I still am on a high from completing my first marathon 2 days ago. I ran the Chicago marathon, a race that I’ve been wanting to run for at least 5 years now! I actually signed up and trained to run 2 years ago, but ended up being way too stressed and having some Achilles pain and didn’t end up running it (still kicking myself for that!)
To be honest, I didn’t feel at all ready for the race. I missed a couple long runs and quite a few mid-week runs. I felt awful during my 18 mile and 20 mile runs and ended up having to walk a lot during both of them. Granted, the 20 miler was extremely hot and humid. But I still doubted my ability to run the whole time during the marathon.Luckily, I woke up on race day and it was cloudy and 60 degrees! I was so happy because I was fearing an 80 degree and sunny day, which can often happen in October in Chicago. There was a high chance of rain and thunderstorms, but I was just so relieved it wasn’t hot out. I woke up at 5am and ate the breakfast I had prepped the night before- overnight oats with blueberries! I heated it up, added a little peanut butter (not too much because I wanted to be consuming mostly carbs) and drank water while eating. I put on the outfit I layed out the night before, double (okay, triple) checked I had everything in my gear bag, and was ready to go! I ordered a Lyft to get me to the CARA gear check, but unfortunately it said the driver wouldn’t arrive for 20 minutes! So I put away some laundry to get out some nervous energy. Anyways, the driver ended up dropping me off at the wrong spot, so I actually had to take a bus and then walk to the check in–thank god I left early enough! I still had time to gear check, drink gatorade, pee twice, and mentally prepare for the marathon. Around 7:30am, I started heading over to the start line! I should have expected this, but there were so. many. people. It was packed! Luckily I got into my start corral in plenty of time, adjusted everything in my Flip belt, and just had to wait. I met a nice girl in my corral while we were both marveling at the barefoot runner ahead of us–seriously how do people do that?! It was so nice to chat with someone before the race and helped soothe my nerves.
About 8 minutes after the race started (about 8:08am), I was off and running! I decided I was going to run conservatively. I really wanted to run the entire time, and I knew if I went too fast in the beginning, I would lose all steam (like during my 20 miler). I kept checking in with myself to make sure I was running a steady and sustainable pace. Even though it was wet and rainy out (it started really downpouring around miles 6-10), once I was running, I hardly noticed! The energy of the city was truly amazing and every single spectator made all the difference. Seeing my parents and a lot of my friends cheering for me was SO awesome and totally kept me going. Knowing I had someone I knew coming up helped me get to that next mile.
The race went by really well until mile 21 or so. My feet, legs, and back were starting to hurt and I was running out of steam. At that point I was totally focused on just getting to the next mile. I wouldn’t even let myself think about mile 26, it was all about mile 22, and so on.But I hadn’t stopped at all- not even at the water/Gatorade stops, I kept running while going through, so I knew I could run the whole thing. I thought about Julia cheering for me and being so proud of me for doing this. I know a lot of people run marathons without raising money for a charity, but doing that made a big difference for me and gave my run more purpose. I listened to my music intently and focused on the goal. I knew I was slowing down, but I didn’t care- I told myself to just keep running. Once I got to mile 25, I knew I could do it! Only a little over a mile left! But seeing the 400m sign was a huge relief- especially since at that point, we were going up the steepest hill of the race (it’s Chicago though, there are very few hills, so it probably wasn’t actually that steep). But after turning the corner of the hill, the finish line was in sight and tears formed in my eyes. With a huge smile on my face, I was able to find a last bit of energy and power through. What a feeling!!! I actually ran a marathon.
I still can’t believe I did it. I keep thinking back to the crowds, the city, and reliving every moment. Running the marathon was an absolutely amazing experience that I know I will treasure forever. You never forget your first marathon, and I am so happy that mine went the way it did! Not my fastest run by any means, but that’s why they say “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” I am not totally sure when my next marathon will be, but I know there will be more in my future!