Desire is a frightful master—like fire it sweeps away the supports of the soul, leaving nothing but smoldering ashes. But, also like Fire, Desire is a splendid servant and by its harnessed power we are able to generate the steam of the Will and Activity, and to accomplish much in the world. Without proper Desire the world would be without activity.
William Walker Atkinson
|In my corral ready to roll. I think that's a look of: This is a 5k, right? Perhaps I was just
wondering when I'd fall asleep like the guy behind me.
This morning, while I was out on a very slow 4-mile run, I thought of some great things to say but now as I sit here and type, I can't think at all. Nothing is flowing. It doesn't help that I have the Kona Ironman on live feed to distract my Chicago thoughts either. So beware, here comes the mumbo-jumbo rambling long version!
I love to race!! This shouldn't be any big revelation to most of you. Racing is in my blood ... I think this stems from the years I ran and swam competitively in high school and college. Back then, it was all about winning, scoring points for your team, improving, and beating your previous time. Races were weekly and the journey to each race, though definitely important, wasn't the thrill - the thrill came when I stood on the starting line or starting block and the gun went off and I gave that race my all and hoped everything came together. Repeat week after week after week.
These days, races for me - especially the marathon and the half - are performed best at the end of a training cycle - the journey - to that particular race. Marathon race day comes after months of hard work where I've pushed my body to it's ultimate fitness so come race day, I can go out there and test if that hard work paid off. I know many people don't like to race (and that's perfectly okay...that's what I love about how unique we all are) but for ME, I love them because the journey to the start line pushes myself beyond the physical demands and crazy mental demons - and I CRAVE this! I LOVE the journey, but I am not sure I'd push myself as hard if I didn't have a lofty goal sitting out there dangling. I don't particularly enjoy the race itself, I enjoy the work getting to that race and using the race as a final exam. The final exam is my test to see how well I prepared. I absolutely love it.
So of course I was disappointed the journey to Chicago produced nothing but frustration and a few painful miles. I missed the training so, so, sooo much and didn't really want to go to Chicago; I had nothing to test and figured the race would probably cause deeper wounds in my already thrashed and fragile running brain....the absolute last thing I needed. But when I found a stellar $125 round-trip ticket, I figured this was a sign and someone was trying to tell me something (yes, very superstitious as you all know!). If I tried to have a good time and enjoy the 26.2 miles (as much as one can enjoy 26.2 miles ill-trained), then maybe this race could be a much-needed turning point for me.
|Michel, Me, Marcia and Marlene.
Your name had to start with an M for this blogger meet-up.
|Shirt Front. I thought this would
help me find my inner
awesomeness. Plus it was pink!
Maybe just one more...
I didn't even stress when we ate dinner that night around the time I usually go to bed, but I was careful not to eat much....so it was an utter fail on the day before pre-race fueling, but no worries cuz...I wasn't racing! We meet-up with Bobbi for dinner that night and in my carb-depleted state of weakness, forgot to get a picture. But Bobbi is awesome and it was so worth the late-ish night.
Marcia was my rock throughout the whole weekend. Seriously!!! She let me crash at her place for a couple days and drug my sorry butt downtown at super dark o'clock race morning, paid more than I make in a day for parking, and found me throughout the entire race, waving Mr. Pumpkin so I could easily find her. Her experience with this race (and the city) was priceless; I absorbed everything she told me.
Marcia got me to the race with plenty of time to chill and relax (in the car, because it was a balmy 45 degrees) and schlepped me to the shortest porta-potties and got me to my seeded corral easily (I'm sure on my own, I would have been wandering around aimlessly and a nervous wreck).
So, death by being trampled on or death by running a marathon which my longest training run prior was 8 miles. This wasn't looking good. When my nice 3:35 friend asked me what time I hoped to cross, I told her, "5:30...but if it's 6:00, then that'd be fine." Seriously, I had absolutely no idea where my physical limits were going to stop me, it was anyone's guess - including mine. But more than my physical limits, I was severely worried where my pea-sized brain would start screaming at me, "This sucks - stop now!" This is a serious weakness when I'm well-prepared for a marathon....God only knows where my feeble mind of mine was going to crap out for this race.
My plan, or lack thereof, was just to run at whatever pace felt good and walk when my physical or mental limits made me. My angry foot was also a huge concern; walking around the expo the day before it was in a pissy mood and had anything sharp been in my presence, I may have tried to cut the damn thing off. I really had serious doubts it was going to cooperate past a few miles. I wore my Kinvaras because they made my ankle feel the best, but I had Marcia on standby at mile 14 with a more solid shoe - just in case - because I had never worn the Kins on a run over a half marathon before.
The first 8 miles felt amazing and I loved it all!!!!!!!! I loved running through downtown and into Lincoln Park with it's gorgeous autumn colored leaves. The massiveness of this race wasn't a problem at all - I easily felt I could run whatever pace I wanted and not feel like I was getting run over. I was pretty stoked to see my miles hitting the low to mid 8's. I saw Marcia at mile 2 and gave her and Mr. P. a high-five and was literally in awe at the constant crowds cheering. No, SCREAMING - these spectators were amazing....and I'm not normally one who really gives a crap about cheering fans, but this was beyond incredible and far exceeded the massive crowds in Boston (there was not one spot along the entire course where there were gaps in spectators - not one single spot!). The miles were clicking by and I was loving every single second.
With each mile, though, my Garmin was beeping well before the mile marker so the course was either long or my Garmin was being wigged out by the tall buildings and first mile tunnel. It didn't matter....I'm certain Chicago didn't mis-mark their course :), but as each mile got shorter and shorter, this actually became a great mental game because I started playing, "Let's see how far off my Garmin's mile will beep before the real mile" A great distraction and I couldn't believe it when I got to mile 12 and hadn't stopped to walk yet.
But my pace was slowing, and I was tiring fast .... but I was still running. I told myself to make it to the half point and I could take a walk break...but at 13.1, I crossed at 2:05 (according to THEIR mile marker ;)) and was so beyond thrilled that I celebrated by running to mile 14, where I saw Marcia and Mr. P. and was so overcome with emotion that I started crying (yep, I'm a dork!). I stopped a bit here to give Marcia a hug and told her my Kinvaras were working so no need to shoe switch. And could you believe this: I had NO, NONE, ZERO foot problems!! No aching ankle, no screaming heel or arch. I was in shock and to reward my foot, I told it we must run to mile 16. That "run" turned into a shuffle and my pace was now entering the pathetic zone, but I didn't care. My head felt fantastic and knew then this race was going far better than I ever envisioned.
At mile 18 I had to pee. Bad. I have never ever ever ever been in a race where every detail was dialed in to accommodate 45,000 runners and whenever porta-potties were coming up, I'd see signs saying "Toilets" with a big arrow pointing to them. It was great not to have to hunt one down! Immediately after, I darted directly in front of massive people to get to the other side of the road where a medical tent flag was flying high and grabbed some Vaseline for my arms, which were starting to chaff due to a shirt I've never worn in a race this long before. I was definitely tired, but couldn't believe how fast the miles seemed to tick by as we wove through all the diverse neighborhoods and I was soaking IT. ALL. IN!
I walked a teeny bit down the long stretch of downtown before I turned the corner, up the hill, and crossed the finish line. With a half smile :).
I loved absolutely everything about this race. I loved the beautiful and diverse course. The cheering fans. The perfect fall race weather. The incredibly frequent and well-stocked aid stations. The massive amounts of runners who always were cheerful and never complained (seriously, never heard a sole say one bad thing). The bands, which were more frequent - and louder - than any lame Rock and Roll I've ever done. And so, so many other things...
I love Marcia and all she did for me the past few days...taking time away from her husband and her wonderful girls to schlep me all over Chicago, then buying me some amazing Chicago deep dish pizza and cupcakes post-race to boot!
|I swear I only ate one (in about 3 bites) but I easily could
have eaten them all - even the gummy bears!
Or maybe somewhere along that course I made up my mind that this race was a starting point and my crappy 4:41 finish time meant nothing compared to how I was able to dig past my physical weakness and shut out all those mental demons which plague me when I race a marathon. Oh the irony, huh? My 4:41 is my worst time ever in a marathon (well, this isn't true, but the worst was eons ago and I won't go there right now) but yet I walked away with my cup so incredibly full.
Thank you, Chicago! In more ways than one, I think your race was EXACTLY what I needed. Satisfied, happy, pleased. Maybe I should not train for any more races and just go and enjoy??? Ha.
I'm ready to make some (big) changes with my running (more on that next time)...but for a couple weeks, I'm going to linger, just for a bit, and relish all the goodness Chicago was.
|Oh look, another shirt! :)