I was honored to be a part of the Saucony 26 Strong program this year. I absolutely LOVE Saucony running shoes, and have wanted to partner with them on a cool collaboration for years, so this made my dreams come true!
Top 5 Things about the Marathon Weekend:
Shake out run/photoshoot with all the other girls! – I hadn’t met any of the other girls in person yet, so I was excited to get to know them a bit. The weekend was packed, and we all had tons of visitors, but this was when we had the most time to chit chat and kind of meet everyone in person.
The Renaissance Hotel – was AWESOME! Great food. Great service. Great rooms. Great Bathrooms. I give it 5 stars. I lived in Chicago for 5yrs, and have never stayed at one of the hotels before, because I never needed to. This hotel was absolutely perfect and was in a great location for anything and everything you would want to do in Chicago.
The Marathon – I had never run just for fun or alongside someone in any race, and boy was it an awesomely different experience. The time flew as I chit chatted with Kellen, coached her along the way, and we looked for my family and hers in different spots along the course. I had fun taking photos of her and sharing her marathon journey in real time. It was quite the experience that I’ll never forget.
Beatrix – This restaurant was killer. I hadn’t been there before, and it is new since I left. It is American tapas, and the food was delish. Seriously. Holy moly. The service was spot on, and the atmosphere was nice but casual. I failed at taking photos of the food but trust me it was amazing.
Bobtail Ice Cream – Lastly, I had to visit my favorite ice cream place in the whole world. There is nothing like bobtail ice cream. It is the creamiest most delicious ice cream you will ever have in your life. And my trip back to Chicago would not have been the same if I didn’t eat a pint of ice cream from there to celebrate the finishing of a marathon. I was super stoked to share it with Kellen, as well.
Details of the Marathon Experience:
When I woke up Sunday morning at 4:45am, I had a different feeling than I’d ever had on race day. I was relaxed and not nervous at all. There was no pressure. My only focus was to get Kellen from start to finish. Of course, there were a few jokes on if I would even be able to finish since my longest run was 11.6 miles prior to the race, and I had been injured up until about 6 weeks before race day. But, I didn’t even really think about it. This would be my 9th marathon (4 have been off the bike), and I wasn’t racing. I was there to coach, Kellen.
All 26 Saucony girls walked from the hotel to the race start about a 20min walk, and we had a mini photoshoot and then we all parted ways mentee and mentor together to warm up, have a mini pep talk, and do whatever we needed to do. I honestly hadn’t even come up with a nutrition plan for this race. I just figured I’d take whatever was on course. It was actually a perfect opportunity to try something different, and not take everything so seriously. The one thing I stuck to though, was, of course, I had to have a Bobo’s Oat Bar as my pre-race fuel. 🙂
We watched the sunrise, and then stood in the bathroom line, before we hopped in our corral. It was then go-time! We slowly walked our way to the start line as the crowd funnels out on to the course. Here’s a video of some of our race day experience. 🙂
As always it was so fun to have my family out there cheering and supporting. We always were looking forward to finding them. And we caught Kellen’s fam right before the last mile, which was a nice extra boost to get to the finish line.
Some highlights of my own marathon experience:
- I don’t think I’ve ever had a heart rate this low for a race. 142 avg
- No matter what pace you go at, your feet still start to hurt around mile 22/23. #ouch
- I only had water and gatorade until mile 13, and then I had some gatorade chews. At mile 18, I had a powerbar gel (strawberry/banana flavor with 1x caffeine), and then I had another powerbar gel at mile 22 (again strawberry/banana flavor with 1x caffeine). I alternated between water and gatorade every aid station.
- I had absolutely no chaffing, which is a first.
- I loved running in my Saucony Triumph shoes. I opted for the heavier duty ones, since I would be out there a bit longer than I normally would be.
- Racing/Running with my GoPro and iPhone was sooooo much fun! It was awesome to document Kellen’s whole race! It will be something we will both always cherish and be able to look back on.
This was my second time running this race, and it is where my marathon PR lives (3:30:44). It was really fun to be back in Chicago for this race, and experience it in a whole different way.
A HUGE shout out to Saucony and Competitor for putting on an awesome program! Thank you for including me in this experience, and I’m thankful to have been a part of Kellen’s first marathon journey, which you can read about here.