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Chicago Marathon - RunMarathon

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Chicago, Illinois
United States
Bank of America
70F / 21C
Total Time = 4h 09m 40s
Overall Rank = 10751/35708
Age Group = F40-44
Age Group Rank = 414/2163
Pre-race routine:

(note so I remember: I decided to rent the MyAthlete tracker GPS unit for this race so that my friends would be able to follow me on the course and know where I was. Despite the disclaimers that the cell towers could get saturated and not report my position in a timely fashion, it seemed to work. Only downside, is that because of this, some of my friends didn't tell me where they were going to be on the course... and while they saw me, I didn't see them because I wasn't looking)

Stayed in the hotel across the street.

Migraine upon waking, tried to eat my normal Pop-Tart pre-race meal and that didn't stay down. About an hour after that, though, stomach had settled and headache had faded. Managed half a banana and a few bites of plain bagel.

Hit the hotel bathroom and then the porta-potties (they had private porta-potties for CARA members! Woot!). Then to the starting corral.
Event warmup:

None, really. Took in Gatorade Prime about 20 minutes before I went off.
  • 4h 09m 40s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 32s  min/mile

The day started out ominously enough, but that all ended up being a non-factor.

Went into the race as well-trained as I've ever been for a marathon. Nursing injuries that were only bothersome rather than worrying. The only downside: I had gained a good 5-7 pounds in the 2-3 weeks before hitting the start line. I'd like to have a mulligan on that, please.

Anyway - crossed the start line about 8.5 minutes off the clock time - not too shabby! I had lined up with the 4 hour pace group, but as we shuffled forward, I somehow ended up with the 3:55 pace group. This was *not* in the plan, but I just went with it. I had wanted to stick with a pace group, but ya just gotta roll with things, sometimes.

The 3:55 pace group disappeared by the third mile or so -- I wasn't really working to keep up with them -- and I found myself all on my own. At that point my strategy was to keep as close to 9m/m pace as possible, without feeling like I was working too hard.

I was expecting spectators around the 3.5 mile mark, but they didn't make it out -- disappointing, but looking for them certainly kept me occupied! -- and I knew that I'd have a long slog north and then back south before seeing friendly faces.

This first stretch actually went pretty well. I was feeling fatigued, but I thought it was "just enough" ... meaning, I was pushing but not so much that I couldn't keep this up. I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn't supposed to actually feel "easy".

Saw my posse around mile 11.5 and that was a huge boost! They were screaming and yelling and had great signs they made, too! I stopped and chatted for about 30 seconds while they kept urging me to keep running. :)

Got through the half marathon mark at around 2:00:50 ... so, less than a minute off my goal pace. It was at this point where I acknowledged that sub-4 probably wasn't going to happen, though I still figured I would keep pushing until I couldn't and see how the chips fell.

Miles 13-16 kind of flew by. At mile 16, I think I made a mistake -- I tossed the water bottle that I had been carrying. Since it was warmer than planned, I wanted it with me, especially during the early parts of the race where the water stops are fewer. After mile 16, I knew I could count on there being water at least every mile, so I tossed it. Never should have done that, in hindsight, because it slowed me down (I had been stopping for Gatorade, but drinking my water from the bottle on the run). Oh well.

And a note about the heat: the race started out in the lower 60's and was in the low 70's by the end. Definitely not ideal marathon weather. But, while I know I probably could have gone faster with cooler temps, I also didn't suffer any major consequences from the heat, either. And plus, it was PERFECT spectating weather!

Somewhere between 16 and 17, I saw another friend who was watching out for me -- total surprise to see her there! I almost missed her, in fact, despite the fact that she was screaming at me like a crazy person. Lesson: if *I* don't know you're there, it might not matter if you see me...

The wheels started falling off this marathon around mile 19 -- I could feel my legs starting to tighten and cramp. And I basically told myself, "Don't suck. Just do it." like the Nike t-shirt said. Remarkably, I think that kept me moving forward more than I might have otherwise...

I didn't allow myself to walk except during water stations. Of course, as the race progressed, I stopped earlier and walked longer, and you can see that in my split times.

I knew my parents were going to be at mile 22.5 and it was awesome to see them. I stopped for a bit, and both of them just kept snapping pictures of me standing there. Hee. My family doesn't understand my desire to do these things even one bit, so it meant a ton to me to have then out there in support.

It was hard to get moving after that, but I did. And felt the blinders go on and the focus just be on one step after the other. Move forward. Go faster if possible. At this point, I was shooting for sub-4:10...

The rest of the marathon after seeing my parents was tough: I had thought I'd have some posse on the course, but never saw them (to their credit, they were there, but since I didn't know WHERE they were, I ran right by them, oblivious to the screaming). But I knew I was just SO GLAD to almost be done with this thing.

Going up the bridge on Roosevelt and then turning the corner to see the finish line? Best feeling ever. But I knew I still had work to do -- I was running right up against the 4:10 demarcation point that I had made up in my head somewhere down the line. So, I dug deep, upped the pace and stumbled across the finish line, 20 seconds ahead of the 4:10 mark.

And then I just about collapsed. And then I started crying. And then I started thinking, "damn, if I hurt this much NOW, I'm not even going to be able to walk tomorrow!". Hee.

Got some water, got some food, took pictures and the sloooooowly made my way back to the hotel, where I was meeting up with everyone.

What would you do differently?:

Other than not gain weight, I think I did about everything within my abilities to prepare for this race. I'm proud of the work I did in the 4 months prior to the race, and proud of my performance on the course. I might not have kept the pace that I needed for sub-4, but there was no point during the race where I gave up or made excuses and didn't give it everything I had. That's a success.
Post race
Warm down:

Walk the half mile (if that?) back to the hotel.

Event comments:

This is an awesome marathon. And if were ever going to do another marathon (unlikely!), this would be high on my list. Despite the unpredictable weather, the course is great, the spectators are great (a cop I was talking to the day before, said they anticipate 1-1.5 MILLION people to be out watching... unbelievable, isn't it?) and it's a wonderful experience.

Last updated: 2011-04-01 12:00 AM
04:09:40 | 26.2 miles | 09m 32s  min/mile
Age Group: 414/2163
Overall: 10751/35708
Performance: Good
I wish that I could just import Garmin information'll just have to go check my blog on race day for splits if you're that curious. We'll just say... started a touch slow, picked up the pace, and started to lose it around mile 20. Two miles were long because I stopped twice to chat with friends.
Course: Flat around all the neighborhoods of Chicago. GREAT course. Tons to see, lots of spectators everywhere. Sure, you're elbow to elbow with people most of the way, but still - awesome experience.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2011-10-13 11:53 AM

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Southwest Chicago 'burbs
Subject: Chicago Marathon

2011-10-13 12:15 PM
in reply to: #3722658

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Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon

Oh wow, your description about digging in at the finish to beat 4:10 was great! It stinks that there is a bridge right at the very end of a marathon although the downhill to the finish line is kind of nice.

Great job, especially since you started the day with a migraine! I was able to track using the cell tower thing, it was cool to see the dot moving around Chicago.

2011-10-13 4:14 PM
in reply to: #3722658

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West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon

Very impressive, you stuck to your mantra and raced your plan well.  Digging deep at the finish is awesomeness. 


2011-10-13 5:56 PM
in reply to: #3722658

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Extreme Veteran
San Diego, California
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon
Great race and race report.  Congrats!!!
2011-10-13 9:17 PM
in reply to: #3722658

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, North Carolina
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon
Amazing how you overcame the migraine and didn't suck.  It was fun tracking you.  Congrats on a great race!
2011-10-21 4:48 PM
in reply to: #3722658

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Sandusky, OH
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon

awesome job!! way to finish strong


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