Sunday, October 13, 2019

2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon

This is Chicago.
Saturday evening we hooked up Chris's cousin and her husband and hung around Wrigleyville. Had a beer at the Cubby Bear, then massive carboloading at Happy Camper. Pita and hummus was the order of the evening and I fairly stuffed myself.

Official Time: 4:05:18
Avg. Pace: 9:22

Personal Best: 3:42:07 (Twin Cities 2015)

Not my best day. It feels wrong to be self-critical. But this was hard. Very, very hard. Like, New York City hard. The last two races, while not a walk in the park, were full of positive energy. I felt good, even when I was stiff and wanting to stop.

It all comes down to training. NYC I did my best, but I had no idea what I was in store for. It's not just about building muscle and endurance, you are putting chemicals into your muscles throughout training that make it possible to go long distances.

My first half was under two hours. But by mile twenty I was sore. Not spent, not like New York where my stomach hurt and I was dehydrated and under nourished. Quite the opposite, I feel I consumed too much water, too many energy snacks. I just crapped out. I wanted to walk. I wanted to quit.

And yet! Four hours and five minutes? That's great! Really, it is. I set a goal for myself -- four hours -- which was arbitrary. I wasn't out to break any records, knew I couldn't. I may even have kept up but I stopped to pee twice. I haven't needed a bathroom break the last two marathons. I timed it just right then, never needing to stop.

The Chicago is big, 45,000 runners. That's well more than Cleveland and the Twin Cities combined. And it was a beautiful day, just perfect, in spite of my fears. Glorious. I was dressed appropriately, with long sleeves, gloves (which I eventually ditched) a beanie (also hit the curb) and a billed hat. I haven't worn sunglasses for a marathon and didn't start today. Shorts were also called for and I was never uncomfortably chilly.

And there were live bands and lots and lots of loud music, and enormous crowds! My knowledge of Chicago neighborhoods is not impressive, but I was particularly touched by the excitement in the Mexican neighborhoods, and the Greek neighborhood, and Chinatown, and that part of town where they had stages and stages of dancing drag queens.

What marked this city as different from the few other races, or specifically New York where there are also enormous crowds, is how narrow the streets are compared to NYC, so the crowds were deafening, and pushing into the street. I felt like I did a lot more jostling for position, and all the time than I have ever had to do before.

In spite of the stiffness and pain (my sciatica, oy) I was pretty fierce on the inclines. That's a thing I do. And I did rally very late in the game, in the last mile, to keep my chin up and make a good showing. Crossing the finish line, I thought, well. I did that.

Once I made my way through the gauntlet of drinks and snacks and apples (oh GOD, that apple was the best thing I ever ate) and getting warm clothes on, I met up with Chris and Allie, and also my mother-in-Law Connie and her sister Nell, who were visiting this weekend. We all found a table at Rudy's Bar and Grille and I ate and relaxed and was so grateful to have crossed that particular finish line.

I will never forget, though, shortly after the race was concluded, and this wonderful volunteer gave me my medal. I looked at the inscription and at the bottom it reads I AM A MARATHONER.

I started to cry. Because whatever else you might call me, I certainly am that.

Congratulations to all those members of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation TEAM CHALLENGE, and thanks to all those who supported my campaign. We did good.

And thanks to Chris and Allie, so much, for their love and support throughout my training and especially for this memorable weekend.

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