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...