The Chicago Marathon: A marathoner now (part 2)

The Start Line: Holy shit. I’m going to be running the marathon. Sooo cold…when should I throw off my jacket? How long will it take before Corral E can cross the start line? Dang, there’s no way I can keep up with the pace teams in this corral. 4:00, 4:15, erk. No. Not going to follow those. When are we starting? Someone’s talking over the loudspeaker. WTF are they saying? They must be starting, I’ll start my Garmin now. Why do some people have their hands over their hearts?….oh, were they doing the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem? Sounded nothing like it. Well, the country can forgive this hard of hearing person. Okay, we’re moving now. Bye, jacket with a broken zipper.

Beginning to 5K: Nice and easy. I know everyone is passing me, but who cares? I want to finish. I don’t want speed. I’m trailing the rear. Lower Columbus is warm, ahhh….Someone tripped on the purple carpet covering the open grates. I call out, “Are you okay?” but her running buddies were already picking her up. You go, girl! Oh, we’re already to Grand? Nice! I know this area. I know State Street, too. Yeah, I’m making good progress. Tutu girl and I keep passing each other. Sign: Ermahgerd, the Merathern! Ugh, I hate that meme. But it made me laugh, so I’ll like it today. Hill up to Marina City–I’ll walk this one. All energy I burn now is gone, so it’s better to conserve it. Besides, running hills make me need to shit more. Skip water. I tend to drink too much. Downtown was cold, but at least the buildings (mostly) blocked the winds. Going back north, I approach and pass the Merchandise Mart.

5K to 10K: 2nd portapotties. I’ll pee now, I don’t want to be like that one lady I read about earlier who tried to pee around Mile 20, but couldn’t get up off the toilet. Better now while my legs are still fresh-ish. Take Gatorade for the sugars. Ran past someone offering beer roundabouts Moody Bible College. They drink beer there? Eww, Spongebob guy with the  vuvuzela along the cheer route–his yellow makeup looks like he’s shedding jaundiced skin. Already to the Lincoln Park Zoo and the botanic gardens. Dear Lord, WHY on earth are all these men peeing? Ha, the shy ones run farther away from the route while the desperate ones pee on the trees right next to the route. I hope it rains. The ground around the trees look damp. That’s gotta smell.

10K to 20K: No more peeing, thank God. I’ll alternate between water and Gatorade, being careful not to overfill my stomach. I’d better eat some more carb chews, so I can be sure to have carbs ready to burn later on. I’m holding steady around 13:30-14:10 pace. More people pass me. I don’t see any more pee-ers. Well, I should hope not, we’re in urban areas again. Old Town again.Two guys dressed as Prince Phillip and the Queen of England passed me. How can he run in that pink suit skirt? And a purse? And waving his hands like the Queen? Someone handed out tiny bottles of water. Perfect size for carrying and refilling.

There’s the Merch Mart, and my husband again. The north third is done. Almost to the half–I’m still doing decently on energy. I’ve never been farther than 15 miles, and that’s approaching. I listen to my gut like a hawk. It only complains when..the gas?…turns another bend in my intestines, then the pain goes away. No urge to poop, yet, thank God. And thaaaank you, sign holders, for asking, “Smile if you peed your pants!” “Smile if you pooped your pants!” Just the encouragement I needed! /sarcasm.

20K to 30K: Made it to the halfway point (10:41 am) !! Can I repeat the distance? Charity block party is coming up. I can do it. Keep jogging. I’m tired, but keep jogging. Thank you for handing out Jolly Ranchers, but they’re a bit sweet for me. Ooh, PAWS is giving out chews and Gatorade! I’ll take the chews! Thank you!! I was afraid I was going to run low. I scarf that down, and make sure to drink some of the water from the tiny water bottle. Rounded Malcolm X College. Ugh, I remember I hated this part when I ran it on a long run. Back and forth, zig-zagging down to Chinatown. But the cheerers and company made it less frustrating. Sign: “If the marathon was easy, it would be called YOUR MOM.”

30K to 40K: Pilsen rocks! Literally–they have great music. I love that guy who hooked up his electric keyboard outside to play for us. Plus the whole place is so colorful and full of murals…gives me something to look at and keep going.  Damn. My foot is hurting. I’ll give it a little while…*checks map* okay. Time for painkillers at the aid station.
“Can I have Aleve, please?”
“Tylenol okay?”
Tylenol…might as well have sugar pills. “Sure, Tylenol will be good,” I said as she marked my bib with a small T and had me sign a form and put down my bib number. Please let Tylenol actually kill pain for me, for once.
Gah. Stupid boring stretch along Archer, until the turn into Chinatown on Wentworth. Then! People again! Keep going. Keep going. Dang. My foot keeps hurting.  I made it this far. I’m not giving up yet. But why does the downtown Chinatown area have to be so short? This stupid boring stretch along the Da(m)n Ryan. At least it’s not sunny. I’d never thought I’d appreciate clouds…but I appreciate the clouds. Where are the bananas? There were supposed to be bananas…oh well. I didn’t need them anyway. Might fill up my stomach too much and cause the shits. Foot keeps hurting. I’ll try favoring it by straightening my leg and running awkwardly. (Note: I didn’t know that favoring my foot would make me hurt all over…)
33rd street. Almost to the farthest south point. 35th street. THERE’S my husband…and he’s talking with my friend! Energy! Jeff’s taking pictures of me, omg, I hope they don’t look too awful. And thank God he has Aleve. I pop two, give a hug, and run off again. More energy. Wow! Let’s try running on this foot again.

IIT. I can do this. The eye doctor school. I can do this. Bananas. YES. Bananas. To chase that Aleve. Alleluia. One runner is sitting on a bench, looking pretty crappy. I wonder if I should go to him–then I see the aid station RNs hurrying over to him with a plastic blanket. They really are on the ball. And a shout out to the fantastic Episcopal deacon from All Saints. I wonder—would it be possible to offer communion to runners? A tent somewhere near the beginning line, with the precious Body and Blood, and priests and deacons there to give blessings. That was one thing I missed, having communion on Sunday morning.

40K to Finish: Holy crap. Holy crap. I passed the 40K mark. Holy crap. I’m going to finish the effing Chicago Marathon. Holy crap. I’m actually DOING IT. (Note: this was the only time I really finally acknowledged that I could actually finish the thing.) I see downtown. I can run faster. Almost there. Almost there. ‘Course I’m doing that awkward hobble-run thing again. A 1-mile to go sign. I swear, all this spilled Gatorade stickiness is slowing me down. Holy crap. I can run faster. Roosevelt Road. I’m freaking near the end. How much longer? Oh. This is that cursed hill I kept reading about. Sure, I can keep running.

Uh. No I can’t. Walking isn’t shameful. I’ll save running for that finish line. Okay. It evened out. I can run again. Uh. More like jog. Or more like walking very slowly but looking like a painful jog. THERE’S THE FREAKING FINISH LINE. Am I going to cry when I finish?

I finished. I crossed that line. I almost cried when I got my medal, but I was too tired.

After the marathon, I managed to stagger to Charity Village, meet up with my husband and friend, and get a very basic PT/massage, and FOOD. Delicious food. Rice Krispies never tasted better. I got stiffer by the minute as my muscles started to realize that I wasn’t running anymore. I walked very very slowly to Roosevelt and State to catch a bus home. My feet hurt like a mofo. When the traffic was horrendous and the bus wasn’t coming for another 20 minutes, I took off one shoe to see what happened to my toes. Just the pinky toe was swollen. Not too bad. I tried to put my shoes back on…and failed. It was impossible. We decided to take the Red Line after all. I leaned very strongly on the railing, hoping it wouldn’t break under my weight, as I gingerly made my way down the stairs. I’m going to have to sterilize this sock” I remembered thinking. Dang, that thing got dirty. Down on the platform, I took off my other shoe. Bruising, but I didn’t lose any toenails. Surprisingly, I didn’t have gastrointestinal trouble, so I thought that my husband and I could go out to eat. We took a cab since I couldn’t really walk. I made it through dinner just fine. But just before dessert came out….it hit. My second marathon. But then it ended. And that was my only post-marathon marathon. I wonder if all those GU gels I ate were laced with Immodium?

I ended up going to work on Monday and Tuesday wearing socks and sandals. Totally fashionable, I know. A massage on Tuesday helped a lot, and by Thursday, I was feeling back to normal. I’m still surprised at how quickly I recovered from the marathon.

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