photo 1 Sunday morning our wakeup call wasn’t too early. We stayed at Hotel Allegro so we were less than a mile to/from the start/finish. We got up around 4:45am, I blogged a bit, made breakfast, got dressed and walked over to the race start at Grant Park. We got there around 6:50am and were herded into gate 1. Andy and I had to go to the bathroom and ended up waiting past 7:20am (when they threatened to cut off entry into wave 1).

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Luckily we were in corral E (the last of wave 1) so we didn’t miss out on anything.  I might be the weirdest person but I did not have any emotions towards the start of the race. I think it helped that I’ve never run a marathon before so I wasn’t stressed with time or performance. I just wanted to finish. I think with half marathons, I’ve gotten to the point where I always want to be better, and that usually means running faster for a long duration of time.

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The race seemed to pass by effortlessly. 6 miles in and I felt like I hadn’t even started running. Mentally I tried to start the race over at this point, with only 20 miles left.

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Around mile 8 we saw Devon holding my self-made cheetah sign, and she also snapped an epic picture of us!

Andy and I hit the halfway mark at 1:56. We were pretty consistently under 9, and even got down to 8:20. So we decided to keep it closer to a 9 minute pace until mile 20. At the end of a half marathon I always question, how would I ever be able to do this again, but it was kind of a positive thing to be “halfway done.”

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I actually felt really good until mile 18 and even wanted to dance (thank you to all my snapchat friends who entertained my interpretive dancing to my marathon playlist the night before). I felt like once I got to mile 20, it would be home free (even though I had never run past 20 miles in a training run).

Mile 20-21 I started to cramp up, but then a decline presented an opportunity to stretch out my legs and hips. Andy and I ran together until 21 and then we kinda zoned out. I pulled ahead but then she caught back up around 24 and peeled away.

At mile 22 I thought I would just beast it to the end and picked up the pace. I just tried to imagine the mile repeats we’ve been doing Wednesday nights for speed work and just told myself, only 4 more miles. This worked, however, for only 2 miles until mile 23/24 when I felt like my body seize up.  24-26 were the most painful miles and my body felt like it started to go numb. I actually contemplated whether I might be having a stroke because sometimes I like to be a hypochondriac/overly exaggerate.

After many, many people have told me, there really is no way to prepare or describe the type of pain you will endure in a marathon. It truly is mental once you get to a certain point. I just wanted to be done but at the same time I didn’t want to stop because I was so close.

The finish line (or what I thought was the finish line) was AWFUL. From mile 25 you could see a huge Bank of America screen that looked like it would be the finish line. However, the end was still another half mile away, with 2 turns and an incline.

I ended up taking only 3 Gu’s (30 min, 1:15, 2 hours). Towards the end I started to feel really full because I kept taking in water at every station. But it gave me something to look forward to and something to refresh me. Kind of like in yoga when you breathe to release certain areas of tension, I just imagined the cool water going to release the tight areas of my body.

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The amount of participants, crowd support and aid stations were huge, amazing and really well put together. Running through a new city and 29 different neighborhoods kept it exciting and made it feel like an exploration. And the course was as flat as you could ask for. This is definitely a marathon I would consider running again.

After some anticipation that Sunday would rain, it ended up being the perfect day (especially for running). I think it’s the only time that I have barely ever sweat. And I ran 26.2 miles!!

I honestly didn’t hate the marathon, and I’m already looking to do another! I enjoyed the long weekend runs and the race itself was fun (until 24). I didn’t want to set too many expectations for myself for the first because I wanted it to be enjoyable and I knew there would be some factors (physical and emotional) I couldn’t prepare for. Now I feel like I’ll be better prepared, especially for the later miles.  I kinda gave up with training the last month or so (neglected my recovery runs) and now knowing what to expect from the marathon might push me to train harder.

The only thing I didn’t like about this race was that my GPS was so inconsistent. I hardly relied on it for pacing except to check my mile splits. After running through a tunnel within the first mile, and maybe the interference of the buildings, the pace was unpredictable.  It would range from over 10 minute miles and dip down to 7’s. I just ran primarily by feel and it seemed to turn out well. I successfully completed my first full marathon in sub-4 (3:56:09) and without any walking breaks!

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Mile splits recorded by my Garmin (3:56:01):
1 – 8:50
2 – 8:43
3 – 8:52
4 – 8:35
5 – 8:33
6 – 8:36
7 – 8:45
8 – 8:46
9 – 8:55
10 – 8:52
11 – 8:46
12 – 8:53
13 – 8:19
14 – 9:02
15 – 9:03
16 – 9:01
17 – 9:06
18 – 8:49
19 – 8:58
20 – 9:12
21 – 8:50
22 – 8:23
23 – 8:37
24 – 9:15
25 – 9:35
26 – 9:51
Last .5 –4:40

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