Chicago Marathon 2015 Race Report

This weekend was the Chicago Marathon – another chance for me to run a marathon with my Mom. We had run the California International Marathon together in 2009, but then a hurricane and a broken leg prevented us from running the New York City Marathon together in 2012 and 2013. My Mom had completed CIM in 5:03 and New York in 5:07 so I was hoping to get her across the line in 4:59.

familyMy Mom and Dad met Sara and I in Chicago on Friday, where Sara surprised us all with team shirts! We had a GREAT dinner at Amarid (reminds me, I need to write a yelp review for that place) and then settled down for our big Saturday. We had breakfast and then took the train to the Expo, which was huge but not terribly exciting. I’ve been to a few of these 🙂 Then we did a great architecture boat tour and then relaxed a bit before a great dinner at Francesca’s on Taylor in Little Italy. The place was huge but I was glad I’d made reservations because it was packed! I had been drinking tons of water all day and shortly before bed wondered if I should have had some gatorade or something with more electrolytes as it was forecast to be pretty warm the next day.

Our hotel was about 10 min from the start and just above a starbucks, so race morning was nice and easy. We went downstairs to get Oatmeal from Starbucks which I supplemented with Peanut butter, and then walked over. The race started at 7:30 and we were in the 5th corral, so we didnt even leave the hotel til 7am! It wasn’t too cold as we walked, and already light out! What a thrill! We did cut it close to make the 7:20 cut-off into the corral but then we stood around for a bit to get things started.

I was wearing my RT tank, lululemon shorts, injinji socks and my new Brooks Adrenalines. I’d worn Ravennas for years but this last model was really giving me problems so I’m glad I switched. I also wore my Flatirons hat and had a flipbelt with my phone, advil, chapstick, honey stingers and a larabar. My mom had carried a water bottle to the start and I actually decided to carry it just in case.

StartI had read an article about running a 5 hr marathon that said you should go out a little aggressively and just expect to slow down the second half, so that was my goal for my mom. Do the first half at an 11 min pace, then the next 6.9 in an 11:30 pace, and then try to hold on to 12:00 for the last 6.2.
The skyscrapers in Chicago made it so that my paces on my watch were never right, though, so it was a little hard to manage it.

The first couple miles we seemed to be doing well and I checked in with mom. She said she wasnt working too hard so we went with it!

5K: 24:08 (10:59 pace – 34:08 elapsed)
10k: 33:34 (10:49 pace – 1:07:42 elapsed)

It was cool to have done the architecture tour the day before because we could appreciate some of the buildings around us. The race was INCREDIBLY well organized, with tons of volunteers.

15K: 33:56 (10:56 – 1:41:38 elapsed)
20K: 34:05 (10:58 – 2:15:43 elapsed)

It was a gorgeous day for a run – sunny but the breeze kept it reasonably cool. I just marvelled at being able to do this with my mom.

13.1: (11:03 – 2:23:14 elapsed)

The article I’d read had said between 2:19 – 2:27 was great, with 2:24 being right on their plan. I was thrilled at how mom was just trucking along.

25k: 34:14 (11:01 – 2:49:57 elapsed)

What a day! It was starting to get warm so I wanted to be sure mom was fueling and hydrating before she felt she had to. I had had to take a portapotty break but she just kept going and I ran up to meet her. She was looking so strong!

30K: (39:21 – 12:41 – 3:29:18 elapsed)

And then she got a calf cramp! In the 20-some races my mom has done, she’d never had a cramp before, so it really took her by surprise. She wanted to stop and massage it but I encouraged her to keep moving so we could get her some electrolytes. We dont like the junk that’s in Gatorade, so we’d only had water (and gu) to this point. We did stop briefly so I could massage it a bit, and a Mexican runner briefly stopped and handed us a biofreeze sample pack. Guardian Angel! We lathered it on, which let mom start going again slowly. At the next station we decided to go into Gatorade mode, so we started walking the waterstops so she could grab a couple glasses of Gatorade. I also started keeping my eyes peeled for anyone offering pretzels.

35K: (37:11 – 11:58 – 4:06:29) Mom was in a lot of pain, but we kept moving forward. We walked waterstops and we stopped two more times to let volunteers lather biofreeze onto her calf. Around this point Mom said that her goal was now just to finish, but I harbored a secret goal to still try to get that 4:59. I knew we had some time in the bank, so I just kept encouraging her to move forward.

40K: (38:11 – 12:18 – 4:44:40 elapsed) We were so close! Mom had left her watch running the whole time (I had restarted mine at mile 2) so she had a record of our elapsed time. I asked to borrow the watch to see if I could urge us across the line in time.
We alternated walking and jogging, although it’s at this point in the course where so many people are walking it can be hard to motivate yourself. Mom looked ahead at some big flags and asked if that was the finish. But because I knew the course, I knew there was one more zag in the course (and an uphill) before we were done. We kept moving forward because every painful step meant we were closer to being able to stop.

medalsIn the final stretch Mom started to run, but I was worried that her legs were going to pitch her forward so I tried to guide her through the chute. We crossed in 5:02:38, a new PR for her by a minute!

It was a tough day, but how amazing to PR when struggling through a calf cramp for 9 miles! I was so proud of her and her willingness to keep moving forward. She was in the game til the very end.. unlike her daughter, who has definitely given up and pouted when it seemed a goal was out of reach.

Even before the race, my Mom had said that this was probably her last marathon. I dont know if that resolve will hold or not, but I know whatever she takes on next, she’ll do awesome. She’s fit and dedicated and strong and I’m so proud of her!

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