Monday, October 12, 2009

Wahoo...I Qualified for Boston Marathon!!!

What a great feeling! Thanks to everyone for your support. Here’s a recap plus a little of what was going through my head while running the Chicago Marathon this year.

For starters, we got up on race day at 5:45am to find out the temperature was only 30 degrees. After taking a hot shower, I had a cup of coffee, 1 banana, a zone bar, and a Naked Juice (Green Machine). After some stretching, was out the door at 7am headed to the start. Our hotel was the Hard Rock, which was excellent location about 1/2 mile from the start. Fortunately, I had qualified for start corral B so was able to line up near the front.

Chicago had 45,000 runners this year. Add one million spectators to that and it’s one crazy place. One thing that amazed me throughout the race was how many great runners there were. Was so cool to always be surrounded by a mass of fast runners.

I really recommend Chicago for first timers and veteran marathoners. The course is flat and fairly scenic with lots of variety so you never get bored. Best of all is the crowd cheering the runners. Truly amazing how many braved the cold to yell and scream. So cool and motivating when you have that many. Some of the corridors must have had 25,000 people cheering. Just amazing.

I started off the day with game plan of running with the 3:10 pace group. I was hoping to finish with a 3:15 time and I needed to run it in 3:20 (7:38 pace) in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon so running with the 3:10 group at 7:15 pace was aggressive for me. Once on the course though, my heart rate stayed between 152 & 156 while my pace was averaging 7:05/mile! Was a surprise to say the least as I found myself running ahead of the 3:10 pacers with relative ease.

At the half marathon point I had a bit of mental challenge because I realized I had just set a new PR at 1:33 for 13.1 miles and I was only half way through the marathon! I got worried I was running to fast and would crash. Oddly enough, we were running into the wind and my mind switched to strategy mode as I picked up the pace so I could tuck in behind a group of runners and be protected from the wind. Was hard to catch them, but I kept telling myself it would be easier once I did...and fortunately, it was.

Around mile 16 my legs started to feel fatigued so I stopped at the next aid station to make sure I got a whole cup of Gatorade in me. Picked up the pace at mile 17 and held it until mile 21 when my left quad started to feel strange. Hard to describe. Was like it was on the verge of cramping, but more of a freeze up. I tried to run softly, but could not land correctly and found it hard not to run with a limp. Was worrisome at the time. I decided to run through it so did not stop and it seemed to get better over the next ½ mile. As I turned onto Michigan Avenue a little past mile 23, I was afraid to stop as I could only imagine my legs cramping up and not being able to get moving again. We were running into a head wind and it was a struggle to keep up a good pace, but lucky for me, a big guy came motoring along who I was able to tuck in behind and we made good time.

At this point, my body core temp was dropping and I was freezing. So strange to exercise hard and be cold at the same time. Felt like my feet were frozen with a complete loss of feel for the pavement. I was tired and my quads were on fire. I kept telling myself this was my time to make it happen so no pain no gain. I reminded myself the distance left was like running one of my short runs back in San Diego. I cranked up my iPod volume and fast forwarded to a couple power songs then dug deep and stayed focused on putting one foot in front of the other…as fast as I could with a finish strong mantra running through my head. The finish was an emotional roller coaster and I was ecstatic to finish with an official time of 3 hours, 11 minutes and 33 seconds! Not only did I qualify for Boston, but I smashed my previous personal best by 24 minutes. Very, very cool.

As I write this post, I’m happy to report all is good with the body. Quads are sore and legs are stiff, but I was able to walk through the airport today without much better than last year when I could have used a wheel chair.

What a difference a year makes! Thanks again for your support. Happy trails and remember to enjoy the journey!

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