Friday, October 14, 2011

Can I Call Myself a Marathoner Yet?

It's taken me a long time to be able to post this blog.  I am home from my birthday / marathon weekend in Chicago where I think I have dropped the chip on my shoulder.  What chip you ask?  Well. the "6-hour" marathoner chip.  It has been pretty heavy.  I never felt that running 1 marathon made me a marathoner and I wanted to run at least 1 more in order to have earned the title of MARATHON RUNNER.

But, does running 2 of them at over 6 hours each still count?  I wish that I could have been faster. 

Ryan even signed my bib
The weekend began with a road trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan with Lish and Lindsay so we could hit the expo early Friday morning in Chicago.  I woke up on my 43rd birthday doing exactly what I wanted to in Chicago with the girls to meet Ryan Hall (American marathon record holder) and get our race gear. (wish Megan was with us though). 

The expo was pretty good and we spent several hours wandering, shopping and looking at all the gear.  The girls bought a lot of stuff and I just got a funny t-shirt - tough to get gear for "big girls" at a major event when really nobody "big" does this kind of crazy thing let alone twice :).  We had a nice dinner and I caught the train to Wilmette to meet Lennie and my brother at the Rutherford's.  The day ended with several poker tourneys and me even winning one. 

Buca di Beppo - yummy
Saturday, the boys hit the lake for a sail to Wisconsin while the Rutherford girls and I relaxed and went antique shopping.  I drove back into Chicago to meet Lish and Lindsay for dinner and then home to relax my feet which were still tired from walking the expo Friday. 

Woke up Sunday morning and just like last year, Lennie drove me to Chicago to pick up Lish and Lindsay at their hotel so we could get to the start line.  I was not nervous, teary, or panicked in anyway.  I actually felt really calm.  I could see and hear all the other first timer's strategies and talking themselves up.  I just was relaxed. 

It was packed this year.  It seemed like so many more people.  I checked a bag this year so that I could put my shoes on at the last minute.  I didn't even make it into the corrals as it was so busy so I had to wait on the side of the road to get to the start line. 
5:45 pace tattoo
I decide that in order to be more successful, I needed to run with a pace bunny and wear a pace band.  At the expo I signed up for the 5:45 team to see what that is like and if that would help me finish stronger.  I found the 5:45 pace bunny Amy and we were off.  About 15 people were running with Amy who was running continuously - the other 5:45 pace bunnies were running 1:2 or 1:5.  I wanted to run non stop so stayed with Amy.  What a good time.  Everyone cheered the 5:45 group as we travelled the streets and it was amazing to finally have people to run with. (its been a very lonely 19 weeks of running alone)  I was able to stay with the group until the 13 mile marker when they ran quickly through a water stop and I needed more Gatorade and just couldn't catch them again.  I was feeling amazing as the first 1/2 sailed by - probably because I was focused on staying with the group. 

I did everything I said I would do this time - no high fiving (except Lennie and the kids), ran in the middle of the road, no name on my shirt, took Cold FX, wore my orthotics, no 10:1s, carried more gels, and this was my 5th race of the year (10k, 10k, 1/2, 30k and now a full). 

Mile 25 with the gang
The temp climbed again this year and by the 1/2 way mark it was near 75 degrees.  I was a tad lonely when all of a sudden "Kansas" came up from behind.  She was in the 5:45 pack I met at the start line and we had chatted for a while during the first 1/2.  I thought she was with the group ahead but she had stopped for a potty break and came upon me.  Thank goodness as we cruised the rest of the way together and she pushed me to continue hard. 

Just like last year, Lennie, the Rutherford kids and my brother all ran with me the final miles while Sue snapped some great photos of us all together.

Me, Lish and Lindsay

Me and my brother Jeff
 When I crossed the finish line this time, unlike last year, I was 100%.  I walked to the bag check, put on my flip flops and walked to the 27 mile party where Lish and Lindsay were relaxing.  I was so pleased to see them so we could snap some photos and celebrate. They of course set course PBs and Lindsay broke 5hrs.  All our friends had great races and everyone came home safe. 

Lennie drove us back to Wilmette where we all napped and then enjoyed another wonderful dinner of Chicago pizza, Sue's amazing salad and some drinks to celebrate.

Monday morning I woke up to try and find my name in the paper (they publish the names of all finishers under 6:30) and the paper did not have the marathon insert in it like it did last year.  I know it is silly but I was really disappointed to not have that souvenir from the race.  Also, unfortunately, the paper shared that a man died 500 yards from the finish. 

On our drive back to London from Chicago we stopped for gas in a very rural stop in Michigan and low and behold I found a Chicago Sun Times paper and guess what - it had the marathon insert - random or what.  I immediately opened the paper to find my name, stats and was able to show my brother. 

I am sort of pleased with the results since I ran faster and comparing the 2 years side by side reveals some interesting findings.  I knew that lots of people were cheering for me back home and I ran the WHOLE time.  I really did run the whole time and can not believe that it still took me over 6 hours again.  I was almost identical times through the 1/2 and made up the time in the 2nd part of the race. 

    2011                          Last year - 2010
  5K 0:39:37                 5K 0:39:12   (same)
10K 1:20:20               10K 1:20:34 (same)
15K 2:02:22               15K 2:02:45 (same)
20K 2:45:33               20K 2:47:22 (down 2 minutes)
Half 2:55:51                Half 2:57:41 (down 2 minutes)
25K 3:33:36               25K 3:35:38 (down 2 minutes)
30K 4:20:43               30K 4:24:30 (down 4 minutes)
35K 5:08:22               35K 5:13:54 (down 5 minutes)
40K 5:57:28               40K 6:07:59 (down 10 minutes)
Finish 6:17:13             Finish 6:28:41 (down 11 minutes)
34080th out of 35755    34812th out of 36088

It is now obvious to me what I need to do to improve.  Not until September did I see the connection between strong focused tempo runs, interval training and hills to my success.  I also have the entire year tracked on so I can compare all the runs next year.  I will definitely go back to Chicago to run this race as I love the city, course and lots of spectators for 6 hours - no other city can say that they support every last runner the whole race.  It is perfect for us slowees.

I also vow to not get cancer news next year and have to endure 3 surgeries in 3 months along with a week of Thyrogen.  Imagine how much better I will do now that it is all behind me.

Hopefully by October 7, 2012 (next year's race is on my 44th birthday) I will have dropped the "6 hour marathoner" chip.  It is really weighing me down.