Let’s start with Saturday (The Day Before the Marathon).
I was super lucky to be able to stay with Kim (from Nuun) and Katie (from HTC who was helping the Nuun booth at the Expo) over the weekend. We all woke up early on Saturday to get to the Expo. I “helped” carry a couple of boxes in which gave me VIP status at the Expo. With the VIP (aka vendor badge), I was able to be the FIRST person to pick up my bib. You have no idea how excited that made me. Dude, FIRST PLACE at the Chicago Marathon for Bib Pick-Up on Saturday. Where’s my medal??
After shopping/looking around the Expo, Kim sent me off to go rest my legs, hydrate with some nuun tabs, and run some errands. I decided to run to Fleet Feet Chicago to pick up another pair of the Oiselle Distance shorts (where ironically, I got exciting Oiselle news in an email at the store – more on that later), then I met a friend from college at Whole Foods for lunch (plus picked up dinner for Kim, Katie & I), I saw Carla for a brief second, picked up some tube socks, grabbed some Ginger Tea, then went back to the hotel room to watch Harry Potter, gathered my race day outfit/essentials, and tattoo myself with 800 fake tattoos. Solid Day.
Garmin-Free Decision: The night before the marathon Kim convinced me not to wear my Garmin during the marathon. At first I was a little bit reluctant. I was worried to would go out to fast, just as I did at the New Jersey Marathon, but Kim assured me that I wouldn’t. I tried to reason with her by saying I would duct tape my Garmin so I couldn’t read it, but ultimately I knew that I would rip off that duct tape as soon as I crossed the start line.
Waking up at 5:30 am, I ran downstairs to grab some milk for my pre-purchased ice coffee, and ate a Picky Bar before getting dressed. I tried to make DIY “Break Away Pants” with old sweatpants and duct tape (turns out, not one of my Top Ten Best Ideas).
The “DIY Break-Away Pants” broke away with in the first ten steps of walking. Soooo you should not “pin” that photo to Pinterest. Kim was nice enough to give me her garbage bag pants on the way to the start (Annnddd she may or may not have also reminded me to put on D-tag on my shoe when we were walking to the start line…Oops)
Kim gave me a great pep talk before she let me go to my Corral by myself. I went to the Corral, sat down on my garbage pants, and turned on my music. I tried to remember what running 26.2 miles felt like?…heck, I tried to remember what running 22 miles felt like 3 weeks ago?…my mind was blank. I couldn’t remember.
The gun went off for the first wave. Which meant I was “up” in 30-ish minutes. I was standing with the rest of the crowd getting ready to cross the Start Line. Here goes nothing…
Miles 1 – 6: The plan Dorothy gave me was to run no faster than 9:40s during the first 6 miles. But without a Garmin, it is really hard to determine what a 9:40 pace is. I remember Dorothy saying in the pre-race email, “Running 9:40s will feel like walking”, so I just tried to keep my pace at what felt like I was “walking”. At Mile 3, I saw Zoe and Kim cheering for me – that was a huge moment. I also tried to find my friend of a friend, Kristen, who was working the water station at Mile 3, but I couldn’t find her which was disappointing Hi Kristen! if you are reading this?
Miles 3 – 6: I kept on saying to myself, you can run whatever pace you want to run after Mile 6, but for the first six miles: THIS IS THE PACE. And while it definitely felt slow. People were passing me left and right, and I did not like that feeling. I kept my head down when I passed the Mile Markers (ignoring the clock time), and I tried to enjoy the run. I remember thinking about how I told Laura not to go out fast in her marathon. So I couldn’t be a hypocrite. If there was ONE thing I was going to do at the Chicago Marathon, it was to run the first six miles at a slow pace.
Mile 6 – 8: In my head: Finally Mile 6! Okay soooo I can pick up my pace! BUT HOW MUCH FASTER?? I don’t have a watch. Calm down! (Slapped my face) Okay let’s just try a little faster for now. My race strategy was to pick up my pace every three miles or so, and then “re-evaluate” how everything was going. I tried to focus on enjoying the sights, but honestly everything in Chicago looked kind of the same. I kept on thinking, Haven’t we already run this section of Chicago? Where is that damn river??
Mile 9 – 12: At Mile 9, I picked up my pace a little faster (still no idea what time I was running). I started to reevaluated how I was feeling: Legs = good. Pace = felt pretty easy. Mentally = Solid. Stomach = A little nauseas. I pulled out a gel around Mile 8, but the idea of eating a gel was making my feel sick. I knew I had to take in some fuel, so between miles 9 – 12, I ate ONE gel. It was trying to get that thing down. Then around Mile 11, my right shoe lace seemed really, really, really tight (like cutting off my circulation tight). I was feeling really good (other than my show lace), so I didn’t know if stopping was such a good idea?? I knew I was going to see Kim, Casey and Zoe at Mile 12, so I decided to wait on the shoe lace, and ”reevaluate” the situation then.
Mile 12: Seeing Casey, Kim & Zoe – BEST FEELING EVER. I thought to myself, Can you imagine running this marathon without them cheering? They were MAKING this marathon.
Mile 13 – 16: At Mile 14, I (again) reevaluated my situation: Legs = good. Pace = Let’s pick it up a tad! Mentally = I’m on top of the worldddd. Stomach = nauseous, but no cramping. Shoe Lace = WTF! Are you trying to cut off circulation to my foot?? The Shoe Lace was actually the turning point of the marathon for me. This is where it all came together. It was like I had a light bulb go off in my head. And this is going to sound super creepy, but I thought to myself: “WWLFD?” = What Would Lauren Fleshman Do? I would literally ask myself this for any question I had for the rest of the marathon. Would Lauren Fleshman re-tie her shoe laces? Probably not. Would LF walk at Mile 25? Definitely Not.
Should I make WWLFD bracelets? Necklaces? I had a whole business plan by the end of Mile 22. Just Kidding, that would be weird, right? Yikes.
I’m running a marathon! This is so much fun! Who am I???
Mile 16 – 19: At 17, I reevaluated again, and I thought I could pick up my pace a little bit. Every time I picked up my pace, I would ask myself, Do I have another gear? Can I go faster? If the answer was yes, then I stayed at my current pace. I wanted to make sure I had at least 2 more gears left in ”my tank” before Mile 20. Again, I still had no idea what pace I was going at. I pulled out a gel around Mile 18, I knew I really needed to take in more fuel, but honestly I felt so nauseous. My stomach felt okay – no pain or cramping, but the idea of eating anything seemed disgusting. I tried my best to eat half of the gel, making a deal with myself that I would try to eat another half at Mile 21.
Mile 20: I saw Kim, Casey, and Zoe – and I don’t remember too much about it, other than I was so happy to see them and I was feeling really, really good.
Miles 20 – 23: At this point, I still did not know what pace I was running. I wasn’t really thinking about the Sub-4 goal, I just kept on RE-EVALUATING my situation. Legs = not too shabby. Pace = Let’s try a tad bit faster. Mentally = What mile is this? I think I missed a mile maker? I feel really good. Why do I feel so good?? Omg, Jocelyn, don’t question it. I had to trust myself that I knew I had one more pace faster left in me, and I had to believe in myself (something that I have struggled with). Mile 21, I thought there was no way I could take a gel, so I sipped a little Gatorade at one of the Aid Stations. Thinking a little sugar would be better than nothing. At Mile 23, I really wanted to use the restroom, but thought to myself, WWLFD? Probably not take a bathroom break at Mile 23. Does Nike even “allow” bathroom breaks? I wonder if they put that in their contracts?? Note to self: Email in question to the Ask Lauren Fleshman website to see if Nike allows bathroom breaks during races.
Mile 23 – 25: PROFESSIONAL WEAVING: Looking at my splits on the official Chicago Marathon website, it shows that this is where my pace starts to slow down, but honestly I don’t remember feeling like I slowed down. I remember weaving around people like it was my job. This is when I started hating everyone around me. Everyone was walking or stopping in the middle of the road – and all I could think was DO YOU KNOW HOW SLOW I RAN DURING THE FIRST SIX MILES SO THAT I COULD RUN FAST NOW!?!!?!?? EVERYONE GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!! I may have actually told people to “Get out of my way!”, that was how great I was feeling. Who am I feeling great at Mile 25??
Mile 25.5: At Mile 25.5, I was kind of ready to be done. I was 100% over weaving around everyone, and while I felt okay, I started to think about my finish time. I still had not looked at a Mile Marker clock yet, and I was sort of dreading crossing the finish line to see my time (What would it be?? Was I even close to Sub-4?). This is where Casey came out of no where and started running me. I smiled big when I saw him, and he asked how I was doing. I think the only thing I said was “Dudddeee” and gave him the thumbs up. He gave me a big smile, said I was doing great, and that he would see me at the finish line. I tried to pick up the pace during those last 800 meters.
FINISH LINE: THAT FELT AWESOME!! And I finally get to look at the clock!! But what does the time mean?? It said something like 4:38:XX. But I didn’t know when I crossed the Start Line. I knew it had to be 30 minutes off, so I figured I didn’t make my Sub-4 goal. But oddly I wasn’t disappointed. At all.
Since I didn’t have my phone with me, I had no idea what my official time was. I made my way through the finish line corral, and I was actually feeling pretty good. A little nauseous, but pretty decent for having just run a marathon. I couldn’t find Casey or Zoe, so I walked back to the hotel to find Kim. It was than a mile walk, but it was such a good moment to reflect. After running a race with 36,000+ people, I was alone and it felt kind of weird to be by myself.
Getting back to the hotel, I got a big hug from Kim, and checked my phone to see a text from Meggie saying I ran 4:03:50 was amazing (a 22 minute PR!!!!!).
Rocking the Oiselle Roga Short. And my Princess Pic.
Seeing the negative splits on the website later was pretty sweet too:
Here were my final thoughts:
1. This race would not have been the same without Kim, Casey and Zoe there to support me. I don’t know how I got so lucky to know such a wonderful to know such wonderful people, but I’m not going to ask questions. I can’t thank Casey and Zoe enough for flying in a day early to come spectate the Chicago Marathon. A billion and one Thank yous.
2. I couldn’t have PR-ed by 22 minutes without the help of my awesome coach, Dorothy. It is mind-blowing that in less than 4 months, she has changed me completely as a runner. She helped me take 22 minutes off of my marathon time…I am still in shock.
3. I may never run with a Garmin again. While I was reluctant about not wearing it, it completely changed the whole marathon experience for me. I completely understand why people LOVE marathons. Forget everything I said about enjoying marathon training in my last post, not hitting a “wall” in a Marathon is the coolest thing ever. Maybe it also means that I didn’t push myself hard enough? I don’t know…that is a post for another day.
4. Thank you so much to everyone who tracked/tweeted/texted/called/facebooked me! This whole blog/twitter running community always continues to surprise me, inspire me & down right scare me at how awesome everyone is.
5. Not making my Sub-4 Goal: I’m very, very okay with it. Dude, 4:03 is soooo close. I know that I definitely have a Sub-4 Marathon in me. Hopefully maybe even a faster marathon in the next year if Dorothy continues to work with me. While I don’t consider this marathon a failure by any means, in fact I see it as a huge success. So I leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill