Monday, November 5, 2012

Own Chicago - Part 2

Continued from Own Chicago - Part 1

.....and then I was off! 

I had decided previously that I wasn't going to turn on my music until around 3 or 4 miles in...partly because I figured with 100K people in the immediate area the network would be awful, and partly because I wanted to hear the crowds Chicago is known for.

Course Map

Those crowds did not disappoint! There wasn't actually any point in the race where there wasn't someone standing on the side of the road cheering on the runners.

I saw Prateek and the whole gang at mile 4, then again at mile 13.

Mile 4

Mile 13, feeling violently happy

There were cute little kids scattered about the course with their arms stretched out wide, just waiting for a runner to give them a high five. They were so excited when someone did that I couldn't resist - plus it gave me a little pep in my step and made me remember to enjoy this course and have fun with it.

I went through the gay district I think around the 10th mile -- there were drag queens dressed to the nines with feather boas and big headpieces and red high heels. 
They were fabulous.
(Just so you know, it's hard to laugh and run at the same time!)

One thing I found really interesting annoying were the spectators that decided to play frogger with the runners and cross through the race to the other side of the course.
I swear I almost took out 2 or 3 people. But I had no shame to my game - if the choice was to either almost run over a spectator or to stop suddenly and twist my ankle or hyperextend my knee, you already know my choice. 
I never broke stride. 

It was about mile 15 when I realized that I was on pace for a 3:47 finish time.

I had to do a double take. I didn't feel tired, my legs weren't hurting and for the first time over the course of the last 4 months, I knew what my subconscious goal really was: get into the 3:40's. The thought made me giddy.

Mile 20 I was still on pace for a 3:48.

Unfortunately a little after that, disaster struck.

My pain in the butt piriformis muscle started to ache. I kept going. Then it started to REALLY ache. Still kept going.
I finally had to slow down and try to shake it out. It helped for about 30 seconds, then it hurt again.

I watched my 3:48 finish time disappear before my very eyes.
The last thing I needed at the 23rd mile was disappointment, and yet there it was.

About that same time, I passed two guys in bright yellow shirts that said "guide" on them. They were attached to another runner on both sides with a rope.
I realized what it was after I passed them- - the runner was blind. 

I snapped out of my pity party and dug deep. 

Another half mile in I passed a guy in full camo with a giant backpack full of combat gear. He was running for the troops. 

I thought of my brother and dug even deeper.

About the 24th mile my music stopped playing -- I figured it was a network issue, as I was getting closer and closer to the finish line and more and more people began to gather.

At first I was mad. This is the time I need those power songs dangit! But then I listened to the music of the crowd, if you will. I took in my surroundings. Watched the joy and  pride on people's faces as their loved ones passed them. Listened to the cowbells and the yelling and screaming and whistles and other noisemakers. 
Where is that stupid finish line?!

Ready for my photo finish

Official Results: 
Finish time: 3:53:30 (New PR)
Division Place: 571 /  3663
Gender Place: 2,379 / 16,794
Overall Place: 9,526 / 37,478

I may not have gotten my 3:48, but I did PR. And on a gimp hip. 
Who can complain about that?! 

And here comes the part where I share my really awkward marathon photos taken along the course.

Taking off your gloves clearly requires some serious focus
A marathon seemed like a good idea 6 months ago

Adjusting my armband was way more important than being photogenic
The definition of Elated

I weaved my way through the finisher's chute and caught up with everyone at the post-race area for a massage, some ice, and warm dry clothes.

The rest of our time in Chicago we did some sightseeing, shopping, and of course more eating.


  I've taken about a month off since the marathon to rest my legs give myself a break. But don't let that fool you -- I'm already plotting my next one...
Marine Corps? Twin Cities? Portland?

The possibilities are endless!

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