Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Week 18 - Marathon take two

Members of my CARA training group pre-race.
What can I say about running a marathon that I didn't say the first time?

The last week before the race was a mix of different emotions. I was nervous, confident, scared. The day before the race I had a meltdown and almost decided it wasn't worth it. After that I kinda just went through the motions of getting what needed to be done without thinking about what it meant. I got my bag together, laid out my clothes, made sure things were where I needed them to be, drank lots of water, ate some (more) pasta. In the morning I continued on autopilot and it didn't really hit me until my training group hit the  porta-potties before going into the gates (CARA rocks btw because they have special CARA member only porta-potties) that I was going to have to go out there and cover 26.2 miles.

But I did it. And I did it faster than the first time, by about 30 minutes, and I finished in under five hours - 4:50:50. I didn't make my "perfect race" goal of 4:45, but really, anything under five was going to make me happy, and I am. The first 20 miles I had the sincere joy of running with one of my group leaders from CARA, Jennifer. I credit her with keeping me on pace that first 20 miles. Once we split up, I held it together until about mile 22; I was actually having thoughts that I might not hit the wall. But, the thing about the wall, it kinda sneaks up on you. By the end of mile 22, I was smack dab up against the wall and I never really got over it or around it, and I basically lugged it with me the last four miles. But the good thing was, while it slowed me down, I still pushed myself to run. I finished with an overall pace of 11:06 and the knowledge that I can can fight through the pain (at least a little). 

The amazing CARA team at the Expo.
Once I got across the finish line I didn't  have that feeling of euphoria that makes you forget your pain. What I had was a constant thought that I needed to get to the end of the chute before I sat down otherwise the EMTs wouldn't let me leave without checking me out. In a zombie state, I made it out of the chute and then out of the runner area and through the throngs of people waiting for their runners and into the arms of my wonderful husband. It was a slow, but short walk across the street to the CARA compound where I was able to take off my shoes, change my clothes, get food and drink, relax and meet up with other runners. 

So that was my second marathon, in a nutshell. While I've never run any other marathon, the Chicago marathon definitely is special. The course support, as always, was awesome, from the volunteers to the spectators. I can't imagine running a marathon without someone pretty much every step of the way cheering and clapping and saying way to go. 

Other general thoughts on the race:

A great pic of CJ with me, Jennifer and Anne
in the background (source CJ's friend).
The expo was fun and I spent way too much money. I now own three, no four, shirts that say something about the 2014 Chicago Marathon on them.

I liked the packet pick up. Even though you needed to show ID along with your confirmation ticket and the fact that no one else could pick up your bib, a sign that security is a lot higher at these things, checking in and getting the bib was smooth.

The shirt is less than exciting. In fact, it's pretty boring and basic. It's a plain gray shirt with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon logo on the front and the date on one sleeve. It feels more like a BoA shirt than a Chicago Marathon (that happens to be run by BoA) shirt. Having ordered shirts like these for events, I wonder if they completely forgot they needed 45,000 t-shirts until a couple of weeks ago and this was the best they could do.

The woman who put the medal around my neck, thank you. Thank you for sounding like you really meant it (and you probably did) when you said I deserved it and that I had earned it. It's a small thing, but it made me feel great.

To the woman in the bathroom after the race who gave me a dab of toothpaste when I commented that bringing a toothbrush was a great idea, thank you. Your kind act made me feel human again.

I could, and probably should, dedicate an entire post to what it's like to train with CARA, but basically it's awesome and everyone should do it. From the support during training, the compound before the race in the Hilton with special bag check, to the CARA only porta-potties before the race. CARA rocks (and I'm not just saying that because I'm married to someone who works there).

Another great thing about training with a group is you run into a bunch of people on the course. Not only did I run a good deal of the race with Jennifer, but I also had the pleasure of seeing several people from my training group along the course. It definitely helped the miles go by. Plus, I was able to sneak into a couple of their pictures.

Having family members who are dedicated to making it around the course to cheer you on is great, and, even though she's not supposed to, having a sister who runs with you between mile 24 - 25 giving you that last bit of support to make it to the end, well, that's priceless. 

Now the big question everyone asks, am I going to do it again? I don't know. Right now I don't want to. My leg hurts, my brain hurts, the thought of running more than a few miles hurts. Ask me next year when registration opens up; I may give an entirely different answer.


Pete B said...

Congrats on the finish! Yes, getting to the end of the finishers' chute at the end of the race is quite a challenge. Lots of runners want to sit down right away, but the volunteers will probably whisk you to the med tent if you don't get up when they tell you. Congrats again!

Melanie Higgins said...

Thanks Pete. And congrats to you too! Why we do these crazy things to ourselves I'll never really understand.

Unknown said...

There's something clearly wrong with you. Running 26.2 miles is an unnatural act. They lock people up for doing less to themselves.

But you are also amazing. You were totally committed to your training. You put in your hours and your miles, finding ways to run when the time commitments of home and work ate away most of the serviceable parts of your days. And You murdered your previous time. You are beautiful and strong and determined, and I am very, very proud.

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