Learn : Marathon Story  

Running Background:

marathon photoMy three daughters took up running a few years ago. At that time, I was a 5K runner, for the most part. However, they love the long runs, the halves and the full marathons, so to have more to share with them, and more time to share with them, I tag along for the long races.


I didn't follow a specific training program, but averaged about 30 miles per week during the year leading up to the race.

In terms of advice, the worst advice I received was to lengthen my stride (an amateur in Master's Running Magazine suggested this, and I foolishly followed it). The best advice I received was to focus on 90 strides per minute leg turnover (Jack Daniels' Running Formula - book).

Race Day:

The 2007 Chicago Marathon was not quite what I expected.

Up at 5:06, the average time for today's marathon finisher. My goal, considering 6 runs in the last month, was 4:45.

Daughter and I made it out of the house. Got downtown, parked 1.5 miles from the start. Realized did not bring my running shoes, nor my double-layered, avoid-the-blisters running socks. What to do?

The Merrell shoe company might be proud. What could I do? I had my Merrell water sandals on, sandals I knew had good, or at least fairly good, arch support. The decision was - run. If I blistered out, or cramped up, fine. I had some work items with me to study. In any case, this was race day with no looking back.

Ran with a too-tight racing singlet, with "Quickened by Christ" on the back. The singlet was once comfortable on me, 10 years and 20 pounds ago. But it turns out too tight ended up meaning no-chaff, so that was good news.

Could not find my running shorts, til the very last minute, either! What is this? Ran in my North Face hiking shorts, which was more than okay. I could carry a few things in my pockets, and though these were a bit heavier than running shorts, and a bit longer (which with a fast pace would have meant a restricting feeling with each stride), but no chaffing. Which after 26.2 miles means something.

Didn't expect a blazing fast race. Did expect a blazing hot day. Started with the 4:30-target finishing time crowd.

Nice to start in the middle of the crowd, not at the back. Turned out that starting at the back would have meant less water in the day - reports were that by the time the back half of the crowd made it to the water stops, a few were closed down!

Nice comfortable start. Ten and nine minutes per mile felt okay. Started the "cooling" action early, though Eric Zorn blog commenters later complained that this meant less water for others. Of this latter point, I am unsure and have my doubts. Of the two high heat areas of our bodies, I frequently dumped water on my head.

After two miles noticed the blisters on my feet. Both arches. Felt pretty bad, and for a moment thought, okay, this could be the end of the race for me if it really gets bad. Until I thought about Pre and how he endured 12 stitches through a championship 10K. I can't say much for his morality, but certainly he was tenacious and could certainly endure at least as much pain, if not more, than any other runner. If he could do a 10K in stitches, then certainly I could handle a few bad blisters.

Don't remember too much else of the first half except for an occasional 50 foot burst whenever the crowd opened up a bit. Which was about twice a mile. At the four-mile mark, did meet Carl from Crystal Lake and, who was running his first marathon. He wisely slowed down, feeling the heat already. Will have to look up Carl, and Agentrix, later.

Heat? Starting temp was 74 degrees - 36 degrees warmer than last year's start.

Passed the half at 2:06:44. Not too bad, but that was about all that I was worth. Met Sharon from the Heritage Y at 14 miles, ran together a bit til she slowed to a walk. At 16 she would catch up to me and pass me.

By mile 16, the heat had overtaken me. 91 degrees I saw on one building temperature indicator. I think I would have won the NCC morning temperature contest - I knew it was that warm, already.

Kept running, almost jogging, but not walking. I slowed down quite a bit. Quickly went from 4 minutes under 4:20 finish to four minutes over. Went from 10's to 12's in no time!

When did the announcements of the race cancellation start? 20 mile mark? Police megaphoning the race was canceled? I cannot quite apologize - I knew I could handle the heat. I knew I could finish, if my legs didn't cramp up and not let me go.

If you were there, you know there were hundreds, even thousands, walking. It was a tough, tough day. Sadly, a fellow believer, Chad Schieber of Midland, Michigan, died. We rejoice that he joined God our Father in heaven, sees Him face to face, and now knows Him fully just as we here on earth are fully known. But we mourn with his wife and children, who need their husband and father, and will miss him greatly.

I would not stop until I could not. And I believed I could finish, running, albeit slowly. So I did.

Somewhere along the way I passed my daughter, who had been intimidated by the police's warnings. A second daughter, her third year caring for runners at station 13, reported of police and others somehow physically stopping runners.

The end but 1/2 hour away. Without looking at the last 5K's time, I believe I picked it up towards the end. The only hill on the course, a third-mile from the finish, came up soon enough. No sprint at the finish for me, what is the point?

Good to finish. Am looking to competition next spring, and not before. Oh, by the way, I finished in 4:43:53. And truly the finishing time is but an aside.


My recovery was pretty rough. Lots of sleep and no activity for one day, and I was fine.

Running Gear Recommendations:

ASICS Gel 1120 Running Shoes
If only I had remembered to bring them.
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Daniels' Running Formula by Jack Daniels
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

Training for a marathon is a good, healthy lifestyle - consider one hour of aerobic training five or six days a week, and two hours or more one day a week - that's a good, healthy lifestyle. Remember this -- Running a marathon when you've trained for it is a good thing. Running a marathon when you've not trained for it is not a good thing.

Plans to Run Another:

I'm planning to continue to run marathons because my kids do it, and so do I!

For my next marathon, I'll incorporate cross-training. I'm cross-training now, doing spinning and running, each three days a week. Likely I will continue this schedule for the next 11 months to a) reduce the stress on my hips when it comes to fast running and b) let the spinning, every aspect of it, provide the speedwork.

Lord willing, I will continue training early in the morning with the boys at NCC, whose morning runs are for me "comfortably hard" tempo runs.

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