Sunday, October 12, 2008

2008 Chicago Marathon Post Race Report

It was a beautiful morning, if an absurdly long walk to the Endurance Pavilion and back to the starting corrals. I discovered that the 3:50 pace group would only be in Seeded Corrals, not in Open Seeding, and therefore never saw them post-line-up.

But I did sit down at the start line, in close proximity to the front of the open seeding, next to Dave from Boston. Dave ran a 3:40 in New York 12 years back, and was looking for a finish time anywhere between 3:30 and 4:00. We hit it off pretty quickly, and we made it together through mile 15. Dave dropped back at this point, and I never saw him again. But, I still want to offer much thanks to him for running those very fun 15 miles with me. Thanks, Dave!

Within the first half mile, it was clear my Garmin would be of little use. With so many long tunnel "under bridge" runs, it was simply not able to keep track or calculate the elapsed distance. Fortunately, from watching the video repeatedly, this was not unexpected. My plan was to watch the elapsed time, and follow the mile markers.

We did a marvelous job of this, never getting more than 15-20 seconds ahead or behind the goal time at any mile marker, hitting many of them dead-on. I was quite pleased with my discipline of setting and maintaining this pace. Dave and I crossed the half marathon line in exactly 1:55:00 according to my watch. Perfect! We high-fived.

By 18 miles, I'd been on my own for awhile. And I was feeling great. I told myself at this point that this was "my race," and I expected to reach my goal of 3:50:59 or better. I was pleased with how relaxed I felt, and how much Gatorade I was able to take in, and how well the nutrition and electrolyte plan was going. (I'd taken a Hammergel at 0, 5, 10, and 15 miles, and electrolytes a couple of times.)

At mile 22, my target time was 3:12:59. I crossed it exactly on target. But shortly after this point, I started to feel dizzy... not nauseated, no GI issues, just dizzy and a little overheated. I realized at this point, I was at risk of passing out. I slowed to a walk and drank two full cups of Gatorade. I told myself I could walk as long as I truly needed to walk, but I'd just given up my BQ. My physical endeavor was over. It was hot and very sunny. But, I still had a lot of work to do.

But the catch was--I told myself--as soon as I started running, I would no longer look at my pace or elapsed time. I would only focus on running. I had 4 miles to go, and I would just put one foot in front of the other until I crossed the finish line. And, although it was brutal, and a gritty effort, I did just that. I never walked again. In fact, as an internal measure, I don't recall being passed by anyone once I started running again a little after the 22 mile point. I forced myself not to give up, remembering "quitting is forever." This was an important psychological lift for me. Running the next four miles will be burned into my memory longer than any other part of this race, and something on which I will draw for many years to come. The last four miles were very hard.

Although I didn't BQ, and missed it by 3 mintues, 14 seconds, I believe that I ran a very good race. I'm proud of my effort, probably more so the last 4 miles of sheer mental determination than I am of the previous 22. I have no regrets; I left nothing on the course.

I have many people to whom I owe gratitude, you know who you are. I owe so much thanks to the dozens of people who have encouraged me so much these past few months. Even though I crossed the finish line alone, I didn't get here alone. And to everyone who took even the smallest part of this race, Thank You!:

God (for giving me the health and ability)
My family (for letting me train and travel here)
Vince (for coaching me these last 13 months, what a difference you've made!)
Rick (for just everything; pushing me encouraging me and everything else)
Bonnie (my bff, for believing in me)
Twitterville (all of you guys have been so inspiring and awesome!)
Jesse (you deserve a special mention from Twitter)
Dave (for running a great first 15 miles with me today)
And many other people I did not name, but who have encouraged me so much along the way!

This was definitely my best marathon ever!


Rick said...

Great job today! Excellent new PR! You've done the work and once all of the pieces fall into place you will reach your Boston goal. You are an inspiration.

Nagana said...

Congrats !!
Your race, and in particular the description of the last 4 miles is going a good push for me and my first Marathon in 40 days !

Well done
congrats !!!!

Michael B said...

congrats on your "best ever"...sorry you didn't bq, but have a lot to be thankful for. cheers!

runner-grrl said...

Rick, Nagana and Michael--Thanks so much for your comments and congratulations! I'm still quite pleased with how everything turned out, and not (yet anyway) too disappointed in missing the BQ. I can't wait to try again soon!

RunColo said...

Well done, yeah that weather probably cost you more time than you realize.

I have the Denver Marathon this Sunday.

RunColo said...

You might find this interesting:
It's warm, freezing, or blustery. Less-than-ideal conditions mean you have to adjust your time goals. Headwinds can slow your finish time by several minutes, and heat or cold by even more. A survey of marathon finish times suggests that 55 degrees is the ideal temperature, a temperature of 35 or 75 degrees adds 7 percent to your time, and an 85-degree day adds 10 percent.

runner-grrl said...


Thanks for your comments! I read these after the ones above. I truly believe that the effort I put forth in Chi was harder than I would have had to go for a BQ had the weather been a perfect, calm 55 degrees. And now you've just proven it :-)

I can't wait to read your race report from Denver! Best wishes to you :-)