after three weeks of tapering down running and getting my personalized running shirt, the start of the chicago marathon had finally arrived.
it was chilly in grant park, with temps hovering around 37°F. it was cold enough that the day before i went to a thrift store in wicker park and picked up some stylish “disposable” cold weather sweats that i could ditch after warming up. i can’t believe i didn’t get a picture of me in what looked like a 1985 “sports illustrated” branded warming jacket.
and, wow, was there a lot of people. i think the official count was something like 45,000 runners which is a. lot. of. people. i forgot what it was like to run with that many people and, to be honest, it started messing with head about 20 miles into the race!
here’s the view after the start. there are so many people that it took about 10 or 15 minutes of slowly ambling along before you even get to the starting line. this was also the first year officials created two separate starting times. the first group started at 7 am. i was in the second group that started at 8 am. i’m not sure but this might have been done, in part, to cut down on the time it takes to just get started. if i recall correctly, when i ran 9 years ago it took 45 minutes just to cross the starting line, which is a long time to be standing around on a chilly morning!
people were tossing their “disposable” clothes while slowly making their way to the start so it can be a little tricky to not trip over piles of clothes before you even get going.
i had the best intentions of taking a bunch of photos along the way but my droid phone completely drained its battery after just 7 miles while running runkeeper after switching to 4G.
so it was extra nice that kris remembered to bring her camera and was able to catch some nice shots, like this one just moments after i spotted them at about 7.5 miles mark.
odin was happy to see me, but i think he was also happy to have me get moving so he can jump on the “L” with kris in their own race to meet me at the next stop.
they also met up with me at about the 17 mile marker. none of us had mobile phones, so it was no small miracle that we were able to catch each other along the route. i knew the general marker that we were going to try and meet up, but the entire route was packed with spectators so it was really tough to pick them out even though they were waving signs and ringing cow bells.
i think you can hardly tell i got up at 5 am and have been running for 17 miles 🙂
at this point, i’m still feeling pretty good. i maintained about a 4:20 actual running pace through the first 16 miles and was running slower than i could have run because of a nagging, knotty feeling i had in my right hamstring. it wasn’t anything painful but it had been noticeable through my entire three weeks of tapering and was the kind of thing that might turn out to be nothing or might send me hobbling at the 20 mile mark.
you’ll also note that it’s still cold enough after 3 hours of running that i still have my thrift store running pants on. i think it might have been 43F which can usually be shorts weather but the breeze was mighty brisk.
my personalized ov shirt worked out great. spectators could clearly see my name and i had a great time being a goofball and high-fiving long lines of folks along the entire marathon who took to cheering my name 🙂
no joke, it’s a great motivator and totally not as narcissistic as it might sound.
it was also fun to hear people yell my name and then shout “i love organic valley!” after i ran by. there was even a guy who wanted to talk about how much he loved ov as we were running along.
incidentally, the shirt was made by atayne and is made from 100% recycled polyester produced from post-consumer plastic bottles.
one of the many great things about running in the chicago marathon is going through all the awesome areas that make up chicago like chinatown which is on the route around miles 19-21. tons of people in all the neighborhoods line the streets and highlight the diversity in chicago. i wish i could have taken more pictures of the bands playing and the characters along the way, but alas my phone was dead.
and here i am at about mile 21. not sure what’s going on here. getting a little loopy. it was awesome running into kris and odin again because i was fighting The Bad Thoughts from mile 16 to 21. i think everyone gets them and fighting through them is all part of The Marathon Experience. after 20 miles your body is really doing all it can to tell you that it really doesn’t want to keep going. but you just have to fight through it and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
stretching it out before heading off for the last 6 miles. AND SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE, THAT’S NOT A BALD SPOT! I GOT A SHORT HAIR CUT AND MY RUNNING CAP SMOOSHED MY HAIR ALL WEIRD!
ah, all the hard work and, at last, a photo of me running triumphantly towards the finish line while my wife and son cheer me on from the stands!
except! kris! missed! the! shot!
and instead she got a nice shot of the old guy who almost beat me 🙂
( seriously, i hope i’m still able to run marathons when i’m his age )
frantically, kris tried to get another shot of me running towards the finish and instead got a shot of a guy who sort-of looks like me.
even though action sports photography might not be her forte, she’s a keeper.
i made it! 26.2 miles! whooohooooooooooooooo!
all things considered it was a great run. my “chip time” was almost exactly 5 hours from start to finish, but my actual running time after factoring in stops to see kris and odin and two veeeerrrryyyy long waits in bathroom lines was probably somewhere between 4:30-4:40 which is just about what i wanted to run and even a little bit better considering i was running slower than i could for most of the marathon to make sure i didn’t gimp across the finish line with a knotty hamstring ( which ended up clearing up magically at about 20 miles.
had i known my hamstring wasn’t going to give me any trouble i probably could have ran 4:20, but i’m totally happy with my finishing time given the fact that i was able to sprint ( or as close as i can come to sprinting after running a marathon ) the last 1.5 miles and had plenty of gas left in the tank.
hi, ho! next time!
and i think there will be a next time. or at least another marathon, even if it’s not the chicago marathon. to be honest, although i had a great time overall, running with 45,000 other people can be a draining mentally. i remember it being invigorating 9 years ago, but this time around i was surprised at just how much mental energy it takes to run with that many people in feels like “shoulder to shoulder” conditions the entire time. there were plenty of times when i could have potentially ran faster but it felt like it was going to take too much energy to try and negotiate a path between all the runners. maybe my next marathon will be a little smaller. then again, 45,000 runners really brings out the crowds which is energizing and fun. so who knows. but that’s a minor point.
the important point is that i set a goal of losing 70 pounds and getting in shape for a marathon and i did it.
and now odin now knows his poppi really can run 26.2 miles and not just talk about the time he did it before he was born 🙂
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