Its finally over. I’m here at the airport with a few hours to kill so I thought I’d type up my race report.This race was especially important to me not only because it was my 3rd full marathon, but because it has been a long long time coming. Like, over a year and a half long. I’ve had it in mind to run another marathon since before moving back to Austin in April 2009, and it feels So Good to have it under my belt now. I have to give credit to all three of the Rogue coaches who I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of working with during that time in preparation for this race: Jennifer Howard-Brown, Amy Anderson, and Bobby Garcia. Ya’ll are all awesome, please keep inspiring us all to do great things.
As for the race itself – I am absolutely thrilled with the result, a 4:11:46. I slashed nearly 15 minutes off of my last time in San Antonio. I got a great tour through the many varied neighborhoods of Chicago, and was thoroughly impressed by the crowd support throughout the entire course. There were people lining the entire 26.2 miles, all from distinctly different neighborhoods and from several unique cultures, all cheering everyone the whole time. What a great city.
I must admit that while I was moving to a new city over 1000 miles away last week, I didn’t give a ton of thought to my race plan. So my non-plan plan was this – I Tried to get near the 4:00 pace group at the start, run even splits with them until around mile 20, then I would adjust from there depending on how I felt. Well, I was 10 yards behind them in the corral but by the time I reached the start line that had turned into a few hundred yards and not wanting to go out too fast, I never saw the pacers again. I felt great all the way through the halfway point, just enjoying the sights and sounds. I saw a guy running in a Spiderman costume, a ton of funny signs, some protesters trying to steal our day (one of the louder ones caught my half full water bottle with his chest when it *accidentally* slipped out of my hand at high speed). It was pretty much smooth sailing up to about mile 17 or 18. Around there it started to warm up a lot, it was high 70’s (the sun was out, zero clouds and little wind made it feel hotter), and my asthma kicked in big time. I kept up MGP until my vision started to tunnel and my choices were either pass out or slow down. I walked for a minute to catch my breath, and took the time to really think about what I was doing here and why.
I remembered the people who inspire me – I thought about a friend of mine back home who’s back in the hospital after a double lung transplant last year. I thought about my wife Kristy. I thought about my fellow Rogues who I knew were giving their all at other races across the country at the same time. I thought about something Coach Bobby said to me in an email earlier this year, he said “you are a Strong and Dedicated Runner”. I guess something about that phrase clicked and as I picked it up to a run again I repeated those words as a mantra in my head. I gathered my thoughts a bit as I repeated that, I remembered my inhaler was still in my pocket, took a hit from it, snarfed down another of the honey-stinger things I brought along. Then instead of trying to keep a pace my lungs couldn’t handle at that point, I said to myself “ok, you can’t keep the 9:09 but you can still run”. So I ran the next four miles at a pace my lungs could keep me going. Unfortunately, at that point in my race, slower = more painful. Running slower is a different motion that doesn’t feel as natural as the faster pace and it makes all your sore muscles hurt that much more. I don’t remember hurting more in a race or training run ever, and most of that time is now just a blur in my memory. Where it gets less fuzzy again is at mile 24, there was a stage with music there and an announcer guy saying “you have TWO MILES left to go! Just two more miles until you’ve finished the Chicago Marathon! You are about to be part of history”.
I was just about to lose it again right there, say F it and walk the rest of the way, but that was the kick in the pants my brain needed to get the rest of the way there. So thanks, announcer guy, you were the difference between a PR and not PR for me. I felt that tingly rush of adrenaline go from my shoulders all the way up through my brain. I really dug deep there, my eyes teared up, and suddenly I found myself counting the people I was passing. I got up into the dozens before seeing the last right turn before the finish. From there I let the noise from the awesome Chicago crowd pull me in the last few hundred yards to Grant Park.
I am generally a modest guy, but this is one accomplishment that I am particularly proud of. Not only did I improve my time, but I have I been training longer and more consistently, and really left Zero out on the course. I can go home knowing I could not have done any better given the conditions on that day. That’s what this running thing is really all about, right? Testing our limits — hopefully to find that they are further away than we thought. Then we test them again on another day.
This race also marks the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life. As you all know I’ll be flying back to my new home in Boulder, not Austin. To all my friends I’ll soon be missing, especially you Rogues, I am grateful to know you. Also grateful to have been able to run with you, to pull you along when you needed it, and to be pulled along by you when I needed it. I am excited to start doing all that I know Boulder has to offer, and I hope I can find some folks there with even a fraction of the strength, determination, and sense of community I have found at Rogue. Please let me know any time you’re in Denver/Boulder, I’d love to catch up.
All the best,