Well I've been wanting to update about Chicago for a while but haven't found the time! Well, I found it and hope I don't leave out any fun details!
As you know, my training for this marathon was pretty non-exsistent. And I developed Achilles tendonitis a couple weeks prior to the race. I was still excited to be going to Chicago but very, very afraid! Derrick and I left VERY early Thursday morning and arrived in Chicago before 9am. Our friend, Jill, had arranged accommodations at a Hostel. I was slightly concerned about being shot here but it actually turned out okay! The place was overflowing with young international students. I felt old, but that's normal lately (per my facebook statuses' :)) Anyways, we couldn't check in until 3 so we explored out little town of Lincoln Park. I quickly fell in love with Chicago! As the day continued, the rest of our travel partners arrived, Jill and her friend Sophia.
The weekend continued with sight-seeing (which was not helping my Achilles tendonitis one bit)! We enjoyed Chicago Style Hot Dogs (which kinda made me sick), Garrett's Popcorn (amazing!) and Deep-dish Pizza! For a non-pizza lover, I'm convinced I would weigh 400 pounds if I lived in Chicago and so close to this pizza place. Amazing! We enjoyed Navy Pier and Millenium Park mostly. The "Bean" was quite entertaining for us. And we spent a ridiculous amount of time at the Expo because we're those people. We like free things, what can I say?! And we got to go to Second City, a comedy club where lots of famous people started.
Race day quickly approached and I was absolutely.freaking.out. I thought I might throw up but I really needed to keep the carbs down that I had consumed the night before and that morning! Not to mention that it was freezing and I already had to buy pants instead of the shorts I had prepared to wear. Any runner knows how scary it is to switch clothes on race day that you've never trained in! We were a little late getting there and storing our bags that we were running to the start corral. It was so absolutely packed that we didn't even really get to stretch. Awesome way to start a marathon! We waited in the corral for close to 30 minutes I think before crossing the start line. I was still freaking out. I really did not think I would be able to do it and quitting was not an option for me at this point. For the first 6 miles, I still wasn't sure what I was really doing. In my head, I had to come up with a game plan. I was using Jill's running plan, but I needed a little more. I decided that the first 6.5 miles were going to be for Jessie and the next 6.5 for Myrtle. I don't think I've ever experienced an easier 13 miles than I did that day (it probably helped that Chicago was extremely flat!). After mile 13, I really didn't know what would happen. I knew my competitive side would kick in and I might as well finish. But then mile 16 hit. Up until this mile, Jill and I were running together. Derrick went on at mile 6 I believe. We were running 6 miles and walking 1ish. I couldn't do this anymore. I decided to start running 4 minutes and walking 1 minute. At mile 21, I was hurting, grouchy, and hungry. We ran through so many beautiful areas that smelled so good! They should close restaurants when marathons are going on. It was freezing and the smell of coffee was overwhelming! Anyways, by mile 21 I was miserable. At some point, I ended up walking about 3 minutes to refuel. When I attempted to run again, my body hated me. I realized at that point that only walking for 1 minute was crucial. I wasn't quitting with only 5 miles left. It became a slow, slow jog. There were so many people around me way more miserable than I was, and that encouraged me ( I know, that's mean, but it did).
5 hours and 25 minutes later, I crossed the finish line. When I turned the corner to last 2 tenths of a mile, I lost it. I could barely run with the tears beginning to stream down my face and trying to hold back the tears. I had a few emotional moments throughout the course, but the end was just liberating. After all I had been through physically prior to this race, I was just so happy. I was happy I made it and I was SO incredibly happy it was over!
It truly was an amazing long weekend. From the beginning I have said I wanted to do one marathon just to say I did it. The worst part is, I already want to beat that time (which won't be hard with any training at all!) It's disgusting that I even have the desire to do another one. But it won't be anytime soon! I'm thinking 5 or 6 years from now!