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,



Anonymous said...

Mike: The heat sucks dude - that is all there is to it. The rule, on average is to back off your race pace by 20% in such conditions; tough to do when you want to PB.......none-the-less, like you said, you have the medal and T-shirt, so there!! Let's promise to pursue a race that we can do together - I would really enjoy that. Oh, and another thing - I am looking forward to spending a race weekend with Di as you did........that will truly be special for me as well as for MJ when we are in Boston. Here is a little story - hope that I haven't told it to you: I trained a fellow from California who is a crazy runner, ultras, 100 mile trails, Boston three times, you name it and Brian has done it. Anyway, I mentioned to him that my aunt of 82 will be joining me in Boston and that I was really excited about that. He then told me of his Dad who accompanied him to Boston two years ago was 85 at the time. That year, they had the inaugural 5k run the day before the marathon; his Dad expressed an interest to "run" it and so the two of them entered. Nearing the finish, his Dad was followed by police cars with sirens and lights going, the crowd was huge, all were cheering him as he crossed the finish line as the last participant but the winner of best time for his age group!! That is what it is all about my man - show that medal soon. Chris

Jen said...

Even though the race didn't go exactly according to plan, you still finished it out strong. The heat really suck it out of you fast. But still, way to go! Plus, you can't beat the coolness of the date that you got to run it on. Congrats on yet another medal and another race!

jacques said...

Congratulations on another finished marathon. Too bad for the heat. Congratulations on going over the 1000 mile mark also. Hope to train with you again someday.

Nicole said...

Awesome!Congratulations on another finish!

Tess said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks for taking the time to post your running blogs- I just read your Chicago piece and it brought be back to 10-10-10- I wish we were still there! I loved every minute of that race- the anticipation, the excitement, the laughs with the gang, the pain and heat and the bananas! You are right on when you say, what a great day to be alive!!

...time to train for something I think....!

Take care and hope to see you out on the trails soon!