Monday, 10 October 2011

Chicago Marathon race report

The weather report called for highs that got progressively warmer each day I checked. I already had it in the back of my head that going for time goals was probably going to be out of the question. 

Even though it wasn't too warm at the start, the moment the race started, I knew going for a PR wasn't going to happen. In fact, I did not WANT to run for time, which is completely unheard of for me. Words cannot describe how unbelievably amazing it was to be part of something so big. Cheering crowds pretty much every step of the way. I was warned that the 2nd half was kind of lonely - well, the "lonely" 2nd half still had more spectators than at the finish line of most Ontario races. There was maybe 500m in the entire race that didn't have someone standing on the sidelines. Many times during the race I got teary eyed seeing so many people out there cheering and supporting the runners. Seriously, if Toronto wants to run a world class marathon, the organizers have a LONG way to go to match Chicago. 

My original plan was to stick with Beth for maybe 10K or so and then pick it up if I felt good. In the early stages, I had to duck off to retie my shoe (heel was rattling around), I almost lost Beth in the crowd and panicked. I really wanted to share this race with my running partner, see the sights and hear the sounds together, it wasn't enough to rehash it later on. So we ran together, at our usual conversational long run pace. The point being, I couldn't even have run my original planned marathon pace even if I wanted to, the course was so packed that sometimes in the really tight spots, there were near collisions. 

I did something new on race day - I didn't wear my fuel belt and relied on water stations for hydration. I can drink on the run pretty well, but the stations were really crowded, and the best way to not lose Beth in the crowd was to walk through. The temps got hotter and hotter - I saw a sign on the course that read 29C - so we walked a lot in the 2nd half because we stopped at almost every water station - but this was totally different from previous marathons in that we were choosing to walk rather than forced to from fatigue. Looked at my Garmin and it had frozen for some reason at 27K - perhaps a sign from the running gods that caring about time/pace was not to be? 

Lots of people with hoses, open fire hydrants, and people passing out ice cubes - a real life saver. 

Saw my friend Melissa at mile 14 - she jumped in and ran with us for a bit - such a nice pick me up, thank you so much for doing that! 

In every previous marathon I'd run, my mind would get the better of me to some extent in the final stages. I was determined to be much stronger this time. After 20 miles, at each mile marker, I would say, "4 miles? You've run 4 miles thousands of times! This is EASY!" and charge past more people death-marching to the finish. But with around 3 miles to go, Beth didn't feel well and started slowing, right when I was feeling like I wanted to run harder to the finish. So I left her finally, I had every intention of running every step with her, something I hadn't done for several years. 

I usually post time/place stats, but it seems silly to do so, considering this race was SO not about that. 4:43:33 - 3rd worst marathon performance (only slower ones was my preggo and debut marathons) but I felt SO STRONG mentally. I am glad that I enjoyed myself. My base goal was to do that and I achieved it 100%. 

This really was the race of a lifetime. I will be back to Chicago again someday. 

full stats: results.public.chicagoma

race day pics: