Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chicago Marathon

This past Sunday, I ran in the 30th annual LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. The unseasonably warm temperatures hovered around ninety degrees most of the day, which obviously made for miserable race conditions. I'm sure many of you have read or seen media coverage over the last few days describing how the race was called around noon due to the dangerous temperatures. The media attention has primarily focused on this decision from the race directors, as well as allegations that there was not enough water available to runners on the course.

It was hot. Was it hot enough to call the race? Probably. When you have 45,000 runners, one of the biggest marathon fields in the world, there simply isn't enough medical attention to go around to all of the athletes who are suffering from various heat related conditions. The race directors had to save their asses to some extent. It is of course very sad, however, that so many people trained for a race that they were not allowed to finish. As for the allegations about a water shortage on the course, I didn't find this to be true at all. I thought there was more than enough water on the course, and so did other runners that I've talked to. But, obviously I cannot speak for the entire field.

It was definitely the toughest marathon I've ever run. And the slowest. Because of a combination of many factors I'm sure, I felt like crap the entire time. It probably wasn't the best decision to attempt a marathon only four weeks after having completed an Ironman triathlon, but I really wanted to finally run Chicago. The course and the spectators were amazing. Spectators lined the streets the entire course for a very Tour de France experience that made me feel like somewhat of a celebrity! Clearly I'm not, and they weren't all out there for me, but it did feel very cool.

My favorite part of the race was having Royce join me on his roller blades for the last eight or nine miles of the race. By mile 17, I was totally struggling, and wondering if I would make it. I was walking at that point, and that's when Royce came in and put a huge smile on my face. He clapped and cheered for me and everyone around me all they way to the finish line. He clapped so hard that his hands were hurting for the next two days. He was amazing. So were my other spectators, most notably Seif, KJ, Karen, and Anne. You guys ROCK!

I ended up finishing in 4:19. I think the race was officially called at noon, but people were still running in by the time I finished. I was in sight of the finish line, literally two minutes away, when an official looking volunteer announced that the race had been called and we could all start walking. It was very confusing, and I thought at first that it was a cruel joke. What do you mean I can just start walking?? I can see the finish line! We all just disregarded his comment and continued running in to the finish line. Apparently at that point, elsewhere on the course, they were pulling people off the course and making them take a bus to the finish line or walk the remainder of the race. My friend Beth was at mile 21 when they forced her to start walking. They literally starting yelling when anyone attempted to jog.

Great job to those who finished or even attempted to finish. It was a brutal day out there, and most of you know that just making it to the starting line is an amazing accomplishment and journey. And now, I'm looking forward to a much needed break from training before gearing up for April's Boston Marathon!!

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