Chicago Marathon - my 2nd Marathon Major. I went into this one anticipating that I would have a great, fast race. I screwed up and went out too fast in the first 8 or so miles. Some of that was because I tend to rely on my Garmin for pacing, and I couldn't trust it running amongst Chicago's skyscrapers, so I was guessing on my pacing. Then I caught up to the 3 hour pace team, and thought I must be behind my pace, and sped up . . . and sped up too much. By the time I eased back to what should have been my pace (6:45-6:47/mile) around mile 9, I'd already burned too much energy, and basically I was toast by about mile 16. I didn't bonk anywhere near as badly as I did at Boston in the heat, but I also ran my race about 11 minutes slower than I had planned on (planned on a 2:57, ran a 3:08).
I was not running without a few issues. I had soreness in my knee two weeks leading into the race, and I stopped all running with 2 weeks to go in order to let things heal up. I also decided to run with a Zensah compression sleeve on my left knee - which ultimately caused that leg to tire more quickly than my right. Race temps could have been cooler (mid 50s to mid 60s), but I never really felt that was an issue - after all, I'd been training in mid 80s to mid 90s since July. Maybe I was still a little tired from running 10 marathons in the past year, but I actually felt fairly fresh going into the race. I really just think I went out too fast. Next time I race, I'll just be utterly precise on my paces in the first half, and not gamble until later in the race.
While the race itself was fun, and there were spectators/race fans cheering us on the entire 26.2 miles, the event itself did not compare to Boston. I felt that the expo was a little small for a race this size - the expo hall was spacious and seemed comparatively empty, with mostly local stores (besides Nike) and nowhere nearly the number of vendors (less than half) that are at the Boston expo. At Boston, the whole race weekend feels like a race party, with Boylston shut down the entire race weekend and everyone in town talking about the race. In Chicago, there were people we talked to that didn't even know the race was being run and once you got away from the expo, it just felt like you were in any other big metro area, with nothing special going on.
Of course, the race itself was very well run. The course was cool, running through skyscrapers and most of the major areas around Chicago. It was nearly pancake flat, with a few insignificant hills as you crested overpasses. Wind wasn't an issue at any time this year. Aid stations were large and very well-stocked. I'm not sure I'll ever come back here or not (I have my sights on New York and Berlin for fall Majors in the future), but it was an enjoyable experience.
Shoes: I ran in Altra Instinct 2s, size 10.5 - very comfortable.
Shorts: I ran in my standard 2" split shorts from Adidas.
Shirt: I ran in an Inknburn "Patriot" singlet. Worked fine.
Socks: Brand new Injinji medium weight no-show toe socks – same socks I’ve been running in for several years.
Compression: Zensah compression sleeve on my left knee. No knee problems during the race, but it did cause my left leg to fatigue faster than my right.
Fuel: I carried 4 Apple/Cinnamon Hammer Gels, one taken at mile 5, 10, 15, and 20. I took lots of water and Gatorade from alternating aid stations.
Hat: Marathon Maniacs classic hat. Very comfortable.
Glasses: my red iridium custom Flak Jackets from Oakley.
Watch: Garmin 610. Lost or had erratic satellite reception downtown amongst the skyscrapers.