Friday, October 21, 2011

Chicago Marathon was a Blur

I was hoping to come away from my race at the Chicago Marathon with a few things: a new PR, a Boston (2013) qualifying time (minus about 5 minutes), a fantastic run/race experience & some good stories, and a satisfying point to take a break from the marathon for a few months (not stop running, just not do another marathon for a while).  If I made one of these things in particular, a BQ -5 time, the rest would fall nicely into place.  I did come out with a new PR, and I am happy about that, but also disappointed, as it was pretty far from the goal time I was shooting for – about 6 minutes – could have been worse.  So who complains about making new PRs?  Not spoiled or selfish children (adults), but perhaps type-A runners…

The week before the race I was watching forecasted temps and conditions for Sunday morning, and just like clockwork the weather followed the predicted path, relatively cool at the race start, warming to 70 by about the halfway point (for me), reaching upper 70s by noon for others still on the course.  It was not hot, but it was sunny and warm.  Having no cloud cover made the sun’s rays feel that much warmer.  After a month of running in cool air, the spell had ended, and we were running in warm temps again.  To me it felt almost unfair and I knew it would again cool down almost immediately over the next few days, and it did.  But maybe that’s just my excuse…  As warm as it felt during the run, I am confident I was drinking enough fluids.

What I can’t really explain away is what I experienced during the run.  It was not excitement, jubilee, or nervousness.  Looking back I felt like I was zoned out for most of the race.  Certainly, I was focused on my splits more than ever before, so that may have taken some of the enjoyment out of it.  Maybe I was just 'in the zone.'  It doesn't feel that way...  Aside from the few moments where I saw my family briefly in different places, the race went by in a blur and it is challenging to recall many details.  Fortunately I can still review my split information from the race.

In the zone or zoned out?

Once again, like my run at Beaver Island, the last 5 – 6 miles were tough.  I had a generally faster pace the first half, and then I held on to my pace a little bit better in the end this time however, and that is how I was able to get a new PR.  But besides being a little faster than my last performance, I noticed at the very beginning of the race that I felt off slightly, a little low on energy maybe.  And after the halfway point that I started letting my splits get progressively slower.  Each mile from 13 to 18 was slower than the preceding one, I held on to an OK pace for a few more miles, then miles 23, 24, and 25 were the slowest.  I was ready to finish the race at 25, but pushed through the last 1.2 miles much better than I had done at Beaver Island a month before.  It was nice to be done, but anticlimactic.  4 minutes and 22 seconds better than BIM, but still would like to be about 6 minutes and 16 seconds faster.  I know it’s not going to be easy to get there, but I also know I can do it.  Ideally it wouldn't require the perfect race conditions, but I will gladly accept some cooler temps on my next race.

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