Marlenathon #4

WELCOME TO MY

CHICAGO MARATHON 2018 RECAP

IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE YOUR BODY, EXERCISE. IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE, BECOME A RUNNER
— Unknown
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To say that running has changed my life is an understatement. It shaped me to be the woman I am today. Everything I’ve learned through running and rigorous training, I can apply in everyday tasks. Because of my running accomplishments, I started to believe in myself and my capabilities. All of a sudden my life started to take shape in ways I would have never imagined it to. With long distance running comes huge commitment, it’s time consuming and very demanding. In training we get tested, both physically and emotionally. At the end of the day it really is mind over matter. Whatever our hurtles are in life or in running, believe first that you are more than capable to sustain anything, that you are strong enough. As long as you keep moving and don’t ever give up, you’ll eventually get to that finish line.

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It all started roughly four years ago when I quit my gym and decided to take up running. This past Sunday I ran my fourth consecutive Chicago Marathon. Going into the race I was super excited and also very nervous. I stress over things I cannot control, such as the weather. I do not perform well in the heat, so I was praying for cool overcast weather. We did get that, plus a whole lot of rain! It didn’t keep me from slowing down though.

I was always told to start slow and conserve my energy for the whole race. This is after all 26.2 miles we’re talking about! This time around, I went all for it. I ran my heart out Chicago! Smashed 6 records according to my Garmin watch. Shaved off 20 min setting my new PR of 4:06:29 with average pace of 9:24. This race zoomed by quickly, I felt like I was flying through neighborhoods of Chicago. I don’t even remember most of them, I was in the zone to keep up my pace. The route changed a little bit at the end and that was a nice surprise. The last few miles usually dragged on forever but with this new route change, the last stretch was more bearable and not as mundane.

IF YOU WANT TO RUN, RUN A MILE. IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE A DIFFERENT LIFE, RUN A MARATHON.
— EMIL ZATOPEK
 Moments after crossing the finish line.

Moments after crossing the finish line.

 Hard earned Chicago Marathon Medal

Hard earned Chicago Marathon Medal

 Proud Marathon Finisher face.

Proud Marathon Finisher face.

I was placed in corral H (they go alphabetically) while running I caught up with corral G, which started at least 15 minutes before H. Around mile 14 I still felt great maintaining my pace and I saw 4:10 pacers from corral G and I “attached” to them. The pace was exactly right how I was running and I ran more relaxed because I wasn’t stressing over my pace. I knew that as long as I kept running with them my finishing time would be below 4h and 10 min. And I was right. I lost them around mile 24 when I slowed down to actually drink the water instead of spilling it all over myself. It’s always a jungle when passing through aid stations, so it was tough to get through the slower crowd of runners in front of me and as much as I wanted to get back to the group I knew I had to save the energy for the next 2 miles and the infamous, Mount Roosevelt (incline right before finish line). At mile 24 is when I thought to myself when is this finally over? Other than that, I felt strong throughout the race and I even sprinted, yes sprinted to that finish line! Crossed it without any blisters, just blue lips from the cold and rain and wrinkly wet feet.

This race has made me realize my true potential and that running is my true calling. Hopefully I can inspire others to train properly and take on the challenge and just run or take up any other sport and be the best you can be at it. This is the strongest I’ve ever felt during the race. The form was there and complete focus. I was on fire and felt like a badass! I ran without any music and the only motivation to keep moving were the spectators cheering us on. Chicago crowd has been so good, each and every year. Thank you to those who came out and celebrated the biggest sports event in Chicago. You all yet again, made it all so memorable.

 Photo curtesy of Chicago Marathon. Not the prettiest photo of me but you can see my focus and determination and that makes it the most powerful and beautiful pic from this marathon.

Photo curtesy of Chicago Marathon. Not the prettiest photo of me but you can see my focus and determination and that makes it the most powerful and beautiful pic from this marathon.

Next year I have exciting plans for my running career. I want to run at least 3 marathons, qualify for Boston Marathon and become a certified running coach. I want to help others unleash their potential, just like I did it for myself. I am 26 minutes away from qualifying to Boston, I have never trained with a professional, mostly just by myself. I’m a living proof of if you can dream it, you can achieve it. My goals and this Chicago Marathon made me realize of what kind of a badass machine I am. To qualify for Boston I would need to run the marathon in 3h:45 minutes (I’m moving up in age group next month and that gave me additional 5 minutes, otherwise it would have to be 3:40 this year). To clarify that would mean shaving off at least 26 minutes and run 8:35 pace for the entire race. Totally doable right? That means training harder than ever before. I’m up for the challenge.

WHAT SEEMS HARD NOW, ONE DAY WILL BE YOUR WARM-UP.
— Unknown

Training season was exhausting but it definitely paid of! I am truly astounded of what human body is capable of. This year I haven’t missed a single long run or barely skipped my short ones. I did speed work with my shorter runs which I nailed and had some help with from another runner. I became fast for 4-6mile runs averaging 8:15-8:30 per mile, which was transcendent at the marathon. I ran three 20 mile runs and would wake up at 4:30 am on saturdays and go to bed at 8:30pm fridays. Yes, that means zero social life whatsoever. I didn’t mind that, I knew I had to work hard on my dream.

There is no better feeling than crossing that finish line. I cried because I ran exceedingly well. At that moment I could taste the endless possibilities that lie ahead of me. All the doubt went away and a brand new hope was born within me. Yes, I am capable. I am more than good enough. I can achieve all things I set my mind and body to. This is just the beginning. I am so excited for what’s to come.

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my NIKE ad

State and Washington

As you may know by now I was featured in Nike ad. It was displayed at mile 1.5 on a bus shelter located in the loop at State and Washington intersection. It was such a surreal experience to run right past my face on a Nike ad, while all my cheer squad was there waiting on me. I ran so fast to meet them and we screamed and hugged each other like crazy people. It was all a blur but thankfully there was an official Bank of America Marathon videographer who captured this moment on tape! That truly was once of a lifetime experience and I am so honored and thankful to Nike Chicago for the opportunity to hopefully inspire others to run! I will be posting a full recap about my Nike ad along with amazing photos, stay tuned.

Congrats to my fellow marathon runners. Whether you ran your first marathon, hit your PR or not, know that you are all super-heros to me! You sacrificed a lot to be able to run Chicago and I am so very proud of each and everyone of you! Class of 2018, we did it! Let’s do it again next year, shall we? Hit me up if you want to train together.

Leave me a comment if you ran this marathon or are planning to run next year or you want to! What are your goals and what do you think you can do to achieve them?

Happy Running,

Marlena #MARLENATHON

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Nike Chicago for empowering women and all the amazing Nike HQ Marathon events and for my red tank! To all those who donated to my charity World Vision, your support means the world to me. You can still donate to my fundraiser here. Thank you to my cheer squad: Karolina and Ryan, MOM, Anya T, Theresa V, Ewelina M, and those who couldn’t be there in person but were there in spirit.

LOVE you all.