2014 Chicago Marathon

Well, the marathon has come, so it’s time for a race report!  Leading up to race week I was nursing a foot injury which caused me to reduce my overall mileage, but I typically was holding Marathon Pace in my workouts, it just felt harder than I liked.

I had a lot of factors going into Chicago that added some extra challenges… I moved across the country near the start of the cycle, causing me to redesign my original 16 week plan to a 12 week plan and reduced my overall mileage to 55 per week max from 70 per week max. I knew this might factor in at some point, but after some training and Marathon pace runs I felt confident in my ability.


As the marathon got closer I was offered a chance to participate in a relay, it was around 4-5 weeks out from the marathon and it was either I do the relay or run a half marathon. In hindsight I should of run the half marathon to properly gauge my fitness level.  Either way, I had fun in the relay and got to push my pace up some mountains, but nothing like that existed in Chicago so the run was not the best “practice” for the marathon.

I decided I needed a proper tune up race so I decided to run a last minute 7 mile trail run, the salem lake trail series. I wanted to see what I could do, but again my foot was hurting, specifically my right foot and it seemed like a pulled tendon. I wrapped it in KT tape and went for it. I ended up finishing the 7 miler in 49:09, I didn’t go “all out” but I went hard enough to realize my fitness was set for my 3:05 goal. After some analysis I decided to scale back my goal to 3:10 giving me an extra 15 seconds per mile of slower speed.  Did a few practice runs at this new pace and it seemed appropriate. After all, I was training for running a sub 7 most of the cycle so giving myself an extra 15-25 seconds per mile was big. But I still had a lingering doubt in my head that I could run even that fast for a whole 26.2.


Come race week I decided to taper harder than usual, I still ran during the week and did some tempo work, but I only ran 3 days in the week leading up the race. I also ran the day before the race, (only 3 easy miles) but still nothing I have done before.


Getting set for the shake out run!

After an awful airport delay of 2.5 hours I got into Chicago a lot later than I wanted, and I was not able to eat the proper meal I wanted (had to settle for a turkey sandwich, over the pasta I planned for). Finally hit the sack, again later than I wanted and got up feeling pretty tired. But went for an easy 3 miler with my Dad. Hit up the expo  with my parents and spent entirely too long there, I couldn’t resist myself! I was a kid in a candy store. =)


I was able to get my traditional pre-marathon meal of Noodles and Co.  Oh so good. Got back to the hotel, again feeling exhausted. I knew this wasn’t really a good sign. You should refreshed and restless the night before the marathon, not exhausted.  I laid out my clothes, but noticed there were no pins included with my bib or packet.  BIG FAIL CHICAGO! My dad was nice enough to run and grab some safety pins from CVS near the hotel, then they went back home and left me in the city.   I hit the sack hard, exhausted and ready for sleep.  I wake up at 4am without an alarm and proceed to get ready for the race. I felt pretty awake in the morning and not hungry. I forced myself to eat a bagel with peanut butter and a banana. Take a shower and head out the door.


Holy crap, the amount of people this marathon had was insane! I mean there was people on top of people, just unbelievable! I was suppose to meet my training buddy Chuck at the corner of Jackson, but after waiting for a couple minutes I realized he probably thought the same thing I did, there is no way we will find each other! We both were gunning for 3:10 after some discussion to modify our goals a bit. After waiting in a big line to get into Grant Park and past security I wait in the bag check line and then go to my start corral, huge lines in the porter potties prevented me from actually using them…. so I had to improvise and tried my best to use the cover of the trees, much the same as hundreds of 0ther male runners.


Found Chuck in the start corral and the national anthem proceeded to go off. I shedded my extra layers right away as it wasn’t even really cold. We were right behind the 3:10 pacer in Corral B and I figured this would be a good spot for us, the first 3 miles were notorious for wonky GPS signals so I figured the pace group would help contain us from going out too fast.  and BAM we are off! This was the first race were people actually started to run BEFORE they crossed the start line… it was kind of odd.

Mile 1: 7:33 (GPS wonky) –I felt like I was moving EXTREMELY fast this mile. I kept telling myself stay with the pace group, stay with the group but it felt uncomfortable for sure.

Mile 2: 7:15 (GPS wonky) –Riding on Chuck’s heels and maintaining pace, I didn’t even realize we ran 2 miles already.

Mile 3: 7:37 (GPS wonky) — 21:04 is what the race clock read at mile 3, which meant we were 40 seconds AHEAD of pace. I caught up to Chuck to inform him but he didn’t seem to mind and proceeded on, I grunted and proceeded to follow the pace group. Since I was going faster than I wanted I proceeded to take my first blok here.

Mile 4: 7:07 — A blur of inconsistent breathing. and feeling like crap.

Mile 5:  7:16 — Same as 4.

Mile 6: 7:13 — Okay we seem to be on pace again, the race clocks and my watch is messing with my head, but I figure the pace group knows what they are doing.

Mile 7: 7:13 — I take another blok here, or at least I think I did. I was already too tired to remember if I took a blok here or not since I usually take them 4 miles apart. I realized this wasn’t a good thing at all and proceeded to notch the speed down a bit, while keeping the 3:10s in sight.


Mile 8: 7:10 — Still keeping the 3:10s in sight I get a little boost from the crowds during this mile. Very loud and very happy to see us runners.

Mile 9: 7:19 — Yup, starting to feel tired here,  I wonder to myself what’s going on as I trained so hard and for a goal faster than this. Why can’t I keep up with the 3:10s? I think I took another blok here. (remainder to future self… STICK to nutrition plan! Blok every 4 miles!)

Mile 10: 7:26 — Judgement time, this is where the mental battle took place in my head. I could crash and burn horribly and keep trying to muster the energy to keep up wit the 3:10’s or I could just fall back into a comfortable pace and finish the race within a reasonable goal of say sub 3:20.

Mile 11: 7:27 — I made the decision to fall back into a comfortable pace and let the 3:10’s go. The only problem is this “comfortable” pace was VERY hard to maintain.. this is not good.  I see my parents and my brother, shortly after I make the decision, this was hard mentally because they were cheering me on to go faster, and here I am admitting defeat. I was very happy to see them, but I felt as if I was letting them down.

Mile 12: 7:40 — Again suffering through this one.


Mile 13: 7:19 — I got a little boost from seeing the half marathon marker. And since the 3:15’s haven’t passed me yet I still felt confident.

Mile 14: 7:10 — Still feeling okay, though pretty tired now.

Mile 15: 7:52 — All hell breaks loose, whatever I thought I had I absolutely lost it after mile 14.  It’s as if the tank was running on empty since the start of the race.

Mile 16: 8:22 — I decide to walk through a water station, something I don’t usually do unless I am really hurting. I see the 3:15 group pass by and realize my shot at running CIM in December is shot, along with my guranteed entry into Chicago next year.

Mile 17: 8:13  — I just lost my motivation to run hard at this point, with no promise of getting into another race I felt as if I had nothing left to run for. I then thought if I hold onto a 8ish pace I could probably still PR.

Mile 18: 8:01 — Maintaining this pace is hard. and about here is when my ankle felt like it was going to explode. Literally. I started to limp run.

Mile 19: 8:10 — I couldn’t focus, partly because I dumped water on my head and my headphones broke at this point. Great. No music, no rhythm, no A or B goal. My confidence was slowly fading.


Mile 20: 8:19 — Yup, being passed by everyone at this stage in the marathon is quite frustrating. I knew I was better than this… But low and behold only 6 miles to go.

Mile 21: 8:25 — Walking through the water stations is costing me about 10-15 secs per mile, but my ankle feels relieved I am doing this. I remember some spectator screaming… ALMOST THERE! You can do it! I literally laughed and grunted… shut… up.. The runners nearby started laughing.

Mile 22: 8:16 — I do some math at this point. I could still PR if I hold the 8ish pace. Only a few more miles. I see the 320’s pass me.

Mile 23: 9:01  — After one final push my body gives up, mentally I give up, and when I see my family this time around I tell them “I’m done”. I ask for some water and start walking. for a good 20 secs. This is the point of the race where i realize I won’t PR. So I make a judgement call and start to try and enjoy the race.

Mile 24: 9:31 — I listen for the crowds and try to cheer them to on to cheer louder for my fellow runners.  I know I won’t PR today but the person next to me, or who just passed me might. They need the support and ill try and do what I can. I see the 3:25 pace group go by. The pacers are cheering on their runners, telling them whats ahead. Asking if they need water. I could tag along if I wanted, but I figured I would hang back and treat the rest of the rest as a cooldown.

Mile 25: 8:55 — 1 more to go. I tell myself, finish under 3:30.

Mile 26: 9:07 — A long straightaway, I see this big monitor ahead and realize the finish is close!

Last .45 (extra miles!) 8:27 — We turn down “Mount Roosevelt” and I say all the hill repeats and training I have done this cycle, this is a cake walk. I power up the hill passing a good chunk of people, but then slow down when its flat again, only to speed up for the final chute. Running in I see 3:29 something.

Final Time:

 3:28:48  —

When I got into the chute…No tears. Just pain and regret. I made a rookie mistake and it cost me a pr. But then I was reminded of what my mom said. I just can’t believe you are running another marathon! That’s amazing. She’s right I did just finish my 7th. And as my fiance told me, make sure you have fun. I made it a point to thank all the volunteers as I walked by. Then something happened when they put the medal around my neck and said congratulations I started to tear up.

I felt accomplished and proud at that point. And ready to get back on the horse. Then this guy put his arm on my shoulder and said… “You don’t mind do you?” No not all. He was afraid he was going to collapse so he used me as support. Told me last year he came in and they put him in a wheelchair and took him to the med tent because he was wobbly. I said congratulations and asked how he did. He said he PRed! I said congratulations again and told him to enjoy this moment, and he told me congratulations on finishing another marathon and went on his way.

This moment, really hit me hard. I felt like I was where I needed to be at that time. Ya I could of mustered a little more and finished faster, but i held back and enjoyed the last few miles. This guy who is pushing for all he has comes in and uses me as support. Just made my day. I’m glad I could help him and I’m glad I was there in Chicago that day to run a great marathon with some great volunteers and some fantastic cheering spectators.

Yes, I didn’t qualify for Boston or meet any of my goals but it was a humbling experience and instead of shooting for the stars I plan on taking a step back and pushing for slow and gradual goals. I want to enjoy the moment as much possible when I qualify for Boston. Even if it takes a few more marathons to get there.


Splits as follows.


Split Time Of Day Time Diff min/mile miles/h
05K 07:53:55AM 00:22:20 22:20 07:11 8.35
10K 08:16:36AM 00:45:00 22:40 07:18 8.22
15K 08:39:28AM 01:07:52 22:52 07:22 8.15
20K 09:03:21AM 01:31:46 23:54 07:42 7.80
HALF 09:08:31AM 01:36:56 05:10 07:35 7.92
25K 09:28:08AM 01:56:32 19:36 08:05 7.42
30K 09:53:31AM 02:21:56 25:24 08:11 7.34
35K 10:19:45AM 02:48:09 26:13 08:27 7.11
40K 10:48:22AM 03:16:46 28:37 09:13 6.52
Finish 11:00:24AM 03:28:48 12:02 08:50 6.81



My Brother made it out!


The parents and me after the race.

Looking at the results you can see the gradual fade from the start to the finish. Complete opposite of what I wanted to do. We all need  that blow up death march marathon, I just had mine.

Up next… a revenge marathon in Richmond on November 15th, I plan on shooting for a more realistic easier goal, this being dependent on my recovery time. Then a possible half marathon in December where I might be a pacer.

Until next year Boston, where I will try yet again.


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3 Responses

  1. Mark Wrightson says:

    Great report.

  2. Donna Wrightson says:

    Excellent race report– So happy we were able to share this with you:)

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