I made a gamble when deciding to run the Chicago Marathon. I knew that on October 8 the weather could be extremely warm for marathoning but decided to take the risk as it was a fast course and it was a major. Indeed it was warmer than optimal on race morning but it could have been a lot worse. At the end of the day though I think the sharply rising temps interfered with my ability to judge my pace to the finish but I am happy with how I ran.
I participated as a member of the American Development program as I had previously broken 2:30 at Philly in 2015. That was a cool experience since I was with some very fast folks and had access to a special warm up area, massage, and toilet facilities. I also got to line up next to the elites. You’d be surprised just how small and lithe these true elites are. They are on a whole different level of running. I looked to my right and there was Kimetto, Rupp, Kirui, and Tadese. Tirunesh Dibaba passed me on my warm up jog. Pretty cool.
Chicago wasn’t looking good a week out weather wise. However, I decided to stick with it as I ran my races in much worse conditions. The race started at 58 degrees and climbed to near 70 by the end. I went out conservatively at 6:00 or so for the first mile then a 5:52, then another 5:52 or so. GPS was useless with the buildings at this point. I then settled in to about a mid 5:40s tempo which felt very relaxed and easy. My goal was to not pick it up until after the half as I passed the half in nearly 1:16 which was quite conservative. I thought for sure I could run a 1:14-15 second half and still have a decent day. Well at that point I started running a few sub 5:40s. a 5:37, two 5:39s, etc. (fyi, I was taking manual splits). Felt like a million bucks. I began to feel really warm though and I started noticing it was getting harder to maintain and my pace began to slip. By mile 20 I knew I had made a mistake by even attempting to pick it up after the half and by mile 23 I was shot. I can still remember how pissed I was staring at the 23 mile marker (In my head I was like (God Da%m# it, son of a B*#$h my legs are shot). I misjudged it. I should have stayed conservative in light of the heat which by then was getting bad as the sun was getting high. I was too focused on time, not realizing conditions (and maybe my fitness) was not ready for 2:28. I made a decision to pick it up mid race and had to live with it. Would I have been to maintain 5:40 or sub 5:40 and run 2:30-31 if the temps were 45 degrees? Maybe.
I was very thirsty no matter how much I drank by mile 19. I was taking two cups at every stop by then. I just trudged through it and was eventually well over 6:00 pace until the end. I was spent and very thirsty. I had that physically ill feeling I always get from marathons and was dizzy afterward. This was the result of me really pushing myself. Even though I blew up and my time was slower, I raced really hard. That is why I’m not really that ticked I ran slowly even though it does bother me a bit.
The marathon is a bitch and a half but my training was great and I did a pretty decent job of pacing correctly, at least a better job than I had in the past. I learned a lot about the relationship between how I feel and how fast I should be running at a given moment in the marathon. There were no profound insights to life or existential experiences, only times where I wanted to quit and it was really flippin hard. That's the marathon. I just kept moving forward and eventually made it
Unfortunately I’ve not had a good race in a very long time and I’m a little burnt on trying to run marathons. It’s crazy training all the time and having shitty races. Better to race shorter distances. Less stress, less taper, less destroyed legs, less recovery, and more opportunities to race well.