FIRST SOLO SCOOT POST! BOOM!
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I’m ready to get started.
Last month, before officially joining the Scoot Chicks, I ran my second marathon in the Windy City. Chicago.
Chicago is my kind of town, let me tell you. I feel a kindred connection with the people of Chi-town. Probably because I spent the better part of the last 5 years living in the Midwest (Wisconsin, baby!) and Chicago just feels homey. I mean, their taste in football teams is questionable at best, but I have so many friends and family in and around the Chicago area, it felt like going home.
Going in to this race, I wasn’t feeling awesome about things. This summer had been incredibly busy and in the month before the marathon, I’d been traveling a lot and I felt my training had suffered. My last long long run was almost a month and a half before, while I was in Alaska visiting my family.
Running around Eklutna Lake was amazing and I’m so happy I was able to do 20 miles on my home turf. But once I got back to Virginia? Different story.
And of course, in the days leading up to leaving for Chicago? I got a cold. Like, nasty sinuses-all-congested-can’t-breathe kind of cold. So, I said to myself, “self, buy thee some sudafed and DRINK ALL THE WATER.”
Upon arriving in Chicago, I met up with one of my oldest and dearest friends, who accompanied me to the expo, where things were the smoothest I’ve ever seen any race expo run. Ever. Like, fancy ipads er’rywhere. Super fast. Super easy.
I spent Saturday toodling around Chicago with college friends (reunions are the best, btdubs) and resting my legs so they could run all the miles and drinking all the water (because, sickness. and also hydration). That night, I laid out all of my race gear and hopped in bed at 9:30 – because when you have to be dressed and out the door by 5:15am, you go to sleep as early as possible.
The race start was a bus and train ride away from where I was staying, so in typical Kyle fashion, I grabbed coffee to keep me company. Chicago has a pretty easy-to-navigate public transit system, and coming from DC where I ride the metro regularly, it was no big deal to figure out where I needed to be to get where I needed to go.
One thing about running in Chicago in the Fall: you never know what the weather is going to do. Having lived in the midwest, I know that mid-October could either be sweltering or snowing. Fortunately, race morning, temperatures were chilly, but perfect for running. To stay warm, I had on like, three layers (not sorry) and before I dropped my bag at gear check I was doing some sun salutations to loosen up and stay warm. The start corrals were super easy to navigate and once I ditched my stuff, I made my way into my corral and joined the other racers in the usual banter and bouncing around and huddling together to stay warm and loose.
I didn’t have to stand around too long, as the race officials got the corrals moving fairly quickly, and before I knew it, I was stripping off my throwaways and crossing the starting line. We were off through the streets of Chicago. That was probably one of my favorite things about this race, actually – the fact that the entire course is a tour of some of the best parts of the city. From Grant Park, through downtown, from Wrigley Field to White Sox stadium, we ran all over that town.
It was a beautiful day and Chicagoans were out in droves to cheer us on. Seriously. So many people. In most places, the crowds were two or three people deep. I don’t think there was any place along the course that was quiet – it was awesome.
The other amazing thing about this course? The fueling and water stations. Evenly dispersed, on both sides of the road, water and gatorade and in the last few miles, bananas, too. The volunteers were amazing and they kept us runners in good shape throughout the race.
Because I was running intervals for this race (5 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking), I felt really good throughout – the built in walk breaks were great and given that I was still dealing with the congestion from my cold, definitely helped me keep my pacing and breathing in check. It wasn’t until about mile 22 that I really started to feel tired… and I could tell that my body was kind of reaching “done-zo” phase – being sick and running that far means fatigue. I slowed my pace and adjusted my intervals and kept pushing.
Now, the majority of this course is flat – Chicago is lauded as being one of the fastest (that’s a relative term. Ahem.) marathons around. But, what they neglect to tell you is that the last two tenths of a mile are uphill. RUDE. “Oh sure, you just ran 26 miles, and the finish line is like… right there, but run up this hill first.”
But, you know what, by that point I was just so ready to be done that I powered up that hill and turned back in to Grant Park to cross the finish line like a boss. Or like a wobbly-legged little girl. Whatever. I finished and I shaved 15 minutes off of my previous marathon time. So that’s a win in my book.
After the race, I hobbled my way to the meet up area and found Beth and Catrina who helped me sit down, helped me get back up and walked me back to the train. I’m so grateful for friends who join in the marathon fun, because truly, the experience is made that much better when there are people there to share in your accomplishments.
Chicago was an incredible race and I would definitely do it again – and hopefully without a cold so I can take more advantage of the storied speediness of this course.
Fun aside? While I was tweeting about the marathon, Mizuno hooked me up with a pair of their new Wave Rider 18s. SO PUMPED. These kicks are carrying me through training right now and are amazing. I’m looking forward to taking down another 26.2 in these babies in Philadelphia at the end of the month. Money. So awesome.