Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chicago Marathon - Part 2 - Is it August or October?

I checked the weather on the walk to the start, which was probably not smart. It was already in the mid 60's with 82% humidity. This would be lovely, except for that fact that I run my best in the low 50's with some rain. I immediately pushed the Africa hot thoughts out of my head and focused on the task at hand.

Note: Not a cloud in the sky..

As we began running, my Garmin kept losing signal. I'm sure it was because we were winding through the city, but had I been running soley on pace alone, I would've been freaking out. Instead I just focused on my heart rate numbers and my perceived level of effort. I tried not to elbow my way through the crowd, or expend too much energy weaving around the other runners. I knew it would thin out, I just needed to be patient.

Oh, and I needed to pee! Bad. I mentioned this to Kristina at the start, and thought it would go away when I started running. It didn't. I had to make a decision - let it flow, or stop at a port-a-potty? I've peed myself plenty in previous marathons, but they've been rainy races making it easy to hide. I tried to just pee anyway, but I couldn't do it. Dammit!! Since when does MY bladder get stage fright??! I was so uncomfortable. My bladder made it to Mile 5, and then I gave in - I ran to the side of the road and peed. It was the quickest, messiest pee of my entire life because I was so worried about getting started again. Done and done - man did I feel SO much better afterwards! Looking at my data, it cost me about 50-60 seconds, so not awful I 'spose. I need to work on the bladder stage fright though..

After the pee-fest, I settled in at my prescribed heart rate, and the miles were coming decently easily. I knew the pace would be harder to hold as the miles ticked by, and the heat rose, so I just just focused on one mile at a time. The water stops were a full block in length, so I made sure to take some at every station, and also dumped a cup over my head to stay as cool as possible. It was getting so damn hot.

I managed to get through the first half at a pace that had me wanting a sub-4 bad. I know, who aims for 20 minutes off their PR right? But given the state my body is in, it would have been a huge win for me mentally. Yet, I needed to stick to the plan. How would I get the data I was looking to get fast moving forward, if I didn't stick to the plan? It was about this point in the day that I 100% fully committed to the plan, no matter what the pace on my watch said. Besides, this is the first marathon in forever that I didn't go out like such an idiot that I was left hanging on for dear life from mile 13 onward. I started doing fuzzy marathon math, and knowing that I had a little over 2 hours to run the back half of the marathon and score a sub-4. I also felt the heat rising, and my legs slowing. I tried to stay positive, put my head down, and focus.

My heart rate really started to creep up around mile 15 - I knew I needed to be careful, or I was going to be doing the death march that last 10K. I backed off the pace, which was extremely hard for me. I knew if I pushed, I could make it to mile 20 at a decent clip before completely blowing up. Yet, I had committed - so I slowed. I think I was visibly sulking when I slowed down- I definitely let out a giant sigh. I stopped looking at pace at that point because it was just making me upset. Holding a decently high heart rate, yet watching my pace slow significantly every mile just served as a reminder of how my body hasn't completely recovered from the summer's nightmare training.

Running while behaving had it's positives - I ran by mile 18 without questioning whether or not I would finish. I passed a TON of people in the high teen miles, just because I was moving/shuffling in a forward direction. I was able to high five little kids, and fist pump a little to get the crowds fired up. I was the least grouchy I've ever been during a marathon on Sunday, which was a nice change.

Chinatown - Mile 21.. Still Smiling..

I kept catching glances of pace on my Garmin, and it just sucked. I had been passed by the 3:45, 3:50, and 3:55 pace groups at this point, and that was wearing on me. I belong in front of ALL those groups, yet here I was, hoping to eek out a sub-4.  Again. And when glancing down at my watch at mile 25, I knew that unless I threw down a 5-6ish minute mile, I wasn't breaking 4 hours. I just couldn't channel my inner Kenyan enough to pull that off.

Here's the crazy thing about the Chicago course - it's pancake flat, EXCEPT a hill at mile 26. No, really. Is it a big hill? Nope, not really. But after running 26 miles of flat, flat, flat, it's cruel. I can around the corner, saw the hill, and just laughed. I don't think anyone around me saw the humor in marching up a hill after beating your body for 26 miles. I charged up the hill like the bad ass I am, and through to the finish. Marathon #10, in the books.

Up next.. Post-Race Feelings...


  1. Awesome time girl! You held it together and pulled it off! A hill at the end?? Anything that isn't flat at the end is a killer! Good Job!!

  2. chicago is a tough course! awesome race, my friend!

  3. Awesome reports here! Love the pics and the write up. Congrats! Great to find you! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Congrats on a great race! I hate to run when it is hot too and anything over 65ish is a hot run in my opinion. I also agree that a hill at the end of a marathon is so mean!! Great job on the race!!

  5. Great job Meaghan. What a hot day to be running a marathon, I feel badly complaining about the heat of my recent half now. I really don't think I could have peed my pants either since I imagine that would be quite uncomfortable. Only scenario I could see myself doing that for is if I was trying to BQ.

  6. Congratulations - awesome race time! Funny, I don't think I had ever realized the Chicago race was flat (well, except for that hill...) It is definitely on my "must do" list.

  7. It was a hot day out there! You did awesome. 10th marathon huh? You go girl!!!

  8. You're totally right. That last hill comes out of nowhere and you want to scream WTF?! Even though it's flat, it's still the heat that get's to you. Great job hanging in there and I know that 2012 is going to be exactly as you described it. Now go get it!

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