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Chicago Marathon 2014 Recap

My first marathon experience. The day has come...
Chicago Marathon
4:47:44 - pretty darn happy and proud of this for my first marathon! :)
So incredibly grateful for this experience!!!

Any given race day. On 10.12.14, we couldn't have asked for better weather. It was about 45 degrees at the start, and increased to high 50's as the race went on. Perfect running weather!
  1. Chicago is beautiful. I might be biased since I'm from here, but seriously, she's a beauty. And touring Chicago on your feet for 26.2 miles is priceless!
  2. Spectators were amazing. They kept me going for most part of the race. My favorites was seeing the drag queens strut ther stuff in Boys Town, UIC's band playing loud and proud (my alma mater!), dragon dancers and drums at Chinatown, elderly people waving from their condo units around mile 7- melted my heart, little hands giving you high fives all along the route, and Pilsen's incredible energy, and MUSIC along the way, whether it's from bands, DJ's, or boom boxes.
  3. Volunteers. Wow, 12,000 volunteers. From the QR scanners at registration, to the race shirt distributors, to the medical teams, to the thousands of hands giving out water, Gatorade, Gu, Vaseline, Mylar blankets, and medals and to many more behind the scenes. Thank you.
  4. Expect the unexpected. My race went smoothly until about mile 16 when someone abruptly stopped in front of me, and to prevent myself from running into him, I had to put the breaks on and by doing so, hurt my left knee. Bring ibuprofen on you, on course. You never know if you'll need it. Aside from ibuprofen, I also bring: Zyrtec (allergies), sudafed (congestion), Prevacid (indigestion), and Imodium AD (anti-diarrheal). It's the pharmacist in me! I just brought loose tablets and put them in my waist belt. Although my left knee hurt again towards the end of the race, the ibuprofen helped a lot up until mile 23.
  5. Family on course helped a lot. Grateful to have their support! They surprised me at mile 8 and was a total boost of energy. Mile 14,18, and 20. Ate half a bagel and peanut butter at mile 20!
  6. Maintained my pace of about 10:45ish up until about half way, then wanted to push it to about 10:15ish, but by doing so, I think I pushed too hard because left knee was then aggravated at later stages of the race. Had to stop around mile 24 to stretch my calves. At this point all pain is happening. My legs are mad at me, but had to push through. This must be what they mean when they say run with your heart. That's all I had at that point...
  7. Two words: Pot holes. Holy smokes where there a lot of them out there and uneven asphalt. I think this contributed to knee pain. What I did to maneuver around this: ran several miles on one side of the street, then switched over to the other side. I like running along the sides to feel the energy of the crowd. When I really needed a break, ran in the center where it was somewhat a little better... Adapt to your race course!
  8. The notorious mile 20 and beyond... If you plan for your goal pace and execute, you should be fine. I had enough to push from mile 20-23, 24-26 was tough. Muscles tightening, knowing you're "only 3 miles away" but also realizing these last 3 miles is not your normal 3 miles. I was completely tuned in with my body, paid attention to what I needed to do, just to make sure that I would finish. I respected every mile and took another shot block (even though I just had one the mile before) and tried to block out the pain.
  9. Fuel: one small protein bar right before race (unplanned- I was hungry right before start! Must have been nerves!), I had 18 shot blocks on me and ate 15 of them (got hungry!), carried a generic water bottle with me with nuun tablets the whole 25 miles (unplanned, was going to hydrate with water and Gatorade, but didn't train with Gatorade so I was afraid of potential stomach issues), 1/2 banana at mile 17 (passed out at race), 1/2 mini-bagel with peanut butter at mile 20 (from hubby, Andy). After the race, I was hungry for real food!
  10. Found out that there's only 1% of the population that has ran a marathon. My mission is to increase that number one runner at a time. If I can, you can. Run smart. Race happy. Explore the joy that you might achieve in running, like I did! If healthy, I highly recommend running a marathon :)
Training Program: Hail Higdon Novice : recommended 435 miles total. Actual miles that I ran during training: 356 miles. I used Nike Plus App to keep track of my miles that I ran and kept my notes in there. I trained by myself for the most part. I really enjoy running by myself. I find it really relaxing :) For several of my long runs, I ran with my sister in law and brother.
Cross Trained: Zumba and Barre in the beginning, when training got longer with mid week runs, I stopped going to Barre and used that time to run. I know Zumba is also cardio, but I love it too much so I continued on with it. If you can incorporate weight training, then I would do that instead of Zumba. I also occasionally rode bikes on a couple of the weekends during training, which I really enjoyed.
Nutrition during training: Ok so I wasn't the best at it.. Still working on this because I love food too much. lol! more specifically, my desserts :) I carbo loaded with spaghetti for the most part. Typical breakfast was bagel with peanut butter, banana, or oatmeal. Snacked on: Kind bars, Zone bars, frozen grapes, and banana with peanut butter.
I'd like to end this post by thanking my family, especially my husband, for making training a little bit easier by giving me time to do it. It wasn't easy juggling family life, my career, and making sure I got my miles in. My family is my everything.
Thanks for stopping by!
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