Monday, October 20, 2014

Chicago Marathon: Race Report

Let's start with the end: I finished the marathon in 3:03:17. My streak of sub-3 hour marathons has ended at three.While this race was tough, there was nothing that really surprised me about it, though the end of a marathon is always harder than I remember the last one being.

Chicago is a fun city and Laura and I really enjoyed the Chicago Marathon. Our hotel was out by Chicago Midway Airport, and public transportation to the expo and the start was a breeze. We rode the train and bus to the expo on Saturday afternoon, and after spending some time at the expo getting free stuff and eating free samples, we went with our friends Brit and Jared to grab some pre-race pasta.

The next morning we got up early to catch the train to the start and get ready for the race. The start line was pretty crowded already at 6:45 AM, but it was still easy to get to everything. We took a couple of start line photos, then headed to our respective corrals for the start.

After waiting about ten minutes for a port-a-potty, I made it to the start line with about fifteen minutes to spare. With five minutes to go, I threw off my Goodwill sweats, and shivered slightly until the start.

As the race got going I knew I was dressed perfectly besides not wearing my sunglasses. The forecast said it would be "mostly cloudy," but at the start of the race and for almost the entire time, there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

During the fist few miles I chatted off and on with another Team World Vision runner, Andy, about our past race and race goals. I settled into a pretty good pace of about 6:45/mile, and felt really good.

Honestly, for most of the first 20 miles I felt really confident that I was going to get my "A" goal of under 2:58. My legs felt good and the pace felt nice and smooth. Then, around mile 21, I started feeling it. I did a little quick math and knew that if I could run right around 7:00/mile I would break three hours, my "B" goal.

Unfortunately from mile 21 on my pace got slower and slower. I was getting passed by a lot of runners, and every time I tried to speed up I couldn't hang on to a faster pace for more than a minute. My legs were very heavy and I was really hurting.

I tried to pick it up at the end, but even that didn't happen. Oh well. It was a fun race and it was cool to run through the big city with so many other runners. The crowd was awesome, the course was flat, and the weather was near perfect.

Laura also finished the marathon, and I was super pumped for her. She's been dealing with a foot problem for months, and we were both glad it held up and that she was able to finish the marathon.

So far I've helped raise over $1100 to bring clean water to communities in Africa. The Team World Vision post-race party was pretty awesome with pizza and soda and dozens of other World Vision runners. I can still accept donations through mid-November: fundraising page.

Chicago was a great race and I definitely put it up there on my list of marathons. I don't know if I'd do it again, but I wouldn't rule it out.

After running my second slowest marathon (not counting pacing), I will say I'm really motivated to improve my training. I've already got my sights set on a PR next fall. Fortunately I'm feeling completely healthy and I'm headed into winter training motivated and in decent shape.

Happy Running!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Marathon Week

Sorry for the hiatus from posting--life gets busy sometimes. I still have a forthcoming pace report on the Rochester Healthy Human Half Marathon, but this week is race week.

Training for the Chicago Marathon was pretty mediocre. It took me a while to feel like I could start pushing it--I was still dealing with some knee pain and a mild case of Achilles tendonitis, and by the time I started feeling truly healthy, I was over halfway done with training and had a hard time getting motivated to amp up my training.

With a week to go before the Chicago Marathon, here's a little pros and cons list of my marathon training:

While my overall mileage was low, my average per week was pretty consistently 40 miles with a high of 51 and a low of 28 (week 1).
I had some solid workouts including a great tempo run and a 6 X 1000m workout where I consistently hit my splits.
I'm almost 100% healthy. The Achilles and left knee are slightly sore occasionally, but overall they rarely hurt.

This is the second lowest average weekly mileage I've had for a marathon.
My training plan was not nearly as intense as the one I followed for my PR marathon in 2012.
The one race (Minnesota Half Marathon) I ran was over six minutes slower than my  1/2 Marathon PR.

So there it is. Here's my traditional A, B, and C goals. I have yet to reach an "A" goal for the marathon, but who knows? Maybe Chicago will be it.

A - Break 2:58
B - Break 3 hours
C - Break 3:05.

Thanks to all my readers for your encouraging words thus far. I am still looking to raise a little over $200 more for my Team World Vision goal to provide clean water for communities in Africa. Check out my fundraising page to find out more!

Happy Running!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Gopher to Badger 1/2 Marathon: Pace Report

Gopher to Badger is one of my favorite half marathons. I especially enjoy the novelty of running from Minnesota into Wisconsin. I know there's people who try to run a marathon in every state, so if anyone's trying to run a half marathon in every state, this would be a good one.

My PR half marathon was set on this course back in 2012, but this year I'm back to pacing after racing the Minnesota Half Marathon the week before. Laura came with me this week again. She really enjoys using half marathons as part of her long runs, and part of why I pace these things is for the same reason. It's nice to get a decent length run in without having to worry about finding water or sports drinks.

I led the 1:35 group this time, and I had quite a few people chat with me before the race. It's always fun listening to people talk about their goals and answering whatever questions I can about the course or about how I plan to pace.

For most of the race I had about 15 people in my group. Some people ran ahead after a few miles, and unfortunately a lot of people dropped off the pace after about 8 miles. I still had a decent size group with a couple of miles to go, and after we crossed over the I-94 bridge from Minnesota to Wisconsin I let them know it was mostly downhill from there and they should pick up the pace.

From there I caught about three more runners. Two of them were able to speed up and finish with me, but one runner couldn't quite stay with me. I felt bad because he looked pretty frustrated that he got passed by the 1:35 group.

When I finished my watch had me at 1:34:59, and the official results had me at 1:35:01. I was pretty happy with my effort--I wonder if there's a way I could make a living off pacing.

Happy Running!