October 15, 2010

Chicago Marathon race report

So as most of you now know, this was an interesting race for me.  I was in really really good shape and ripping off the fastest training runs and workouts I've done since college.  As I enjoy doing late summer, early fall marathons, I signed up for Chicago with the intentions  of seeing how fast my PR could get down to on a pancake flat course.  As alluded to in the previous posts, my PR at this distance was a 2:53 from Boston a few years back and I was excited to see how far I could drop it.  Sunday would not be the day to do so...
I arrived in Chicago with high hopes and fully tapered for 2 weeks.  Life stresses aside, I was focused and had given up caffeine and alcohol for over 3 weeks now and wanted to see how that would affect my performance.  Spoiler alert...I'm never doing that again.  The expo was fun (the pic above is of a giant wall they had at the expo with everyone's names listed on it) and the fact that the Kona Ironman World Championships were streaming live in our hotel room via laptop, helped to keep me off of my feet and otherwise occupied for Saturday.

The weather forecast kept creeping up and up for Chicago in the days leading up to the marathon and even though the race started at 7:30am CST, I was planning on it being a reasonable temperature and maybe chilly.  So, I purchased a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt from a Goodwill store on the way to the Buffalo airport and had an extra pair of arm warmers on that were too small for me and good to wear and throw away.  I walked out of the hotel on race morning with a coffee, bagel and water bottle to get to the race start and instantly, I was warm.  That should've been a good indication of what was to come.  I walked about 2 blocks and ditched the pants and sweatshirt in a dumpster.  Not a good idea to have those on today. I made my way to my corral race morning and saw Tim Dwyer before the race and we chatted a bit.  I took off my arm warmers before the race even started too.  But being in corral A, right behind the elites has it's perks as we got to see them all warming up and heading to the start line.  But after the national anthem and some intros the race was on. 
It took me a whole 3 seconds to cross the starting line, which was pretty cool seeing as how there were 45k runners in the race and there were craploads of people out cheering for us all.  It was kind of intense, and I was trying to get amped up for it, but I checked my HR monitor a few minutes before the gun went off and it read 68.  I honestly don't know if I was excited to race.  I was nervous, just not sure I wanted to get out there and suffer.  I knew the paces that I wanted to hit to have a PR day and I was planning on ripping thru the half in about 1:22-1:23 (6:15-6:19/mile pace) I saw Kim and her friend Megan at mile 3 and was already looking for them when I passed by (not a good sign) I felt okay, just the pace was fast and I don't know if I was ready for it that particular day.  At 3 miles I was about 30 seconds ahead of where I needed to be for my predicted 6:15pace.  Not that big of a deal, but I'll get into why that matters later. 
At mile 5 you head thru a park type place with a few turns and I was chatting with some folks around me and I made mention to the guy in the blue singlet and white sunglasses above that I'd just like it to be mile 20 and still be travelling at this same pace (another good indication that this really just wasn't my day).  The pace was high and I hit 5 miles in about 30:45 (still 30 seconds ahead of what I should have been goin, but at least I was being consistent now) I had no idea if I could hold this pace for the entire marathon, I just wanted to get to the half on schedule and maybe that would give me some sort of mental boost?

At around mile 8, I started to get some pain in the forefront of my right foot...I was getting a blister, not cool.  By the time I had gotten to mile 12, it had burst and it was painful every footfall.  I was coping and trying to block the pain and just keep it moving.  I saw Kim and Megan again at about mile 13 and struggled out a smile (later Kim would tell me that I looked like absolute shit) and I slogged thru the halfway mark in about 1:22:4X so I was at least right on pace.  (I had lost that 30 second buffer though) At this point, I don't know what happened to me, I suddenly got really hot (so much so that I took off my hat) and couldn't get my heart rate down to normal.  It was seriously thru thr roof and I felt like I was exerting WAY more than I should have been for this point in the race.  My 1:22 half marathon that I had just run felt similar to the 1:17:10 I ran in Buffalo earlier this year, only I had another half to go!
I'm not proud of this, but I did what I had to at this point in the race.  Legs were burning and I was watching my race fall apart.  I got to the next aid station and I grabbed water and gatorade and started briskly walking thru it. For the remainder of the race, between miles 13 and 20, I walked a total of 3 times for about 30-45 seconds a piece, just to clear the HR and get it down to a reasonable number.  This made me slump into a pretty bad patch thru this section.  We ran thru a neighborhood that looked very similar to the brownstones of NYC and then we went thru Chinatown and I just wasn't excited about any of it.  At least in the NYC marathon, I was stoked to be heading thru areas and burroughs that I had never been to. For Chicago, I was struggling and uninspired.  (I know this sounds like a lot of excuses, but it was freaking hot out)
I was drinking and eating enough (ate 3 gels and numerous cups of gatorade during the marathon) so I know nutrition wasn't off, I think the heat just got to me that day.  I had put so many self imposed expectations on myself that I tend to crumble under those stressors (anyone reading remember me swimming my senior year in HS and the 20 year old backstroke school record that I missed by 0.03 seconds?...'nuff said!)  So, miles 13-20 were rough, but I was done walking and definitely NOT giving up.  I hit the 20 mark in God knows what time, but in calculating in my head, I thought I might be able to sneak under 3 hours if I just keep on running and moving and NOT walking.   
I slently made a vow to NOT walk the last 10k (6.2 miles) and luckily, I kept that promise to myself.  I was tempted every aid station to hoof it thru, but I kept on slugging along.  I hit the 23 mile mark and started to come around.  It was still a long way to the finish, but I knew I could keep running.  At mile 25 you round a corner and see the finish line in the FAR distance.  It never seemed like it would come.  Finally I hit thru mile 26 at around that 3hr mark and it took me 7:25 to run the last mile.  Mile 26 comes at a little hill and I looked over to see Kim and Megan in the crowd to the left and I just kinda shrugged my shoulders at them.  I didn't really know what else to do but finish it up and call it a day. 

Hitting the line, it just felt good to stop.  I was trashed and drank copious amounts of liquid post race as I waited to find Brian and Liz (they must've walked by me or I left before they got in) I grabbed a Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat ale and a weird thing happened, my left shoulder siezed up....I'm talking, couldn't swing it without feeling like a knife was slicing thru it.  It was so strange, but I didn't want to tell anyone about it for fear that they might take me to a hospital again (flashback - IMLP 2009) so I just had the massage team work on it and it loosened up.  I just think I wrenched something over swinging my arms to get my legs moving during the race (my legs did not react...)
My total time was a 3:02:43 and everyone I spoke with said their times were about 15-20 minutes slower than anticipated due to the temps being in the mid 80's at 10:30am when we finished.  Sunday just wasn't the day to go after a PR, simple as that.  I'm not salty with my time, I know it was a valiant effort for so hot of a day, I just know I was in shape to run a best time.  I know I can do better.  It's kind of like the feeling I have after IMLP 2009 when I crashed.  I had worked REALLY hard that year and now for the second time, I still have nothing to show from it. I know I can run faster than 2:53 and can rip off a faster IM than a 10:27...I just have to go ahead and get it done.  I know there are a lot of cheesy photos in this post, but if you want to view the entire album of suffering, they can be found here.
We toured the Goose Island Brewery in Lincoln Park after the race before heading to the airport and I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone heading to Chicago.  It was gourmet food in a bar setting with beers that tasted so complex and different that I was genuinely surprised and pleased.  I guess that started off my rest period for me to get re-charged and taking at a MINIMUM of 2 weeks off will be much needed. I need to rekindle my fire and get myself amped up for bigger fish to fry next year.  I've got some new toys coming in and stuff to announce in the near future, so check back often. But until then, train and rest hard my friends.  Recover well, cheers.


Cusetri said...

travis--good effort my man!

plenty to show for it--for one not quiting.

Mike said...

Don't sweat it dude, sounds like it was a brutal day. You might not have achieved the PR you wanted but all the training you put in over the past several months will surely pay dividends down the line. Hope to see ya at a race soon!

Tim said...

Nice work as always. But why so slow? Just kiddin'. 2 weeks off huh? Wanna help me with my basement project, possibly free Honkers Ale in it for you.

Tim said...

Wait, does that guy coming up behind you in your finishing stretch photo have "Jesus is the Lord" written in body paint on his chest? You look like you're in a bad place. Either that or you have your communion wafer stuck to the roof of your mouth like a wonder bread sandwhich. All of those situations are uncomfortable. Not back seat of a Volkswagon uncomfortable but certainly not good either. I hope he went to church after the race and confessed to kickin' your a**.

Anonymous said...

It's been a while since you posted. Just wanted to let you know :)