Chicago Marathon Race Report

on Tuesday, October 24, 2006 at 9:41 PM

Race Report:
Sorry for the long report. i've had a couple of days to write it and i was waiting to get back to Toronto before I posted it so I could add the split times. So here is the War and Peace version.

Morning of Race
I woke up at 5:00 am to eat a bagel and peanut butter. I had actually brought down with me a bag of bagels and a small jar of PB from Canada. There say nothing new on race day so that's been a bit of a ritual for me in the past. I did do one new thing out of necessity which was to try and hydrate with gatorade endurance which I had picked up at the expo the day before. They don't sell that stuff in Canada yet and so the first time I tried it was at the expo. Though I bit saltier than the regular gatorade that I'm used to, it didn't give me any problems so I figurerd I would be okay drinking that stuff during the race.

I had checked the weather forecast of about 40-44F the night before and had decided to go with a long sleeve technical shirt and shorts. For the start, I was bringing my throwaway fleece pullover and the always fashionable garbage bag in case there was rain. I also had some throwaway dollar store gloves and hat, but as it turns out I ended up wearing the gloves and hat for the whole race.

Left the hotel room at just after 6am to catch a 6:15 shuttle to the start line which I had payed $10 for. The hotel was offering this transportation to us and the $10 seemed a bit pricey considering that the hotel is only 1.5 miles away from the start line, but I figurerd why try and deal with the unknown of hailing a cab on race morning. So I joined a bunch of runners outside of the hotel figuring that there would be a bunch of minivans to pick us up when a stretch limo pulls up to the curb. We all start looking at each other and then we realize that the limo is for us! So we all pile in and ride to the start line in STYLE! Ride over was quiet. No one talked and it was quite clear that everyone was nervous with anticipation.

Arrived at the start line and proceeded to the trophy tent. I had signed up for this at the last minute paying a ridiculous cost of $75, but as it turns out, it was worth every penny. I got to avoid the line ups for the porty potty's, bag check and most importantly, I got to stay somewhat warm while standing around. I was also able to use the bathroom facilities twice before I headed out to the start corrals. Left the trophy tent at about 7:15 and headed to the corrals. I was kinda worried cause they kept announcing that it would take 30 minutes to get into the preferred corrals and they were going to close them at 7:40. So I did a slow jog over there, but arrived with plenty of time. The warm jog had triggered my bladder to want to release more liquid which was weird since I had just pee-ed 15 minutes prior to that. Not wanting to wait in line, I joined the rest of the males that were peeing in nearby bushes. Ahh, it's great to be a man. I was now certain that my system was devoid of all excess liquid.

I entered the corral which was still pretty empty and having reviewed the course the night before, I realized that the first two turns were to the left so took up residence beside the 3:20 pace group on the left side which would mean I wouldn't have to cross over when doing the first 2 turns. Started to idly chat with some other runners about goal times and then chucked the garbage bag and the fleece with about 3 minutes to go and then we were off.


Miles 1 to 5
Stuck with the pace group for the first couple of miles. It was a bit tough though since I was running ahead of them on the opposite side of the street. I had to keep looking back to see where they were. Missed the first mile marker, but hit the second one at 15:07 which was just slightly faster than the target pace of 7:38, but pretty good. Mile 3 was a bit fast at 7:24 and then I missed the mile 4 marker. The split at mile 5 was 14:19 which was WAY too fast (7:10 pace). At somepoint between miles 4 and 5, the 3:20 pace leader realized he was going too fast and yelled out that the 3:20 group was going to slow down. At this point, we were about a minute ahead of 3:20 and I had to make a decision. Do I slow down with the pace group to lose the 1 minute that I'd already "banked" or do I just try and continue running at a 7:38 pace on my own. I decided to continue on without the pace group.

Miles 6-13.1
Even though I had left the pace group, it seems that I wouldn't be running alone. There were a few people that had the same thoughts that were wearing a 3:20 pace bib on their back. I had signed up for the pace team, but didn't wear the bib cause I was afraid of failing. In hindsight, I should have worn it as I realize now how much it assists others. I latched on to one guy who had 3:20 Boston or Bust on the back of his shirt and continued with him. These miles were all slightly faster than race pace. I took my first gel at the 6 mile aid station at about the 45 minute mark. The instructins say to take one every 45 minutes and that's what I did from that point on. I hit the half mark at 1:36:53 which means I had banked a little over 3 minutes. At this point, I was staring to worry a bit about having gone out too fast.

Mile 14-20
I let the Boston or Bust guy go cause he was still going a bit fast and I was afraid I would hit the wall. These miles were pretty much on pace which means I had basically maintained the 3 minutes of banked time. I found myself at various times doing some mental math to figure out how much time I could lose per mile and still finish under my goal of 3:20. At the halfway mark, I figured I could slow down by 10 seconds per mile and finish under my goal. At mile 20, I realized that I could slow down by 30 seconds per mile to a 8:08 pace and still finish under 3:20. This was a great relief to me as baring an injury, I was pretty certain I would be able break 3:20.

Miles 20-23
I passed Perry the joggler at about the 20.5 mile mark. I was hoping to run into him in the staring corral but didn't. I certainly didn't expect to encounter him during the race. I quickly said "Hi perry", but since he was juggling, I realized he probably wasn't going to be able to talk. These miles were also pretty much on pace. In previous marathons, this is usually at the point where I feel like I need to pee. But this time, there was no feeling of urgency or impending doom which was great. My quads were a little sore at this point, but my calves were fine and my breathing was still steady.

Miles 24-FINISH
The last few miles went north into a bit of a head wind and I ended up having to slow down. Mile 24 and 25 were at 7:46 and 7:51 respectively. I did the last 1.2 in 9:09 which was a 7:30 pace. I'd been warned about the last little "hill" which I didn't find too bad. Finish time of 3:17:05, with an average pace of 7:31. A PR that was much better than I was hoping. I had run the second half at my expected marathon pace which I'm very happy with.

For anyone interested in stats, here are the splits.

Mile Split Cumulative time under 3:20

Km Splits 5k time

5 0:23:13 0:23:13
2 15:07 -00:08
10 0:45:54 0:22:41
3 07:24 -00:22
15 1:08:40 0:22:46

20 1:31:50 0:23:10
5 14:19 -01:18
21.097 1:36:53
6 07:31 -01:25
25 1:55:15 0:23:25
7 07:20 -01:43
30 2:18:53 0:23:38
8 07:18 -02:03
35 2:42:39 0:23:46
9 07:20 -02:20
40 3:06:46 0:24:07
10 07:27 -02:31
42.197 3:17:05
11 07:24 -02:45

12 07:31 -02:51

13 07:27 -03:02

14 07:32 -03:08

15 07:43 -03:02

16 07:31 -03:09

17 07:35 -03:12

18 07:37 -03:12

19 07:41 -03:09

20 07:38 -03:09

21 07:36 -03:10

22 07:36 -03:12

23 07:42 -03:08

24 07:46 -03:00

25 07:51 -02:46

26.21875 09:09 -02:55

Crossed the finish line, got my chip removed, grabbed some food, water and some BEER. I don't know why Canadian marathons don't serve beer, but they should as it's an excellent source of carbs. Wondered around a bit, got my picture taken a few times and then headed back to the trophy tent to pick up my gear, get a massage and down some food. I decided to walk back to the hotel which was actually quite good as a cool-down.

So i beat my main goal which was to break 3:20. As a bonus, I didn't have to stop to pee which was always a problem for me in the past. I also ran the entire way not stopping to walk at all which is also a first.

I see a lot of people didn't like the cold, but I thought it was almost perfect marathon weather. Maybe it was just that I had worn the right mix of clothing, but other than the last few miles into the wind and the few minutes prior to the start where I was just standing around, I was never really too warm or too cold.

The fans were great and the volunteers handing out fluids, gels and bananas were great. I kinda wish now that I had put my name on my shirt, as I was getting jealous at all the people around me getting their names called out. For a few miles, I was running beside a guy with a Canada shirt so people would yell out "Go Canada" which made it seem like they were yelling at me.

Pfitz's plan is DA BOMB. It's a lot of mileage and the first few weeks are really tough but it produces results. I knocked off almost 19 minutes off my PR in a little over 5 months of training. If you consider all the other Chicago bound runners who were on Pfitz, Bob, LeahC, Jason, Ryan and Ugly Toes, they all did really well and set PR's, even jason who was sufering with some major pains set a PR. I highly recommend the plan. It works.

Boston? I had this goal that if I could break 3:20, I would consider a Boston attempt of 3:10 next spring. Having been able to reflect on it for a few days, I'm still on the fence about it. Part of me wants to try in the spring just to get it over with, but another part of me wants to try and qualify next fall so that the time would be valid for 2 Bostons, so maybe Chicago is in the cards for next year too.

RBF Get-together
Showed up at the RBF dinner to finally get to meet some of the people I've been reading about. It was nice to meet you all and put a face to the blogs. Unfortunately I didn't get to chat with everyone, but at least I know what you all look like!

I'd like to thank you all for the support over the past couple of months. I started this blog with the intenion of providing me some motivation and have received it in spades from all of you. I certainly could not have acheived this without you, so thank you.

Since some of you now know my name and it's not too difficult to figure out who I am from my race picture, I suppose that trying to do the "anonymous" blog thing probably isn't going to work. Maybe I'll start using my real name...


Jenny said...

Congratulations! Great result :-)

Anonymous said...

WOW...great splits and a great time. One I can only imagine!

It was great to meet you, too. Will I see you at Chicago next year? I will be there for certain!

Bob said...

Pfitz is so the bomb, I will follow him to wherever I can take it.

Great great run thouse are some seriously consistent splits and in my mind exactly how you should run a marathon. Stay close and shave a little time if you can and then work your ass of to hang on to the finish. Impressive.

Sonia said...

Great Race report! Congrats on not hitting the porty potty's during the race, I know that was one of your concern before.

You got me really interested in that Pfitz program now... =)

I was wondering how many marathons you've run so far??

Take some time off and rest up those legs, I'm sure you could qualify for Boston with lots of hard work like you've shown us in the past few months! Good luck!

yumke said...

Congrats! You rocked that course. I bought the Advanced Marathoning book by Pfitz in Chicago. Guess what plan i'm following next time?

You're an inspiration. thanks.

mg said...

What an awesome race! Congratulations on the PR (and not needing to pee)! I can't stop looking at your splits - great job!

Anonymous said...

GREAT REPORT. Yep, Pfitz knows what he's doing. What an amazing race. You ran a neg split, which means you have a ton of potential. You can get to Boston. I took of 14 minutes with Pfitz. I know what you're thinking. You just had a huge jump and you're thinking, "can I really make another huge jump with the same level of training?" I am with you. But you can do it. You just need to increase intensity on speed workouts, run some more races and improve your L.T. Rest easy.

Arcaner said...

Thanks all!

Lisa: Maybe. I never really thought that I would run the same marathon twice, but Chicago is such a great town and course, I will have to reconsider. It was nice meeting you and Mike too.

Sonia: I ran 3 previous ones, this was my fourth.

Yumke: I think you'll do really well with Pfitz. I wouldn't be surprised if you pulled off a BQ with it.

Ryan: Yeah I've been certainly thinking of whether another 19 minute improvement is possible.

jellypepper said...

I'm with you on the weather. I think I picked the right clothing too. And I'd take what we got over the rain and snow that was predicted and thankfully never showed!

I am confident you can BQ. Certainly there is no harm in trying?

Maybe I will see you in Chicago next year. My cohorts and I are thinking about returning to the scene of the crime. :)

runnergirl said...

Great job. Your time is awesome!

Anonymous said...

Hi, whatever your real name is:)

(just kidding)

I followed your training for this race from the very beginning and ....

I'm so happy For You !!!!!!

When's the next one??

Zeke said...

Great job. Congrats on such a tremendous race. I may have to go back to Pfitz next year.

Frank said...

Congrats on a great run. I wish I could have broken would have give me a BQ. You are right on the cusp...go for it!