* Near-perfect marathon temps 50 to 55 degrees.
* Meetup with fellow BRC team members
* Huge, enthusiastic crowd with a few blogger sightings
* Course 2nd best time and BQ time of 3:18:30 for 26.5 miles
My goal was to set a sub 3:10:40 course PR, and I came up a little short. However, I have lots of positives from the race. One of those positives is that I now know that I can train for a marathon in nine weeks, still BQ and have an excellent time running the entire city.
I shared a cab with two of my neighbors (Tad and Stacey) to Grant Park. The cab dropped us off 100 yards from one of the main gates. We were there early enough that there were no lines at the security check point.
|Tad, Stacey and Me Pre-Race|
|Declan doing warm-ups at our campground|
|In front of Buckingham fountain|
|Declan getting a tattoo pre-race from Erin|
|BRC Team Photo (Erin, Annabelle, Ken, Erin, Me, Declan)|
After we completed our pre-race rituals, we left our campsite and made our way over to the start corrals. I used the corral porta-potties and waited for Declan and Annabelle to arrive at the "B" corral. Luckily I spotted them and we got in a line to enter to the "B" corral. Unfortunately, the guards would not allow a runner with an "A" bib to move back to the "B" corral, so they told me to fight the surge of humanity and make my way over to the "A" corral. I was disappointed that I couldn't run with them. It would have been a blast: All three of us had the same goal pace!
After shedding my throw-away clothes, the corrals were herded closer to the start line. Then at long last we were off!
My goal was to run the first two miles at 7:45, 7:35. I actually ran them in 7:34, 7:13 despite a concerted effort on my part to relax and slow down. By mile 3, I had to use the bathroom again, and found a porta-potty with a green symbol by the door and darted in. Mile 3 was a 7:50.
Then, for whatever reason, I decided that I needed to make back the time lost in the porta-potty (even though I was basically still perfectly on track) and started laying down some 7:10s, which although felt okay, did cause my heart rate to go up more quickly. This could have been due to the fact that my legs were tight and were not loosening up as much as they typically do once I get in my cadence. It was harder to get turnover. I blame the short taper, but I did my best to tell myself that I could run the rest of the race at 7:10/mile.
I passed by Maggie and she shouted my name and got this great shot of me:
|Hi Maggie! (source)|
Then I side-fived my aunt and uncle who were holding these awesome posters near mile 8:
|They remembered the "T"|
I ran south through Lincoln Park still hoping to get my leg muscles to cooperate.
|On N. Sedgwick St. in Lincoln Park|
On top of drinking lots of Gatorade at each aid station, at around mile 10 I broke open my first GU. I quickly realized that the gel must have been about two years old as it was kinda mealy and had an bland taste. I debated whether it would make me sick if I ate it. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to eat only half of it. Luckily, I did not get instantly sick, but my stomach was starting to feel the effects of too much sugar.
Erica, yelled to me just around mile 13 and I gave her a wave. I basically averaged 7:15s for miles 4 through 13.1. Total time for first half: 1:36:17 (avg: 7:21/mile)
The second half started out with a positive as Emily shouted my name and I waved back at her. However, by mile 14, I realized that my goal of setting a course PR (3:10) was likely out the window. Holding my current 7:15/pace was becoming more of a struggle. My legs were still tight and my stomach was not doing very well. Every whiff of bad air by a porta-potty or a garbage can made my stomach feel like it would be sick. On top of all that, my heart rate was about 10 bpm faster than it was for the first half just to hold the same pace. In order to go sub 3:10 for the race, I needed to drop down to 7:00s for the last 10 miles. That feat was merely a dream given my condition. So, I decided to see if I could handle running 7:30s which would hopefully enable me to at least run the rest of the way (i.e. not walk at all) and BQ (<3:25) since I had banked lots of time so far.
Around Comiskey Park, I suffered the indignity of the 3:15 pace group passing me. After that happened, I was determined to avoid letting the 3:20 group to pass me later on. This gave me motivation to keep my legs moving in a running-type fashion.
|Trying to smile, trying to run|
At about mile 20, I spotted Annabelle about 10 yards ahead of me. She had passed me without me noticing. I wanted to say hi to her, so I kicked up my pace a couple of notches. Once I reached her, I told her she was looking strong. She said that she was having leg issues and had to stretch every so often. She then took off and I spotted her the next mile or two taking stretch breaks, but still running too fast for me to catch up to her again. These two or three miles were a great distraction from my leg and stomach problems. Thanks Annabelle for passing me (and congrats on the PR)!
Upon reaching Chinatown at mile 21, I felt myself really slow down. I stopped looking at my splits and just focused on my overall time. I wanted to make sure I crossed the finish line by 3:23 (BQ -2). My legs grew heavy, my stomach sent some nauseous signals to my brain, and I decided to only drink water on the way in as I had overdosed on energy gels, shot blocks and Gatorade. My arms were starting to lose feeling in them as they had been in essentially the same position for over 2.5 hours. Even though it felt like I was running 9 minute miles, in retrospect my pace was actually about 7:55/mile for 21, 22 and 23.
|In Chinatown: Hurting but still alive|
Edit: Finish line photo Not available at this time...
Total time for second half: 1:42:12 (avg: 7:48/mile)
Analysis: My official pace was 7:32/mile, but my Garmin shows that I ran 26.5 miles for a 7:27/mile pace average. I BQ'd by 6.5 minutes, which takes some pressure off of my 2014 spring marathon performance. Now I can just focus on a marathon PR in March! My overall time was 8 minutes slower than goal, but given my nine week training cycle and short taper, I think I may have been too aggressive in goal setting. A 3:15 would have been within reach if I had paced for that and not a 3:10. I now see the value in having a solid base before training, as well as having an adequate taper so my legs can have some time to relax.
Post RaceOnce I stopped, my legs cramped badly and my stomach headed even further south. Luckily, I spotted Declan, Annabelle, Erin, and even Lindsay and my focus shifted to talking and walking with them instead of finding the nearest place to get sick! We made our way through the finishers' chute, and got wrapped in space blankets. We then got our medals and collected bananas, water bottles, ice, snack boxes and even beer. I did not have a beer as it would not have stayed in my stomach for very long if I had taken a swig. We got a group photo from the race photographer.
|We all finished within a few minutes of each other|
so we were able to get an official picture!
|Declan post-race with his blanket and icy head|
|Ready to for the after party!|
|Declan's Cheering Section|
All-in-all it was a memorable experience: My first marathon as part of a team, my first marathon on very short training, and a marathon in which I had my struggles, but overcame them to finish respectably. Ten weeks ago, when I was sidelined with an injury, I would not have thought that this day would have been possible.