Well, I crossed the finish line! What a day! I'm back from Chicago and ready to sleep in my own bed. The photos are upload! Here are the details...
It was so hot! That's the biggest news of the day. Supposedly it was much better than last year's race, but the heat was terrible. When I crossed the finish line, it was 85 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Luckily, many of the fine residents of Chicago had their garden hoses out and the fire department set up misters from the fire hydrants, so there were several ways to cool off...but it was just hot.
In order to avoid passing out, I pulled way back on my pace (I finished about an hour slower than I had planned on) and walked through all of the water stops (some of them were pretty slick anyway, so I had to walk) to be safe. I was drinking water and gatorade at every aid station (normally I alternate the two). According to the news, 76 people went to the hospital - but that might be low. I saw a lot of people laid out in medic tents and several ambulances. It was a bit scary.
It went by faster than I thought it would. I thought the race would go really slow, but mile to mile seemed to go by rather quickly. There were so many people cheering and lots of entertaining things around me that I was always preoccupied. It was probably the fastest 5 hours and 45 minutes that I've ever had in my life!
God works in mysterious ways! It seemed like every time I needed a little push, I had it. Around mile 15 (I think), I was starting to struggle a bit and turned the corner to see my friend Annie's mom! Of all of the people I knew that were planning to watch the race, Jackie was the one that I had no idea where she'd be. She gave me a huge hug (sorry, I was really gross), and it was so great to see her. Just after mile 20 I was really starting to feel the heat, but my mom and my aunt were on the course and gave me one more boost. About a mile later, I was able to use my iPod to get me through a couple of miles. THEN (and this was crazy) between mile 23 and 24 I ran up on my friend Michelle and here sister Elizabeth. We had planned to meet at the start, but couldn't find each other. We stayed together until almost the end of the race. It was so nice to have a friendly face at that point and some running buddies! It was perfect. I know there were a lot of people that said a little prayer for me and, well, it worked. Thanks guys!
If you plan to run a marathon in the future, write your name on your shirt! I had heard this tip several times before, but thought it was pretty dorky. Saturday night, my friend Emily finally convinced me to do it - and I'm so glad I listened! Having people cheer for me that didn't even know me was so nice and a great boost.
Beer after 26.2 miles is totally different than beer on a normal day. I'm a lightweight when it comes to drinking, so I don't drink much. However, beer is a bit of a weekness for me - especially on a hot day. My aunt greeted me with a beer when we reunited in the park (I had water and gatorade at the finish). It was the BEST beer I've ever had. I finished it quickly and then had another one before we got back to the hotel - but my body was like a carb-sponge. It was the weirdest thing. I had yet another at the hotel bar and two more a dinner...nothing! So weird, normally I'd be a mess, but I was stone sober (for the record, I only kept drinking because I was fascinated that I could keep drinking beer and not even have a buzz).
The answers to the questions you really want to know about are 'no' and 'no'. Within the first couple of hours of the race I was asked 3 times if I 1) pooped my pants and 2) if I saw anyone that did. I did not do or see anyone in that situation. I did see several clever signs related to that though (thanks, Linds, for the great postcard)!
And finally...I think I'll do it again. I can't say that I'm a marathon addict. It's definitely a huge time committment and I'm excited to have my life back, but I don't think I can leave my marathon career at yesterday's race. It was so hot that I'd like to see what I can do when the temperature is normal and I can keep my pace. I also know what to expect from my body now, so it would be good to put that knowledge to good use.
I think my next physical challenge will be a sprint triathon, but the season is over for this year. I think I'll shoot for one late spring. In the meantime, I'll keep you posted on my recovery and anything else exciting going on!