Where to begin?The forecast for this weekend in Chicago sucked, but I was not ready to pull the plug. What if it is just 5 degrees cooler? Maybe the 60s and 70s will be okay with my fitness level.
John suggested that maybe we bag this trip, but I was having none of it.I needed to give it a shot. So off to Chicago we went.
The drive down unfortunately was a bit stressful. We were listening to the Seminoles/Wake Forest game and it sucked to watch our team do so poorly. Oh, and traffic was ridiculous. But we got down without a hitch and headed to the expo. The taxi ride there (from the hotel) was actually a bit hilarious. The guy had on this loud opera music and was FLYING down the streets. It was crazy and we felt like we were in the beginning of a bad crime show episode. :)
The expo was good, although I didn't see much that really struck my fancy. The guys' Chicago gear was much cooler than the women's too. Figures. I did get a sweet pair of lightweight sunglasses though. We walked around a bit and then headed back to the hotel. We had a nice little pasta dinner at a local joint and then walked around to check out the corrals. Yep - same as 2009.
Back to the hotel for an early night. (BTW - the Congress hotel is awesome b/c it is close and has a 2 pm checkout; but it is STINKY!!) Although I planned to hit the hay by 8, it was impossible for me to sleep when I knew James was playing his football game under the lights. I anxiously awaited texts to hear he had a big catch (he is a wide receiver) and their team won. Yay!
I slept decent and woke up promptly at my 4:30 alarm for coffee and breakfast. I switched on the weather channel and it said 55. YES! That isn't bad. Then I looked at another channel that said it was already 66 in DOWNTOWN Chicago though. Great. As we watched the local news, they said the same as they hemmed and hawed about the crap weather (thanks). I tried to get fired up anyway and was inspired by all the awesome messages and FB posts I was receiving. Before we walked out the door, I wrote "I will" on my hand. And it made me tear up some. I was SO excited, but I knew this was going to be a tough one. But I was not giving up.
I walked to the corrals at 7 and it took FOREVER to get in. It was actually a bit nerve racking. I finally got in and was standing outside the corral B in line until just seconds before the gun went off. It was crazy. Either they had a lot faster runners this time and a very full corral, or they allowed a lot more runners in the front corrals. We took off, and as expected, it was awesome to be running in the huge crowd with spectators EVERYWHERE screaming. We ran through the tunnel and man, it was HOT.
I lost my Garmin signal and when we got through the tunnel and hit mile 1, it said I was at a 6:16 pace. Um, yeah. I knew I was not running anywhere near that. I accidentally turned my Garmin off at that point and really had no idea what pace I was really at the rest of the time.
I saw my buddy zrun at the first water stop and that was pretty cool. Just after that I saw John. Yay! Although the race was SO crowded though this time - around turns, it was very slow and I actually got kicked in the shin HARD at one point. I am not sure if it was because I was just behind the 3:30 group or what - but it really sucked compared to 2009 when I did it. Maybe being just ahead of that group last time helped. I sure would hate to be much slower though. If (okay, when) I run it again, I will definitely stay away from the pace groups. I passed a building at mile 2 and the temp read 68 degrees. Man, that sucked. Just ahead around mile 3, 69. Yeah, this race is going to be a really hard one if I finish. I decided then and there that I did not train 70-80 mile weeks to run a slow, death march marathon. I knew I felt decent and could finish under 4 hours, but the heat would take a lot out of me. BUT, if I ran this as a short training run (and pulled out early), I could still jump into Grand Rapids next weekend.
Now mind you, I have never DNFed during a marathon. Even during very tough conditions. I kind of felt like a loser for even thinking about it. I am not a quitter. But am I really a quitter for stepping off? I have worked hard and I believe in my fitness level. Is it being more of a quitter to keep on running a crap race to feel like hell and have a slow time, or to run smart, call it a day, and toe the line next weekend when my likelihood for success is much higher. Ding ding ding, option #2 wins. So I decided - I will stop when I see John at the half.
Just after this, I saw John screaming at me and I yelled and whooped it up back at him. I then totally enjoyed the ride! I slapped hundreds of outstretched hands and took it all in. I was smart this time and wrote my name on my bib number, so at least 1000 people said "Go Mindi," or "Way to go Mindi" or "You are awesome, Mindi." Sweet.
Around mile 11, I hit a shady spot and was feeling pretty darn good. The crowds are invigorating and I thought, hey, maybe I can do this. Then, I said no - this is fine now, but it is mile 11 and I knew I was around an 8 minute pace. It is only going to get harder. Sure enough, we hit a big sunny patch and it already felt brutal.
Again, I was also noticing how crowded it was. People were dodging in front of me and it was a lot more work than last time managing the crowd. The race crew was also giving out wet sponges, which was awesome. But they were all over the road. I can't imagine what a mess it would be by the time the 4 hour marathoners came through.... [Oh, and around mile 4, I hit the water stop and went to pour water on my head. I forgot I had my brand new glasses up there and they went flying off, I turned to retrieve them and crunch under another runner's foot. I then proceeded to slip on wet crushed water cups. Yikes. Fortunately I did not completely eat it (although it was admittedly close!!)].
I hit mile 13 and felt strong, but was glad I was almost done. I didn't see John until about 13.5. He screamed at me and I pulled up to him and said, "I'm done." He said, "What?!?! You can't stop, you look great." Nope, I am saving it for next weekend. It is hot and I am done. He totally got it and we walked back to the hotel. He actually told me he was so glad I did as he did not want to see me finish and then be disappointed after this incredible season. I am so thankful he was supportive.
Offical half time: 1:45:17 (goal half time would have been 1:42:30 or less)Best signs: "WTF: This is the crappiest parade I have ever seen" and "Real men last 4 hours" - there were many more that gave me big smiles. I can't remember them all, but there were a ton of fun spectators out there.
We hit the hotel, got clean, and headed home.
And that was my race that was not meant to be.
Big ups to Bridget, who ran a sub-3 despite the heat and just 13 months after having her first baby! (WOW!).
And thanks to everyone who supported me. I always cherish it.
NEXT UP: Grand Rapids Marathon 10.16.11