I did it. I ran the Chicago Marathon!
I would be lying if I didn't tell you I was incredibly nervous. I was scared to death. I signed up for and trained for the Detroit marathon last year and I didn't finish my training, so I couldn't run it. This year, I was nervous, but I did the training, I felt incredibly fit, and the marathon actually went really well! Wahoo!! I'm not gonna lie, I'm more than a little proud right now. My little sister ran it with me and she was so supportive, we laughed together, sang together, danced together, and whined together (only a little) throughout the 26 miles. She actually had a lot more left than me and was able to finish faster too - what a stud. But I am so happy with how I did. So happy.
I flew in on Thursday night so I would have time Friday to go the expo (and spoil my nephew rotten with cuddles and kisses - more on that tomorrow). We headed to the expo around 1:30 pm and I think it was a good time to go... Not lunch break and not after work. The lines weren't long and parking wasn't too bad...
Saturday my mom made us an amazing dinner and we got ready for the race! Sunday morning, we headed into the city early and it was cold!! I think it was about 34 degrees - yikes! Cath and I found our way to the corral and we entered. Well, she entered. I had to hop the fence because I had entered myself really slow (it was a nervous move!). So yes, I hopped the fence to get in. What a rebel.
But, it was so worth it because I'm so glad we got to run together! We started off and I was absolutely amazed at the support of the crowd. I never imagined that the crowd would be so big! There were people shoulder to shoulder on each side of the road the WHOLE WAY! Are you kidding me?! They were several people deep at most parts. It was so inspiring! I think I got to mile 15 before I even got tired because it was so fun to watch the crowd, read the posters, and see all the people cheering for us. I even saw some friends from high school who cheered for me that I haven't seen to in years! We ran through the downtown, the shopping district, the Loop, Lincoln Park, Boy's Town, Pilsen, Chinatown, etc. Each neighborhood had their own music, their own live bands, their own cheering section and their own water station. It was so exciting!! I never got bored for a second.
At mile 8 we saw my parents, Paula, Matt, and Ben who came out to cheer for us and they had signs!! It was perfect. We high fived them and dropped off a layer of clothing as we continued on.
At mile 15, my friend Liz suprised me by finding us and she hopped in to jog with us for about a half mile. It was a much needed entertainment break and she did a good job of rejuvenating our spirits and getting our minds off the race for a bit. It was so fun to see her!!
At mile 21, my friend Colleen hopped in with us at our designated meeting spot and she ran with me for four miles. It was a good thing too, because Catherine was getting a second wind and I was, well, dying. I told Catherine to run ahead and Colleen just talked and talked, catching me up on her life and everything interesting that she could think of as she tried to get my mind off the pain in my joints. It worked! We laughed and chatted all the way to mile 25, where she veered off towards her condo and I hit the home stretch.
The crowds during the last mile were insane, at least 5 people deep on both sides of the street! I found my mom 400 meters from the finish and it was just what I needed. I made it across the finish line and I found my sister right as they put the medal around my neck. Wow. I think I had to blink back tears. What an experience! If you have never had the chance to run Chicago - do it!
A half hour post finish. Haha. Not the most attractive I've ever been. But I've never been prouder.