Wandering with a Purpose

Category: Running (Page 2 of 6)

My running journey started late and is slow, but I really enjoy it. I started to believe that I can get better, so I am documenting the journey. I believe anyone can run if they start and don’t push unrealistic expectations on themselves. It really is a fun sport and challenge.

2023 Dopey Registration

Whew! I needed a night to recover because runDisney Marathon Weekend registration was an absolute nightmare! Registration was announced weeks ago that it would be on April 19 at 10:00 am ET. This year is celebrating the marathon’s 30th anniversary and Dopey’s 10th – aka, this isn’t their first time.

It has sold out in 2021 (turned virtual) and in 2022. I think my friends registered for the half several months after registration opened for 2020, and I believe I registered in August for the marathon in 2018. There was a lot of hype around this year’s themes because they are awesome, so I felt like the 5K and 10K were going to go fast, but I had no idea how fast everything else was going to go.

Prior to registration, lots of people will post tips on things to do to prep for registration. There is really helpful information about making an account, what information to have available, and generally what to expect. There is a lot of debate on whether you should get in the queue early or right on time. After today’s experience, I think getting in right on time is the way to go (with, of course, another device in early as backup!)

My Journey

2020 Dopey shirt

I started my day with a good 3-mile run in my 2020 Dopey shirt. I was ready for registration day!

ready for registration

All of my friends were prepped for 10 am registration. I was going to be at work so I was nervous about a customer coming in at that time, but I was all ready for a quick process. The Dopey queue opened, and I was in on my phone browser at 9:40. I was saving my computer browser for a 10 am entrance. Then 10 am came…and 10 am went. We were in the queue for a while before the screen changed to this

And this is what we saw for almost 2 hours!! I can’t understand what the issue was. They knew this date was coming; they knew there would be high traffic; this was not the first time they had registration. What exactly was the issue?

waiting

There were some great social media posts.

small world registration
Should we be worried about the Balloon Ladies?
We don't talk about...

At least that was entertaining, but it was completely inconvenient. People had other things to do and a lot of people tried to make themselves available from 10 am to 11 am.

Is the End in Sight?

Thank you for your patience

Eventually, runDisney updated the message at 12:15 pm stating that registration will now open 2.5 hours after it was scheduled. This message said not to refresh! At this point, my phone queue had stopped, and I stopped receiving updates sometime around 11 am. I also had a screen opened in Chrome.

At 12:30 pm, my Safari and Chrome browsers on my computer showed this, and I was so annoyed!

1 hour wait

I had been on for 2.5 hours and got placed at the end of the queue?! Since I’m impatient, I opened a screen on my phone and got 20 minutes or something. This is why I am now on the side of the people who say to get in at registration time. The “Do not refresh the browser” message on the original screen is a lie! I heard from a friend the 5K and 10K were sold out before I got onto the registration page. She was lucky enough to get in.

The countdown started, and my phone won!

Registered!

Shortly after I registered, another friend texted me to say Dopey was sold out. Then Goofy. Before I left work, everything was sold out!

2023 marathon weekend sold out

I can’t imagine this was all of their spots. So many people waited since 10 am, stayed in the queue as instructed, and they didn’t get their spot! I feel so bad for them. I don’t know why it doesn’t put you in the queue in the order that you arrive – especially after a 2.5-hour delay. Hopefully, they will open up more spots!

I’m feeling very lucky and excited for this opportunity to take on 48.6 miles again! It was so much fun in 2020, 2023 should be just as exciting. I can’t wait!

Big Goal: Dopey 2023

Dopey Challenge 2023 has been on my goal list since I completed the challenge in 2020, and I have been looking forward to the event. Unfortunately, I have been struggling with the decision as of late (which I won’t go into now), but on Thursday night, runDisney released the 2023 marathon weekend themes, and WOW! They nailed it!

How exciting is this 90s theme to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the WDW Marathon! This is the Disney I remember from my childhood, and I was a big Disney kid. Dopey is completing all four races: 5K, 10K, half marathon, and half marathon during runDisney Marathon weekend. It’s difficult, but there is such energy that it makes it so much fun!

On top of it being an anniversary year for the marathon, it is the 10 year anniversary of the Dopey Challenge. My very first marathon was the 25th anniversary of the Disney Marathon. It’s hard to believe that was almost 5 years ago, but I remember how exciting it was. They gave us Mickey ears after the race to celebrate, and it was just so cool! I’m sure they will do something really cool this time, too!

I’m sure the weekend is going to be so much fun, and I decided that I am in for the challenge. There are several goals I want to complete to get ready for this, but Dopey 2023 is my motivation. Registration is on April 19, and I will be ready!

Training starts on September 5, so I have Pelotonia before then. It will be a great way to start 2023. Lots to accomplish before then, but it is just the motivation I need to make them happen!

Race Recap: 2022 Disney Princess 5K

2022 princess 5K flat runner

We woke up at 2 am on Friday, February 25 for the 2022 runDisney Princess Weekend 5K this was my first Princess Weekend, but it was my mom’s first 5K. RunDisney 5Ks are fun runs with no timing chip. They want you to do it with a 16-minute pace, but no one will remove you from the course.

My mom was nervous about it because she isn’t big into this kind of activity. I thought she could do it if she had the right mindset, and she did. This is a lot of participants’ first 5K, and that is especially true at Princess weekend. In addition to new runners, the costumes at the 5K were so elaborate! I’m sure some people plan to walk the whole way in them, but I don’t understand how they even do that!

2022 Princess Weekend 5K start

The Race

We walked the whole race, which many people did. I tried to push my mom along because even though I knew there wasnt a time limit, I wanted to make sure we finished. I’m jealous of the people who don’t find finishing stressful.

The start was exciting with fireworks to set us off. I think my mom was really excited and impressed with it. RunDisney does a good job, so it’s hard not to be.

The Course

2022 princess 5K course map

This 5K is one of the best courses that you can do a 5K it is almost entirely through Epcot, so you get to see around the world and finish by going past Spaceship Earth with its cool lights.

Character Stops

The 5k is a shorter close, but it has a very high concentration of characters, which is awesome! The downside is the lines are so long. Even this time we didn’t stop because I can’t imagine waiting for 15-20 minutes for a picture. People say they move fast, but I just can’t do it. I do take pictures as I go past, which works for me!

The characters were a lot of Disney Princesses and their prince, which I liked.

The Finish

Watching my mom finish her first 5K was really exciting for me. I’m really glad she went out of her comfort zone to do this with me, and I think she was proud (and surprised) with herself. We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand. Photo Pass photographers got some good ones.

We got our medals, a banana, water, and out box of Disney snacks before making our way out to the photo booths. We did it! Now it was time for a very long walk to the bus so we could shower and spend the day back in Epcot to eat yummy food in Italy and France.

2022 Princess 5K finish

But this was only the beginning for me. I would have another early morning to start the Fairy Tale Challenge with the Enchanted 10K.

Race Recap: 2022 Shamrock 4 Mile

Shamrock flat run

This was my third weekend in a row with a race having just completed the Corporate Cup 5K. I was worried about this when I signed up, but I was doing it for fun, so I figured a race is always a fun way to get in miles. It was neat to run different areas of the city for mornings when I should have been getting in a run regardless!

The Shamrock 4 Miler is the first run in RunCharlotte’s 6-Pack series. I have participated in some of these races before, but I decided to sign up for the whole series this year since I am not really traveling and as a way to focus on getting faster on shorter distances. They also bribed us with an AWESOME RunCharlotte quarter-zip up, and that is what sealed the deal. I love this and know I will wear it often when it is cool outside.

The Race

The race was held on March 12 in South Charlotte which is an area where I haven’t run before. We started at a local restaurant, Famous Toastery, which is the sponsor for this run. I have about a 45-minute drive to this area, and it rained at home and the entire ride down. I almost didn’t go because I didn’t feel like going for a swim. But I am trying to be consistent, so I packed up my flip-flops, a towel, extra clothes, and a plastic bag so I could complete the first of my six races. It would be bad if I didn’t make it to the first! As luck would have it, the rain stopped when I got to the parking lot!

Of course, the event team was planning for rain, so many of the pre-race tables were canceled, but they had fun music playing and everyone was happy the rain had stopped. Despite the weather, there were still a lot of people there and a lot of people were picking up their cool zip-up, so many people look to be doing the entire series! That’s great for the organization.

It was a neat race. There were some hills as is typical in our area, but we ran through the commercial area of Blankney and some neighborhoods. I was still struggling with allergies, but I earned a PR of 44:16 because the only other 4-miler I did my tag fell off. It was still a decent time for me even though I didn’t feel well.

The Finish

Shamrock Cup

The rain held off for the whole race, and I avoided puddles…until I went to find our post-race snack. After the finish line, I stopped paying attention and my right foot went straight into a puddle! At least my flip-flops were waiting for me. Instead of medals, the race team is giving our medal finisher cups. I thought this was clever.

Famous Toastery hosted a delicious breakfast with quiche, fruit, and coffee which hit the spot after a run. Even though it was 9:30 am, Wicked Weed was there with beer that we could take home – classic Charlotte race move. While I was waiting in line for breakfast, a man saw my runDisney hat. We started chatting, and I felt like I was meeting a celebrity! He was perfect marathon, Dopey, and Princess! For those of you who don’t know about runDisney, that is crazy! 2023 is the 30th anniversary of the marathon – that means he has done every Disney marathon weekend for the last 29 years. He hasn’t missed one. On top of that, he has done all of the Dopeys (9) and Princess weekends (around 20?). That is such an awesome commitment. I told him I was planning on doing Dopey in 2023, so hopefully, I would see him around in the future. Kudos to him!

I really had fun at this event, and I can’t wait for the series’s next race in May – Hit the Brixx 10K, which I have done before.

Race Recap: 2022 Corporate Cup

The 2022 Truist Corporate Cup was held on March 5. The race includes a half marathon and 5K. My understanding is that it is advertised to many of the large corporations in Charlotte for their employees to do. I had never done it but decided to sign up when they partnered with the Around the Crown 10K, which I will do on Labor Day weekend.

There weren’t as many people there as I expected, and many of them were doing the 5K. The race started at Truist Stadium, which was nice because it was open to use the restrooms. There was also free parking at several of the parking garages Uptown for the race.

2022 Corporate Cup Map

My allergies were awful that morning. Instead of racing, I told myself to take it easy and just get in the miles. I had run the Fairy Tale Challenge the previous weekend, too. If I wanted to walk a lot, then I could do that. Despite not being able to breathe, I did a lot better than I thought I would. I finished the Corporate Cup 5K in 33:32, which is just 47 seconds off my PR time.

2022 Corporate Cup Medal

Race Recap: 2022 Disney Princess Half Marathon

2022 Princess Half Run Flat

The final day of the 2022 runDisney Princess Weekend Fairy Tale Challenge was Sunday, February 27. I woke again at 2:30 am for my final early wake-up call of my 3-day running adventure. I was definitely tired but still excited to complete the last day of the challenge which is the Princess Half Marathon. This was also the first time of my previous 9 runDisney races that I wore a “costume.” I would be a version of Minnie Mouse by wearing a black tank top and a red skirt with white polkadots.

I felt good after completing the Enchanted 10K the day before and spending the day in Animal Kingdom. I was able to get back to the room early and get a goodnight sleep.

My goal for the race was to have fun, feel strong, and get some good character pictures.

The Course

2022 Princess Half Marathon Course Map

The course map for the 2022 Half Marathon was similar to all of the other runDisney Half Marathons I have done. I think the only time it differs is for Wine and Dine weekend, but I have never done that one. The half marathon course is my least favorite because there is so much boring highway running.

2022 Princess Half Marathon Start Line

As they do with all races, the runDisney team sends you off in style with music and fireworks. I was in the 3 wave, and since I was by myself, was able to get into one of the first groups that went off. I like the new model, but it’s just less formal than the way they did it in 2020.

My Race

As I mentioned, my goal was to be steady, feel strong, and just have a good time. I did 60/30 run/walk increments. RunDisney is nice with this because many people do the Galloway method. The beginning is a lot of highway running with some characters on side of the highway. You can see picture of some of them below. Even though there is nothing super exciting about this part, it is worth it because it is SO EXCITING when you enter the Magic Kingdom, turn on to Main St. and see the castle in front of you.

The course goes into Tomorrowland and then you make your way into Fantasy Land. When I went past Ariel’s Grotto, I was hoping to see Sebastian (I got a picture with him during Dopey 2020), and I was thrilled to see him and Prince Eric.

Princess Half with Eric and Sebastian
Had to stop for a picture with characters from my childhood favorite movie!

After this, you make your way through the castle where you are given the opportunity to get a picture in front of the castle. They have several photographers and the lines go really quick, so I recommend everyone stop here. This year, I got my favorite castle picture to date. I think it was the Minnie Mouse look that did it!

2022 Princess Castle Picture

After the castle, you wind though the Liberty area to Frontier Land and then leave the Magic Kingdom. You go past the hotels and get back on the highway for more running. At least here there are lot of characters, and they try to keep you entertained. I was feeling really strong and stopped to get pictures with a few characters, which I found really fun.

Making Friends with Donald Duck

Eventually, as the hot, grueling sun beats down on you, you eventually make it to the backstage of Epcot and you know the end is close. I was really excited to see a character stop with Mickey and Donald! I had to stop and get this picture even though I had to be half a mile from the end! As I was standing in line, Mickey had to leave. I was two people away, and the photographer motioned to the girl in front of me that it was her turn. She asked when Mickey would be back, and he said a few minutes. She told him she would wait, and well, if you know Donald, he was NOT happy. Poor Donald Duck! I said I would be happy to get a picture with him, and he was so happy! I felt good making Mr. Donald Duck happy since I know he always feels slighted by being second to Mickey.

Princess Half with Donald

Character Stops

The half marathon by nature is going to have more characters than the other courses, but there were definitely characters we had seen on other days. There were LOTS of princess (as there should be!) I wasn’t able to get pictures of everyone, but I tried. Some of my pictures didn’t turn out because it was just so busy at the beginning.

The Finish

2022 Princess Half Mulan Medal

It was a hot day, so getting to the finish line was very exciting! They also had cold, wet towels to help you cool down. RunDisney always does a great job taking care of their participants.

I finished the half in 2:57:31 with a restroom stop and several character stops, so it was a complete win for me. My goal was accomplished since I had fun and felt really strong through the whole race. I didn’t train as well as I should have, so I was a bit worried about how I felt. Since completing Chicago, I hadn’t done a lot of running besides a few of the smaller races I signed up for in 2022. Completing a challenge is a big accomplishment for me, and it continues to amaze me that I can do 3 days of walking/running and still feel good.

2022 Princess Half Finish

After I got my Mulan medal at the finish line, I made my way to the challenge tent to get my Moana Fairy Tale Challenge medal. Then it was time for my celebratory picture at the photo booth. The sun was out in full force, so I didn’t really get a good picture, but it shows that I made it! Then it was time to get to the bus and make my way back to the Art of Animation for a shower and to get Mom to go to Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day. It was truly a magical trip. I just love runDisney events!

Race Recap: 2022 Enchanted 10K

2022 10K shirt with Tiana

2:30 am on February 26, and I was excited to get going! The alarm went off, and I tried to be very quiet getting ready so I didn’t wake my mom. I decided just to wear my race shirt since I didn’t do a good job trying to put together a costume. It was a pretty purple shirt with Tiana on it, who was the focus for this Enchanted 10K.

The bus ride was very easy, and we got to see a beautiful Spaceship Earth as we walked to the corrals. The 10K is probably my favorite race distance. It’s long enough to be a challenge, yet it is doable for all people. It’s a distance I feel comfortable it trying to get faster, yet it isn’t taxing like a marathon.

It was a busy day again and so many fun costumes! I love seeing the designs people put together; they are so cleaver. It’s amazing how many people were there doing the challenge. The 5K is not included in the Fairy Tale Challenge, like it is in Dopey. Our bib was different today and had Moana on it. There were A LOT of Moana bibs. I assume that if you enjoy running and you just have to do one more early morning, why not do it and get the extra medal?

The Course

2022 Princess 10K Cours Map

The race started at 5 am, which was earlier than in past years, but the time they tried to get the marathon to start in 2020. I’m not sure what they did in 2021, but I assume the earlier timing helps with 1. traffic in the parks and 2. getting people out of the heat sooner.

2022 Enchanted 10K Start

This course was really exciting for me! I couldn’t wait to do Hollywood Studios AND Epcot, plus getting to go around the Boardwalk. I remembered doing the 10K during Dopey, and it was my favorite course. Since there was another course, this had to be better!

Afterwards, I heard people say they don’t like this course because there is a lot of highway running. I kind of understand what they are saying, but I don’t know what the option is. I don’t know if the highway running here bothered me like it does during the half marathon. They had a lot more characters out in that space, and getting to go through 2 parks (even if it is for the last 2 miles or so), still makes the race a lot of fun in my opinion. I’m not sure what the construction situation will be for 2023 Marathon Weekend, but I hope they keep this multi-park course in the plan.

Character Stops

There were lots of characters out on the race course, which I found exciting. Many princesses were out like they were out the day before. I always try to take pictures of them, and I think I got all of them on the Enchanted 10K course. I was making good time, so I even stopped for a few of the later ones who had more manageable lines. The Frozen sisters, Tiana, and Aurora had INSANELY long lines. I always feel like I’ll get swept by the balloon ladies if I were to stop and wait for them.

50th Anniversary Chip and Dale
It’s always exciting to see Chip and Dale – they were dressed up in their anniversary best!
Clarabelle Cow

The Finish

The sun was coming out when I crossed the finish line for my first Enchanted 10K, and I felt great! I took the race easy because of the half tomorrow. The Disney photographer even got a great finish line picture for me!

Enchanted 10K finish line Princess Weekend
2022 Enchanted 10K Medal

I finished the 6.2 miles in 1:35:42, which I thought was pretty good given my restroom stop and my several character stops. My PR is around 1:08, but the goal at Disney is to have fun and not to PR.

We got a really beautiful medal – it has the EARadecent look like from the 2022 Marathon Weekend medals to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. The green and gold just looks so good together! I think this was most people’s favorite medal from the weekend, and I would have to agree. It was the most beautiful one.

2022 Princess 10K finish photo

After getting my medal and box of Disney race food, I stopped to get my celebratory picture at the photo booth. I was a sweaty mess (it was humid that day!), but I was excited! I had two medals in my position, and I was ready to accomplish the half tomorrow to get my final two. Before then, I had to get back to the room so Mom and I could tackle Animal Kingdom and get some pictures with our new bling!

Race Recap: 2022 Charlotte Hot Chocolate 5K

To motivate me while training for the 2021 Chicago Marathon, I read a lot of blogs of people who talk about their running and race recaps. Many people were participating in an event called “Hot Chocolate 15K” which seemed like a lot of fun. I learned that it was actually going to happen in Charlotte in February, so I decided that would be a lot of fun to try. The 2022 race happened on February 19, which was the weekend before the 2021 runDisney Princess weekend. I didn’t think the 15K would be possible that close to the challenge, but the 5K seemed like a perfect alternative.

2022 hot chocolate run flat

One of the reasons this race is popular is because of all of the swag. Instead of a normal race shirt, participants get a really cool puffy coat! The size fits small, but it’s really comfortable and warm.

In Charlotte, it was a big race. They held the expo at the convention center, which means it must be a big race. For having such a big space, the expo was very small. I think they could use a different, less expensive option in the future

Race Details

Race morning was busy and COLD! There were a lot of people! We gathered at First Ward Park where fun music was playing. I think this marshmallow man is the mascot for the race.

A lot of people were planning to do the 5K, but a good number of people were going to tackle the 15K. It was my first 5K in a very long time, so I was excited and a bit nervous. I hadn’t stuck to a consistent running schedule since Chicago, but I also had the Fairy Tale Challenge looming in front of me.

2022 Hot Chocolate 5K Charlotte course

End of the Race

The race was a lot of fun and very hilly. I walked twice during the race but still earned a 5K PR (32:45), which was exciting. Another reason people like the race is because of the chocolate fondue at the end, which is really cute!

2022 hot chocolate finish picture

The medals were also really cool! Overall, I highly recommend this race and would do it again in the future. Super fun and low-key!

Race Recap: 2021 Abbott Chicago 5K

During my marathon research, I found out that major marathons host a “shake out” run the day before the big event. Chicago Marathon’s is called the Abbott Chicago 5K. Even though I was nervous about running the day before the marathon, much of my research showed that it’s a positive thing, assuming you take it easy.

Course Map

The course is a one-way 3.1 mile run through the heart of Chicago’s downtown loop area. It passes major landmarks and is just a fun way to see the city.

The course itself was very cool and a fun way to see the city. The race highlights different countries so many people had flags to run with to show their home countries.

The Start

I arrived too early because I had a hard time sleeping. It was a pretty morning and fun to watch people arrive. My guess is that many of the people running were also running the next day.

The Race

There’s not much to report on a 5K race going at a really easy pace. I felt strong the whole time but really was there to take it all in. The coolest part of the race was around a mile going up an exit. There was a group of people and I heard some rumblings. When I turned around, it was Shalane Flanagan walking up the ramp with some girls from Girls on the Run. A bunch of the runners freaked out and tried to take pictures as we passed. My pictures didn’t turn out, but it was really cool to see her on the course.

fun bag of snacks post race

The Finish

I felt great at the end. The run gave me a lot of energy, and they gave everyone a cute bag of snacks at the end. My final time was 35:24 which was about an 11:24/mile pace.

If anyone is doing the Chicago Marathon and is considering the Abbott 5K, I would highly recommend it. Not only was it a fun course, but it was a nice way to get out race jitters before standing at the start line. I think I would have been much more nervous on Sunday if I didn’t get this race in the day before. To read how the marathon went, check out my race recap.

Race Recap: 2021 Chicago Marathon

I completed the 2021 Chicago Marathon on October 10, 2021. When I signed up and started training, it seemed like that day would never happen. That it was so far away, but then, all of the sudden I was waiting at the airport to fly to Chicago.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Travel and Logistics

I flew to Chicago on Friday morning and arrived in the afternoon. O’Hare was really busy, and you could see people wearing running shirts from past races. Once you got into the lobby for the L, there were signs that advertised marathon weekend. It made me really excited. The ticket even advertised the 2021 Chicago Marathon.

After taking the L into the city, I found my hotel, HI Hostel, which was a quick walk from one of the stations. While I understand this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I cannot say enough great things about this place. I was luckily able to book a private room with a shared bath before I was confirmed for the race (free cancelation) and paid $253.85 for the entire weekend and it is a literal block and a half walk to the corrals. It was perfect.

Once I settled in, I decided to take the Metra train from Millennial Park to McCormick Center. The cost was $4 round trip, but an Uber was $30 one way. Uber’s were incredibly expensive all weekend, so I opted for walking or public transportation the entire time. The train was easy, and I didn’t feel too uncomfortable. I think it was about 3 stops away.

Marathon Expo

I went to the expo on Friday afternoon. I’m not sure if it was like this all weekend or if that was the time everyone decided to go, but the line was absolutely ridiculous! There had to be thousands of people there.

Once I was in the expo, I found the packet pickup location and received my bib. We then proceeded to another location and picked up our t-shirts.

I’m not sure how the expo compared to previous years, but it was smaller than Disney (obviously) yet I thought it was still really big. I didn’t buy any gear because it was all a bit overwhelming. I focused on getting my bib and a picture before leaving.

Evening Entertainment

Then it was time to make my way back to the hostel on the Metra to create my dinner plans. I decided on an Italian restaurant called Osteria Via Stato my brother recommended in the River North (I think) area. I took the L there, and after getting lost for a few blocks, found my way to the restaurant. Since it was race weekend, I treated myself to an appetizer (burrata) and Cacio de Pepe, which I hadn’t had in a long time. I really enjoyed the burrata, but I should have chosen a different pasta. Since I didn’t feel comfortable on the L, I walked home and saw some beautiful sights. I think it was my first time being downtown at night.

Then it was time for bed to wake up for the Abbott 5K.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Abbott 5K

I slept okay but was up well before I needed to be to get ready for the Abbott 5K. The start line is in the same area as the marathon, so it was a quick 1.5 block walk to the start. Read more about this race in the race recap.

Riverboat Cruise

After showering and getting ready, I found a coffee on my way to Michigan Ave for the start of the architecture tour. I thought this would be a good activity to see the city but stay off my feet. I had been on one when we lived here in the early 2000s and remember it being awesome. It was the most perfect day, and I got some amazing pictures!

The Evening

Alert from Chicago Marathon - one more sleep!

After the tour, I walked really fast to the train station to catch a Metra train to the suburbs to visit my best friend from high school. I spent the rest of the day with her family before taking the train back and walking to the hostel. Then I laid out my gear and tried to get a good night’s sleep.

After all of the early mornings and hard work, I couldn’t believe the day was almost here. I had a really hard time sleeping, but I just had to trust that it was all going to be okay.

2021 Chicago Marathon Run Flat

Sunday, October 10, 2021 – MARATHON Sunday

Getting Ready and Start Line

Whew. I was terrified when I woke up in the morning. I knew I had everything, but I was still so nervous. For breakfast, I ate my granola bar around 6:00 am and saved my Honey Stinger waffle until the start line. I got dressed, put on body glide, sunscreen, and my bib. It was finally time to do the actual race. My plan was to run 60 seconds and then walk 30 seconds after running for the first 1 or 1.5 miles as a warm-up.

I left my hotel around 6:30 am since they suggest arriving at the gates at that time. It was a long time to be at the start line, but I knew I wouldn’t relax anymore in my room. I wandered around the corrals for a while. I was originally in corral M, but I requested a change to L. Because of the temperature, I knew there wasn’t a snowball’s chance I would get below 5 hours (wishful thinking) and felt guilty about going to L. It all ended up working out because I couldn’t even figure out how to get to the L group from where I entered. Also, I will note, that I shouldn’t have felt guilty about starting in an ambitious group. I think people do that often.

Anyway, my conscious felt better starting in my initial group of M. I went to the corral after checking my bag, using the restroom, and decided to just wait. I had a long time left to go. Slowly but surely things started and we made our way to the start!

Marathon Strategy and Goals

As I was visualizing the course, I put a strategy together that split the course into 6 sections.

  • Section 1: Miles 1-3 > the downtown warm up
  • Section 2: Miles 3-8 > going north
  • Section 3: Miles 8 – 13.1 > south to halfway
  • Section 4: Miles 13 – 17 > the west side
  • Section 5: Miles 18 – 23 > going south and banana time
  • Section 6: Miles 23 – 26.2 > home stretch

I thought this would give me shorter mile markers to focus on and phases for focus. I knew I needed to go slow for the first three sections because I had to feel good at the 13.1 marker or things wouldn’t go well. Sections 4 and 5 would be the hardest and most boring. I wanted to evaluate how I was feeling at section 6 so I could decide if I wanted to pick it up and push towards the end.

Marathon Goals

  • Run in at least 5:15
  • PR (I should have confirmed this time before the race, but I knew it was just under 6 hours)
  • Run a steady 60/30 pace
  • Change to a 30/30 pace at mile 20, if I can’t sustain 60/30
  • Run some after mile 18
  • Finish even if I have to crawl

Section 1: Miles 1-3

The race was off to a good start. I read a lot of race recaps from previous years on blogs and what they say is true – GPS doesn’t work and it’s crowded. Everyone was running faster than I felt they should be, but it was just so darn exciting! There were so many crowds with funny signs. I really tried to force myself to stay slow for the first 1.5 miles, but I was feeling good. When I started my run/walk series, I felt really out of place. Even in my back-of-the-pack crowd, no one was walking. I tried to stay on the edge and out of people’s way. It was a challenge because I knew I had to run my race. I couldn’t follow what other people were doing. I needed to feel good and not tired when I came back down to the river again.

Section 2: Miles 3 – 8

Irish band at the 8K

Shortly after passing the 5K mark, the city becomes less congested and more residential. I keep on my 60/30 pace and was surprised by how strong I was feeling. I couldn’t get my podcasts to work, which was frustrating, but I ended up taking in the crowds and the experience. Around mile 5, you get into a park. I stopped for a restroom break and also got down a little bit of Gatorade for some electrolytes. I hate it so much, but I felt like I needed to do it.

Mile 8 and time to turn south

As you make your way further north, the neighborhoods change, but there were crowds the whole way. Even though it was warm out, it didn’t feel that bad. There were gusts of wind which made you feel cool. I tried not to think of that, but I took water at every aid station to drink and also put a few on my head to try to keep me cool. One of the things I learned during training is that your heart rate increases as you get warmer, so it is important to cool yourself off (thus, why I bought a pair of shorts).

Mile 8 was when you make your turn back south. I reached the most northern part of the course. I just kept chugging along. Slow and steady.

Section 3: Miles 8 – 13.1

The last part of the first half was upon me. At some point during this stretch, I picked up another Gatorade and choked it down. Yuck! The city started getting more condensed as we made our way back into River North.

But I just kept chugging along. I couldn’t believe I was feeling so good at the halfway mark. At some point, I passed the police car doing the 15-mile pace for Wave 2. I felt really good about that and felt confident that I could PR this race. I thought with all my training it would be no issue to PR, but maybe I would do better than expected.

Stopped to get a picture with the Sears Tower

But I knew I had to keep my mind calm. Just slow and steady, 60/30. Just keep going. Don’t get excited. Just be steady. After all, this truly was a marathon and not a sprint!

Then we started getting back into the thick of the city and back to the river when we made it to the halfway point!

I just couldn’t believe that I was feeling good and not too exhausted. Just stay steady!

Section 4: Miles 13 – 17

In my visualization, I knew this part would be hard. This was just an out-and-back going west. I wasn’t sure what would be out here to look at, but it wouldn’t be like the River District. Around mile 15, I started to not feel well. I decided to walk for a little bit, took a Huma gel, and stopped at the restroom again. Nausea just wouldn’t go away so I kept walking. When I tried to run, I just couldn’t. I started to get really frustrated with myself. What happened? Why couldn’t I run? I stopped at the restroom again another time or two but nothing was helping. I was so angry and upset.

As a note, you do pass the United Center (I think Chicago Bulls) and the place where the Blackhawks play.

Section 5: Miles 18 – 23

Section 5 did not go well at all. I was so angry. At some point, I walked over to a side street hoping I could throw up but I couldn’t. How did I start out so well for it to go so not well? I was scared I wouldn’t be able to finish because I felt so ill. I got my banana, but I couldn’t even think about taking a gel (the last one I could take was the one I had at 15). Should I just pull over and be done with it? No, I wanted the medal. I worked too hard. I told myself that my last goal was to finish – even if it was crawling over the finish line at midnight – I would get to the end, so I had to just put one foot in front of the other. Just keep going.

This section was just miserable. Just focusing on one foot then the other.

Section 6: Miles 23 – 26.2

Only a 5K remained. This was when I was supposed to evaluate to see if I could push myself further. I couldn’t I tried to run; whether it was 30/30 or just a little run. I struggled so much. By the time I made the turn back north, I started to feel hot. It hit me that it was quite hot outside. There also wasn’t any shade. My Apple Watch died around mile 24. Around mile 25, I was desperate for a water stop. I was feeling dehydrated, but I was almost there! Almost done.

Then I got to Mt. Roosevelt. I wanted to tackle this. It felt like I was running, but I doubt it looked that way. My “run” sustained until the very top when I had to walk, but I was almost there. After the top, you turn left, and just like the other recaps said – and there it was – THE FINISH LINE! I was so close. “Run, Kristin,” I told myself. “Keep going. You’re so close.”

Marathon Finish

I finally crossed the finish line and was overwhelmed. My emotions were everywhere – I was angry with myself, relieved that I was done, proud that I had completed a marathon, tired, dirty, hot. I couldn’t sort it all out. All I could focus on was finding water and then my medal. They had a cool rag which was AMAZING!

Look at that beauty!!!

Once I got my water, I made my way to bag claim to get my things and find a place to sit down.

In Conclusion

My final time was 5:53:38, which was a lot worse than I had hoped. I thought it may be a PR, but once I double-checked my first marathon was 5:52:32. Just one minute would have made a huge difference. I was so disappointed because I trained harder for this marathon than I did for my first one. The pace was about 13:45 minute/mile. I was doing closer to 11:30/mile at the beginning before it went down to 14-16 minutes during the rough time.

Marathon Goal Update

  • Run in at least 5:15 – nowhere close, but I think it wouldn’t have been in my reach if I didn’t get sick
  • PR – off my 1 minute!!
  • Run a steady 60/30 pace – oh sigh…
  • Change to a 30/30 pace at mile 20, if I can’t sustain 60/30 – even 30/30 was too much
  • Run some after mile 18 – I tried to do some running, but I couldn’t sustain anything
  • Finish even if I have to crawl – Achieved this one
me with my medal

At the end of the day, as people remind me, I did finish a marathon and my first world major. It was an amazing experience and is just further motivation to improve in the future.

Celebratory Dinner

Since I signed up, I knew I wanted to celebrate with a Chicago-style pizza from Giordano’s and a Magnolia Bakery red velvet cupcake. Mission accomplished and it was delicious!

Monday, October 11, 2021

Flew home and wore my medal in the airport with the other finishers. I was ready to go home and see my puppies.

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