Race morning I woke up at 5:00am. I probably could have slept later with how close I was to the start, but I would rather be early than rushed. I had taken two different outfits as possible race outfits - a cute pink one with a running skirt and the standard shorts/tank that I had worn for most of my long runs. Since I had only worn the skirt for a 12 miler, I made a quick race morning decision to skip the cuteness and go for tried and true.
I got dressed, ate my breakfast and checked the temps. The weather was warmer than I had hoped for and I knew I'd be fine once I got going, but the decision was whether to start with arm warmers or not. I had a trash bag with me to use for warmth before the race, so I decided not to mess with arm warmers. I knew I would shed them fast and didn't want to have to carry them for most of the race. I grabbed a water, grabbed my trash bag and headed to the race start.
The morning was beautiful and seeing the sun rise over the city was a sight to see. I have to admit that I stole a few of the pics below from the facebook album of a friend of mine who also did the race. Thanks JCP.
I found the port a potties, did my business and hung out for a bit before enterring the coral. About 30 minutes before the race start I enterred the coral and found a vacant spot on the curb to hang out.
Finally it was time for the national anthem and then we were off. With over 35,000 runners, it took me over 10 minutes to get to the start line. I shed the trash bag just before crossing the start. At first I was a little bit chilled, but very shortly we went under a bridge that seemed more like a tunnel and I was extremely glad I had decided to leave the arm warmers in the room. It was muggy and warm through that bridge and I knew from there on I would not be cold again.
I hit mile 1 and saw a 9:54. I was happy with that. I figured it might be a tad fast overall, but it was slower than my first mile usually is. I usually get sucked in with all the excitement and have to slow my pace down. The crowd here was good for me in that it helped hold me back.
I was able to hold a consistent pace for over half of the race.
Mile 2: 9:58
Mile 3: 9:51
Mile 4: 9:27
Mile 5: 9:30
Mile 6: 9:49
Mile 7: 9:19
Mile 8: 9:45
Mile 9: 9:44
Mile 10: 9:44
Mile 11: 9:46
Mile 12: 9:50
From about mile 10 I felt like I kind of had to pee, but not bad. I had been on the lookout for some open port-a-potties because I was not going to stand in line. Finally somewhere between 12 and 13 I saw an open one, darted off course, did my thing and ran back out.
Mile 13: 10:39
I settled back into my pace and continued on.
Mile 14: 9:47
Mile 15: 9:51
At this point it started warming up and I could tell I was slowing just a bit.
Mile 16: 10:02
Mile 17: 10:06
Mile 18: 10:20
Mile 19: 10:32
Somewhere around here I began thinking about all my other marathons. This was my 12th one and in all the previous ones, there was a point where I stopped to walk at least a little bit. In the Disney marathon one year I made it to mile 22 before I walked. I hadn't walked to this point yet and decided I would try to get further than I did at Disney at least. I did allow myself to slow the pace just a little because in reality, my dream was to not walk at all today.
Mile 20: 10:44
Mile 21: 10:40
Mile 22: 10:53
Mile 23: 11:19
I began to think at this point of the post I would put on facebook about not walking one single step. I knew I couldn't post that if I walked, so that was motivation. Whatever works, right? Besides, I only had 3 more miles to go. I knew at this point I'd get a PR, but the question was by how much. I calculated that if I ran 11 minute miles I only had a little over 33 minutes left to run. Surely I could do it.
Mile 24: 11:04
Now only 2 miles to go. Piece of cake.
Mile 25: 10:54
DO NOT WALK. I AM SO CLOSE.
Mile 26: 10:32
The last little bit of the marathon takes you up over a bridge before you turn to the finish. It's not steep by any means but at mile 26 of a marathon it sure feels like it. I plowed up that thing anyway.
The last .2 were done in 2:16.
When I saw the finish line I picked up speed. I had made it. All 26.2 miles without one single step of walking. And a brand new PR of 4:26:18!
I was soooo happy! I got a mylar blanket just in case I would get cold, I got my medal and then I stretched out my legs and lower back. I exited the coral and found a curb to sit on so I could call the family and let them know I was done. After sitting there and drinking my coke for a while I made my way back to the room for a nice shower. Then I put on my compression sleeves and headed to Niketown for some well deserved finisher gear.
I have to say that Chicago is one of the most well supported races I've ever done. The crowds were amazing throughout the whole course. And since it was hotter than expected, most of the locals had their water hoses out and were cooling us off as we ran past. For as big of a race as it is, it was very well run. I'm definitely glad I did this one and can now mark another state off my list.