Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chicago Marathon; Race report

Another marathon under my belt.  It was a tough one, hot but enjoyable -kinda.  45,000 runners and 1.5 million spectators is a sight I won't soon forget.  And Chicago is an absolutely gorgeous city.  The best sign?  

A marathon is 26.2 miles, not 26.3.  Now THAT would be crazy! 

It seemed funny at the time, as I approached mile 26. It doesn't have the same zing now as it did.  I guess you had to be there drenched in blood, sweat, and tears, to get the gallows humour. Laughing between the tears so to speak.

I joined up with John, Bernie, Vivian, and Sandra at about 5:30 AM and, after several visits to the porta-potties, we had a strategy session.  Because of the unexpected heat and humidity we decided not to run 12 and 1's and instead, run continuously and walk through water stations. I was nervous about changing strategies at this late stage, but what the heck, it's important to trust the wisdom of the group.  

We started out strong, but perhaps a little faster than I wanted.  By mile 10 I was really feeling the heat.  Seriously feeling the heat.  I could feel my heart working hard, too hard. My breathing was laboured. Negative thoughts were creeping into my brain.  I stayed with the group for about another two miles and then, at a water break, I pulled out telling them I'm ok, I just need to dial it down a bit.  I was alone among thousands, but confidant that alone, I would finish
I decided to revert back to the original 12 &1 strategy, but it was too late.  I was bonking fast.  I could feel the energy seep from my muscles, and my heart was working too hard.  I hadn't bargained on the heat.  I was letting negative energy creep in and when that happens, it's game over.  I fought to choke it down, to remain positive, to accept that this one was for the experience.  I started feeling better, my attitude was improving but by this time I was so close to hitting the wall it was scary.  The 12 &1's turned to 10 & 1's, then to 8 & 1's, then to 5 & 1's.. and then the dreaded walks.  Walk 1 minute, run 30 seconds. What happened!  Forcing myself to run; remembering how I trained my students to run to one lamp post and walk to the next.  this is what got me across the line, basic focusing, sheer determination, and stamina. 

I saw the Eiffel Tower Man  about 100 meters ahead of me.  I remember thinking "I'll be dammed if I'll let a dude in an Eiffel Tower costume beat me and then laughing at the absurdity of running a marathon in that get-up.  I picked up the pace and ran along side of him for a couple of kilometers.  I passed him and told him what an inspiration he was.  He smiled and said "bon chance".  I never saw him again.  I was hoping to thank him at the finish line.  Hope he made it.
It wasn't pretty, I choked a bit as I crossed the line but I did it, and no one can ever take it away from me.  I got the medal and tee-shirt to prove it!  I RAN the Chicago Marathon on 10-10-10!  

Another slow dance.  Another good day to be alive.

Thank you all for your emails and phone calls.  Your support has been inspiring and heartfelt. I am humbled and honoured to run in your company.
By the way.  I just cracked 1000 miles today.  I'm hoping to beat my record of 1260 by the end of December.  

Run like no one is watching,

Happy face,


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