Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chicago Marathon Race Recap

Holy. Sh*t.  I don't even know where to being with this post.  This past weekend has been incredible and it's safe to say Chicago has my heart.  As I'm sure most of you know, I ran the Chicago Marathon this past weekend with one goal in mind.  To qualify for the Boston Marathon.  Let me tell you right from the beginning, that when I crossed the finish line on Sunday, I had nothing left.  I ran my freaking heart out and left everything I had on the streets of Chicago.  The entire experience was incredible and Chicago throws one hell of a party. Get ready for ALLL THE INFO and ALL THE PICTURES!!!!

I guess we'll start from the beginning.  If you've been following, you'll know I made the decision back in May to hire a running and strength coach.  I can't sing his praises enough.  Mat was pushing me from the beginning and knew when and how to pull me back in.  His guidance and the training plan he put together for me is absolutely what got me across that finish line with a shiny new PR, a BQ and uninjured.  (( P.S.  He trains clients remotely. ie., he coached a teammate who lives in Germany to a 2:40:37 at the Berlin Marathon. A 2:40:37!!!!  You can check out his website and contact info here! DO IT!!!!! ))I digress. I hired him back in late May and built up my base before I started marathon training.  I trained for 14 weeks, running 5-6 days a week, one day was dedicated to speed work and all the rest were easy runs.  We're talking mainly 9 min/mile or mid-high 8 paces for most of my runs.  He'd throw in some speed on some long runs too.  I was skeptical and disobedient a lot ( "but I feel so good so I want to run fast" or "I didn't REALIZE I was going that fast" were my most frequently used excuses) Finally I got the message when he replied, "I'll let you enjoy that run for 5 min but your lack of discipline is f**king annoying."  Sooooooo I changed my things pretty quick after that.  I mean I'm paying the money to have him put things together for me so why am I not listening?!  I cut my racing way down and ran 2-5ks (both PR's) a half marathon (huge PR) and ended with my goal marathon (7+ min PR and a BQ) I still have marathon brain, so please bare with me on this post, it's going to be a bit all over the place!

Onto race week/race weekend---
I woke up Monday and Tuesday with HORRIBLE sore throats.  Husband had been super sick since the week before (really bad cold and hacking cough) and I was really scared I'd catch it.  I double up on Nuun and emergen-c vitamins and Zinc. All week I made sure to drink extra water, added my Orgain natural hydration and lots and lots of Nuun. But alas, I woke up Wednesday morning with the same hacking cough (also really bad cramps because why wouldn't It be that time of the month?!) and felt like death.  My mom came over Thursday for our now pre pre race pasta dinner and brought Nyquil.  It sort of helped, but after a week of not sleeping because of Tyler's cough and now both of us up all night coughing, it mainly just made me exhausted the next day.  Friday morning I went for a little tune up at THE BEST PT PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE and my body was feeling ready to run!  I'd been dealing with a recent nagging pain in the arch of my right foot that was stemming from a tight calf/tight IT Band, but Ray is a miracle worker.  We flew out Friday night and got to Chicago around 6:30, went to our hotel  and had dinner at the bar.  I had pasta with grilled chicken and 75 glasses of water.  We stayed at the Congress Plaza Hotel and it was the literally right across the street from where the race start and finish.  My goal was to run a 3:30 marathon with my B goal being 3:32, the absolute slowest I could go to qualify for Boston.
Saturday I woke up around 6 and texted back and forth with my new bird friend Anna and we decided to head to Fleet Feet for a bird meet up and shake out run with Deena Kastor, Sara  Hall and Bart Yasso. Long story short they're all my new BFFS.  KIDDING. But, it was really awesome to run with Bart, meet Denna and Sara, meet new bird friends and spend some time running through Chicago with Anna & Becka and now I have new running/bird friends!   Thank you Instagram!

After that, I grabbed Tyler from the hotel and headed to the expo.  By far the biggest expo I've ever been too.  SENSORY OVERLOAD.  I could barely focus.  I waited in line to figure out where my bib was, got my bib and headed to pick up my shirt and packet.  I grabbed some Nuun (I always get a new bottle whenever they're at the expo because they have specific bottles for each race + they gave me 2 boxes of Nuun for free, soooooo thumbs up!) got some race gear from Nike, took some photos and headed out!
 It was getting insane!  Tyler and I spent some time walking through Grant park and went to the famous Bean, where I made him take jumping photos of me. Bless his sweet heart.  He is so patient with me.  He also had an awesome idea at the Crown Fountain and goes, 'Hey run through that! It'll be cool for your blog!" and he was right!

We had a VERY early dinner that night back at the hotel.  I had a piece of grilled chicken and roasted potatoes. And a pretzel.  I laid out my gear and I think we had lights out by 9ish that night.  I actually slept pretty good but then had time panics from 3-5.

Sunday-- When my alarm went off finally at 5:00am, I jumped out of bed. I made a tiny pot of coffee, had a whole  plain bagel with peanut butter, 1 cup of coffee, water and most of a  16oz bottle with Nuun + 2 Nuun Plus tabs. Took 70 selfies of myself and some pic of the park and bounded out the door!

I left Tyler sleeping (since spectators couldn't get into Grant park or see the start of the race) and headed out to my corral at 6:45.  I think it was around 60 degrees by 7am.  There was lots of "WHAT?! WHERE DO I GO?!" panicking, but I found where I needed to be and got into my corral at 7:15, took off and discarded my throwaway clothes. They closed wave one corrals at 7:20, the national anthem was sung and the elites were off.  I think it only took me about 6-7 minutes to finally cross the start line. (( If you are unfamiliar with this race, you run thru 29 Chicago Neighborhoods!))
I spotted the 3;30 pace group on the other side of the median and tucked in behind them for the first 2 miles.  When my watch beeped a 7:27 at mile 2, I knew they were going out WAY to fast and pulled back.  I didn't run with music and was just in the zone.  I don't really remember that much. Around mile 4 I ran next to Bill Rancic for a little while.  I took my first gel (half of a crank sports gel) at mile 5 and the 2nd half at mile 7.  This is a flat and fast course, but you do cross the river about 6 times so there's some ups there, with grates across the bridges. I had 2 times in my head--1:44: change for the half and 2:39:change for the 20 mile mark.  I took my 2nd gel (half of a crank sports gel) at mile 10 and the rest at 13.  I took Gatorade and water at almost every spot they were offered.  I caught up with the 3:30 pace group around mile 15 and stuck right with them until mile 19, where I picked up the pace and stayed just ahead of them.
Around mile 17 the sun was out in full force, there was zero coverage, not one cloud in the sky and the winds really started to pick up.  I think it was around 70 degrees at that point.  I took my next gel at mile 17 (half of a honey stinger) and the 2nd half just before 19.  They were handing out cold sponges around mile 19 so I grabbed one and squeezed it down my back. I took an entire gel at 20.  After coming out of China Town around mile 21ish, we headed away from downtown, so from 21-25ish there was almost zero crowd support.  I took 2 salt pills at mile 21 to prevent any cramping that might happen at the end and took my last sips of Gatorade and water.  I really zoned everything out and zoned into myself and just keep focusing on the miles and repeating DIG DEEP.  At mile 26 there is a decent climb up 'Mount Roosevelt' (barely a hill but on mile 26, it feels like a mountain) before turning onto Columbus Drive and seeing the finish line. I looked at the time on my watch and at that moment I knew I was going to finish under 3:30 and sprinted toward the finish.
I knew I was going to qualify for the Boston Marathon and that when the emotions and tears started and I was hyperventilating.  I crossed the finish line in 3 hours, 29 minutes and 23 seconds.A BQ by almost 6 minutes and 7+ minute PR.  The hardest & smartest I have ever run in my life for the entire race.
It was a VERYYYYYYYY long walk thru the finisher shoot.  I had a bottle of water, a bottle of Gatorade protein, a banana and a  few sips of beer that they were handing out in the finish area. 
After about 20 minutes I finally made my way to Tyler and the post race party/reuniting area.  Spectators aren't allowed at the start or finish of the race. 
We hung out at the post race party for a little while before making our way back to the hotel so I could shower.  I laid down for about a half hour and then we headed out for some food and celebratory drinks.  I started getting a terrible headache and it just got worse as the day went on.  I drank lots of water and ate some food and nothing seemed to help.  I made it out for about an hour to a Oiselle after race party and it was so awesome to meet some new bird friends!  We went back to the hotel around 5:30 and I slept for a good 2 hours.  I felt a little better when I woke up so we ordered some butter crust deep dish from Lou Malnati's and indulged in our amazing giant hotel bed. 
On Monday I headed to Fleet Feet South Loop again because they were having a runners recovery day and FREE medal engraving.  
I got a massage because my calves and quads were really sore. I had told myself if I BQ'd, I'd buy the special edition sneakers, so that's also what I did. 

We had a great lunch and dinner, but after being sick and obviously racing/spectating a marathon, we were both pretty exhausted.  We didn't do nearly as much as we thought we would.  I woke up early Tuesday, since the time difference was still throwing me off, packed and repacked all my stuff and we headed to the airport around 10:30.  I was really sad to be leaving and sad that such an amazing weekend was over, but also happy to be heading home and ready to start training for whatever's next.  I have a 15k in about 3 weeks and a 10k on Thanksgiving.  I'm still trying to decide on what marathon's next on my radar. Whatever is, I know that I'll continue to work as hard as I can and see what else my body is capable of.  
Thank you------ To my husband.  Who is my rock, my biggest fan, my support system and will willingly follow me around new cities in new states for hours on end.  To my mom who is always cheering me on, near or far and who's always proud of me no matter what.  Who will go out of her way to help us with whatever we need and will always take care our dogs while we're out of town and sacrifices so much time to help us out.  To my best friend who streamed the marathon and captured me crossing the finish line and called me as soon as I crossed. To my friends who sent texts of encouragement and support.  To my running wife and friend who I spent 80% of my training with and made it easier to wake up at 4am.  To my coach who believed in me since day 1. Who made me strong, faster and better runner and athlete.  To my friends who I've never met in person, but who continue to be a source of strength and encouragement to me daily. To all of you who have followed my journey and watched my dreams and goals be accomplished.  I can't wait to see what's next and I hope you stick around to find out. :)

Final states from Chicago: 


Name (CTZ)Wrightson, Erin (USA)
Age Group25-29
Bib Number8445
City, StateAlbany

Race Info

Start Time07:36:23


Place Gender770
Place Age Group216
Place Overall4126
Finish Time03:29:23

My Runner

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SplitTime Of DayTimeDiffmin/milemiles/h
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