Monday, October 8, 2007

I shaved my head for this????

So Saturday I went to my barber shop, got all my hair cut off, then shaved it down to the scalp. I figured it'd make me more aerodynamic (HA!), that it might help me stay cool, and...well, I've always wanted to shave my head at least once in my life.

The race yesterday started off well. It was warm at the starting line, and (of course) crowded, but seemed like it'd be a good day. I was overcome with emotion a few times--at the singing of the National Anthem, crossing under Columbus street bridge, etc.

The first two miles were good, and I got to the water stop in decent condition--good pace, feeling OK, etc. Unfortunately things started to go downhill from there. At the second water stop (approx. mile 4), there was no water, no Gatorade, no nothing except for empty cups and a whole bunch of thirsty (and upset!) runners.

From there, the aid stations were spotty--some had nothing, some had only water, etc. We had to rely on the kindness of strangers--the schools, restaurants, businesses, and people who lived along the route. Some brought water, some brought ice, and some sprinkled us with water from their garden hoses.

At about 14 miles, race officials told us they were closing the course because of the heat, humidity, and the fact that they'd run out of supplies at the aid stations. Several hundred were taken to hospitals and, unfortunately, a policeman from Michigan died on the course (coverage from the Chicago Tribune is here). I ended up jumping on a cooling bus at about the 16.5 mile mark. Traffic was so bad that, after about 20 minutes, I got off the bus and walked back to Grant Park (probably another couple miles). According to the official timing, I finished the half in 3:07 and was on pace for a 6:15 finish. That's well off of what I'd originally targeted, but again with the heat, humidity, and lack of hydration I did as well as could be expected.

Calling the race off was the right thing to do, but I believe a lot of the fault rests with the organizers of the marathon. They knew very early last week that the temps would be high, which means runners need more hydration. The fact that the aid stations ran out of supplies is, to me, inexcusable.

Now, on the up side...

  • I was blown away by the number of people who came out. There were people on every block of the race--sometimes standing 4 deep. Their shouts, cheers, and encouragement for people they didn't even know was a great morale boost.
  • I had encounters with several angels on the course--from the 3 people who loaned me their cell phones so I could keep in contact with Lisa, to the fellow runners with words of encouragement, to those people who spent their own time and money to bring refreshment to the runners.
  • I ran far. Not a full marathon, mind you, but farther than I've ever run in any competitive race in my life. Farther than I ever thought possible a few years ago.
  • I survived. I am tired and sore, but that'll pass with time, Advil, and some water.
So, that was it for my first marathon. I'm disappointed it didn't turn out like I expected but I'm trying to look for the good in it, and learn what I can for future races--whether they're full or half marathons, or just 5Ks. For now, though, running takes a bit of a back seat. I'll take some time off to recover, then start back slowly. I think I've earned the break.

More later...


snowelf said...

Your marathon made our news today--I was really floored that so many people got sick and had to be hospitalized!! They didn't say ANYTHING about the stations, and I was shocked to read that in your blog. Apparently a similar thing happened here due to the heat at the Twin Cities marathon and it makes me wonder if they were ill prepared as well...

I totally agree it was poor planning on their part. They knew it was going to be hot--it wasn't like it was a surprise. And you did awesome--though I'm really sorry you didn't officially get to finish.


robertb said...

Did anyone see Jim running this marathon? Are we to just blindly accept his claim that he was there?

NeoAuteur said...

I heard the event was a nightmare. Your post confirmed it. It could have been much worst.

Jim Jones said...

Hey snow...I have a friend that ran the Twin Cities Marathon on 10/7, he told me about some of the horror stories there. The race directors have only a limited range of options for dealing with the heat--even if both marathons had enough water and Gatorade, there probably still would have been people who needed treatment because of the heat. Thanks for your kind comments--and I'm like you I'm sorry I didn't get to finish, but there's always next year.

Robert...yes, plenty of people saw me run. I've got the names of all 35,000 people who finished...I'll email them to you, one at a time...

Neo, I agree--it was bad but could have been worse. I'm saddened by the one death, but at least it wasn't due to the heat (according to the autopsy). That doesn't make his death any less tragic, but had it been due to the heat and lack of supplies, that would have had a devastating effect on the future of the Chicago Marathon, and would have meant a lot more responsibility on the part of the organizers.

Thanks again, all, for your support, encouragement, and comments. The fact that y'all post comments encourages me to keep writing!