* Perfect marathon temps 45 to 50 degrees.
* Course PR, 2nd fastest marathon ever
* BQ-minus-16 minute time of 3:09:00 for 26.5 miles
* BQ-minus-16 minute time of 3:09:00 for 26.5 miles
* Meetup with fellow BRC team members
My main goal was to a sub-3:05:02 PR, and I came up short. But my backup goal was a course PR, and I did that by almost 2 minutes. I have yet to figure out how to negative-split a marathon, or even how to run an even-paced marathon. I really want to figure out this distance, even if I have to spend the rest of my life doing so!
Shortly before 6am, I shared a cab with my neighbor 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.
|In Grant Park|
After clearing security, we wished each other well and headed in separate directions. My other neighbor Tad, who could not run this year due to an injury had gifted me his Balbo Hospitality Tent pass ($125 value) and I found my way to tent (thanks Tad!). The first thing I noticed was how nice and warm it was inside which was a bonus because the pre-race temps were in the low 40s. Very nice. The tent had a huge breakfast spread, tons of unused porta potties, private gear check and a massage room. I grabbed a cup of coffee and took a seat and watched some pre-race coverage on the tvs.
|In the Balbo Hospitality Tent|
The tent director eventually told us that it was time to start heading to our corrals, so I checked my bag, used one of the 50 empty, pristine porta-potties, and headed over to my corral.
I got into corral "A", found a nice spot over on the far side from the entrance, and sat down for about 10 minutes. With about four minutes before the race start, I threw my old sweatshirt and pants over the fence and got ready to go.
My goal was to run the first three miles at 7:20, 7:15, 7:10. I actually ran them in 7:18, 7:10, 7:00 despite my best efforts to keep it slow (note to self, set slower first 5k marathon goals). By mile 3, I had to use the bathroom (probably the coffee I had in the tent), but decided to wait until Lincoln Park where I knew there were lots of porta potties. Another thing happened: Since I hadn't trained running with multiple Gu's attached to my shorts, I was surprised that the added weight of the Gus meant that my shorts started to slide down! So I had to fold over the waistband to get a little more support. Would have been interesting if they had dropped around my knees suddenly!
Anyway, I was very comfortable running up to Lincoln Park, probably due to the nice tailwind we had. I knew once we hit Addison St., however, and headed southbound, the wind would be in our faces. I spotted the porta-potties just after the mile 7 aid station. Most of them were locked, so I had to go way down to the end of the row to find an open one. Once inside, I noticed that my breathing was a little too heavy for so early in the race. Maybe my pace had been too fast? After I was finished, I jumped back in the race and sped up a little too much to make up for lost time, burning energy needlessly at such an early stage.
After mile 7, my goal was to run 6:58/mile the rest of the way in. So, all I had to do was flip my Garmin over to the "average pace per mile" setting and make sure I came close to that pace each mile until mile 26.2. Just south of Addison St., I spotted Lynton and he cheered me on. At mile 8 on Broadway, my dad, aunt and uncle and family friend were waiting for me to cheer me on. I stopped for a few seconds to hand them my gloves and empty water bottle and to thank them for coming out. My dad snapped this photo of me:
|Just after mile 8. Still feeling good.|
Running down Broadway some guy offered me a blue Jolly Rancher. I grabbed it and popped it in my mouth. It really hit the spot and was happy to have a little sugar! Anyway, now the wind was actually in our faces as we headed south, so it was going to be a long slog all the way down to 31st Street with the wind pushing against me.
I ran south through Lincoln Park, but now I wasn't carrying water, so I grabbed a cup of water or two at each aid station. Once through the Loop I took my first Gu, which went down easily (and also lightened my drooping shorts!), and headed west on Adams. My heart rate monitor readings seemed way off, so I tried to adjust it under my shirt. All of a sudden, the strap popped off and my monitor started sliding out from under my shirt! So, I quickly grabbed it and tried to put it back on, unsuccessfully. I knew I would have to stop running in order to put it back on. Just at that moment I saw Erica, so I moved over and stood right in front of her to put my heart rate monitor back on. She offered to take it from me, which was very nice of her, but I got it on quickly, gave her a high-five and was back on the course. My goal for the first half was 1:33:00, and I nearly hit that perfectly, however it was probably a tad too fast considering I stopped three times.
Total time for first half: 1:32:42 (avg: 7:01/mile)
I was still feeling really good to start off the second half. I had no problem keeping my pace at right around 7:00/mile. As I entered the "Charity Block Party" around mile 14, I sped up as the crowd roared and the music pumped. It was a great boost of energy, and I felt really confident with my pace at that point, however it was to be just a temporary energy jolt. Miles 13 and 14 were my fastest miles of the race (6:28, 6:48). This is a recurring theme with me at mile 14 of marathons. Maybe my mind thinks this is a half marathon and I have a sub conscious need to kick at that point? Whatever the case, I need to relax more during these middle miles.
Right at mile 15, the effects of the speedy miles were making themselves known in my legs. My quads were cramping just slightly, but I ignored the symptoms and kept soldiering on taking another gel at mile 17. Miles 15, 16, 17 and 18 were 6:51, 7:00, 6:56, 6:56. It was a nice boost to see Maggie and her husband as they cheered me on at mile 18, I waved to them and Maggie got this pic:
|I'm in the white with the yellow hat (src)|
All was picture perfect pace-wise, but those minor leg cramps should have been my indicator to slow down. By mile 19, my legs were tightening noticeably, I could not muster any more sub 7:00s and I really started letting the headwind get to my head and frustrate me. I was dreaming of finally reaching Michigan Ave. and heading north again so I would have a tailwind for the final 3 miles. Anyway, I ran 19 and 20 and 21 in 7:08, 7:10 and 7:20. I could feel the wheels slowly falling off. I have been in this situation a few times before and didn't want a complete disaster to happen, as had happened in a couple of marathons past (Chi '10, NYC '11), so I threw my PR ambitions out the window, slowed my pace, and readjusted my goal to be a sub-3:10 for a course PR. I figured even if I ran 7:30s from that point in, I would probably achieve that goal.
|In Chinatown, mile 21.5|
However, right before mile 23, my left quad cramped badly, which forced me to walk. I let out a string of curse words partially from the pain and partially from the frustration of not knowing how long the cramp would last. I had visions of both legs locking up and having to lie down like they did in Chi 2010. So, not wanting the cramp to take over my legs, I started running again about 20 seconds into my walk, and luckily the cramp dissipated, however my pace had slowed even further. I knew Annabelle and Xaarlin would be at mile 23, so I had some fan support to help get my mind off of the cramp and focus on just getting to the finish.
Unfortunately, I missed seeing Annabelle for some reason. Luckily, however, Xaarlin was right in my line of sight holding up her phone snapping pics and holding out her hand for a high-five.
|Just about there!|
|Just after mile 23, about to high-five Xaarlin (cred)|
We high-fived and I was able to continue running all the way to Michigan Ave. Once I was about to make the turn onto northbound Michigan Ave. a few runners talked about how excited they were to finally have a tailwind after so many miles of headwind. I agreed with them and then joyfully, made the turn onto the homestretch. However, my joy was short-lived as I had to walk again due to another enormous leg cramp. I could feel my course PR slowly slipping away, and I started to do mental calculations to figure out how fast I needed to finish in order to get my course PR. Luckily, I was able to start running again after about 30 seconds but my pace slowed even further. I crossed my fingers that I could make it all the way without having to walk again. I passed the BRC gang in front of the Weathermark Tavern and could barely muster a wave as I was starting to really hurt. So, I guess I could say I hit the "Wall" during mile 26.
I started to actually look forward to running up the hill at Roosevelt Road because I would be able to use a different group of muscles which would hopefully give my quad a break. As I made the turn, the guy in front of me stopped to walk, and I had to jump out of the way, which of course made my leg seize. So, I had to start walking up the hill. I was so upset with my fate that I was determined to suck up the pain and start running after only a few steps. The crowd was screaming loudly at that stage so I took that energy and crested the hill running slowly, but running nonetheless. I spotted the finish line, glanced at my watch and realized I could perhaps go sub-3:09. I sped up down the hill and crossed the finish line, thinking I had squeaked in at sub 3:09.
and still in one piece!
|Near the finish line|
Total time for secnd half: 1:36:08 (avg: 7:20/mile)
Post RaceOnce I stopped, my legs felt okay considering the pounding they had taken. I got a golf cart ride to the hospitality tent because I took a wrong turn and a volunteer offered me a lift! As soon as I got in the hospitality tent I headed straight to the back for a massage. I was led into a room full of massage tables, and all of the massage therapists applauded me. I then got on a massage table and TWO massage therapists worked on me, one on each leg! It was awesome, just what the doctor ordered! Once that ended, I got a bowl of chicken noodle soup from the lunch buffet and had a giant chocolate chip cookie. Annabelle texted me that the rest of my BRC teammates were over at the Weathermark. So, I left my VIP confines and headed over there. Just off Michigan Ave. I saw an older marathon runner on a stretcher getting loaded onto an ambulance with about five paramedics working feverishly on him. I sure hope he is okay!
Anyway, once at the Weathermark, which is right on the 26th mile of the course on Michigan Ave, I met up with the BRC.
|Me, Annabelle and Ken|
All-in-all it was a great day. I wish I could have gotten a PR, considering all of the training I put into this race, but am happy with my course PR and will use this race as a learning experience for my spring marathon. In any case, it wasn't a bad way to spend a fall Sunday!
|All Smiles! (src)|