I’ve always been somewhat self-conscious about my body. As a kid my mom would take me to the “husky” section of Sears to buy my clothes. I always swam in a t-shirt to hide my chubbiness. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so noticeable for me if my two best buddies didn’t have bodies that would be suitable for modeling. (They still have those bodies.) Even in my high school and young adult years, I would always buy a shirt that was a size larger than I need.
I started running like most people do – to lose a few pounds. I did lose a few pounds, but my body shape stayed the same. Not sure why after almost 28 years of running that I would not be rail thin like most marathoners, but it never happened to me. I am a slightly slimmer version of the same body that I have had since I can remember.
But when I started triathlon, things changed. First of all, one of the reasons I stayed away from triathlon was that I didn’t think that I could wear that skin tight clothing and be comfortable with how I felt and looked. Especially in the early days when they wore bikini style shorts. I can remember buying my first tri suit at Endure It! in the western suburbs of Chicago. I tried a two piece and remember thinking I looked like the Michelin Man. After that I tried a one piece suit and thought that it wasn’t too bad. Often times I would throw a t-shirt over it just to make me feel a little better about myself. But after getting a few races under my belt, I looked around and realized that it wasn’t all that bad. I saw all shapes and sizes of people squeezed into Lycra, and in reality I wasn’t the shape that my mind imagined myself to be. Triathlon seems to be giving me more than I had bargained for. I’m getting less conscious about my image.
This weekend I did a sprint triathlon. I was thinking about how I looked in comparison to others at the event. Not sure why, but I did. I was admiring this one guy who looked like he was a former pro. Fortunately for me he was in the 55-59 age group and I didn’t have to worry about losing an age group spot to him (He finished 3rd overall). He had the look that I wanted but somehow can’t achieve. As somewhat of a car buff, I envisioned myself much like a souped up beater – a car that looks rough on the outside, but is all pro-stock under the hood. The term “sleeper” also comes to mind – a car that is so tame looking, but packs a wallop.
I took my time in the water, but once I got to the bike I let it rip. I ended up surprising myself with a 21.8 mph average over the 11 mile course. When I got to the run, I played my strategy right. I allowed myself to settle in and not go crazy that first mile. I ended up running a 20:46 5K, nearly matching my personal best for road raced 5K’s this year. That was surprising as well.
The biggest surprise was when I saw the results on the screen at the finish line – 1st place in the M50-54 age group, and 9th place overall. I wasn’t expecting that. But I guess nobody expects the beater to have a supercharged big block under the hood. Sometimes not even me.
3 Swims – 3300 yards this week / 60050 yards total
Distance: Sprint: 400 yard Swim, 11 mile Bike, 3.1 mile Run
Results: 1:02:40 – 9th overall, 1st place M50-54
I expected to be underwhelmed with this race a little. There wasn’t much information to be found online as I looked into this race. The club that hosted it doesn’t really have a website or Facebook page that I could find, the host location (Manteno Sportsman’s Club) had just one post on their FB page, and the sign-up website didn’t list the race distances or provide a course map at all. I was kind of in the dark about it all. I ended up emailing the listed contact on the registration site and asked for info. A day later I was emailed the athlete guide. At least I now knew when packet pick-up was and when transition opened. When I did sign up for the race I asked my wife Kari if she would be interested in doing the duathlon. She committed and we joined the field.
I set my alarm for 4:30 am, but had a really restless night of sleep. I got up and got ready, while Kari groaned. We hit the road around 5:30 am and drove the 25 miles or so to Manteno, Illinois.
After arriving, we picked up our packets and walked our junk to transition. It was a rack it where you like transition, so I chose an end rack location not far from a large tree for ease of finding the bike.
Our bikes racked side by side
Kari, aka bundle of nerves
I decided to burn off some race anxiety and ran a couple loops of the run out course. After that, Kari and I walked around trying to stay warm on a somewhat cool 63 degree summer morning.
Race day water temp was 80 degrees, so no wetsuit. I did see one guy with one on, but he also had a white swim cap and I remembered hearing that a guy with a white cap would be in the water helping the unsure beginners in the water.
There were four swim waves – Men 39 and Under / Men 40 and Over / Ladies 39 and Under / Ladies 40 and Over. I was in the second wave and sized up my competition. I didn’t really see anyone in the M50-54 age group, but I knew there had to be a few. There was a guy in transition who was a first timer and I answered a few of his questions in transition. He approached me on the beach and asked more questions. I was glad I could offer him some advice. He was a little nervous. I hope he did okay. I didn’t see him at the finish.
SWIM:400 Yards, 9:07, Average pace 2:17, 3rd in A/G, 58th Overall
The horn blew and I waded into the water as others ran. The water was perfect. Smooth and a comfortable temp. We got to the one turn buoy in fairly good time, and I was feeling pretty good. There was some bunching up, and some minor contact, but it settled down and we all began swimming straight back into a blinding morning sun. I felt like I had a great swim, but was surprised to see my time in the results. I guess that includes the run to T1, but I know I swim faster than that. I got to T1 and spent 1:16 getting ready for the ride.
BIKE: 11 Miles, 30:14, Average speed 21.8 mph, 2nd in A/G, 10th Overall
I got to T1 and decided to go without socks. I got ready as fast as I could and took off running out to Bike Out. Once on the bike I took off. I hit 27 mph leading out of the event site and was amazed how easy it felt. A few turns later I was out of the town and in cornfields, passing numerous first wave starters and most of the duathlon competitors. I got passed by one guy on the bike, right around the 0.5 mile mark. He and I left transition together, but he mounted his bike before the bike mount line and the referee told him to dismount and mount after the line. I wonder if he got a 2 minute penalty. But he blew by me, and I was still doing 25 mph at that point. He must have been ticked.
The course had two hairpin turnarounds, which weren’t that big of a deal. I had to slow for a slower rider at the second one, but I ramped it back up quickly. The day had started to become slightly windy, but there were enough turns where you weren’t dealing with a headwind for a long stretch of time. There was a cop standing at the bottom of the hill with a radar gun. I went by him at 27 mph. Later on at the awards ceremony, they crowned the faster rider at 35 mph I think. They gave him an award.
I hustled back to T2 and made the quick change to running in 1:14.
RUN:3.1 miles, 20:46, 6:42 per mile pace ave., 1st in A/G, 8th Overall
I started running and immediately wondered if my heart was going to explode. It didn’t and I quickly settled into race pace. I passed a guy about 1/2 mile into the run and he said I was crushing it. He probably thought I was crazy, because I certainly did. But I just started going and picking off runners one by one. It wasn’t until about the 2 mile mark that I saw two guys running together in my age group. They said I should join their old man group and run with them, but I gracefully declined. I kept my pace going and they didn’t try to match it. I’m glad they didn’t, because the results showed that I beat them both by 19 seconds.
FINISH TIME: 1:02:40, 1st in A/G, 9th Overall
After finishing, I recovered with some water and walking around. I found friend Brian Swift, a para-triathlete who had done the swim portion of the relay, while his kids did the bike and run. Very inspiring to watch him do the swim.
Not long after that I grabbed my camera out of transition and went to watch Kari finish the race. We cooled down and had great conversation with a few others we knew and some new triathlete friends we met.
After getting some pizza and a banana, I decided to check the results and was shocked to see that I had finished 1st in the age group. At the awards ceremony, I took my place on the highest podium, a first for me, and received my award, a drinking glass etched with 1st place on it.
Even with my questions about how well run the race would be, it turned out to be a great day. The venue was more than adequate, the lake was very nice, and the bike and run course was all on pavement that was in great shape. And Kari confided in me later that she actually had fun! I would definitely do this one again.
I went into the my fourth running of this race with low expectations. I haven’t really focused on any sort of short speed work due to training for Ironman Louisville, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give a 5K a try. And by try I mean gunning as hard as I can. But the race ended up being somewhat educational for me.
For this race I decided to wear my heart rate strap and monitor my heart rate through the 5K to see if my max HR is anywhere near the 220 bpm minus your age. This method is an easy way to determine your max heart rate, which you can then use to set your heart rate zones to train in. However, many don’t trust the calculation for some reason. I’m 53 years old, so using the 220-age formula I should have a max heart rate of 167.
So if you are going to use a 5K to see where your max heart rate is you should do a little warm up then go all out at max effort for 5K. So I strapped on my Garmin and the heart rate monitor strap and let it rip. Here’s what it told me:
And the 5K field test revealed a peak max heart rate of 169 bpm, with an average of 163 bpm. And the times that I glanced at my watch during the race I usually saw 166 bpm staring back at me. I guess the 220-age is accurate enough for me.
Okay, enough of the scientific stuff. Back to the race. I got there much later than I usually do and parked in the neighborhood next to the park where the race starts and ends near my friend Dian’s house. Lo and behold, Dian was actually outside! We chatted up ourselves a little bit and she thought the race had started already. Silly Dian. I explained that the runners will warm up prior to the race. She thought that was nuts. Gave me a chuckle though.
Over at the park, the usual suspects were there: Frankfort/New Lenox Running Club made a strong showing, Tinley Track & Trail was also present. Mr. Mustache Runner guy was there, with his shirt tucked in as usual. And many more familiar faces. It wasn’t until the race was almost ready to go when Nate Troester showed up at the start line, and I knew our eventual winner was finally here.
The guy that starts the race stands right in the middle of the road, orders us not to run him over, tells us not to start until he says “GO!” then proceeds to say “Okay, let’s go” prior to saying “On your mark, get set, GO!” Park district run races can be really strange. In the old days, races were run by runners who kind of knew what they were doing, and these park district guys don’t look like they run much. Anyway, at GO! we all took off and tried to avoid the dumb cherry picker thing in the path of the race route that has a guy up there with a camera. So dumb. You never see the pictures on their website or Facebook page, but damn, they got to have a cherry picker right on the road with a camera guy taking pictures that no one will ever see.
I had picked my mark, a guy named Chris S. who is in my age group and started just in front of me. I decided to hold his pace for as long as I could. That didn’t last long. I might have held on to him for about a half mile before I could tell I had maxed out my heart rate without even looking at my watch. I watched him pull away. That move of trying to stay with him got me through the first mile with a 6:18 split. NO BUENO! So much for the negative split strategy. He kicked my butt again, as usual.
After the first mile I decided to dial it back a touch and find my race pace comfort zone and found myself running with a guy wearing a Ironman Racine 70.3 t-shirt. We were pacing together pretty well. We turned off the path together and on to the side street to head back and about 1.5 miles into it we got passed by some kid. “Damn kids” I muttered, and Racine man agreed.
We ran together until the 2 mile split (6:47 min/mile) and he started to pull just a little bit ahead. I tried to match pace but I had spent too much energy on that first mile. He pulled ahead about 50 yards with about a 1/2 mile to go and that’s how it ended. The third mile split was 6:53 min/mile for me.
I checked the race results and learned Racine man was in my age group. He got 15th place overall, 2nd in the age group. Since this park district run race only awards the top 2 finishers in each age group with a medal, whereas most races go three deep, I knew I wasn’t going to add a medal to my medal rack this time around. You win some, you lose some.
Overall, it was a good race for me. I found that the 220-minus age max heart rate calculation is nearly exact to my actual field tested heart rate. I got to race some good competition. And there was pizza at the finish line.
Distances: 400 yard Swim, 14.7 mile Bike, 4.1 mile Run
Back for the fourth time to do the race in Batavia. I really enjoy this one. It’s a quick swim, rolling hills bike route with plenty of time to go fast, and a flat and fast trail run.
This week I experimented somewhat with pushing my limits a little. I decided to use my full disc aero wheel on the bike, something I chickened out with a year ago. I also decided to swim without the wetsuit, thanks to the water temperature being just warm enough for my comfort level. I’m glad I didn’t have to fight with it to get it on and off. That is a chore.
The temperature of the morning was comfortable, but the day would get warm later. It wasn’t bad on the bike, but I did start to feel it somewhat on the run.
SWIM – 7:16 minutes, 208th overall
The swim started well for me. I felt like my pace was good. I got to the turn and made it to the backside of the swim and kept swimming. It is pretty shallow in this part of the man-made, sandy bottom public swimming hole, and most people walk the back side of it. I decided to keep swimming until about 10 yards from the turn for the second lap. Once swimming again, I found myself in a much crowded field of swimmers, as more had joined in on the fun, thanks to a time trial type start. But I made it through and started walking the back part of it earlier, just like everyone else.
T1 – 1:44 minutes
Getting to T1 was quick, no need to fuss with removing the wetsuit. Grabbed my bike gear and bike and was gone to Bike Out.
BIKE – 40:58 minutes, 21.5 MPH average, 36th overall
There is a sharp climb right away which sent my heart rate into the red, where it would stay for quite a while, most of the ride actually. I really pushed myself on the ride and it paid off with a quick ride. There was some cross wind, but it didn’t last long. I ate a gel just into the first mile, and one more just before getting back to T2 to fuel for the run.
T2 – 1:18 minutes
RUN – 27:43 minutes, 6:46 average per mile, 27th overall
There was a slight deviation to the final mile of the run as the trail near a public works facility was under construction. Fortunately, the detour had a nice downhill leading back to the bridge that takes you back over the Fox River and the trail on the other side to the finish. The run was going well, but I was feeling the heat a little even though it was almost completely shaded. I took water at the water station twice and splashed it on me and in me as best as I could. I passed a lot of younger racers and not seeing hardly any in my 50-54 Age Group. That’s because they were ahead of me! There was one guy with 50 written on his calf. I decided to pace with him for a little while and then pass him in the last mile if I could. He had is bib on backwards, and I realized his bib was white, which meant he was in the duathlon (run/bike/run) race and not in the triathlon. So, knowing that I wasn’t really competing with him, I decided to push tempo again and pass him. He must of saw my 53 on my calf and he reacted. Once we got to that downhill at about 3.25 miles, he took off. I started to chuckle because I knew he was racing me even though I wasn’t competing with him in his event. I slowly worked on catching up with him, but I knew that I didn’t have to worry about him.
When I got back to the finish, I cooled down and got some fluids in me. I knew it would be a while before the award ceremony, so I decided to walk back to transition, take a shower, gather my bike and junk and take it to the car. I then drove back to the VFW where the finish line area was located.
I decided to grab a couple pieces of pizza and check out the results. Fourth in the age group – no award this year. I was kind of expecting to finish a little higher than the 3rd place I won last year, but just didn’t have it in me. Upon review the posted results online later in the day I realized my swim time did me in. It was a full minute slower than last year! I’m not really sure why that is. It could be the wetsuit I guess, but I really did feel like I swam pretty well. Oh well. The swim ranking had me 208th overall. That is really sad. I also dropped in the overall ranking from 2016, from 23rd to 37th. The guy that beat me for 3rd place beat me by 7 seconds. One glimmer of hope, the 2nd place age group winner was a 50 year old, so he is the newcomer to the rank, whereas I am starting to age into the next group. Not my day, I guess. Maybe next year I will be kicking butt in the 55-59 A/G as the young gun.
When I show up for a 5K I tend to start scanning the people gathered around, looking for the usual suspects, the people I will key on as my competition. Since school was officially over for the high schools, I figured I would see a handful of high school age runners, fresh off of their track seasons, and there were a few. I also saw this kid who looked about 9 (the results indicate he was 11), and he had the “look.” Short running shorts, a set of wrap around sunglasses, and New Balance shoes that looked like racing flats. It was about 40 minutes until start and he went out for his warm up. I knew a runner when I saw one. I also saw a guy wearing a Calvin College Track Team singlet who looked fast as well (he was the eventual winner). It wasn’t until I saw Nate Troester, a local guy who wins every race, that I knew for sure that I certainly wasn’t going to win this race!
My wife Kari joined me in this race as it is walking distance from our house. We walked down to the park about 3/4 of a mile away and signed up. It was starting to get warm, and the race start time of 8:30 am was not helping. Much too late to start a summertime race, in my opinion. I tried talking Kari into gunning from the start, but she’s happy to run the race her way. I was already starting to build adrenaline for the start time.
I did some easy warm up and then headed to the start line. I’m always amazed at the number of slow people and kids at the front of the line. One guy said he’s staying back to let the rabbits go, but this guy was in the front as well. I dislike the tight corral type starts. They are too crowded, and filled with too many slowpokes at the front of the pack.
A couple of minutes later a horn sounded and we were off. I was surprised that many of the kids were holding tempo pretty good at the beginning, but by the time we got a half mile into it the first small climb appeared, and they started to drop off. It was also in that first half mile that I was surprised to see Nate Troester standing there clapping for everyone. I guess he was just hanging around. I was happy to see that I had just picked up a finisher’s spot!
At the first mile, a local kid named Merrigan was running along with me and not far off the first place female. We went through the first mile in 6:25 pace and I thought she would be good. But later I found out she had a sore knee from an earlier mishap and ended up dropping out. I kept pace behind the first girl for the next mile, as I also chased the one grey haired guy up ahead of me. He was moving pretty well and not showing any signs of letting up.
After the turn around, we climbed the few remaining hills and settled in for the last mile. I caught the first place girl and passed her. I could see the grey haired guy up ahead, but he was pulling away, as was the kid with the sunglasses. That kid knew what he was doing, running the tangents and basically picking off more and more runners.
I tried using the last downhill to pick up pace, using it to pass an 8th grade kid, and then accelerate through the last turn for the last 10th of a mile. I couldn’t catch anyone ahead of me, and there was no one directly behind me to worry about, so I glided in across the finish in 20:57.
I grabbed a water and dumped it over my head to cool down. I then walked back to the turn and waited with my daughter Rebecca for Kari to finish. She came by looking very strong, but I tried to tell her that she was getting out-kicked by a 5 year old! She didn’t care. To get beat by a 5 year old would have killed me.
When the results were posted I was surprised to see that I finished 10th, and first in my age group. I would have bet that the grey haired guy ahead of me was in my age group. It turns out he was 58! Smoking fast for 58! I also checked the results for Kari and learned that she medaled as well, taking 3rd in her a/g! Well done!
In all, it’s a fun local race, and I thoroughly enjoyed the run with my wife.
After getting a personal best and a Boston Marathon qualifying time at the 2015 Chicago Marathon, and then missing the cutoff by a half minute, I felt like I had a score to settle after that disappointment. I knew however, that trying to improve on a marathon best that was ten minutes faster than my previous personal best was not going to be easy. But this year was shaping up to make me well prepared.
I usually follow a sixteen week plan for the marathon. The plan I follow was created by Nike and was promoted by the Chicago Marathon. I was already into Week 2 of the training when I finished up the Ironman. So I wasn’t really starting at the beginning, seeing that I just finished a marathon as the plan had just began. But I needed to dial it back a little for a post-IMLP recovery and it was easy to slide in to the plan where I needed to be. (Here is the plan I followed: https://assets-chicagomarathon-com.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/2014_Advanced_Final.pdf )
So I eased into the plan, adding a few bikes into the mix, and kept checking off the weeks until race day. My longest run was a 22 mile run that I didn’t really want to do, but I got it done. Most of the training was pretty warm, and I struggled to train at a tempo that was near my goal of being under 8 min/miles. But I knew that training and racing were two different things for me, and the summer heat would hopefully be gone by race day.
MARATHON RACE WEEKEND
I went to the expo on Friday midday and found it to be very crowded. I usually buy some race day clothing at the Nike store, but after seeing how long the line was to check out (it actually went outside of their exhibit and wrapped around it!) and being disappointed at the junk they were selling, I almost passed on it. But I ended up buying a white event t-shirt and a new set of red shorts, along with a new visor.
Saturday was busy as usual for my family. I was glad that everyone was around for the weekend though. My son Ben didn’t have a XC meet and ended up coming home from college to watch the race. My daughter Ashley was excited to come home and watch the marching band home show that my youngest daughter Rebecca was involved with. I ate a pasta meal with the family at Gatto’s, and then made the trek into Chicago to the hotel.
My usual plan is to walk to the gate where I enter for the corrals just to make sure nothing has changed. Then I walked around a little, grabbed a muffin for breakfast, and a sub sandwich for dinner and headed to my room.
I walked through the lobby and got a glimpse of Joan Benoit Samuelson, which was pretty cool. I made it to my room and tried to find the Cubs playoff game on TV. Very disappointed to find the channel it was on wasn’t carried by the hotel. I tried to find it online, only to find that I could only get simple live updates on some dumb MLB website. So I monitored that while I pulled up the Ironman Championship live stream from Kona.
My alarm went off at 4:30 am and I got up and got ready. I made a cup of coffee, ate my muffin and started getting myself race ready.
I took my own advice and headed to the corrals at 6 am. In the past I have waited too long and had to stand in line waiting to get in. The wait was minimal this time. I walked to the corral area got in line for the toilets. Took care of that and then found a place to sit on the sidewalk outside of Corral B and just relax. People watching was interesting as usual. I saw actor/comedian Rob Riggle getting escorted to the front of the race even though he was wearing an E Corral bib. Must be nice being a celebrity. At about 7:10 am I ate a gel and drank the last of my Gatorade and then used it to inconspicuously pee into before entering the corral. Once in the corral we listened to the National Anthem, watched a group of geese fly over almost on cue, and started moving forward.
My plan had been formed by virtue of not making it into Boston. I would shoot for a sub 3:25 marathon, which meant holding about 7:50 min/mile pace. My strategy was to run even splits until either 5 miles, 5K, or less to go seeing how I felt at those times and then push as hard as I could to the end. Race day was perfect – temperature in the 50’s at the start and rising slowly into the low 60’s. There was a moderate breeze that concerned me a little, but I knew we were going to have a great day to run.
Mile 1: 7:36 split – I was running comfortably and wasn’t surprised at this split.
Mile 2: 7:41 split – Another good split, nothing out of the ordinary at this point except I felt like I had to pee again.
Mile 3: 7:44 split – This is the tempo that felt good and I hoped that I could maintain.
Mile 4: 7:43 split – Locked into that tempo. I was starting to sweat somewhat, which surprised me.
Mile 5: 7:39 split – Into Lincoln Park and moving along well. Could really feel the wind here and it definitely cooled me down with my sweaty shirt.
Mile 6: 7:46 split – Soon after leaving the aid station where volunteers were yelling “Gatorade” and “water,” we were met with a guy yelling “cigars, cigarettes.” Funny.
Mile 7: 7:40 split – Getting as far north as we would be, I was glad to be turning around. But as soon as you do, you get hit with the smell of breakfast. Gets me every year. Smells so good.
Mile 8: 8:20 split – Just before the Mile 8 marker I saw the toilets and saw my chance. I had the need to go since the start and I knew I would have to make one pit stop. As far as pee breaks go, this one was typical, but I think that it cost me the sub-3:25. I didn’t try to make up the time here, I just got back on the pace I had been running. I also took my first salt capsule at the aid station. I wasn’t thinking that I would need them today, but the amount of sweating I was doing made me commit to taking one.
Mile 9: 7:42 split – Somewhere in here I tossed the homemade tube sock arm warmers I had. I had rolled them down, but kept them in case it got cold. I kept my gloves, but just held on to them, mainly for personal memento reasons.
Mile 10: 7:49 split – Okay, for some reason the race would be a let down for me if I didn’t see Elvis in this mile. Upon turning onto North Avenue, I could hear the music. Normally he is right next to the roadway, but this time he was up a little higher and I wasn’t sure I would be able to get my fist bump. But I saw an opening and went over and yelled “Hey Elvis!” and he met my fist with his. Made my day.
Mile 11: 7:45 split – Mile 11 is pretty much a straight shot back into the Loop. Kept up my pace.
Mile 12: 7:45 split – Somewhere in here I found myself running with a guy carrying an American flag. He was a very popular guy. The crowd was making noise for him and I got energy from that as well. But after the flag hit me in the face a few times, I knew that Flag Man and me would have to part ways.
Mile 13: 7:44 split – Another very close split time and I got through the 13.1 mile marker in 1:41.49. A quick calculation in my head told me I was doing just fine and looking at possibly being closer to 3:20 than 3:25. I saw Kari, Ben and Ashley for the first time through this mile and it gave me a boost. I could tell Ben was following my splits closely and was cheering me on like I usually do for his races. Made me proud.
Mile 14: 7:42 split – A little faster, probably due to seeing the family and starting to head through the Cheer Zone of the route.
Mile 15: 7:38 split – Another faster split time as I headed into the Dead Zone of the race.
Mile 16: 7:58 split – Not sure why there is a 20 second difference. Maybe I hit the split/lap button too early in the previous mile.
Mile 17: 7:55 split – Okay, now I realize that I’m edging closer to 8 min/mile pace. As long as I kept it under 8’s I felt I’d be okay. I saw my family again and got another lift.
Mile 18: 7:53 split – I wasn’t feeling bad, I just couldn’t get back to the 7:45’s. I was walking a little more in the aid stations, making sure I was getting a good drink of Gatorade.
Mile 19: 7:46 split – Heading into Pilsen and feeling pretty good still. I could really feel the head wind now.
Mile 20: 7:55 split – At 20, I knew I was doing good but chose not to push any harder yet.
Mile 21: 8:05 split – Okay, lots of distractions in Chinatown – the music, crowds and of course the photographers distracted me enough that may have made this a slower mile split.
Mile 22: 7:50 split – It was at this point I made a choice to hold off until the last two miles before pushing hard. I made the same decision in 2015.
Mile 23: 8:07 split – (See note below) Just a 5K to go, and I got my last gel in me. Here’s where in your mind you are ready to turn to the finish line, but the course takes you south and then east for a block until you hit Michigan Avenue for the final stretch. I tried picking off runners that were ahead of me, one at a time.
Mile 24: 8:07 split – (Miles 23 and 24 were averaged as I missed the marker for Mile 23 and hit the lap button around 9:20 or so. I added them together and averaged them for the splits.) I felt like I was really pushing, but the effort was all in my head as it was taking that effort physically to maintain what I perceived as a fast pace. With two miles to go, I put my head down and started running.
Mile 25: 7:47 split – That’s more like it, although I thought I was running sub-7 at this point. Toward the end of this mile I saw a sign that read “800M”, meaning 800 meters to go. But my mind read it as “BOOM”, a saying my fellow triathletes had in the 2013 Ironman Wisconsin race. Either way, it was a positive for me.
Mile 26: 7:41 split – The fastest mile I had run since about Mile 14. I turned and climbed “Mount Roosevelt” and it seemed like an eternity. A quick left and I was checking my watch to see how close I was to 3:25. I sprinted with all I had left.
Mile 26.2/FINISH: 3:25.08 – Missed being under 3:25 by 9 seconds. But that really didn’t disappoint me at all. I had just gotten my second Boston qualifier, a BQ-4:52 as they say, which should be more than enough to get me into the 2018 Boston Marathon. If that’s not fast enough, I’m not sure what else I can do.
The finishing chute was a blur. I was really having a hard time moving forward, almost staggering and felt really drained. It wasn’t long and they handed us a bottle of water. I started sipping on it and then grabbed another salt capsule out of my fuel belt and downed it. I made my way to some misting fans and just kind of hung out there a little bit until moving on.
I chose an older lady out of all the volunteers to put the medal around my neck and wrestled with my emotions a little bit. Seems strange that after 16 marathon finishes, I still get a little choked up at finishing a race, especially when I set a personal best or have a great race.
I shuffled along picking up a banana, an apple and a bag of goodies and then saw the group of guys handing out the mylar blankets. They were pushing them like they were car salesmen or something. They were trying to get people to laugh and it worked. I got my blanket and headed for the gate. One last picture as I walked out and then I made my way back to the Hilton to meet my family.
After a quick shower it was a two block walk to Devil Dawg’s on State Street for the usual post event lunch. Another successful Chicago Marathon in the books!
Here’s some of the details of my race that helped me get another personal best and Boston Qualifier.
Running Gear: Nike 2016 Chicago Marathon Event shirt (not the participant shirt – that is a no-no in my book!) and visor, along with Nike Flex running shorts with the built in mid-thigh liner, all purchased at the expo.
Arm warmers made from new tube socks.
Skin Glide lotion for my feet to prevent blisters.
Two Band-Aid flexible fabric bandages to cover my useless nipples.
Louis Garneau Mid Ride cycling socks.
FuelBelt brand bib number belt with pouch.
ASICS Gel-Exalt 3 running shoes. I have been running in some of the cheapest ASICS shoes I can buy. They were great. I had broken them in two weeks prior to the race.
Three Salted Caramel (extra electrolytes, caffeinated), and four Root Beer flavored GU brand gels. I took one Salted Caramel about 15 minutes prior to the start, then one gel every 30 minutes. Two Root Beer, then one Salted Caramel until they were gone.
Four Salt Stik brand salt capsules. I took one at the hotel at about 6 am, and then took one every hour after the first hour.
One cup of Gatorade at every aid station, with an occasional water as well.
Timex Ironman 50 lap watch. I have a Garmin 910XT but don’t trust it. The Timex Ironman has never let me down.
Results: 20:52 Official, 20:45 Garmin watch – 17th overall, 16th Male overall, 3rd place M50-54
I enjoy racing at the Frankfort Park District Short Run on a Long Day 5K for a couple of reasons. First, it’s held on a midweek evening which means most of the day has passed and all you need to do is worry about running and not the million other things you have to do that day. I also enjoy the fact that it brings out some good competition and allows me to race against a higher percentage of my faster peers. At another local race that was run in my town in late April I would have finished second overall, so this race tells me more about myself than placing high in a race that had no competition.
The race day this year was hot – 89 degrees – when I checked the car thermometer. I decided to not let that bother me, and I decided that I would push myself anyway. During warm-up I was jogging shirtless past a couple of moms who were pushing their kids in strollers. One of the kids said “Daddy!” which prompted me to chuckle and say “Daddy must be hairy too.” That seemed to get me in a good mood.
The start was typical, too many slowpokes in the front that I would have to navigate around. One guy asked another what time he was shooting for and the guy said around 21 minutes. That guy I thought had a chance at that. But when he asked the other guy, said he wasn’t sure, “maybe 22 or 23” minutes. I immediately thought of the movie Mr. Mom when he responded 220 / 221 – whatever it takes. This guy looked like he would be over 25 minutes to me.
As usual my son Ben also ran the race. He did his typical college runner thing in warm-ups, and then found an old high school buddy to run the race with. He made his way to the front of the line at the last minute. Must be cool to have the speed to back that up! He finished second overall for the 3rd year in a row I think. He keeps losing to the same guy. Not really fair for Ben, as he is coming off a mandatory 2 week recovery period from track season. And he had a head cold. I’m guessing he’ll beat this guy someday.
The guy that starts the race likes to stand right in the middle of the road and warn people not to run him over when the race starts. I find that to be the dumbest thing, but typical of a race that is run by the park district versus a race that is run by a runner or running club. He hit the siren on the bullhorn, snapped a picture and we all took off. I was hitting Z4 heart rate within the first 1/4 mile. The group spread out pretty quickly and I focused on getting my breathing rhythm under control. The first mile hit and I missed the water stop. I was getting quite a dry mouth, but I didn’t worry about it. For some reason the water stop was positioned on the left hand side of the trail we were running on, and in my opinion it should have been on the right. When running on a trail, all users should stay right, and there were definitely other bikes and trail users on the trail that would force us over. Matter of fact, one kid that passed me around the 1/2 mile mark shouted “BIKER UP!” which startled me somewhat, but had he not yelled that I may have not seen the guy.
When we hit the one mile marker another guy got on my shoulder and asked how I was doing. Apparently he was feeling me out. I said I was doing good. He mentioned that he thought the split on the clock was too fast, and I agreed. My watch split said about 6:15 for the first mile. He tried to talk some more but I zipped it and focused on catching the next guy. I dropped him and never saw him again.
When we made the turn off the trail and onto the side streets I started to catch a lot of guys that had gone out too fast. From that point, about 1.5 miles into the race, I kind of fell into no man’s land again. This happens to me a lot, I end up being the slowest of the faster runners or the faster of the mid-packers. I don’t remember passing or being passed from that point on.
Around the two mile marker I saw a lady by a table that had cups of water on it. Apparently she was the sole worker for that water stop, but it was on the far side of the road on a turn, which meant that I would not be able to take the tangent if I wanted to get some water. Since I was really hot, I decided to make a try at it and she met me halfway. I took the cup and splashed it on me. What happened next was a surprise – I almost felt hotter! Not sure if the temp of the water was an issue, or that I was just too hot for it to do anything. I can remember my tri buddy Alex mentioning this once, and I took note.
I could feel myself starting to fade, but between mile 2 and 3 there are a lot of turns, which meant I could look back and see how close runners were behind me. There was no one around that I was worried about. I came upon a guy who said good job and was spraying a hose for us to stay cool. But again, he was on the side of the street that would require me to move over from the straightest line to get relief. It was too late to take him up on the water anyway, as I was determined to kick to the end.
Once I got to the last tenth of a mile I knew I had no challengers, but I pushed myself anyway. My son was there yelling at me to go all in, a payback in a way for all the times I yelled at him in junior high and high school to push harder. Now that he is a D-III runner, I usually just yell “Good Job!” or “GO Ben!”
My watch said 20:45 at the end, which was a little disappointing seeing that it wasn’t as fast as I thought I could run, nor as fast as I thought I was running. But seeing that it was so hot, I guess it is a pretty respectable time, all things considered.