Saturday, October 13, 2012

Race Day and Review: Chicago

This is how we started our morning of the Chicago Marathon. We took the 5:13 am train from the Lawrence station (10 min walk) and rode about 20 minutes to the Harrison stop downtown. We had to walk a few block to get to Charity Village and our Team World Vision Tent. Luckily there were several other World Vision runners on the train that we talked to and were able to follow to the tent. We didn't really know where we were going!

Once we got to the tent, it was awesome! It was warm and there were lots of bathrooms in the village. If you're not a runner, the porta potty line at a race is always out of control. So to not have to wait, that's a huge bonus! The temperature was in the low 40s, so we wore throw away clothes all the way up until the start of the race. Once we got to the tent, we put on bibs, wrote names on our WV jerseys, and had a little pep rally with all the other WV runners. They also had a bag check available, but we didn't bring anything with us since my Dad was coming later with Cole. Then we walked to the start around 6:30 am. I was wondering why we were leaving so early, but it was a good thing we did. It was quite a long walk and you had to find the correct entrances to your corrals.

Tony was in the B corral, I was in C, and my Mom was in E. We were also in the first wave which started at 7:30 am. The 2nd wave didn't start until 8:00 am. This was great because it only took us 2 minutes to get to the start and my Mom took 12 minutes. Which for the amount of people running, it's pretty amazing. Tony and I were planning on running together and starting in the C corral since C is slower than the B. Well, the volunteers at the entrance to the C corral wouldn't let us in together. So we had to go our separate ways and planned to meet at the front of C/back of B. It worked out that we were there early enough to find each other easily. Then the girls working the rope between corrals, just let Tony back to start with me.

Here were are happy and warm for now at the start.
We were surprised how not packed in the corrals were. You actually had room to move around and once we got close to the start time, everyone started moving up.
My Dad watched the start on TV and said it was really funny how once we started, all you could see were people's clothes being thrown all over the place and off to the sides. I swear there was a pile at least 3 feet tall along side the corral fences!

The race itself was really incredible. From the number of actual runners (~50,000) to the number of spectators (~1.7 million)! I had never seen so many people watching a race. And they were cheering for everyone! All the World Vision runners write their names on their jerseys because people will actually cheer for you by name. We heard "Go Tony & Beth" probably 5 times per mile at least. The crowds were super loud in some places too. There were bands, loudspeaker music, and lots of funny signs. Everyone really was into it and having so much fun. It made the miles go by a lot faster.

Usually races are crowded at the start and you start to thin out as the race goes on. This didn't happen here! There were lots of fast runners and runners at every pace out there. So we ran with a crowd pretty much the entire time. We were close to the 3:30 pace group too which always draws more people as well. The downside to this was water stops. You had to make sure you didn't get stuck in the middle if you actually wanted something. The water & Gatorade stops were pretty much every mile, so no matter what your plan was for hydrating, you could make it happen. They also had tons of volunteers passing out drinks and on both sides of the road.

I would say the crowd really is one of the huge draws to this race. It really was unlike anything I've ever seen or heard about. Plus everyone was so incredibly nice. Even at the finish, the people passing out food and drinks were congratulating you, asking if you were ok, and just excited to be there. Tony thought it was cool that Rahm Emanuel (mayor of Chicago) said "Great job Tony" at the finish line.

Tony was my official pacer to try to get my Boston Marathon time. I wasn't sure how fast I could really run, but the weather was perfect, the course is flat...so Tony told me I couldn't waste this opportunity. We were running about 7:55 minute miles up until the last 5 miles or so. I was starting to burn out, but we were ahead of pace, so we slowed down for a couple of miles, and picked up back up for the last mile. Our overall pace ended up being 8:03 and our time was 3:34:05, just about 1 minute under the Boston Qualifying time. I'm super excited to run so fast and to make one of the only exclusive type races out there. I won't be able to get into the 2013 race because registration is in September, so I will probably try for the 2014 entry.

My Dad and Cole were at two places along the course to watch. The 7 - 8 mile stretch was north of downtown, not far from our condo, so they went there and then drove down to the finish. They were able to hang out in the Charity Village area and watch one of the last stretches before the finish.
We brought our phone so we could meet up with him at the end. We bought an iFitness belt which I wore the entire marathon. It really didn't bother me and it didn't bounce around at all. One of the downsides of the race is the super long walk you have to make through the finish area. All you want to do is sit down since you've been running for 3 hours! I had to break down and sit down along the edge at one point. Tony thought I was being lame and wanted to keep going. He said me after a marathon is worth the price of admission. Funny, but rude!
We SLOWLY with SORE LEGS walked back to Charity Village. I swear it was at least a mile back there, and we met my Dad and Cole along the way. Our World Vision tent had pizza and drinks set up for everyone after the race. They were also announcing everyone as they came into the tent...calling our our times and exciting things like my Boston time, or a first marathon, or a birthday, etc. It was so much fun. We rested for a bit and then went out to see my Mom finish. She finished right at 5 hours and called us right when she was done and was just bawling. She'd worked so hard training and working through injuries. It was a huge accomplishment for her and we are so proud of her! She finished with a great time too! We'll see if she decides to do another one...if she has running fever now or not.

We hung out at the WV tent until the rest of our Golf Fore Africa teammates finished and visited for a little bit. We also got these extra medals from World Vision for being in the top 100 fundraisers for the race. Stacy really helped us out at the end and put us over the edge. All three of us met our $1350 goal, and even raised over $2000. All three of us raised between $2800 and $3800!
The medals were made from coins brought back from Rwanda, where our money will be going to do water projects and provide people there with clean water.

Some pretty amazing numbers from being a part of Team World Vision:
1,600 people ran and raised money for World Vision
As a team, Golf Fore Africa raised ~$46,000 dollars
As a whole, over $3 million was raised for water projects in Africa!
At least 65,000 people in Africa will have clean water because of it!

It really was an amazing thing to be a part of. We went to a World Vision dinner on Saturday night. Hearing people's personal experiences and stories with WV, seeing the truely powerful videos and images of what people go through to get water that is unhealthy, dirty, and making them sick, just puts everything in perspective and gives purpose to the fundraising, the running, all of it. We were so lucky to be a part of a World Vision team.

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