Monday, October 23, 2006

Chicago Marathon Race Report

BLOG LOCATION UPDATE: Yes, we are back to my original blog location. Blogger Beta has worked out the kinks and will now accept non-beta posts. Please re-direct yourselves to this site going forward. Sorry for the back-and-forth motion!


Jen and I arrived at the Monroe St. Parking Garage at 6:15 AM. Meeting up with my friends Steve and Aaron proved to be more challenging than I initially expected. We tried to meet at Charity Village, but that was further from the start than I expected.

We finally found each other at the gear check and had to shuffle into the Preferred Start 1 zone pretty quickly around 7:45 AM.

The plan was for Aaron and I to run together and have Steve ditch us after Mile 1 to chase his sub-3. He did and Aaron and I stuck together for as long as we could.

The first mile felt like the running of the bulls in Pamplona (or I am guessing, anyway). It was chaotic. I didn't have a traffic-free lane. I couldn't grasp the 7:20 pace. I wanted a slow first mile, but not a 7:43 like we got. We made up for that on miles 2 and 3 -- almost dangerously so.

Miles 2-10 were pretty solid. I couldn't get a sense early if I was going to nail this BQ. I just wanted to keep running even splits as best as I could. It was a constant battle.

I did see the
Jason and Leah fan club at mile 7.5. What a raucous entourage they had. That drew a smile for me, as I felt like I knew them yesterday. Aaron had to pee already and I was concerned about stopping so early. He darted off and I carried on.

After passing mile 15, I took a chance and detoured to a port-a-john. Surprisingly, I must have made up for it because my mile 16 split was a 7:31. That was an ultra-quick pee. I caught Aaron right after this.

I was so focused on delivering the result I wanted with this race that I probably missed out on some of the fanfare that I could have experienced if I paused to looked around more. First half was like clockwork. I ran a 1:34:43 half. Right on target for 3:10, but it would require a solid second half.

I was disappointed to see Aaron start to fall back around 18-19. I tried to pull him ahead but he was struggling. When we crossed 19, I knew I had to focus on my own splits or I'd be out of a BQ. I learned later that it was not in the cards for Aaron to qualify for Boston.

I GU'd up at 6, 11.5 and 18. I was trading off water and Gatorade at basically every stop through 22. After that, I didn't need nor could I afford any more water stops. I needed to nail the final splits.

I drove on like a 1-man army. Chinatown was very powerful. I have to admit that the techno Chinese/drum music that was pounding and resonating through the streets was a bit overwhelming. It was as if I was in a dream running for my life through some foreign death zone trying to escape the wrath of the evil dragon. It was surreal.

Late miles, I kept my eyes and mind focused on my splits. When I hit 20, I knew that I was slightly behind 3:10 pace by about 20 seconds. This was the first of several moments of truth. It was a matter of whether or not I would have the resolve to demand a 7:14 per mile 10k out of my body.

Check my split at mile 23 of 7:20. I knew that if I continued to slip that I would be in trouble. Michigan Ave was a real test. I saw others around me try to combat the final head winds. I couldn't think straight and figure out exactly what I needed to turn in for the final 3.2, but I was pretty sure that with 7:14's, I would get in under the wire.

Once I hit 24, there was no way I was caving in. I was hurting badly, but I knew I could hang on. I keep searching out the next mile marker as far in advance as I could.

The final 2.2 miles I ran in 15:40 or about 7:07 per mile. This is a miracle to me that I could muster the strength. I just wanted it. I knew I had earned it.

Finally, over the final 0.2, I was able to pump my fists and wave my arms to get the crowd cheering for me. They responded and I let the cheers carry me to the finish. I looked at my watch to read 3:10:05. Thank God for the 59 seconds grace the folks at the BAA grant people like us.

When I crossed the finish, the fact is that I was just about too tired to cheer or cry. I finally wept after about 30 seconds in the chute as I tried to propel myself to the medals area. I was spent. I couldn't believe I had done it.

Moments later, I found Steve waiting for me in back section of the finishing area. He was going for a sub-3. He wasn't sure if I had made it. I said nothing and showed him my watch. He smiled, we slapped high 5's and I asked him of his outcome. My jaw dropped when he uttered 2:57. Finally, I found my wife and we enjoyed the moment.

We both registered for Boston yesterday - my first, Steve's second.

To anyone who thinks that they have a goal too lofty to achieve, don't doubt yourself. Devise a plan that you think will get you there. Commit to it and give it your all. I can speak from experience.

7:43 - Mile 1
7:04 - Mile 2
7:06 - Mile 3
7:09 - Mile 4
7:13 - Mile 5
7:26 - Mile 6
7:18 - Mile 7
7:03 - Mile 8
7:05 - Mile 9
7:07 - Mile 10
7:04 - Mile 11
7:20 - Mile 12
7:13 - Mile 13
7:14 - Mile 14
7:22 - Mile 15
7:31 - Mile 16
7:16 - Mile 17
7:15 - Mile 18
7:27 - Mile 19
7:18 - Mile 20
7:09 - Mile 21
7:15 - Mile 22
7:20 - Mile 23
7:14 - Mile 24
7:10 - Mile 25
8:31 - final 1.2


Love2Run said...

Nice job hanging in there making the training pay off. Determination and focus can take you a long ways. Have a great recovery!

LeahC said...

AWESOME report. You are so awesome for running so strongly those last two miles. simply incredible. congrats!

DawnB said...

Congratulations!!! on your BQ!!. outstanding job!!solid race

Andrew said...

Way to concentrate and get the job done. At 3:10 you're going to fast to enjoy the fanfare anyway.

yumke said...

I'm so happy and proud of ya! It took guts and you have plenty to get through the last stretch. Wow, you are awesome!

Zeke said...

Ryan, sometimes there are performances that make you happier than your own - yours is definitely one of them for me.

Thank you for proving me right after your last marathon.

And Andrew is right, you're too fast to enjoy the fanfare.

Steve said...

what can I say that hasn't been said. I told you we could reach our goals.

I agree with Zeke, it has been a pleasure sharing this journey with you!

Now, what can I do to convince you to try for the sub 3hr club?!? Just kidding...well, maybe not.

Enjoy the time off and try to soak it all in.

I can't wait for Boston.

Firefly's Running said...

You are truely amazing!! Awesome job!!

Bob said...

Wow Ry that was so inspiring. I can completly see how you would miss the fanfare to run that BQ. But you had your mind set on it, did the work and it paid off. I am so pleased that all of your hardwork paid off. I thought of you alot over the weekend especailly when they were forecasting 30 mph wind gusts. I am so glad you got it done. Big pat on the back bud, way to go!!!

Mike said...

Hi Ryan
Way to go on qualifying for Boston! I too qualified in Chicago this year with a time of 3:10:37. It's not quite as close as you to the cutoff...but as you say "Thank God for the 59 seconds grace the folks at the BAA grant people like us." I had nearly similar feelings and emtions upon finishing the race of my life! Keep up the great running and I'll see you in BOSTON 2007!!!

Theoutofshapeguy said...

Great job buddy, congrats on the BQ

Frankie said...

Way to go! Good luck in Boston!

Arcaner said...

congrats again on the BQ! I hope you keep the other blog open. I'm thinking of trying for a 3:10 next time and I'd like to be able to compare my training to what you did to see if I'm on track.

runnergirl said...

Awesome report. Congrats on the BQ!

mg said...

Congratulations! You ran a really great race. Good luck with the LV half and Boston!