I was thinking about it the other night and I really don't owe the world a race report. I owe it to myself to take an in-depth look at my race to figure out just what went wrong and learn from those experiences to make damn sure they never happen again. I imagine such an examination is going to be long and boring and frankly...unentertaining. So I'm not going to ask you to suffer through a post of technical nature with BPM and RPE and caloric intake. I'll do that on my own time. So rather, I'm going to give you a brief look at the incredible letdown that was ChiMary08. Nothing too detailed. Just, what I perceive to be, the highs and lows of the day.
Apparently lightning really does strike twice. It was once again an unseasonably warm day here in Chicago. Depending on which forecast you looked at, the high for the day was anywhere from 76 to 81. And of course, nary a cloud in the sky. Not nearly as bad as last year as the humidity wasn't high...but still, not ideal for running. Let's just say after the past three years of unpredictable crappy weather...I'm breaking up with the Chicago Marathon.
The night before the race, Mike and I were laying down in bed and I just lost it. I didn't really care about the race...and that
really bothered me. Never have I just not cared about a "big" race like this. I didn't know if my heart wasn't in it or if 10 consecutive months of training had just worn me down to the point of not caring. But that's neither here nor there. I ultimately just wasn't feelin' it. And when you go into any type of endurance event with that mindset, you're just asking for trouble.
The next morning when I woke up to start getting ready, I just felt really uneasy. It would come and go in waves, leaving almost as quickly as it came. And I regret to report that this race was not yak-free (sorry, Rae).
There were heaves and bile, and later on the course a nice upchuck of gatorade and endurolytes. Fun stuff. I got a few small bites of PB&J down and about half a granola bar down. I figured I ate well the night before and would be fueling well on the run, so I'd be good nutrition-wise.
Before I knew it. We were lined up and moving forward toward the start line. We ran through the loop...and at mile 2...yes, you read that correctly...2 miles into a 26.2 mile race, my right calf was making itself known. It would tighten up a bit as if to say "Hiiiiii!! I'm here!!"
Something wasn't right.
My race plan was out the window before it was ever even implemented.
I'd be able to run about a mile about an 11:45 pace, which was on target with most of my training and my half marathon race pace from earlier in the year. Any faster and it would tighten up. Any slower and it'd get pissed off. Then the mile turned into a half mile. And the half mile turned into a quarter mile. And soon...I was counting miles off by running every few blocks.
Point blank. It was miserable. I was miserable. And I wasn't even at mile 8 yet.
I saw a random friend from college on the sidelines, so that was a fun little pick me up. And then I saw another good friend up in Boystown. We had discussed the possibility of him "going for a run" with me during the marathon, but nothing had been agreed upon. But the moment I saw him, I pretty much wanted to beg for him to lace up and meet me in the back end (assuming I'd make it there in one piece).
Had it not been for the names on the back of my jersey, I would've dropped out by mile 12. Things simply weren't going my way and I wasn't having any of it. I'd already been to a med tent where they helped me stretch out and the pain still persisted. When I saw my parents cheering me on as I made my way back into the heart of Chicago, I just wanted to sit down on the curb and say "eff it all."
I'm not sure what made me think of it, but the thought about having to write a family friend telling her that the marathon I was running in memory of her daughter who passed away from non-hodgkins lymphoma wasn't going as planned and that I bailed. Her daughter was put through the ringer in her battle with cancer...and I couldn't make it through 26.2 miles because of a cramping calf.
I couldn't do that to her. And I couldn't do that to myself.
It came down to a "come hell or high water" mentality that I was going to finish. Usually this mindset comes into play somewhere toward the end of the race...I've never had to switch mental gears before the halfway point.
I willed my body back through the loop and through the West Loop and Little Italy and Pilsen. I enjoyed company while it lasted and tried everything I could to get my nutrition back on track. I had forgotten to restock my Gu when I saw my parents at mile 11, so I was pressing forward with nothing on me and relied solely on what the spectators and course had to offer. I ran into a TNT coach somewhere around mile 16 and she literally saw my calf seizing in and out. She helped me stretch and suggested I stop by a medical tent to get it wrapped. I pulled over at the next tent...and while there was nothing they could do in terms of wrapping it...they suggested I up my salt intake.
By now I had gone through my endurolytes and figured this was a good solution...and so I took a shot of a teaspoon of salt off the back of my hand. While it was disgusting, it brought back memories of college and the days where my liver could handle more than 1 shot of liquor.
I would visit 3 more medical tents before the day would be over. All of which produced similar results.
The only reason I kept moving forward was to simply get the race over with. Things weren't going my way. I was annoyed. It was hot. My body hurt. And frankly, I wanted nothing more than to take off my shoes and throw them to the side of the road at the overzealous spectators. I had been in a bite me zone for 20+ miles.
When I rounded the turn in China Town, I saw my first glance of reprieve. Lauren and Mel were there cheering their little hearts out for me with their "Barb is Sexy" sign. God love 'em. I must have given them a glare of death because the next thing I knew they were by my side trying to make sure I was ok. We pulled over and Lauren stretched me out. Let me tell you...these two girls did everything they could to make me smile and laugh and feel good about my race that had so quickly turned sour. They rock.
We eventually run into one of my TNT mentees who had been looking to qualify for Boston. My first inclination was, "what the hell are you doing back here with me." She was walking with her parents and in obvious frustration. And while she was on pace for the race of her life, an asthma attack had other plans for her. That girl has some grit and will, I tell you. When the med staff tried to pull her from the course, she wouldn't have any of it and agreed to walk the final 11 miles in to finish what she started. I have no doubt in my mind that she will be able to grab the BQ that she is so capable of running in her next marathon. She knows who she is...and she's such an inspiration.
By this point, my previously aforementioned friend from the beginning of the race finds me after braving the El train further south than I'm sure he cared to travel. Apparently my mom had said something about turquoise vomit (I have no idea where this came from) and he made his way to find me in the back half. The world needs more people as cynical and good-natured as him.
So here I am. In misery. Armed with three fantastic friends who are doing everything in their power to keep my spirits up and keep me moving forward. While I'd like to say there was a good chunk of running in the mix...I think all three would laugh at this prospect. I was lucky if I made it a block while running. At one point Lauren ran and grabbed a vat of salt from a gas station. I stretched, walked backwards, did everything imaginable...but the day was intended to be completed in an immense amount of pain. I am thankful that I was surrounded by such great people to keep my mind off of it all.
By the time I made my way up Roosevelt and turned the corner to the finish line, I saw my parents, my nephew and my mother in law all cheering for me. I'm pretty sure I looked like crap. But I didn't care. I finished in a time that rivaled my first marathon in Phoenix in 2006 that I basically walked. While I wasn't amused with the way the cards fell, I was just relieved that it was over. I suffered through 24 of the 26.2 miles and found a way to simply get it done.
My mind was tougher than I thought.
This past month I have taken a very well deserved hiatus from running. I think we earned it. Afterall, we've been going nonstop since January.
But I'll be the first to admit...while the break has been nice...it feels like something has been missing. I find sanity in training. It keeps me well-grounded. The past few weeks have felt very nomadic, for lack of a better word.
But pretty soon, there will be a new deadline and race day to find security in and work against....a new light at the end of the tunnel--the very long tunnel that is 2009.
Until that time comes, I think I'll lace up my shoes and go for a little run this weekend.
Labels: Chicago Marathon