Monday, October 10, 2011

October 10, 2011 – Chicago Marathon

Leading up to Chicago was an interesting process.  After TRR, I had to deal with some MAJOR fatigue issues which affected my ability to train.  Looking back, I would guess that it took somewhere between 3.5 to 4 weeks to get my energy levels back to “normal”.  That leaves me about 2 weeks to train… oh wait, I have to taper… so that leaves me no real time to train.

In all honesty, I thought most of the training had already been done.  I just wanted about 3 to 4 weeks to “sharpen” things up with some speedwork & tempo runs.  Unfortunately, my fatigue just didn’t allow for that.  As such, I went into Chicago a little leery of what might happen… I thought it was possible I could have a great race, but I wouldn’t have put money on it.

So race day is here.  The forecast called for temps in the 80s and high humidity.  With both my training and the weather in mind, I decided that I wanted to be very conservative early and just work into the race.  My plan was to run the first mile at a pace I felt VERY comfortable doing… and hope it was close 5:15min/mile.  If that happened, I would just hold the pace.. If it was faster, so be it.. if it was slower, then I would push the pace to see how it felt and make a decision on whether I could maintain it over the entire course.

As I made my way into the Elite Development corral area, I felt a bit like a cow with his herd as I was pressed up against my fellow competitors.  Then they allowed the Corral A folks to come up and suddenly I felt more like I was in a mosh-pit at a Metallica concert getting shoved from every direction.  Taking in the smell of B.O. and Icy Hot, I kept thinking…”Dude, this a marathon.. not 100m dash.”.. but that is just the mentality of some folks I guess.

The gun went off and I shoved my way through the sea of slower runners that felt compelled to get in front of me 5seconds before..  Hopping to the outside, I settled into a pace I felt was comfortable and hoped that the pace was “fast”.

When I came through mile 1, I looked at my watch… 5:37.  Yikes.  That was A LOT slower than I thought it would be.  At that point, I decided to push the pace to see where that would put me.

As I pushed through mile 2, I felt myself working a fair amount.  My split for mile 2 was 5:13.  At that point, I did some quick thinking… I knew I could hold that 5:13 to 5:17 pace for the next 10 to 12miles, but I was dead certain that today, I had no chance of finishing if I did.  So I decided to slide back into mid 5:20s, which still wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it felt good enough that I thought I could maintain that pace to the finish.   

The miles slowly passed and several times I contemplated dropping out.  I just didn’t have it.  My right hip was tight, my left foot & knee hurt, and I had zero “juice”.  I have only dropped out of one race my entire life.. a 10k Cross Country race in College in which I had the flu and was running with a 102degree temperature.  I HATE dropping out, so I kept telling myself that wasn’t an option ... and pushed ahead.

I was able to maintain 5:25 pace through the half way point, but I could feel the heat starting to take it’s toll.. and my body was already feeling kind rough.

My pace started to slide as I entered what I think is the hardest part of the Marathon distance…  Mile 15 through 20.  For me, it becomes a mental battle of staying on pace during these miles.  Even though I grunted and pushed through this section my pace slid into the 5:45 to 5:50 range.

I recall at mile 18 that I had to focus on “shortening my stride” and focusing on turnover.  I usually start thinking this around mile 22.. so that’s not a good sign, but what can you do..  keep moving forward.

The last 3miles were down right painful.  Though my breathing was fine, my body felt like a pile of hamburger… ground-up.  I hobbled my way to the finish and crossed the line in 2hrs 29min 6sec.

Sometimes at the end of a race when I don’t meet my goals, I automatically slide into a depressed state that can take weeks to pull out of.  Today, that didn’t happen.  I was just happy that I made it to the finish.  The time was nowhere near what I think I am capable of running… but today was just not my day and I still found a way to dig-deep and gut out a respectable finish.  The time may not be the result that I have dreamed about over the past 6 months, but the effort and determination that I had to draw upon were just as big of an accomplishment to me.

1 comment:

  1. good effort out there and great attitude...Can't win them all but still not bad given the circumstances.