It’s been a few days. Things are sinking in. Trying to fall asleep Monday night was a challenge since my brain decided it wanted to replay the entire race while I tried to fall asleep. Looking back on the Chicago Marathon it was a day full of strange things, and definitely a story of two different races. Looking back and going over things I am not hanging my head in shame. There is no reason to. I did not fail even if my time doesn’t reflect what I trained for or what I wanted. There are lots of positives thrown in with many things out of my control. So here we go…
Miles 1 – 14
The morning got off to an interesting start. At first there was nothing unusual. I got up and got dressed, ate a banana, and moved on to a bagel with peanut butter. Half way through the bagel the first oh crap moment of the day occurred. I started having huge waves of nausea. I would sit for minutes at a time just hoping that I could keep everything down. I knew that if I threw up everything was over. Somehow I made it down to where the Team was meeting still with 1/2 a bagel in my hand. I knew I needed to eat it, but every time I took a bite I felt like I was going to throw up. Everyone assured me it would be okay, it was just nerves. In my head I really hoped they were right, but I wondered if there wasn’t something already wrong. I had never felt this way before any race before. I carried the bagel half way to the start, and ended up throwing it away. Eating it was just not worth the nausea I got with every bite.
It took forever to get to Charity Village South and the Team in Training tent. We were excited that they were doing a private bag check for us until we realized how far it was (an even bigger problem after the race). Still we had a chance to sit down for a bit before heading over to the start. Fortunately we found an opening into the corral, which was a little tricky to find, and 30 minutes after the gun went off Jaclyn, Betty, and I were heading over the starting line.
I really don’t remember much of my surroundings during the race. I had to really focus on what was going on around me because it was so crowded. Jaclyn and I stayed together for the first 3 miles or so, until I had to stop for the first of 2 bathroom breaks. Things were not happy, and I was worried that I was sweating very heavily rather early in the race. For 30 seconds I wondered if I would be able to get through the whole race, and then I told my brain to shut up. I got myself back together and back on course as quickly as I could and just tried to keep things together. I started planning out how to handle nutrition and salt since it was getting warmer out. I decide to change from salt every 2 hours, to salt every hour, which after noticing that the alert system had gone up to yellow by mile 9 turned out to be a smart decision. I was drinking a lot of water, which worried me a bit, but I knew that taking some salt would help. By mile 7 I knew I needed to eat something despite the fact that my stomach still wasn’t happy and I wasn’t hungry. If I didn’t eat something I knew I would be in trouble later, and managed to get 2 shot blocks down right before the next water stop (they had a really nice flag system that made finding gatorade and water really easy once you got it down). To be honest despite feeling kind of bad I knew I was running okay, which was the really weird part of it all. I’m happy with the first half.
mile 1: 9:48, mile 2: 9:41, mile 3: 10:02, mile 4: 15:34 (stupid line at the porti-potties), mile 5: 9:35, Mile 6: 9:57, mile 7: 10:07, mile 8: 9:35, mile 9: 10:14, mile 10: 10:01, mile 11: 10:01, mile 12: 9:53, mile 13: 9:38, mile 14: 8:46 (what the heck!)
miles 15 – 26.2
To be totally honest I don’t really remember much of my surroundings during the second half of the race other than some of the neighborhoods we ran through towards the end of the 2nd half. I tried to stay focused on my form, and I was having to watch the road a lot (I had forgotten how chewed up the roads in the upper mid west get from the winter weather). Somewhere around mile 15 it got sunny, and it never stopped. The problem was that there was hardly any shade from this point to the end. The little bit of shade that did cover the road cause everyone to immediately try and get in it, which caused all sorts of congestion problems. It ended up being easier to stay in the sun. At some point the warning system went up to red because of the heat (at mile 24 there was a sign showing the temperature as 98 in the sun). I realized I was getting hot, and I knew that if I could get from water stop to water stop I would be okay. So instead of running 11 miles the rest of the race became 2 mile races from water stop to water stop. At some point I started taking walking breaks, and then at mile 22 my stomach just didn’t want to go anymore. All I wanted to do was throw up. Fortunately, I ran into Fran one of our Georgia Team in Training coaches who walked with for a bit.
I got moving, but by the time I got to mile 23 I was crying. It was hot, I felt bad, and all I wanted to do was finish. I couldn’t quit, I didn’t want to. And then I ran into a Chicago Team in Training coach named Katrina. I will forever be grateful to her. She ran the next two miles with. She listened, and we talked. I told her about Mallory and Bruce and how both had to drop out before the race. I wanted to finish for them (more tears there). We started talking about why I got involved with Team in Training. She kept me talking, which was a great distraction. At mile 25 we parted ways, and then I realized that once again that my stomach was my biggest enemy. And then I saw Bruce, Mallory, and my Mom. As much as I wanted to be running when I saw them, all I wanted at that moment was a hug. I think I scared the crap out of my Mom as I ran over. I was crying, and my stomach wanted to hurl, but I only had a mile. Bruce walked with me for a minute, got me settled, and off I went. The finish was right around the corner, just up the hill. I had finished countless training run up hills just like it, but I still ended up walking the top part. Half way up the hill a medic asked someone if they needed help. I didn’t want any help if she was talking to me, and just ignored her. All I had to do was get around the corner and I was done. I don’t remember speeding up. All I remember was a guy yelling Go Bonnie louder than I had heard all day followed by a very loud Go Team as I ran down the last 200 yards, and then I was at the finish line. I spent most of the finish shoot crying. It was huge, and took forever, followed by a very long walk to the TNT tent.
mile 15: 13:19, mile 16: 10:58, mile 17: 10:32, mile 18: 10:32, mile 19: 10:47, mile 20: 11:11, mile 21: 11:56, mile 22: 11:56, mile 23: 11:50, mile 24: 12:35, mile 25: 13:36, mile 26: 11:36, .2: 12:42
For the most part I really enjoy the race. It was very well organized, and the flag system at the water stops made following my nutrition plan really easy. And the cheering all along the course minus just a couple of hard to get to spots was great. There were a few things that were really annoying. There was absolutely no runner etique going on. People would come to a halt right in front of you, walk on the left side, and come darting across right in front of people. I can’t tell you how many times I almost got knocked over by someone else. The road was crowded from the minute we crossed the start line to the minute I finished. I ran an extra .7 of a mile just getting around people. Once the alert system went up to yellow the misters came out. Now I generally don’t mind misters as long as I can get around them. I don’t like my feet getting wet, but these misters decided that everyone needed to get wet whether they wanted to or not. Sometimes they have a hose going across the entire street, or a couple of occasions I swear they aimed them right at me. Not cool! They ran out of sponges, so the volunteers at the kiddie pools there were using just started flinging water at people with their hands. It landed on our feet (again, not so cool). At the first few bridges they had a carpet covering the metal grating to make it easier to run over. By the end of the race only a small part of the bridge was covered, and most of us had no choice but to carefully walk over the grating.
Despite it all I’m pretty happy about the race. I finished, didn’t get hurt, and ran what I think was a fairly smart race. Do I wish things could have gone differently? Yes, but they were out of my control, and I could only adapt to what was going on and do the best I could. I’m really looking forward to getting back to running and training again. Marathon number 5 is done!