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,


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chicago Bound

Sorry for being such a blogger-slacker.  I promise to post the Ireland pictures and tell the story.  In the meantime, I'm Chicago bound.  Not going for the Deep Dish or the Blues, that's boring; I can do that anytime.  I'm going for another slow dance... slow dancing to the tune of U2's "Beautiful Day".

The Chicago marathon is this Sunday, start time @ 7:30 AM.  There's 45,000 full marathon runners and 1.5 million spectators (or 57,000 per mile).  My group is planning to be at the start by 6:30 to cue in for a good position.  The race starts at 7:30 AM and we hope to cross the start line by 7:45 if we position ourselves properly.  As usual, I'm a little anxious about race day.  I've learned to always have a healthy fear of the marathon; respect the 26.2 and it might permit you to finish with honour.  Disrespect it and it'll give you a wedgy, steal your lunch money, and spit you out at mile 20!  Never diss the full-Mary!

My bib number is 23453 if you care to track my progress on race day. I believe there's 5 electronic check points with the times uploaded onto the net in real time. My goal time is to beat my 4:10 PB, but as usual I'll settle for a popsicle with friends in the shade before closing. My most tried and true race strategy is to start out slow, pull back, and then fade completely ;>).

I've been nursing a wicked head cold and slight fever for about 48 hours which has robbed my appetite so my pre-race, anal retentive diet is out the window.  I took this afternoon off and slept from 1 to 4 PM.  I managed to eat some pasta and juice and I'm presently feeling ok.

My wife is joining me on this one and her mom and brother from Toronto are also coming to cheer me on.  The last I heard my mother-in-law was scouring the streets of Toronto looking for a cowbell!  Now if that isn't sweetness defined I don't what is?!

Mile 24 through 25 is dedicated to mother, friend, teacher, breast cancer survivor, lovely Linda.  Mile 25 through 26 is for the memory of my parents (and such good memories they are). Mile 26 through 26.2 is for me.

Run like no one is watching!

It's a good day to be alive.