the main event...chicago marathon

Chicago, Chicago. What is there to say? I was fit, ready and … I didn’t accomplish my goal. Everyone knows what it feels like to walk away from the finish knowing you were in better shape than that, that you had a better race inside. In the case of the marathon, at first you’re just effing happy you finished. You’re elated. You’re proud because you can literally feel in your bones you gave what you had that day. But as the days go by and the pain subsides things change focus. 
Closing in on mile 20... ouch.
The memory of the moment I almost dropped out at mile 13 becomes blurry.  The pride I felt for marching onward as my body rebelled is blurry too. The bruises on both my knees from falling after the finish are fading. But my disappointment has come into sharp focus.  For weeks before Chicago I’d wake up with visions of the race in my head. Now I wake up and have to remind myself that I didn’t make it. During my training I didn’t allow myself to imagine that.
Melissa Gacek and I, around mile 8?
So what the hell did happen? The marathon happened, shit. But more specifically I’d say mechanics. Side stab twisting the knife under my rib by mile two. The right side is not a well oiled machine.  It felt a hell of a lot better than at Vermont City, when I had a calf cramp before mile 7. But eventually the right side of my body goes into lock down, everything pulling and straining.  It feels like a rope is getting shorter and shorter between my right rib and knee, cranking every step. Until by mile 24 when I literally thought I’d started walking or maybe my knee had actually moved into my stomach and needed to double check in store window reflections that, yes, I was still running! Sort of.

Am I still moving?

Mile 22?
 BUT enough about what went wrong, let’s come over to the sunny side of the street. Where I hope to residing full time soon. It’s another marathon down. I learned a lot and found more pieces to this puzzle. And I’m still moving! Not laying in an MRI looking at an injury sentence. Which for so many years, did not seem like a possible reality.  

I trained as hard as my body would allow all summer. I didn’t give up when things got derailed. I committed to one race in ways I’d never done before. I knew everything I gave up was worth what I was gaining.  

Times and OTQ aside, the journey is always a reward. One of my weaknesses is not appreciating the journey. Not celebrating the steps. I have to remind myself where I was three years ago. Two years ago. Last year.  1:21:48 was my half marathon PR two falls ago. And I laid it all out for that. At Chicago I ran that half and then added a 1:26 (hello, wall) right after. Yes, I wish it had been two 1:21s, but if you’d asked me if a 2:47 marathon was possible two years ago I’d have laughed! 

I had an amazing summer of adventures. Running the dirt roads through eastern Washington vineyards, ocean highways in Oregon, single track trails in Bend, the busy bike path along the Hudson River… miles are so much more than just numbers in a training journal.  These miles are my fondest memories and I’ll dream about them when I can’t do this anymore. 
My happy place: Maryhill WA
Getting myself to the starting line in Chicago, the very place I’d decided to stop racing four years ago, is a huge accomplishment to me. And blatantly chasing a goal without shame is something I’ve been afraid to do for years. Missing it, well, that’s just part of my story now. 

Being there with my husband and friends and team was night and day to what it was last time. I felt like I was part of a special tribe. And I felt the success of my tribe members as though it were my own. I’m so proud of my teammates. It reminded me that while I do train alone, and it gets lonely, I have this amazing team! This crazy support system, at home, at Oiselle.  
Melissa and I getting our numbers - loved rooming with MG. Great memories.
Ashley Evans had an amazing first marathon! 2:49!
Owen, constant support
Epic #birdsandbros after party thanks to Granato Racing. Team Oiselle: me, melissa, sarah, becky, laura

My Oiselle family showered me with love before I left, and when I came back despite it all. They believed in me and still do. My friend Dave surprised me by buying a ticket to come and cheer. (Check out his awesome video clips) After the Chicago finish line I couldn’t believe my Twitter feed. I cried so many happy tears reading those messages. I was overwhelmed. Who am I to have that cheer squad? There are no words!  


I wish I was writing my play by play to the 2:42 success, but I’m not. I chased it hard and a bit blindly through Chicago’s streets. I’d be lying if I said I’m not sad and going through mourning stages, but there is a bigger picture and it’s bright. Thanks for being part of it. 
Speaking of my tribe… this fall, TWO Oiselle teammates have snagged the OTQ marathon standard. Marci Gage and Heidi Greenwood! And this is only the beginning for these two women, get ready to watch some times drop. 


  1. You are one fast lady! I loved reading your recap and was so happy to get to see you before the race and share a drink with you afterward! You've still got time to get that 2:42, and I know you can do it!! xo

  2. It might not have been what you planned for, or hoped for, but your speed and spirit is an inspiration to a lot of other runners! Head Up, Wings Out. Right?

  3. I know it wasn't the race you had hoped for but it was truly an inspiring race to read about. Getting a pain that early on and keep on keeping on? You are awesome. You will get that 2:42 and reach that goal. I have 100% confidence in you.

  4. I really love this recap, Mac!! It's full of heart and inspiration! Marathons can be heartbreaking, but you are so strong, mentally and physically and I know you will get that 2:42 at the next one! We all believe in you :)

  5. This race was just a stepping stone and you WILL get there. Thank you for sharing such an honest perceptive on your race. Many people like to skip the hard side but I think it's crucial and I always appreciate when speedsters share when things aren't always perfect. You are very inspiring and I bookmarked your site so I can continue to follow your journey to OTQ.

  6. I won't pretend I didn't get choked up reading this. This is so real and also so inspiring (and I don't use that lightly). I can't wait to follow you as you continue your journey and I know you WILL get that OTQ. It was great to see you in again in Chicago. And congrats again on a killer race. The day will come when you get the race you trained for and dream of.

  7. i just think you're one of the awesome-est people i know. you inspire me big time. i love following your journey and am excited for all that's ahead for you in running and in life!

  8. Hi Sarah!

    I've been following you for a while now. Julie Robinson told me all about you! My son was in her class last year. : ) Congratulations on Chicago! Looking forward to reading more of your adventures.

  9. Sorry it didn't go for you as you would have hoped..never fun to work so hard for something and have it not come together...but nonetheless you should be proud of your training and your performance because it is nothing short of amazing! xo!

  10. All I can say is 'love'! You put your heart and soul into that race and as you hint in the beginning of this post - you learned a lot and are stronger because of it. A huge PR and a stepping stone to the amazing things that will come for you. You have all of us behind you!!

  11. Congrats on a solid race! Your pic with the guy wearing a calvin jersey was a teammate of mine. Brian Paff from San Diego. Wild!

  12. I've loved watching your training, and am so glad you took the time to write about your experience in Chicago. Your perspective is invaluable, and every runner can take something from it, not matter their goal. I look forward to reading your blog!

  13. Whoa! That is almost scary. Like reading my own thoughts on someone elses blog! Especially the parts about the visions and not even considering not achieving it. In my mind I had already done it, and I had not even considered not breaking 2:40. All your feelings are exactly the same as mine, I am so grateful to read someone elses opinion on this. As much as we feel like spoilt brats for claiming that a time many would kill to run isnt fast enough, it is all about perspective, and when you have spent the last 4 months of your life dreaming about crossing the finish line with that time above your head.....when it doesnt happen, a little dramatic, but it does feel like your world fell apart.

    So glad you made it out the other side, and I KNOW these experiences will make us better runners in the next one :)


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