My Chicago Marathon Story

Sunday morning I was snoozy-awake before my alarm as my nose was on alert for the smell of coffee, my new pre-run ritual.  I actually smelled coffee an hour before my coffee maker was set to start brewing!  Around 5:15 AM though, I headed downstairs to drink my coffee & start my morning prep.  Which really started with a big gulp of hot coffee and me burning my tongue! Can we blame anything that goes wrong on my burnt tongue?! Smile 

Anyway, I continued on with getting ready, including warm-up clothes:

  • Sweatpants & a Jacket
  • Armwarmers
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Trashbag w/ a hole for my head (for after I check my jacket & sweats)

My friend Dave & I cabbed it downtown and met up with another Dave (Hawk) at the Congress Plaza Hotel Bar.  No we did not drink before the race, we just wanted a spot to be warm before heading out to to the race!  We were there for maybe half an hour, and then headed out toward gear checks, port-a-potties & corrals.  I’m a bit superstitious and don’t feel ready to get into a race corral until I’ve visited port-a-potties twice, so that had to be done. 

I was a bit  worried as the corrals had started moving when I actually got out of the port-a-potty, and made a beeline for the 4:40 pace group I’d planned on running with. I tucked in behind the pace group, spied Bobbi & her sister, and then we started the race! 

The first two miles were good, but I began to realize I needed to use the bathroom (#1 this time! Not #2!).  I kept running, but the urge did not go away. Just as I was thinking through where the next aid station was, I realized that the pacer I was behind had her name “Kay” written all over her pace signs… and that this was a friend from Madison! 

But alas! I had my port-a-potty break I was jonesing for, and didn’t want to be rude with a “hi & bye” type of a greeting.  I figured I’d go to the bathroom, and then take a few miles to catch up to the pace group, similar to what I’d done at the Madison Mini Marathon

I timed the stop, and I was out for almost 7 minutes.  It was a quick, but much needed relief at the bathroom stop. And then I was on my way.

I spent miles 4-9 working toward catching up. These miles are chock full of spectators as I ran through Lincoln Park, Boystown, and Lakeview.  I saw Mike at mile 9.5 and felt like I’d been speeding by. But off I was! 

Miles 10 through 13 were pretty familiar territory, although I started to get hungry at mile 13 and took my 2nd gel a little earlier than planned.  Whether that was good or not, I don’t know. I started to get a bit nauseous, even though I’d only been drinking water. 

I saw my in-laws cheering around mile 16 and was so happy to see them!  I was a little worried I hadn’t seen them at all earlier even though I knew they were out there (but I couldn’t remember where I’d see them –oops!), but I had been cruising along and see a sign come up that says “Go Lauren” – I look a little closer and I see it says “Go Lauren Wong!”  Then I saw them!  It was good to get a quick hug, and then I was on my way! 

By this point it was warming up, and I realized my arm warmers weren’t evaporating sweat much anymore.  I’d been pulling them up & down for the past 6 miles, but at this point I took them off. I considered holding them for a while, but I didn’t think I’d see Mike or the in-laws again soon since I’d just seen both in the past few miles. 

Mile 17 is when I started to break down. I was SO CLOSE to my pace group. According to my calculations, they were only a minute in front of me, but I couldn’t see them.  And I was starting to slow down.  I realized I couldn’t get to the pace group. 

That was a hard and disappointing realization.  I was sad – because I knew I could do a 4:40, because I wanted to see Kay, and because I realized my execution fail on going faster for miles 3-16.

It was hard for me after that. I kept slowing , began feeling my legs tighten up, and started taking some walking breaks.  I was not happy, and at times wanted to drop out since I wasn’t going to make that “A” goal. My stomach was also a bit nauseous, although I kept drinking water. 

I was pissy through Pilsen & Chinatown, and rallied as I approached my friend Lilian at her cheering station at 22.  I realized at that point I just wanted to finish, however possible.  I got some chips (ya salt) & swedish fish, and kept running.  I walked again for a little, and rallied when I saw more Swedish fish (!) where I asked a stranger if I could have some. 

I also stopped for a dixie cup of beer at the Hash group (Mile 23) and then saw Mike after that.  He yelled to me – “bring it home” and I realized I had a 5K to go.  I can do a 5K in my sleep – most of my runs this summer were longer than a 5K. 

I finished at a good pace, telling myself “You can do anything for 30 minutes” or “20 minutes” or “10” or “5” as we got closer. 

I finished strong running up Roosevelt & Columbus drives, although I was a hot mess of disappointment when I finished.  I did finish 15 minutes faster than I’ve completed a marathon, and I am proud of that, but I expected more of myself. 

It took me a little while to rally and actually meet back up with my people.  The beer they were giving out before the gear check pickup was actually good.  Yay 312! After re-clothing myself in layers appropriate for the 50 degree weather, I then found Dave & Mike, and met up with the rest of my cheer committee (Yay Wongs!).  We chatted a bit and then all headed out to leave the race craziness. 


11 thoughts on “My Chicago Marathon Story

  1. kilax

    Congrats on your PR! That is great! I know you were really frustrated though, especially after trying to catch up with the pace group for so long. That was an amazing time though (I looked it up).

    Did you wear those special arm warmers you were showing us at the Chicago Half?

    1. laurenruns Post author

      Thanks! I didn’t actually wear the arm-warmers that I wore at the Chicago Half. Those arm sleeves are “cooling sleeves.” I don’t think they worked ideally at Chicago Half (I don’t think it was hot enough for them to be worth it), but I wore ‘regular’ arm warmers at Chicago Marathon. Cheapie Asics. They served me well and I’ll be ready for some others sometime soon!

      Thanks again!

  2. gingerfoxxx

    YAY!! Congrats on the PR! I got all cunfuddled at the race because i thought i was following a 4:30 pacer, only it turned out to be a random person with a 4:30 sign on their back that was unable to run that pace, haha. Pace groups stress me out! Glad you were able to stop for a beer and enjoy the race!!

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