Chicagoland Spring Marathon Race Report

date May 23, 2021 location Schaumburg, IL

After a lot of success with Pete Pfitzinger's marathon training plans, most recently nabbing a PR at the Veterans Marathon with his 18/85 plan, I decided to try something new for the training plan leading up to the Chicagoland Spring Marathon and opted for the Jack Daniels (the famous running coach, not whiskey distiller) 2Q 18 week training plan, peaking at 85 miles per week. The major differences between the plans are that the Daniels' plan simply schedules two very tough workouts every week, with the rest of the miles run at an "easy" pace, while the Pfitzinger plans have fewer, and less difficult workouts, but also prescribe a specific pace and mileage for every run during the week.

On top of the more challenging training plan, I had to schedule my runs around a few road trips and selling my house downtown and moving to Barrington. While there is no shortage of running routes in the suburbs, I ran most of my long runs through Barrington Hills, and on top of the tougher workouts, those hills lead to a couple of lower body injuries which kept me sidelined for a cumulative total of about two or three weeks. With these setbacks I wasn't sure what to expect on race day. Before training started I had my sights on a 2:45 target, but given the injuries I set a more reasonable goal of beating November's PR of 2:48:40.

The headline is that I missed that goal by a pretty big margin, running a 2:52:11 for 5th place overall. The weather was overcast but warm, between 68 and 73 degrees, though there was a welcomed light mist of rain during the first 10 or so miles of the race. My pacing was solid, running about 6:23 splits fairly consistently until the wheels started to come off at mile 17. I was dealing with some bad stomach cramps most of the race and despite the heat I think it may have been due to over hydrating and/or over carb-loading the night before the race. Finishing the last 10 or so miles was some of the hardest physical pain I’ve ever experienced but I'm proud to have braved it through to the finish line.

I’ve been fortunate to PR every marathon I’ve run over the last few years and that streak ended today. This game I've been playing of moving the goal posts after each major race(qualify for Boston, break 3 hours, break 2:50, 2:45?) is what keeps me motivated and adds meaning to the weekly miles. Though I failed to hit my goal today, at least for the next 24 hours I’m gonna step back and take pride in the fact that these 37 year old legs just ran 26.2 miles at a 6:34 mi/min pace!

Tomorrow, I will start planning my training for the Chicago Marathon in October.

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

What went wrong:
• My stomach felt very full during the race which I think was a combination of a heavy carb load the day before the race, and preemptively drinking too much water before the race start.
• I brought 6 gels with me and only ended up eating 3. The race had several gatorade stops and on top of the stomach cramps they were just extra weight.
• Ultimately, I just didn't have the endurance for 26 miles this race. Though my speed felt good, having set a 5K PR record two weeks before the race. This makes sense given the new training plan's emphasis on speed and me missing several of the scheduled long workouts due to injury.
• Many of my tempo runs were run on very hilly terrain. While I think hills are a nice training tool, my body was just not used to the elevation change due to the pancake-flat nature of the city where I've been running for several years. This lead to an Achilles injury, and some Peroneal Tendonitis which each kept me sidelined for several days and key workouts leading up to the race.

What went well:
• New shoes felt fast
• Good early pacing, though a little fast

What to try for next time:
• Run more workouts on the track when possible
• Add doubles to the schedule to give my legs a better chance to recover, even at the expense of prehab/strengthening workouts if necessary
• Add more plyometrics to strengthen joints, even at the expense of prehab/strengthening workouts if necessary
• Add some cycling workouts at least during the recovery and base building phases of training to keep up my fitness while my legs recover from this race