5K into the Chicago Marathon, I realised I’d made a terrible mistake. My body was in no-way recovered from running (realistically beyond my fitness) the London Marathon – read the recap here. But I was committed by that point, having said I would run with Ellie and try to pace her for her first road marathon.
My whole body was hurting, far more than it should so early on in a marathon. But we chatted, kept the pace easy and focused on seeing friends and Angus (Ellie’s husband) on course.
I had been to the loo before getting in the start corrals but had probably drunk too much water/coffee on race morning (in a fruitless attempt to ‘prep’ for the race!) and only a few miles in, I needed to pee again. I pulled off to the portaloos around Mile 6 and told Ellie to keep running, that I would find her. I stood for longer than I’d hoped for waiting for the loo (there were large queues as many loos on course) and obviously the music and 10K timing mat had caused Ellie to speed up. I really had to pick up the pace to catch up with her, that mile was 8.45 including standing time/peeing!
The original plan had been to pace Ellie to a Sub 5 but a few days out from the race she told me that she thought she could run a sub 4.30.
We ran through the first half in 2.13 – perfectly on track however it was already getting hard for both of us. Ellie had said she wanted to finish knowing she gave her all, and she was glad we’d tried to go for it, but that we needed to slow down.
We were walking through water stations when fueling and that started to increase to every water stop. We would try to focus on the 5K timing mats sending updates to those tracking us.
At Mile 16, our pace dropped to around 11 mins per mile and Ellie asked if we could slow down. Knowing that we just needed to keep moving forward, we transitioned to a run/walk from 30KM. It was tough to start running again every time we did, but it kept our average pace up and if we could just not slow down anymore, a sub 5 was within grasp.
Around mile 22 we bumped into our friend Lisa (we’d also been at the start with her but unfortunately lost her around 2 miles in). She was walking but we grabbed her and she was happy to do our 4/1 strategy. We timed some of our walks to ensure we took on electrolytes and water,continued to fuel and tried to keep spirits up – especially around the photographers! Look at everyone walking around me!
I tried to remind Ellie that Sub 5 was always the original goal, and we were going to smash it. It was a real boost to see Angus and Cortney a few more times along the final few miles. I cannot underestimate the lift that having friends/family in the crowds can give you.
That final stretch takes you up a slight hill and then down towards the finish line, and quite frankly, it couldn’t come soon enough!
We finished in 4.52.36!
It was my second time running the Chicago Marathon, and unlike London which holds amazing memories for me, my two experiences of Chicago have been…a slog. For some people, this is THE race, but I just don’t think it’s mine.
Where to stay for the Chicago Marathon?
I love that it’s not a point to point course – meaning that staying near the start/finish line is easyish. We stayed at the Westin Chicago River North which was an easy 15 min walk to Grant Park for both the 5K and marathon, plus right next to the course for spectating.
How I fuelled for the Chicago Marathon
I took Precision Fuel and Hydration gels (although I have run out of the caffeine ones) and had five in total, then switched to Skratch Labs Sports Energy Chews (raspberry and blueberry flavours). I also took a number of cups of Gatorade on course – I’d ordered a pack earlier in the year to practise with so knew I wouldn’t have any stomach issues!
How to get in to the Chicago Marathon?
This race entry was my 2020 entry rolled over, earned by running a qualifying time at the Edinburgh Marathon in 2019. You can also get in via lottery, sports tour or charity.
Find out more about how to enter the Marathon Majors in this post.
What I wore during the Chicago Marathon
Shoes – Brooks Ghost 14
Top – my fave New Balance tank
Shorts – New Balance (similar)