Friday, October 18, 2013

Chicago Marathon 2013: The True Story!

"Whether you think you can, or think you can't...You're right!"  ~Henry Ford

On October 13, 2013, I finished my second marathon.  It didn't go like I wanted. It was ugly, it was painful, and I'm trying to figure out what went wrong. I'm trying to learn my lessons from this bump in the road.

The weekend started out amazing!  Saturday morning I was up early and ready to go. Hubby took me to the train station and I excitedly posted my anticipation to the world on Facebook! I couldn't wait to see all my friends from near and far. I was on top of the world. I knew my goal, and I had this! (People had told me this all week).

I feel like my mistakes started happening early on in the day. After we finally met up and dropped off our gear at the hotel, Jeni, Rylee, and Caolan made our way to the expo. We excitedly made our way around to pick up our bibs and shirts, then lap two, and walked around again, lap three.
Take a magnet, sign the sign!

"My Running Friends" Facebook Group!

Having fun at the Expo

This is what I wrote
I was trying to find something specific, so for the fourth time Jeni and I took another lap. No luck....I knew all the walking was not the best, but I felt awesome!!!  How could that be a bad thing? AND I was lucky enough to meet Deena Kastor. How cool is that!

After the expo, we made our way to the hotel. Luckily the room this time didn't have plastic covered mattresses and the room was much bigger with the kitchenette. We chilled for a bit, then made our way to dinner. 
Dinner at the Rosebud
We sat down, chit-chatted got our menus, and then it hit me... OH NO! I'm not hungry, I can't eat... I'm going to lose it.... I could feel the anxiety getting the best of me, I was crawling out of my skin. I wondered if anyone could see the fear and anxiety in my face. I tried to brush the feeling of "I'm doomed" away. I smiled and picked at my food, pretending to eat some, but I knew I wasn't fueling enough. 

Another mile walk back to the hotel (Gosh, I've been on my feet alot today). We settled in to our hotel room. I choked down some instant oatmeal I brought, hoping it would help with the nerves (it didn't). I was so jealous that Rylee and Jeni could fall asleep so easily. Caolan and I tried to watch "Spirit of the Marathon" through some sketchy wireless internet. Eventually, we gave up and went to "bed". I would have said to "sleep", but sleep didn't happen. I was also worried I'd wake Caolan, so I tried to lay there quietly later finding out, she wasn't sleeping either. 

The alarm went off, 6am! We got up, got ready, quickly wrote down my splits on my left arm, my inspirational quote on my right, and off Caolan went for her earlier wave. This killed me, I wanted to scream, "NO! Don't go!" I tried to believe I could do this, but honestly, I wasn't so confident anymore. Again, I brushed it off, put on my happy face, and made my way downstairs and met up with my running buddies for the race.
Pre-race jitters
In true Chicago Marathon form, we had issues with the porta-potties. Lines were too long, so Eileen, Esther, and I didn't get to use it one more time before the race. UGH! oh well, according to a friend I have a bionic bladder, so no worries for me.

The second wave always takes forever, so finally at 8:15, we crossed the start line, and we were off!  YES! finally, here we go. The first few miles went by like a breeze. I tried to watch my pace but my GPS went nuts. I couldn't tell how fast or slow I was going. I tried to watch my split at mile 3. I knew I was a bit ahead, but didn't think it was that far off (it was). Eileen had to split off from us around mile 5 due the lack of using the porta-potty before the race; so it was down to Esther and I. Around mile 5-6 things started going really wrong for me.

Now, if you get a squeamish you may want to skip this part. I was informed that some "snot rockets" needed to be launched but it would be done a distance away. Okay, shouldn't be an issue. NOTE: I apparently have a HUGE gag reflex and don't do well with snot rockets. For the next 5-7 minutes, I gagged and dry-heaved! Sadly, I think I pulled a muscle in the process too! From that point on I felt like someone had punched me in the gut and I couldn't recover. It hurt, I couldn't catch my breath, and I knew I was going to have to adjust my goals.

Around mile 11, I had to let Esther go on and run her own race. She felt strong, she was running great, and I couldn't let myself hold her back or let her pull me along anymore than she had. I had to finish my own race. However it was going to look, it had to be done. So I sent her off with a smile and a wave!

I made it to mile 13.1 before I had to make a final decision. Keep running and have the potential of not finishing, or walk "my race pace" and get through this marathon. If anyone has had the pleasure of walking with, they know my "race walk" is not a Sunday stroll pace. 

I'm not sure at what point the foot and knee started hurting, but I remember at some point that every time I tried to start running again, the pain would pierce through and up the leg. So again I walked. I walked through all the neighborhoods noticing all the things I didn't last year. The hardest part was that I noticed that people didn't cheer for the walkers. It felt like they were looking at you with a sense of sadness; "AWWWW, poor thing, she's walking." Ugh, I powered on. My best that day would look different, but it would be my best THAT day!

It was warm, I felt miserable, but I powered on.....
at least I wasn't the only one struggling in Chinatown

Finally the 26 mile mark appeared. Okay, I can run the rest of this...well, jog it. I crossed the finish line, arms held high, tears in my eyes. I did it! I finished my second marathon. It was horrible at the same time it was amazing. 

Walking through the finisher chute I finally saw a familiar face; Julie. 

She took one look at me and said, "What's wrong?" 

That's it! I lost it. I bawled! "Everything went wrong! I couldn't do it!! I failed." She hugged me tight and gave me some words of encouragement. 

I left Julie so she could celebrate her success with her friends, and I walked on trying to regain some sense of dignity. In reality, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry some more. 

Finally, I found Caolan. She put her arm around me and we meandered to a spot to sit down and wait. I felt like I let her down, like I let myself down, like I let everyone who followed me down. 

A very exhausted and sore runner
 Here we are, almost a week later. I'm still processing. I'm still grieving that it didn't go as planned. I have my ups and downs. However, at the same time, I can feel that grim determination of the runner I've become that I won't let this race define me or force me to give up. I will trudge on, I will run another marathon..... and I probably won't wait another year.

"Whether you think you can, or think you can't...You're right!"  ~Henry Ford