Chicago Marathon - the BQ that wasn't...

It is obviously abundantly clear that the day of the Chicago Marathon just wasn't my day... But let's document it a little bit better, maybe having all of that additional information written down can help me reflect on the race a little bit better. At least, that is my goal with this post.

In theory, I was ready to #OWNCHICAGO. I had done all of the training. I  had run all of the miles. I was READY. (also, nervous. But if I was not nervous, then something would be wrong, I think!)
I set my race day alarm for 4 am. I made a cup of Starbucks Via (note for future marathons - check to see if your hotel has a coffee pot - hot water from the sink is not great) and then made my breakfast and my Gen UCan. I took my time getting ready. I read a few blogs from my phone (while keeping it plugged in to the charger, I wanted to make sure that I had full charge for tunes on the run) and ate slowly, making sure to finish everything that I had packed.

I text with Krista a little bit to find out when they were leaving, and I decided to leave my hotel at 6:15 after peeing several times. That would hopefully give me the time to walk over there (stretch my legs a little), use a port-o-potty, and get into the corral by the 7:20 time that the corrals closed.

As I got close to Grant Park, there started to be more and more people. I went through Gate 1, since I was in Corral C. As soon as I turned the corner off Michigan the crowd STOPPED. I overheard some people say that if you didn't have a bag, you could get over to the right (I had no idea why, but I did not have a bag, so I tried to shove through crowds to get over there). After about 25 minutes I got through and made my way toward the C corral. I had heard that there were not potties in the corrals, so I looked at the lines. Then I looked at my watch. Getting a chance to pee? It was just NOT going to happen. I didn't have to go terribly, I just wanted to get EVERYTHING out before I started running. I figured the worst thing was that I was going to have to stop 2-3 miles into the race. Oh well...

I made my way into the C corral toward the front right, which was where Krista and I agreed to meet. I found her and Joe and we chatted for a few minutes. I ended up not having dinner with them the night before as we had originally planned due to being REALLY HUNGRY and so J and I just went and got something solo. But we talked for a few minutes and started to get excited about what we were about to do.

When we started, it took us about 5 minutes to get across the start, not too long at all. Krista took off - seriously, she was FLYING. I did everything I could to keep my pace in check immediately. Note: these splits are based off the mile marker on my watch, which I can tell from looking at the map was in and out with signal, likely due to the buildings. My tangents are less than awesome, but I definitely was NOT running on sidewalks or through buildings.

Mile 1: 8:07 - little too fast, better hold back a bit.
Mile 2: 8:21 - ok, not quick enough let's go Em, settle in.
Mile 3: 8:06
Mile 4: 7:46 (whoops)
Mile 5: 7:58
Mile 6: 8:05

It was here that I started to have issues. So, running along through the park at mile 6, people were still clumped very close together. This is unlike any marathon I have run before (or half, since I have only run 2 fulls previously). Usually after the first 2-3 miles, you have some space to move around, and I definitely did not get that here. I ended up RIGHT behind some guy with a shirt on that had some kind of strange pattern. The pattern started jumping around on this shirt, which was making me feel a little uncomfortable. I got around him, but progressively started to feel worse.
Mile 7: 8:04
Mile 8: 7:57
Mile 9: 8:08

Mile 8 and 9 were particularly fun. We were running down Broadway and although I was starting to feel worse (honestly my head was feeling disconnected from the rest of my body), I tried to enjoy what was happening around me. There were drag queens onstage who were singing and shouting - admiring my socks, in particular, and they were clearly having a blast. But in the back of my mind, i was starting to get nervous. I should NOT feel this dizzy and sick only 9 miles in. I have WAY too far to go. I crossed the 15K mat and if you look at my splits (this is the last one I posted), I was hitting my goal DEAD ON.

Mile 10: 8:13
Mile 11: 8:08
Mile 12: 8:12

Sometime during the 12th mile I actually started swaying... And that scared the bits out of me. Seriously, I got terrified. And so... I pulled up. I walked over to a curb. I stretched my calves and tried to breathe. And then... I stepped off the course. I started crying immediately and walked back toward the med tent I had just passed. I told them I was very dizzy and wobbily. They sat me down, did a bunch of checks (heart rate, blood pressure, etc) and gave me a bottle of gatorade. I drank it and started to feel nauseous so they helped me get back to a cot. I text Jason to tell him where I was (he was about a mile up the road) and he started to head back to me.

I was crying. Not because anything hurt, but because I was so down about what had just happened to me. I truly don't know what went wrong or what happened to make me feel that way. My suspicions are some combination of dehydration + some claustrophobia mixed together. I tend to get very anxious in crowds, and this race WAS a crowd, big time. I had pretty much immediately decided that my vision of trying to get into NYC was NOT a good one. I am not going to put myself through that again.

So that was that. J got there and we decided to walk over to Old Town to see my cousin (turns out, they moved as you know from a previous post) but I was already starting to feel better, so we walked back to the hotel.

I want to look back on some of my mental thoughts AFTER this race, so be on the lookout for that coming up!


  1. I'm so sorry it worked out this way for you, I know how hard you trained. I'm proud of you for not pushing into a danger zone when you felt so dizzy. You are right about NYC thought - I've run both Chicago and NYC and NYC is even more of a crowd the whole time. Rest a bit, maybe you can grab another fall marathon on the training you already have under your belt!


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