Chicago Marathon Race Report

date October 11, 2021 location Chicago, IL

Last fall, with news of vaccines and the possible return of racing, I signed up for the Chicago Marathon with that hope that it would serve a dual purpose: provide a stage to achieve my goal time of 2:45, and host a farewell tour of the city where I’ve lived my entire adult life up until earlier this year. With respect to the latter, the race came through in a big way, and with many friends, family, and co-workers cheering me on along the course, it was a proper send off to say the least. Unfortunately, the combination of heat, humidity, and a couple of legs that just didn’t have their best day, I fell short of my goal time substantially, clocking in at 2:51:47, though good enough for #356 overall. This marks a third miss at breaking the 2:45 barrier, with prior misses at the Veterans Marathon in November 2020 (2:48:40), and at the Chicago Spring Marathon in May 2021 (2:52:11).

Despite a disappointing performance at the race, I can say with confidence that this was the best training block of my running career as I completed Jack Daniels’ 2Q training program, peaking at 85 miles per week, without missing a single workout, and setting PRs at the 5K, 10K, and half marathon at tune-up races leading up to the Chicago Marathon.

As I like to do with all of my race reports, here are some notes for next time:

What went poorly:
• Once again, I felt undertrained for the grueling grind that is 26.2 miles. This could be due in part to a few poor training sessions at marathon pace due to tired legs from earlier speed workouts
•18 weeks is such a grind. With such a short break between my most recent two marathons, it took a toll on me mentally and physically

What went well:
•I did nearly all my speed workouts at the track enabling fast paces with reduced risk of injury, particularly to my ankle joints
•I hit massive PRs in my 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon times
•I didn’t miss a single training session due to injury
•I was extremely loyal to a rigorous strength training routine

What to try for next time:
•I would be interested in trying a 12 week training plan, either switching back to a Pfitzinger plan, or trying a final 12 week Daniels plan
•More emphasis on showing up for the Marathon Pace runs. I may have prioritized the sexier speed and tempo workouts with faster times while the MP runs suffered
•Move my Q2 workout to Wednesday instead of Thursday, giving me 3 days of rest before my Q1 workout instead of my Q2 workout
•Reducing my loyalty to my strength routine - while this helped me stay injury free, I feel I could have had similar results with less time spent in this routine, or replacing strength workouts with doubles
•Fueling for workouts - I had a few low quality workouts during my training block, particularly a couple of Marathon Pace days where I couldn’t seem to get my heart rate up into the required zone, I would like to try to prepare myself better for these runs including more emphasis on fueling