My First Marathon: Chicago

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I’m not sure where to begin so I guess I’ll start with the lead up to my first ever marathon, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  A lot of training and overtraining went into this race for me. I started way way way to early with some of my long runs which in turn led to a strained right hamstring which has been bothering me for the last 6 months, even after taking a three plus week break from running in April. But there were other races to prep for and I plugged away anyway. Fast forward to Saturday night, the eve of the race and my nerves were all over the place. I had trouble falling asleep and then didn’t get to sleep until after 11:30pm. From then on I was waking up each hour and checking the clock. 1:15am. 2:38am. 3:40am. Finally the next time I awoke was when the alarm went off at 5:15am. Then began the process of getting dressed and geared up plus taking in some nourishment before leaving the hotel.

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The packet guide said to be there by 6:00 to start the process of getting through security and into your respective corral, so I took that to heart. If I only knew that I probably could have slept another 25-30 minutes and been fine…Sigh, oh well. I got there with plenty of time and that’s including the fact that I didn’t leave my hotel until 5:50. The security line went quicker than the line I chose to use for the bathroom. Then I got to my corral and stood around wondering where everyone was. Plenty of room to stretch out and then some.

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And then the race began, after a rather long wait in that corral. Wow. Wow again. I have never felt that bit of energy and emotion and feeling before in a race. The crowd was amazing. I don’t know how else to put it. I had on headphones but never even turned my music on until the 15th mile. The cheering was so loud and motivational and then there was all the various pieces of music all over the course and at the aid stations. I was so juiced up I felt great. Every neighborhood seemed to try and outdo the other with cheering, overall support or by offering water/spraying water/different treats and snack (like Twizzlers or orange slices) and then there were pockets of music coming from people’s windows being pumped out by stereos. Just amazing. Great. Awesome. Inspirational. It made running this race a little easier for me. Now, don’t get me wrong. As the race went on and mile 3 turned into mile 15 and then to mile 22, my knees began hurting, my left heel was sore, my shins were pulsating some, but surprisingly my hamstring didn’t effect me as much as I thought it would. I received a moral boost at mile 16.5 when I got some high fives and cheers from family that had come to watch and root me on. That was a powerful feeling when I saw them and that moment of seeing them gave me a little extra fuel in the tank when it was starting to dry up. And then finally that finish line came into sight. Up the incline and around the corner and there she was. I took out my phone and looked like a dork as I filmed myself get closer and closer to the crossing point. I just wanted to capture that big marker being passed over my head. I had done it. I didn’t quit. I finished the Chicago Marathon, my first ever.

It will be a medal that I will cherish for ever. Something that if I had been told about doing it even two years ago, I would have said you were crazy and insane and that I would just stick to half marathons and shorter distances. And never has a post race beer been tastier too, lol. If you were to say you wanted to run a marathon, my suggestion would be to run Chicago. It’s a nice flat course. And it is an amazing experience that you won’t forget.

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If  you have any feedback or thoughts or questions, I would love to hear from you!

Happy running!