Shoutout to all those running the Chicago Marathon this year! My run last year was exhilarating and exhausting, but worth every moment. I thought I’d share my personal experience from the race, so here we go.
1. Finishing a marathon is a GINORMOUS accomplishment!! It is brave and courageous to take on such a personal challenge. Just by being at the starting line, you have pushed yourself to become better. And that is noble. Time to relax, put all your training to good use, and put one foot in front of the other. The marathon is a race that shows off all your hard work from the previous months. At the finish line, I was so absolutely proud and happy to have done it!! I am so ecstatic to have done what I have done.
2. Take your gels!! Hopefully you practiced with some running goo. Refueling and hydrating throughout the course is essential. I totaled one gel throughout the entire race and this definitely affected my performance in a very negative way towards the end. Learn from my mistakes, keep refueling
3. Have a game plan. I wish I had planned out the second half of my race! I was so determined and focused and had the first 13 miles planned down to the mile. The second half my entire plan was to ‘push pace’ and then ‘run for my life’ for the last mile. It wasn’t effective. Should have had specific numbers in mind. I can’t do math past mile 10, and that proved to be true. I spent an entire mile attempting to calculate 6 (miles) * 8 (min pace) and couldn’t for the life of me figure it out to see if I was still on pace.
4. Similarly, a big FYI is that GPS doesn’t always work for the race!! Use a stopwatch instead and also know the splits (or see point number 5). I used a stopwatch and attempted to do math throughout the entire second half of the race (hence, I should have had a plan/numbers already memorized).
5. At the expo they have temporary tattoos for race splits. Basically a big chart that shows what time on your stopwatch you should be crossing each mile marker, based on your goal time. I wish I had gotten one! This would have been incredibly helpful, especially because GPS watches Do. Not. Work.
5. If you’re going for a time goal – getting stuck in a back corral is a legitimate problem. If you’re worried about this, please speak up at the expo! If all else fails, take it slow in the beginning. Aim for that negative split over the course of the whole race. I didn’t have a seed time so I was in the very back. I spent the first 10 miles passing walkers, zig zagging around people (at a 7:30 pace) which wasted a LOT of energy. It was extremely frustrating. The field was extremely crowded and I didn’t handle it well. I couldn’t feel how my pace was from muscle memory and I was very thrown off in general. Wish I was in a corral further up to start with people running at least a somewhat similar pace (some people in my start corral started walking from the start). Next time I will be proactive in reaching out to change my corral.
6. Relax and have fun. With 45,000 fellow runners and over a million fans cheering you on, it is an experience to take in. I shouldn’t have stressed out so much!! I believe I psyched myself out. I didn’t sleep the night before, I missed out on enjoying the race, I was so zoned in on the clock and goal. I don’t remember where I ran or where I went – the race flew by so fast. I want to have taken it in and adsorbed the experience – just need to run smarter and relax