A bittersweet marathon experience.

Remember how, at the end of my last post, I said that my race report may be simply:

"Ouch. That sucked. My time was X:XX:XX."

I kinda want to say that, and only that. My chip time was 3:46:59, per the still unofficial results page. This is why the race is only bittersweet:

8:01:44 AM CST 0:24:27 0:48:11 1:12:59 1:37:37 1:42:57

2:03:51 2:30:40 3:01:11 3:34:13 3:46:59

If you look at it, you can see that I have pretty good times through the 25k mark, and then they go rapidly downhill. I go from tracking at a 3:25 pace (and I figured, with a slight slowdown for an eventual 3:30). to my actual finishing time. Here's what happened:

Sometime after the halfway mark, around mile 14 or 15, I was dodging another runner, and my left leg came down off-center, on one of those recessed manhole covers. I felt it twist slightly, and an (unfortunately all too familiar) twinge went through my kneecap. I slowed down a bit, and kept careful watch on my knee. It was bothering me a bit for the first couple of miles, and by mile 19, I had to pull into one of the medical tents. I wanted some topical, quick-acting painkiller, figuring that if I could numb the pain a tad, I could still manage a 3:35 or 3:40 - I know that the knee needed rest soon, but with only a few miles to go, I knew also that I could make it. Instead, I got Tylenol. I kept going, with intermittent stops to keep stretching and doing little massages of my knee.

That got my as far as mile 23. Mile 23 found me in another aid tent, this time asking for an ace bandage. I wrapped my knee, and basically managed to get myself through the finish line, with massive cramps running up and down my legs - the kind where first your quads sezie up, and then your calves. It wasn't due to dehydration, or the wall, it was due to the extra effort needed to maintain a stride and pace that wasn't going to further injure my knee. I wasn't really aware of the time by that point - I have splits for those miles (I think), and it wasn't until afterwards, when I met up with my family, that I found my unofficial time.

So, this race had the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good is that, right up until the knee went, I felt great - strong and confident. I made a new PR for a marathon (shaving 1:17 of my previous attempt), and a new PR for a half-marathon as well (shaving 52 seconds off my previous best). My splits were fairly consistent, considering the crowds and the weather.

The bad is, of course, my knee going out, and spoiling an otherwise fine race. But, with 40,000 steps in the average marathon (a guess, based on my stride and the distance), all it takes is one bad one, and sometimes, you just don't get the race you wanted. Oh well - there's always next year, after all. Chicago - next time I run you, you are mine!

Okay - there wasn't a whole lot of ugly, unless you count a couple of blisters. There were several Elvises on the course, and I heard that there was a group dressed as Superman, Wonder Woman and others, and I did see a Superman in the 3:10 pace group.

The RBF meet-up afterwards was great, by the way. It was good to put faces to so many of the names, and I think it should be a yearly post-Chicago tradition. I wish I could have stayed longer, but, I'll confess, I did want to go back home and ice my knee, take some painkillers, and lose consciousness for a while - which I did.



Blogger yumke said...

Aw, that's really bad.. I had a few near misses with curbs and uneven roads, and I cursed myself for not pay attention.. you will own Chicago one day... I know I want to... Good job pushing your way through..

11:32 PM  
Anonymous alex said...

Thank you for your comment,I will hope to see you again on Columbus Drive next year

3:03 AM  
Blogger Wes said...

Very nice! I know that injuring your knee was a disappointment for you, but you adapted and overcame! Here's to kicking butt next year!!

10:09 AM  
Blogger Frankie said...

You're a trooper. Way to fight through the pain.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Lana said...

Man, that does suck about your knee. But congrats on toughing it out to finish in a great time! And a PR! I am impressed.

12:37 PM  
Blogger chocolteluva said...

wow! congrats on toughing it out. you should be proud of your self that you ran past all the knee problems. i feel really ashamed, that i use my knee as an excuse to run 4 miles :(.

2:03 AM  
Blogger chocolteluva said...

yes, i did see superman and wonderwoman, i saw people in bathrobes, garbage bags. i also heard that two couples got engaged after they finished the marathon.
good stuff!

2:11 AM  
Blogger Theoutofshapeguy said...

Its was great to meet you buddy.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Arcaner said...

a PR is still a PR. Nice going! You'll conquer it next year!

10:29 PM  

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