|The "Bean" -- so cool.|
I'd gotten over my cold. The data showed that I'd done a total of 592.97 miles in 18 weeks for an average weekly mileage of 33.2. Some of those miles were slow jogs, some were run walks, and some, especially early on, were walks. But I I'd given myself permission to do whatever I needed to do to get the mileage done during the 18 week cycle. When I looked at the volume I had completed despite my work, travel, and life obstacles, it was clear that my plan had worked. So, I felt confident that I had done a good job of getting myself at least halfway back to where I'd historically been and I knew the marathon was going to be fun since I didn't have the pressure of a time goal.
|Riverwalk across the river from the race hotel.|
Friday, I flew, worked, dealt with ORD delays (the ATC fire is still wreaking havoc), and ate room service/worked/slept at an airport hotel. Saturday, I woke, cabbed into town through the massive traffic jam of arriving folks, and checked in to my race hotel.
|Gigantic Expo at the McCormick Place|
|Obligatory Tourist experience? Us and several hundred other runners? Check.|
|It was almost a 2 hour wait for this bad boy. But it was worth it.|
|Such a gorgeous day for a marathon through the beautiful Chicago Skyline.|
|Somewhere in the middle of the race, below the "El" train.|
The weather was cool. Shade was abundant (thank you architectural high rises!). The crowd support was unlike anything I've ever encountered. It was so inspiring that I never even considered putting in my headphones. I just ran, occasionally checking my Garmin to ensure I wasn't going faster than I could handle. Despite my best efforts, I clocked 3 miles in the 9:50 range (and my goal was 10:15 - 10:40 with an assumption that 10:40 was closer to appropriate). What I did well, however, is that I walked through all the aid stations. I took in Water, Gatorade, and Gus as scheduled. My original plan had been to head out with the 4:40 pace group but I couldn't find then. I did, however, cross the half at 2:19:38 and felt the best I've ever felt at a half on a marathon course. Until, a few hundred meters later, as I slowed a bit after the half timing mat, I didn't. I realized that my left knee was *very* cranky.
|Underneath the bean.|
I pushed on a few more miles, but the pain was increasing. I pulled off at an aid station around mile 15. I saw an MD. We had a hilarious exchange:
Me: Hi. Ummm... my knee hurts and I'm wondering if I'm going to do any serious damage if I continue.
Doctor: Hard to say. Probably you already have. Have you injured this knee before?
Doctor: Do you want to injure it again?
Me: Ummm...No. (Making a bit of a face, as in Seriously???)
Him: Did you take anything for the pain today?
Me: I thought taking NSAIDS before long distance running was bad for your liver.
Him: It is. Did you?
Me: No. It didn't hurt before.
Him: But it hurts when I do this? (Doing the annoying thing he'd done earlier to establish some likelihood of injury.)
Me: Yes. (We already established this!)
Him: Well, you've got 11 more miles. Probably not a good idea. But, I guess we could give you some tylenol and ice and you could head out in half an hour.
Me: What? I'm not a professional runner. If I'm icing, doesn't that mean I'm pretty much done, as an amateur? Why would I take 30 minutes off in the middle of a marathon?
Him: You make a good point. You probably should be done. (Obviously not impressed with the average runner's response to his feedback.)
Me: Okay. So, if I drop out. What happens?
Him: We have vans. Ours isn't here right now. But it will come back and take you to the finish. I guess you could try to walk it off to the next medical aid station, it's only 3/4 of a mile. They have more vans...
Me: Okay, I'm gonna take that as a sign. [He shrugged.] (This is where I jogged slowly to the next medical aid station, which did have the benefit of getting me across the 25K mat, which was a nice consolation prize.)
In addition to the doctor's feedback (which confirmed for me that most runners are not very protective of their own bodies vis-a-vis running), I had a couple of additional thought-provoking moments.
A little past mile 7, I ran through some intense cheering into a silent zone. Cops were parting traffic and someone was doing chest compressions on a runner on the ground. Two runners near me as we ran by were obviously medical professionals as I heard them say, "Oh shit. Cardiac." And, "Should we stop?" And finally, "Looks like it's under control."
I was very pleased to later learn that he came to and was communicative at the hospital.
The second scare I had was being part of the medical tent and van of the wounded after I dropped out. Oh wow. In the second tent (which was a larger aid transfer station) most of those folks were in *horrid* shape. Pale. Complaining of heart palpitations. Puking. Shaking. Being evaluated for hospital transfers. (And it wasn't even that hot.). Me, I'd played it relatively safe. I was running very evenly and felt very confident that I could have finished somewhat on pace at the medium-hard, but not-super-hard pace I'd been keeping, which included walking fuel breaks every time there was an aid station.
So, overall, I'd like to say that despite DNFing, my Chicago weekend was a complete success. I was reminded that marathon running is my hobby. And that's it. It takes back seat to so many things in my life, and I'm totally okay with that.
|The Little Goat Diner|
But, it's still a great hobby even when I DNF, because I get to go to and learn about beautiful places, cheer on friends who also run, spend time with E, and eat some GREAT FOOD (huge thanks to F&P who did the behind the scenes efforts to get us food/reservations at Giordano's, Takashi & The Little Goat.) It's good to have diligent food-oriented friends!
|F&P are foodies.|
|Apparently Takashi Yagihashi is a big deal.|
|They found a Groupon (Chicago--Holla!) for Takashi.|
|So we did the 9 course omakase.|
|The fried course alone was worth it.|
|Embarrasingly, even post marathon, I couldn't finish the 7th course of pork belly.|
|(In my defense, I'd splurged on a post DNF cheeseburger and fries, but I could still put down this salmon.)|
|But, not this Udon dish. It was delicious, but too much for me.|
|Dessert was amazing in that I thought I was completely unable to eat anymore, but I was wrong 1+ bite of each, and it was worth it.|