Monday, October 08, 2007

Chicago Marathon 2007 - Leah's Death March

**First of all if you haven't seen all the pictures from the race, head down to the previous post for a slide show of pictures. There are a few of the choice ones included below. Also, there are probably typos...the report is happening between work stuff that has to get done, i.e. quickly. **

My third marathon is over and done with. The first year we did the race it was cool and a perfect day, last year the weather at the start was in the 30s and windy, and this year as most people know the weather was record high hot with temps reaching into the high 80s. I know that some people would get to aid stations only to find that there were no more fluids left. I was lucky enough to not have had to deal with that, so I can't comment on it.

We started the day already sweating. My dad met us at our apartment and I gave him a quick instruction on the new camera and convinced him he really wanted to take it. Then he seemed more nervous than us as he was standing around and jingling the keys. We left the apartment at about 6:30am, picked up Chad and Bridgette on Chicago and Wabash and then headed south towards the start line. We jumped out of the car at Lake St. and headed to our start corral.

As usual the corrals were a bundle of nervous and excitement. We stationed ourselves with the 3:40 pacers and started chatting with some of the guys around us. One guy was from Atlanta and this was his 6th marathon and the other guy we talked to was a marathoning newbie. I was worried about this guy because he said when he drinks water or Gatorade he feels sick so he wasn't going to do that during the race.....I hope he ended up ok as the day would prove there would be no room for that kind of behavior.

The race started and I was surprised to see our first mile hit in 7:46, this is about 40 seconds too fast for a 3:40. The pacers all started yelling for the 3:40 people to slow down. We saw our full group of spectators at about mile one with my dad looking like a pro taking pictures of us. I'm such a ham for the camera! Mile 2 hit in 9:08 and we were way ahead of pacers so I know they had slowed too much. During Mile 3, they came sprinting past us like they were going to make up 50 seconds during the next mile. At that point I said forget it and we'll just do what we can on our own since the pacers seemed to be all over the place.

We saw our spectators again a little bit after mile 4 and smiled and waved and high fived. Although at this point I was already not feeling great. We were keeping up with an 8:15ish pace but just didn't feel right. You know getting into that groove didn't seem to be happening. We saw Mouse and Dice at about mile 5.5 and I tried to smile, but realizing already that there was 21 miles to go was making it a bit tough to look happy.

As we made the turn onto Addison, people were still in good spirits. Someone yelled, "Alright everyone this is as far north as we'll go!" I thought...yeah still not yet 8 miles into the race. We saw our spectators after making the turn onto Broadway and we did our best to look good. We were still on pace for a 3:40 at this point but realized there was no way it was going to happen as we were exhausted. We got to the next aid station, got some Gatorade and walked through the whole thing. Had some water, dumped some water on the head and started running again.

At this point, I was asking myself what the point was of going through a 16 mile death march and maybe we should just bail when we next saw our spectators. Jason said, maybe we should just run to the next aid station, and walk through the whole thing getting enough fluids down and cooling down a bit. I thought that was a good idea and so we aimed just to do that. When we saw our spectators at mile 13 however we were not looking our best. They said, afterwards, that we looked *horrible* at that point in the race. I think that this picture is a perfect description of the race this year. I'm about to cry and the guy next to me is already walking and looking bad.

But then we crossed 1/2 way.

And then, I heard Jason scream out in pain. I looked at him and we stopped and he said he had a horrible cramp in his leg. He stretched a bit and then we were back on it.....for a block or two when the pain came back to him. I know he was really pissed off, but as far as I was concerned, just finishing today was the goal as our original time goal was out the window. We stayed together up until a point and then I told him that I was going to go on because it was too hot for me to take longer that I needed out there.

I went ahead and met up with our spectators at the Halstead Blue line stop, just before mile 17 I think. I never stop in a race....but yesterday I did. I pulled up next to them and chatted for awhile and drank some of the water they had with them. I decided to wait on Jason because another 10 miles alone was going to be lonely and maybe we could just finish together. Plus I realized he had the 2nd Gu in his pocket that I might want. So I waited for him to come by. I told my dad to call ahead and tell our spectators not to leave that we would be there eventually. Jason continued to suffer from leg cramps and at one point said that his foot was facing in the wrong direction and that he had to stop at the next available medical tent. I told him that I was going to go ahead because the stopping to walk was making me more exhausted than just running along slowly. He said he would be fine and be careful and if he got stuck he would find a phone to call someone.

So off I went.

I didn't really have any goals at this point. I just kept doing the run to the next aid station and walk through it getting a glass of Gatorade and water down at each stop and then picking it back up to running.

I stopped and told our spectators in Chinatown what was happening with Jason and then ran into the lovely Lisa and Evin a few blocks down. I slowed down and they walked with me for about 3 blocks and said I looked great and people were just dropping left and right.

I left them and continued on. I knew that the 22 mile marker was just past this point and the last 4 miles of the marathon I'm usually pretty good with. I know there's only 4 miles to go and that I could do it. I looked at my watch and also realized that if I kept doing what I was doing and averaging just under 10 min/mile I would be faster than my slowest time which ended up being my only goal. You have to think of something while you are out there.

With over 2 miles to go we made the turn onto Michigan Ave. and it was horrible. It was about noon and there was no. shade. anywhere. No where to escape the sun, just plodding up the street. There was a hydrant open somewhere along here and I stopped and just let it soak me before I continued on. I stopped at two of the aid stations along here which I don't usually do since it's so close to the end, but I was keeping with my game plan. I kept looking at what street were on and be shocked that there was still 16 or 17 blocks to go. Finally the one mile to go sign came into view, followed by the big turn onto Roosevelt. I looked for my spectators and ran strong up the hill. I gave them a thumbs up and a fist pump and continued on.

Making the big turn onto Columbus and seeing the finish line and knowing that I was going to complete a marathon in one of the worst conditions ever made me very happy.

I crossed the line in 4:10:35 which I'm thrilled with.

Then I crossed the line and all I had been thinking of for the past 20 miles was to finish so I could get an ice cold towel in the finishing shoot. But oh no. What do they have there? The mylar blanket things they usually have to keep you warm. What the ass? How hard would have been to get big buckets of ice and put towels in them. I made my way through the shoot, and had a beer which I don't usually do. I told the woman handing them out that I could use about 12 of them. I kept seeing people with bags of ice and asked where that was. When I finally found it (at the very end of the shoot) they were all out. I asked a girl who had 4 bags of ice just sitting on the ground if she was using them all and she gave me a very snotty look and said she was...ok, glad the ground was getting a good icing.

But I headed over to Columbus and Michigan and found my Dad and Chad. I started crying because I had left Jason when he was in pain and I didn't know where he was or if he was ok. Eventually we heard that he was ok, and so we waited for him to come by. We were exhausted and sweaty and gross, but we had again completed a marathon. I was so happy that I didn't quit even though I wanted to. A sense of accomplishment, even though the goal I had worked on all summer was out the window before the race even started.

There will be other marathons, and other chances to run fast. For now I am taking a couple weeks off. With a trip to Germany coming up next week and a busy week of work with us, we don't really have time to think about our next race or to run at all...and right now, I'm really ok with that and looking forward to the break. I do love marathoning....but it's been a long hard summer and I don't want to think about the next race for awhile


runningtwig said...

I'm glad you guys made it okay. I read lots of reports about the conditions up there. We had our 50K and similar things happened - running out of water, people not finishing, heat strokes, etc. These race people need to look at weather reports! Good job finishing!!

Taryn said...

Wow... you two are stars! Congratulations on an amazing race on such a challenging day!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you both are okay. Enjoy the rest and recovery.

Thomas said...

I'm glad you were sensible and adjusted your goals immediately. The 3:40 will still be waiting for you next time.

GeekGirl said...

In the pic where you're about to cry, is Jason throwing gang signs behind you? If so, that's awesome!

Good job on a very tough race. Now take a break.

Haight said...

Great job on finishing this unbelievable spectacle. It certainly was a surreal finish to a race...especially for the lower half of the runners. Check out Lora's blog for her take on it.

Oh...did you recognize me at about the 13.5 mark just past Halsted in Greektown? I called out both your names and you guys turned...but I'm pretty sure you were in a heat induced trance.

Congrats again !!!

Jason said...

I'm just keepin' real.

Don't be fooled by the fame, I'm still Jason from the block.

Boston Road Runner said...

Leah - considering how horrible the conditions were, I can't get over your great time and the way you look so motivated/strong in your pictures! Great job. Just imagine what you can do in your next marathon. Now you know you can keep up the training and that you will almost definitely see the results you're looking for. Maybe you could try to find one coming up in the near future and piggyback your training?

peter said...

You two rocked, finishing that Fun Run. Really nice time, I'm jealous.

yumke said...

Wow, I'm so impressed. I can't believe anyone would run it let alone finish it with such deterimination!

Bob said...

Well done Leah, well done. Enjoy your break. Looking forward to your next adventure.

Laura said...

Great Job Leah! Like you, I changed my goal to just finish and I think that was a MAJOR accomplishment on Sunday! :)

Running Jayhawk said...

I was glad to learn you adjusted your time goals. I was really worried about you out there. Nice job finishing strong. That photo is absolutely fantastic...

Fran said...

thanks for the report and enjoy your rest, you earned it. Have fun in Germany.

Bubs said...

Great job! You should be very proud of yourself! It sounds like you had a nice group for moral support, and I hope your running partner feels better.

I started to run a 4:30 pace, and made it to 21 miles when the police told us to stop running, I walked the last 4.5 miles or so and finished in 5:08, but I felt good.

Danny said...

ouch. congrats on finishing.

GeekGirl said...

Heh. I just knew that Jason was gangsta!

Theoutofshapeguy said...

Wanna do louisville with me? I promise you it will be a lot more fun then this was!

Sarah said...

You guys are awesome! I am so amazed at your accomplishments on such a hard day to run. Way to go!

Lana said...

I'm a little late with this, but a big Congrats to you guys for gutting out this race in those conditions. Great job!