Chicago Marathon 2014

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.

Cautiously optimistic about my colon.

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

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.

Time: 4:37:50
Pace: 10:36

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.


Filed under Race Reviews

20 responses to “Chicago Marathon 2014

  1. That picture of everyone walking after the finish is so cool!

    Chicago made the misery of summer training worth it in every single way. I’m glad the Chris Traeger pep-talked worked, but I am bummed about your arm. I think it’s so bizarre that it picks and choses when it’s going to act like a little bitch.

    • Paula

      I never thought I would say this, but training this summer wasn’t *that* bad. I think it was worse when we trained for Savannah! Also, I don’t think I formally thanked you for listening to my poop stories. So thanks! hee

  2. Pooping before a race is such a huge factor on how the race will go for you! I would have been freaking out.

    Glad you had a great race and congrats!!

  3. Jenny

    I’m so glad you had a great experience!! It really is a fantastic race!!
    Awesome job with the PR!! 🙂 Hope your shoulder is feeling better!

  4. Paula, I’m so glad overall you had a wonderfully amazing race and weekend! Such a bummer your arm hurt so much, but wooo you PR’d majorly! Hope you got your arm massaged at least last week and it’s back to normal. Great pics… thanks for sharing your experience! Go you!

  5. Sorry to hear about the shoulder pain but yay for the pooping! And the PR. But, whatevs. Pooping!

    I was going to try and make a ‘crappy shoulder pain’ pun but I’ve spent too long trying to make the words work and people are paying me to do actual work right now, so… If inspiration hits me like a saline laxitive, however, I’ll be back with another comment.

  6. Congratulations on a great race and time! You rocked it 🙂

  7. I hope the day never comes where I don’t have a Paula poop race report. They make life worth living. I’m so glad I’m not the only one with a bitch of a colon who decides to f up life at the most inopportune times. You showed that No. 2 who is boss!

    Awesome awesome job. And may I just say that you are looking dead sexy in all the Chicago weekend pics in both your post and Michelle’s. Grr, baby. Very grr.

  8. Stephanie F

    Ooh, this is a good recap. Incredible that you ran, without walking, for 22 miles! Also glad you didn’t have to stop and poop on the course.

  9. Mz. Teri

    Awesome job on the run, Paula! Glad to hear everything came out well. 😉
    The “STOP POOPING” gif made me LOL… and I’m at work. Thank goodness I’m the only person in my office right now. hehe

  10. Oh, I loved reading this! Congrats on a great race…and a great poop 🙂
    Chicago is definitely on my bucket list and every time I read a Chicago Marathon race recap it solidifies the fact that it needs to happen!

  11. Jen

    Glad you enjoyed the race so much! Whenever I talk to people about the Chicago marathon I only ever hear good things, so it’s definitely something I need to do soon!

    Hope your shoulder is recovering and congrats on the time 🙂

  12. Anne-Aymone

    Félicitations!! I loved that marathon so much (ran it last year) and I can only imagine NY being better than this (I’ll find out next week!)
    I hope we can run one together one day!

  13. kathleen

    Congratulations on the race and the awesome PR!!!! And not pooping your pants! (FYI, suppositories usually make for a quick poop… can’t trust that stuff that stays in your system for that long…you’re playing with fire.) Hope your shoulder feels better soon and you get that figured out… in the meantime, bask in the awesomeness that is the Chicago marathon! 🙂

  14. Allyssa

    Chicago is on my race bucket list! I went to college just outside the city and miss it so much. I definitely want to run the marathon there.

    As a nurse, your little item from Walgreens immediately made me worried about where this story was headed! I was relieved (no pun intended) that your episodes with the toilet actually ended in time and didn’t come back while you were running. You are SO lucky with the timing of that! There really is nothing worse than having your poop schedule thrown off before a race! I’ve gotten really good at catching that issue days ahead of time and resolving it. Even if it means a daily dose of Miralax, at least it hits the system gently.

  15. I’m getting all caught up on my commenting, but I stalked your Chicago results on the day of! Congratulations! It sounds like you had a wonderful time and the race is just as good as everyone says it is. Hopefully you’ve spent these last few weeks taking it easy. You earned it!

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