Sunday, October 23, 2016

Chicago Marathon Recap

I've held off writing a marathon recap because depending on the day I am either content with how it went or find myself wishing I had done more.  

I flew back to Chicago early to get adjusted to the time zone change and humidity  - but also because it's home, and any opportunity to spend time with family is worth it!  I was glad I did because I was able to get some pre-race inspiration from friends.  I got to see Mrs. Cyr (whom I ran the race for) and I got to run with a good friend from my hometown, Jill.  Between those two connects and hanging with mom a little bit, my heart was full to the brim going into Saturday morning!
Late Friday, W, Pete (waterboy #1), and Justin (waterboy #2) arrived - all separately of course because that would be too easy to come at once :)  We had a blast watching the Cubbies win, and I single-handedly would like to take the credit for that win as I had everyone cross their fingers at the appropriate time when Baez hit a home run!  Then off to bed as we had a big day ahead of us on Saturday.
My standard Cubs Game watching uniform these days - Cubs PJ's and red/blue painted toenails - it worked - Cubs Won!

The Gang at my mom's Friday night - the 4 of us have spent a lot of time together over the last year; probably the best part of this whole journey for me.
Saturday proved to be AMAZING - perhaps maybe too amazing for the day before a marathon, but honestly, I cannot say I regret any of it.  As a Skechers athlete I got the opportunity to do a shakeout run with him, and W came too!  More inspiration from, in my humble opinion, one of the best marathon runners of all time.  A friend/mentor set up lunch for us as well; which was just another amazing piece of this journey.  I know there is a lot of negative out there, but I believe people are truly awesome, throughout the year time and time again I have seen people go out of their way to support, fuel, enable my dream.  

Just you know me, a Skechers teammate, and Meb (Insert emoji with hand over head)

Just you know #2....lunch with Meb!
After that we hit up the expo and then Justin and I went to this really cool Mass they do at Holy Name Cathedral downtown for the marathon runners.  It's pretty neat, the priest customizes the homily and then he blesses all the runners and you get a bracelet.  More inspiration!
Then, staying true to routine we went back to the hotel where I made my own pasta - just like I always do- before my long runs.  Mentally I wanted to tell my body  - this was just another long run. 
That night unfortunately I think I slept an hour.  BRUTAL.  But I never let sleep the night before bother me because once I read that it doesn't matter, 2 nights before DOES,  - so you know since I read that, it's true right? :)
Sunday I did not need an alarm obviously, and I got up and did my usual UCAN bar + caffeinated tea (this time seasonally appropriate Pumpkin Spice Tea).

EXPO FUN:  That's me just running along my 2 favorite runners Kara and Meb :)-

This is the Mass I was referring to, Justin took this, I am the one in red (of course) #favoritecolor

All ready to go the night before, this one for Mrs. Cyr
This year W and I qualified for the Elite Development Corral/Tent (WHICH WAS SWEET) - our own bathrooms, bag check, hydration, warm-up area, etc.  We walked the mile from the hotel and W and I did a quick shakeout run, and then bathroom.  Without details - all systems "a go" - things had played out perfectly :)
From there we were "escorted" to the start, and the rest was blur, before I knew it the gun went off and we were running.
The goal was to run steady 6:30's through about 20 and then let it rip if feeling good.  Take in calories at 5,10,15,and 20, and water as much as possible.
Here's the positives:
  • I felt great running - like I was walking
  • I NAILED THE FUELING!!  Stomach felt great, took in calories like clockwork at 5,10,15,20
  • I never hit the wall with the total physical and mental bonk - THANK YOU UCAN!
Here's the frustrations:
  • Pacing.  Again.  &^(**(&!  My watch went kafluey after the first tunnel and I was having a hard time judging pace -after reviewing the splits with Adam this week, it was my same old pacing issues, 2 miles that were completely out of control fast which killed me later on.
  • Hydration.  I was SO focused on calorie intake I kind of ignored the hydration piece, just sipping at water stations to get the calories down.  I think this was really the nail in the coffin.
  • At 18 my legs got stiff and I felt like I was going 600 pace, and it was really more like 640 at 20 I knew there would be no "ripping it", and I had REALLY been looking forward to that.
I wish I had the split for my last 800M. I saw Mrs. Cyr and she just LIT me up, I know I sprinted in, and at least I felt like I did :)
When you cross the line in Chicago, it's very isolated.  The bandstands are closed to the general public for security reasons so there are literally THOUSANDS of people (who bought tickets) cheering you - and you don't know any of them.  When I crossed the line, I crouched down... and was a little overwhelmed with emotion.  Thinking about the journey there and the journey Mrs. Cyr is running right now.   A medical staffer came over and wanted to know if I was ok, and when I responded yes I was fine, she looked at me, and said, "Oh yes, those are tears of joy!  :)
And they were.....You never really know what lies on the other side of the finish line.  2 years ago I crossed and thought I was well on my way to qualifying for the O Trials.  Within months my world spun downward with my injury and I spent 2 years climbing my way just to get back to running a marathon, much less racing for 2:45.  And as I spent months fighting it, and questioning it, I learned that happiness in life is learning to just accept "it."  Because, well, that is the life journey.  That is "it".  And how you respond to "it" - determines the quality of life you have. 
So as I started this recap I was thinking geez my reactions to Chicago are a mixed bag, Yes I got a PR, but I was in shape to run 2:48, I know it.  That was a lot of work to come up feeling a tad short.  I have to address the pacing and hydration; and I am confident I can and will.  But sitting here now? It's not mixed.  I made progress, I learned a ton this training cycle on fueling, pacing, strength training, post run recovery, and nutrition.  I made the most of what I was given, and in the process got to train with the best possible training buddy you could ask for.  The best is yet to come, I believe that.  I am closer than I think.  
I know it's cliche, but I want to end this recap with thank you's.  It truly takes a village, and I would love to hug a lot of people for this race.  To Becky, Doc Maynard, Tara, and Brent for getting and keeping me healthy.  To Kerry, Erika, Jen, Lauren and my sister for being my biggest supporters.  To W for the early mornings, brutal workouts, and just plain fun.  To Ashlea, Shelly, Katie, Paul, Rachel, Emily, and Danielle for keeping me strong and flexible - 2 opposing strengths, difficult to merge.  To Adam my coach for putting up with me, believing in me, and getting me back.  To Skechers for sticking with me and enabling me to do what I do.  To my parents for their endless support and love.  To Justin, my best friend, and the reason I am so "full" right now :), and to Mrs. Cyr - my hero, my inspiration, and the deserved recipient of the finish line medal. Not every race would have this many dramatic thank you's but this one does because it was two years in the making!

Justin and I - -just knowing he is out there puts me at ease.

The gang at the end.

A training cycle/year I will NEVER forget.