2009 Chicago Start

I think I will call this race my comedy of errors, because a bunch of things seemed to go wrong…but I DID finish and I had a fabulous time with Melanie and her family, as well as seeing some old friends from Chicago! So all in all, worth the trip 🙂

So this past weekend my friend Melanie and I ran the Chicago marathon. It was my second marathon, and her first. Now, I’ll be honest when I say I didn’t have the best track record when it came to the training. I was very good in the beginning, but then my schedule was all messed up and we moved and blah blah excuses–long story short, I was a little nervous that that would come into effect. But I completed the 18-miler and the 20-miler, so I knew I would at least be able to finish. Cut to Saturday morning at 5am on Saturday when I woke up and got my stuff together to leave for Chicago from DC. My cab was late, and I made it there in the nick of time for my flight. We board and I find myself next to a larger man who has already fallen asleep and is snoring LOUDLY. Okay, snoring is just something I can. not. take. I was just thinking this thought when the pilot came on and said that an indicator light came on and we needed to restart the plane on the runway. Naturally, Mr. Blocked Airways dozes right on through. Fifteen minutes later the problem is still not fixed and we have to head back to the gate for maintenance to look at it; but we’re assured it will be a quick fix, which is nice, since my layover time is rapidly decreasing. Well, fifteen minutes after THAT and the plane isn’t going anywhere so we deplane and head up to ticketing to rebook, only to find out that the only supervisor has left and no one is empowered to issue any tickets. UMMM this is what bothers me about airlines–with all their fancy communication gadgets, shouldn’t someone have sent the word that 100 people are storming back upstairs that will need immediate attention? Luckily I was person #5 because I booked it up the escalator, but it still took twenty minutes to talk to a real person. There was a girl in front of me who was also running in the marathon, and my heart almost sank when she came back and said the only flight available to Chicago left from DULLES and got into Chicago at 4:40…which meant I would miss the expo and would have to send Melanie along to pick up my packet and all my race day stuff. Well, lo and behold, I step up to the agent and she’s found me a flight on another airline that gets into Chicago at 1:45. Hooray! I’m beaming from ear to ear as I plant myself downstairs to finish The Stranger before my new flight (DIRECT to Chicago!) and everything went off without a hitch.

Once I got to Chicago I took a cab down to McCormick Place, picking up Melanie as I went, and picked up all of our stuff for the race on Sunday. The expo was crazy and it brought back a lot of memories for me. Watching the video of the course was especially emotional because I remember how I felt, particularly at mile 23 when there were NO SPECTATORS and I was so ready for everything to be over. At more than one point I found myself wondering, why did I decide to do this AGAIN??!? But, all in good fun. We headed up to Lakeview to meet up with Colleen and Amity and we went out to eat at The Olive Garden for some pasta and then I crashed asleep.

Next morning I woke up when it was still dark out, got dressed and crept out of Colleen’s apartment. Outside it was FREEZING and I went to wait at the bus stop. Wellll, twenty mintues later there was no bus so I found a group of girls and we started looking for a cab. Buttttt all the cabs were full, few and far between. So when the bus randomly pulled up, I hopped on and made my way downtown. Met up with Melanie and we dropped off our stuff and went to the start line. Probably about 5 minutes before the start, I dropped my iPod and it broke. Believe me when I say, my heart sank with the prospect of having to run 26 miles without music…again. Last year we weren’t allowed to have headphones so I was really looking forward to having it this year. Well, no such luck. But Mel and I were still pumped when we started walking towards the start line, and when we crossed it at a slow jog, skipping over the piles of old sweatshirts and warm-ups. As a sidebar: I kept my blue flannel pajama pants with frogs on them until about mile 10.

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The first part of the marathon is always the best–there are lots of fans, the runners are pumped, and you’re feeling good and energized and fast. Mel and I ran the first 7 miles together, and then we got split up. I felt pretty good throughout, and the parts that I was really dreading didn’t end up being that bad. The last few miles, in particular, were full of people whose cheers really did help! Only problem was, my bladder decided to wreak havoc on my race and I had to stop–not once, not twice, but THREE times to go to the bathroom. So, that was kind of annoying because I had to waste time waiting in line for the port-a-potties. Although, to be honest, I didn’t push it as hard as I could have. Towards the end of the race–and even in places in the middle–I kept thinking, I really want to enjoy the race and not kill myself trying to get a good time. I think I was just remembering last year when it was so hot and I wanted to do well and there were points that were downright dreadful that I didn’t want to repeat…so yeah, ended up finishing 5:08:32, which was 20 minutes slower than last year’s marathon. But! It was a great time, and afterward I was so thrilled to eat a CRAPload–bagel, three packs of pretzels, banana, gatorade…and then once Mel and I met up we went to get a quick massage and then hobble back to her family’s condo, where we cuddled in bed and watched TV until dinner (Aurelio’s!).

All in all, a very enjoyable trip, and I almost DIED when Melanie said she wanted to do it again (just the day before she was adamant about how she wasn’t going to be one of those people that caught the marathon bug…well, long story short we’re planning to do a half marathon in March and do the Chicago marathon again next year…what can I say?). I just hope we can get our friends Meg and Katie to run with us, because Mel and I both have high hopes of all four of us running together!!! We missed our Katie dearly this weekend since she got injured during the training and couldn’t run.

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And, hey! If you made it all the way through this post, congrats!!! It took me a couple sittings to even write it 😉 Anyone else a runner or thinking about running a (half) marathon? I’d love to hear about any tips or good races!

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2 Responses to “My Second Marathon”

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