Trashing another PB in Chicago

Chicago Marathon is a done deal! Not only did I smash my previous PB (down from 3:23:34 in Berlin Sept 2015), but I also managed to run a sub-3:20 which had been my dream for quite a while. Not by much, but hey! 2018 seems to be my year.

However, the whole thing was no done deal until the finish line. I had to fight an intestinal infection on Thu/Fri but also a cold with a sore throat and light fever on Saturday. (Who knows what I could have done if …. No, that’s baloney). But both were gone on marathon morning (and the cold came back during my flight home).

Anyway – the stats were not bad. I won place 61 (of about 1615) in my age group (and was also the fastest German in my age group), and 3689 overall of about 44,000 finishers. (Update: this seems to have been adjusted to 3702 now.)

On Sunday, I woke up at 04:40 am, had a light breakfast, and opted for the 05:22 blue line train downtown. I arrived way too early but this way I had the peace of mind as far as the security checks and the potty, of which there were so many that there were only very short queues. Boston, are you listening? The security checks were a breeze as well. I was examined within a couple of minutes.

I arrived in my corral at ~ 06:55, just before the pacers came in. I had planned to hang out with the 3:20 pacers and see what would happen – this had worked so nicely 2 weeks ago. Same game here, I was faster than the pacers and never saw them again. Given my finish time, they should have been very close behind or even in front of me. Whatever.

The weather forecast had been so-so, and although there was no rain at start time,  there were drizzle and occasional rainshowers from about 5 to 35 km. The temps were in the 16…17°C range so that I did not have to check a gear bag, which would allow me to disappear from the scene as quickly as possible after the finish. Little wind most of the time. The streets of Chicago tend to be very slippery when wet. The alert level had been set to „moderate“ explicitly because of the wet streets. Beware the street markings, the manhole covers, and the metal meshes on the bridges! Some streets are really in a bad condition and sport nasty potholes with puddles. Keep your eyes open!

The start ritual was moving as always at the big US events. Someone sang the national anthem live, and off we went.

At 8 or 9 km I began looking for another potty but there was none. I asked a policeman and his answer was “there should be some along the route but you can also hit a tree, brother, no problem.” OK so why not. It was raining anyway so this was my contribution to fertilising Lincoln Park. 😀 Done is done, and I usually don’t need another bio break before the finish.

Like in Boston and New York, the audience is breathtaking. They pretty much carry you to the finish with their endless shouting and other ear-deafening noises. Interestingly, when I walked to the Jackson subway station after the finish, many people would smile and congratulate. More than anywhere else. In particular, the ladies 🙂 🙂 But maybe they were just trying to be compassionate when they saw me 😉

One special thing with Chicago is that they offer(ed) a half liter can of beer after the finish. Not alc-free, mind you, but the real stuff, with 4.2 rpm. I knew it would kill me and drank only half of it before the world began turning upside down. Well, not quite. But I had to pour the rest away because I wanted to keep the can, and you were not allowed to take the remaining beer outside of the start/finish area. If I had drunken the whole can I would have ended up slumberingly at O’Hare airport and back at Forest Park.

Analyzing the run (official splits above), it is apparent that I maintained a 4:40 / km average pace until about 35 km. The last 10k are always the most „interesting“ part of a marathon, and I had to shift down a gear or two from then on, ending up at what is a common easy pace for me (around 05:09/km). Interestingly, as the Garmin protocol shows, my cadence was a constant 182 ± 1 steps per minute throughout the race, but the stride length shortened some time after 30k – down from about 1.22 m to 1.07 m. This is a clear sign of fatigue of the musculus iliopsoas (German: Lenden-Darmbeinmuskel) which is responsible for lifting the thighs.

There seems to be no direct way to train these muscles to be able to provide enough lifting power for 3.5 hours. The key appears to be stretching and thus mobilizing them, as described here (in English) or here (in German). But boy do I hate these exercises… Maybe I’ll find a useful exercise to add to my daily stretching routine, like one of these. (Unbefsckinglievable, I didn’t do this yet!)

As usual, I logged the mile splits manually using Peter’s Race Pacer (but I missed some occasional mile markers). GPS tracking in downtown Chicago is utter BS (as in any skyscraper city) which you can tell by the route plot above – and hence distance & pace calculation. My overall distance as measured by GPS was 43.6 km so… But I couldn’t care less using my footpod, even in the tunnels and under the bridges. The pacers helped themselves with traditional self-adhesive distance vs. elapsed time stickers.

As a side note, I have now three 2018 results to pick from for the time qualifier application for NYCM 2019, and a fourth one is pretty likely around the corner on Nov 18th (Verona Half Marathon).

It is also noteworthy that I had no cramps whatsoever. This had also been the case in Boston, albeit at a much lower average pace due to the shitty weather. In comparison to all earlier marathons (including Würzburg and Frankfurt in 2017), this is a huge improvement. I can see two apparent reasons for this: a) I had switched completely to Jack Daniels’ training programme in early 2018 and b) I have been using Adidas Boston 6 shoes with my specific orthotics since late 2017 for all 21k+ and M pace runs, including marathon races. I presume the support by the shoes has ample influence on the limb geometry from the foot upwards. But then I am only a tiny statistical sample which makes it hard to attribute the findings to specific causes.  We’ll see what happens in the next marathons. After the race is before the race. Hamburg is next in April, and New York (one more time!) in autumn 2019. And I’ll keep trying to get entry slots for London and Tokyo until I die.

2 thoughts on “Trashing another PB in Chicago

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