Let's get this message out and done with upfront:
I didn't finish.
Very mixed emotions on 10.10.10, including disappointment, thankfulness, exhilaration and pain.
I started this adventure all the way back as early as April, when my good friend Bethany said "Hey Nicolle! You should run the Chicago Marathon with me!" and I said "OK!".
I started formally training in June, and by formal I mean I followed a downloaded training plan put in place by the race. I didn't stick to it 100%. I'd say I stuck to it 62.5% of the time. Ya, that feels about right. I did eat pretty healthy, and I did some weight training as well. In looking back on it now, there's so much more I should have done. I accomplished quite a few long runs, but never made the 20 mark.
Fast forward to this past weekend.
I took a bus down to Chicago Saturday morning and made my way over to the hotel. Got settled in and met up with Stephen, Beth and Clay for our out of control carb dinner. Cafe Zalute met my expectations! Very good! We had fun and it was nice catching up! Keith drove in around 7 that evening.
Up and at 'em at 3:45 in the morning! We met up at the train station- Keith, Bethany, Stephen, Laura and Beth's family. So nice to have a group to go with! Getting downtown was exciting…I'd always wanted to see Chicago. I saw a mix of styles-some buildings reminded me of Italy (the Metra signs) and some areas looked like any other downtown. I could have been in Seattle or Boston-couldn't really tell. But then along the waterfront at the START line, the distinguishing skyline was beautiful. Watching the sun come up in anticipation was even better.
The crowd was energetic and fun. 45,000 people participating and 1.7 spectators. It took 35 minutes to even cross the START line.
I felt really good starting off. I felt like I prepared, hydrated, ate enough and stretched enough. The first couple of miles were easy.
Hello Mile #4…let me introduce you to my bladder.
I think this was my #1 mistake…I had to pee. I stopped at Mile 4 and went to the bathroom and the lines were too long but I couldn't hold it. It ate up 15 minutes of time, and I never caught up with my pace group after that. I was still doing good though. Saw Keith and friends around Mile 8 and I was OK. At around Mile 12 I was really feeling the pain in my lower back, and quite a bit in my abs which I usually don't have a problem with. I passed Keith again and was having doubts! At about Mile 14 or 15 the "Official Race Time" car passed me by and I was doing everything in my power to keep up with it. I thought if I could just stay with that car I can do it and sprint at the end to get ahead.
By Mile 16-17 I was walking quite a bit, and I tacked on an easy 30 minutes in time and the bottom of my feet felt like they were on fire and my left ankle was throbbing. I was chaffing under my arms and the vaseline wasn't helping at all. As I looked at my watch and hit the 5 hour mark at Mile 18 I just knew I wasn't going to finish in time.
I think I had kind of mentally accepted it the last couple of miles and toggled back and forth in my head about it. Do I finish hours from now and received no metal and no qualification, or do I stop? I made the decision to stop and not push through the final 7.5 because at that time I felt like I couldn't even walk it-when in reality, can't we really do anything we put our mind to? I cried all the way to the aid station and joined the others who weren't able to finish.
I was disappointed and angry at myself, yet I was proud that I went as far as I did.
I was embarrassed to tell everyone I didn't make it, but people have been really supportive, and it's the best feeling knowing there were people there to do that. That really meant a lot to me.
I am so thankful for the experience. I learned a LOT!
- PEE as many times as possible RIGHT BEFORE the race. Not an hour before the race! It will not go away once you start running!!
- I need to try more food options like GU for the run and I need to get a sport belt NOT a fanny pack (albeit fanny packs are cross functional and super cool).
- Put vaseline on before starting for the chaffing.
- Put chap stick on!! My lips were on fire when it was done. Between the sun, sweat and dirt it was horrible.
- No matter what, try and stay with the pace group.
- It doesn't matter what you look like, how much you weigh, or how tall you are in order to finish a marathon.
- I've never seen so many different types of people and situations-from people throwing up on the side of the road, to people saying prayers at every mile marker, to people juggling, it's a melting pot of craziness!
- People are amazing and positive. All the support and kind words really are out there! People want to see other people succeed!
- I STILL WANT A MEDAL!!!!
363 days until Chicago 2011!!