Race Report: 2015 Chicago Marathon (2:28:44)

Immediately after the Boston Marathon I received a text message from my running buddy who finished a couple seconds ahead of me. There were no words. Just a link to Chicago Marathon Application.


If you recall from my daily vlogs, I spent a part of the summer traveling in Japan and Korea. Accordingly training didn’t really start until 13 weeks out. A majority of that time was spent getting back into shape after stuffing my face in Korea and getting my mileage back up. All of my runs and workouts are public on Strava so feel free to take a look and follow me! My max mileage for this training cycle was 70 miles in six days. I had originally set a time goal of 2:29:59. Since the training volume was significantly lower compared to Boston and more importantly I didn’t participate in a warmup race I felt my goal was unrealistic. I thought 2:35–2:40 was a better reflection of my current fitness.

before the race:

We took Uber to the gate and walked to the entrance of the A corral. It took about 10 minutes to get through the gate and walk to the Corral. I arrived 50 minutes before the corral was scheduled to close and spent 45 minutes in line for the bathroom. Since there was a shortage of porta-potties in the Corrals many runners were stressing out and proceeded to piss on trees, fences, anything really. After that fiasco I attempted to make my way to the front of the corral so I didn’t get boxed in. I’m sorry to everyone that I bumped to get closer to the front.

I like the mile by mile race report format. It breaks down the race nicely and is in my opinion the most realistic representation of my thought process during the race. Please leave a comment if you like this format or let me know if I can be more specific in any portion of the race. I appreciate it!

The Race. A Mile at a Time:

mile 1: 5:33, The race opened up nicely. I quickly moved up to try find a group to run with. I know the pace is a little hot after I see the first mile split. There’s still a decent amount of people around me so I just picked a group and followed along.

mile 2: 5:36, Turns out Sara Hall is in the group I’m running with so theres lots of attention from the crowd, which is cool. At this point people around me are finding their pace and starting to settle in.

mile 3: 5:33, its decently windy so I’m constantly shifting in the group so that there’s someone in front of me breaking the wind. My thinking is that I’m going out way to fast so I should conserve as much as I can and try get my heart rate back down in the 160s (spoiler: it doesn’t until mile 25). It’s still a hot mile. I constantly trying to calm myself down as I’ve read the horror stories of going out way to hard. I keep thinking about how many workouts I haven’t done. and that it’s not going to end well.

mile 4: 5:31, still chillin with Sara and the group. there’s about 8 of us total. seems like everyone is pretty content with hitting 5:30s. I’m just trying to relax. other than that not much going on. I’m counting the miles down in my head and reminding myself that I need to find water soon to take my next gu pack.

mile 5: 5:31, the group is still together. I found water and ate a gu gel. It’s getting pretty windy in the park so I’m still drafting behind the group. My HR is still in the 170s. It’s around this point where I accepted my fate of a slower more painful second half. My strategy is to get as far as I can without hitting the wall by doing my best to relax and save energy.

mile 6: 5:35, the group is slowing down and a couple guys are aware but no one wants to take the initiative and leave because of the wind. I decide to try and make my way up to a couple guys running 50 feet ahead. It takes almost the entire mile but I’m now drafting behind two other guys and left the Sara Hall group behind.

mile 7: 5:36, its a lot harder without the group. I feel bad just drafting but I know if I lead it’s going to take a toll and make the second half a lot worse.

mile 8–13: 5:39, 5:35, 5:35 5:34, 5:34, 5:39, the pace is slowing a bit. HR is still around 173 and I’m still running with the same two guys. We are slowly passing others and some hang on for a couple minutes but then fall off. I took the lead and broke the wind for mile 10 and no one took advantage of it so I backed off and just followed along. At this point my left hip is getting a little tight but the rest of my body feels okay. I don’t feel as good as I did in miles 2–7 but I’m almost at halfway so I keep telling myself to keep going and get as far I can before I hit the wall. Its worth mentioning that there’s a few rolling hills going up and down from the bridges. It breaks up the monotony of the flats but man do they hurt. I thought this course was pancake flat.

HALF: 1:13:17, dear god I just set a new PR in the half. A part of me is feeling pretty awesome and the other half is scared. I keep telling myself to keep going. Its just two of us at this point. I’m trying to hang on but it feels like the guy I’m running with went too slow through half and is trying to negative split, which sucks for me cause I don’t want to run alone. My previous half PR is 1:14.

Miles 14–20: 5:34, 5:28, 5:34, 5:26, 5:34, 5:44, 5:34, really just trying to stay focused at this point. this is way faster than I planned to go through 20. but I made it this far. I remind myself that 20 is the halfway point. I wanna keep going before the wall comes. it’s really becoming a harder effort to keep pace with the guy I’ve been running with for the past 10 miles. I took a gu right before 15 since the water table and mile marker were at different spots. Not a problem. At mile 19 he dropped me and took off and I never seen him again.

Mile 21: 5:43, hurting pretty bad. I think at this point I’m audibly telling myself to just get to mile 22. My hamstrings and calves are definitely starting to cramp. I’m doing everything I can to psych myself up. I’m relieved when I see the 22 mile marker. just gotta keep going. one lady I passed said I’m killing my corral which gave me some motivation. This might have been the hardest mile mentally. It took a lot to relax and keep going.

Mile 22: 5:38, got some energy in this mile, probably the gu I took at 20 kicking in. I’m still running alone and catch a few guys that hit the wall. It’s a long straight for the next couple miles so the crowd is pretty stretched out. I’m thinking that I might actually make it!

Mile 23: 6:10, oh god the wall. I just want to stop. I let my guard down for a minute and the wall appeared. I took some Gatorade and just tried to keep my legs moving. I’m thinking since I made it this far I can survive a 3 mile suffer fest plus I knew this was gonna happen. I should be glad it’s at mile 23 and not 18. Lets finish this thing!

Mile 24: 5:52, rallying at this point. I’m doing everything I can to get to the next mile mark. My legs are starting to give up and the punishment from going out too fast is becoming a reality.

Mile 25: 6:10, another slow mile though I’m going as fast as I can. My legs are cramping pretty hard. This is actually the only time my heart rate dips below 170. I’m trying to keep my form and get some energy from the crowd. It’s so much easier to deal with this when there’s only a mile left. I get passed by Deena Kastor around here. Absolutely stoked she broke the masters record. I wish I could have closed the last couple miles with her.

Mile 26: 5:52, made it to 26. thank god. I’m surprised and happy I made it this far. the 800m and 400m remaining signs helped a lot. My hamstring and calves are cramping on every step. Its gotten to the point where I have to run with my leg as straight as possible to avoid a major cramp.

Last .2: 1:44, oh god there’s an uphill here. why is there a hill. I stopped to stretch my hamstring for 10 seconds halfway up right before the last turn so I can make it to the finish. The crowd just started yelling at me to keep going. 100% sure if I didn’t stop I wouldn’t have made it to the finish.

26.2: 2:28:44, literally just wanna cry because I never thought I’d ever run this fast. especially after the training cycle I just went through. absolutely stoked that the last half of the race wasn’t as bad as I pictured at mile 10. I got my medal and chugged a 312. thanks goose island.

positive takeaways:

It was awesome to go sub 2:30. I definitely had my doubts about the race and I’m happy somehow something amazing happened. I’m also very happy that I didn’t psych myself out and slow down in the first half. It will definitely help my mentality in future races.

where I could improve:

The last 4 miles were the worst. I think more volume and longer tempo workouts will help me in the few miles. I think creating a more specific training plan and learning more about marathon training will be beneficial.

what’s next?

My next scheduled race is the Tokyo Marathon on February 28th 2016.

Originally published at ctrlf.