Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Chicago Marathon Race Recap: I can’t wait to do it again!

I can’t believe that it has been 2 ½ weeks since I finished the Chicago Marathon! My body recovered within 5 days, my life resumed as usual, and I ran again within the first week! Not to shabby for a first time marathoner!

Let me start by saying, I can’t wait to do it again!!! Yes, I really said that! I told you those girls I am friends with knew something I didn't about completing a marathon. It was worth all of the pain, sweat, tears, trials, tribulations and juggling of schedules. Honestly, everyone should complete a marathon once in their life. There is nothing like it!

Of course, I have been living on a high ever since, but have had some time to reflect about why I am in love with the Chicago Marathon:

1. The Best Race Spectators Ever!!!

Let me start by saying that there were 1.7 million spectators at the Chicago Marathon on that chilly mid 30 degree morning. What a statement! Near freezing temps and they have come out to cheer all of us runners on. Melted my heart!

For an entire 5 hours and 27 minutes I high-fived the race spectators while they yelled my name and gave me encouragement! I never missed even one high five even from the little peanut toddlers that were two-feet high with their hand out that I had to run over and duck for…I would never change that! The kids would turn to their Dad or Mom after we high-fived with the biggest, eye-glowing cheeky smile ever. It brought tears to my eyes and I could not stop smiling! Who knows maybe one day they will become a runner? Honestly, my cheeks hurt that entire day from all of the smiling I did!

My name was on the front and back of my shirt (I highly recommend doing that!) so the crowd yelled things like “Danyelle, keep smiling! Your awesome! You’ve got this! You’re my hero! The finish isn’t far”! Complete strangers doing this for me helped me believe in humanity all over again! Thank you!

The signs the spectators made were hilarious! They stated things like “Don’t poop! You’re awesome! You have a long way to go!” lol! Of course my favorite was the one my husband and kids made for me (We love our Sexy Mother Runner with all of their names signed), but the second runner up was, “Bib # 45### I want to have your babies!”  Just cracked me up! I loved that one!

2. The Race Course was amazing!

There were two favorites spots for me: China Town and Boys Town! Dancing dragons, singing drag queens and a high five from an on stage Elvis! How can you beat that?!

3. The race was flawless!

I picked up my race packet at the race expo held at McCormick Place with thousands of other folks! Packet pick-up, chip check/activation, shirt bag! Done! It was flawless!
The race bag had every detail mapped out for you with step-by-step instructions. There wasn't a question unanswered. This was very comforting for a first timer in a big race! The expo was awesome, too!

Had to get a quick a picture at the Expo! 14+ hours until I try to become a marathoner!

Race morning was smooth as butter, too! They had us in start corrals and no one could skip into faster corrals as they monitored it. I thought that was great! Your race bib # was based on which start corral you were in and people respected that.
As you may have noticed, I enabled posts based on my timing chip to text my family and post to Facebook.  Every one of those checks worked! I would receive texts from my mom, husband, and friends during the race that ranged from “Your half-way there and doing great! I love you keep going!” Plus, my husband and kids knew where I was so they could see me throughout the course and be at the finish line at the right time.

I am still in awe of the race, the magnitude and organization of it were amazing. Although you may have read some scuttle about the Chicago Marathon running out of medals for finishers that day let me state that there should be more clarification. Yes, the Chicago Marathon ran out of medals for those who finished after 7 hours. The truth is that medals were only supposed to be given out to those who finished 6:30 and under. I thought that sure was nice of them to continue handing out medals even though it stated everywhere that you must finish in under 6:30. Secondly, the race director stated that someone may have stolen a box of the medals. This is quite possible as we all know in this economy that you see folks looking for metal to melt to make a few extra dollars and this race is mostly ran by volunteers. How would they know if someone grabbed a box who wasn't supposed to? Nontheless, the Chicago Marathon sent out apologies and private emails to each participant who did not receive a medal and mailed them one the next week. This is admirable! You can check all of this story out on their Facebook page, too.

4. I loved the fellow runners!

I met some wonderful people in my race corral and while running. I just wish I could reconnect with all of them. We hugged, wished each other good luck, shared stories and connected like runners do. Common bond, common goals, and common trials!  I just love runners! I raced next to a girl from Morton for most of the race. Thank goodness for that Morton Pumpkin Festival shirt as I recognized that in a second! We were beside each other off and on until the last 3 miles. I hope you had a great time girl! I just wish I knew how to find you!

5. The BIGGEST most wonderful surprise of my race: Her name is Kim!

Let me start by saying my friend Kim is one of the nicest people in the whole world. She is always smiling, even through tough times. I admire her and her undying faith. I am so blessed to have met her at my second job out of college. I just wished we lived closer. One hour apart with jobs and kids means we do not get to see each other as often as I would like to.

So, out of the blue the day before the marathon my friend Kim texts me asking if this is my marathon weekend? She states her Mom just bought a condo and she is visiting her in Chicago. I joked with her saying “Ya, know it is not advertised but you can jump on the course and run with your friend for a stint!” I never heard back from her and actually felt guilty, because I thought I put pressure on her when she was there to visit her Mom.
All of a sudden on Mile 12 this girl starts running beside me! OMGosh, it is my friend Kim! Of course, what do you think I did the entire time she ran with me?! Cried! In between intermittent sobs, I asked her how she found me?  How she knew I hadn't passed that mile marker? Kim said, “I didn't know and I just hoped and took a chance!” As she laughed she said, “This morning I thought I should have asked you what you were planning to wear!” That is my friend Kim. She always has faith, laughs, and takes a chance. I just love her! Honestly, it made my day! Before I knew it while laughing she said, “I have to go back now. I do not even know where I am!” We laughed, hugged and departed. Then I realized we hadn't taken a picture. I ran back to her. She said, “ Aren't you worried about your time?” “Of course not! I am not missing a picture with my friend, Kim!” Of course the camera wouldn't work the first three times but we finally ended up getting a great shot! Here we are!
I love you friend!

6. The finish line was amazing!

The crowd became bigger and bigger as if you were running into a stadium. My back was on fire, my knee was not working, and my leg was cramping up, but I didn't care! I was almost there! People were yelling, clapping, ringing bells, dancing, singing…through the pain I knew I was almost there and tears started streaming down my face. Tears of happiness! I knew my kids and husband were somewhere in the crowd watching me. It was simply amazing! I get chills talking about it! My pace started speeding up and I was so excited! I crossed and held my hands above my head as if I was the winner. I felt like the winner! Let’s face it, I was a winner! I just finished a freaking marathon! The finish line was so organized. They put a medal on you, congratulated you, covered you with the space blanket, handed you a race finisher bag, took your picture, then handed you a beverage if you wanted it! It was surreal!

7. The Biggest Things I learned from the marathon:

You NEVER know what is going to happen with your body! True story: My right knee that had not been giving me as much trouble as my left popped the night before the marathon on our walk to dinner. It hurt so bad that I turned white (according to my husband) and I had to hobble back to the hotel in pain. I thought my marathon dreams were crushed. I texted two of my training buddies, Heidi and Steph and they gave me the exact answers that I wanted needed: “Get out there and show your knee who is boss! Rest, Ice, and stretch you've got this!” So, among the prayers received and given that is what I did. They are such good friends! I braced both knees that morning and off I ran.

Let me say that Mile 20 is where the race begins!!! The last 6 miles were the hardest part. My time slowed to a creep as my body started doing things that it never had done during training. My lower back went on fire!!!! It was so bad that I would have to go to the side and roll into the fetal position as if I were getting an epidural. I had to do this so many times the last 6 miles that I lost count. I later learned that this is a hip alignment problem, which I have had hip problems my whole life and KT tape would probably be my bf for the next race.

The next thing that was a first for me was leg cramps. My leg started cramping up constantly. I would go to the side and act schizo all while punching my leg telling it out loud that it was not going to do this right now! No kidding! I bet if I was on tape it would be hilarious!

Lastly, I wouldn't bring my water bottle. They had enough hydration and I wouldn't wear my long sleeve shirt. Although it was freezing I basically had that puppy off within the first mile.

8. Marathons are a family affair!

Signing up for the Chicago Marathon was a family decision in my household. We are your typical American family. We both work, we juggle swim lessons, gymnastics, dinners, play-dates, birthday parties and homework. All while making sure someone took our Golden Retriever on a walk. We are not perfect. We just do our best and signing up for the marathon added a lot to our already scheduled lives. Seeing all of this come to fruition at the start line was very emotional. We did it and I am so thankful for the family I have been blessed with. Kissing my kids and husband at the start of the race was extremely emotional. We made it to the start line!

Haylee made this before I left our hotel that morning on her sketcher!
It said "Go Mom, Finish" with a finish line picture!

Seeing my family again at Mile 2 grinning from ear to ear holding the pink “We love our Sexy Mother Runner” sign and yelling for me just tickled me pink. I just had to stop and kiss each one of them again! They are my biggest cheerleaders! They looked so proud of me. I hope I can always look that way in their eyes. HUSBAND BRAG ALERT: I just can't go without mentioning how much I appreciate him. My husband is amazing. He planned out the whole event. He mapped the directions to McCormick place and told me where to get my packet, directions to the hotel, mapped the course, knew the mile markers, and told me to stay on the left so they could find me. I would not have thought about any of that and he did this all while lugging around a 4 and 7 year old safely in a crowded city. He is my best-friend. I could not have done any of this without him.

Seeing them at the finish was priceless! Hugs, kisses, pictures! We did it! We did have a funny moment though. I went to sit down and did not realize my legs wouldn't work and landed on the concrete sidewalk in a mess and scraped my hand. Warning: Your legs do not work right after a marathon.

9. Doing a Marathon will change you!

Finishing a marathon is life-changing. The stress and the pain help you evaluate your life and what is important. Don’t get weighed down with things that really do not matter. Let the negative go. Know that sometimes no matter how hard you try you can’t change other people. Be who you are. Look who you are blessed to be surrounded with and focus on those positive people. Put your energy towards that. Be proud of who you are. Be thankful for each day. Hug your family. Call that old friend that you never have time to call and tell who you love that you love them. You never know what tomorrow will bring, but remember to live in the moment. 

If I were ever doing a marathon again I would make the same exact choice. It was perfect!   Chicago was amazing! Yes, there are already talks about doing this one again next year with a big group of us. I must admit that I have been secretly dreaming of New York, too! I am just not sure if I can pull all of those details off! According to Wiki, only 2% of the world’s population ever finish a marathon and in my opinion everyone should do a marathon once in their lives! You can do it!

Celebratory dinner at the original Grande Maggianos!

They were so proud of the race medal that they wanted to wear it!

This weekend Bekah and I are off to play in the mud with our husbands. Here we come Midwest Super Spartan! We are going to have so much fun!

Until Next Time I hope all of you are doing well and...Happy Running!


How were your marathons?

Have you ever considered a mud race
 or think you are Spartan Tough?!

I loved these quotes about Chicago!

I adore Chicago. It is the pulse of America.

- - - Sarah Bernhardt

It's a 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes; it's dark and we're wearing sun glasses. Hit it!

- - - The Blues Brothers

Perhaps the most typically American place in America.

- - - James Bryce, 1888

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  1. Sounds like an amazing race congrats on your first marathon!!!!! I just did my first ever half this past Sunday.
    Would love to do a mud race!

  2. Absolutely loved reading this! Congratulations! Youve inspired me to think maybe I CAN do a full..... maybe ill join you next year for it:)

  3. Okay, seriously, dude, no one should look that good after their first marathon. You have raised the bar for 'running pretty' and quite frankly I'm not sure I can run with you anymore. ;)
    I loved reading this! You already know what an inspiration you are to me but I will tell you again... you are amazing. Thank you, for being such a great friend and positive influence in my life.

    Next year, me and you, baby! Chicago 2013!!!

  4. I cried reading this.
    I don't really know what to say- how can I be proud of someone I've never met? I don't know, but I am!
    You are a beautiful inspiration and absolutely wonderful!
    Congratulations and keep on runnin'!

  5. Thank you for the sweet comments! It is very touching. All of you can do it! You say it and I promise we will all meet you there next year!!! Chicago or bust! :) ~Danyelle

  6. I love you, Bekah! I can't wait to rock Chicago with you next year! ~Danyelle

  7. loved reading these for real tips, my first marathon in February and anykind of first timer info I can get I read up!!