Hard to believe I ran this marathon 4 years ago… But here I was ready to run it again. Training was not as dedicated this around and often I would run a little slower here and there, or miss a mile here or there. But I got all of my key workouts in. Only issue is I moved across the country again. No more North Carolina, now I am back near my home-town in the Chicago suburbs… Welcome to flatville. No hills to be found, unless you go out of your way to Barrington so training or prepping for hills was not ideal. I lost my training partners in North Carolina, but i was able to find new ones with CARA and FASTTRACK. Fast forward a few months to marathon weekend. Drive up north and my parents come along to cheer me on. My wife couldn’t join because of work, but her sister and husband were there for support and a free place to stay =).
Marathon morning is pretty similar to the usual, i ate half a bagel with peanut butter, half a banana, half a banana nut muffin and orange juice. Wasn’t really hungry in the morning, but i did pack up the leftovers and ate the rest of the bagel while waiting for the race start.
I got dropped off by my sister and brother in law and hit up the porta potty first, then found a nice dry spot to sit and proceeded to wait 40 minutes, listening to tunes, and trying to relax. Got up 15 minutes prior to start to look for a bathroom… except this time the lines were way too long. Marathons NEVER have enough porta potties, i don’t get why it’s so hard to get extra? Found a nice secluded spot near a tree and then went over to the race start.
The goal for this was originally 3:10, however a sub par half marathon made my change it to 3:15, aka just breaking the PR mark for 3:16:21. I felt comfortable running paces of 7:40s for long durations, cutting 20 seconds off that shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Especially with my base.
I pushed my way forward and lined up near the 3:15 pace group. And we are off!
Mile 1: 7:37
Mile 2: 7:35
Mile 3: 7:16
Mile 4: 7:20 – blok here
The first few miles i was trying to relax and take it easy on purpose, I wanted to start slow and gradually progress into this race and I executed it perfectly. For some reason the 3:25 pace group was right next to me and passing me all the way until the end of mile 4, when i finally got ahead and was gaining ground on the 3:15 group. I think the 3:25 pace group was going a bit fast in the early miles, and I remember them substantially slowing down when i passed them.
Mile 5: 7:25
Mile 6: 7:23 – Salt tab here
Mile 7: 7:22
Mile 8: 7:21- another blok here
Settling into race pace now, every mile was a bit faster then the previous as I was trying to gain on the 3:15 group. It was mostly flat through here and I was feeling great. Got to wave to my parents around mile 7. Funny to see their Frankenstein head poster. I will say the crowd support in this race is phenomenal. Lots of yelling people pretty much every intersection, and even in some rainy portions, they were still out there. Taking my bloks was a bit of a challenge because the water stations were not lined up on even miles, so i had to take them and wait a mile until i could wash my mouth out.
Mile 9: 7:33
Mile 10: 7:23
Mile 11: 7:23
Mile 12: 7:34 – Blok here
Started to feel the temperature in these miles. It was getting warmer and the humidity was near 100%. I was still feeling enough energy to push through but it was in the back of my mind and I was trying extra hard to cool down, taking water and dumping it down my back and head. I missed the opportunity to grab something cold from my parents so I knew i was on my own for a while.
Mile 13: 7:30 – Salt tab i think around here.
Mile 14: 7:32 –
Mile 15: 7:27
Mile 16: 7:36 -blok
The miles and location started to play tricks on me here. I had run part of the course a couple weeks ago and I remember the water being on the right side of the road and I kept on seeing it on the left, it was a weird feeling.. Like i was lost on the course i know. I kept expecting to run around the river but i was still at the Lake. This was the first sign of trouble. In a marathon your mind starts playing tricks on you and you start losing focus, around mile 16 is when i noticed it started to happen. I felt so hot, and could not cool down. I remember noting the mile markers were EXTREMELY off the last few miles and the rest of the race. One of them was off by about .20 miles which really threw off my timing.
Mile 17: 7:35
Mile 18: 8:11 — Caff pill
Mile 19: 8:13
Mile 20: 8:43
And… crash. I start to fall hard, I was burning up at this point and could not stay cool. Luckily i grabbed a towel from my dad and it helped a little, but i was so tired at this point that holding onto this towel was not ideal, so I dumped it after a mile. I also remember my legs hurting, which I have NEVER experienced before in a marathon (except for one I ran on without enough recovery). This was a new experience for me, and due to where I was in the race and the fact that the PR was out of the question, I made a judgement call and proceeded to walk the aid stations and slow down. Brooks was doing a promotion at this race that if you ran Mile 21-22 faster then the average time of the previous miles they would give you a brand new pair of their running shoes, the Infinite. I figured i’d slow down and get a pair of running shoes of this, since a PR was not going to happen.
Mile 21: 9:16 — Yup I walked a lot of this mile and slowed to a crawl as I approached the “shoe mile”
Mile 22: 7:58 — The mile marker being off makes this look like i ran it slower, then i actually did.
Mile 23: 9:14 – that hurt.
Mile 24: 9:53 – that REALLY hurt.
So before the shoe mile i slowed down, got myself ready and proceeded to treat it like a tempo/surge mile. I had done a ton of these on tired legs, and i was here a couple weeks ago doing the same thing on these exact hills. I knew I could burn through this mile, but holy crap did it hurt. I wasn’t the only one doing this as there was a group of 4-5 of us chugging up the hill blazing past people. It was refreshing to run fast again and at one point I thought if only if i could hold this pace for another 4 miles. But I did the math and realized even if I did the PR was still out of the question, so it wasn’t worth killing myself for. I decided to run this mile hard and take the rest of the race easy.
Mile 25: 9:53
Mile 26: 8:36
last bit: 6:56
Walk, run, walk run for all of Mile 25, no motivation at this point. There was a group giving free beer around Mile 25, grabbed it drank it, loved it and proceeded to run a lot faster. Though 8:36 isn’t fast it was faster then the walk/run i was doing. Those familiar with the course know once you see the church, you have nothing left to run, I realized if i didn’t I had a chance of actually finishing slower then the first time i ran this race 4 years ago. Okay, lets get under 3:30 at least.
Come on in and finish. That hurt. Look at the video and you can see my pain.
It was great to have my parents out for another one of my marathons and to have the support of my sister and brother in law. The support from the crowds in Minnesota was great as it was last time. The course was beautiful, the hills not so much, but honestly they didn’t bother me as much. The biggest issue I had was me. Analyzing what i could of done better race day, i think the only other option would of been to forget the PR and go for a sub 3:20. If i didn’t surge the “Shoe mile” I could of gotten a 3:25 time, but to me a PR was more important. and free shoes sounded like a nice bonus. Hoping that actually happens… =/
What can i improve?
-No more loosely following training plans. Either you commit to a plan or you don’t run a marathon.
-Tempos, Tempos, Tempos. You need to run faster and at longer durations. Add 2 tempo runs per week during your next training cycle to really amp up the intensity. And get your body used to running at sustained paces.
-Hill work, Chicago sucks for hills, so plan in more hill workouts in Barrington.
-Mental focus, do a few long runs solo to really learn the mental focus for the later miles. It’s great to run a in a group, but when it comes to race day you are ALWAYS by yourself.
Thanks as always to my family and friends for supporting me and my crazy marathon running. I will keep working towards that PR and eventually a BQ.