So, there's really no such thing as a no goals marathon. There are always goals and metrics for success. But, if there was going to be a NGM, this year's Chicago Marathon was it. I had a short time to train, got sick during the taper, and only bought my airplane tickets three weeks before. But by any measure (except finish time), the Chicago Marathon was a rollicking success. I got to run a great race in a beautiful city, with huge friend and crowd support on a perfect day. Absolutely no complaints. I flew into Chicago on Friday, with enough time to meet Spencer and go for a shakeout run on the lake. Sorry Brooklyn Bridge Park but there is no better place in the world to run than the shore of Lake Michigan. It's worth the trip in and of itself. Proving that Spencer knows everybody, we were even overtaken by a former client of his who is training for Comrades . .. For dinner, we met Max (in town for a conference) and his wife (who was speaking at the conference) for greek food, and even talked antitrust. Saturday was laid back. Expo, brunch with SBRC buddies, and then early dinner carb load at the perfect little italian place on the North Side.
Race day was cool but clear. Made it to the start from the L in time to drop my bag, pee (illegally), line up, and pee again (legally). My plan was very simple. I was going to let the crowd slow me for the first couple of miles, then settle in as close to a 9 minute pace, meet Spencer at mile 6.5, and then hang on as long as I could. Best laid plans. I was at the back of the first wave. I was sure there would be some back up, but kudos to the corral seeders. As soon as we hit the line, the pace went straight to 8:30/9:00. So did I. What the heck? Notwithstanding texts from Spencer to slow down, I hung with the pack, feeling good (and stupid). Spencer dropped in at mile 6.5, and we had a delightful long run together. We hit the half at 1:58, dialed it back a bit. I still felt good at 30k, but then the wheels started to come off. I could tell, because Spencer was talking and I wasn't. Then Spencer was running and I was running to catch up to him. . . No disaster, just lost a gear.
Anyway, Spencer got me through Chinatown, Mile 21ish, and then I slogged it in. I made a decision, a bit before Spencer left, that I was going to have fun, and minimize suffering in the last hour. No way I was going to break 4 hours, and no reason to ruin a nice day by courting injury. So, I walked the water stops, concentrated on form, didn't feel too bad, and was certainly ready for a beer at the finish.
Considering that I was not running at all in mid-July, and that even finishing a marathon seemed like a remote possibility and a bad idea, Chicago was a victory. Also, a truly great city with a great course. I would completely do it again.
Thank you Spencer for hosting and incredible support, and congrats to my SBRC buddies for great (much faster) races!!