Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Prairie State Marathon - My Recap

Wow! Hey Blog, sorry I left you on the wayside like a New Year's resolution. I am totally not using you just an avenue to indulge in my own ego.  This post isn't an update to life, maybe if I get back in the rythem of blogging, I'll do that. This post is my recap of the Prairie State Marathon.

Too Long, Didn't Read: Finished 3rd Overall, 3:02:30. Proof.

Wait.. you're still here?

Okay, well if you really insist on reading my poor prose...

Prairie State Marathon was my first race since Chicago Marathon 2013, when I developed asthma mid race and just couldn't breathe enough to run more than a very slow pace. The race left a very bad hit on my ego and human limits. 2014 was multiple injuries (not running related to all you haters of running) that kept my out for 7 months, so I never got more than 3 months of running in a row in, and over half of that time was a slow return to run and base building program.

Come February 2015, while still in PT with my physical therapist, Rachel from Athletico, I started a return to run program...again.  During my humbling rebuilding of my run base, the Chicago Marathon lottery opened, and I didn't want to gamble $200 against my recent history of 3 months max injury free. So I just went on my running business, getting trust back in my legs and lungs...Until Annabelle mentioned the Prairie State Marathon the day before the Chicago Marathon.. I had a soft goal.

I started the Hanson's Marathon Method, and hit all the marks for the training. I added an extra 10-12 general aerobic miles a week. yada yada, training.   Now to the race.

238 people finished the marathon...A nice small race.

Annabelle and her mom drove Edgar (Ironman and BRC member) and myself to Libertyville for the race. I felt bad as not 10 minutes after I left, my son woke up, then my much for my wife getting any more sleep!
We arrive to Vernon Hills, the weather was crisp, 45...perfect fast weather.

There was a half marathon being held at the same time, and they would run the first six miles with the marathon people...No problem right?

I was roughly in row 5 (4 wide).  The race started, and hot damn, everyone's legs were bursting with speed in this cool air. I kept telling myself to just run my race and go by feel. I quickly saw that feel was like 6:18 by the half mile mark on my GPS, I tried to slow down gently and not get ego hurt by people enthusiastically flying by me....just let them go..
I found my space in the race and tried to not catch the half marathon people, they were like candy while on a diet.. After mile 6, the marathon group separated and it got quiet for awhile, just saw one person ahead of me and one person behind me, and an occasional pocket of cheering fans...but size doesn't matter!
Annabelle giving some much needed cheers every few miles
Annabelle and her mother raced religiously to marked spectating areas in the race to take photos (as seen in this blog, official photos aren't posted yet), run for a few seconds to chat, and hand off needed gels!

The course itself...while no huge elevation climbs, there were a lot of mini ones. 459 feet of total ascent, 377 total descent.  A few that you had to dig down for, but never burned out your legs.
Elevation Chart per my GPS

Visually the race was beautiful! Totally would do it again. Had to watch out for some wild animal droppings and a few stones that you could slip on.  The water stations catch you off guard on blind turns, the first one I was stumbling to get my gu out in time and not drop my water.  After that stop, I would have a gu ready in hand to not get caught off guard.

The second half of the race, the marathon path loops back and runs into the half marathon people in the second half of their field.  At this point, I know I have one chaser behind me, and can't see the guy in front of me.  I had to do a lot of yelping: ON YOUR LEFT, to get around the halfies, often running the path fully wide or with head phones. I knew my pace was going to get uneven with surges, but not many other options.  I felt kinda rude forcing myself into water stations, like cutting into a lane on the highway with barely any space...but I had places to go people!

The one pro's of running through the half field... you get an ego boost from people chatting as you pass them...oh look! It's a marathoner! A MARATHONER! Only three people ahead of you! wow!
You feel like a small town elite suddenly... And you feel your training show off as your pace feels a lot faster with slower relative points.

Through mile 18, I felt pretty on pace overall, considering elevation grades, but I also knew I went out too fast and would probably pay for it at the end [my 10k split was a 6:38 pace average]. Looking at the race results, the first person with a negative split was in 26th, so I'm sure we all faced our speed demons with that fast cold air. Good company I guess.  Through 20 I slowed down, but I didn't feel tired yet, so whatever, I was still doing okay. Then  I goofed...

At roughly mile 21.5, there was a water station..and the path splits immediately.. Me, not memorizing the race, saw people running towards me from one direction, so I decided to go the other way, not remembering it was a loop back to the finish line and I'd be running against traffic. (I couldn't see the guy in 2nd place).  I went out .05 of a mile, realized I went the wrong way, freaked out, stopped for a second or 5.. swearing in my head..when an angel on a bike saw me, asked if I needed the bathroom... i said.. no!! NOO!! He realized I went off track, pointed me the right way, I quickly got my body to not give up since I stopped moving for a moment, and got back on my way. I had to run an extra .1 of a mile total, not a big deal, until you realize that extra minute could mean I miss the Boston Qualifying cut off.
Looking at the map, I could have reconnected anyways with the path, but I would have been short on my distance and not accept my run time.

The last 4 miles I could run, but I had to pay the penalty for running too hard the first 6-8 miles. In my head I kept recalculating time to hit 3:02:30, roughly this year's cut off for Boston Qualifying.  When I saw I the end, I put out all I had left for the last 100 meters and hit exactly 3:02:30... And the first thing I thought of was... I really wish I had that minute I lost going off track.

I knew I came in third just by who I passed, and I was elated! While not my A reach goal, this time would get me into Boston, if the field was the same.  AND my age group was.. WINNER! Small race perk!

The post race vibe was low key. I chatted with the kid (he was 19) that finished a little ahead of me in 2nd. He didn't even follow a training plan! He is going to be super fast if he gets organized, kudos to him!  I hung around the announcers to get my winner's medal! (no podium photos or stuff like!)
I'm kind of a big deal...
Then I caught up with Annabelle and Edgar to chat and be proud of the 4 months of training I put into this race.

Annabelle's mom handed me my phone, and saw my social media blowing up about my race. I was in awe, humbled. I was afraid I would fail and not want the praise as I knew I hadn't done enough...but not today. I was extremely happy.  I called home in excitement and almost cried from happiness talking to my wife, and got to tell my daughter, yes, daddy was one of the winners. Her excitement rivaled mine, I was proud she (4 years old) could understand how good that feels, while still thinking 26.2 miles is just a touch more than a run down the hallway at home.
Shoot for the heavens, even if you fall you're still a star
I accepted that for one day, I could be a winner. Thank you everyone for your kind words! To my wife and kids for putting up with my long Sunday runs and fatigue. To Rachel at Athletico for always getting me both physically and mentally back on track, to Annabelle for keeping me inspiring to do this race, take me to the race, and be my cheering group, and to my BRC and Daily Mile friends for always keeping me honest and never settle for being lazy ya'll are inspiring runners!


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