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Chicago Marathon 2015 - Recap

It's Tuesday after the marathon, and I am stiff, sore, tired and feeling beat up. But I've (mostly) got a smile on my face about the whole thing. This marathon season has been really interesting for me, and the race day was just a piece of it.

Rocking the tshirt, post-race.

Rocking the tshirt, post-race.

Team World Vision

If you missed it, I ran with Team World Vision, which just so happens to be the charity with the largest participation in the Chicago Marathon. What an experience! So much orange and blue on the race course :) One of my goals in running with a charity was to participate in training runs and make a few new friends. According to Facebook, that has been accomplished. But I received much more than that in the process.

You can read more about why I chose World Vision and my passion for clean water in Africa on my donation page. I sent an email to a group of friends after one of my longer runs, detailing some of the pain and frustration of the marathon training season.

But you know what? My involvement with World Vision has reminded me so strongly that this marathon isn’t about me. Sure, deciding to run with them was an easy way to guarantee my entry to the race. It was a selfish first move. But as I keep on going, I’m reminded that even if I end up walking this marathon, it’s not a failure. Because I’m running for so much more than a potential Boston qualification. I’m running for HOPE.

I'm so proud to say that the Chicago team raised about $1.5M towards clean water in Africa. And, it turns out that there is still time to give. You can still help me meet my (new) goal of $2,000 - which means 40 kids gets clean water - by giving before October 23rd.

As part of the weekend, Team World Vision celebrated 10 years of running and fundraising at a wonderful dinner on Friday night. My parents came into town for the race, and got to join us. It was a night of good food and great inspiration. As for the day of the race, we had a separate gear check and porta potties (hello, short lines), in addition to an awesome tent and post-race celebration with our families. All of the racers were welcomed into the tent with a victory announcement and an uproar from the crowd. So special.

If you're considering running a race with a charity, I'd highly recommend World Vision - as a great charity doing amazing things around the world, and as a great race day experience. My dad was even impressed from the spectator point of view.

Love and Support

My family and husband joining me after the race. Thank goodness for flip-flops!

My family and husband joining me after the race. Thank goodness for flip-flops!

So many people participated in the race with me by giving to World Vision. As I type this, I've raised $1,715. I changed my goal a couple of times because of how awesome my friends and family were to donate. I didn't realize how motivating and humbling that would be for me.

As I mentioned, my parents came into town from Rochester, NY to support me in the race. My brother lives in town, and of course my husband is always my #1 fan. The four of them ran around town, making sure to wave, cheer, raise signs, ring cowbells, and overall be joyful spectators. Despite being (relatively) new to town, I saw friends on the sidelines. If you haven't run a race before, you may not know HOW AWESOME it is to see friendly faces in the crowd. It's the best.

In addition to all of the in person cheering, my husband contacted friends and family and had them send me texts while I was running. At one point, I looked down and had 30 new text messages. There aren't even words. I was so overwhelmed by the love that you guys sent my way. As a side note, if I haven't replied to your text yet, I'm sorry. Please know it meant a lot. And also, how great is my husband? He worked all weekend to make sure that I was loved and celebrated and supported. I think I'll keep him around.

The photo is a little fuzzy, but this is the awesome sign from my husband. An old nickname and inside joke from time with friends in Dallas.

The photo is a little fuzzy, but this is the awesome sign from my husband. An old nickname and inside joke from time with friends in Dallas.

The Run

Ok, so now we get to the part about how I ran. I wanted to hit on some of the highlights of the day first, because it was such a special weekend. But the run wasn't all that awesome. First of all, it was a "hot" day. For marathons, hot is defined as over 60 degrees (or something close to that). If I had been spectating, I would have rejoiced at what a gorgeous day it was. As a runner, less rejoicing with bright sunshine, clear skies and 70 degrees.

I had some pretty significant GI issues on the race, and that is truly what did me in. I had a slightly odd week leading up to the race, but I chalked it up to nervous energy. I figured that once I got going, it would all be fine - as it normally is when I'm running. Alas, that was not the case.

Mile 11. I looked good, and still felt (kinda) strong. Also pictured is my VERY excited mother :)

Mile 11. I looked good, and still felt (kinda) strong. Also pictured is my VERY excited mother :)

I'll spare you all the details, but suffice it to say I had 2 emergency stops to use the porta potty during the race. This left me dehydrated and undernourished. For a 26-mile run, I might normally take in about 500 calories, but on Sunday I barely got in 200 calories. I tried Gatorade, but it made me nauseous. The smells of sewage (occasional on the course) and the many restaurants I ran by (most of them are amazing and would normally have made me quite happy) left me queasy.

Let me just add that I did everything right. I'm a dietitian. I'm a seasoned runner. I know what to do. But my body didn't cooperate. It just didn't. So I did what I could to carry on. It involved slowing down - a lot.

So the first half of the race I was rocking and rolling, on pace to qualify for Boston. The second half was more like a sad limp. There were times that I thought about just pulling over and calling it a day. But knowing that I was running for clean water, that I had spectators, and the texts of encouragement kept me going.

I've been told that you should have multiple goals for each race. When you just have one big goal, it can be crippling to not hit it. But if you have a few, odds are pretty darn great that you'll one of them. My BIG goal was to qualify for Boston, which would have been under 3:40. But my other goal was to beat 4:00. I ended up finishing in 3:53. A respectable time, for sure. And a personal record by almost 40 minutes. Nothing to sneeze at.

Mile 25. I'm coming in for a round of high-fives to the spectators. Proof that you can fake it til you make it. In reality, I felt like death warmed over. Persevere!!

Mile 25. I'm coming in for a round of high-fives to the spectators. Proof that you can fake it til you make it. In reality, I felt like death warmed over. Persevere!!

There were many points during the run that I wanted to cry. I trained better than this. My body was failing me. But then I had a reality check and remembered how amazing my body actually was. I saw runners whose bodies looked to be in far worse shape than mine - it reminded me again how much running is a mental and spiritual feat, not just physical. And I saw the following sign, which made me quite happy. Truth comes in all forms.


How do you handle not meeting goals? Do you have a favorite race experience?