Chicago Marathon 2011: Marathon Weekend

I just want to scream at the top of my lungs and tell everyone how amazing this weekend was. It was that good. It was smart, fun, relaxing, surreal, and everything I had hoped it would be when I first shot out the idea that I wanted to run a marathon last February. I’m not really sure how it flashed by so quickly, but I tried to savor each moment and pop each memory back into place so that I could look back on Sunday and remember how great it was.

I think I am a pretty level-headed person. In general, I know how to keep my cool. I’m a problem-solver. I break down each task into a million tiny ones that I don’t get overwhelmed with the goal, as opposed to the process. And for the past 8 or 9 months, I’ve done a really good job of that. Each race was a checkpoint and throughout this year, I’ve mentally checked myself at the start and finish line. There was a purpose to literally every single run (thanks to big bro and Coach with a capital “C”),  whether or not it was a race or a training workout. The two weeks leading up to the marathon, I went through a series of emotions–which, understandably, is completely normal.

Step one: 2 weeks to race day

Nervous ball of energy. Every time I read someone’s Chicago Marathon race report of years past or looked at Runner’s World mile-by-mile pacing strategy for the marathon, I got nauseous. No kidding. I literally wanted to throw up just thinking about it.

Step two: 1 week to race day

Excitement sets in. I’m no longer nervous. I’m excited and anxious …just not nauseous. I sleep well, I eat well, and keep myself busy. I fret about what to wear. I paint my bedroom. I give the pup a much-needed bath. I keep myself busy.

And finally, Friday was here.

I decided to take a half day off of work on Friday to go to the expo that afternoon. I was happy that some other friends planned to go that day and that I could skip all that hectic crazyness that would ensue there on Saturday with people coming in from out of town. (I’m not a huge fan of expos, but I knew this one would be an exception. It wasn’t just any race.)

I got the goosebumps. And my heart may have fluttered a tiny bit. The dude at packet pick-up took my ID and said “cool, you’re an organ donor”. And I said, “oh….yeah. Well, not yet. Maybe one day!”. He replied with a standard “touche” and I was off to collect my bag and t-shirt from the opposite end of the hall.

Me and the lovely Sara in the Nike area

I met up with Sara, who has become a close running friend, especially after my first ever 20 mile run a few months ago (can you believe it’s been that long, Sara!?) I walked around for a bit longer, indulged in some Nike apparel, and looked for my name on the Nike wall. It may sound really corny but finding my name listed among 45,000 others that would run the marathon in two days time made me feel really special. It kind of made the weekend feel concrete. One step closer to the finish line.

Luckily, this shorty was able to reach her name.

On Friday night, I was somewhat ambitious. I decided that I would paint my bedroom in preparation for family & friends coming over during the weekend to celebrate. I had plans to go grocery shopping and then potentially to an Italian restaurant down the street to carb up. Instead, I ended up eating pizza and enjoying a warm fall evening up on the rooftop with Manny, my brother, and some friends. I went to bed at midnight. [Note: there was a time when I thought going to bed at midnight was early. In the past 8 months, I’ve become accustomed to bedtime happening between 10 pm and 11 pm….and most often, it only happens that way because I fall asleep on the couch while watching TV :-)]

Guess what time I woke up on Saturday? Just guess. ….TEN THIRTY IN THE MORNING! Yes, I slept for well over 10 hours and it was weird. I have a hard time sleeping in past 8 am nowadays and I had to look at my phone several times before I truly trusted the time it displayed. I am so happy I was able to get a full night of sleep that night because I knew that sleep would be hard to come by the next night.

After downing a cup of coffee and finally working up the motivation to put my running clothes on, I headed out the door for a 2 mile shake-out run. It was sticky out. And I finally made the decision to skip the race day singlet and just wear a sports bra. BEST. DECISION. EVER. (More on that later)

When I got home, I felt refreshed and happy. Right when I walked in the apartment, Manny told me that my brother was up on the roof. I was like “uhhh…why??”. His answer to this was, “he said he was in the neighborhood”. I thought this was odd, considering the fact that I knew Cory, my brother, was staying close to Midway with his wife, Kristen. Immediately, I was stressed out. (Pre-marathon jitters make you that way??…just go with it). So I showered and got ready for us to go to lunch. I had no qualms about taking my time getting ready. I thought “if they had just told me they were coming over, I would have been back from my run and ready much earlier”.

Turns out I was the idiot. I walked up to the roof all flustered and annoyed. And guess who I saw?! ….My twin sister, Lindsey, just lounging in one of the rooftop chairs!!!!! (I guess I had it coming after surprising her in Oklahoma this summer.) I’m so glad they got the surprise in action.

We ended up going to Francesca’s Forno for some food. Side note: it was 2 pm and they wouldn’t give me pasta. Turns out their brunch goes until 3 pm on the weekends and they can’t whip up some pasta for a pre-marathon meal. Darn. I ordered a potato hash with plenty of egg and I was happy.

The rest of Saturday was spent grocery shopping, watching the third installment of the Swedish ‘Girl With A Dragon Tattoo’ movie series, and anticipating my mom and sister’s arrival.

Mom arrived with lasagna in hand, of course. We ate, THEY drank (I was all about my Nuun water), and I went to bed around 11 pm.

ONE SLEEP ’til my first marathon.

-J

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