Chicago is one of best, or even the best, race I’ve run. Everyone who gushes about its amazingness is telling the truth. I’ve never been around so much constant energy. It’s definitely infectious. If you have a race bucket list, Chicago should be on it.
I don’t really talk about expos anymore because they are all the same to me. I just want to get in, get my race packet, and get out. But for how giant this race was, it was unusually easy to catch the free shuttle to the expo and to pick up my race packet. Over 40k people ran the race and I stood in a line for about two minutes to get my bib. Super easy.
There was also a lot of great picture taking opportunities at the expo as well. They had big Chicago Marathon signs, a fake start line with a count down clock, and a cool, 3-D, light up course map. This picture was one of my favorites with my girls, Michelle and Melissa, the day before the race.
I have a pre-race ritual that didn’t go exactly as planned. That plan: drink all the booze two nights before a race (I’m serious) because the water/salt retention from it two days later really seems to help out my hydration. Yes, I could also eat a bag of chips, but where’s the fun in that? My pre-race lunch is always a cheeseburger (lots of carbs/protein) and then a light dinner the night before as to not upset the bowel gods. I ate the cheeseburger (Mmm, Portillos) but ended up eating pizza for dinner (meh, Ginos) which had me a little worried because it was heavy and I need more time to digest that kind of stuff. I never drank on Friday night, not because I’m turning over a new healthy leaf, but because I drank on Thursday night and I’m way too old to drink two nights in a row.
The Night Before
If you’ve been reading for a while and you’ve missed the pooptacular posts of days past, you’re in for a real poopy treat. The day before the race, I was getting pretty worried that the magic hadn’t happened for a good 4-5 days. I was traveling, I didn’t run all week (my normal poop inducer), and I was eating all sorts of delicious food that I usually don’t eat. Not exactly the ingredients for my daily poop cocktail.
Michelle, Melissa, and hubs were giving me expert pooping advice, but I was hoping nature would take its course naturally. With everything that I had been eating, I knew the race would be a disaster if something didn’t happen soon. So, I started with hub’s first suggestion: run two miles on the treadmill at the hotel. Not what I wanted to do the night before a marathon, but that usually gets things going for me. I ran the two miles and of course, it didn’t help. Then, hubs made a trip to Walgreens to “see what he could find.” He came back with this:
Have you guys ever taken this before? I think it’s what they use to clean you out before a colonoscopy, let’s just put that out there. The label said it should work within 30 min – 6 hours. I had nine hours before I had to leave for the race, so I threw caution to the wind and drank that bad boy.
The Morning of the Race
After I drank the magnesium citrate, it was like I couldn’t stop watching the clock. Thirty minutes. Nothing. Two hours. Nothing. I woke up during the night at least four times to pee but nothing beyond that. Finally, seven hours later, I pooped. It was a nice poop. I was happy with it. An hour after that, another poop. A bonus poop, if you will. I was feeling pretty good about that one too. But that stuff lulls you into a false sense of poopy security because an hour after that, all hell broke loose. This was 45 minutes before I had to leave for the race. It came in waves. I thought I was fine, but then I wasn’t.
When I was feeling ok, I would jump up and down and do sit-ups to get things moving faster. I was so worried I wouldn’t make it to the race on time. Eventually, I just had to leave and chance it. I left the hotel 40 minutes late and hightailed it a mile to the corral and hoped for the best.
I got to my gate, walked to the wrong corral, and had to double back with at least 10 other people. There were so many people and even though Michelle and I were texting each other our exact locations, it was hard to find each other. So you can imagine how happy I was to finally find her after the ridiculous morning I had.
After 30 minutes or so, I gingerly sipped my water/Powerade Zero. I was so thirsty but also worried about upsetting my stomach. So I started the race very thirsty and very dehydrated. Not ideal but my stomach was finally feeling ok and that’s what mattered most at the time.
On a side note, you probably already know I was running for the American Heart Association (more on my thoughts about that later). The team shirt they sent was really uncomfortable so I cut it up and pinned it to my Camelbak so I could represent them.
My Camelbak was filled with water and Hammer Perpetuem (not an affiliate link) and I also carried a water bottle with half water/half Powerade Zero. I swapped back and forth sipping them through the race. I’m probably the only person in the history of racing to carry a water bottle while wearing a Camelbak. I’m a genius.
The race was so fun and exciting and hard and taxing. There was never a point in which I wasn’t surrounded by thousands of runners and spectators. The cheering was often so loud that I couldn’t tell what song was playing on my iPod. My legs felt unusually good. In fact, I only walked once through the mile 22 water stop. At mile 20, I remember thinking, “holy shit I haven’t walked yet!” I never imagined I could run that far without stopping. If it wasn’t for finishing my water bottle and needing water, I probably would have kept going.
Unfortunately, my shoulder started hurting pretty early in the race. This is the same shoulder pain that I had during my first marathon that turned out to be inflammation from overuse. Ever since then, it comes and goes. I’ve had it on a few training runs over the summer but nothing too bad. It was definitely the worst I’ve ever experience during the race. As the miles went on, the pain got worse. And worse. I ran most of the last half the race looking like Quasimodo with my left arm down at my side because having it in a regular running position was excruciating. So, I kept to the middle of the road, ignored the crowds, talked to my dad in my head, and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. I was so pissed because despite my morning, everything else felt great.
Once I saw the 400 meter sign, I booked it. I passed around 10 people and felt like a bad ass doing it. Even in pain, it was the best finish to a race. Plus, I was so freakin’ happy to not be running anymore that my six minute PR was secondary. While I started the hobble through the finisher’s shoot, I got a text from hubs that he was waiting for me just outside of it.
My Garmin disagrees.
My shoulder was in such bad shape after the race that I couldn’t raise my arm more than three inches off my body, which was concerning. The original plan was to meet up with Michelle and Melissa after the race, but I just wasn’t feeling well enough. So hubs and I sat in the grass for 10 minutes while I ate a protein bar and then we walked back to the room where I stood in a hot shower for a long time. The water helped me get a little bit of mobility back in my arm, enough to be able to reach my hair to wash it.
I’m bummed I didn’t get the post-race medal picture with my girls. I did get to meet up with them for dinner and drinks later that night when we were all showered and feeling better. We tried to make up for it then.
Overall, I loved the Chicago Marathon. I want to run it again right this second I loved it so much. I got to run with some of my favorite ladies and raise money for a good cause. Plus, Chicago is one of my favorite cities and they definitely do racing right.