Sunday, October 26, 2008

More Marathon Thoughts

Just off the plane from Minnesota. The last two weeks have been totally crazy. But I've already booked a ticket to go back there next weekend by bus.

A short post since I'm just back... I see via shimgray that the marathon I just ran didn't actually work the way I thought it did.

I thought I ran the same marathon as Constantina Tomescu-Dita, the Olympic gold-medalist, and Lidiya Grigoryeva, the winner on the day I ran, but I guess I was wrong...

Apparently the "elite start" group is in a different race. According to a more recent Chicago Tribune Article the non-elite woman (from Chicago) who actually got the shortest time in that San Francisco race was eventually declared a sort of co-winner, with the same prize, but the man who finished with the fourth fastest time here in Chicago will not get the fourth-place prize money. I disapprove.

As for me, my time put me 12,800th or so out of 33,000 or so starters, and 31,000 or so finishers. Not bad, I'd say. Top half - almost top third.

Here's a blog by a person who was out there cheering. I probably saw her. The people cheering us on were awesome. That's a different kind of sports fan, not just motivated by seeing their team win, but by athletic excellence in general. Those people make human being look good, selflessly cheering others on out of pure respect for the sport.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

26.2 Miles!

Apparently my final time was four hours and thirty one minutes. I'm pretty happy with that. It's about the pace that I train at -- just barely under 10 minutes per mile -- but I seriously doubted I was going to be able to maintain that the whole way.

The beginning was so exciting... with the cheering crowds... I felt like a professional athlete. Well, better, because they're used to it. All that enthusiasm directed at me actually choked me up a little.

The first half was a breeze. I flew through it, powered by adrenaline. The next seven miles took us further from the city center, and the sun really started to beat down, so that kinda sucked. But the crowds got bigger and louder again for the final six or seven, which really helped. I was following a guy with the time "4:15" pinned to his back -- a pace runner. He really got me through, especially at the end, and I owe him a big thanks.

But the biggest thanks is to Ken, who was there at mile two, mile thirteen, and mile twenty-six point two. Looking forward to seeing him is what kept me going.

We stayed in a hotel downtown last night, to bypass the traffic problems and to give me a place to shower and crash afterward (they let us check out late.) Walking around taking pictures and getting a drink downtown was a great way to say goodbye to Chicago.

Now... On to Minneapolis!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Race Day Tomorrow!

We are going to stay tonight in downtown Chicago, because getting into or out of the city is going to be impossible, with 45,000 runners, 10,000 staff and volunteers, plus spectators... And half the roads in the city closed for the race. I'm supposed to be at the start line for a team photo with my fellow Boys and Girls Club team members at 7:15 AM.

After the marathon, we are driving seven hours to look at apartments for Ken -- he's starting his new job next week. Back to Chicago on Thursday so I can meet with this guy who's flying into talk to us about his research on Friday, then visits to friends and family on Saturday and Sunday. Then I have to go give a talk at a conference, so I'll be flying to Rochester, New York on Monday, talking Tuesday, and flying out Thursday to join Ken as he gets moved in...

So the real marathon is only the beginning of the metaphorical marathon. I never imagined it would be like this when I signed up.

Monday, October 06, 2008

One More Week

Well, I've done my last Long Run.

The longest was twenty-one miles. It was only meant to be twenty, but I missed my turn. I wanted to run to Wrigley Field and back, but that was a little too far. So I gave myself a head start, took the train a couple of miles and then started running. I made my way to Chicago's lakefront park, which runs almost all the way through the city. You can run a long way in the park, with no traffic lights or even stop signs, and a lot of beautiful views. I was so caught up in the beautiful views (well, and in wondering how far the next drinking fountain was) that I didn't notice I'd already passed Irving Park Road.

That lakefront park is bordered by Lakeshore Drive, a busy highway which is difficult to cross for a person on foot. Since it is the easternmost street in Chicago, there's really no need for other streets to cross it. They all dead end there. But every few miles theres an on-ramp / off ramp arrangement, at which points pedestrians can pass underneath The Drive and onto city streets. It was one of these points that I missed, and I was debating whether to turn back when I noticed a small tunnel leading under the street, maybe a half mile past my original turn off. So that's what I took.

I actually know Chicago's streets well enough these days that I recognize the name of the one I ended up on, and took it west until I recognized a major north-south street, which I too back to Wrigley. At that point, slightly less than halfway through my run, I stopped to watch the game through the opening in the outfield wall, for a couple of minutes. It's strange seeing it from field-level. I'd intended to stay for an out or two (and eat the jelly-beans I'd brought to bring my blood sugar back up) but the Cubs scored two runs and got no outs, so I cheered a little with everyone else, and moved on. I was listening to the game on my radio anyway.

I was sore and tired and moving slowly by the time I got back, but I wasn't dying, the way I sometimes have. A good sign.

The last couple of weeks, following the plan, I tapered off my distances. Fifteen miles, then twelve, then, yesterday, only eight. Next weekend -- twenty six point two!

The marathon route goes by Wrigley Field too, but it won't be nearly as much fun this time. The Cubs are out of it. I was going to say I can't believe it, not after they won 97 games, not after they had the best record in the National League, not after they clinched their division a week before the end of the season... But I can. It's the Cubs.

I don't want to talk about it.