For my third marathon, I came back to my hometown for a race that I've always wanted to run in: the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Flat and fast, the race attracts elite runners from all over the world and people like me who want to have a decent marathon time.
And it worked out. By the end of the race, I found myself with my best ever marathon time (since March's ING Georgia Marathon) and my best ever 30K time (since the 1998 Circle the Bay 30K in Coos Bay, Ore.) and 20K time (since the 2000 Millenium Run in Portland, Ore.).
My goal was to keep up with the pacing groups. But my start corral was far ahead of the 4:00 pacing group. I decided I would just do what I could, keeping at a 9-minute mile pace.
This worked for the first 20 miles. At that point, I knew I just had to run at the 9-minute mile pace for another mile or so and I would have a good chance of breaking 4-hours.
But this was not meant to be. Just a few tenths of a mile after I had that thought at Mile 20, my right calf started cramping up, just a tinge, so I had to drop off my pace. I knew at this point it would be difficult to run 6.2 miles in less than an hour, so I just gave myself an easy pace and dealt with the cramping as it came up.
Despite that, I finished in 4:06:39, which still makes me really pleased. It had become warmer along the course, from 61 degrees to 75 degrees plus I now know that in marathons, you reap what you sow. Four 20 mile long runs to top off my training is not enough -- next time I'll want to hit 22, 23 and maybe even 24-mile runs.
But I'm extremely happy with my run. I used more planning than sheer gutting it out and all races are different. I'm extremely proud to have a third marathon medal to put on the wall.
Time: 7:05 a.m.
Temp: 61 degrees, 75 degrees by finish
Gear: CFSST (Patagonia, red), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 26/D.