Monday, October 23, 2006

Chicago 2006 - In Leah's Eyes

On Friday night after watching the brilliant movie 'Stick It' (by the makers of 'Bring It On') Jason and I went to bed at about 9:30. I knew there was no point in getting to bed any earlier because I wouldn't have fallen asleep anyways. I tossed and turned for about an hour, but I didn't wake up at all during the night which was great. We woke up at 5:00 (hit snooze), so we woke up at about 5:15 or so. I was a bit tired and really crabby because of the weather. All of a sudden I hear music blasting in our apartment :

Risin' up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances

Went the distance, now I'm back on my feet

Just a man and his will to survive

So many times, it happens too fast
You change your passion for glory

Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past

You must fight just to keep them alive

It's the eye of the tiger, it's the cream of the fight .....

(I am sure our neighbors love us)

Jason made a wake up music after dancing around to Eye of the Tiger we started getting ready. Usually I'll put my number on at the race, but I knew that my hands were going to be so cold that there would be no point. So we got all that taken care of at the apartment. Our parents were at our place at about 6am. We all had breakfast and some coffee and then headed on downtown. My dad took Jason and I to the start and Jason's parents went with Sue to where our spectators would be meeting up.

We got of out the car a bit early and walked the last few blocks to the race. All of a sudden my nerves just melted away. All those people down there, everyone was cold and no matter what happened it would all be over soon. I stopped worrying about my time and how we would finish and where we would finish. I was just going to run and make decisions while I was in the race.

We hit the porta potties a couple times and then headed into the corrals. I had planned on warming up with about .75 miles or so, but it was so crowded and it was getting close to go time and so we just said forget it. We took a place that was right next to the 3:50 pace group. I thought this was a good place to start and we could always move up if we felt good or drop back and still make it under4 hours.

As we were standing there all of a sudden someone said, "I think I might know you". We turned around and immediatly recognized Josh. It was really fun seeing someone that we read all about and it made the final 25 minutes before the race start fly by. We did do the layers thing, but I was wishing I had on long sleeves under my t-shirt. We threw away our cheap sweat pants and sweat shirt and were left with our short, tshirt, long sleeve tshirt, gloves and ear band (hat for Jason).

All of a sudden we were on it slowly creeping forward. And then we were running through the start. As usual an amazing feeling. The people running and the people spectating, unreal. This year however I wasn't immediatly going, "Oh my god we have to run really far now" I just ran and looked around at all the happenings around me. All of a sudden we were nearing state and grand where we knew our spectators would be and then we saw the red dots on sticks and smiled for the cameras and we were on our way. We knew we would see spectators again at mile 3.5ish. Our first three miles looked like :

Mile 1-2 (missed mile 1 marker) : 17:48
Mile 3 : 8:38

We saw our spectators soon after this and dropped off our gloves and head coverings and headed on to the north side.

Mile 4: 8:20
Mile 5: 8:21

We stopped for gatorade here and walked a few steps and moved on. Jason and I talked about how effortless the miles were this year. How much we loved our training plan because never in my life would I had thought that miles sub 9 would be "easy" I told Jason if we could keep with the 8:20's I could possibly make Boston if I made up some time from the first 3 miles.

Mile 6: 8:35
Mile 7: 8:30

Well now I would have more time to make up. At this point I didn't think it was out of question, but I knew that it probably was. We started keeping our eyes open for our spectators and there they were! Red dots, go Jason go leah......and we were on it.

Mile 8 : 8:21

We hear someone say "Go Jason" and a few strides too late we realize it was our friend Meghan from Fermi Lab. We continued down Broadway and I love this part of the race because we used to live here. Love the aid station and the cowboy dancers. We passed our old bar and our favorite bartender was outside. We yelled at him and it took him a couple seconds to register who we were (not surprising as when we were friends with him we weren't exactly in running shape :-) ) and cheered us on.

Running up Broadway and onto Clark was awesome as it was last year. A shout out to all the spectators who came out and cheered even though the weather was less than ideal, it's so wonderful having so much crowd support. I was feeling really good at this point and just crusin' through the miles.

Mile 9 : 8:20
Mile 10 : 8:27

Somewhere around here someone had music BLASTING out of their apartment and the song was Sweet Home Chicago which was so fun to hear. We got gatorade at the mile 10 aid station which was on par with our gatorade every 5 mile plan.

Mile 11 : 8:29
Mile 12: 8:29

We knew or spectators were going to be at the corner turning west and yep, there were the red circle, smile wave high five and make the turn. I knew at this point a 3:40 was out of the question. I was feeling really good with the 8:30 miles and knew I wasn't going to have enough to make up the lost time or run much faster.

Mile 13 : 8:28

This part of the race last year was horrible for me. You just go out west and more west and more west, you look south and see people that have already made the turn around and yet you keep going west. I was mentally prepared for this though and so it wasn't so bad.

Mile 14 : 8:29

At this point Jason says, well we are nothing if not consistant.

I did have to stop and tie my shoe, I don't know why I didn't double knot the laces....but I didn't change it here either and would have to stop again in the miles 20 whatever to retie it again.

Mile 15 : 8:38 (shoe lace)
Mile 16 : 8:36 (gatorade)

We saw our spectating crew at about 16.5 which was awesome. It's so bland during this part of the race that it's fun to have something to look forward to. In the video I am saying : "I'm still smiling" (it's really short....but a movie none the less)

Mile 17 : 8:30

Around this point I was noticing that Jason was running behind me instead of next to me. It's not that odd because as we move around people he usually is behind me as we slip between people. I also noticed that my knees were starting to hurt a bit. We stopped to stretch for about 10 seconds.

Mile 18 : 8:49

Now I look back and Jason is farther behind me than I realized. His face has a bad look on it and he says his quads are killing him and for me to go ahead. I ask if he's sure, he says he I go on. We did make this deal before the race. Even though we do all our training together we realize that the race is each our own and so we decided before the race if something were to happen to one of us the other will go ahead. That doesn't mean I wasn't lonely from then on however.

Mile 19 : 8:32
Mile 20 : 8:45

The sun came out at this point and so I took off my outer long sleeve shirt to get rid of some weight and so that I could have my number showing so I could get some pictures taken of me during the race.

Mile 21 : 8:37

I see our spectators at China town and I tell them that Jason is behind me and to wait for him. I was so worried that something really bad had happened, but I told myself that he's so tough and he'll be fine and just to make it through the last 5 miles. So I put my head down and tried to not think about how my knees were hurting and to just get through the last part of the race. I made my new goal at this point to have all the miles be under 9 minutes :

Mile 22 : 8:50
Mile 23 : 8:42
Mile 24 : 8:56
Mile 25 : 8:54

The picture on the right is going up the final can't always look pretty.

Mile 26.2 : 10:31 (8:45 pace)

Finishing time : 3:45:41

I am so happy with this finish. I PR'd by about 35 minutes which is HUGE. I love the Pfitz program and will be sticking with that from now on I am guessing. I felt so strong during the race and until the last few, the miles just flew by. I couldn't have done any better than this as I pretty much had nothing left at the end. I'm glad I realized early on that Boston was out of reach and didn't let it ruin my race. What I do know though is I will be able to qualify for Boston next year as I have confidence that I CAN run the kind of miles that is required for a BQ time. With more training I know I'll be there.

I love this running life that I lead. It's my everything. (After My Jason of course).

Congrats to all the Chicago marathon finishers. More to come on the RBF meetup which was a total BLAST. Also stay tuned for Jason's race report.
Because I can't find graphs in any program that are remotely useful I made my own. Here's my pace per mile comparing it to my average pace. A little fast in the beginning/middle and obviously creeping up towards the end. I do like that my last 3 miles got faster to keep me under that 9 min mark.


Dallen said...

Nice writeup, and congratulations on the hugh PR!

yumke said...

Thanks for that race report! You did a fantastic job and I have to say that this course and fan support is just amazing, out of this world.

ShoreTurtle said...

Excellent race report!

My favorite lines:
At this point Jason says, well we are nothing if not consistant.

I love this running life that I lead. It's my everything. (After My Jason of course).

This morning I reread your report from 2005 while I was waiting for 2006. Congratulations again!

Running Jayhawk said...

Congrats on an awesome run!! Those photos are GREAT...and have you seen the ones from marathofoto yet? They're hilarious because you're totally flashing the camera...with your number, of course! Boston is definitely within your grasp...and I cannot wait for you to snatch that BQ!

PS...can we bribe you two to help us with speedwork? Mike is an excellent cook...and well...I can offer lap dances--okay...maybe not, but we'll make it worth your while!!

Kristi said...

Great job! I feel much better about missing my own goals and I'm not hating Chicago nearly as much after talking to you guys last night. I'm totally going to give the Pfitz plan a try next time.
It was great to meet you guys!

Full Metal Lunchbox said...

Great race report!  I like how you broke out the miles.

Special appreciation for your curb crew.  They did an excellent job cheering you on from start to finish.

Andrea said...

Congrats!! That is a fantastic PR!!! I agree, the Pfitz plan is fantastic, and I think it really just trains you for the long term. I didn't follow it as closely as I did last year, but there are just certainly principles that stick with you. You can definitely qualify!

I know it must have been hard to leave Jason, but I think in the end, running IS an individual sport, and we each do our best on that particular day. No harm in that

John said...

Great job on the PR. I see a 3:30 in the future....

Ryan said...

First off, the graph of your actual vs. avg pace cracked me up. You are hilarious!!

What a great report. You had such awesome support. Your last pic up the hill drew an out loud laugh. You look how I felt!

You're next marathon will get you to Boston. You did all of this with your trip to London and all of the other work challenges going on??!

So what is up next?

Laurie said...

Congratulations again! I really enjoyed your race report and your little movie!

Rae said...

Awesome job! Congrats!!

Vendelascity said...

Hi! What is the Pfitz program? I'm going to run Chicago in 2007 and want to be prepared to PR!

david said...

Congrats on a Great Race!

Michele said...

Congrats. That is a HUGE improvement on your PR. Awesome race!!!!

Love the race report.

I am sure you will BQ next time.

Firefly's Running said...

Congrads, Leah. You did AWESOME!!

Garou said...

Well done! That's a huge PR - I'm sure that you will be Boston-bound on your next attempt.

Vendelascity said...

Leah - thanks for posting on my blog about the Pfitz program. I submitted a query about this on and the consensus is that I should probably spend time building my base mileage before attempting this advanced, high-mileage program. Since I have not run a marathon in 20 years (although I've been running consistently since then and have completed several half marathons), I'm probably still in the novice/intermediate category when it comes to the marathon. Speedwork is a mystery to me and I have avoided it. You must be quite advanced, compared to me! Any advice you have is most welcome as I try to continue running into my golden years, LOL!

Danny said...

just fantastic guys!!

it looked really cold out ther - is it possible your smiles were just frozen on?

great report. congrats to leah on the big time PR Leah. congrats to jason on hanging in there with the late injuries and cramps, and still pulling off a sub-4. congrats!!

Thomas said...

Great report. Funny, from reading the report I got the impression that your mile splits were very even, but the graph looks a bit different. Still, that was a very well executed race. You did slow down a little bit towards the end, but not by much. All your splits were basically within 35 seconds of each other, which is awesome.

Fantastic effort, well done!!!!

Scott said...

Leah! Nice graph! (snort). It is very cool that all of your miles are under 9:00. Boston qualifying is in your future for sure!

Also, to the rest of the CRU it was so nice to be able to meet many of you at Goose Island.

Leah's DAd

Scott said...

OH, Thomas...that's just a trick of scaling. If the graph started at 0 (as I would have required when Leah was in my physics class!) the graph would look pretty flat. As Mark Twain (or someone) said, there's lies, damn lies and then there's statistics!

Whitney said...

awesome job, leah...great pictures too. is there an RBF meet-up soon???

LeahC said...

yes if the graph started at zero like all of the garmin and another other company that reads gps data it would have been flat.....and not useful! :-) PhD in high energy physics = knowing how to trick people with scale on plots :-)

Lana said...

Congrats!! Awesome job! Girl, you are all over Boston - you will definitely get that BQ next time. I am so impressed. That is an amazing improvement over your last year's time - it really speaks well of your dedication and your training program.
Great write up - I love the pics and the graph!

John from Grand Haven, MI said...

i ran my first marathon on sunday and checking out posts from different folks who were there with me. i think yours is the only one that had a graph.

Arcaner said...

Great report! 5 minutes to a BQ. You should have no problem with it for next time. Go for it

Joe said...

Great time! Congrats! What will you do for an encore?

Susan said...

YAYAYAY. I'm catching up on my blog reading. Great job Leah.

jeanne said...

i'm waaay behind on blog reading too. How thrilling! What a great race and great great report. You are so inspiring! (I like your graph!)