Yesterday I did a recap for the International Chicago 5K (click here to read). Today I’m bringing you my 2019 Chicago Marathon Race Recap.
As a little back story, I did the Chicago Marathon in 2017 and it was my worst race ever (you can read all about that disaster here). I had SO many issues and it was an absolutely horrible experience. I was hoping that this year’s race would be redemption for me. While it didn’t go exactly as planned, I am happy to report that it was a much better race experience and I finished with a 50 min course PR.
Before getting into the race recap, let’s discuss the beginning of the weekend.
Friday, October 11
We arrived in Chicago after an uneventful but somewhat weird flight. There was a guy sitting in the row in front of us coughing A LOT during the flight. It got to the point where I had my mouth and nose covered for a majority of the flight because I didn’t want to catch anything. We also had two babies in our section so you can imagine how fun that was. To top it off, my dad was sitting near a woman and her dog. The dog was actually super calm and didn’t make any noise during the flight, but it was always weird to look over and see it, lol. It was pouring rain when we arrived so we had to sit on the tarmac for a while which was a little aggravating. After an hour plus drive to the hotel, we were finally checked in and ready to hit the Expo.
Luckily there were shuttle buses going to the Expo right outside our hotel. The Expo was nothing short of insane. The bib pick up process was really well organized, but I was annoyed that I had to walk all the way to the back of the expo to get my race shirt. It took forever to get there since the Expo was so crowded. Finally I got my shirt but had to exchange it for a larger size (I swear the shirt they gave me looked like a children’s t-shirt). After the shirt exchange, I quickly found Marcia at the NOW Foods booth. I was so glad that I didn’t miss her since I got to the Expo later than expected.
I then met Renee and we chatted for a little while before we both left the Expo.
I actually didn’t visit many vendors because I really just wanted to get in and get out – it was a little overwhelming for me. The one vendor I did visit was Angelic Bakery. I have never heard of the brand before but the samples they were giving out were so good! I purchased to packs of their wraps. Luckily I found out that their brand is sold at a supermarket in my city so I won’t have to order the items online.
After an eventful day, we went to PF Changs for dinner. Oh, did I mention it was super cold and rainy all day? Definitely a shot to the system!
Saturday, October 12
Another cold morning with a real feel temperature in the 20s. At first, I thought about bailing on the International Chicago 5K run but I knew I would totally regret not doing it so that thought didn’t last long in my head. It took a while to warm up but the race race was actually a lot of fun.
I was running a little behind schedule by the time I got back to the hotel so I missed the WeRunSocial Meetup at the Bean, but I was excited for brunch with a few blogger/IG runners that were also in town to run the marathon. A few weeks ago I mad a brunch reservation at Beatrix. I thought it would be nice to try to get everyone in one spot to enjoy some food and relax before the big race day. I really enjoyed chatting with everyone!
After brunch it was back to the hotel to chill out. Later on that afternoon, Michelle and I met up with another one of our IG friends, Pam. It was nice that we were all staying in the same hotel so we just met in a sitting area and chatted for about an hour.
After we finished, I wen back to the room and ordered dinner from Giordano’s for delivery. I really didn’t feel like going back out so this was perfect. Unfortunately the food was just okay. The pizza and chicken were both a little dry, but I was starving so it would have to do. I watched TV for a little while and finally fell asleep. I didn’t sleep that well which didn’t surprise me because I was excited for race day.
After a few hours of sleep, I got dressed and headed down toward the race start a little after 6:30am. My hotel was about a half mile from the race start. It was cold and windy so I had a few throwaway items with me to keep me warm. Before long it was time to start the 2019 Chicago Marathon!
This is really a tale of two races for me, the first half and the second half, so that’s how I will split up my recap.
Going into the race, I didn’t really start to get nervous until I was sitting in my corral ready to start the race. But I tried to calm myself down before crossing the start line. I ran the first mile too fast (what’s new?) so I quickly scaled it back to make sure I settled into a good pace. The first few miles have a lot of turns and go through downtown so my GPS watch was off rather early on in the race. I fell into a good groove around mile 3. The next few miles consisted of Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Old Town. Again, the crowds were insane and I just felt so much love from all the spectators. I was hitting my paces every mile. Around mile 10 I started to feel some leg discomfort and slowed down a little but still kept pushing through.
I guess you can say this is where the wheels fell off. The second half of the race started off great as I was able to see Marcia and Wendy. I was so happy to see them and give them hugs 🙂 At this point I had to take one (of two) bathroom breaks. (Side note: The dinner from Saturday night made my sister sick. I wasn’t sick but it definitely wasn’t sitting right in my stomach, hence the two potty breaks).
The good thing about the second half of the course was that it had way less turns, so it was easier to continue to follow the blue dotted line to make sure I didn’t run more than necessary. We also ran through the West Loop, Greektown and Little Italy. One great thing about this race is that you run through so many different neighborhoods and each one is unique.
My leg pain intensified and it was pretty brutal. I like to think that I have a high threshold for pain but even this was really testing my resolve. The best way I can describe it is feeling like a throbbing toothache, but in both legs. I’ve run on tired legs before but this was just ridiculous! It was frustrating because my mind kept saying “go, go, go” but my body was like “Nah, I’m good”. Also, between miles 14-20 the wind started to REALLY pick up, which of course made things a little harder. During these miles I started to experience lower back pain as well. I’ve dealt with this on and off since last year. I was hoping that it would stay away since I haven’t had the pain in a few weeks, but my body had different plans 🙁
I saw my family around mile 19.2 which was a great moral boost. Hands down my favorite part of the course was mile 19-20, also known as Pilsen. I cannot express how much energy I felt during that mile. The people and the music were AMAZING. I probably smiled that whole mile and it gave me a small boost. Going through Chinatown around mile 21 was also really fun. Unfortunately that boost didn’t last long and by mile 22 I was back in the pain cave AND my headphones died so I didn’t have any more music to carry me through the remaining 4 miles. Just fantastic..
The last 4 miles are a blur. I was seriously considering going to a medical tent to see if they had any Aleve or Tylenol I could take because between my back and my legs, I was barely hanging on. At mile 24 I decided to share my pain via a group text to my best friends..
At mile 25 I saw my family one last time before running down Michigan Ave into Grant Park. I then shuffled/walked the rest of the way. Can I also state how mean it is to have that incline at mile 26?! I cannot express how excited I was to see the finish line!
While it took me longer than I would have liked to finish, I still crossed the finish line with a smile and celebrated my 4th marathon finish.
After crossing the finish line, I grabbed a bottle of water, a banana and a bag full of snacks. Also, I’m not a huge beer drinker but this tasted really good after the race.
I mentioned on my Instagram post after the race that I thought this would be my last marathon. In 3 of my 4 marathons it seems like the 2nd half is where I always fall apart, so maybe that is my body telling me to stick to half marathons? Although I’m really happy that my race experience was better than my race two years ago, I’m still just a little disappointed that I couldn’t keep up the pace for the second half of the race. If I could, I would have had a huge PR. Also, I guess it’s a little frustrating/embarrassing to train well but then not have such a good race. Does that make any sense? I’m not a “fast” runner by any means, but I still wish that my race time reflected all of my training.
Finally, I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone for your support and kind words during this training cycle. It was SO appreciated!!