I knew going into Chicago that it wasn't going to be my day to set a PR, but I had come up with a back-up goal - finish in 4-1/2 hours. In my mind it would be an accomplishment to run a marathon that I had not adequately trained for faster than 4 of the marathons I had trained for. It's all mental you know. Continuing that thought - it would mean if I did train properly for the next one I would have a really good chance of breaking a PR.
- Poor training = 4:30
- Good training = 4:08 (4:09 is my PR to date)
- Great training = break the 4 hour barrier
- Awesome training = Qualify for Boston ;-)
So, we drove into Chicago on Saturday morning and went straight to get something to eat at Lou Malnati's. I would recommend the calamari and 'The Lou' Chicago style deep dish pizza - it comes with spinach, mushroom, tomatoes & cheese. Yummy.
Next up was the EXPO - got all registered up - got my chip, number, t-shirt & lots of other little free goodies. We ran into Bart Yasso and Brady chatted him up a bit about his book.
After the EXPO we got registered at the Hotel Allegro - very nice, posh place, but it's pricey and the rooms are small. It ended up being $300/night if you figure in the $49/night for valet parking (self-park was $45). Oh well, at least we were only a few blocks from the starting line. We took a short nap then showered up and decided to head out to find a place to eat. Upon a suggestion of a friend of Brady's we went to the Pasta Bowl in the Lincoln Park area. There was a bit of a wait so we hung out at the bar next door and had some wine & hummus while we played video games.
After about 40 minutes we were seated right across from the bar where they cook the food - I have to admit it was impressive how quickly they were getting fresh food cooked and out. I had the Spaghetti Frutti de Mare (shrimp, scallops, & mussels sauteed in white wine, served over pasta and marinara). It was delish. It put us to bed a little late, but it was worth it.
Sunday morning - I had my clothes & accessories all laid out:
My nike Tempo shorts in dark grey with orange stripes on the sides, orange nike ls dri-fit top, grey champion tank, white champion jog bra, fox river socks (I love them), saucony shoes, 26.2 gloves, garmin, and my mini-fanny pack/number belt. I stuck 2 gus in my belt and a couple tylenol in my shorts pocket.
Next, I took a hot shower to wake up, ate a south beach diet peanut butter bar, drank an orange gatorade, put on my race gear, plus a jacket and long pants. While I did that Brady transferred music from my computer to my iPhone (since I forgot my shuffle charger - doh). Kat showed up about this time so there was a break for some welcoming hugs then back to business. We loaded up her pack with my extra fuel and got her and Brady set with the cameras and we headed to the start area. I made one last pit stop and then headed in to the corral.
Oh the corrals - so much fun - well, not if you're claustrophobic I guess. I'm not really, but that many people pushing and shoving past you is a little unnerving. I gave up around the 10-1/2 minute per mile pace (this, I learned later was a mistake). I undressed - it felt like I was naked anyway (brrrrr!!!!!), but I only took off my jacket and pants. I tried to stretch and jump around to keep warm and it really wasn't too bad - I couldn't feel any of the wind because of the sea of people I was in.
Finally the gun went off - and eventually we started walking our way to the front - it took our group about 18 minutes to get there. I started my garmin right when I hit the line and was off and away. WOW - you should have seen the people - crazy number of people - I think it could be the best spectators ever!! We had made it 6 miles before I even realized what was going on. I was rocking out to the tunes on my iPhone (I carried it the whole way) and just taking it all in. The people (mostly, but not all men) that just stop on the side of the road to pee amaze me - in what other context would people think it's acceptable to just whip it out in public?? I mean, I've been to Mardi Gras and I'm sure it happens, but not like this. Oh well...
I saw my supporters (see pic below:) around mile 6, but with so many people it was just smiles and waves.
I started drinking about mile 3 - sips of gatorade at each stop, at mile 7 I took a gu and was feeling pretty good. It was about mile 12 that I started feeling aching in my achilles tendon. I tried to work on my form to keep it from hurting worse and it did help. Shortly after that my quads decided that they were indeed tired. I was still working my way through traffic so I hadn't been able to run a consistent pace and I think that hurt me too. It was around mile 13 I saw my support staff again, and again was only able to smile & wave.
Mile 14 or 15 I took my last gu and popped the tylenol and it did help with the pain a bit.
It was around mile 2o in the Chinatown area when some hooded stranger jumped out of the stands and started running towards me!! :-O
Ok, it was Brady and he jumped out to run with me because I didn't see them and there wasn't a place to stop. He ran with me for a few yards and fed me some lemon powerbar gel blasts - so good!!
I hadn't walked all day and I was hurting, but I just kept telling myself to finish this mile you're on then you can walk. I repeated that over and over and it seemed to work. It's amazing how you can trick your own mind when you are running low on energy. I didn't walk - not once during this race. That just tells you how slow I was running at some points, but that's OK. I saw Brady and Kat one more time around mile 25 then I was on my own to finish. Right before mile 26 I saw what Robert had warned me about - a steep hill right before the end. Sure enough, we turned onto Roosevelt and there it was - but it didn't scare me - I've done adventure races - haha! Seriously, it was pretty tough to do with 26 miles on your legs, but my legs and I made it - then it was downhill to the finish. I kicked it up a bit, but I was spent. It was good - I felt like I gave it my all. I made it through the finishers chute, had my chip removed, got my medal and metallic blankie, got a water, banana & a beer then met up with Kat and Brady.
Overall it was a great day, great run, with great friends. I'd run Chicago again in a minute, but I'd make sure to get in the correct corral time. By the time I crossed the finish line my garmin said 26.7 - not 26.2 because of all the weaving in and out of traffic. I should have started closer to the 9-1/2 or 10 minute per mile group. Live and learn though right??
Chicago will be a great marathon memory - now to decide what to do next!
For right now I'm just going to cheer on my friends who still have races coming up!
Run Strong!! :-)