Marathon day!!!!!!!!!! (Sunday October 7th)
I didn’t have the best of sleep but managed to get around 6 hours in before waking just before my 5am alarm, that is one good thing of the jet lag, these early morning race starts just don’t feel as early.
I had two pots of my porridge, got my kit on and packed my race nutrition. I was taking a 500ml bottle of SiS Energy electrolytes to drink before the start, another 500ml bottle to carry with me for the first 10k and I had a SiS Caffeine shot to take 20 mins before the start of the race. My race nutrition was SiS Go Energy gels which I planned on taking every 4 miles (30 mins @ 7:30). I was going to use the water on course but not the Gatorade Endurance sports drink as I had not tried this during training. I did take this during the NYC marathon last year and had a dodgy stomach towards the end of the race so I thought I would steer clear this time and see how it goes. This is why I was taking the 500ml bottle with me for the first 10k.
Like the past two days, it had been raining early on but had stopped when I started to walk to the start. I met up with my friend Phil @phil1980scott again after gear check and we chatted for 20 minutes. This helped to take the pre-race nerves away.
The queue getting to my corral was really busy and I got there 5 mins before they closed the corrals. I had wanted to go to the toilet one last time before but it was a case of I either go to the toilet or drop to the back of wave 1. I didn’t really need to go so I thought I would scrap that idea.
Mile 1 – 6: 7:24, 6:59, 6:50, 7:07, 7:04, 7:19
When we got going I decided to run with the 3:15 pace group, I knew that GPS was going to be an issue for the first few miles and the pacer said he was using a stop watch to time the miles correct for 3:15. My goal was to run around 3:16 pace so a minute quicker across the distance shouldn’t be an issue. I was looking at 7:30 per mile.
As you can see from the splits for the first six miles, they were all over the place, rarely getting near to 7:30, however, my timing mat checkpoints at 5k & 10k were pretty much bang on so I wasn’t concerned by the timings my watch was throwing at me.
The first 6 miles went well, running through downtown Chicago was amazing, great support and the flat course was already starting to feel good.
Mile 7 – 13: 7:16, 7:16, 7:26, 7:29, 7:26, 7:23, 7:37
Again, mile 7 and 8 the GPS was way off, once we got to Lincoln Park I felt the GPS was looking better and began to pace for myself around the 7:30 mark. It was from mile 9 that the 3:15 pace group started pulling away from me. I had a choice to make, do I push a little harder and try to stick with the group and run together or drop back to my planned pace and undoubtably run by myself for the next 17 miles. I decided to run at the pace I knew I could manage and let them go. At the half way point we were back in the city again and GPS was off once again. I crossed the half marathon mat around 1 minute ahead of plan.
I was really pleased with how the first half had gone. Although GPS was out for most of it I had hit all of the timing mats around 1 minute ahead of plan and felt good and strong. I was starting to believe that I could actually run this under 3:20, but I was only half way and the half way point in a marathon is far to soon to start dreaming of your victory speech.
Mile 14 – 21: 6:36, 8:10, 8:26, 9:12, 9:21, 8:31, 9:15, 10:06
Mile 14 I “ran” a 6:36…. well not really but it sounds good. It was at this point I started to get a stitch on the left side. I wasn’t concerned by this, I had experienced a stitch on long runs in training and knew how to deal with it. I took deep breathes and concentrated on my breathing for the rest of that mile. Towards the end of mile 15 I felt my calf suddenly tighten up with cramp. Again, something I had experienced a few months ago during the Wilmslow Half Marathon, that day I kept running as fast as I could which resulted in my missing four weeks of running. Mile 16 I stopped to try and stretch my calf out but I was still experiencing quite a lot of pain.
Again I had a choice, run / walk and hobble the next 10 miles to the finish line, giving up on my goal of a sub 3:20, a sub 3:30 and most likely beating my PB of 3:35 or I could take the easy option and walk to the next aid station and pull out. Anyone who is a runner will know that there was no choice to be made there, you get done what needs to be done to reach that finish line.
So I ran for 3/4’s of a mile and walked the remain 1/4. over and over again, it was slow, lots of people were coming past me but I was putting one foot in front of the other and getting closer to the finish.
Mile 22 – 26.2: 9:47, 10:10, 10:16, 9:34, 9:42, 8:03
The final 5 and a bit miles were tough, it was raining, with not running I felt cold, it felt lonely walking at the side of the road. Then at mile 25 I saw James @shoulder_runner so I hobbled my sorry ass over to him and he gave me a hug and told me to get a move on, seeing someone I knew gave me a lift and I went on my way jogging up the road. The final 0.7 miles I was determined to run a sub 8 minute mile but a slight bump towards the finish put pay to that small win too.
I crossed the finish line in 3:40.37 and felt so so disappointed with myself for not even getting close to a PB let alone the 3:16 that I was planning.
I collected my medal and felt a little happier once I saw it around my neck. That photo took a few attempts as the first two made me look such a miserable sod.
Miserable just like I look in my space blanket here. It was so nice to have that around me, warming me up. I had been shivering as I crossed the finish line.
I collected my bag changed out of my wet stuff and headed straight back to the hotel for a shower. I lay on the floor in my room for around half an hour just gutted at how the race had gone. Something that had promised so much at 13.1 miles ended in such disappointment.
After a few hours of moping around my room I thought I would head to the Nike store and get my medal engraved. I had planned on doing this to get my new PB engraved but a marathon finish is a marathon finish so off I went.
On the way out of the hotel I bumped into my mate Steve who had only arrived in town last night. He had ran the race and done really well despite the lack of sleep and a day of wasted travel.
After getting my medal engraved and bumping into the Running Guru in the queue I headed back to the hotel before having dinner with Steve to celebrate another marathon major ticked off the list.
It is tough to write a round up of this one, I had come into this race with such high expectations of myself and set an ambitious goal of running under 3:20 knocking over 15 minutes off my PB. I had done everything right in training and given myself the best possible chance of running well by arriving early. The whole summer had been geared towards running this one race. Then on the day it didn’t go to plan for whatever reason and I had missed my A goal – sub 3:20, my B goal – sub 3:30 and my C goal – run a PB.
I left Chicago wondering whether I would ever be able to run under 3 hours 30 mins. Had I been dreaming when I thought I could run under 3:20 and set off with a 3:15 pacer. Did I go off too fast? was my nutrition out? did my achilles affect my calf again? have I done enough strength work? I left with more questions and doubts than answers. I don’t know what went wrong but I have four weeks to figure that out and work on a plan to run the New York City marathon. Currently my only plan for New York is to just run the race and hope I finish under 4 hours. I hope my calf can recover enough to allow me to run it.