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Learn : Marathon Story  

Running Background:

I consider myself a beginner runner and I primarily run for hobby. I decided to run a marathon because it has been a lifelong goal of mine. Whenever someone told me that they had run a marathon, I had that much more respect for them, because they had that determination and dedication that I always strive for.

I graduated from college in May of 2005, then started working the following summer. To avoid the stress and drain of work, I started signing up for races and setting higher and higher goals for myself each time. I remember the night before the 2006 Shamrock Shuffle - an 8K race - being so scared and nervous that I would not be able to finish that I tried to talk myself into backing out of it. When the time came to sign up for the marathon I wrestled over the idea for days and days, not knowing if there was enough time to prepare. The CEO of my company is a long time runner and is very active (he has now run marathons I believe), he was encouraging me to just sign up already, before it fills up. So I registered and later that day, the registration reached capacity and closed.

Training:

I trained for 10 months following Hal Higdon's Intermediate Training Program which was amazing. During my training I averaged 40 miles per week. My training was hard in the aspect that I was starting almost from scratch, but it was easy, because my friend and my boss were training for the run as well, so we kept each other accountable.

Since I live in Chicago I also joined the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA), and looked on their website and got a list of all of the races for 2006 and just started signing up for them. That helped me get my tush out of bed on the weekends, plus now I have so many t-shirts, I don't know what to do with them all.

I'm a morning person, so I did most of my weekday runs in the morning over the summer, to try to beat the heat and get it over with first thing in the morning. I think that having my friends encourage me, using Hal Higdon's half and full marathon guides, and signing up for race after race really helped me build up to the marathon. Now I can say that I would like to run it faster next year, but I am happy to have crossed the finish line running my very first 26.2!

Race Day:

Race day was amazing! I got up really early, ate some toast and drank some water. I put on all of my wicking gear and had my boyfriend take the L with me to Grant Park. We found where I needed to be and around 7:15 he headed back home, so I could go up by all the other participants. I decided not to meet up with my friends, so that I could run at my pace and not feel rushed or slowed. Because of the number of participants, I did not cross the start line until about 8:15.

I knew I needed to pace myself, so I started out fairly slowly. I had friends and family that had taken a look at the race map and they kept popping up in different places. Seeing them helped me so much, it would just give me that extra burst of energy that I needed. I ran the entire race, expect the water stops. I would walk through those, because I had a bad incident on the 2nd water stop where Gatorade came out my nose. I decided that it was okay if I walked through the rest of the water stops.

The 2006 Chicago Marathon was held on an unusually cold day in October. I had trained mostly in very warm weather, so because I was not sweating out the fluids, I ended up having to pee in the porta-potties two times during the race. Those two stops almost ended my marathon, when you have to stand still after running 15 miles, picking it back up again is very hard. My thighs and calves were sore and stiff, but I pushed through it and got back into my groove.

Miles 13 - 17 were the worst, because at mile 13 I had already run so far, but I knew that I still had another 13 left to go! However, it is incredible what your mind can do for you in a race. I just kept telling myself, this is amazing, you are doing it, you are accomplishing it, you are RUNNING A MARATHON!

At mile 17, I was so confident that I could run 9 miles, that I think I actually picked up my pace a little. By mile 22, I was just ready to be done. I didn't even stop at the last water stop, because I knew my little legs were getting tired and I was determined to finish it running!

Going into the race, my only goal was to finish it running, but I had a little secret goal to finish within 5 hours. When I got to the 800 meter mark, I saw on my watch that I was dangerously close, so I sprinted. Yes, that's right, after running just under 26 miles, I sprinted in the last 800 meters, to finish with a time of 4 hours 58 minutes and 59 seconds!!

The incredible thing about it was that after I finished running, I didn't remember all the pain and stress of miles 13-17. I remember that I finished a marathon and I felt great!!

Recovery:

I didn't have any problems with my recovery.

Running Gear Recommendations:

Good Quality Running Shoes
I highly recommend spending the extra time and money to get sized and fitted for a really good quality pair of running shoes by professionals.
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GU Energy Gel
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

TRAIN! Don't think you will just be able to go out and do it. And, train with different shoes, different sports drinks, different supplements, etc. See what works best for you and use it to your advantage.

Plans to Run Another:

I'm planning to run another marathon because I think I can run it faster, and I had a great time running this one.

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