Chicago Marathon Race Report

My 4th Marathon, the Chicago Marathon is in the books and I will never forget this incredible journey that led me to run a sub 3:15. But let’s go back to the beginning.

On Sunday, October 7th I woke up at 4:45 am and started my pre-race routine of drinking my cup of coffee and eating my toasted sesame seeds bagel with my home made almond butter. The apartment was pretty alive that early in the morning, my friend Amanda and her boyfriend David were also up getting ready to race as well. I got dressed with the outfit that Dustin, Amanda and Laura helped me pick out the night before.

Chicago Marathon Outfit

I ended up wearing my lululemon Run:Fast and Free Crop, Cool Racerback in the Flash color, Swiftly Arm warmers and gloves. I pinned my my race number and checked on the D-tags Dustin affixed to my shoes.

Getting ready

I bundled up in the Chicago fleece hoody I bought fro $10 at CVS and route to the start. I actually almost got a HUGE one…

Hmmm maybe too big

Dustin and I took the L down to Grant Park with a billion other runners.  It was pretty dark outside at 6am, but the crowds headed down Michigan Avenue towards Grant Park were a sight to see. I called Steph as we were starting in the same corral and we planned to meet up, but she was checking her bag with her friend so I wished her good luck.  So, I kissed Dustin goodbye and headed down to the starting line.

At the Corral entrance

The energy was overwhelming! Thousands of runners, thousands of spectators to cheer on the runners. Cool temperatures ranging in the 40s and 50s were ideal conditions for running.

The first wave (my wave) started at 7:30am and I was in Corral B. I could see the elite runners warming up while we were just standing there near one another waiting for the race to begin.  5 minutes before the start, I reluctantly shed my warm fleece and threw it to the side of the corrals, following the lead of many runners around me.  Crossing the start line was exhilarating!  I felt good, ready to take on the course and give the best I could. The announcer told us that 114 different countries were represented amongst the participants, as well as all 50 states. That’s insane.

2012 Chicago Marathon Course

At 7:30am, the gun went off and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” played over the speakers, and we were off running.  It took me only a minute post-gun time to actually cross the start line. Dustin had a plan to get to few different spots to see me, with him there was Steph’s husband Jamie and Steph’s friend Ryan wife.  They saw me in four different spots( 1.5, 3, 13 and finish) but unfortunately I only saw them twice, at mile 1.5 and at the finish.

Starting to yell when I saw Dustin

Thumbs Up!

My race plan was to go out easy for the first 5k, hydrate, see how I felt and try to get through the half in 1:34. The miles flewed by throughout the first half, as the race winded through Lincoln Park and the tall buildings of the Loop. I was feeling great and I felt I was running smoothly. Every time that I crossed a mile checkpoint, I would think of my husband, my coach and everyone who was tracking me. For some reason mile 13 was the slowest, not sure if I should have done an extra GU. I had planned to take one every 7 miles or so, maybe next time I will do every 5 miles. In any case, I passed the half marathon check point with a time of 1:35:50.

The second half of the race made its way out to the West Loop, winding through Little Italy, University Village and Chinatown.The miles continued to cruise by and was noticing that I was running faster miles than in the first half, in fact I ended up running a negative split race, which means that I run the second half of the Marathon faster than the first. I was getting stronger and stronger. I felt great, my legs were powerful and my strides were really relaxed. I believe that it was around mile 23 when I started to feel my hamstrings ( my quads are way stronger and rarely feel them hurting, well unless I am running the Boston Marathon at 100 degrees).

My best pacers, my only pacers actually, was a girl that I hooked up with around mile 13 or so.  We didn’t talk throughout the race, but we helped each other out big time. Sometimes she was ahead and I would try to keep up with her, and sometimes I was ahead and I would feel her energy behind pushing me and, sometimes we were just side by side and you would hear the crowed yelling out loud: ” Great job ladies!”. I was thrilled to see water bottles offered at a couple of spots on the course.  It was nice to be able to carry it along for a bit to make sure I got enough.

My pacer Amanda(wearing red shorts) on the farthest right of the photo

The final stretch of the marathon brought us out by the Chicago White Sox stadium, running along side the highway before it loops back up Michigan Ave onto Roosevelt Road and head towards Lake Michigan and Chicago’s Museum campus, home of Soldier Field and the Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium.  Before turning left onto the homestretch on Columbus Drive, I had to take care of  the Roosevelt bridge, one of the rare slopes on the Chicago route. And there it was, now I could finally see the finish line. I was feeling really powerful, accelerated and sprinted home, passing my pacer Amanda. At about 200 meters to go, I saw my husband in the finish line stands screaming my name. I was so excited to see him and to see that I was about to finish this Marathon in a sub 3:15 that I raise my arms in victory smiling non stop.

Finally saw my hubby

I also crossed eyes with Jamie who smiled back at me proudly.

Jamie’s photo

I sped up and made my way to the finish, crossing the line in 3:11:11, which blew my old Marathon PR out of the water by 16 minutes!

To the Finish

I was on top of the world!  What a great Birthday present that was!  I cried tears of joy because I knew I made my goal.  I started to walk backward as I wanted make sure I wouldn’t miss my wonderful pacer and when I saw her I thank her and she did the same. Her name was Amanda Miller and we both acknowledge each other for an amazing performance and for pushing one another. We walked together and chatted till we both went off to meet up with our families.

Amanda & I finally introducing to each other

When I saw Dustin I couldn’t resist and jumped on him!

Laura and Bob also joined us.

Thank you for being there…Always!

We waited for Steph who crossed the finish line in 3:33 qualifying for Boston! I was so proud of her and since the Boston Marathon registration was still open she was able to get in and will join me on the streets of Boston in 2013!!

The face of a BQ!!

Steph & I

Amanda also did amazing, crashing her previous PR by over 20 minutes!!!

Sweet Amanda

Looking back at my splits, I am pretty happy with the pacing.


Final Results

Overall Time : 3:11:11
Overall Pace: 7:16
Overall Place: 1,688/37,455
Overall Female: 174/16,761
Place Age Group: 29/2,752

Chicago is an amazing city and they put on a very organized and fun marathon. The race is huge, yet every detail is impeccably orchestrated. I am definitely coming back to run this race again and  I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a big-city, well-supported race! Oh and Dustin won a Polar RC3 GPS with the Twitter contest.

Dustin & Chris

Polar ambassador and great friend Dutch called him up warning him to keep an eye on twitter cause they were giving away Polars at the Chicago Marathon. Needless to say he went of Twitter found out he was literally 2 minutes away from where we were and he run and tackled the Polar guy claiming he’s so wanted GPS!

So happy!!

I cannot say enough about how amazing the spectators and people of Chicago are.  There were people cheering throughout the entire race, even though it was a very cold day there was no one spot along the race were there were not a person cheering for the 37,455 finishers.  It was absolutely amazing and I was so grateful and surprised to see how many people actually showed up to watch.  There were high school bands, drum-lines, dancers, cheerleaders, bongo players, tons of people with signs, people handing water bottles, twizzlers, bananas etc. all lining the streets of the beautiful downtown Chicago. And the course is fabulous. An incredible tour of all the different neighborhood of the city.  It’s pretty much very flat, with just a few inclines over bridges and, of course the last hill at mile 26 that just comes at a really bad time.

Dustin told me that my coach wanted me to call him. It was so great to talk to him and express my gratitude, and he was really amazing to hear how proud of me he was.

Talking to Rick

I will never forget Chicago. I will never forget the feeling of “getting” the time that I trained so hard to get.  It was the breakthrough I was looking for.

Thank You!

This race would not have been the same without Dustin, Bob and Laura there to support me. Without Amanda and Stephanie that also run the street of Chicago making me so proud. I couldn’t have PR-ed by 16 minutes without the help of my amazing coach, Rick Muhr. It is mind-blowing that in about 2 months, he has changed me completely as a runner. He helped me take 16 minutes off of my marathon time, giving the encouragement and the confident to be the runner that I want to be. I am still in shock and blown away! I don’t know how I got so lucky to know such wonderful people. I am so grateful for my bestest friend Fabiana that even though she wasn’t physically there, she was emotionally present and very nervous for me. I will never forget and actually hasn’t erased yet the voicemail she left on my phone right after she found out my final time. Her voice was so soft and on the edge of crying when she was expressing how proud of me she was. Love you Fabs! Thank you to all family and friends who couldn’t be there but were incredibly supportive and kept me going! Thank you to my pacer Amanda for being there. Thank you to all the strangers who cheered me on throughout the entire course.  But most importantly THANK YOU to the men I love, Dustin, for being so understanding and supportive of my training and for always being there for me. I love you all!!

Love you!

“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get” ~  Michael Phelps.


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