Chicago. Marathon #5. I had hoped that this marathon would be my fastest and best yet. It wasn’t. Nothing was amiss–I had trained properly, had no major injuries, race day fueling was perfect, I arrived to the race in plenty of time and came off of a good night’s sleep. So what happened? A marathon happened. And in a marathon, despite all the good preparation, anything can still happen.
Race day was cool at the start, but the forecast predicted the temperature to climb into the upper 70s or low 80s. With that in mind, I knew Chicago would not bring a personal best–heat, humidity, and my body do not like each other. I told myself to run a good race with or without a PR and tried to pump myself up in the starting corral. “I am a fast runner. I am a fast runner. I am a fast runner.”
I took off at the start and almost cried. Here I was running one of the Abbot World Marathon Majors, crowds were cheering, and I felt like a champion. I never thought I would be able to even run a marathon, let alone five of them. Yellow jackets bombarded runners and dive bombed my ears from time to time. I swatted them away like the negative thoughts in my brain. A marathon is run in your head and not with your feet.
By mile 10, my legs felt fatigued and sweat dripped from my shorts. My feet swam in a pool of water trapped in my shoes. The half marathon ticked by, and I saw my awful split time: there was no way, I would get a PR, and this might be my slowest marathon yet if I don’t get it together. I kept swatting bees, took a deep breath, and told myself that even if I didn’t get a PR, I will finish this race.
That’s when I decided the hell with it. Screw running. Who cares if I need to walk? I looked around at the crowds, at the taiko drummers, at the dragon dance, at the humorous posters held aloft, at the brownstones, at the Sears Tower, and listened to the roar of the train on the El. I am in Chicago, and today I am taking a running tour of the city because I am fortunate enough to be able to run. I am healthy enough to run a marathon, and I am happy that I have the means to do so.
I earned my medal without a new PR, and now I’m setting my sights on a full Ironman in Chattanooga on September 30, 2018.
Thank you to everyone who came out to cheer for me: my mom, Aunt Shirl, Fred, and Eric. Also on this trip, I visited my childhood friends, Katie and Andy, whom I haven’t seen in almost thirty years, and caught up with Chris, my high school soccer and swimming friend who rocked Chicago with a new PR despite the heat! Congratulations!