Chicago Marathon 2015: The Race

Not that any of you asked, but for the 0.5% of the people that are interested in the running aspect of my recent marathon, here it goes! (I am an over-sharer, not an under-sharer). Marathons are HARD MOTHERS, like flipping H-A-R-D. Not only is it a physical exercise, but it is also a mental / emotional / spiritual challenge. Somehow, you have to dig down into your body and make it happen — and like I said before, it is only you yourself that can make it happen….so the race recap, begins!

 

I am SOOOO beyond heinous in this picture, but I think it is a good image of what a marathon feels like. My eye is half closed, my body hurts, I am trying to smile but I can't. I AM A HOT MESS. But proud of it.

I am SOOOO beyond heinous in this picture ( I AM A ONE EYED MONSTER!), but I think it is a good image of what a marathon feels like (this is post marathon — notice my medal). My eye is half closed, my body hurts, I am trying to smile but I can’t. I AM A HOT MESS. But proud of it.

I had a great training season. I worked with the Eugene Running Club over the summer in Oregon and it boosted my speed, confidence, and cardio endurance. Running in the cool summer mornings of the Pacific Northwest was way easier than the ice cold NYC winter, or hot humid summer in the city. So already, the start of my training was off on the right track. Then, upon my return to New York, I had all my long runs in the hills of Central Park, which helped my cardio. I pushed myself on the long runs, followed the directions of my speed workouts, and really concentrated on bringing my time down. I was ready as all hell for the marathon…..although you really are never that ready. It is always way harder than you remember.

 

"Stretches"

“Stretches”

 

The night before the marathon, my stomach hurt and I could barely stomach my food (note to self: don’t eat a plate full of fries the lunch before a marathon). I forced it all down, but I was uncomfortable and full. Then, as expected, I could not sleep and made my friend Amy give me sleeping exercises to help calm my nerves and silence my brain. It worked (along with a sleeping pill) and I fell asleep at 9:30 pm. That said, I was up at 3:30 am with a severe belly ache and my to-do-list racing through my brain. I had a rough morning of nothing staying in my belly (I will spare the details), and I went to the race dehydrated and parched — I felt like I could guzzle 2 liters of water and still be thirsty.

 

Prep work of putting GU into my (nerdy) fanny pack, which by the way, left with me with huge scratches and bruises on my back.

Prep work of putting GU into my (nerdy) fanny pack, which by the way, left with me with huge scratches and bruises on my back.

 

Race started out okay, even though I was in the slow wave (first world problems), and a good 35 minutes past my pace group that I wanted to follow. I had a race strategy going out there (marathons are strategic — not just physical!) and I was eager to trust my training, my plan, and my GPS that was going to track my time. But believe it or not, my iPhone’s mileage tracker was totally off and giving me random data that was so wrong! (It said I was doing 7:45s the first 3 miles when I felt like I was barely walking) — so then I couldn’t trust my splits and had to trust my judgment — which of course made me nervous that my judgment was going to be off and wrong!

 

I think I am dying in this picture.

I think I am dying in this picture. Again, another picture of me with one eye closed. Do I always have one eye closed and how did I not notice that before??

 

I tried to make a friend at mile 10 (me = Queen of Gab) as I was behind her for most of the race, but she was Miss Negative and told me that if I wanted to make my goal (sub 3:40) then I better pump it up because I was way behind where I should be. Then, I heard a stranger at mile 12 yell “12 down, only 15 more to go” which totally irritated me and WTF, do you know how to add! I was already feeling tired and worn out at mile 12, and I didn’t know how I was going to manage to go another 14.2 (sorry Lady, do your math).

 

I look like I am BOOKING IT. With my phone in my hand (maybe it is time to get a proper GPS watch?)

I look like I am BOOKING IT. With my phone in my hand (maybe it is time to get a proper GPS watch?)

 

But then, I saw Amy at mile 12.5 and that helped immensely.  I looked around, felt the energy, thought how I DESERVE TO DO WELL and that I was WORTHY OF GREATNESS. Oh my god, writing it down sounds so cheesey and corny, but in all seriousness, I just said it over and over again until I started believing in myself.

 

Reminder about the masks. Made all the difference.

Reminder about the masks. Made all the difference.

 

I have no idea what happened between mile 12 and 17. Couldn’t tell you what the crowd was like, who the people in the streets were, or what the architecture was….I just kept on trekking around with pains and jabs and nausea. But I just kept on running and running and running and running…..and there I was at mile 17. Amy and I had made plans to meet, so when I saw her with my face stick, I wanted to cry. She gave me three Advil, which I quickly swallowed down with the most nasty chocolate GU I have ever tasted in my life. And kept on going strong.

 

Ironically, at the post-marathon party, my dessert was a chocolate salted caramel turtle, which tasted exactly like the GU. And it did me end. I called it quits to food (for the next hour) after that sucker.

Ironically, at the post-marathon party, my dessert was a chocolate salted caramel turtle, which tasted exactly like the GU. And it did me in. I called it quits to food (for the next hour) after that sucker.

 

Mile 18, I put on my headphones, pumped up the volume, started telling myself YES YOU CAN, YES YOU CAN, and then, it clicked. Mind you, I had no idea my time or splits because I HAD NO GPS. So I took my phone out, – yup, while running a marathon – and went to the Chicago Marathon app to track myself (yes, crazy). I saw that it predicted my finish time at 3:40, which made me pick up my pace. That little moment of checking an app (thanks Steve Jobs) gave me the extra shove to push through the doubt and the pain, and made me want to achieve my goal that much more.

I have heard of older women getting neck wrinkles, but check out my knee wrinkles ?????

I have heard of older women getting neck wrinkles, but check out my knee wrinkles????? Maybe it was because I was going SOOOO fast that the wind did something? (#IWish)

 

And then I finished. I tried to run faster and faster and faster, wanting to barf, sick of GU, with throbbing quads… but I wanted to get to the finish line. And then I did. 3:36:19. A personal record, a Boston qualifier, an effort where I gave everything I had to the race. I am happy with the results — I pushed myself through the bad parts and I did what I could. I know that I can do better and be faster, and I will. I have no doubt that next marathon, I will have an easier (wishful thinking?) process and a faster time, but I am so happy with the wonderful weekend and the experience as a whole. Unforgettable. Thank you to all of you that made it possible; Michelle, my gracious host. Amy, my bestest friend. Ken, my partner in life. My kids, who make me want to be my best self. My friends and family who supported me with texts and emails, the post-marathon gifts of massages, Levain cookies, and lotion. Thank you OH SO MUCH!

 

The end. Thanks for letting me share my story with you!

The end. Thanks for letting me share my story with you!

 

Thanks, friends. So appreciate you letting me divulge every last detail of the race with you. Not sure what is next on my end, but it is definitely not the last marathon I do….I know I still have a lot of gas in my tank!

 

My splits per 5K....

My splits per 5K….

 

Hope you have a great week.

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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7 Comments

  1. Wonderful to hear what goes on behind the scenes. Congratulations on a great accomplishment.

  2. LOLing at your captions… I can’t even imagine what it must feel like once you finally finish! Love the masks btw.

  3. Congrats!!!! You Go Girl!!! You did it!!!!
    Very happy for you & proud for ya,…wanna add to my bucket list to do a 5 k …next spring…know I’m not able to do what you do…but its awesome to be included in the build up and festivities thru yr post and loved the positive affirmations while running …kinda reminded me of SNL Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley Skit…”Cause dog-gone it I’m good enough & people like me!” —ps- and yes Levain cookies are worth running for!

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