Wow. What a marathon. Before I get into the specifics about my race day experience, I just gotta say that the Chicago Marathon is a must-do for you marathoners out there. 45,000 people registered to run 26.2 miles through the beautiful and culturally diverse city of Chicago – from downtown and north, west and south through all the various neighborhoods. The crowd support was AMAZING from start to finish, and it was so cool to have people sitting in bleachers near the finish line, cheering us on like the rock stars we are!
Now to my race day experience…
Let’s start with all the random thoughts I had while running. These included the following, in no particular order:
This is amazing! I feel amazing!
Holy shit, that guy just lost his shoe.
These crowds are awesome. I feel like a rock star.
Shit, there’s another person who lost a shoe.
I’m never running a road marathon ever again.
Which marathon should I do next?
Damn, there are a lot of people suffering around me. I’m not alone!
Is that Gangnam Style? Oh, I want to stop and do the Gangnam Style dance.
Massage table? Ooh, maybe I should stop…
That was more painful than giving birth. At least I had drugs when I gave birth.
So the race: After checking my gear bag, I found my way into the C Corral. My friend Anna from Santa Barbara was already there, and we huddled up with the 3:40 pace group. As we were keeping warm, Anna said to me, “Maggie, this is our 3rd fall marathon in a row that we’ve started together!” That really struck me as pretty awesome, and we’re already talking about which race to start together next fall. Running really does solidify friendships.
Anyway, for the first half of the race I was feeling pretty good. I was hanging with the 3:40 pacer, feeling fast, and just really enjoying the feeling of running and the energy from the spectators. I was planning on picking up my pace a bit sometime at the halfway point until…the leg cramps reared their ugly heads. The cramps started as little lightning bolts shooting through my right calf. It sounds like no biggie, but I have had those in the past and they are usually sign of more to come. And more did come. Through my calf and my quad. I tried running through the cramps until my leg locked up, then I’d walk a minute until the cramps went away. I was basically jogging/walking from mile 18 to the end.
During this time, I dropped way behind the 3:40 pacer, lost sight of Anna and my A Goal. Ok, on to the B Goal of 3:45. Soon enough, the 3:45 pacer came and went, so I shifted to my C Goal of finishing in 3:55. Given the state of my cramping legs, I was a bit unsure that I’d achieve that goal. So many things were telling me to stop. But, I suppose I was determined and I pushed myself as much as I could. The crowds really helped me through, and during those last miles when my legs were ready to quit, the crowds truly brought a smile to my face and motivated me to finish as strong as possible.
Finishing time: 3:53:41 – a huge Personal Best by about 50 minutes. I’m pretty thrilled and proud of how I handled myself, and believe it or not, I look forward to the next full marathon sometime next year. But first, it’s off to San Francisco this weekend to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon with my SB Team in Training team, in honor of Stephanie Waxman!