My First Chicago Marathon via Heart Rate

The Big City of Chicago

The Big City of Chicago – Our View from the top of our hotel!  The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel is fabulous!  I loved our room, the facilities, and location. 

Although I love the city of Chicago and I always look forward to going back, I can’t say I am in love with the marathon!  In fact, of all the marathons I have run, it’s one of my least favorites !  I am not sure what the big hype is about this race!   In fact I probably will never know, but one thing I do know, I won’t be rushing back to run it again.

Entering the Expo

Entering the Expo

From the very beginning, the thought of running with 44,000 other runners was a bit intimidating.  I thought Boston and Rome were big enough, and they were half the size.

Of course, I was also excited, because it was Chicago after all!  When I applied through the lottery I was excited to be accepted but last year due to some family issues conflicting with Chicago, I decided to defer.  It was expensive to do so since I had to pay the almost 200 dollar fee all over again, but for some reason, I really wanted to run Chicago.


I knew coming off Rome, I would not have much down time, and to honest a break would have been nice, especially since traveling in Italy was not only busy, but exhausting.

While traveling in Italy, I came across the Heart Rate 101 Podcast and thought, “this may be the perfect way to train for Chicago”.  Something new and different and I had nothing to lose.   So the journey began about 20 weeks ago.

My training went well.  I didn’t miss a workout and nailed just about every speed workout.  Not bad.  I believe in school that means I got an A for both effort and performance.

Had to make sure my shirt fit! And it did. I like too!

Had to make sure my shirt fit! And it did. I like too!

The last couple weeks, the dreaded taper, I was a bit off, struggling with headaches daily for over a week.  I made sure to get more rest, a massage and even an adjustment.  It was nothing I couldn’t handle and I was feeling more than relieved I made it through 2o weeks of training, running 5 days a week, with no injuries!  YEAH!  Not bad for almost 55 years young!  I am so blessed!

Still, running a marathon via my heart rate was a bit nerve racking for me, even though I was confident about my training.  I read about all the dog legs on the course and the tall buildings interfering with GPS.  I was prepared.  I was ready to run.  So I thought……..

The one and only time I saw Rob at mile 5. As you can see I almost missed him and looking back as he shouted "Karen"

The one and only time I saw Rob at mile 5. As you can see I almost missed him and here I am looking back as he shouted “Karen”  He gave me a gel and I grabbed more Performance.  I didn’t see him again till mile 25.  I was completely out of stuff way before that.  LESSON LEARNED!  CARRY more stuff.  ALL OF IT!

From the very start, nothing seemed to be in sync.  I had no GPS  for the first hour, (which I was prepared for).  My heart rate said 140.  “Great!  Hang here for the first mile or so.  Gradually take it to 150”.  I did.  I was shooting for about a 9:30 pace and max of 9:15.

When I cruised through the 10K I knew this wasn’t my day.  My pace was off and heart rate didn’t seem to replicate my pace.  Nothing seemed to be going as I had predicted, or according to my training.  My easy pace seemed hard, and my race pace of 9:00 or under, seemed almost impossible.  I came through the half way point about 5 minutes slower than I wanted, and my heart rate was as high as 170.  It just wasn’t my day.


To make matters worse, I was surrounded by runners constantly which made it difficult to connect with my hubby so I missed him at the half way point and at mile 18.  He was tracking me on his phone so he could see I was coming and I’d be at our disignated meeting spot any minute!  “Karen should be here any minute!”.   He’d hand off some fuel, I’d get a kiss, and off I would go.

Unfortunately I ran right by.  I never saw him.  I wasted much needed energy each time looking for him but there were just too many spectators and I obviously blended in with all the runners, and he missed me.  Geez.  I definitely know better.  Carry my gels!

We both thought it would be easy for us to connect, but we were wrong.

My last 5K I struggled with my calves cramping up a bit which probably stemmed from lack of fuel and all the turns along the course.  I think there were 70 some turns.  UGH.  My ankles were ready to break.  Kidding, but I was so ready to be done running.  I remember feeling the same way at a marathon down in Florida with tons of turns, my other least favorite course.  Guess I am more of a point to point gal!

This felt GOOD!

This felt GOOD!  The sun was HOT!

Once I finished it took almost an hour to get to letter S, our agreed meeting destination.  I spotted my husband and he reached out and gave me the biggest hug ever.  He was relieved to see me!

Celebrating after the Marathon

Celebrating after the Marathon

It reminded me a little of my experience in Boston.  It’s a long walk back to meet up with family there too and I waited for almost 90 minutes for my brother to find me at letter S.  He was stuck on the subway trying to get to me while I waited impatiently and getting more worried by the minute.  This time around it was Rob worrying about me!  Two happy endings…..  My brother found me in at letter S in Boston, and I found Rob waiting for me at letter S in Chicago.

I had no desire to return to Boston for the marathon, and I have no desire to return to Chicago to run this particular Marathon, not even to redeem myself.  F’ that!  


Yum!!!  Rob surprised me with a yummy treat and my according to him, outstanding placement in my age group.  318 out of almost 1200 runners.  

We enjoyed our stay in Chicago regardless!  Rob treated me to a handful of fantastic meals including some salted Carmel/Chocolate ice cream with a sparkler.  He informed me I finished number 318 out of almost 1,200 women in my age group.  He loves to make me feel better.  He thinks I am way toooo hard on myself.  I have a feeling he’s probably right since my mom tells me the same thing.  From what I understand, mom’s know best!  THANKS Rob for such a great trip!

I am one lucky lady

I am one lucky lady

I never did return to Boston with my other BQ’S times since I was single than and it was just not in my budget, nor an interest.  Now that I am married to a wonderful man who takes me across the world to run, I would like to re-qualify some year and run it one more time.

And yes, I’ll also be back in Chicago, but not for the marathon.  I can say I did it though.  “Seriously….27.14?  Isn’t 26.2 enough?”.  Obviously I didn’t execute the race well and hug all those turns.

Isn't 26.2 far enough...

Isn’t 26.2 far enough…

I love everything about Life in general which is why staying healthy is important to me. Its fun to spread the word that you can have vibrant health by having a positive attitude, eating well, exercising and taking Shaklee food supplements. I truly believe this lifestyle has allowed me to continue to run marathons and I look forward to many more.

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