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Chicago Marathon - RunMarathon


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Chicago, Illinois
United States
LaSalle Bank
HOTF / 0C
Sunny
Total Time = 5h 25m
Overall Rank = n/a/
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Woke up at 3:50 and began to get ready. Larry, my photographer friend who was shooting the race was coming to pick up me and Jen, then we were going to get Schmize and his wife. At 4:30am Holly called to say that Schmize was back at the hospital. Unbelievable. After all of this he wouldn't be able to do the race. In hindsight this may have prevented a much much worse tragedy. Reeling from the loss of my training partner and race buddy we headed to Chicago. Got there and parked just fine. I was continuing to eat and hydrate to get ready for the heat. After we got out of the car I asked Jen to write on the back of my legs HANGLOOSE so that any BT'ers would know it was me since I had ditched the donkey jersey for the day. Too much black. I heard a kid from the family next to us ask her parent "Why are they doing that?" The mom said "To help identify the body." She was joking. I think. Up to ground level and walk a half a block to the race site. It was awesome. The sheer magnitude of this thing is incredible. Checked in my gear. Walked around with Jen, found the corral opening for seeded starts. Settled into the corral, made cell contact with jschmitchicago and jowisc. As stated in my blog they were instrumental in chaperoning Jen around the city and many thanks to them for their help. Jen left to meet them and I was alone. With 36,000 others. We basically stood and sat for about 20 more minutes. The PA system was constantly announcing to slow your pace, drink plenty and be careful of the heat.
Event warmup:

No warmup, some light stretching. 5 minutes to go. Then the first really amazing thing began to happen. If you've never seen this it will sound dumb, but it is really something to see. Someone threw a water bottle, half full, to the right hand side of the street. Then another. Then about a hundred others. It was wild. This went on for about 5 minutes. Then we were off. It was weird beginning in the seeded corral. You walk up to the start and you've been elbow to elbow for the last half an hour. Suddenly everything opens up and you run across the mats. And everyone is GONE! The space around you feels magical. You are not crowded at all. Yeah, there's a lot of people but nobody is in your way (cuz we're all running too fast, as it turns out). Very unexpected. I espected dodging and darting in and out of the crowd, jockeying for position and even some pushing and shoving. There was none of that. The occasional bump when things would tighten up around a curve but everyone was very cool about it.
Run
  • 5h 25m
  • 26 miles
  • 12m 30s  min/mile
Comments:

A lot of this is clipped from my blog: Death March 2007. And that's not sarcasm. A 35 y.o. police officer doing the race died and that sucks. Turns out he had a heart condition but it seems hard to believe the heat didn't contribute in some way. People were dropping left and right. The first was a woman who dropped shortly after the halfway mark. It wasn't far from a Red Cross tent so while a couple people stopped with her a bunch of us ran over there shouting RUNNER DOWN RUNNER DOWN. This would go on A LOT for the rest of the day.

Just before the halfway mark I walked about a 1/4 mile to try to bring my HR down, hit the bathroom and walk through an aid station. Then I ran again and it was VERY exciting going through the halfway mark. Most of the run at this point was in the shade of the taller buildings in Chicago. After the halfway mark you head west and that's where it starts to get brutal.

I was very lucky to see Jen (who is my HERO!) who was hanging out with Jonathon and Jen Schmitt at a couple points during the first half. Coredump was with them once too. Things got mixed up after that with as slow as I was going. I also saw my buddy Larry, who was hired to photograph the race, a couple times on the course. He walked with me for a while. I cannot say enough nice things about Jen and Jon for chaperoning Jen around and Larry for his help before, during and after the race. Not sure what I've done to end up with friends like this but they are awesome!

Later in the race a guy walked up behing me and asked if I was from Crystal Lake. I had HANG LOOSE written on my legs so anyone from BT would know who I was. It was Dave from Algonquin (daviddclough). Talked to him for a while, then we tried jogging and we separated, then he caught up to me again later. We walked most of the last 4 miles together. The last time I tried to run - somewhere around mi 21-22, my legs cramped and my vision went blurry. While I was walking with Dave my speech was slurring. They cancelled the race but at that point we were just about at the furthest point south and ready to turn toward the finish. There was about 5 miles left to go and we had to walk back anyway, might as well finish. They were ordering people to walk and that was fine with us. As we were going by a display honoring the fallen officers of the Chicago Police Dept. this hippie guy, in the race, goes running by with his fist up yelling "RAISE YOUR FIST AND RESIST, THE CHICAGO POLICE DEPT IS THE LARGEST TERRORIST ORGANIZATION IN CHICAGO!" People didn't seem to know what to say and then David and I yelled sarcastic things like "Rock on dude! Fight the power! and everyone had a good laugh at the hippie. I think Dave and I have a lot in common considering we had just met.

Nutrition info: I ate 6 crank e-gels, drank 9 bottles of water from my own bottle, probably another 4 bottles worth of water from plastic bottles and cups, and about 3 bottles worth of Gatorade Endurance. I took a salt pill every half hour. I felt so full at times that I was sloshing. I did not pee after that mile 12 pit stop. Not until about 6pm. Keep reading for more info on that.

At some point, I'm not sure where, maybe a mile or more from the finish, Jen and Jon and Jen found me. Finally! I hadn't seen them (except for what I thought was a glimpse of Jen in Chinatown but there were great looking women everywhere so who can know for sure?) since 11.5 mi. They walked in with us the rest of the way. Jen could tell I was in bad shape. I crossed the line, drank more water and ate 2 apples and 2 bananas. Went to gear check, got my stuff and laid down for a few minutes. We headed to the car. This is when things really started to go south.


What would you do differently?:

Run 10:00/miles from the beginning. I was a fool.
Post race
Warm down:

We got down the the 2nd level where our car was parked in the underground garage. I had to sit down and when I leaned forward sweat poured off my face. As soon as I hit the pavement I began to cramp everywhere.

A couple of other runners, angels really, stopped to help me. One was an EMT who had just come from the medical tent himself getting some fluids in him. Casey, wherever you are, thank you. He helped me and stayed with me until the ambulance got there. For you locals, to give you an idea how big this was, the ambulance was called in from Mundelein. They declared a state of mass casualties and were in full emergency mode. They weren't even taking personal info - just your race number and then they'd drop you off at a hospital. The EMT's got a line for fluids in my and put oxygen on me, just before I projectile vomited everywhere. Then I cramped up enough that I finally screamed. They carried me back up to ground level and put me in the 'lance. My blood pressure was 80/60. That's bad, right? Pulse was 60. Glucose 81, I don't know what that means. They took me to Northwestern. 3 bags of fluid later and I felt much better, although I was going through chills and sweats and more puking during that time. My blood work showed signs of acute renal failure. My second blood test after the second bag of fluid showed enough improvement that they let me go after the third bag. This was also when I finally peed again.

Again, I cannot say thank you enough to the people who helped me through the day. Especially my wife, who was my rock and who did not deserve the scare I put her through. More on that in a moment. Jen and Jonathon, Larry, David, my mom for watching the kids from 5am til 9:30pm, my dad for coming downtown to get me and then waiting so many hours for them to release me. For the random acts of kindness and support I saw on the course with runners helping each other. For the people along the route encouraging us, filling up water bottles from their homes and bringing it out onto the course. It was unbelievable.



What limited your ability to perform faster:

If you haven't figured it out by now I can't help you.

Event comments:

The questions above like organized? mental effort? race difficulty? just don't make any sense to me. I don't know how to answer them. They could run this race again for the next 60 years and it will never be this hot again. It was a disaster of epic proportions and cannot be quantified accurately on paper.

I had two moments of clarity this day. The first one was somewhere between miles 14-17. I realized that I had to let it go. I was so worried that all my hard work at having a respectable time in a marathon was shot by the weather. I realized it didn't matter. This was my race. I needed to live in the moment and not worry about the race I could have run. I needed to run the race I had in front of me. From that moment on it was much more enjoyable. Instead of regretting the situation and being stressed about I relished it. So what if I walked most of the second half? Who cares. I also realized that the whole "dig deep and keep running" attitude that I used in Racine to keep going has a limit. At least I have a limit. I held back because the fact is that my wife, my family and my job come before this endurance sports in my life and THAT also needs to be a factor in how I race. After this I felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. As brutal as it was the race was a lot more fun after that point. Of course, at this point I didn't realize the damage I was already doing to myself.

The second revelation came while I was laying on the concrete in the parking garage. Before I started puking I was laying there with an IV in my arm and the oxygen mask on. I was looking at Jen, who was rightfully freaked out, and all of a sudden my back cramped up. I reached for my chest and lifted up off the ground a little. It was just a back cramp but to her it looked like a heart attack and I saw it in her eyes. It is not right for me to put her through that. That's not fair to her and I will never do it again. I don't know if I'll ever race anything longer than a half marathon again. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. I don't want to make statements like the morning after a bad night of drinking when you say you won't drink again. But I can say this for sure. I'll never RACE (as in push really hard) anything longer than a half mary for a specific time goal. I just won't do it. It's not worth it for me. I can't put that much pressure on myself because I'm too damn stubborn to let it go. I foolishly ran the first half at WAY TOO HIGH OF A HEART RATE. That was just stupid.

With as bad as how some parts of the day went the whole experience was phenomenal, this race is really amazing. And my heart goes out to those still in critical condition in area hospitals, and of course to the wife and brother who were doing the race with the man who died.

Also, the debate about placing blame on this seems misguided. This thing is too big, and too complicated to simply say "They ran out of water." Yeah, they did. But that doesn't mean that if they had an infinite supply of water that none of this would have happened. Look at me. I had water and GE for the whole race. I still had my problems. Now out of all the people who needed help how many of them were in the same boat as me? AngeB said she was turned away from the medical tent because they were overwhelmed and she finished at 3:30, 2 hours ahead of me! I think its a shame that they ran out of water and they should consider reducing the size of the race unless they can significantly bolster the support, but ultimately each runner shares a huge amount of responsibility for their own care. We knew for months before the race where the aid stations would be. We knew there were stretches that would be 2 miles between stations. That's why when the heat came up in the week before the race I changed my mind and decided to wear my fuel belt so that I could carry more gel and liquids. As far as I'm concerned any runner who was out there without a fuel belt/water bottle of some kind was as foolish to think they could make the gaps between stations as I was for running so hard in the first half.

Now, the argument about whether they should have even had the race in the first place or not is another story. I'd be more willing to agree that should have been considered more strongly. From what I could tell once the race went on they seemed to be doing what they could. The police were at intersections ordering people to walk and warning us that the medical facilities were overwhelmed. People were still running! If those are the people who ended up in the hospital is that the RD's fault?






Last updated: 2007-10-09 12:00 AM
Running
05:25:00 | 26 miles | 12m 30s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance:
Avg HR by mile: 156, 166, 169, 174, 176, 177, 177, 178, 180, 181, 180, 181, 166, 175, 173, 167, 168, 161, 148, 155, 159, 159, 145, 138, 126, then I slid the strap down to my waist because I didn't care anymore. Generally I ran the first half to hard and suffered the second half. Miles 10: 8:40 This was where it became obvious I had pushed too hard. 11: 9:11 First time I walked - AFTER I saw Jen at 11.25 of course. 12: 9:50 Just a little walking but mostly just running slower. 13: 12:20 Combo walking and jogging. Just after this was when the sun hit. From miles 3-22 I was above LTHR for over 150 minutes. Some of it is fuzzy and not all my memories of running/walking match up, but I know for sure I was walking a LOT (85%) by 17-18, and walking only for sure after 22. So for 5 miles(17-22) or so I pretty much just walked and my HR was still over LTHR. I'm not proud of showing how stupid I was, but I'm posting this in the hopes that it will prevent someone else from pushing themselves too hard when its this hot. I've done some reading on acute renal failure and as bad as things were I would have easily been in critical condition if I had not backed off when I did between miles 11-15. It didn't matter how much I drank.
Course: Amazing. The first half is running around downtown, then up to the north side near Wrigley, then back downtown. The half way mark is as you leave the financial district heading west and this is where you loose the shade of the taller buildings and the sun began to take its toll. The second half felt like a different race. Heat, sun, suffering. More on that later. The neighborhoods are incredible, the buildings, etc. What an amazing thing to be able to run around Chicago like this, and cover SO much of the city, and be so welcomed by all the fans. It's not just like a smaller race where it is everyone else's families and friends that are out there. People make an event out of standing out front of their house to cheer you on. It's incredible. The signs, the bands, the costumes, the DJ's, the ethnic communities, it just goes on and on. The signs - One guy had a sign that said "John, don't poop yourself!" Little did he know how appropriate that was for me! Another was a girl with a sign that said "She farted ------>" with the arrow pointing at a woman next to her who had no clue what the sign said. The Chinatown dancing dragon, the Latina dancers in their flowing gowns, the homeys cranking the beats, the Charity mile, the International mile, Boystown, Pilsen, Lincoln Park, Little Italy. The halfway point was spectacular.
Keeping cool Bad Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Bad
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Evaluation
Course challenge
Organized?
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

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2007-10-09 1:13 PM

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Crystal Lake, IL
Subject: Chicago Marathon


2007-10-09 1:26 PM
in reply to: #998849

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Champion
34263
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Chicago
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon
Wow HL that's quite a story!!! Glad to hear you survived, though. Don't let this scare you away from endurance races. You're an amazing athlete and a great guy so it'd be a shame to not have you at these events. But just take it easy muchacho!!! Congrats on finishing. That takes a lot of balls, mon ami.
2007-10-09 2:31 PM
in reply to: #998849

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Expert
760
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Mt. Morris, IL
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon
Glad you are okay, Way to finish a crazy event on a crazy day!
2007-10-09 2:39 PM
in reply to: #998849

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Extreme Veteran
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Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon
I am glad you are OK. As you said, you ended up pretty lucky. Your story scared me. Thank goodness for all of the kind people out there, and thank you for sharing your story.
Nancy
2007-10-09 2:45 PM
in reply to: #998849

Iron Donkey
38641
50005000500050005000500050002000100050010025
, Wisconsin
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon
WOW, another survivor of HELL!  I tip my hat off to you, kind sir!
2007-10-09 2:59 PM
in reply to: #998849

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Elite
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Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon

Congratulations and we're glad you're OK.

 



2007-10-09 4:51 PM
in reply to: #999181

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Champion
9998
500020002000500100100100100252525
, Minnesota
Gold member
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon
Wow, I'm glad you are okay.  Those are some bad stats from the hospital.  Yes, 80/60 is bad!  Take care.
2007-10-09 5:05 PM
in reply to: #998849

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Master
2379
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Alpharetta, GA
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon

WOW...simply...WOW....

Glad you're OK.

2007-10-09 6:40 PM
in reply to: #998849

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Extreme Veteran
451
1001001001002525
Algonquin, IL
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon

Great report.  I  think you summed it up perfectly.  I forgot about about us yelling at the "hippie".  I think I referred to him as "Lunatic Fringe".  I had about the same race.  Too big for my britches.  I have "sprinted" half mary distances before and I thought I could do something that was not possible.  Oh well, we definitely learned something out there.

2007-10-09 9:59 PM
in reply to: #998849

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Extreme Veteran
536
50025
Wauwatosa, WI
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon
holy cow..... really glad you're o.k.... congratulations on finishing.. take a little time off to recouperate. It was an ugly situation on Sunday - seemed basically like mass anarchy.
2007-10-09 10:35 PM
in reply to: #998849

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Champion
5490
5000100100100100252525
Whizzzzzlandia
Silver member
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon

Duuuuuuude.

Partners in crime we are.

Wish I could have crossed the finish line. Frown

Next year?

 

 



2007-10-10 8:26 AM
in reply to: #998849

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Pro
5123
5000100
Canandaigua NY
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon
I think you race report summarizes the way the day went for a lot of us. That section heading west after half way was brutal. No place to get any relief from the sun. Its too bad you wound up in the hospital and I am glad to hear that everything worked out ok in the end. 
2007-10-10 3:35 PM
in reply to: #998849

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Master
1573
10005002525
Red Sox Nation
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon

WOW!  Great race, and as ususal, great insight.

Glad you're okay! 

2007-10-10 4:04 PM
in reply to: #998849

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Master
2227
200010010025
Kansas City, MO
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon
Great thoughts about the race and your personal experience.  Glad you had lot's of help afterwards and that you're O.K.  Thanks for sharing.  Congrats on finishing.
2007-10-18 1:05 PM
in reply to: #998849

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Expert
1148
100010025
NW Suburbs, Illinois
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon

Great Race Report.  You have a way of painting a picture.  Now, if you would only use some of that brain for your pacing strategy???  Just kidding.  I have no idea what would have happened if I made it down there, but I know it would have been different.

Anyway, you get to check that box in the list of things accomplished.....and it was a huge accomplishment under those conditions.  Enjoy it, b/c we will be back.  Yes, WE!

2007-10-18 6:25 PM
in reply to: #998849

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Pro
4675
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Wisconsin near the Twin Cities metro
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon
Glad you survived!!!!!


2007-10-19 5:10 PM
in reply to: #998849

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Champion
6992
50001000500100100100100252525
Chicago, Illinois
Subject: RE: Chicago Marathon
One of the biggest problems people had out there on that day was they wanted to race it like it was 50 degrees out. May it be people who pushed too hard or wore long sleaved shirts and pants. Of course this only from the runner side. Do not get me start on the Race itself.

I think its good to have a time in mind, but it does not always have to be your best time. It is the time you think you can or should do that day. I gone slower on days I been injuried or way too hot because its about the golden rule which is to finish. That even if you wanted your best time when its not going to happen then remember rule 1. Nothing wrong with slower down and having fun.

Going beyond a half marathon is good because we need you to come and do SOR again. .

I will be there and I hope you are there also.
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