or so, but then getting VERY cold as we went on. Weather was in the 40’s that day, and somehow I had never looked at the weather report before packing for the trip. I was running in my singlet & short shorts. I ended up picking up a shirt to cover my arms as we continued running. It was mint-colored, and I remember picking the thing that looked the least dirty.
Tricia and I ran along together. We took Gu’s (had safety-pinned them to our shorts), water, Gatorade along the way. I remember getting orange slices from Hispanic children in Pilsen, and running through Chinatown. It became hard to slow down or walk through aid stations.
I don’t remember having any meltdowns, but it took a loooooong time to get to the finish! I remember when Tricia and I hit 26 miles & approached what looked like a huge hill on Roosevelt Road. That was painful, and then we turned onto the final stretch into the finish chute! I was running so hard (although I’m sure it was pretty slow ), remember seeing M with a sign that he’d been carrying. Through the finish line, and then Tricia & I kind of wandered around. Somehow we made it and were re-united with the rest of the TNT group, M & my dad in the TNT tent. It was soo cold, and muddy! We refueled, and finally headed back toward the Swissotel.
At the hotel, I remember running a cold water bath that Pam & I went into with our shorts on (and then got out of & showered – separately!). Later that day my Dad took me out to celebrate with dinner with my Chicago relatives! We went to a steak house somewhere, and I remember making my dad stop at a Target so I could get some comfy soft socks!
After the Marathon, I headed out to St. Louis later that Monday. I did get a massage in St. Louis that afternoon, and remember being sore. I also remember not needing to go up/down stairs backwards, the way I had heard that I might.
I took the recovery process very seriously, and I took a long time off from running! Some of it may have been the Wisconsin winter, and that my personal goal that winter may have been not to go outside at all. Later that spring/summer, I remember running some local races and having 5 miles have been a hard/long run for that time. It took me a long time to get back into a regular running habit.