Wow. I just ran 4 marathons in 22 days.
Chicago is a great running city. The marathon was fantastic. It seemed like the entire city lined up along the course cheering runners on and making a lot of noise. Most of the marathons I’ve run there were people lined along the starting half mile and the finishing half mile. I couldn’t believe people spent their Sunday morning to watch people run.
I didn’t have such a good race. I wanted to race this one as opposed to just running it. Being the last marathon in this experiment I decided to push myself. Not a smart move. Actually, I didn’t race very smart at all. I started out too fast. I hung out with the 3:30 pace group. Actually, one of the many 3:30 pace groups (~8:00/mile). These guys were going fast, somewhere between 7:45-8:00. Okay, I thought, I was feeling pretty good. I’ll likely pay for it later. But since I didn’t have to save myself for another marathon a week later I figured why not. Things were going great up until mile 18 or so. That’s where things sort of fell apart. I was thinking that I’d shatter my PR up until that point and breaking under the 3:30 mark. Then somewhere in between miles 18-22 I thought I could still PR; not shatter it, just beat my Columbus time and come in between 3:30-3:35. Then at about mile 22 the cramping began. And worse, the second guessing.
I’d been pretty good about my diet and rest the entire month. That is, until I got to Chicago. I had 5 days in Chicago before marathon Sunday. Of course I’d have to sample Chicago dogs and deep dish pizza. Chicago dogs aren’t much other than hot dogs with lots of stuff like pickle spears, hot peppers, onions, relish, etc. No big deal. I found the first pizza joint I went to, Gino’s, to be underwhelming. The pie shell was crumbly instead of doughy. Not at all like Zachary’s in Berkeley, the first place I experienced Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Oh, and I also had beer, something I wasn’t supposed to have during this month. When I got to Chicago I allowed myself only one deep dish pizza thinking I’d better watch my diet. But I couldn’t leave Chicago disappointed in the pizza. So the next day I went to another pizza joint, Pizzeria Uno. Again, more beer. And again, underwhelming deep dish pizza. I guess I was going to leave Chicago disappointed in the pizza. A couple of days later on Saturday, I was wandering around Michigan Ave, which was packed with tourists in town for the marathon. I got hungry in the middle of the day and was looking for a fairly healthy place to eat. Nothing on Michigan Ave. Plus, all the places were packed. So I walked off Michigan and away from the crowds but with no particular place in mind. I should have gone to Whole Foods. Instead I found myself near Pizzeria Uno. Okay, I’ll give deep dish pizza another shot. Maybe the first two times where just bad days. I found a seat at the bar of the otherwise packed restaurant. Actually, I sat at the same seat as the other day. And yep, the same result too. Disappointing pizza. So the bottom line… Chicago-style deep dish pizza in Chicago just isn’t that good, at least at the touristy spots. Oh… and I also had a lot of coffee in Chicago. Another thing I should not have been eating/drinking this month. And it wasn’t even good coffee!
Back to the actual marathon… I had a hard time all day with hydration and gel intake. I think the acid buildup over the week from all the coffee gave me some sort of acid reflux type symptoms. Early on in the race I felt like something was stuck in my esophagus, which didn’t encourage me to take in water early on. I’m sure this exacerbated the cramping later on. Anyway, I finished at 3:42:15. Here are my splits:
5k – 0:24:10
10k – 0:47:53
15k – 1:11:56
20k – 1:37:19
Half – 1:42:43
25k – 2:02:21
30k – 2:28:36
35k – 2:56:01
40k – 3:27:58
Finish – 3:42:15
For comparison, here are Dean’s splits…
5k – 0:23:34
10k – 0:48:10
15k – 1:12:41
20k – 1:39:21
Half – 1:44:48
25k – 2:04:42
30k – 2:30:43
35k – 2:55:33
40k – 3:19:08
Finish – 3:28:19
I didn’t see Dean on the course (there were 40,000 other runners!). But I was with him, timewise, up until the 35k mark. Clearly though, I need to do a better job pacing myself.
Oh… and I had a much better hostel experience compared to Victoria. The hostel staff had a free pasta feed the night before. Although, for some reason, they scheduled a halloween party after the pasta feed in the dining hall for some of the international kids (I think either staying at the hostel or from the many colleges in downtown Chicago). Five of the guys in my room were running the marathon also, one from Houston, one from the OC, a German, Luis (a.k.a. Lucho) from Bogota Columbia, and a guy from London. I’m pretty sure I was the slowest of the bunch. Houston finished at 2:38, OC at 2:39, Luis (who was running his first marathon) at 2:50, the German at 3:08, and I didn’t see London after the marathon. Another guy I chatted with post-marathon who finished at 3:00 offered advice on how to be fast… just run a lot of miles. How many miles did he train for, I asked. He peaked at 90 miles a week! Oh, it’s that simple? I don’t think I even peaked at 40. In any case, it was inspiring to be in the company of serious marathoners, unlike the undisciplined schmucks like me.
Oh, and I shouldn’t get down on myself for not racing so well. At least I didn’t fall down and hit my head like this guy. The $125,000 in prize money is a small consolation for the shame and embarrassment that I’m sure will last a lifetime.
So the bottom line is… it is possible to run 4 marathons in a month with some respectable times and not injure myself. There are a few things I need to figure out. The Chicago Marathon is awesome. But the deep dish pizza leaves something to be desired.
Here are some random pictures from Chicago…