Chicago did well to over-prepare after last year's debacle. It was unseasonably warm again. The race started with temps in the high 60s and quickly zoomed through the 70s and into low 80s. I saw one bank sign that read 87F but it was officially a high of 84F.
It was sunny and steamy. I stripped off my shirt at mile 4 and gave it to Mrs. T the one and only time we were able to see each other. I picked up a good suntan. Essentially, I was running in the conditions I trained in: hot Florida-like and a flat course.
I ran the first half of the race with Runner Susan at about a 10:40 pace. I was carrying her zip bag of race needs in my pocket while she carried her cell phone. I figured that was how I'd keep her with me and I near her at an affordable pace.
She asked for her bag of stuff around mile 14. I thought she just wanted to take something but once I handed it to her she said she didn't want to hold me up. The heat was starting to get to her and was sounding concerned.
I kept with her for another 2-3 miles and finally heeded her last words, "I'll be right behind you," and kept going. Fortunately for Susan, she finished with a tough 5:11 time while hundreds of others logged DNFs in this one.
I soldiered on the last 10 miles feeling decent. It seemed much like a training run but for all the course adjustments I had to make dodging walkers and slower runners. Despite my official pace it sure seemed like I was passing a lot of folks. The aid stations were always backed up and I walked through many of them after 20 miles.
Hoses were on everywhere. They were handing out cups of ice which I used on the usual cool-down spots. Then I remembered how a colleague at work had a 104F fever two weeks ago and how they cooled him down in the hospital so I tried it myself. It couldn't hurt right? Down the shorts went a cup of ice and I have to say, that is an effective method of recovering from the heat flashes.
In mile 21 I had another Cliff Shot Blok and some golden raisins. A spectator offered orange slices. I had a little surge where I stretched it out. By the 23rd mile though I was miffed because the 4:45 pacers passed me. I knew I couldn't keep up with them. I was running half miles then walking a minute (or more in the aid stations).
Michigan Avenue was the home stretch. The road was wide. The course was more open. The final turn at mile 26 had huge crowds. Up the bridge to Grant Park and running strong across the finish line, I logged a 4:52:29 with which I am quite content, given the conditions.
In the next few posts I imagine I will reflect on the more memorable things from Chicago. We had a good time; had dinner with the Runner Susans and the couple from Schneiderville, Mrs. T's brother and SIL. This is all for now. Time for breakfast.