I woke up the morning of the race excited and ready. I had slept like a baby. No nerves. No butterflies. I had my usual breakfast of oatmeal with a scoop of peanut butter and coffee. The fall air was a brisk 39 degrees. I put on the long-sleeved pullover with no tee under, which turned out to be the perfect decision. The sun was barely peeking up over Lake Michigan as Lu and I left for the start line at 6:45 am.


As we walked south through Millennium Park with the other race-goers and supporters, I couldn’t help but notice a couple of people jogging to warm-up. With a race lasting 26.2 miles, I would use the first mile or so as my warm up. No extra mileage needed for this girl. There was energy and excitement in the air; this wasn’t your typical Sunday morning. We get to my start corral and wait for Vince to show up. I miraculously spot him in the sea of people, give the big frijol one last abrazo and we take our places. On your mark, get set, go.

my start corral
bro & sis pre-race. doing the marathon was his idea.
and they’re off. start line.
Lu captured this gem of Vince and me, mile one, from the columbus street bridge. 
looking fresh right out the gate.

I was pleasantly surprised that there was never a huge herd of people tripping over each other. Right from the beginning, I was able to run without having to navigate through and around others.

After the first 5K, I felt like I was going too slow. I knew my mile splits because I was wearing my trusty watch that I wear on all runs. Those early miles were suppose to be my quick ones so I had to give myself a kick in the booty and pick up the pace.  The cheers and the music made it easy to take my mind off of the task at hand. I hit my stride and started cruising comfortably until mile 17.  Mile 17 felt like it lasted for two miles.  But then a little second wind kicked in for miles 18-20 and I was still feeling good, all things considered. With mile 21, began the pain. Pain in the knees. An aching, unrelenting pain of my knees saying “we’ve had about enough of this.” I kept waiting for the pain to fade into the background or just go away all together. That didn’t happen. It was with me for the rest of the race and a full day after. 

Throughout the race I saw Lu, my parents, Kelly and Matt cheering for us. It was motivating to see familiar faces! Their support meant so much to me. My amazing husband jumped in the race in Chinatown at mile 21.5 to run with me through the finish. He is so sweet and supportive. He tracked me during the race and popped up at various points to cheer until ultimately running the last few, arduous miles with me. Lu’s support was much needed for those last 5 miles. The last 5 were so brutal. 

i ran with Leah, a gal from Boston, for about 5 miles.

I cannot explain the joy I felt when I saw that “26 mile” sign. Bliss. Mere steps away from a huge accomplishment. I round the bend in the road and…. the last 200 meters or so were uphill. What?! There is one hill in Chicago, and we have to run up it at the very end? For those of you familiar with the city, the last leg of the race takes you east on Roosevelt past Indiana to Columbus. In a city so flat, it’s just downright mean to make the marathon finish on the only hill in sight. Granted, it’s not a steep grade but it sure feels like a mountain after you’ve just finished running 26 consecutive miles. Of course, that last little challenge wasn’t going to stop any of us. We endured those final moments of pain and crossed the finish line with pride. After finishing, we were met by volunteers who showered us with food, drinks, heatsheets, bags of ice, and the well-earned finisher’s medal. Everybody was basking in the glory of being marathoners.  My unofficial time: 4 hours, 20 minutes, 17 seconds, which translates to an average 9:55 minutes per mile. I’m satisfied. But I’ve asked my self over the last two days, could I have gone a little faster? Could I have pushed it more at the end? Perhaps the bug has bit me…. and maybe, just maybe I’ll do another one sometime in my life. Anyone care to join?

the 2012 finisher’s medal
our cheering squad
the world’s best hub

P.S. I am not a natural born runner. Ten years ago, I could hardly run one mile in ten minutes without stopping to walk. I am a testament to the fact that anybody can train to do a marathon if you put your mind to it. It’s mostly about the discipline of training and getting out there to run even when you don’t want to. I started running consistently when I was 19 and I’ve had a love/hate relationship with running ever since. Definitely more love than hate though.

xo, lw


2 thoughts on “26.2

  1. Pingback: the eve of the marathon | the beanstalk

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