Here's how it went down.
Saturday night, before we went to bed, we had the weather forecast on the television. It was predicting driving rain and cold temperatures. Not too good. Sunday I woke up at 5:00 CST to have my customary tea, two bags of oatmeal, and half-bagel pre-race meal so everything goes like clockwork with the internal plumbing. After breakfast I headed outside for a hybrid walk/run 20 minute type of thing to scout my path to the starting line and to check out the conditions. It was frickin freezing outside. I had, hat, gloves, short sleeve t-shirt, zip neck top, jacket, running pants, and was still cold. It was a windy, wet, misty, bone chilling type of day. I was just glad it was not really raining. A real rain in those conditions would have brought hypothermia into play. I thought it was going to warm up, from there, but it actually got colder as the daylight came. Pretty odd.
Make my way to the top 100 tent, do a slight warm up, take a potty break, do some stretching, on to the starting line. Quite a site the starting at Chicago is. I didn’t think there were that many runners in the whole world, let alone Illinois.
Bang, the gun goes off and I am casual about the whole thing trying to just relax. I guess I relaxed too much, because people went flying by me from the corral behind me and was getting passed like I was standing still. Almost all the women were out there cruising way ahead of me. Looked around and saw Ely and Larosa right there and I knew they were looking for a similar start so I just relaxed and checked my watch to see where I was at. 6:53! What the? There is no way I started that slow. My first big race in 18 weeks and I miss the first mile marker, way to focus. Not too worry because I went through two in 11:03 which was just 7 seconds slower than I wanted to. Here I am running through 2.2. I have the white singlet, blue shorts, black hat, and gloves.
Intimidating, am I not?
Then we formed a pack of about 15 guys to try and chase the standard. We just cruised along bouncing between 5:19 and 5:35. It was very difficult to find a rhythm with so much wind and the buildings making it swirl every which way but at our back. I took a pull at the front and lead mile 7 because two guys realized we were slowing down and they started to pull away so I closed the gap and went to the front for my turn. Took a Gel between nine and 10. The whole way I was always fueled and confident in my stride. It just felt easy until 14. I noticed a lot of the guys in the group were starting to labor and the pace was slowing. After a 5:31 mile, three of us broke off the front of the pack because someone had said we are 28 seconds above pace. I knew we would have a head wind the last three miles and that it was going to be a challenge to hit 5:20 and real in lost time on the last 10k. We formed an alliance of sorts and went after the standard. Everything went great until mile 22. The wind started to drive and my legs felt like bricks of lactic acid. I was getting no response from the engine room when I called for more power after I saw I had run a 5:28. Crap! Just turn it over and drive I said to my self, 5:38. Double Crap. GO!!! Right there I turned onto Michigan Ave off of 35th and while I thought I was dealing with a head wind before, I was gravely mistaken. No sir, those were breezes, Michigan ave had a head wind. One like you read about. The weatherman on the news later Sunday said it was a 30 mph wind but I am certain it was a 145 mph category 5 hurricane wind. Trust me, I know these things. I do believe anyone who was racing on Sunday would concur that the news was wrong and the wind was indeed 145 mph strong.
That was that.
I ran 5:55, 6:13, 6:15 (I think because I missed the 26 mile mark) and that put the stake through the heart of my 2:21 goal. This is what the total blown out runner looks like finishing up the Chicago marathon.
The good news is no one saw me collapse like a house of cards. There were about 10 fans from mile 20 to mile 25.9. I thought it was going to be like Boston with crowds the whole way. Obviously I thought there would be thin spots but not the last stretch. As far as crowd support goes, Chicago can not touch Boston.
After the race and receiving a shiny mylar blanket, about 100 volunteers asked me if I was ok. I must have been looking pretty ragged. I was completely spent but it wasn’t like I was going to keel over and die. I must have looked that way. I got my bag from the bag check put on every piece of clothing I had in that thing. I was shivering and having trouble getting my shoes off and pulling my pants on. It was pretty pathetic. I gave the mylar blanket to some guy who couldn’t find his bag at the check and had blue lips. Poor guy was shaking. How come no one asked him if he was alright?
I was supposed to meet Christy Mae at the fountain but I could make it there because both of my hamstrings cramped up after I pulled my pants on. I called her and asked her to meet me at the lost and found. I do believe I owe the nice people of the massage school there in Chicago a beer. Three students worked the knots and cramps out of my hamstrings and calves for twenty minutes. They summed it well by letting me know, “Your legs are a mess.” I told them they worked almost flawlessly for 23 miles. As I
Got off the table my right hamstring cramped up again and a student saw it happen and she immediately put her thumbs on it and caught it before it got bad. Another five minutes on the table getting the hamstrings worked and I was mobile again. I had forgotten how totaled the legs get after torturing them for 26.2 miles at 5:30 pace. Mario brought me some tea, and Callahan gave me some ibuprofen and I was off and walking to meet Dan and Yvonne at the aforementioned fountain that I now had the mobility to reach. I was not setting any records but it was forward motion. Here is a picture of Dan and me at the finish fountain.
He really put a hurting on me on the way back to the hotel. I just have horrible walking speed to begin with, but after a race it is a little sad.
As I have had twenty four hours to tally the + and – of the whole experience I would have to say the project was a success. A PR is a pr and things went more to the good than bad. My goal was not reached but they do not choose those qualifiers arbitrarily. If it was easy we would have more than 150 guys in the race every 4 years. Tomorrow I will talk with Coach Kevin and try to plan the next target to re-load for and aim at.
That’s all I got.
Chicago Marathon data from my watch.
1 Missed Ha Ha. How in the world do you miss the one mile mark!
2 11.03.0 11.03.00
3 5.28.05 16.31.50
4 5.19.30 21.50.80
5 5.20.38 27.11.18
6 5.35.46 32.46.64
7 5.30.79 38.17.43
8 5.24.86 43.42.29
9 5.21.72 49.04.01
10 5.22.51 54.26.52
11 5.18.17 59.45.21
13 10.56.59 1.10.49
14 5.26.87 1.16.08
15 5.31.50 1.21.40
16 5.16.19 1.26.56
17 5.17.43 1.32.13
18 5.24.81 1.37.38
19 5.20.25 1.42.58
20 5.18.78 1.48.17
21 5.26.72 1.53.44
22 5.28.03 1.59.12
23 5.38.94 2.04.51 There goes one wheel
24 5.53.00 2.10.44 There goes the other wheel
25 6.12.58 2.16.57
26.2 7.36.45 2.24.33
International System of Units (For my lone international Italian reader)