My experience of going to Chicago was a good one. The race was a different story but it was a valuable lesson. This is a mile by mile account with pace and overall experiences per each mile.
Mile 1: This is the point where nerves, anxiety, and not wanting to wait gets to you and you blast off. Ironically I also do math in my head during long runs. Looking at my watch I was going to make an out loud 1/100ths of the way there joke at .26 but that is the same time everyone ran under the bridge. What happened under the bridge? Well about 20 or so guys running went to go pee on the side wall. Not myself, gonna hold it for a port-a-potty. Also if you have ever run under the bridge it will take your Garmin time with it but then it will catch up once you hit daylight again.
Mile 1 Pace: 7:53
Mile 2: I set up two pacing tattoos on my arms. One on my left with a 3:45:00 time and one on my right with a 3:50:00 time. I’m going to do better that, I also see a girl holding a sign that says “PR or ER”! I can live by that!
Mile 2 Pace 8:23
Mile 3: Maybe not going under the bridge was a bad idea but I was trying to keep it classy.
Mile 3 Pace 9:01
Mile 4: Yes there was a pee pee dance done to get to the port-a-john. Had to dash around several people on this one. There was about 25 people trying to get to 20 port-a-johns!
Mile 4 Pace 8:59
Mile 5: Hey there is a cover band full of 70 year olds. Are they paid to be there of do they love it for the love of the music? Also I have caught up with my goal pace of running a 3:45:00 Marathon.
Mile 5 Pace 8:02
Mile 6: I confess to myself that I am not a U2 fan but dude in the band singing, you are butchering it. Whatever your day job is you need to stick at it and best just cheer like everyone else does from the sidelines.
Mile 6 Pace 8:24
Mile 7: It’s the 3:45:00 pacing group and I am passing by them. I feel good. I’m killing it!
Mile 7 Pace 8:16
Those chicks on stage are pretty hot! Nevermind.
Mile 8 Pace: 8:21
Mile 9: You ladies were loud and I appreciate it. Best cheering section on the course!
Mile 9 Pace: 8:19
Mile 10: The not bloated but not so young “King” is rocking the stage! “Hunka, Hunka, Burning love and asphalt”
Mile 10 Pace: 8:17
Mile 11: The crowd has thinned a little except for the Abortion Clinic protesters. “you can’t escape hell”. Good motivation to keep running and get past this.
Mile 11 Pace: 8:20
Mile 12: Hey were going through downtown again. Ouch, my nipples!
Mile 12 Pace: 8:22
Mile 13: I’m not going to break stride. Maybe it is ok to slow down a little. not too much but a little. Here we go westbound.
Mile 13 Pace: 8:31
Mile 14: Ok, I can stop for a moment. That is completely ok because I have run faster than my pace by :13 per mile for the last 12 miles.
Mile 14 Pace: 9:04
Mile 15: Ok , I’m slowing down but I am still ahead of pace at the moment.
Mile 15 Pace: 8:43
Mile 16: I know there may be someone looking for me at the 25k pace and thinking I am not hitting it up. Not liking this at the moment.
Mile 16 Pace: 10:05
Mile 17: I need to slow down and not mix in so much walking in this.
Mile 17 Pace: 9:23
Mile 18: I repeat: I need to slow down the pace and not walk so much.
Mile 18 Pace: 9:46
Mile 19: My ultimate goal has passed me by and there goes the 3:45:00 pacers. Wished I would have stuck with them at mile 7.
Mile 19 Pace: 9:28
Mile 20: Ok, so my second goal of finishing in 3:50 may not be obtainable.
Mile 20 Pace: 11:18
Mile 21: Hey, there is someone wearing a pacing bib that says 3:30:00 and they are in the first round of runners. I don’t feel so bad now. Definitely not wearing the bib of course!
Mile 21 Pace: 10:25
Mile 22: Oh it looks like the runners are to the right of me. Oh hey curb how did I miss you and almost let you make me fall to the ground. Shocked I stayed on my two feet for that one!
Mile 22 Pace: 10:56
Mile 23: I’m feeling quite awful. So much i need to get my leg stretched out. Guy asks to I need water. Not so much. I need to somehow flush out the most impressive amount of lactic acid my legs have ever built up!
Mile 23 Pace: 13:24
Mile 24: And there goes the 4:00:00 pacers. Not a fan of this. I feel awful.
Mile 24 Pace: 11:16
Mile 25: Guy yells at me “that’s going to hurt in the shower tonight”. I know.
Mile 25 Pace: 13:22
Mile 26: Guy yells out my bib number which does get me going a little faster. I need someone to yell my bib number at every mile past 15.
Mile 26 Pace: 11:00
Mile 26.2: Hey there is a little less than 400 meters to go. you can push this hill. And there you are finish!
Mile 26.2 Pace: 9:23
Total time of 4:11:15, I ran Chicago in 3:56:03 last year. I’m more hungry than ever to beat that time but more humble than ever knowing that I pushed too hard too soon and let the wheels fall off. Running a Marathon is a different beast than a 5k or even a half marathon. I go back and look at it wishing I would have slowed myself to an 8:30 pace for those previous miles I could have made it. Does anyone have any advice for my third marathon? I still finished so I can’t beat myself up too much but the PR is still there for me to beat and next year I will know what i need to do to beat it! Until next year Chicago. I’ll be back and stronger and I will keep on pace and try not to beat myself too soon.