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CHICAGO MARATHON RACE REPORT - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22ND, 2006
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