Way back in September of 2012, I ran the Skagit Flats Marathon to try to qualify for the 2013 Boston Marathon. If you have been following the blog, you know that I qualified and ran in the 2013 Boston Marathon. Well, my finish time when I ran Skagit Flats also qualified me for the Chicago Marathon.
Ever since I finished the Boston and New York marathons, I considered also trying to get into Chicago. Many runners get in through the lottery in Chicago, unlike in Boston, where most runners need to qualify. When I realized earlier this year that I had already run a time that met the time standard for Chicago (so I wouldn’t need to take my chances with the lottery), I figured I should run it.
On October 12, I ran the 37th Chicago Marathon. It was a perfect autumn weekend in Chicago. Evening temperatures were in the upper 40s, and afternoon highs were between 60 and 70 degrees. Marathon morning was overcast, 47 degrees, and the predicted temperature at my estimated finish time was 53 with no rain. In running terms, those are near ideal conditions.
The Road to Chicago
After running the Grand Canyon in May of this year, I took some time away from serious training until July—15 weeks before the Chicago Marathon and race day.
Over Labor Day, my husband and I went to Bend, Oregon, for the long holiday weekend. On my training plan was a 15-mile run. Doing this in an area I didn’t really know was not ideal, so I did a quick search online, and I was happy to find that Sunriver Resort, not far from Bend, was hosting a Race for a Cause 1/2 marathon. What a perfect way to get in 13.1 miles on a measured course with plenty of support. I entered the race and used it as my training run.
At left: Sunriver’s Race for a Cause Half-Marathon served as a great training run for me over Labor Day weekend. After the race, I tried out a recovery system.
On to Chicago
Having done a few major marathons now, and with a clear goal in mind (to beat my previous PR by at least 90 seconds), I knew how to plan my weekend in Chicago.
I flew in on Friday, being careful to hydrate well before, during, and after my flight. I was also careful to wash my hands thoroughly and to avoid touching with my bare hands any surfaces that could carry germs. Staying healthy for the marathon was one of my primary concerns. Especially since my husband wasn’t feeling well for a few days leading up to my departure.
The race was not until Sunday, but I wanted a day to recover from my flight, get my bearings and relax.
I also wanted to see some of the city, which I had never visited before, but I didn’t want to tire myself out with a lot of walking. An architectural tour on the river by boat turned out to be the perfect way to see Chicago, especially under a perfect blue sky. We learned a lot about the city’s various architectural styles and history, even if the tour guide could only recommend pizza and hot dogs as far as what to eat while in town.
Above: Our riverboat tour of Chicago included commentary about the city’s different architectural styles (like the post-modern Trump Tower at right) and the many bascule bridges that cross the river.
I had done my research on dining options before leaving Seattle, however, and one of my online restaurant searches had turned up a place called Beatrix, where the menu included paleo and gluten-free options. Since my friend who was traveling with me follows a gluten-free diet, and I tend toward paleo, this seemed perfect. Best of all, it was just three blocks from our hotel.
Saturday night, I went to bed early and set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. My wave was scheduled to start at 7:38, and I wanted to get to the starting area at least an hour before that. The security in New York had been intense after the bombing in Boston, with bag checks, metal detectors, and bomb-sniffing dogs—and that was just for the runners entering the starting area.
Things went according to plan on Sunday, and the conditions were just as perfect as predicted. My watch died at about mile 10, however, and I noticed that the spectators were not as numerous (or as loud) as those in New York and Boston had been, but I stayed with or ahead of the pacer until mile 24. I knew I had it in me to go faster. Without my GPS watch, I was unsure how fast I was going, but I knew I had met my goal of a sub-3:40 marathon. Now I just had to see by how much.
At many of my marathons I have met someone who ends up running my same pace, and this time was no different. I met Jessica in the staging area and we ran together—along with the pacers—until mile 24, when she ran ahead just a touch faster than me. (Also fun is that she has already found me online and has read the blog.)
I knew I was on pace to make my goal, but it was a thrill to learn from my husband, just after I finished the race, that I beat my PR by even more than I had hoped. (He was tracking me online using the app for the marathon, so he knew my time before I did.)
I finished in 3:38:45—a new PR for me. At least until I run my next marathon . . .
Below: Here I am in the meet-up area after the race, sharing my good news with my husband back in Seattle.