My Daring Sub-3-Hour Chicago Marathon Victory

I ran the 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 9th in 2 hours 57 minutes, equal to 6:46 min/mile OR 4:13 min/km. This time was 12-seconds per mile faster than the last marathon I ran in October of 2021. This was my second attempt at a sub-3 marathon, and I got it!

Race Day Outfit Staples Included:








The History

Before this, I ran a 3:02:48 at San Diego Rock ’n’ Roll. My PR before that was 03 hours and 21 minutes. I set an aggressive goal for myself and worked for 1.5 years to attain it through periodized training, discipline, consistency, and adapting to the training to meet me where I was at in my journey the entire way, allowed me to successfully achieve my goal.

In 2015, I ran my first marathon at 03:48. My goal was to see if I could finish without stopping, and I did.

It wasn’t until after my injury in 2018 that pulled myself away from running in the 2018 Boston Marathon, which would’ve been my second time running that race, did I set my sights on the sub-3 hour barrier.

Training Recap

I started training for the Chicago Marathon (my tenth marathon) in February 2022.

I ran a 10-miler on 9/18 before this marathon. Not my best race, to say the least. We live, we learn. Read my 10-miler race recap here!

My training leading into Chicago included a lot of threshold work (by way of some tune-up races) and many marathon goal-paced miles, which I will have more while optimizing my training for the next build for NYC. I did running technique and specialized strength drills leading up to this race 2-3x/week around my runs, usually not on running rest days (which I had once a week). I had ZERO injuries throughout this entire build-up. WINNING! F-yes. I had a 2-week taper, which was more than enough to go from 100-miler weeks to 20 milers (Which was my last weekly total mileage of this taper). I did not run the day before the marathon and did not believe that!

Pre-Race Logistics

Entering Grant Park was pretty straightforward; I took a black shuttle van to the start.

I woke up at 4:30 am, pounced out of bed, put on my race day outfit, my @garminrunning watch, my Maurten Gel 100 / and the CAF 100 in my sports bra, and 2 UCAN. 

I took a shuttle to the start from my Hotel at 5:45 am. I had a bagel with peanut butter 2.5 hours before 7:30 am and brought it down to the shuttle! I didn’t check a bag & walked through security screening and into corral b, where I went and found a little space to sit and get into my headspace. The weather was in the mid-40s, chilly at the start, but it felt oh so good when I started to run!

Fueling Strategy

I had 72 – 120 fl oz of water daily for 3-4 weeks leading into the 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I heavied 20% on carbs/proteins and fats 2-3 weeks into the marathon. I was sure to make myself a freakin’ fuel TANK, tapping out my glycogen stores and training my body throughout my training to use both carbohydrates and fat as fuel for race day.

I fueled on race day, taking a UCAN 20ish minutes before starting the race. Then between Maurten Gel 100 / and the CAF 100 alternating caffeinated and non-caf gels, I had a UCAN edge energy orange flavor before the start. I started fueling every 15-20 minutes on and off and then stopping at every water station beginning at mile 2.

I did not take Gatorade throughout the entire course. There was Gatorade and Water on the course, Gatorade gels around Mile 20, and bananas as the earliest place to get the actual gel. I did not experience any GI issues throughout this marathon whatsoever, which was the goal. I took a little of each gel within a 5-minute time-frame, and didn’t gulp each gel down ALL at once, followed immediately by hydrating with water at the next hydration station. Staying hydrated was vital for me, primarily because my body tends to lose salt/get dehydrated relatively quickly. I lined up all my gels in my sports bra, which was supper efficient and easy for me to grab on the go while racing!

Read this post to learn more about how to fuel before, during, and after your next race!


Race Day Splits!

Race Recap

Part 1

Mile 1: the crowds were roaring. Like, holy crap. I felt like I was running away (literally) on a magic red carpet; the race organizers put this down over the cross-bridges. The first mile was electric. I went out and was like on cruise control. Mile 1 was quick, over drawbridges, and almost like, IDK, stepping into the unknown. I’ve never gone out so fast like that in a marathon. Master the pace, master yourself; I was on cruise control out of the floodgates.

Miles 2 to 6.2: Electric and FULL of ENERGY. I remember hitting the person’s shoes in front of me, which was somewhat annoying for the girl in front of me because it could’ve been effortless to trip and fall! There was a legit 3-hour wall building up towards the end of the sixth mile. I fell into my rhythm. I was so on point with my hydration this race. The water came after the Gatorade on both sides of the course.

First 10K Fueling

FIRST 10K FUELING: I took a @genucan 20ish minutes before starting the race. Then between Maurten Gel 100 / and the CAF 100 alternating caffeinated and non-caf gels, I had a UCAN edge energy orange flavor before the start. I started fueling every 15-20 minutes on and off and then stopping at every water station beginning at mile 2. I did not take Gatorade throughout the entire course. I took a little of each gel within a 5-minute time-frame, and didn’t gulp each gel down ALL at once, followed immediately by hydrating with water at the next hydration station. 

Part 2

Miles 7-8: The crowds were roaring, and I was counting (1,2,1,2), keeping my cadence on point, my feet underneath my knees, and doing a form check! I felt good. My fuel kicked in whenever I felt like I was almost depleted of glycogen. I might as well call this my #20minutefuelingstrategy, LOL! It worked for me, and I can’t be the only one!

Miles 9 -13: Just so much ENERGY! I was working hard. I think it’s because this was the day before my cycle. But, I made sure to intake extra water because of this reason throughout the race. My stars aligned on Sunday, and I experienced ZERO GI issues, never bonked, and consistently felt energized until the end of the race. WIN! That’s a first for me to nail ALL of those things.

Miles 14-17: I was thinking about my sub-3 during this part of the race (before claiming my new 2-hour and 57-minute PR). The combo of the running strength and technique program, in addition to my recovery, sleep, and nutrition training around my running training this build made so many good, little differences. These changes all added up and worked magic for me on race day! During these miles, I felt like I was cruising. My pace group of men around me was holding a pace that was challenging yet doable for me and was a little faster than I expected, but I felt good, my legs felt good, and my mind felt good. Kept it fun out there with my bib flying all over the place shown in this picture ?. Holy Windy City!! 

Listen to my full race recap on the RUNWITHALLI LIVE Podcast by clicking on this link here!

Part 3

Mile 18: A minute before hitting the 2- hour mark on my feet with an hour left to go. I did a form check. Knees over toes, feet landing under my chin, Posture tall, shoulders down and back. Forward lean from the ankles (not hips), not excessive arms swinging—eyes on the prize, head in the game. I knew the real race was about to begin. Thankful I nailed my fueling strategy, alternating gels every 20 minutes to keep my glycogen stores full and my brain in the game! ?? @genucan! THIS Alli is the Alli I’ve always wanted to become. And there she was! I no longer worried about looking “too fat” or being self-conscious about wearing shorts (which is why I truly wore leggings for every marathon aside from @runrocknroll San Diego last year). I was confident in my skin, in myself, and in my ability to do what I set out to do. F-YEAH! Do you know how good that feels? Split: 6:37 min/mi.

Mile 19: Hold the pace, focus on one foot at a time, and push forward. Every step forward is a win. I smiled to myself here. I thought about my ankle extension when I started getting muscle fatigue. I used to think about how hard I worked, and the negative energy began to block out the good. This time, there was no negativity, and worrying about the clock became secondary vs. feeling and holding the proper pace. It helped keep the fun in the run and kept me relaxed! Such an energy saver to do this for me! Split 6:43 min/mi.

Miles 20 – 22: I was thinking about how well I could stay in the mile I was in and truly ran in it. After all, that’s all we have control over while running at any distance in any run or race. I brought myself back to my dedicated individual – YOU, the reader. Your physical body needs to be trained for this, yes. But, if your head is not in the game, that could be a race breaker. This is why I always always always practice my mantras during my training runs. When I get over being judged by others and not giving an f*, I become my best; I can do my best to help others!! 6:42, 6:53, 6:44 min/mi. 

Part 4

Mile 23: I knew I was going to get it; my sub-3-hour marathon I set out to do. Tears were streaming down my face as I pushed step after step, DOING THE DAMN THING. I can do hard things; we all can. I needed to do this for me. I always used to think that I wasn’t good enough. I returned to everything I had done to get to that every step of the race. I pulled back the pace a tiny bit to finish the race I set out to do. I had to pace about a 7:30 min/mile from this point to snag a sub-3. I stopped racing and enjoyed the fun of the run if that even exists in a marathon’s final miles. 

Miles 24 & 25: the muscle fatigue was kicking in, my bib was flying all over the place (the pins, I guess, weren’t pinned properly to my sports bra), and the last gel I had was where the padding goes in my bra/crop top (thanks to @nike???); I adjusted my ponytail and focused on putting one foot in front of the next. I took myself back to my first marathon and all the pain that manifested in that 24th mile in 2015. Then I took myself to that point again in my second marathon and again for the third one. I saw my Mom and stepdad holding a sign that said ‘Run Alli Run’ right before mile 26. 

Mile 26-.2: I was smiling, crying, so fulfilled and utterly shocked at what my body could do. I pointed at the finish and ran as fast as I could through the finish line. Panting & smiling. After getting my medal, I saw my mom at the finish line and walked back, holding her arm the entire way. I was disappointed (at the time) because the app misread the actual time I ran. But WE knew what I did. Life is imperfect, and the game will always have flaws. BUT hard work never disappoints. Acceptance makes any situation a bit better. Patience is the game’s name. Trusting yourself will allow you to see beautiful things that you’re capable of doing. Including smashing your next 26.2!


Chicago! It’s been real!

If you know me, you know I like to have fun setting lofty goals! I can’t wait for what’s next!

I’m taking this moment to celebrate the win I’ve worked 1.5 years to attain and the people that made every mile of this race extra special. Thank you for giving me the supporting belief, and heart to leave it all out there on the course this year. Like I ALWAYS say to my athletes, I’m repeating it. No matter the time, every win is a WIN! My smile in the picture below says it all! And yes. We CAN DO HARD THINGS!!

Tips For A Successful Marathon Build

Create a 2-4 year training plan to plan your annual goals and major races or runs

Get used to racing different distances at different paces in your training

Be patient with the aerobic fitness gains; they take time

Prioritize your sleep and recovery routine to allow yourself to train hard and recover quicker

Improve your ability to run consistently after and further injury free

Develop your individualized technique and specialized strength program as it relates to your running to optimize your training to help you meet your goal

Learn how to train your mind; mindful running is a THING, especially during the later stages of the marathon and during those long runs in your training

Run the 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon!

APPLY for the 2023 event using this link here!

Get In Touch!

If you need training guidance, please reach out to me here! I’d love to learn more about your running and fitness goals! Let’s get ’em!

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