* 2nd fastest marathon ever
* Course PR (fastest of my five Chicago Marathons)
* BQ-minus 16:54 minute time of 3:08:06 for 26.5 miles
* BQ-minus 16:54 minute time of 3:08:06 for 26.5 miles
* Post-race with fellow BRC team members
* Not as hot as I had expected
* Not as hot as I had expected
In my previous post I stated my "A" marathon goal was to run a sub-3:05:02 PR, and my "B" goal was to run a course PR of sub-3:09:00. Due to the warm temperatures predicted for the race, I knew that it was probably not going to be an "A" type of day. So, I set out to attain my "B" goal. I accomplished that by almost a minute. One of my "running smarter" goals was to run a negative split, and although this didn't happen I got pretty close (a one minute 54 second positive split).
I called a cab (no Uber, I'm old school) shortly before 6 am, and made it down to Grant Park in about 20 minutes, a few yards from one of the Jackson gate. The lines through security were longer than last year, but only took about five minutes until I was through. Unlike last year, I was not able to secure a spot in the Balbo Hospitality Tent. I found out at the expo that the tent sold out two weeks before the race.
Once in Grant Park, I checked my bag and then headed over to my corral. I bumped into Eric who was volunteering, we talked a bit and then I continued on my way.
I waited in the "A" corral as they introduced the wheelchair racers and I actually got to high-five a few of them as they made there way to the front. I then bumped into fellow BRC member Todd and we chatted for a few minutes, just before the start of the race, and then before we knew it, we were off!
The first three miles were probably the roughest mentally for me. I was unsure how my legs would hold up since they had been pretty sore during my taper and early on, I started losing confidence that I could hold pace. For some reason, my energy levels were down, my nerves were getting the better of me and I was second-guessing myself as we ran up LaSalle Street. I was wondering if I could even make it another 24 miles of continuous running. I knew I needed a boost, so for the first time in my marathon career I ate some carbs (a Shot Block) in the first three miles. Soon thereafter, my energy levels increased, along with my confidence and I grooved a good steady pace. Crisis averted. My goal was to run the first three miles at 7:25, 7:20, 7:15. I actually ran them in 7:19, 7:11, 7:15. So far so good.
While running, I tried to follow the blue dashed tangent line as well as possible. However, other oblivious runners were weaving around the line as I tried to jostle for position so I could run on top of it. I assume they had no idea that that it was even there. By weaving around they were actually not running the tangents and adding distance. Anyway, at one point in Lincoln Park the blue line swerved way out into a turn, which surely could not have been the shortest distance around that turn. So, I lost a little faith in the blue line at that point. I passed the porta-potties that slowed me down last year and kept streaming ahead. I wanted to lock into a 7:05/mile pace at mile six, but I actually did that a mile too soon at mile five.
So now, I just needed to hit a 7:05/mile pace until the finish and I would have a course PR. The temps were miraculously still tolerable and I had been progressing at a conservative pace with the wind to my back. At mile eight in front of the Treasure Island on Broadway, my aunt and uncle were waiting to cheer me on. I ditched my bottle of water and picked up another one from a spectator. I also grabbed a wet sponge from an aid station and slipped it under my hat. Of course there was a photographer right at the sponge stop to catch all of the action:
|Putting a wet spunge under my hat as other runners look on!|
I popped the last three of my shot blocks in my mouth and took my first Gu. Luckily in the Loop there was a station handing out entire packages of Shot Blocks which saved me from having to eat more Gu. Woo hoo! Then I spotted Todd just ahead of me and slowly made my way up to him. However, he slowed to get water at an aid station and I kept going, so I passed him. A minute later he had caught back up to me and so we ran together for through the halfway point where I saw Marcia, Emily and Erica who were cheering me on.
First half split: 1:33:06 (7:06/mile)
Todd and I ran side-by-side through the "Charity Block Party" around mile 14, I tried to mentally block out the crowd noise to prevent running my standard "surge" at this point in the race. I kept looking at my GPS watch to make sure I remained on pace. Although my Garmin said it was the fastest mile of the day, it sure felt (and looked) like I was maintaining my pace.
Anyway, we made our way back into the Loop and I could see the sun beating down on the skyline ahead. I was bracing myself for warmer temps. However, it did not seem to be getting too much warmer. The wind was strong, but it was seemingly blowing from a different direction depending on the block. So, it was easy to put it out of my mind, even if it was a headwind because I knew that around the corner, it would be tailwind! I kept going, easily hitting my pace mile after mile and felt well. The temptation to speed up was great, but from running this race four times before, I knew that I would need every bit of energy once I got in the homestretch on Michigan Ave.
Eventually I lost track of Todd. At mile 17, unbeknownst to me at the time, I ran in front of 2012 Olympian and current Women's Running cover runner Sarah Attar. Kelly snapped a photo of her Oiselle teammate and me:
|One of us is an Olympian (source: Running Kellometers)|
Unfortunately, Kelly and I did not see each other, but luckily she realized I just happened to be in some of her pictures! Anyway, I was probably not drinking enough water because I wasn't sweating as much as I should have been with the temps rising like they were. Not wanting to slow down, I even skipped a water stop or two, something I have never done in the past. Every mile or so, I would get a twinge in my left thigh which was a strong indicator that a cramp was coming on. So, I backed off my pace ever so slightly, not wanting to over-do things and completely cramp up. At mile 20.5 I spotted Annabelle and she cheered me on.
In Chinatown, there were a few spectators smoking. Cigar and cigarette smoke wafted in the air all around me and it filled my already hurting lungs. Once I caught my breath I yelled "NO SMOKING!" in the direction of one of the smokers, which ticked them off so they began yelling back at me. My admonishment probably didn't help things, as they were probably happy that they were messing with the runners' breathing, but I'm glad I said something.
|After yelling at a smoker in Chinatown|
On a happier note, at mile 23.5 I passed Xaarlin and Eric (again!) and Xaarlin snapped my picture:
|At mile 23.5 (src)|
Even though I felt strong at the time, a glance at my Garmin showed that my pace was slowing. I ran mile 23 and 24 each in 7:26/mile. I feared accelerating in order to try and get back to pace, as pre-cramp warning signals were coming from my legs. I'm sure dehydration was taking its toll, but in my mental state at the time, I did not correlate the twinges in my legs to needing water. As I turned onto Michigan Avenue, I made some mental calculations and realized a course PR was within my reach as long as I held a sub 8:00/mile pace until the finish. So, I skipped past the last couple of aid stations and just focused on getting to the finish line by putting one foot in front of the other.
I passed Ken from the BRC in front of the Weathermark on South Michigan Ave. and he was cheering and filming a video of me. I rounded the corner at Roosevelt and Michigan and bounded up the hill passing other runners on pure adrenaline. Once at the top, I looked down Columbus Drive to the finish line. I saw that the finish line clock was ticking up to (what for me was) a 3:08:00 and I could possibly score a 3:07:59 if I hauled some major booty. So I used up everything I had left and then did a sprint down the hill, but the finish line did not come up soon enough and the clock passed 3:08:00.
Second half split: 1:35:00 (7:15/mile)
Analysis: My official time was a 3:08:06 for an official pace of 7:11/mile. My Garmin shows that I ran 26.7 miles for a 7:02/mile pace average. I got my course PR by almost a minute. I also BQ'd by 16+ minutes, which means I'm pretty much assured of getting into the 2017 race if I so choose. I re-qualified for the 2016 Chicago Marathon next year, but also I'm now a legacy finisher and I can run Chicago without qualifying for the next four years! Now I can go all out during my (hopefully cooler) spring marathon and really focus on running my PR pace for the entire race.
|Enjoying my post-race 312|
After drinking water, a Gatorade shake and grabbing my beer, I headed over to the changing tent, got dressed and walked the mile and a half trek back through the race crowds to the Weathermark on south Michigan Ave. I stopped at Jimmy John's on the way and ate a sub sandwich as I negotiated the crowds.
I met up with the BRC - everyone cheered and the bell behind the bar was rung in my honor. Declan was there with his kids - he had just BQ'd the day before in his 2nd marathon ever!
Perhaps next spring's marathon will include some PR weather so I can be more aggressive from the start and then get my legs to cooperate so I can hang on at the end. But all-in-all it was a fantastic day. So many friends and family cheering me all day long made me feel like a rock star!