Sunday, October 9, 2011

2011 Chicago marathon race recap

4:04:59 a PR by nearly 15 minutes!!!

Ok, so now that's out of the way....

Day before the race
I laid out everything I needed for the race.

I don't leave things to chance in the morning because I know my head is thinking about other things, like the race.

Race morning
Walked over to grant park around 6:15 from my place and went straight for the BOA access area. If you had a BOA account the people at the boa booth at the expo gave you a couple of rubber wristbands to access the area and a nice steel water bottle. there was NO ONE in this area pre race. OMG! Best decision ever!!

The port o let line in the BOA area 30 minutes before the race. It. Was. Awesome!!!! (and free!)
Then we headed to the corral to get our spot near the 3:50 group.

We waited for the start. And I was sad I left my iPod at home by accident :(

I was pretty anxious because my training was sidelined by an injury the first weeks of training and i wasn't sure what exactly was going to happen in the later miles, in the warmer than (my) ideal temps, and what my legs had in them to give for the day.

The first 5 miles I stayed with my dad and the 3:50 group. Then I started trailing little by little until they were out of sight. I was having some side stitch issues. WTF!?! And that was causing me to slow a little too. I'm used to running half marathons at a faster pace than 8:46 and haven't experienced that before. Can't figure out why it was happening so early in the race.

Miles 6-12 I was averaging sub 9/ slightly over 9 minute miles. By this time because of all the water i was dumping on my head and neck to stay cool, my shoes were getting wet and consequently causing my feet to feel as if there were blisters on the bottom of every toe and the ball of my foot. Not good.

Got to the half in 1:57

(cool pace tattoo!!)
The next 10 miles ranged from 9:14 to 10:40. The side stitch problem and the blisters did not help, and welcome the new addition: right hip pain. I believe this started around mile 15. It was a dull ache in the butt part of the hip. Not fun. Never had this problem before. And currently 7 hours post race, it's gone. As my best friend said to me tonight, I might have been altering my stride because of the one and only blister on my right small toe (massive blister on the bottom of it)

During the miles 14-24 I reflected on my training,feelings from other races, and the fear (through the 14-18 miles) of what would happen during the last 4.5 miles of the race. Again, my longest runs topped out at 15 miles this cycle, but pretty much after all my "long" days, I'd go for a decent paced run the next day of at least 5 miles. I was confident I'd make it to 22ish miles before hitting the wall..

My splits for 22-26.2:
22- 9:24
23- 9:57
24- 9:47
25- 9:26
26- 9.02
.2- 1:45 (7:41 pace)

I kept waiting for when id crash into the wall, but it never happened. I started walking for about 20 seconds through the water stations during the last 10 miles because I inhaled Gatorade and water up my nose too many times to count.

When I was getting towards the last 2 miles I started pushing more and more. I must have passed 356 people in the last 4 miles. It seemed like 75% of the people around me were walking during this time. I motored up the small hill about 800 meters from the finish and passed more people. Then it was a straight shot through a loud awesome mass of spectators to the finish. I ran as fast as I could at this point to beat the clock from going to the next minute.

Once I finished, I turned my phone back on so I could get the txt updates with my time and my dads. When the txt came with his finishing time I was shocked! He ran a 3:45 and got a BQ -9 minutes!!! He said he felt really good and just took off from the pace group. Considering his marathon training was about 6 weeks long (he had been focusing on 5ks during the hot FL summer before he won the chicago marathon entry from Arctic Ease) this was an amazing accomplishment!!

Some thoughts:
-this was my first Chicago and it was amazing! I just wish the weather would be more predictable this time of year. Especially when you have to register in February.

- I got tripped in the first quarter mile of the race. (luckily i was caught) It is still tightly packed with runners during the first few miles until things thin out. I released a tirade of curse words at the person. Seriously? Is cutting through people so early in the course worth it? News flash: hey dumb-ass Jerk, you aren't going to win, so dont endanger the safety of the other runners. I saw at least 2 other people tripped because of the same reason.

- it was nice running through all the neighborhoods that make up Chicago. From lady gaga drag queens in boystown, to a Korean drum line, to Chinese dragons, to live bands and cheerleaders, the course was not short on entertainment and neighborhood flavor.

- the crowds were awesome! I didn't miss my headphones because there wasn't really a spot devoid of spectators during the entire race.

- the volunteers were great. Smiling faces and words of encouragement. So awesome.

-the wall of cheers during the last .25 mile. Fabulous!

What I learned
-to trust myself and my training

-a gu w/caffeine and a salt tab every 5 miles works really well for me. (along with drinking at nearly all aid stations and dumping water and sponges on my head and neck)

- that the temperature was not as bad as I thought it would be. Start was around 58, for my finish it was in the low 70's. Low humidity rocks!

-I need to do more strength and core training.

-overall I'd call it a HUGE success even though I really wanted to break 4. This race felt right and everything fell into place. And I didn't bonk. :)

Big congrats to everyone who ran it out today in less than ideal conditions. You all seriously have some major guts!

And thanks to Running Nina for spectating and adding my name to an awesome poster- which I spotted in the crowd at mile 2!!



  1. CONGRATS on your marathon!

    It sounds like you had some extra gas in the tank at the end and you were seriously prepared for this race. So excited for your new PR, that's amazing that you took 15 minutes off your last marathon time. And your father did a great job, glad that he qualified for Boson!

    Good advice on the core training, I will try to do more of that before my marathon next month.

    Anyway, SO PROUD of you!

  2. you and your dad both had amazing races! Congrats, so happy for ya! Funny how marathons seem to bring out strange new pains!! I'm obsessed with running Chicago next year!

  3. Congrats on your PR!!!! That is so awesome! Chicago puts on a great race. I hope to get back there sometime in the near future.

  4. Great job on a PR! Bummer about the issues you had to deal with (blister, side stitch, hip pain) I heard it was a little warmer than ideal for the race so glad to hear to did so well! I was thinking about you yesterday!

  5. Congrats! I am so happy for you and have been eagerly awaiting a race recap! There's nothing quite like our city, right??? Congrats on the PR!

  6. I knew you were going to rock chicago!!! CONGRATS!!!!!

  7. Congrats on the PR! That is awesome! Your Dad killed it on the course, that is really exciting.

    Sorry to hear about all the discomfort you were having :(. Something really weird and painful was going on with my hip during the race too, glad to hear that your pain subsided. Mine hasn't yet, it actually is worse today and I can barely walk. Fingers crossed that it is just post race soreness.

    So again awesome job, so much for you to be proud of!

  8. Congrats! That's awesome! I love the pace tat!

  9. you rock rock rock! nice job and congrats on the PR. good idea with the salt tabs...I gotta try that!

  10. Congrats on the PR!!!! A 15 minute PR is gigantic!!! And congrats to your Dad too, that is awesome!

    Glad that you got to use an pre race area mostly to yourself, I know how useful that can be having bathrooms to yourself.

    That pace tat is seriously awesome, way easier than having to carry a pace band on your wrist the whole time! I wish every race would do that.

    Bummer to hear about your minor injuries during the race, it wouldn't surprise me if your stride was thrown off a little by that blister.

    Overall though it sounds like you ran almost a perfect race! Blowing by people near the end must have felt great. In some respect I feel like I was living my Chicago marathon experience through you, so I'm glad that it went well.

    And I loved your pictures from the expo, meeting Hal Higdon would be awesome - I followed his plan for the only marathon I've done so far. Enjoy the post marathon glow!

    I did wish I could have done San Jose half this year, the weather was perfect again like last year (maybe just a tad bit warmer). Hopefully I'll be able to do it next year.

  11. Congrats on the maja PR!!! Chicago puts on such an amazing event and that's so cool that BOA did that for account holders!!! I hope you're still floating on cloud 9!!!

  12. WOW...awesome job! PR in that heat and crowded rock! Glad you enjoyed the experience and enjoy a week of relaxation, you deserve it!

  13. Congrats to you xaar, and your dad too! I'm glad you spotted me, I wish I had spotted you sooner!

  14. I know this is late, but I just read it. Anyway... THIS IS AMAZING. You did awesome and I really, really enjoyed your reacap!