Chicago Marathon 2016
I participated in the 2016 Chicago Marathon, and joggled through the city. Here's my story!
The story of a marathon usually starts the day before it. I started off in the morning with a light 20 minute joggle with four 20 second strides to get the legs loosen up. Had breakfast and got ready to see the live stream of the Ironman World Championship! Subramani Venkatesh became the first Indian to make it to the big island, so it was a big day! I was intently watching the proceedings, and it's a great learning experience to see the pros go at it. Frodeno and Potts set the pace in the swim, but Kienle was making it up on the bike. As I was watching the bike leg, I remembered that I have to go pick up my race packet from McCormick Place. I packed all my gear and took the train to the city.
The Abbott Fitness Expo was quite amazing! There were so many people out there with friends and family, picking up their race bibs and jerseys! Lots of booths for running gear too.
I found this nice wall at the expo!
Post packet pick-up I was exploring McCormick Place. It's a HUGE convention center with BIG halls and stairways everywhere. It's so big, there's a Metra Station inside of it! This is the Lakeshore side of McCormick.
I walked a bit more than I should have at the expo. Now it was time to carboload! Team Asha had organized dinner near Union Station. I met fellow runners and volunteers there. We had Pizza from Giordano's, Pasta and a very yummy Garbanzo salad. I ate a LOT! The place had WiFi too! So I set up the live stream to watch the final 45 mins of the World Championship race. I was amazed to learn about Jan and Sebi run sub-6 min/mi during the start of the run for upto 10 miles and chit-chatting and sharing laughs! Then Jan put forward the stride to the finish. Also Patrick Lange, the rookie set the run course on fire and made a crazy pass on Ben Hoffman at the aid station to finish third. It was incredible to watch! On the women's side Daniela Ryf had a solid overall performance for the win and Mirinda Carfrae had awesome run to finish second. CDA champ Heather Jackson came in third. Subbu was also having a solid day!
It was almost 8:30 when I took the bus home to Ankit's place. I reviewed my race packet and went to sleep at 10:30. It was late. I had walked more than I should have. But Ankit offered me his comfortable bed to sleep on instead of the couch so I had a good sleep. Thanks Ankit!
Some data from Oct. 8
The morning call! I set the alarm pretty late at 6:20 am since I thought I wouldn't have proper rest. I got ready by 6:40 and was at the Bus Stop ready to get to the race gate. 10 minutes in, I didn't see the bus but a lady in a CTA car came and told me the buses aren't running so I had to go catch the blue line train. Oh what the hell! I took the train and saw that the station was 0.7 miles away from the entry gate, which closes at 7:45. I reached the station at 7:35, so I basically had to put in a good 8 minute jog to get there! At the last signal, Michigan Ave had a green signal for the traffic so I was waiting for the pedestrian sign to open up. And there were a bunch of us waiting. One girl and her mom jaywalked and tried to cross the not-so-busy road. Right when her mom was about to cross, a car was coming in pretty fast and the driver slammed the brakes. Tires screeched, car drifting on the road, people screaming. Thankfully no one was injured, but not the kind of thing you want to see ever, especially before the marathon.
I checked in, and found my fellow Asha teammate Prabu near the corral entrance. We were in Corral J. I chatted with him for a few minutes and then navigated towards the side of road because there was a lot of crowd. I found Mark Salamasick over there and had a good conversation with him. He was a faculty member at UT Dallas, and his son was doing a 100K that day. It was quite inspiring. We took a few pictures and slowly got to the starting line.
The start was great! I found my rhythm pretty quickly, and was able to maintain my pattern for quite some time. Everyone was excited to see a joggler around them, so that worked positively on the mental side. I started slow as I was aiming for a negative split; Strava was giving away a free pair of New Balance shoes for doing that. Around 5K, I felt the need to take a pee break. The line was so long, I think I waited for about 10 minutes for my turn. Lesson learnt - On race day, pee before you flee. Nature's call knocked one more time near 12K, so again wasted time waiting in the line. I realized that since I was maintaining the regular hydration and not sweating, I had to make visits to the port-a-potty. So I stayed calm upto 20K, but then picked up the pace. Also, I really wanted those shoes. I set a blistering pace from 20K onwards, and was just crushing it for the next 15K. Did 9 miles at around 8:30-ish pace. For the last 5K, I had to take a small break and just sat for 3-4 minutes before resuming for the finish. Running north to the finish line, I just looked at my shadow on the road and kept watching the ball rise above each shoulder. It was like a metronome; I was controlling it, and it was controlling me. The cheering grew louder and louder as I got closer to the finish.
Some details from the day
The commentator was quite funny at the finish line. He said something like, "Oh, and we have a juggler here... with an Ironman Coeur d'Alene t-shirt on. I wonder if he juggles during the swim and the bike though. That would be interesting!". I got my medal, grabbed nutrition, and gingerly headed towards the massage tent. Afterwards, I roamed around the 27-th mile post race party, which was a lot of fun. There was music, some people were dancing, I met a couple of strangers who also juggled so we did some passing.
There were about 50,000 people out there, so it was difficult to find my teammates. We didn't have any plans for post-race, so I called it a day and headed home. All in all, very satisfied with a 4:22:25 finish! I could have taken down the 4 hour mark had I set that goal from the very beginning and taken proper rest and done the morning regimen. But I really wanted those shoes so I paced myself better. Yes, I did get a negative split :D
And hey! There were 2 more jogglers on the course! Michal Kapral, the world record holder and Perry Romanowski joggled the whole race too! Michal set a new record for finishing with no drops. So basically in the Joggling Division, I got a podium finish! 3rd! Yayy!!!
What a fantastic support we have received for the Gramya Sansthan project! As I am writing this, I was able to raise $930 and Team Asha was able to raise $6930 overall! All this money goes to the education of underprivileged women and children. It's a great cause to be a part of. Thank you for being a part of this project and your blessings; it really goes a long way!