Earlier this year I was looking for motivation and decided to enter me and my wife in the Chicago Marathon lottery. This race has always been on our bucket list and I was sure that if we were picked we would be highly motivated to train for this event. As luck would have it at the end of April we were both selected to run. Great news!
Fast forward five months and unfortunately the summer training did not go as planned. I never stopped running but never seemed to be able to ramp up my mileage to marathon training levels. I was only able to get a couple of 16 mile runs completed and had a terrible 15 mile “long” run 2 weeks before Chicago. Other than that I basically did four workouts of 5-6 miles each week. Not even close to enough training. In addition part of my goal was to eliminate the 15 pounds I have gained since my Ironman finish in 2012. I knew this was essential to running a successful marathon. Unfortunately I did not accomplish this goal either.
I arrived in Chicago last weekend under trained and overweight. My last hope was that experience would get me through the event. Chicago would be my 10th marathon. At the end of the day it was only a marathon, right?
Obviously I didn’t take my training seriously enough and I continued this trend in my pre-race preparations. After picking up my race packet on Saturday, I visited several Chicago establishments and enjoyed Shepard’s pie, spaghetti and meatballs, and a 6 pack of beer. Carbo loading at its finest! I did get to bed early and was ready to go.
Race morning I woke feeling great and again was counting on my experience to carry me through. I really was not nervous at all. Getting to the start line in Chicago was chaotic. If you run in this event make sure you leave early. It took forever shuffle stepping with thousands of other runners to get into your assigned corral. I got to the gate to enter the corrals for Wave 1 and it took me almost 30 minutes to get into Corral B. Here is a little tip…I was in corral B and there were about 25 open porta potties just outside the corral. Next time just wait until you get to your corral to take advantage of one last comfort stop.
The race started and I was ready to go. Weather was almost perfect (maybe a little warm) and I decided to bring nothing to the event. No watch, no fuel belt, no phone.
If I wasn’t going to attempt to break my PR why bring a watch?
Fuel belt? There would be plenty of aid stations.
Phone? Why? I guess I could have taken pictures but didn’t want to risk dropping it.
I ran by feel for the first 10 miles and really couldn’t figure out my time due to a lengthy stagger before I crossed the start line due to the crowds. I was feeling OK until about mile 11 when my legs started to complain a bit. I knew this was a bad sign. I ran the first half in 1:53 which was probably a good marathon pace for me but unfortunately my legs were starting to feel dead. Based on my training, I was really only good for about 13-16 miles and that reality was hitting home. I started walking soon after mile 16. At around mile 18 I felt someone pat my butt, looked to my left, and saw my wife. She had started in Corral D and had caught up to me. Ouch! We walked together for about a minute and then she ran ahead. My legs were dead and it took a big effort to walk/run the last 8 miles. The crowds were awesome and definitely helped as I trudged along the streets of Chicago.
I did do something I have never done during a marathon. At around mile 21 I heard someone yelling, “Anyone want a beer”! My ears perked up and I saw a few guys offering runners Dixie cups filled with ice cold PBR. I helped myself to two cups and continued on my way. Thanks guys! A marathon is a long way! I finished the race in 4:49:59. My slowest marathon to date. My wife finished in 4:19.
Excuses? Yes, I have plenty but I am a true believer that if you really want to do something you can find a way to get it done. I basically have been enjoying life and couldn’t fully commit to marathon training. I am still happy I completed the event and was able to experience the Chicago Marathon. Crazy as it sounds I still finished around the middle of the pack. Approximately 20,000 people finished after me. Wow!
As I write this post I am severely sore and probably will not be able to run for at least a week to ten days. The marathon distance must be respected. It is a long way!
What’s next? If I can ever get serious again I may enter another challenging event in 2016. I have a couple ideas but still trying to figure a few things out. In case it isn’t obvious, experience will only get you so far. You can “fake” your way through 5k/10k or maybe even a half marathon but more than that and lack of training will really show.