Bank of America Chicago Marathon

The race was 10 days ago. It has nearly taken me that long to get over the disappointment.

Needless to say, the race did not go as I had hoped. I finished in 3:57:52 and I was aiming for 3:15 or better. I finished in the top 25% of the 35,670 runners who completed the race but it is still a far cry from what I set out to do that sunny, warm, exciting day in Chicago.

It all went wrong around 20k. Until then I was cruising along at my predetermined pace of 4:35 to 4:45 min/km. Then the weak legs started – just a little jelly in the knees – I pressed through. Then the side stitch started – I pushed through that too. Then I decided to take a porta-potty break (the bottleneck of people trying to get into their corrals before the race started delayed me so much that I didn’t get to pee before the race started)… and that was my biggest mistake. I never really recovered after that. The side stitch turned into full-on stomach cramps, my right hamstring locked up and I started to get a pain in my ankle. I don’t think the aches and pains wouldn’t have bothered me if I didn’t also have stabbing stomach cramps.

I walked for a long time and watched all the people in Corral B (my corral) disappear into the distance… and even some of Corral C. I was disheartened, emotional and hurting; that certainly did not help my situation. My mind went to negative-land and never came back. *Note to self: get a book on sport psychology.

Somewhere around 37km I started gulping Gatorade and water at every aid station and that seemed to help enough that I was able to start running again but by this time the sun was beating down on us and runners were dropping like flies. It didn’t seem that hot out… but it was also pretty humid and the direct sun on our heads was certainly an issue. I think the temperature topped out at 26°C.

Here’s what I ate the day before the race (mostly to remind myself what not to do):

  • Breakfast – bowl of rice and quinoa I had brought from home, a banana and some coffee,
  • Late lunch (2:00pm) – whole wheat spaghetti and a meat ball (should have skipped the meat ball),
  • Dinner – Cliff Bar, some almonds and another banana.

The morning of the race I had:

  • 2 big scoops of Living Greens with a pack of Cocochia mixed in,
  • a couple cups of coffee.

I think the cocochia was a mistake – too much coconut to drop in my belly before the race. I felt uncomfortable after eating it.

During the race:

  • 1 Gu Roctane 5 minutes before the race,
  • Every 30 minutes I alternated Roctane with regular “Plain” Gu so I didn’t get so much caffeine,
  • Water at every Aid Station.

This plan sort of fell apart around 25k when the stomach issues got too bad to eat anything. After that I relied on Gatorade from Aid Stations and water water water (in my belly and on my head) from then on.


  • Vacationing for 4 days before the race (eating in restaurants, eating food I am not used to, walking all over town and sleeping in a strange bed)
  • Eating the meat ball for late lunch the day before the race (should have stuck with plain spaghetti),
  • Training too hard right up to race day (legs were not fully recovered and I felt it at 20k),
  • Eating Cocochia for breakfast before the race – I have never eaten that before a run, what was I thinking?!?!

So that is that. I am bummed, to say the least, but there are more races to run and lots of time to qualify for Boston (the next registration window isn’t until September 2012). I will live to run another day.

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