Monday, October 8, 2012

Go with the flow: My Chicago Marathon recap

The expo: HOLY CRAP I MET DESI DAVILA.
She is so tiny! And seriously the nicest person ever.  She even laughed at my jokes!  (Obviously out of pity)  I am so excited for her to kick butt at Boston 2013.  Talk about someone who works hard to be the best.  If i could muster 10% of her motivation, i would be a much better runner.  Special thanks to the Brooks team and Maggie who was able to make this happen via her amazing PR skills.  
This entire weekend was really rough for me.  As someone who actually has an anxiety disorder, things like crowds of people are a huge trigger to me.  The stress of getting to the expo, fear of missing Desi, and ending up lost in McCormick place had me practically in tears by the time i met up with these awesome ladies.  

We went on a shake out fun run with the brooks team, and it was just what i needed to help balance myself again.  I left the expo feeling much calmer and happier.  And i had a bag full of snacks - always a win.

Race weekend:  I had already mentioned Matt had invited his friends to stay with us that weekend, which was not really the best situation for zen-like marathon prep.  I got very little sleep, and spent too  much time on my feet.  They brought their Husky "Stark" to play with waffles, and as stressful and anxiety-filled as my weekend was, i think Waffles had it worse...
The Race: Did not go as planned.  I ended up going with plan C and i cried twice on the course, but also, it sort of became my party.  The first half of the race went pretty smoothly, and i felt good, although the weekend dog party left me with a runny nose and allergies.  The weather was perfect - cool, cloudy, with just enough sun to warm you up every once in a while.  I struggled alot with the sheer amount of people, and got very panicky at water stations, where people tended to "swarm".  Everytime i felt like the race was just too much for me, someone would yell my name, tell me i was doing great, and cheer for me.  
It also helped seeing Amanda, Emily, Cary, David, Keren, and Kelly at various points throughout the day.
The support for this race is indescribable.  I won't even try to put it into words.

Around mile 15-16, i got a terrible cramp/side-stitch on my left side.  It hurt so bad.  I am not prone to them, so i have no idea what caused it, or what to do to make it go away.  So naturally i limp along the side and cry.  A stranger actually put his arm around me and said "we're all stupid.  Lets try to run a little."  People can be so amazing.  I was able to run half mile increments, and then would stop to try and massage the cramp, which was spasming at this point.  In hindsight, i am 90% sure i made the cramp worse, as it still hurts today, and is all bruised from my inability to massage anything.  Aaron was with me at this point, and i felt bad because i was supposed to set an example, and motivate him, but holy crap, this hurt so bad.  I can honestly say this race hurt more than rockford and sunburst combined.  I started crying again at mile 19, because i just felt so hopeless.  Matt and a few friends were at the bar Simones waiting to cheer us on, and i promised myself i would take a break there.  My time was already out the window, so i was going to try and at least salvage this to be an enjoyable experience.  
I was so happy to spot Matt! I took a break at Simone's, enjoyed a bloody mary, and got a pep talk from my friends.  
When life hands you lemons, all you can do is just say screw this, I'm gonna have a good time no matter how painful it is.  The cramp stuck with me until mile 23.  That, or maybe the bloody mary kicked in and i was too drunk to feel it anymore.  I found that taking a minute break every half mile and trying to stretch out the cramp was all i could do, and i managed.  It's still disappointing though, because otherwise this would have been a great race for me.  I ended up finishing with a 4:46, which is 16 minutes off what i should have done.  But i also stopped for a bloody mary and about 30 walk breaks.  This was really a hard race for me, physically and mentally.  If it had been a solo training run, i would have quit when the cramp hit.  I was overwhelmed by the crowds, in both a good and a bad way.  And i heard gangnam style no less than 4 times, which was awesome. The last six miles, i just kept thinking of hot dog cat.  Aaron was able to finish 20 minutes later, despite severely under training for this race.  He is suffering for it now though.
Post race: as usual, i am pretty lucky when it comes to post race aches and pains.  I am a little sore, but nothing major. As i said though, my side is killing me, mostly from my mangling it trying to fix the cramp.  Aaron and i had an ice bath post race, which can be summed up in these photos:
I think aaron cried.
Chicago is really an amazing race!  I am torn between whether or not to do it next year.  Its an unbelievable experience, but also very hard for anyone with anxiety.  So many people.  It was a struggle to stay calm.

Looking forward: I was hoping this race would be a confidence boost for Dublin.  It was not.  I am now more terrified than ever.  My focus the next couple weeks is recovery - I think my body is feeling a little burned out right now, and is ready for a break.  I am going to try and heal it as much as i can in the next 20 days, and have promised it a nice winter break before i start training again in January.  

I am bummed that my race didn't go as planned, but i don't even have time to be sad, because i am way too busy overflowing with joy and pride for all my friends who ran Chicago yesterday, especially the first timers.  If someone was gonna have a bad race, i am glad it was me, because you all worked so hard, and deserved the best race possible.  Reading your stories inspires me, and encourages me to leave it all out there in Dublin.  Let taper number 2 begin!

55 comments:

  1. CONGRATS! I'm still super bummed I didn't spot you! I Thought you would be easy to spot with that ginger hair of yours but considering there were 2930290302023320 many people it didn't happen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was an abundance of gingers! Who would have thought that gingers run marathons. I ended up being all the way to one side for most of the race which made it hard to spot people at aid stations - i missed Erin too!

      Delete
  2. You are tough! To have a serious side stitch, a bloody mary, and crowd anxiety all during a marathon, and still finish in 4:46, is fantastic! Congratulations, and good luck in Berlin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks - i am definitely going to use is as a learning experience for Dublin. As far as dress rehearsals go - i think it worked out! :D

      Delete
  3. I agree with Tara!

    Also, I think people need to run races of all sizes to figure out what kind they like best. After three marathons of varying size I've decided the smaller ones that still have some crowd support are better. Sounds like you're the same way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! It was still an amazing experience and i loved (almost) every minute of it, but i am not sure i could run this every year...at least without sedatives....haha

      Delete
  4. The people! So so many people! I have a love hate relationship with that...the support and energy is phenomenal but it gets so overwhelming.

    This race is nothing like Dublin will be. You got the tough one out of the way so you can enjoy your goal race.

    The pic of waffles made me laugh...poor thing!

    Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, dublin maxed out at 14,000 which still seems like so many people! But i guess its only 33% haha

      Delete
  5. From what I've heard cramping during running means you need more salt, so I wonder if the Bloody Mary did the trick. Also, Waffles' face in that picture is hilarious. And I debated doing an ice bath when I got home, but I was so cold during much of the race that the thought of anything other than a hot shower followed by my snuggie sounded terrible. Congrats on finishing marathon #3!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you might be right...i didn't take as much salt as usual bc of the cool temps. Someday i will learn!

      Its funny, because i actually came up with the idea of race snuggies while waiting for the race to start!!

      Delete
  6. YOU JUST RAN 26.2 miles....shoot that is awesome with or with out a cramp it's more than I would ever do (or want to do...ha!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lucky for me, i soon forget how much it hurt! Even rereading this morning i was like, crap - was it really that painful??

      Delete
  7. I am so proud of you for finishing this race despite the cramp!!! Last year, there was a lady who I saw chug a beer at mile 20. I wondered who would do that. I guess I forgot about you! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If some one watched me drink that bloody mary, and was like holy crap - that girl is crazy! Then i consider this a total win.

      Delete
  8. OMG, love that you stopped and had a bloody mary along the way. At least you enjoyed being out there somewhat.

    I'm surprised waffles did not have an anxiety attack.

    PS. There is most likely going to be a little blogger party doing Chicago next year if your interested.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If i don't run it, i will at very least jump into run part of it! (especially the pilsen part....SO FUN!!)

      Delete
  9. great job, Sara.....you fought your way through some tough stuff, managed to have a DRINK during the race, and still finished pretty strong. WOW!

    Is it a good idea to let that wolf chow down on Waffles? I mean, I know she's pissed you off from time to time, but that just doesn't look fair! LOL

    Enjoy the recovery...and get yourself ready for a great time in Dublin!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I laugh every time i see that picture. She ended up losing her temper and snapping at him shortly after. She is 17lbs of pure fury, haha. Good luck this weekend!!

      Delete
  10. great job!!! i'm with you on the crowds, i loved the support but since I started with friends in L (not my J corral) I spent a LOT of time weaving, dodging and in general adding way too much distance to my race. I also ran up against a lot of the charity runners/walkers who were then walking 4 abreast. amazing expereince, but like you i'm not sure about next year i think i'd like to try a different marathon and get a different expereince, plus the whole wedding thing means the training will be slightly delegated for most of the summer :)
    great job!! now go kick ass in dublin!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WHAT? You weren't able to convince Jared to do a marathon themed wedding??? ;)

      Yeah, i think mid-sized marathon is the way to go for me. I want to do NYC so bad, but i think it would be a disaster for me....

      Delete
  11. Congrats! Even though it didn't go as planned you seemed to have a really nice experience. I am consistently humbled by the humanity in these races. Makes me realize there is still good in the world :)

    That photo of waffles. OMG. Dying here and it kinda hurts to laugh haha "WTF are you doing taking a pic of me while letting this happen!?! "

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Waffles is the the real trooper - that husky wanted to play 24/7, and the poor thing couldn't get a break! We laid on the couch together all of Sunday night :D

      Delete
  12. Maybe for Dublin you should fill a handheld (or 2) with some Guinness or another bloody mary. I had wine on the course of my last half and I am sure it helped ;-) Either way, congrats on another marathon finish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There may or may not be some bets going as to when i might dip into a bar for a guinness during the Dublin marathon, haha

      Delete
  13. Blogger party in the works for next year so no offense but you are going to be doing Chicago next year. I have anxiety too but it more so makes me an idiot when I meet people for the first time ever and makes me want to crawl into a ball and cry when I'm around deep dark water but yeah...it does suck!

    I love that the guy said that to you "we're all stupid" because who puts themselves through this shit. A lot of people apparently but WHY do we do it? That's the question.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the part i didn't mention was that i cried "i have another one in 21 days" to which he said "I'm running NYC next month" Stupidity loves company :D

      And are you gonna hold my hand when i freak out from all the people during chicago 2013??? haha

      Delete
  14. Congrats to you - and great race recap, I've been reading them all day, re-living yesterday in all of it's glory.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It was a day of glory. Mine was more so in the bloody mary pic, but glorious none the less!

      Delete
  15. You finished so that deserves a congrats! We can't predict everything so great job on sticking through it!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes its just not our day, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun!

      Delete
  16. HUGE CONGRATULATIONS on your third marathon of the year. You are AMAZING!!!!! It was so great to see you right before crossing the start line, too! I am so sorry to hear about the cramps, though, I can only imagine how painful that must have been. But WAY TO PUSH THROUGH. You are going to do AWESOME in Dublin - after everything that you've been through, how could you not?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it was gonna happen, i am glad it happened here in Chicago when i had a support crew! I hope you are recovering well!!

      Delete
  17. Congrats and what an amazing time (for me) with all your problems in the last half! You rock!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same to you! My friend was having trouble with his knee also. You guys are hardcore for pushing through!

      Delete
  18. Congrats on another marathon finish!! Way to push through the side cramps! I think that you have a not so great day at Chicago just means you will rock Dublin :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fingers crossed, thats what i'm hoping!

      Delete
  19. GIrl, you are still awesome and amazing regardless of what happened during the race! And your time was still killer :) Congratulations!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! despite being a baby and crying a few times, i still really enjoyed the experience - its a great race for first times too (hint! hint!)

      Delete
  20. I am sorry that your race didn't go as planned, but I am glad that you still made a party out of it. That is awesome that you stopped and had a bloody mary. Totally freaking awesome. Isn't it crazy how TINY Desi is????!!!! When I met her in Houston I felt like a huge obese person. When people who had never met in real life saw our picture they thought I was like 5 ft. 10. Nope people- total optical illusion. I am pushing 5 ft. 5 on a good day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, i am not used to looking so gargantuan! She is seriously so nice and down to earth though, you just have to love her

      Delete
  21. A crappy marathon is still better than no marathon. I am still way too nervous to make the plunge and sign up for it. Way to go! I love that you made it a party. Why not?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think from here on, plan C for every marathon will be "stop for a drink" :D

      Delete
  22. So sorry I missed seeing you out there! Never thought about what the crowds would do for people with anxiety. I think Dublin will be nice and calm. I had a horrible stitch like that at mile 19 of a marathon once and I kept my finger stuck in my gut for the rest of the race. I was told it was a hydration issue. COngrats girl!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thats what i was doing! I literally have bruise marks from grabbing at my side. I think it totally was a hydration issue as well - lesson learned!

      Delete
  23. Sounds like a crazy, yet fun marathon weekend (anxiety and pain aside). Cool that you got to meet Desiree Davila at the expo. I can't imagine running another marathon for another few months let alone in 20 days in Dublin! Congrats on the finish and enjoy your taper. Hopefully, Waffles has recovered from the weekend as well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am still in recovery mode, but i have already managed to forget the really painful parts. All i remember is the bloody mary, so i am left thinking marathoning is really easy and fun, haha.

      Delete
  24. Congrats Sara! You pushed through a really rough race (and weekend! Poor Waffles too!!!) and still had an awesome finish time! I hope you never have a cramp like that again! It sounds so awful :(

    I bet Dublin will be much more lowkey and chill. I have heard a lot of people say the crowds at Chicago overwhelm them. It's like you are on show the whole time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thats true! I felt like it was the Sara show! I know its super motivating for a lot of people, but i really can't wait for the zen-like stretches of dublin. It really makes me think trail races are in my future!

      Delete
  25. Great job toughing it out! They all can't be good ones, so its better that it happened here so you can kick ass in Dublin! Good luck, girlie! You'll be great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's hoping! I am starting to get REAL nervous!

      Delete
  26. You are so amazing, and regardless of what happened, you pushed though, and looked super cute doing so! CONGRATS! You are my hero!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I figure if you can't win, you should at least have a good time!

      Delete
  27. So many hilarious things about this post. You make me laugh in every post of yours that I read. The dog and ice bath pics were great, but I especially loved the dude on the course that said "we're all stupid. Lets try to run a little."

    Sorry the race didn't go as you had hoped, but you're an ef'in marathoner and super funny too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That guy was my hero, seriously. I hope to pay it forward during a race sometime. Because seriously, we are all so stupid. :D

      Delete
  28. these pictures are awesome...I love the one of waffles

    Congratulations on finishing!

    ReplyDelete