Saturday, October 24, 2015
Chicago Marathon - October 11, 2015
Well I am starting to write this twelve days after the fact, but will probably publish on the thirteenth day. It feels longer than that. I'm back at the point where I'm running at the rate I was before I knew I was going to train--a few times a week. But I feel like I want to do it more, like four or five times a week. It became addicting.
Unfortunately it also cut into my ability to do other things with my time, such as writing, cooking, or properly caring for my broken finger. It is my left ring finger, so beware anybody that might want to marry me. You will need to get an elastic ring.
I wanted to write about the marathon experience itself though, not the training. I will offer a brief comment on my training by reciting some stats from mapmyrun.com. I logged 106 workouts on it. This is enough for anyone to train, though I believe that I was already in fairly decent running shape, as I'd been doing it pretty consistently for about a year, though mostly short distances like 4 miles.
In 106 workouts, I went 793 miles. I logged 85 miles in May, 139 in June, 219 in July (though that includes an ill-advised 18 mile bike ride), 151 in August, 167 in September, and 32 in October.
I was hoping to get 4:20 as a dumb stoner joke. I thought hey, if I can get that time, it's pretty respectable. That's roughly ten minute miles, maybe like 9:50 or 9:55. Using mapmyrun.com helped me pay closer attention to my pace. I was heartened to see it consistently lower towards the end of my training. Even so, I was absolutely terrified of the marathon. The furthest I had gone was just over 20 miles, the Saturday on the weekend of Riot Fest. I ran my usual long route, but added a leg to Douglas Park around the perimeter of the festival before heading home. It was a great run and I did it in 3:25. That was right on target for me, six more miles in 55 minutes--you'd need to be a little faster than 10 minute miles, but do-able.
My sister came in for the race from Boston, and my younger brother was running it, too. I met them both at the Expo at McCormick Place on the day before the race. It was great fun (particularly the part where we walked through an old bus and got some goose island beer samples) and then we got a cab to the Loop to meet the rest of our family at Harry Caray's 7th Inning Stretch at Water Tower Place to watch game 2 of the Cubs vs. Cardinals NLDS. We had drinks and appetizers there, then moved on to Mia Francesca, across the street, where I had a wonderful linguine prosciutto (to which I added meatballs).
I woke up at 5 AM the next day and was scared as hell. I ate an everything bagel with cream cheese, some milk and cereal, juice, and a banana. I think I ate a protein bar on the train ride over.
I checked all my gear in the large plastic bag they give you, took an adderall and a five-hour energy, and moved into my starting corral a little after 7:30. The adderall is controversial and I promised my sister's wife (who incidentally had her pharmaceutical company's first drug approved by the FDA yesterday) that I would not do it again.
In any case, the nerves were strong as we waited to start. I tried to find my sister, as she was supposed to be in the same starting corral. She said she was wearing a neon green Adidas hat. I looked around and saw several, but none were her. I had to go it on my own.
We kept inching up forward every few minutes. Until eventually we were near the starting line. We passed it around 8:10 AM, and the clock already said forty minutes had elapsed. We were all moving slowly out of the starting gate, pretty much, and I pressed play on my iPod.
The main reason I wanted to write this was to share my iPod playlist. I have been making running playlists on various iPods for nearly 10 years now, and I have made some very good ones in my time (even though I have been limited by my somewhat eccentric collection--for example, I could not include "Moonlight Mile" by the Rolling Stones, which my oldest sister recommended the night before), but this is the ultimate playlist. I would not have made it through without this.
Before I mention the first track, I just have to remark that around lower Wacker Dr. or Randolph St., (one of those underground tunnel streets) just after the start, a bunch of dudes went off to the side and peed against the wall. It was hilarious to see. I guess going to the bathroom is a big deal in the race. A lot of people try to go beforehand and the port-a-potty lines get long, and some people need to wait, and I guess dudes can do this. I just love that public urination is kind of permitted in this situation. I felt like I had to go a bit, and I knew from experience that I would usually need to, but as I kept seeing "rest areas" along the course, I kept thinking, I can hold out until the next one. As I went on, I just wanted to finish as quickly as possible, and I held off until the very end--this after all of the gatorade, water, and even a beer after the finish line.
This was a warm marathon--it got to be close to 75 degrees around 11 AM or so. I personally love this temperature for running, though everyone else thinks it is too hot. I guess I sweated a fair amount and that affected my fluid intake/need to pee.
Anyways, here was my playlist:
Before the list, here are some signifiers of songs for those unfamiliar:
BSCS = Bat Shit Crazy Song
R = Recovery Song
PFM = Perfect For Moment (well-sequenced)
PT = Perfect Transition (from previous song)
U = Unremarkable (would change)
PM = Pace Maintenance
If there is no signifier, it's essentially unremarkable, but I wouldn't change it.
(1) St. Vincent - Birth in Reverse PFM
(2) Shellac - Surveyor
(3) Fugazi - Place Position BSCS
(4) The Fiery Furnaces - Tropical-Iceland PFM
(5) Shellac - Dude Incredible
(6) Rites of Spring - Persistent Vision
(7) !!! - Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story) PFM
(8) Rites of Spring - Remainder PM
(9) Deerhunter - Circulation R
(10) Superchunk - On the Mouth BSCS
(11) Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Y Control PM
(12) Superchunk - Here's Where the Strings Come In
(13) Nirvana - Mrs. Butterworth [Rehearsal Demo]
(14) Built to Spill - Stop the Show R
(15) Fucked Up - Truth I Know
(16) Beastie Boys - Sabotage PT
(17) The Stooges - Loose
(18) Hole - Jennifer's Body
(19) Nena - 99 Luftballoons PFM
(20) Battles - Atlas PM
(21) Texas is the Reason - Antique (live) PFM
(22) Pissed Jeans - Boring Girls PFM/BSCS
(23) Superchunk - Lying in State
(24) Radiohead - Paranoid Android
(25) Sleater-Kinney - Hollywood Ending
(26) Dead Kennedys - Pull My Strings
(27) Scarlett Johansson - I Don't Want to Grow Up R
(28) Fugazi - Hello Morning BSCS
(29) Superchunk - Invitation
(30) The Fall - Jawbone and the Air-Rifle U
(31) Superchunk - Without Blinking
(32) Rage Against the Machine - Guerilla Radio
(33) The Stone Roses - Made of Stone R
(34) Nirvana - Negative Creep (live) BSCS
(35) Sonic Youth - Bone PM
(36) Bikini Kill - Strawberry Julius BSCS
(37) Superchunk - FOH
(38) Pavement - Speak, See, Remember R
(39) The Dismemberment Plan - Pay for the Piano
(40) The Get Up Kids - Woodson
(41) Wire - 12XU BSCS
(42) Superchunk - Staying Home BSCS
(43) Mission of Burma - Max Ernst
(44) C.S.S. - CSS Suxxx PM
(45) The Misfits - Horror Business
(46) Black Flag - Nervous Breakdown BSCS
(47) Wipers - When It's Over U
(48) Shellac - Spoke
(49) Fugazi - Public Witness Program BSCS
(50) Dum Dum Girls - He Gets Me High PM
(51) Superchunk - Animated Airplanes Over Germany PM/PT
(52) Big Black - Bad Penny
(53) LCD Soundsystem - Losing My Edge R
(54) The Jesus Lizard - Gladiator
(55) The Get Up Kids - Off the Wagon
(56) Japandroids - Sovereighnty
(57) Shellac - Watch Song
(58) Radiohead - Bodysnatchers PM
(59) The Promise Ring - Is This Thing On?
(60) Be Your Own Pet - Super Soaked BSCS
(61) Dead Kennedys - Lie Detector
(62) Sonic Youth - Kissability (skipped)
(63) Fucked Up - Queen of Hearts (skipped)
(64) Fucked Up - Remember My Name (skipped)
(65) Deerhunter - Nothing Ever Happened (skipped)
(66) Dinosaur Jr. - Lose (skipped)
(67) Shellac - Killers (skipped?)
(68) Shellac - Wingwalker
(69) Shellac - Billiard Player Song (unplayed)
(70) Shellac - This is a Picture (unplayed)
(71) Superchunk - Seed Toss (unplayed)
(72) Fucked Up - Triumph of Life (unplayed)
I loved opening up with St. Vincent. It was such a rush. I couldn't tell if that was the 5 hour energy and adderall combined with the enormity of the event before me, but I think that was it. This was just an awesome song to open with.
Around song 20, I passed my family near the Broadway and Cornelia corner, around mile 8 or so. My dad remarked later that my energy looked good, that I was bouncing along. I was able to see them and waved as enthusiastically as I could, and it wasn't faked. I was legitimately having a great time with this. I admit, it is stressful for the runner when they have to try to remember where certain friends or family might be waiting, to look out for them on the left or right, and make sure not to snub them. Luckily this worked out.
So yes, this area around song 20 was pretty intense. "Antique" and "Boring Girls" back-to-back was pretty awesome.
One of the weirdest choices is the Scarlett Johansson cover of Tom Waits's "I Don't Want to Grow Up." This is a super mellow song. However sometimes you need to have a mellow song--a "recovery" moment. You can't just go all out the entire time (okay maybe the people that start at 7:30 instead of 8 can, but I'm not that good), you need to walk through the water/gatorade stations and sometimes chill out a bit. The song may be mellow, but it also has a beat, and it was like a moment of calm.
In general I was super happy with this mix, but then we came to the tough part: song 47 - "When It's Over" by the Wipers. I distinctly remember this song as the moment that time seemed to change. This is a long song--over 6 minutes--and I figured it would take me most of the way to the next milemarker. It did that, but it just seemed like those six minutes were more like 12 or 15. The rest of the race was significantly harder for me. I don't think this was quite mile 22--mile 22 is where things got much more painful for me--but it signaled a shift.
I think when I hit "Losing My Edge" I recovered a bit, because it's another really long song, and while it's not mellow, the lyrics are especially relevant during a marathon. It was a nice recovery moment. Here is a picture from the last leg of the race in Chinatown. I was feeling some pain, but I look pretty good here I think:
That's right--it's $89.99 to buy these photos, so instead I just took them on my phone off a computer screen.
Ultimately, it was shocking to see the time--I seemed to be a bit ahead of schedule, even trying to subtract 40 minutes from each timer I saw. I got to "Kissability" and saw there were only like 800 meters left or something, so I skipped ahead to "Wingwalker" which is probably my favorite song, so I could put my arms out like an airplane as I crossed the finish line. It was awesome.
Basically, this is an experience that not everyone needs to have, but if you want to get into pretty good shape, I recommend it as a good goal to give yourself. You need to be determined to make this happen, and it is a great confidence boosting exercise.
I also liked all the signs I saw. "No Walken." (Obviously with picture of Christopher Walken) "Jay Cutler would be cramping up by now." "If Donald Trump can make it this far, so can you." "If Britney Spears can survive 2007, so can you." "Smile if you peed a little." "You Ain't Cool Unless You Pee Your Pants."
I also liked high-fiving people watching, though it was mostly little kids. I would always get a little boost after I did that, and people had signs that said, "Punch here for power," and I did that a few times and it felt like it worked. In general, the further you go, the more your mind messes with you, and the truly absurd humor on display on the signs is just all the more entertaining. It was just great fun and one the best experiences in my life.