Last year, my sister and I went to cheer on few of our friends who were running Chicago Marathon. It was my first time being at the race, and you could tell there was something special in the air. First, we saw those with disabilities take on the course, you could tell they were coming since the crowds started roaring, then the elite runners came, huddled together closely in one group, going exactly the same pace. Every spectator went nuts. They flew by so quickly I could barely capture a photo. Shortly after they passed, thousands upon thousands followed in their pursuit. My sister said next year she will be cheering here for me, I laughed out loud. Exactly one year later, I was running my first marathon and my sister was there to cheer me on. Never say never. Here's my Marathon story.
One beautiful spring afternoon I was running along Chicago Lakefront Trail. I stopped at my usual water fountain to find out it was out of order. There was a girl standing there with a gallon of water and dixie cups, giving out water to those like me hoping to get a drink. I thanked her for being there and doing this, that lead us into a conversation. Few minutes later I found out she works for Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization helping young girls with goal setting, staying healthy and provide mentorship. I mentioned I know a girl from my church who also is with this organization, turns out they both knew each other! She told me I could get guaranteed entry if I run Chicago Marathon for a charity. That made me think. Few days later after learning much more about GOTR and how amazing it is, I signed up! My main motivation was to raise money for them and I wasn't even worried about how am I ever going to run 26.2 miles.
It took months and months of training and two half marathons, with each of them setting my new PRs. I said goodbye to my friends, social life and family, all I did was run, stretch, roll, rest, repeat. Balancing training, work and social life is quite tough. Everyone around you is sick of hearing "I can't, I have to run". But once you've set a goal you stick to it. The longest I've ran in my training was 20 miles and I did it mostly without stopping and felt great! I've raised a total of $1,445.00 for GOTR, surpassing my goal of $1,000. I loaded up on carbs days before the race, and had plenty of fluids. With all of that I was ready to #OWNCHICAGO.
Being at the start line was surreal. My mom and sister were there with me until I took off. I started off slow, but not slow enough. The adrenaline kicked in and once we reached first spectators and beautiful views, I ran on a runners high! Everyone always said, Chicago Marathon has the best crowds, they were right! The first 13 miles were a breeze, everyone cheering along the way, giving out high fives and yelling out that you are their hero! The weather was perfect too, chilly but pleasant while running. It was a tad windy but that didn't stop me, having lived in Chicago for over 17 years, I'm used to it. I didn't have my first sip of water until mile 6 or so. I barely listened to my music, I didn't have to! Crowds everywhere were pulling us through!
Along first 13 miles I saw my family and friends every few miles. At mile 13 my sister was waiting for me with Burt's Bees pomegranate chapstick, I am addicted to lip balm and she remembered when I said, have my chapstick ready at all times! After reaching 15 miles, it got pretty hot. We were running where there was little to no shade and temperatures were reaching low 70's that afternoon.
Around mile 18, it's when I started to feel like I've had enough. I had to stop along the way to stretch my legs, blisters were growing and my feet hurt. Mile 20, I stopped to say hi to my friends while trying to catch my breath I said "I don't think I can do it", but they weren't giving up on me. I looked ahead and saw mile marker 20, I knew after running 6 more and I would get to be with them again, so I took off. I got a second wind, but had to walk through all aid stations while I hydrated myself, which gave my legs what felt like tons of rest.
Along my run, I mentioned something to my sister about my socks giving me blisters, although they are super comfy padded runners socks. My best friend Liz, took off hers to give them to me and joined the race and tried to find me, but somehow we missed each other. That happened in Chinatown, where there were so many people cheering. It's the thought that counts. I have the most amazing friends.
Mile 24, I saw my mom and sister. After a quick chat and few hugs I took off and had it in me to take on the last 2.2 miles. I ran it with all I've got. Mount Roosevelt was the worst! Why do they make you run up a hill right before the finish line? I pushed harder and harder, once we turned from Mount Roosevelt onto Columbus Drive I could see the finish line, I took up extra speed and was sprinting to the finish line. All I had in my mind was, get out of my way people and every second counts! LOL! I finished with blood, sweat and tears! Literally, there was blood in my shoes. Time 04:51:17. Being it my first marathon and never running more than 20 miles, and for barely being a runner for a year, I feel very accomplished. I know what I have to work on for the next Chicago Marathon. Oh yeah, I'm already hooked, I need to prove to myself that I can do better. I am my own most fierce competitor. I ended up running 27.3 miles, because I didn't stay on the blue line, which indicates the shortest 26.2 one can run.
Thank you all very much to everyone who came out to support me and other runners! Thank you unknown spectators and volunteers, you've given us so much of your love, we runners will forever be grateful for. What a beautiful 26.2 miles that was, because of all of you!
Style Your Passion
Meeting best friends along the way.
Smile at Mile 24. Almost There!
How I really looked like after 26.2, my face says it all!
With Liz, my best friend.
With sister and mom.
Thanks NIKE Bucktown for engraving my medal!