Chicago, IL; Boston, MA
The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon was the third marathon on the schedule for our runners. With regards to Olympic Trials qualifying, knowing that the team had gone two for two in the first two marathons of the Fall gave the guys an optimistic feel going into the race.
The course is flat and fast. The organization is first-rate, and the crowd is spectacular at Chicago. Unfortunately, the weather was bit away from optimal. Though forecasts several days out pegged October 22nd to be pretty good, the day before the race brought calls of rain, snow, and wind.
When our guys woke up on Sunday morning, they were somewhat relieved to find out that most of the rain had passed through during the night and was already over the Great Lakes. All that remained were some snowflakes … and a 39 degree starting temperature … and winds.
But our guys went into this race prepared and were determined to make a go of it. At the gun, Bryan and Ted ran close to each other, as Hatch, Tim, and Bart decided to work together. Here are the personal accounts of what happened with some of our guys as the race unfolded.
I missed the first mile clock, came through two miles in 10:48 and thought that was a bit too quick; 5:35’s would have been more suitable. Then I spotted Tim and Hatch just up ahead. I connected with their little pack and cruised very comfortable through the first 5 miles with splits that encompassed two 5:27s, then ~5:34 splits. The wind slowed down the next miles some, still I felt that the pace of the pack was a bit too high. I didn’t want to work yet – wanted to be somewhat conservative through the half. Thus, these windy miles were a bit slower – 5:38- 5:39.
With the wind mostly in the back, I increased my tempo again, low 5:30’s, and came through the half in 1:12:25. I was caught by myself on the strong headwind stretch from mile 13 through mile 15. I was afraid this would happen, but there was no one near. Mike and Tim’s pack was 100 yards ahead and I did not dare to up the pace and catch them to tuck in yet. I ran as relaxed as I could. All went well, and my splits stayed around 5:34-5:40 through mile 22.
I saw Bryan having some trouble at 17, and I advanced on Tim during mile 19. At that point, I was still on course for a ~2:26. Then, i started to feel some fatigue and had to start working some. Then I hit my first significantly slower mile (6:00). I kept form a bit with a 6:31, but the last miles were trouble. I could more or less keep running, but with about a mile to go, I came to a grinding halt. It wasn’t pain; the legs just felt totally weak. I stopped for a few seconds, and managed another quarter mile. I had phosphenes (silver/white sparkles) all over my visual field and wondered if I could make it in running. With two more such stops, I reached the top of the bridge, and then ran down the finish straight as well as I could. My 2:33 was an 8 minute PR, but obviously not what I thought I could do. What went wrong? I have some ideas – cold, me vs. the wind, perhaps not enough food on Friday and the night before the race … Most of all, I know I just have to put my shoes on and run some more.
“How come anytime I have met someone from Chicago they are so happy to tell me how proud they are to be from Chicago, yet I have never met them in Chicago?” I can’t answer that question for Jeb Bartlet, but I now know why one would be proud to be from Chicago.
After a connector to Atlanta, we (my girlfriend Trish and I) made it into Chicago at 1 in the afternoon on Friday, took the train to The Loop and walked to our hotel on the Magnificent Mile. As she took a nap, I went for a short run and quickly remembered that I had been cramped in an airplane seat for several hours. That was easily the worst I felt on a run in months, always exciting two days before a race. OF course I knew why I felt like crap, so there was little need to worry. During my brief 5 miles, I did see that Chicago was nice, and was surprised how cool it is to be running through skyscrapers and then suddenly end up on a giant lake.
On Saturday morning, we slept in a little before Ted and I went for an easy run down to the start area and back to the hotel. Seeing everything being put together, the sheer size of it all was starting to get me excited for the race. Stretched (I wish hotel rooms were bigger because it can be annoying stretching in a cramped room), showered, and then walked over a few blocks to the Hilton to catch one of several free shuttle buses that were looping around downtown Chicago to take people to the expo to grab packets and bib numbers. I found this to be both convenient and a really cool idea on the marathon’s part. I was slowly falling in love with Chicago. Back to the hotel and grabbed lunch at Potbelly’s; that was really good. We were forced to order take out because no restaurants had reservations before 9.
On race morning, we warmed up from the hotel to the start area, and went into the top 100 tent (another nice convenience), stretched and headed to the start. From the gun, Hatch and I linked up and found ourselves in a very nice little pack. A few quick early miles (despite the cold, wind, and a few snow flurries) put us a little head of target (2:25), but that was fine. The awesome crowds made the early parts of the race go by quickly, and by the time we hit halfway (1:12:19), I was completely in love with Chicago. Our nice pack hit 15 right on target but was beginning to start feeling the race a little. Things were good up until 18, but I started preparing myself mentally for the pain. I grabbed two GU’s at the Power Gel station. By now, I had fallen off of Hatch, but still had plenty of company. I knew I was falling of pace badly, but I wanted to at least hang on for a su-2:30 finish.
When I got to 22 (and had to fight the packaging of my second GU to get it open), I was pretty well licked. Even though I did have to stop and walk a few times to try and get my legs going again, the last few miles went by kind of quickly.
Obviously the race didn’t unfold the way I wanted, though it was the first one I finished, so I still found the experience was awesome and am already itching to race another one again. There is a lot of little things that need to be addressed, but I hope I get to race again soon, especially with my PRTC/Puma mates.
I stepped to the line Sunday feeling rather ill-prepared. My training had taken a hit thanks to the increased workload of med school’s second year. While the obvious practical applications of cardiology, renal physiology, and pulmonology have peaked my interest as a runner, trying to master it all in preparation for exams has severely limited my mileage this Fall. Owing to all the excitement of Chicago and the fantastic crowd support, I was out way too fast through the mile mark and even the 2 mile, coming through in 5:26, and just a shade under 10:50. Tim shouted a word of warning, providing me with a quick reality check, and we both agreed to calm the pace. We let a sizeable pack pull away, but it was definitely the right move. I came through the 5K just under 17:00, and subsequent 5K’s went by in 17:15, 17:08, and 17:11. Then I slowed down to a 17:28 from 20-25K, 17:38 to 30K. It was at this point that things began to get ugly.
The pack I was with slowly began to dissociate and the cold began to set in. But most importantly, I began to feel the effects of my lack of mileage in preparation. I cruised through 20 at about 1:51:30, on pace for a decent PR, but the last 10K was a miserable experience. The seventh 5K crawled by in 18:24, and the eighth in 19:18 to bring me to 40K. By this point, I was taking down all the Gatorade and energy gel I could get my hands on, hoping not to fall victim to cramps like so many I had passed by in the closing miles. My last 10K was quite disappointing, but I was pleased to cross the line under 2:30:00. I believe the decals had been removed from the pavement by the time I reached the line — likely helping me to avoid a spill of my own given the state of fatigue and confusion I was experiencing.
All in all, I was neither thrilled nor terribly upset about the outcome of the race. It was a great weekend in Chicago, and I was thrilled to see Ted get his OT qualifier. Hopefully sometime in the near future, I’ll know the feeling of entering the homestretch as 2:21:XX ticks by.
I have been looking forward to returning to Chicago ever since we raced here in 2003. I think this particular city marathon is first rate. The people who put this race on do a spectacular job. Race director Carey Pinkowski could obviously not be a bigger supporter of American distance running, the city is great, and the whole town is about the marathon all weekend.
I knew I had done a lot of work to prepare for this race and that I could possibly run a good time. But when we heard on Saturday about the pending conditions for race day, I was nervous. In the end, I realized that there was nothing we could do about the weather anyway, so there was no point in wasting energy worrying about it. It meant a lot to me to run this big marathon with my brother. We started our warm-up from the hotel, since we were a little over a mile from the start. Though the forecast on Saturday called for rain, snow, cold temperatures, and wind – only the latter two met us on Sunday morning. Apparently, the rain had blown through the city overnight and was already over the Great Lakes. It was 39 degrees in the morning. When Tim and I arrived at the Top 100 tent, Skelly said that someone had come around telling the men and women in the tent that they would be walked out to the starting line at 7:30 – as opposed to the 7:45 indicated previously. This was troublesome, as it was pretty cold out, and we had to be mostly stripped down going to the line.
At the start, the race felt good. I made sure I checked the mile split to get a feel for a comfortable, smart pace. Skelly and I were running near each other from the beginning. At mile 4, I felt a slight twinge in my right glut. This is the one damn thing that has hampered me ever since I crossed the finish line in Birmingham in the beginning of 2004. Usually, a hard pace puts my butt through great duress. I have felt that my glut has improved drastically over the last year, and the twinge usually goes away after a few miles … if it hasn’t already done me in. I figured that the calm pace should help keep this problem from putting the race out of reach. I was lucky to be right. At 8 miles, the twinge was gone.
I was excited that I was staying within the pack, the cool temperatures were not too cold, and that we were running good splits. I reached 10 miles in 53:57, and I felt great! Having run 6 marathons before, I knew not to take anything for granted. However, I was slowly starting to believe that despite the winds, this could wind up being a good day. I tried to take my fluids intelligently, making sure I took the Gatorade Endurance more often that not early on. However, I have come to believe that passing a table or two isn’t bad either. I tried to mix bulking my energy stores with listening to my body.
At the halfway mark, the group I was running with had split 1:10.15. This small bit of cushion seemed ideal, but I heard that the winds were generally coming from the north and heading south in the latter part of the morning. If that was to be the case, I was sure that the winds would be directly in our face as we made the long last charge out of South Chicago back to Lakeshore Drive.
I reached 20 miles in 1:47.30, and things were going well. Not long after that mile marker, however, my calves spasmed just a little bit. I was also starting to feel a little tightness to either side of my groin. The solid pack that I had been running with most of the morning had dissapated, as some guys fell off, some tried to push ahead, and each and every guy was having his own personal battle with the wind.
No matter what, I was determined to either make the time or run a good bit over it. I don’t think I could have taken another time just over 2:22. Fatigue had now set in by 23, and my splits were admittedly starting to creep slightly upward. For some reason, I remember a bit of Gatorade Endurance splashing out of my cup in the wind and hitting my left eye. I ran for a quarter mile with only one eye open, trying to dry my eyeball.
As I passed 25 miles, I knew it was going to be close. We had to make the 90 degree right with about 800m to go, climb over the overpass which takes you past the train lines, and then make the 90 degree left down to the finish. I glanced at my watch a few times and pushed as hard as I possibly could. The damn little hill was killing me, and I thought it would again be the thing that does me in here in Chicago. I was determined to have some sort of redemption for 2003. But to be honest, when I made the left turn (the 26 mile marker signboard is sitting right there on your right), I thought there was simply too much real estate to cover. I was running in failure, but there was nothing left to do but push my way to the mats. As I closed in on the finish line, I noticed the two guys in front of me putting their arms up in celebration. I looked up at the clock and realized that I was going to run under 2:22 by the slimmest of margins.
I know I can run faster, and my race certainly wasn’t pretty. But I am glad that I kept my composure in the closing stages, especially with the specter of 2003 looming large. Running in the big races for the team always feels great. I am always proud of this team. I was extremely proud of all the guys that were running for the team that day in Chicago. I was thankful to have Michelle, Trish, Renee, and Mr. Skelly on the course. I am 100% sure we will get a few more of the guys qualified for the 2008 Olympic Trials before all is said and done. There are simply too many good, hard-working guys and girls on this team. I can’t wait to watch them make it.
MEANWHILE, Claire Duncan and Gina Lucrezi laced up their cross country spikes in Boston for the B.A.A. Mayor’s Cup. The Mayor’s Cup was the first race ever competed by the team – which means this racing weekend marked PRTC’s sixth birthday! Claire and Gina are planning on racing at the USATF Club Cross Country Championships in the beginning of December, and this race serves as perhaps the best high level post-collegiate race on the Eastern Seaboard prior to USATFs.
Claire and Gina ran great races, finishing just one second apart. Claire’s time on Franklin Park’s course established a women’s club record on that course. There have been plenty of new marks established on both the records page, as well as the all-time performance lists, so be sure to check them out.