I am really excited to share this post with all of you today. I have been wanting to run a marathon for a really, really, REALLY long time. I was too afraid to do it, I was afraid I would fail. I started out running in 2009 after I had my daughter and signed up to run 500 miles in one year with friends I met on Babycenter I started out walking and running… but, I did it! I completed 500 miles in 2009. My first 5K was at our local zoo and then I branched out and did a Halloween 10K. After that, I signed up for my first half marathon here in St. Louis and my second half marathon was the Wine & Dine at Disney… My first half marathon time was 2:35 and my best has been 2:04 and a HUGE dream/goal of mine is to complete one in under 2:00 hours.
But… first I toyed around with the idea of running a marathon. All of my running friends kept telling me to JUST DO IT. That I’d do just fine. But, I was sacred…. Finally, 7 years later I have RAN MY FIRST MARATHON! And, not just a little one… I signed up for the Chicago Lottery and GOT IN! I was signed up for one of the most prestigious, well known and largest marathons out there. My heart seriously started pounding when I read the title to that email. I was in, I was going to train for my FIRST MARATHON. 26.2 miles, baby!
My husband booked our hotel and I also got the e-book for Hal Higdon’s Marathon: The Ultimate Marathon Training Guide and wondered what the HECK I had signed up for… I was even more scared, yet a little excited.
In July, I signed up with a running group for the FIRST TIME EVER. Fleet Feet. I started running LONG runs every Saturday morning at 6:15 a.m. in spots in St. Louis (and surrounding area) that I had NEVER ran in before. We ran in the double digits, I PR’ed in mileage week after I week. I ran FOUR loops around Queeny and almost threw up on the walk up the hill back to my car. Queeny is THE toughest place to run in St. Louis, think STEEP hills and big rock gravel. It was HARD. I was sore all over for MONTHS. I learned how to use porta potties in no time flat and also to carry toilet paper with me in a plastic baggy. I learned about gels, not to let myself get dehydrated and I bought ALL kinds of new running essentials that just were never needed for a half marathon. I also made friends with total strangers, people that have NOTHING in common with me other than running. They accepted me into their group as though I was family. We talked about everything during our runs and we even went to breakfast drenched in sweat after running in high temps and humidity. We told stories to keep us going and some of us would have bad running days and we’d comfort them and others would have really good runs and we’d fist pump. It was funny, because we ran such high mileage Saturday after Saturday, that when the training season started to close out, running 13 miles was a piece of cake. I know, I never thought I’d say that.
Marathon day came and the day before I was SO nervous. So nervous that my stomach was upset and I felt sick! I was doubting myself and worrying that I would fail. I had SO many people back in St. Louis cheering me on and that would be tracking me as I ran. I had never ran past 20 miles, that was the furthest we ran in training. Could I really run 6.2 miles after that? Would I hit the dreaded wall that everyone talks about at mile 20?
The night before the marathon I had a pasta dinner with Brian and I decided that I would have a glass of wine at dinner. I had given up wine for an entire month before the marathon and was drinking mostly water. I knew I needed that glass of wine to soothe my nerves and to guarantee a good night of sleep on race day. I slept like a baby that night!
At 4:30 a.m. we woke up in our hotel room to the announcements from 25 floors below! Our hotel was the ‘race hotel’ so we were right by the Start line. I looked out our window and already saw people down below waiting! I got ready and we went down and I had a light breakfast. We had a group photo with my team and then headed to the VIP Hospitably Tent, which we paid extra for and it includes so many extras (such as your own bathrooms before the race!).
When I went to my corral, I couldn’t find my Fleet Feet pace group friends and I started to panic. I was going to have to run this race by myself. Thankfully, they found me! We ran the entire race together except for 9 miles, that is when I decided to speed up some, because our coach had said we could speed up if we still felt strong. My entire team finished and I was so proud of all of us! I have to say that I felt really good for the entire race, but when I reached mile 23 I started to feel like my feet were bruised on the bottom from all of the pounding. But, I just kept going, because all of the spectators were cheering me on AND I wanted to be done, so I could get THAT golden medal and relax!
My coach came down to Chicago and we saw her THREE times during the race! I also saw my husband in the bleachers they reserve for the VIP Hospitably Tent family members and he got a photo of me near the Finish Line!
I had a really great experience running the race, there were so many different neighborhoods I ran through (Italy, China, Mexico cultures), so many different charities there supporting a good cause, SO many people out there cheering us on… it was unbelievable. We even saw Elvis! At mile 8 there were drag queens on a stage singing! We even ran past a nursing home and the people in there had signs they were holding up for us in the window. It was just amazing… thousands of people, cheering for us!
I ran this marathon to finish it. I wasn’t worried about my time as I am for half marathons. Maybe if I run another marathon SOMEDAY (and not in the near future), I will work on a better time. But, this has been a bucket list goal for me for awhile… especially to run the Chicago Marathon and I am just so dang proud of myself for doing it. I am a firm believer in FOLLOWING your goals. Don’t let your life get stale. Believe in yourself. I woke up that morning of the marathon and I felt calm. I said a prayer and I trusted in myself and my training. Running this marathon was one of the TOP five most awesome things I’ve EVER done in my life. How sad it would have been if I had decided it was too high of a goal to achieve and never pursued it. Life is short, live it to its fullest!
And, now I’ll get off my soapbox and share a little Chicago Marathon Recap!
Friday evening we got to the airport and had dinner at Chevy’s, before boarding a 8:55 p.m. flight. We arrived in Chicago at 10 p.m. and weren’t in our room until around 11 p.m.
We stayed at the race hotel, which was Chicago Hilton on S. Michigan. I thought it was neat that even the elevators were wallpapered in race decor!
We were on the top floor of our hotel and it had the most beautiful view of Chicago. This was the sun rising in the morning on our first full day in Chicago, on Saturday (the day before the race).
First up was the Running Expo at McCormick Place. We took a shuttle from the hotel to get there. I was VERY excited to finally hold my bib!
Another exciting bib photo! I just wanted to kiss it!
One of the highlights of the expo was the Goose Island Beer Company bus, you got to walk through it and sample some of their beer! When Brian and I did a food bike tour, Goose Island was one of the places we visited.
I tried the wheat beer. Mmmm.
The Brooks booth was neat, they had little robot men running.
I also stopped by the Ragnar tent. I would love to do a Ragnar Relay race someday. Aren’t the medals awesome? You get together 2 vans with 6 people each and run 200 miles over 2 days! Although, running a Ragnar would be like training for another marathon, but a little easier (since it’d be over 2 days). The medals are each a piece that say ‘Ragnar Relay’.
I bought this Chicago Marathon running tank and a hat.
These were all of the goodies I received from the expo (and I also got another bag of goodies after the race).
After the expo, I had a lunch and shopping date with Jill from Doused in Pink at Fig and Olive. Jill and I have been doing the Thursday Fashion Files Link Up party for awhile now and it was so awesome to finally meet her! She is super sweet and definitely knows her way around Chicago!
I had the watermelon tomato gazpacho and three different crostinis. Yum!
Jill and I both used the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM to get cupcakes. I ordered a Sprinkles and a Chocolate Marshmallow to split with the hubby.
After hanging out with Jill, Brian and I rested at the hotel a bit before heading out for dinner at Gioco (a place Jill recommended), which was a close walk from our hotel.
I ordered the Ravioloni ala Dopia Crema, which was perfect.
That evening before bed, I set out my race uniform. 🙂
A quick hotel selfie, before we headed down for breakfast before the race.
At 6:45 a.m., we met all of the other Fleet Feet folks for a group photo.
Me and my coach Lindsey.
Then we headed to the hospitably tent. I would start running at 8:00 a.m. and needed to be in my corral by 7:45 a.m. They had breakfast in the tent, but I did not eat again. I did use the restrooms twice, I was a little nervous! This VIP Hospitably Tents are extra and they offer breakfast, lunch, a massage after the race (which I did!), $100 towards professional race photos, your OWN bathrooms and bleachers by the finish line for your family/friends. It is a pretty awesome deal!
A photo of me and some of my Fleet Feet pace group friends before the race.
The Start line! Eek!
Here I am at the beginning of the race with two of my pace group friends! I love how they are smiling and I am all focused! Ha!
A couple of me running during the race.
Brian took this photo of me. I was ALMOST done!
Running across the finish line. YES!!!!!!!!!
A couple of photos of me holding my shiny new medal!
A close up of the medal. It is of the Picasso Sculpture, which is where the Chicago Marathon used to start at.
Another finish photo! Brian took this inside the hospitality tent. He got me flowers and a teddy bear that has a 26.2 Finisher t-shirt on. So sweet! After the race, I ate some lunch in the hospitality tent and got a massage on my legs and feet, which helped SO much!
After going back to the hotel to rest and shower, we had dinner at Lou Malnatti’s for some deep dish pizza!
We also got a fried heaven appetizer and a skillet cookie with ice cream for dessert. The food was SO good and I was starving!
The next morning I woke up to a beautiful sunrise. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do a lot of site seeing, but it was a quick trip. I’ve been to Chicago a couple of other times, so I’ve done the museums, biked it, gone to Wrigley Field, a sunset cruise, the Navy Pier and even the bean! But, this time it was just lots of good food, a blogger meet up and THE CHICAGO MARATHON! 🙂
At the airport, we had Chicago style hotdogs for lunch and I thought this sign was funny. 🙂
Hope you all enjoyed my Chicago Marathon recap… I know, it was a little text and photo heavy, but I want to be able to look back on this someday. I also know that maybe some of you need a little encouragement to venture out in life and take a risk or pursue a goal and I say GO FOR IT! 🙂