Chicago Marathon "in my opinion" is the best big marathon in the United States. Why Chicago you ask? The seeded corrals, the Nike Pacers, super wide road, flat course, 20 aid stations, spectators, it just doesn't get any better! This was my 3rd time running Chicago and it will not be my last.
Now you might ask how the heck can you stand running a marathon with 45,000 people after running a 100 mile ultramarathon with only 100 people, there is huge difference in the two types of races, they are completely different types of events? To tell you the truth ultramarathons on trails are my forte, but I really like running road marathons every now and then. When I pace marathons I don't feel the need to race, I can practice holding pace for 3 to 4 hours, it’s great ultrarunning training, and I can give back to the sport that has given me so much. It is fun to run a consistent pace, BS with other runners, and every once and a while give a little advise.
So I devised a plan:
- Take 1 week off, run very easy recovery runs to break up the lactic acid in my muscles.
- After that week, run tempo runs "at least" 3 days a week, with my goal to average 6:45-7:00 pace, 1 week prior to Chicago.
- Try to get in 2 - 20 mile long runs!
The week leading up to the Chicago Marathon I was a little nervous since I really didn't do the proper training regiment to "Pace" a fast marathon. I knew a 3:30 or 3:40 would be a piece of cake, but would running a 3:20 be taxing? I was very thankful to know that I would not be the lead dog pacing in this marathon, we had 3 other Nike Pace Setters in the 3:20 group, all three of them have faster PR's than I, and they are all also young enough to be my kids, Perfect!!!
Race day came and the weather couldn't be better. It was warm enough that I didn't need an extra shirt at the start, and we would be done before the temperatures reached the 80's. For all the Nike Pacers they provided a Nike Pacer Tent near the start, port-a-johns, food, refreshments, and a place to store stuff during the race. What a great way to start the day. It was also nice to see some of my old friends pacing, Chuck Engle, Steve Vargas, and Marie Bartoletti. After much talking, getting ready for the race, and the normal day-of-race stuff that we all do, all the Nike Pacers went to the outside of the tent and took a group shot, kind of cool seeing 100 pacers all together, then we paraded together to our respective starting corrals.
Our group started in Corral B. The two times I‘ve ran Chicago I started in Corral A, right behind the elite runners, there was never a time I felt like other runners were a hindrance like in Boston, New York Marathon, or ALL ROCK N’ ROLL Marathons. The way they monitor their starting corrals makes a huge difference on the efficiency of the start and I feel it really does help participants finish times. One of the downfalls about having so many people in a marathon is how long we have to wait in the starting corral before the race starts. Of course I had to take a leak before the race and the last thing I wanted to do was stop at a port-a-john. I won’t say how I relieved myself before the race, but let’s just say it is a common way during a long road trip! I am grateful that was the last time I needed to until after the race.
The Nike 3:20 Pace Team was a huge success because of the 4 of us, we each brought a little something different to the team, and we meshed well together. At the ½ way point we were 30 seconds ahead, at the finish we were 3:19:45, 15 seconds ahead. We couldn’t have ran the race any better. Thanks Matt, Rich, and Jackson for doing such a great job for all the runners following us. I am looking forward to running with the 3 of you again next year.