Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chicago Marathon 2007 - Went Wrong? Plus/Delta Analysis from the Armchair


Sometimes things don't turn out like you planned.

What happened?

I went to a big city marathon and an Ironman Hawaii run broke out. Carnage. Bodies in the street. Some of my observations from race day.

1) I saw a lot of women wearing long pants on a day predicted to be 91 F and 75% humidity. Ladies...please explain. One woman I ran with for about 8 miles had long black pants and a black top on. The gals weren't the only ones trying to eliminate themselves from the gene pool. A guy who dropped out at mile 14 was wearing a LONG SLEEVE (BLACK) SHIRT. He was from a specific country where warm weather is prevalent but I won't name that country to allow other (smarter) people from his country to save face.
2) No heart rate monitors! Are you freaking kidding me? Let's see...you train with them. You wear them during sex - come on admit it - everyone has done that at least once. You aren't getting freaky...you want the data. But not in a marathon...and certainly not when you'd NEED TO KNOW PACE AND HR because of the heat and humidity? Stupid is as stupid does I guess Forrest.

3) Many runners didn't adjust their pace to fit the conditions. I was using my Polar RS 400 and foot pod (pace) and decided that whatever my heart told me I should do...I would do. I was BLOWN off the road in the early miles by some of the OPEN competitors. I saw two of them being loaded into ambulances at mile 15. At the 1/2, I noticed that the pacers (3:15, 3:30 and 3:45) were being told to drop the pace sticks. Good move.

4) Cool things: lots of good sportsmanship, grocers in Little Italy and Pilsen (Little Mexico) throwing ice bags to spectators and those folks handing it out to runners, people turning on hoses/sprinklers along the marathon route, impromptu aid stations run by spectators who were raiding every Jewel, Dominick's and local food stores for bottled water and Gatorade (these people are the true heroes of the day and I hope I can help you in a race someday soon). Lastly, I caught a Top 100 gal late in the race and she collapsed into my arms (that's my story and I'm sticking to it)...I lowered her to the ground and got a paramedic. Once she was being attended to the paramedics told me to "keep on toward the finish line"...you bet. The only way I wouldn't finish is if I was in an ambulance.

A Plus/Delta is something we do at the end of projects/programs I run. We talk about what we did right and what we WOULD CHANGE if we knew the conditions. Carey Pinkowski - I hope you are willing to listen.


Pluses: Good things that occurred
1) Cancelling the race - good move

2) Bringing out the fire engines to hose people down as they were finishing

3) Cooling buses

4) Announcements about the heat pre-race and advice to slow down

Deltas: Things we would change if we did it all over

1) Need ice at all the aid stations - even if it was 50F ice, ice baby. The Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI: www.GSSIweb.org) of which I am a Gatorade Lab Rat - has proven and made public that cold beverages are absorbed faster. 2) Moving the start time up. Logistically it would have been a nightmare...but isn't that what we got?

3) Bigger isn't better - adding more runners to the field because it was the 30th Anniversary of the race created additional issues - multiplied by the fact that most people doing this race don't have a great deal of experience. Scary.

4) The finish line. Closing half the finish line. There should have been two sides - one if you ran the whole way. Another if you cut the course short or took a bus to the finish. The lady I talked to at the finish - 5'2" 240 lbs....proudly told me she finished in 3:35. Since I was wearing my Polar clothing I didn't ask her where she caught the bus. My cousin Vince was on 2:58:10 pace thru 13.1 and HE FINISHED in 3:53:58. This was the most quiet finish line area I've ever seen; ironically, it was like a funeral. No talking. No smiling. Just walking (98%) across the timing mats. I was one of only a few running the last four miles and progressively getting faster (my disaster was 6 miles back.)

It's was clear that the Chicago Marathon staff genuinely care about the people in the race. I really mean that. It was visible. It was also clear that they need to go watch Ironman and work some of the aid stations to see what to do in extreme heat. Next year...I'll be back (in a lighter, more fit version of myself).

1 comment:

  1. hi! i totally agree with everything you said. i ran but stopped in my 'amber zone' knowing that i wouldn't make it. so i didn't even bother running to my red zone. lots of people just don't know what their limits are. you need to know your limits.

    meredith waterstraat

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