Before The Start
In the Beginning
Having arrived in Chicago on Friday morning and experienced the warmer weather up close and personal for a day and a half, I felt as prepared to face the sun on race morning as I did the full 26.2 mile distance...which is another way of saying NOT. SO. MUCH. Perhaps I should explain.
For the past week and a half of taper, I'd been dealing with a slightly pulled muscle in my right hamstring that would give me little pinches of pain whenever I'd run at tempo pace or faster. On Monday of race week, I also caught a cold from one of the sick kids in clinic that left me a little sniffly and sneezy all the way to Chicago. So I'd be lying to myself if I thought i was 100% physically fit to race this course. But given that I'd been eating right and sleeping well and felt good on my dress rehearsal run of a few miles at marathon pace earlier in the week, I felt that I had a decent shot of running a good race. Besides, this was my 10th marathon on 10/10/10 and I'd been training all spring and summer for THIS RACE on THIS DAY to break sub-3. Was there any possible conceivable way for me to gracefully bow out of my race goal NOW? To make matters worse (or better depending on your perspective), my best fan/friend MT from home as well as several other blogger/podcaster friends were coming out to watch me race. To let them down with a sub-stellar performance would be more than a little disappointing for me.
So after gathering my things and filling my stomach with a blueberry muffin and a banana I had bought the day before, I left my friend M still sleeping at the hotel we were staying at and made my way downtown to the starting area at Millenium Park.
In the Beginning
The sun had barely begun peering over the horizon when I scooted into the seeded corral starting area after dropping off my bags at 6:45AM. Although I was a bit early, with the scheduled start at 7:30AM, I did not want to waste much needed energy fighting with the crowds and stressing over possibly not making it to my corral before they collapsed them. Besides I had a three digit bib number and a corral start right behind the elites for this race and so I thought I might possibly sneak up to the front and "touch a Kenyan" for good luck before it got too crowded in the corral. So I did, apologized for my intrusion, and grabbed a seat on the side towards the middle of my corral where I waited patiently for all the runners to come join me. As they came, one by one at first, then by the masses, I couldn't help but notice how many of my neighbors were so much younger than I am. I was surrounded by so many skinny legs and track tanks with college logos figured prominently in the front, that I felt as if I had just invited myself to a running fraternity party. Although I was a little intimidated by their boisterous talk, each verbally predicting a better finishing time than his peers, I was more energized by the immediacy of this sub3 attempt. I reminded myself that since I wasn't getting younger, I need to take full advantage of these racing opportunities as they come to me. As I always say before almost every race - Someday I will no longer be able to do this but today just isn't that day! Soon after I had this thought, the national anthem was played and the 33rd Annual Chicago Marathon got underway.