October 17, 2010

Chicago Marathon Recap

To get the stats out of the way...

Time: 5:27:25 - palindrome! :)
Place (overall): 27945
Place (females): 11388
Place (20-24): 1151

And my not-so-negative splits can be found here.

Going into this race, I knew it was probably going to be sub-par as I trained horribly, so my dream of running a 4:30 (or 10:10 pace on 10/10/10) was unlikely.  However, I was confident that I could PR or at least run about the same time as my first marathon, a 4:50, after my last 20 mile training run in which I managed to hold onto a 10:08 pace.  It became pretty clear that this was not going to happen either by the 2nd mile.

Pre-race I was lucky enough to get access to the special facilities for the Chicago running group, CARA, so I got to avoid all of the porta-potties, and lines, and hang out on the second floor of The Congress Hotel and eat bagels while talking to some first-time marathoners.

I made my way to the start and positioned myself just behind the 4:45 pace group, thinking that would be a more realistic goal.  The race started, and about 20 minutes later I was finally able to cross the starting line!  The first few miles were pretty uneventful except for the ridiculous amount of guys urinating on the supporting beams underneath the first bridge.

My garmin freaked out a bit being between all of the huge buildings, and I was weaving around the crowds of people, which lead to my first mental lapse by the third mile.  I was feeling fine and keeping my pace slow, but I noticed that my garmin was already reading 0.38 miles long.  I let this discourage me as my pace was actually much slower than I thought, and I let it continued to discourage me until mile 23 when I realized that no matter what distance my watch said I had run, I only had 3 miles left.  By the time I finished, I had run 26.89 miles.

At mile 5, we made our way into a park, and again flocks of guys were coming in and out of the not very wooded trees to urinate.  I had to go as well, but opted for the porta-potties resulting in about a 3-5 minute break.  It seems unfair that guys can just go wherever and waste less time, but they also attributed to the porta-potty line being much shorter so I guess I won't complain!

I don't remember the miles much leading up to the half way point (come to think of it, I felt totally lost and disoriented the whole race), just that I started feeling fatigued already by mile 10 and began walking through all of the water stops.  Throughout the day, I would take Gatorade, and then water at every single stop, which definitely helped me out when the heat started rising.  At the half way point, I was not feeling good anymore - I was starting to feel my lack of training.  This was the first time I took out my phone, letting Pete know I didn't think I'd finish before 5:15 and that I was having a hard time.

My achilles started aching around mile 14, and by mile 15 I decided I was done with this race.  My legs were tired, I knew there was no way I'd come even close to my previous time of 4:50, and it was getting hot out, so I gave in.  This is when I started walking quite a bit, and tweeting about how much it sucked.  But I wasn't about to drop out of the race, so I kept moving along, stopping a few times to stretch my legs.

Mile 20 finally came along and I knew I could finish.  Looking at all of the people around me, I knew I wasn't the only one hurting.  The heat was approaching 90 degrees and the whole running field looked zombie-like.  This was about when I saw a guy carrying a 7 foot mini Eiffel Tower on his back...I was not about to let that guy beat me.  I started running again and continued a walk/run pattern.

I was in so much pain by mile 23, and all I wanted to do was finish.  I knew I needed to pick it back up a bit and focus on running if I was going to finish sub-5:30, so I kept a slow, steady pace and tried my best not to walk until I crossed the finish line.  The crowd during the whole race was amazing - I couldn't believe how many people were out cheering in the streets compared to any other race I've done.  The last mile to the finish was definitely powered by the crowds as their numbers grew even more and everyone was encouraging you to push it to the finish.  I finally made my way around the last corner and kicked it in as fast as I could manage.  Crossing a finish line has never felt so good.

I got my medal and walked, for what seemed like forever, out of the finish area.  The pain that flowed into my legs was awful so I just kept walking all the way back to the hotel where I was able to keep my drop bag.  I met up with Pete and his friend, and headed to straight to the bar where I learned I wasn't the only one to have a less than awesome race.

It was a rough day out there, but I had a great time with my first big marathon experience, and am happy to add a second marathon finish to the books!  I learned a lot from this race - especially that 26.2 miles is no cake walk, and requires a lot of training if you want it to be successful (at least for me).  I also learned that I have what it takes to finish a marathon on a tough day, but that I have a lot to work on both physically and mentally.

Next up - Long Beach Half!

1 comment:

  1. I heard it was brutally hot towards the end! Kudos for sticking with it!

    Love the phone pic...that is the modern runner!