Saturday, October 25, 2014

Chicago Marathon #Roadtobuns: The Finish

Aye aye aye....I can't believe how long it has been since I have blogged! I have been living life to the fullest, which when added to a broken computer, makes it quite difficult to blog.  But, alas, I am back, to share my #roadtobuns Chicago marathon experience! 

Chicago was my 4th marathon and I went into it stronger, both physically & mentally, and more determined than any other marathon.  I was excited!!! I was excited to conquer the 26.2 miles.  For my training, I had the privilege of working with COACH, of Granato Racing.  He pushed me to new limits.  Helped me realize and tap into my true potential. Aided me in building self-confidence as a runner.

I landed in Chicago with 3 friends, confidence, increased speed, the greatest support team near & far, a training cycle characterized by dedication, commitment and growth, determination to overcome my personal struggle of running a marathon, a love for running I have never experienced before, and a pair of buns.

#Roadtobuns originally started as a joke over Google Chat, and quickly turned into something I was serious about. Committed to.  There was talk of lunges, squats and 80s style legs weights, but more importantly there was talk inside of me saying "I can do this!" #Roadtobuns was not about making a statement, proving something to others, or turning into someone worthy of buns, rather it was a journey to self-confidence in myself.  And for those of you who know me, the thought of running in my skivvies in front of hundreds of thousands of people was mortifying.  Seriously.  Slipping into the buns was symbolic of embracing ME.  I might not have the body of what I perceive to be a stereotypical runner, but I am a runner, and my legs carry me through hundreds and hundreds of miles, get me to the start of a marathon, and then to the finish. And that is something worth celebrating.

The #roadtobuns trio....I am beyond thankful for training partners near and far!

I can't begin to express my gratitude to everyone who supported and believed in me on my #roadtobuns! The encouraging text messages, calls, tweets, coffee dates, cards, etc meant more to me than you all will ever know! And where would I be without Jorge!? The official mascot of #roadtobuns, thanks to Meghan

Upon arrival in Chicago, following several delays, we headed straight to De Cero, where we were originally supposed to meet up with several other Oiselle Team runners.  

Holy guacamole, most amazing tacos ever! 

After dinner, we checked into our VRBO, got settled in and headed to bed for an early wake-up call! Mandy and I joined the folks of Bib Rave for a shake out run along lake front followed by donuts {of which I only had a bite}.  I love connecting with others from the running community! 

Reunited and it feels so good...just one of the many blessings of running, the people I have met who have become instant, genuine, life long friends.  

Nothing compares to the excitement and energy of the race expo.  It was great to reconnect with my friends from NUUN, get some course & "momma" advice from Kim, and sign the CHICAGO sign. 

Following the expo we headed back to our apartment for the rest of the afternoon/evening.  I reflected on my training and the journey to Chicago, visualized the course, and mediated on my marathon mantras.  I was confident. Excited.

Race morning had arrived! I was ready! We headed to the start, just blocks from our apartment, exchanged Goodbyes & Good lucks with Heather and Tess, and then headed towards our corral.  We entered our corral and I was excited! Ready to run MY race.  Ready to overcome the marathon hurdle.  As the countdown to the start began, I dropped my drawers,  wished Mandy good luck, and got into my zone.  I went into the marathon with an aggressive game plan, considering my marathon PR, but one that I knew I was capable of! The first couple miles flew by.  Around mile 10 I was anxiously anticipating the half way mark, where I was hoping to see Coach along the course.  Around mile 12 I plugged in and turned on my music {sooner than I had planned on, but I needed to switch things up}.  Up to this point I had nailed my hydration and fueling plan, and felt strong.  As I rolled through the half way mark, and approached mile 14, all of a sudden coach was running with me {did I mention I hadn't met him in person until this point!?}.  I was tired, mentally, as I focused on falling short on my splits AND the fact that I had 12 more miles to go.  Those few seconds of running with coach and some positive words gave me a much needed boost.  Things went well until mile 18...

I kept thinking of HOW MANY MORE MILES I had to run! It was mentally draining. But what I can say is, I persevered and fought harder than I have in any other marathon, and that is a victory.  I didn't completely give up.  While I had a mental game plan for the last 6 miles, it quickly turned into just keep going and FINISH! I kept my focus on the mile I was in, dedicating each mile to someone who has been a huge encouragement in my running, and used the energy of the crowd to stay focused on the finish. Mile 24-26 were characterized by the biggest smile as I was overcome once again with a phenomenal feeling of accomplishment, and the cheers from the crowd were beyond overwhelming. Not to mention, I saw a dear friend for the third time on the course and she jumped in with me for a few seconds! With tired, chaffing legs {note to self, accept the Vaseline at mile 20 when running in buns} I turned the corner to the finish overcome with joy and a 28 minute PR! 


Did I reach my goal time? NO! Did I accomplish what I know I am truly capable of? NO! But did I overcome a major barrier and build self confidence along the way? YES! And for that I will be forever thankful and grateful for.  I don't know exactly what is next, but more than likely it will include a spring marathon, as I continue to dig deep and run the race I know I am capable of.  

Every marathon finish deserves a huge celebration.  And what better way to celebrate than a trip to the Drybar with some of your best friends!?

She's gone country...

Followed by some of the best deep dish pizza in town! PEQUODS!

Monday was spent being tourists...


Tess, professional tourist

And my favorite part, navigating the city via public transit. 

CHICAGO,  an all around success, and a journey & trip I will not soon forget! It left a desire for more! More speed. More confidence. More marathons.  More traveling.


  1. Way to go, Holly! I stopped by your blog last week to read about Chi...I'm glad that you did end up writing about it!

  2. What a race!! You worked really hard and a 28 minute PR is huge!! This is just a stepping stone to the next big thing! Congrats on the buns! You totally rocked them! Can't wait to see what you are up to next!

  3. I am so happy for you!! I think you rocked those buns!! I am glad it was a fun experience even if you didn't make your goal time. You still PR'd which is awesome!! I loved hearing about your training and your determination, and was so happy when race day arrived for you!! Enjoyed all your photos!! You'll nail the time goal soon enough!! Miss you girlfriend!!

  4. Congrats on your awesome PR!!!! I'm still sad we didn't end up getting to reunite, but it was fun knowing you were out there. Proud of you! xoxo