First - a HUGE thanks to Active.com and Polar Heart Rate monitors for their support in 2007 again. My RS 400 is the reason I finished "well" yesterday at the Chicago Marathon. I hope to be a part of the team again next season. Barbara and Lindsay - you are great. Eric (Polar) - it was awesome to work with you at multiple events this year again. It is an honor and privilege to be a part of this team and I hope my actions and sportsmanship show my full appreciation.
This weekend went really well. Friday, my cousin Vince and I checked into the Hilton & Towers and headed to the expo. After registration we met with Polar and Asics and visited with lots of friends and had a great dinner later on. Slept in on Saturday and went running about 7:45 AM on Saturday to loosen up. I injured my soleus on Thursday night (!) and it was still tight. It was still hosed up on Saturday and I had to walk back to the hotel after 20 minutes of running but I was feeling ok before that and thought I'd be able to work out the problem Saturday afternoon. Saturday night we went for the annual Team Polar/Team Aquaphor dinner at the Italian Village. This year a couple gals from Active.com in San Diego joined us too. We then took pictures at the starting line and set off for a good night rest.
Race morning went flawlessly. I was sitting in my corral about 7:30 AM stretching in prime turf for a great start. Sitting there sweat was running down my face. I even killed an entire bottle of Gatorade that I was going to drink during the first two miles before the race even started. The gun went off and I felt fine. Leg was sore but good enough. It was going to hurt later on but so would everything else. At mile 2-4 people were flying - all jacked up on their pre race nicotine and caffeine. Yep...saw the guy smoking drinking a Starbucks about 45 minutes before the start. Brilliant. My plan was to watch my heart rate and keep it about 78% on the first half and then up to 84% or so on the second half. I admit that at mile 4 I first thought, 'Maybe I should stop right here? My leg is killing me.' Just then, I saw a few friends and started talking. Leg wasn't hurting that much as I didn't even think about it when I was with them. I was just being a "boggie" (bu'gee = baby in slang Northern Italian, family term). Man up. Keep going. Mile 11 I caught Ron and Jen from Team Polar and Team Aquaphor and we ran together to 15 where I needed to slow down because my leg couldn't hold even 9/mile. I was getting concerned. It hurt a lot.
At mile 17 I was lightheaded, dizzy and had laser lock. At the approx. mile 18 aid station I started walking and drank about 15 cups of Gatorade and several water. I told myself that I wouldn't start running until one of two things happened; 1) I felt the liquid leave my stomach and/or 2) my heart rate dropped below 70% (remember, I'm walking it should take about 30 seconds.) It took 3 full, long minutes. I started to run walk trying to keep my HR down around 85% as it kept jumping into the 90% numbers - too high for 20+ miles into a marathon on a hot day.
At mile 23 a Chicago Police Officer was telling folks the following, "The race has been cancelled. Walk the last three miles in." Are you kidding me? I just pulled myself together over the last six miles and you are telling me to walk!? No way. I'm running. Try and stop me. (The runner's high kicking in. Leg hurting and big blister from wet shoes on left heel hurting but I don't care. Get me to that line! I started winding it up for the finish. High fiving people along mile 24, 25 and 26 and in the finish line area. Smiling like Natasha - pain gone from the high now. Now I look right and notice that a lot of folks are walking across the finish. No happiness. No laughing. Looking at their shoes. I started looking for the chip mat but it took longer than I would have liked. Only one side of the finish line was open. What was that about? I finished in 4:43:59 on my watch about 1 hr and 15 minutes behind what I thought I could do.
What happened is that people behind me and those who quit early took CTA buses to the finish line and were instructed to run across the line. This is to get a count for health and safety of all and I have no problem with it. The problem is the finish rankings and placings. You literally have to go thru all 29,000 who crossed the finish line and see who crossed all the timing mats and at what intervals to ensure proper ranking. (Don't count on this ever happening.)
Walking back to the hotel, the Chicago Fire Department is now opening hoses over people walking to the finish. Arriving back to the room Vince is there...he finished in over 4 hours. (Vince was on 2:58 pace at 15k and 3:00:15 pace at the 1/2 mark. ~28 and 130 lbs. and a seriously gifted runner.) He had dry heaves at the finish, cramping all the way of the second half and afterward. We sipped on ice cold Pepsi and ate salty pretzels talking about the craziness of the day.
Tomorrow: what could have prevented this mess
Splits and heart rates (tells the story):
Mile 1: 8:12.0 79% HR good start - smooth, easy
Mile 2: 9:30.6 82% left leg hurting already
Mile 3: 9:12.5 84%
Mile 4: 9:09.8 86%
Mile 5: 9:21.1 86%
Mile 6: 9:20.5 86%
Mile 7: 9:26.6 84%
Mile 8: 10:23.7 85% First sign that things aren't going right by HR
Mile 9: 9:07.3 86%
Mile 10: 9:35.4 86%
Mile 11: 10:08.8 85%
Mile 12: 10:36.3 84%
Mile 13: 9:48.1 85%
Half: 2:04:53.4 87%
Mile 14: 9:39.0 82%
Mile 15: 9:55.2 84%
Mile 16: 11:40.7 81% (not good, slower time HR not really dropping) red alert
Mile 17: 10:07.5 84%
Mile 18: 14:31.9 76% Dizzy/lightheaded- walking and drinking...a lot
Mile 19: 17:38.0 68% (that's not a misprint) HR starting to come down finally
Mile 20: 11:19.6 75% start running again
Mile 21: 13:11.9 77%
Mile 22: 10:10.0 81% Running!
Mile 23: 15:59.8 70% race goes to one lane of the street hard to move
Mile 24: 12:58.4 75% Running! I see the wizard! Runner's high kicks in.
Mile 25: 10:12.8 82% Running!
Mile 26: 9:49.7 85% Running!
0.2: 1:54.0 90% Running!
4:43:59 AVG HR 161 (80%) 4,655 kcal