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.
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.
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……..
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!
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!
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!
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 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.