This past weekend was it! What I’ve been training for all through the summer!!
The 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon!!
After school on Friday, one of my co-workers took me to Laguardia (or LaGhetto as I refer to it). As expected, there were a LOT of runners on the plane. I’m sure most flights going to Chicago on Friday were largely populated with runners. We were a little late, but made it in pretty much on time. Elizabeth picked me up at O’Hare, and we headed to her apartment for the night.
Saturday morning, she drove me to McCormick Place (Center? I don’t know…it’s the place like the Javitz Center here in NYC) so I could get my bib and stuff and wander the Expo. I got my bib and packet, then wandered around. Bought a shirt at the Nike Official Gear booth, visited the ABTA booth, stopped by the Spirit of the Marathon booth, and all the while was searching for Clif Shots as I hadn’t been able to get to JackRabbit to pick any up. When even the Clif Bar booth didn’t have any (they had chomps and bars, but no shots), I had a mini-meltdown that stopped just short of me curling up in a ball on the floor in the middle of the Expo. Such is the emotional fragility of many runners at the end of the taper and right before the big race. I finally wandered to one of the booths that was one of those booths by a general running store and they had some. I wanted to hug the girl behind the table I was so happy and relieved. I looked at my tech shirt, and it looked tiny to me, so I decided to go to the exchange booth and see if I could get a larger one. While in line I decided to try it on just to see, so I pulled it on over my relatively thick cotton shirt, and it fit! So either I’m smaller than I see myself as or the shirt wasn’t as tiny as it looked. I’d missed the posters coming in, so I went back up front to get one. Then was wandering around once more. Road Runner had a “once owned” shoe table where shoes that had been bought and worn but returned within a certain mileage or time frame were being sold. For $50. I really didn’t expect to find anything, but I spotted a pair of Ravenna 3s in the purple color I wanted. Only problem was the insole had been removed and not put back in. I asked if I could just pull it from my other pair and the guy said I could but to wait a moment and he’d see if he had any others. He did, and it was in even better condition and had the insoles! So I got a pair of Ravennas in the color I really want for half price! SCORE!! I had texted Rick that I was leaving as I was getting overwhelmed, and headed out not expecting to see him. But I ran into he and his wife Christy (spelling may be off…) and Mike. We watched the time-lapse tour of the course and then I headed out.
My plan was to take the shuttle to the Nike Store, then walk up Michigan to the Disney Store to see Kelley and then go hang out at the Art Institute. Well, on the shuttle, I checked my twitter feed and saw something that totally changed my plans. I wandered in the Nike Store for a little, then went to the Disney Store to see Kelley as planned. Then I headed over to a Starbucks – which was a fail as the line didn’t move for 10 minutes, and it wasn’t even that long. And then it was back to the Nike Store because Paula Radcliffe was going to be there. I didn’t know if it was speaking or signing or what, but I didn’t care! I was not going to miss the chance to meet one of my heroes! They had a brief Q&A with questions already written out, and that was it. But Paula was very gracious and signed a girl’s bib and was taking pictures with us (I was kicking myself for not putting my marker or ANY pen in my bag!!)!
That moment MADE my weekend!!!
After that, I got a shirt I’d really wanted but they didn’t have a L at the expo, then found another less busy and much nicer and quicker Starbucks to chill for a little while my phone recharged. And then it was up to Pompeii for the Team Breakthrough dinner. It was nice. Basic, but nice. Elizabeth came to that with me. We headed back to her place where I set all my stuff out and got in bed to try and sleep for a little while.
I did manage a little nap, but woke up around 3 and decided to just get up and get dressed and take the L in so Elzabeth, who wasn’t feeling well, could sleep. Turns out she wasn’t really sleeping, so she drove me to the L, and I was off! I got a little lost getting to the Charity Village, but finally got there and hung out in the Team Breakthrough tent until we did group picture and walked together to the starting corrals. Into Corral E we went – and all separated – and waited for the race to start.
At 7:30 Wave 1 was off. It was about 10 minutes for me to cross the starting line. It was definitely chilly, but I warmed up quickly. My first 10K was an absolute dream! I was under my required time to hit my A goal of 5:59:59. And then somewhere between Mile 7 an 8 I hit not a pothole, but sort of a dip in the road and my knee moved funny, resulting in my ITB deciding to flare. I started a pattern of run an interval, then walk, then walk a run interval through the next walk, and then run the next interval. And that was working well until about the halfway point. Around then, the wind picked up and cooled things down. Things including my calf muscles. And they started cramping. They felt better when I ran, but then my feet would cramp. So walking was it. I was pushing as hard as I could. And then the water stop between Mile 13 and 14 came and there was no sign of ANY Clif Shots. I had in my head that that was the location. But not there. And not at the next couple of stops. By that point I had two ginger chews and one Shot left as well as one Jolly Rancher some children had been giving out along the course. I wasn’t happy about it, but what was I going to do? Finally at the stop between Mile 17 and Mile 18 there were the shots! (Turns out I wasn’t far wrong…it was STOP 13…just not MILE 13.) I passed the Razz and Chocolate intending to get a Mocha. As I got close to the Mocha, the right side of the street was folding the sign down as they were out. I hightailed it over to the other side and got the last one one of the girls had, and I think the guy behind her only had one or two. My calves were still cramping, but I didn’t want to stop and stretch them because then my shins cramped. I was seriously fighting tears by that point, and had they run out of Mocha right in front of me, I’m sure I would have been a puddle in the middle of the street. Somewhere around Mile 21, I saw some people with a sign that said “Free High 5s” which was cute. And then someone came off the side and put her arm around me and started encouraging me. It took me a moment to realize it was Louisa! Weezie had been a young person when I was doing youth ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, and she ran Chicago a couple of years ago. I knew she was volunteering at Corral K (she’d put it on FB), but I wasn’t able to get back there as they were keeping us pretty restricted to our corrals. She walked with me for a little way, talking to me and encouraging me. That really helped me get the mental strength to keep going. I decided to risk the 6:30:59 cutoff (I knew a sub-6 was no longer in my reach at this point) for an official finish to see if someone at the next medical tent could massage my legs in some way that both sides would maybe relax. And that helped a little. Kept going and was keeping up a pretty good clip. Until around Mile 24 I got a KNOT a little above my right ankle. So bad I screamed out loud. And went into a full-on meltdown right there. Did pretty much everything short of sitting down – and honestly that was only because I didn’t think I would be able to get back up. Somewhere along this point, there was a group of African-American women, and one of them started yelling to me “You GOT this Beth! You go girl! You GOT this!” and that helped me push on. At this point, when I saw a clock I was doing the mental calculations to see where I was, and realized that unless I literally collapsed, I was going to make it. the question was by how much. I made the penultimate turn onto Roosevelt, which, ordinarily is just a slight little incline. But at Mile 26 of a marathon? That thing looks like Pikes Peak or something. UGH! But I made it and made the turn to home. I heard a fellow Front Runner in my head (from several races ago) saying “When you see 200m to go, you run!” but I knew if I did, I might not make it. So I held off until the 100m sign and started running as best I could. Between my legs cramping and my ITB hurting, I know it looked really funny. And I’m still surprised none of the medical people approached me, especially as I all but collapsed in tears when I finished. But I guess since I was mobile and not weaving or falling, the spotters decided to leave me alone. I got my mylar blanket, then was given a banana – which never got eaten as I had too much else going on – and then someone called me over with tape to hold my blanket together. I got my medal and someone took my picture – they just do it on the path and not with a backdrop – actually that happened twice. 321 Brewery was handing out beer there, and I opted for that. Then I began the trudge to the Lake Shore Charity Village. Honestly I think they picked it up and moved it further away while we were running as I don’t think we walked that far going to the start! Suffice it to say that those of us trudging made it look more like we were heading to a refugee village. I wasn’t the last to check in at the ABTA tent (Alisha had told us all that even if we weren’t staying we needed to check in because otherwise she would be calling us as she doesn’t sleep on race nights until she knows all her runners are accounted for), but I was close. Still, I got myself signed up for massage, then got a box of food and ate some. The massage on my legs felt great!! But stairs were still not fun. I’m sure I provided much amusement for anyone behind me on the stairs down to the L (of course, the rare place it’s underground was where I needed to get on!). I got to the stop near Elizabeth’s place, and she picked me up. I took a bath, then got dressed and we went out for dinner – beer and bacon featured prominently. Then it was time to crash!!
This morning I got up and my knees weren’t too bad. Quads are achy – I had to pick front or back at the massage, and I wisely opted for back, but front was still a little achy. Still, going down stairs didn’t elicit whimpering as the had Sunday afternoon/evening, and I didn’t have to do the toddler two feet on a step thing. I wandered to Dunkin Donuts for food. Finished packing everything. And waited for Rick. We went to Fleet Feet to get medals engraved – but I had to skip that as they were saying about 3 hours to get it done. He left his, and we went to lunch, then he took me to O’Hare and it was sadly time to get back here.
Even though the race wasn’t pretty, and wasn’t the race I’d dreamed of, I had a great time. The spectators were amazing – definitely glad I pinned my name to my shirt! Everyone was super encouraging! Big thanks to those who had candy for whoever wanted it! To those who were cutting up orange slices and handing them out – or bananas and handing them out! To the woman who told me I could stretch as long as I needed near her (when I was stopping to stretch) and continued to say words of encouragement as I did, then said if she had any more Bloody Mary she’d offer me some! To all the volunteers who worked their butts off for us! To Weezie! To the aforementioned “Girlfriend you GOT this!” woman! They all worked together to make it special and memorable!
Not the sub-6 I wanted, but a PR by 14:26. It wasn’t pretty, but as a Front Runner friend said on my FB page: “Around 15 minute PRs don’t HAVE to be pretty.”
So overall, I loved it.
And barring anything unforeseen happening?
Plan on me being there next year!