Here we go on Chicago thoughts! The actual race was a very long time coming. After the 2015 Boston Marathon, Sam and I were married in July and moved from Boulder to the Bay Area in October. Running-wise, I mostly did whatever for the rest of 2015. It had been a struggle to get to the Boston start line after being diagnosed with two hip labrum detachments, and training afterward was very scattered with the wedding and the move. I finished 2015 by racing 7 consecutive weekends, which Sam enjoyed immensely (ha).
At the beginning of 2016, I met a new training partner, Jess. I'd seen her Strava and Instagram, we had almost identical PRs and I knew she lived nearby. On the appointed morning of our first run, I had raging food poisoning that manifested at 4am. We met at 7am, made it through a few introductory questions and then I started projectile-vomiting margherita pizza onto the sidewalks of downtown Palo Alto. It was one of my better first impressions and afterward we were either going to be buddies or we were never going to talk again. Luckily, we became friends and Jess convinced me to run Chicago in the fall. We also talked to David Roche about coaching for Chicago and he welcomed us into the SWAP family. David, Jess and SWAP have become an integral part my running life, and I look forward to their wisdom and humor everyday.
Briefly, this is what Chicago training looked like. I had a decent base of 50-65mpw going into this, with 1 longer run and 1-2 speedier sessions per week.
- Week 1: 73 miles
- 16 mile LR at 7:06
- Week 2: 43 miles
- Small half-marathon PR of 1:23:57. Ugly race though- major positive split.
- Week 3: 64 miles
- Track 5k in 18:16
- 3-hour run in Breckenridge for Laura's bachelorette!
- Week 4: 67 miles
- First 20-miler! at 7:02
- A David Roche staple: a power hour! 6:19 pace for an hour.
- Week 5: 55 miles
- 20-miler on a 1-mile stretch of trail. Rough, at 7:03
- Week 6: 84 miles
- Biggest lifetime mileage ever!
- Train-cation in Missoula, MT for 20-miler at 7:28
- Week 7: 54 miles
- Only missed workout of the training cycle (boo), but being smart with injury niggles
- Tuneup half marathon in 1:24:47. Negative-split and controlled.
- Week 8: 83 miles
- Mid-week 14-miler at 6:47
- 24-miler at 6:53
- Week 9: 49 miles
- 30 min tempo at 6:04
- 16-miler at 6:53
- Week 10: 64 miles
- Pre-race David Roche special: 10 at MP + 1 under
- 14-miler at 6:53
- Week 11: 55 miles (race week!)
- 3 at MP + 1 under
- RACE! New 26.2 PR of 2:55:57!
Going into Chicago, the big goal was to break 3:00. With David's coaching, I did more mileage than I've ever done before and also way more easy/moderate paced running. Jess and I always joke that I have only two gears- sub 6:00 or over 8:30. Under David's guidance, I actually worked on those middle gears. I also did many more 20-milers than I've ever done in a marathon training cycle; I would typically do one 20-miler and call it good before the marathon. Going into race day, I was more prepared than any marathon I've done.
The race plan was to keep it at 6:40s until 15, start tightening the pace at 15 and then all out for the last 6.2, assuming there was something in the tank. It actually worked out like 6:40s the whole way through. I started the race off a little slow (6:50s), panicked a bit and cranked it down too hard (6:30s). The race start was overwhelming- the quiet of the park turns into a wall of noise immediately and it doesn't stop for about 10 miles. I was on 6:40 pace through 10 miles, and caught the 2:55 pace group right around then. The group was mostly brooding men and the Fleet Feet Chicago guys were doing a fantastic job of running evenly. After they dropped me at 20, I was still pretty sure that I was going to be able to run sub-3:00 so it was head down, feet moving and don't dwell on the hardship too much. Once I crossed that finish line I WAS PUMPED!
Caroline's snapchat story (@cocoscosco14) from the race day was excellent. Here's a video where she is recording, handing me a new bottle, and cheering. 12/10 would hug.
After the race we celebrated the proper way, with food and beer and naps. I also reached the reflective point and started talking to Sam, my husband, about how the race had gone. I thought that I had had a shot at the low 2:50s if everything went perfectly. Sam's thought was that if I tried for low 2:50s, then I would need to be comfortable with the possibility of blowing up and running 3:10-3:15. Looking back on it, I would have never taken that gamble for this Chicago. It was too important to me to break 3:00. I am delighted with an evenly-paced 2:55, and Sam's pretty smart.
A brief look at the great things:
- David somehow got both Jess and I into the American Development corral, which starts right behind the elites. THIS WAS AWESOME. Jess and I walked from the hotel to the start line, which was a little chaotic, and went into the American Development tent. It was an oasis of calm with a zillion portapotties, everything you could ask for before a big city marathon. The actual start was awesome too- we watched all of the elites file in and do their pre-race prep. I saw Lauren and Rachel, two very speedy college teammates, lining up amongst the elites. Eph hugs all around at the start!
- Fluids! I'm usually good at taking fluids during a race, but David suggested taking a collapsible flask in addition to course support. I felt a little ridiculous at the start but I was jazzed to have the extra water later on. My sister also handed off a new flask at mile 12, so I had an additional 16oz total.
- Our spectators! My sister, Caroline, and husband, Sam, are both wonderful humans. Jess' husband, Will, was also there and it was SO uplifting to see all of them at four points on the course. Caroline has spectated every marathon I've done, and she is almost always the one who spots me first in the crowd. It is so comforting to come out of a hard stretch of miles and to hear her yelling for me.
- All of the faraway friends who sent messages! To the Eph cross country teammates who tracked me between medical residency shifts and after getting out of remote nature, to the Tuesday Tempo folks who bet on my finishing time, to my parents making pasta in Italy, to the friends who were on their honeymoons or hanging with their babies, THANK YOU ALL!
As far as what's next, I'm still on the one marathon per year plan. No more 20-milers for a while. I'll be doing some 5ks and 10ks at all of the appropriate holiday intervals, and spectating many of my sister's upcoming races.