Okay, deep breath, let’s see how far I can get without tearing up for this recap. There is so much to open up about here and I’m not exactly sure where to begin. To be honest, I’m still riding a high from the marathon and it just quite hasn’t set in yet that I ran sub 3:30 in my second marathon. With that said…let’s get to it.
Saturday night I tried to be in bed early already knowing that I wasn’t going to get much sleep. Surprisingly I went to bed feeling super relaxed. I set multiple alarms as usual and woke up well in advance anxious and ready to go.
Breakfast consisted of LoveGrown Foods Oats with almond butter and I even brewed some coffee. You know for the caffeine boost and _____(I’ll let you fill in the rest).
I made sure to hydrate and get in plenty water as soon as I woke up. I also drank CarboPro for added carbs.
I got dressed, stretched, foam rolled, and made sure I had everything I needed. There was a shuttle to the start line from the hotel, so I headed to the lobby around 5:30am to give myself plenty of time to get through security, check my bag, and get my warm up in. Wave 1 Corrals closed at 7:20am so I needed to be in the gates by that time.
Even though I did all my training with my Nathan hydration pack I wasn’t planning on using it for the race. I ran with my Camelbak last year for Marine Corps and decided I wouldn’t wear it for another marathon. I did take a plastic bottle with Tailwind in it . My plan was to run with it till I got tired of holding it and then toss it.
That moment you realize shit is about to get real and you’re about to run 26.2 miles.
It was fun to talk to other runners on the shuttle. One of the guys was from Chicago and was running this one for the 13th time making it his 21st marathon. A few others mentioned that this was there second marathon too. Still…not nervous (kind of weird.)
Once I got through security, I headed over to just sit down by bag check and relax a bit. They had Gatorade and water for everyone so I grabbed some. It was about 52 degrees so kind of chilly so I rocked some sexy throw away clothes. I also ate my banana and part of a sweet potato about an hour before race start.
Good morning Chicago!!
As I sat and just mentally got myself together…I read this prayer…
As it got closer to 7am I decided it was time to check my bag. For the first time ever I check my phone so that I was less distracted and could focus on running 26.2 miles. I found a spot on the side walk to do my warm up and more stretching to loosen up the hamstring and glutes.
After my warm up I hit up the bathroom one more time. I was chatting with the girl in front of me, her name was Steph. She was from Chicago and was telling me about the course a bit. She said we were running right by her apartment and her students were volunteering at one of the water stops. We got talking about times and I mentioned going for a BQ and out of the blue she says, “you’re going to do a 3:28 I just know it.” This wasn’t the first time I heard that time thrown out. I have a co-worker (who’s crazy fast…2:40 marathoner) and he predicted 3:28 all along. My response…we’ll see. All I was shooting for was sub 3:35. All I wanted was a BQ.
I just want to say that Chicago has this whole marathon thing down. Everything was so seamless. From security to bag check and even getting to the start line. The volunteers had tons of energy wishing everyone a great race. I think this also helped with the nerves and kept me nice and relaxed.
After a quick pee, I headed to Corral C and found the 3:30 pace group. Lauren and I found each other and chatted it up before the race kicked off. Still….not nervous. I honestly have never gone into a race this relaxed. I mean I was about to run 26.2 miles and was not nervous. So crazy. I don’t know what it was, but mentally I was ready. I was ready to just run and have fun. I was ready to push through the wall and I was a ready to cross the finish line with a BQ. My goal throughout this last couple of months was just trusting the training. Trusting that I had the ability to run fast and to run a BQ. Trusting and believing in myself was HUGE mentally.
I will admit that I was scared going into this. Even weeks prior to the race I was nervous and scared about being able to run my best. Thursday and Friday morning were the worst. Almost to the point of being I started second guessing my training and feared disappointment. Why? Because I didn’t want to let people down and I didn’t want to let myself down. I had worked so hard and just wanted to be able to execute. I had to keep telling myself that no matter what happened, I was going to be okay with it whether it was a BQ or not.
I closed my eyes, took one last deep breathe, and then it was the start of the 2016 Chicago Marathon.
Mile 1: The key here was to not go out to fast and just rely on the pacers. I love the goosebumps as you go over the start line and just begin to take everything in. It’s such an incredible journey to get to this point and I am forever grateful that I have the ability to run. Only 25 more miles to go at this point!!
Mile 2: I still remained relaxed and just enjoyed the energy of the crowd. There were so many people cheering and playing music. The course was still a bit crowded and there were a few elbows and feet getting trampled. My GPS was off due to the buildings, so I just looked at the elapsed time.
Mile 3-6: I didn’t really think about much…I just ran. People always say there is so much you can think about during 26.2 miles, but honestly I just let everything fall into place. Mentally I knew the more I was relaxed the better off I’d be. I did have to pee at this point and knew I couldn’t hold it for the remainder so I made a quick pit stop somewhere close to 6 (I think). I also tossed my water bottle.
Mile 6-12: The race was flying by and I look down and I’m at about 6 and realized I didn’t even take a gel yet so I opted for the cafe mocha Huma gel and followed it up with Gatorade. I also took another gel around mile 12.
13.1: Halfway there!!! I still felt really strong and I was still with the pacers, but decided to go ahead and pick it up. I made sure I didn’t pick up pace too much due to the fact that I still had 13.1 miles to go and a lot can happen.
Mile 13.1-16: Again, I can’t really remember what was going through my mind. There was a lot to watch on the course as we ran through the different neighborhoods, but I was just in the zone. I think Elvis was singing somewhere in those miles, but not sure. They all start to run together. I know I was starting to envision the finish and keeping the pace to BQ.
The best sign (I didn’t see this, but RunSelfieRepeat caught it).
Mile 17-20: At this point things start to hurt. My legs did hurt a bit especially the hammy/glute, but nothing major. I focused on form and making sure I used my glutes more. I took another gel around 17 and was taking in Gatorade and pouring water down my back at water stops (FYI the water stops were 2 blocks long). I never thought about what mile I was on and how many I had left to go. I honestly have no idea how I stayed that relaxed mentally. I ran solely on feel and just got in a groove. . When I hit 20…all I kept saying was “10K left, 6 miles, you got this.”
Mile 22-24: I think these were the toughest both mentally and physically. November Project Chicago was at mile 22 so that definitely helped. At this point my legs got real heavy, but I would not let myself slow down. When I looked at my watch I tried to make sure I stayed around 8 minute pace. I do remember a lady around this point that was just screaming and yelling and getting everyone pumped up. The guy next to me goes, “she has a lot of energy” and I said,”we need it at this point…only a few more to go.” I took another gel around 21.
They had a big photo area set up on the course. It was hands up and all smiles.
Mile 24: AHHH SO CLOSE!!!! All I kept saying to myself (and out loud) was 2 more to go, 2 more to go…do not slow down. Emotions were starting to hit a bit because I knew I was on target for sub 3:30.
Mile 25: Only 1.2 to go….ahhhhh. I had to do a lot of self talk to get myself through that last mile. I kept thinking about the finish and crossing with a huge PR and a BQ. I was going to finish strong and cross that finish line with a big smile (and tears).
Mile 26.2: Smiles for the camera!!!
Now here’s where it get’s emotional. I go back and look at this photo often, trying to wrap my head around those 26.2 miles. It still does not seem real. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day from start to finish. Everything just fell into place. I don’t have the right words to describe the feelings, the emotions and the relief that I felt crossing that finish line. Looking back at this amazing journey and to say that I’ll be going to Boston is a dream come true. Through the self doubt, the highs, the lows and through the blood, sweat and tears…I DID IT!!!
. . .and then the tears came. I just ran a 3:28 marathon..what?!?!!! Now it was time to ENJOY the day and celebrate that BQ.
I walked through the finish area and grabbed more photos. I ran into Maggie and Jenna from NP DC and NP Philly. I love the NP community…literally everything about it.
My stomach was still a bit off, but I said F@*% it grabbed a Goose Island Beer. It tasted amazing and I’m not one to want to drink a beer post race especially a marathon. I also ate a banana, drank more Gatorade/water and ate one of my FlyJoy bars that I got from the expo.
I was so happy to meet up with Lauren and congratulate her on her BQ. We’ll hopefully both be going to Boston in 2018 together.
More happy tears when I saw this after the race from Maria…Love my ASA Family. Together we finish!
My heart is still so full. From the bottom of my heart…thank you to everyone who sent me messages for the race. You all are amazing and inspire me so much!
“Dig deep n Finish STRONG! U got this! #CuzGoals” – Steph Burdette
“Woo woo! Cheering for you from Charm City! ROCK IT” – Kate
“So proud of you! Crush this thing! ” -Marie
“Emily! you’re a rockstar! so awesome! Run forrest!” – Craig
“Together We FINISH!” You got this, girl! ” – Steph & David Blades
“Way to represent Charm City, roomie!! Go girl go! ” – Morgan M.
“Everything U need is already inside U!! U got this” – Brian & Jojo
“I am so proud of you! You got this! Love ya!” – Kara
“Go, Emily!! We will be cheering from home! Love ya” – Mom and Dad
“You rocked that shit, Emily! Way to go!!!” -Tiffany
“Vamos Amiga!!! ” – Chuy
“Good luck…I’m so excited for you! You go girl!” – Aunt Tina
“Awesome job Emily! You are so awesome!” – Kelli
“Keep pushing Emily! You’ve got this girl!! ” – Ali
“Be the beast that you are! ” – Kristine Howanski
“Y’all good?! FUCK YA! You are a badass :)” – Shawn Brown
“You got this!! Way to go Emily!!!” – Linda”
97% chance I’m asleep when you get this. Good luck” – Hunt
“Go Emily” – Jeff
“Crush it!!” -Drew
Till next time Chicago…I will be back, but first…Boston 2018!!