Chicago Marathon

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Saturday (written before the race): After enjoying a slow morning getting ready, Andrew and I went for a shakeout run to the start line of Sunday’s Chicago Marathon and to the Navy Pier. We then slowly strolled back to the hotel and have spent the afternoon relaxing and cheering on the Baylor Bears. I wanted to take sometime to write a little about how I am feeling the day before the race and then finish this blog post with a recap of the race after it’s all said and done ‘run’ tomorrow.

I am over the top excited for this race. I have never been this ready and hopeful for a race before. Fortunately, everything about this trip and the past few days have been ideal. I have no nagging pains, I feel strong and well-rested, and I am mentally prepared to give it my all! I have dialed in my race strategy (details below) and know my goal pace. One thing I keep coming back to though is, even though I KNOW what I need to do, I still need to do it! Marathons hurt. They are uncomfortable and I will cross the finish line with sore feet and achy legs. I am going to experience times where I try and talk myself out of going faster when I know that I need to. These are the times where I will look at my ‘Run With Endurance’ band and remember that I didn’t spend the last several months to slow down now. THIS IS IT! This is what I have been working towards and training for. Tomorrow is the pay off for the months of hard work, commitment, and perseverance. I am ready, I am hopeful, and above all, I am thankful – for this ability and this experience.

Race Goal & Strategy: My goal is to qualify for Boston 2016. My goal is to run around a 3:30 marathon, giving me a 5 minute buffer for the Boston qualifying time. My strategy is to run a consistent pace of 8:00 min./mile until mile 20, then slightly pick-up the pace to mile 24, then give it my all to the end.

Sunday (written after the race): Spoiler alert — I didn’t qualify.

Race Stats
Finish Time:   3:37:53 (8:19 min/mile pace)
Place Age Group:   352 / 3987
Place Women:   1368 / 18,389
Place Overall:   6348 / 40,566

If you don’t want to or have time to read this whole blog, here’s a very brief race recap 🙂 — I ran my goal pace until mile 18ish and then cramped terribly causing me to slow down until the finish.

Where do I begin?? It’s hard to believe that the Chicago Marathon is over. I didn’t accomplish what I had set out to do and I was very disappointed when I realized I would not qualify for Boston. There were many tears shed, but I was also so happy to have completed another marathon. Needless to say, I was an emotional and physical wreck.

I have never run a race this large before that drew such an elite corral. As I was warming up before the race, you could watch the elite runners jogging about their own exclusive area before they were escorted to the front of the race. Other than this, the start of the race was just like any other. I warmed up, I stood in my corral, and I waited for the start. I wasn’t as anxious as I thought I would be. I was oddly calm. ((It must have been all of the prayers from everyone)). The beginning miles seemed to move by slowly as I stressed a little about making sure not to overrun my goal pace. I averaged a little less than a 8:00 avg. until about mile 18 which was my goal! I crossed the half at 1:44:37, which put me right on target for my goal finishing time. I was feeling perfect until mile 14. I felt my calf cramp a little so I pointed my toe to try and stretch it out (bad idea!). It immediately cramped and turned sideways, but I didn’t stop. I started praying hard and ran on the side of my foot for a but until it slowly loosened up enough to run somewhat normally again. Miles 16-18 are the wall for me. I call it the ‘pain cave’. It’s mental torture for me. You’re over half way through, but still have so long to go. I made it through this and only slowed down slightly because of my calf. I knew I had the 5 minute buffer so I wasn’t concerned yet. And then mile 20…. I felt my hamstrings begin to cramp. I immediately had flashbacks to Cowtown ultra when I cramped up so terribly that I could hardly walk. I slowed down a bit more to hopefully prevent the cramping and mile 22 it happened. My right hamstring contracted so tightly that it stopped me in my tracks. I immediately bent over to stretch them out. A lady ran by and patted me on the back. I stood up and kept going. I didn’t stop. I didn’t give up and this is what I am most proud of. I ran as fast as I could for the physical state I was in. I tried to speed up, but I would slow down when I felt a cramp coming on. I debated between a slow and steady pace that I knew could get me to the finish line or pushing the speed and cramping to the point of having to walk. I did NOT want to walk. So slow and steady it was. I felt the BQ slipping away… At mile 24, I calculated that I needed to run just under a 9:00 avg mile to barely make the cut off. I tried, I really did. I know I gave it my all. I knew then and I know it now. As I passed a flag that said 800m (1/2 mile) to go, I realized I would need to run a 2:30 half mile (5:00 avg mile). Uh…yeah right! I couldn’t even do that on a good day. So that was it. I slowed even more then and finished it out.

I came across the finish line in tears. I don’t know what kind of tears they were. I was sad I didn’t qualify, but I was happy I finished. I was crying because I spent a lot of money on this registration and trip, but I was excited for them to put a medal around my neck. I was in pain and still had 1 mile to walk before I could meet up with Andrew. He was all I wanted to see. I didn’t see him during the whole race and all I wanted was a huge hug. I shuffled through the food area (no vegan food at all!) and finally made it to the family reunite area. He saw me and wrapped his arms around me and said “you did it!” (meaning I finished). I sobbed. I felt like I had let him down and wasted money to come here and not reach my goal. Of course this isn’t true, but like I said, I was a wreck… I finally composed myself and we slowly walked back to the hotel. The walk back was therapeutic. Even though he is a cyclist and not a runner, he understands me. He gets the competitive drive and he gets the feeling of defeat. He gets me. I talked through the race, what happened, what went wrong, and by the time we were back, I was in much better spirits and so proud of another finish!

This was my 9th marathon in such an awesome city with an incredible finishing time — a time I NEVER thought I would be able to run. I am proud of this accomplishment and thankful for this journey. I will not give up and I will keep pressing on towards this goal to qualify for Boston. Maybe it’s crazy, maybe it’s not, but there is only one way to find out.

From the bottom of my heart, I am so grateful for this family of runners who have commented on my race posts on instagram. Again, I know this is silly to think, but I was really afraid I would let people down if I didn’t qualify. I had built up this race and goal so much in my head and really put myself out there by posting about it and I was afraid to fail. But this is my journey. This is the path God has me on. I have no idea where it may lead. Running may be a tiny part of it, or it may be part of my life forever. Qualifying for Boston may be in my near future or I may always be chasing it. Who knows… But my prayer is God uses me as a tool to encourage others. He has given me the ability and passion to run, so I will run.




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  1. Thank you so much for sharing your journey! It’s TOUGH when things don’t go like we would like them too – but be proud of how far you have come and what God is doing in your life through it all! RUN with endurance the race marked out for YOU! Keep pressing onward my friend! You are such a huge inspiration to me and so many other ladies out there! 🙂 Love ya!

  2. Oh, I wish I could give you the biggest hug. I am heartsick that you did not qualify and had such a tough race! At the same time, I’m just in awe of your perspective, humble heart and positive attitude. I’m grateful to you for sharing all of your journey out here, especially as I stare down the Indy Monumental just 2 1/2 weeks away. (I am also trying to BQ.) You are amazing!

  3. I have loved following your journey and this is just another step towards you goals! You ran an incredible race and that’s a huge accomplishment!!

  4. Way to get through it. Ur post made teary and wanted to give u a hug. U had an awesome run!!! I cant run ur speed and want to run ur pace. U are very inspring on pulling through to the finiah line. Great time! That time is my goal and have been struggling with running lately. I will continue to work hard on it.

    1. Thank you! I used to not be able to run this speed either and I never thought I would be able to. Never doubt what you may be capable of… Keep working and keep running!!

  5. Oh Chelsea, my heart breaks for you. A tough run is incredibly frustrating. Your post brought me to tears. I am so proud of you – who you are and what you stand for and everything you’ve accomplished. It is absolUtley amazing. While we all have our own journeys, I pray mine intersects with yours. This being my first marathon and finishing at 5:32 because I had IT issues and walked a bit, I can only hope I am able to compete at such a level some day.

    1. We do have different journey’s, but ours sound so similar. I finished my first marathon in 5:32 and walked with IT band issues and crippling forefoot pain (I’m pretty sure it was actually a stress fracture). I was so happy to finish and never even considered running a marathon with a time goal. Never ever ever underestimate what you can do. Dream big!!