Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm new here...

Making my entrance into the running blog world! I really enjoy reading other blogs about running, so I might as well try my own. No guarantees, however. Nothing to report at the moment, but we can start off with my race report from the 2007 Chicago Marathon. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 2006, but I didn't collect my thoughts about it afterward. So, here we go!

2007 Chicago Marathon

As most of you probably know by now, it was extremely hot (heat index of 90 degrees) and the race was canceled part way through. However, I started close enough to the front and was quick enough to finish before it was canceled.

I woke up at 5am on Sunday morning in order to get ready to head down to Chicago at 5:30am. I ate my usual pre-long run meal of toast with peanut butter, a banana, and gatorade. I sipped on gatorade and water most of the morning since I knew what the day was going to bring weather-wise. Despite having seen the forecast, I was still nervous about what the temperatures would mean for the actual race. We headed downtown a little after 5:30 and arrived with plenty of time to park and such. I was still trying to figure out what to wear at this point, but the final decision was to go with a technical tank instead of just a sports bra..this would come in handy later.

We wandered over to the general race area around Grant Park, and I did my final preparations and got some pictures. It was already quite warm, but manageable. They kept announcing the time til the start, so I eventually got some final "good lucks" from my spectators and headed to my corral. (Corral C...yay for qualifying times!). I tried to use the bathrooms within the corrals, but they announced that they were closing the C corral in five minutes and I definitely wasn't going to make it, so I left the line (along with 50% of the other people waiting in line...) and headed to my corral. I lined up with the 3:40 pace group, which was a pretty big group.

Sooo eventually the race started, and it took me less than two minutes to get across the starting line since I was in a corral, so that was nice. The pacers took us out too fast...The first mile was 7:51, which is 30-40 seconds faster than we needed to be, which they noticed and yelled back for us to slow down. Of course, coming up on mile two we had slowed down too much, as that mile was about 9:15. Then it seemed like the pacers sped up...back to just under an eight minute mile according to my trusty Garmin. Either way I was keeping up with them and the effort felt okay I just kept with them. I saw my spectators (with my sign that helped me find them...the only one with Testudo on it!) around mile two. They were on the opposite side of the road so I didn't get close, but I saw the sign and waved my arms and my dad spotted me. Somewhere around this point I saw Ryan (Katie's brother) on the side of the road so I said hi to him as well.

The race was going pretty well at this point. We were heading north, it was fairly shaded and not too hot yet. The effort felt okay, and I was getting gatorade and water at the aid stations, walking a little so I didn't pour them all over myself, then getting back with the pacers. All the spectators were amazing...the streets were packed and everyone was yelling. So many more people than at Marine Corps, so that was cool. Around mile 9 I started to fell the heat, but my spectators were at mile 10, and I knew I could keep it up until then. It was around this point that the pacer who I was by mentioned that he'd never seen so many people walking so early on, especially since being in/around the 3:40 group means that people usually know what they're getting into. He advised us to run a smart race given the conditions.

At mile 10 I spotted my sign early enough to head over to that side of the road so I'd be close and could get some pictures of me actually running. Around the halfway point, I was only a minute behind pace for my goal, but I was really starting to feel it warm up around me, and my legs didn't feel that great. I never had any trouble with my legs not wanting to run on any long runs, so that wasn't comforting. At this point I knew that I would have to slow down in order to finish, so around mile 14 I started a run/walk/death march that lasted the next 12 miles. The rest of my miles ranged in pace from 9:40-12:40, so I was able to keep moving.

Now this was the most painful experience. The sun was beating down on us, and although the aid stations were only 1.5-2 miles apart, I wanted them to be so much closer. I tried running between the aid stations and walking through them, but at times I just couldn't force myself to run. Every aid station I got to was fully stocked. I would take a cup of gatorade and drink most of it, and then I would take one-two cups of water to drink and another to pour over myself. (This is where the shirt came in handy...the water stayed better than if it was just my skin.) Volunteers were dumping water from the bottles on us, and spectators were offering ice, spraying us with hoses, opening fire hydrants, and spraying us with spray bottles. Lots of people were walking at this point, and every medical tent I passed had people laying on stretchers with bags of ice on them and an IV in their arm. I saw one person collapse on the side of the road as well, and other people throwing up. A bit intense.

My spectators were supposed to be at miles 16 and 20, but my pace was off a bit and I was never able to see them...I think they left before I got there. The last 4-5 miles of the marathon were the shade, lots of pain, and I just wanted to be finished. The whole time I knew I would make it, but I just wanted to be at that point. I had no clue that they were canceling that marathon. We made the turn that leads to the hill, and policemen were on megaphones telling us to walk, but no one was really listening. We made the turn onto Columbus and could see the finish line...and I almost cried. I've never been more excited to see a finish line in my life. I definitely ran this last stretch and crossed the finish line in 4:12:42.

As I was making my way through the finish area, runners were coming from the other direction as I was getting a bottle of water and MY MEDAL. We asked the volunteers what was going on and they told us that the race had been rerouted due to the heat. Apparently aid stations had run out of water and suburban ambulances had to be called in to keep up with the number of people who needed to be taken to the hospital.

All in all, my time wasn't terrible...definitely not where I would have liked it to be, but given the conditions, I'm lucky that I finished and was able to have ample gatorade/water the entire time. Don't ask me about another one...yet.

Highlights of the Marathon:

- being kissed by a French man (who was running) at the aid station around mile 8. He kissed me on the cheek as I was getting gatorade, said something in French, and continued to run.
- Lincoln Park. It was still not hot there, and the crowds were huge there.
- seeing someone's legs have "Go Terps!" written on them and asking them if they went to Maryland...yep!
- Matt. I don't know who he is, but he had his name and phone number written on his back. I don't remember the number, however.
- seeing the finish line.

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