Heat Is Not My Friend

I have run five marathons.   The two warmest were the Chicago Marathons of 2010 and 2011.   They are also my worst performances.

 My cousin Pete and his wife Terri graciously let my family use their house in the city for the night since they were away overnight at a wedding.   Thanks guys.  My pre-race meal was a simple pasta with marinara and some mozzarella with friends.   I got to bed about 9:30 and slept straight through until just after three.   I laid there for another hour before it was time to get ready.  I organized my gear bag and had a two block walk to the El stop  and rode the train into the city.   I brought a bagel with PB and a banana to eat on the way.  I met up with my friend Ed by accident near the Congress Hotel. A race of 45,000 people and I run into him in the dark.

I really have no definitive explanation for what happened today.  Here are the raw stats:
Mile 1 7:56                  Mile 14& 15 17:08 (8:34 avg)
2  – 7:45                      16 – 8:42
3 – 7:35                       17 – 9:19
4 – 7:32                       18 – 9:29
5 – 7:37                       19 – 9:09
6 – 7:55                       20 – 9:39
7 – 7:34                       21 – 10:42
8 – 8:04                       22 – 10:10
9 – 7:50                       23 – 11:46
10 – 7:49                     24 – 10:06
11 – 7:42                     25 – 10:31
12 – 7:46                     26.2 13:52 (11:33 avg)  Final Time 3:51:43
13 – 7:55
Half Time 1:41:57  (Projected Full 3:23:54)

I got the corrals in plenty of time and sat down until we were ready to go.  I love the corral system at Chicago.  Since I qualified for the B Corral, it allowed me to run without any interference from the gun.   I do remember being a little too excited at the start. Most likely because other than today my training was great except for the chest cold in the first week of taper.  Almost every race this year was PR.  All outside indicators pointed to a sub 3:30 race.  66F at the start.

As you can see the first 13 miles was right on target for my attempted 3:25.   I was shocked at how easy it was feeling.   The 8:04 was not an aberration.   I forced myself to slow and watch people pass.    Then it happened.  Just before Mile 14 I took my second Gu and drink water.  Almost immediately I almost lost my breakfast.  I decided to walk a short distance to let the feeling pass.  I began to run and a cramp popped up in my upper abdomen just under my bottom rib.  Mile 14 and 15 were combined because I was occupied and didn’t notice the mile marker.  I attempted to walk through the aid stations and run the balance.  Then my lower back began to seize up.   As I walked the muscles relaxed and I began to run again.  Only to slow to a walk when it became too tough to run again.   At one point during Mile 22 a woman came up next to me when I was walking and asked if I wanted company as she was hurting as well.  Then she told me I wasn’t walking fast enough.  C’mon, I didn’t ask for the company so don’t demand me to walk faster.

I slowly watched all my goals go out the window.    It was in the 70’s at the finish.  I have no idea why my day was so bad.  Was it the heat?  Was it the cold from two weeks ago?  Did I eat too much for a warm day?  Where did the back cramps come from? None of this has ever happened during races or training.  I will never know and that is frustrating.   I was mad for a couple of hours but I’m over it now.  It was a single opportunity missed.  I’ll be back.


3 thoughts on “Heat Is Not My Friend”

  1. I was almost as miserable as you watching your splits on the Chicago website! Okay, not nearly. But I felt so bad for you.

    I'm sure the heat was a factor. Another possible contributing culprit might be that miles 3-5 and 7 are way too fast for your goal. Yes, 12-17 seconds is way too fast in the early miles. Alternating too-slow and too-fast miles is not the same as running correct pace! But it does seem weird that you got knocked down so early. Pacing problems usually bite you late, not at the half. So I dunno.


  2. bad luck jim, we all have off days though i know that isn't much consolation to you at this moment in time.

    i wouldn't try to figure out what went wrong just yet. remember – i had a terrible race in tokyo in 2010 but found some positives and have continued to improve since then.

    sometimes it's an experience like this that teaches most in the long run and helps us improve.

    your preparation was good just put it down to a bad day and move on. you are better than this performance and your day will come


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