Chicago Marathon 2023

When (Finish Line)

in depth training words.


Working up from zero is not a trivial task. After recovering from a knee injury last year, I'm effectively starting from about the lowest level of fitness I've had in nearly 15 years in an effort to run an marathon eight months out.

marathon plan overview.

Task Main Task Due Date Task Status
[distance] 5k MILESTONE 09 - Complete
[distance] 6k [distance] 10k 09 - Complete
[distance] 7k [distance] 10k 09 - Complete
[distance] 8k [distance] 10k 09 - Complete
[distance] 9k [distance] 10k 09 - Complete
[distance] 10k MILESTONE 09 - Complete
[distance] 11k [distance] 15k 09 - Complete
[distance] 12k [distance] 15k 09 - Complete
[distance] 13k [distance] 15k 09 - Complete
[distance] 14k [distance] 15k 04 - In Progress
[hills] 3 repeats [hills] 6 repeats 02 - Planning
[distance] 15k MILESTONE 04 - In Progress
[hills] 4 repeats [hills] 6 repeats 02 - Planning
[hills] 5 repeats [hills] 6 repeats 02 - Planning
[hills] 6 repeats MILESTONE 02 - Planning
[hills] 12 repeats MILESTONE 02 - Planning
[distance] 21.1k MILESTONE 02 - Planning
[distance] 25k MILESTONE 02 - Planning
[distance] 32k MILESTONE 02 - Planning
[run] last long run MILESTONE 02 - Planning
[race] Chicago Marathon MILESTONE 02 - Planning

specifically racing words.

pmb, the post marathon blues

Submitted by 8r4d on October 10 2023

Two sleeps.

I’ve had two sleeps since race day. This time as I write these very words, forty eight hours ago and accounting for time zone difference, I was standing near the gear check for the Chicago marathon getting ready to strip down to my race kit and file into the corral.

Six of us ran the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. Six, plus fifty-eight thousand other people, of course. But six of us from my run crew made it down to the windy city by various means and with various certainty and after a couple days of playing tourist, we queued into our corral and took to the streets for a forty-two point two kilometer, twenty-six point one mile road race known as the World Major Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

It was work.

I flew threw the first half.

I kept my goal pace until nearly thirty klicks.

The weather was perfect. The crowds were beyond amazing. The city was a fascination. The other racers were all going the right direction, at least. A new world record was set on the course by (can I call him that?) one of my fellow racers. Two hours and thirty-five seconds. Insane.

I felt the wall hit around thirty kilometres. My legs started twinging. My heart rate number spiked in the display on my watch by 25-35 bpm and even bringing it down by walking a bit it would immediately shoot back up within ten steps of running. I felt like I should be able to run, but off an on I would get a little spinny and had I been out for a stroll in the park I would have sat down and eaten a cookie or something, but I was running the goddamn Chicago Marathon and that shit don’t fly.

I bonked. 

Yeah. I had been taking in calories. I had a nutrition plan and an electrolyte plan and I was following them. It just wasn’t enough.

I made it to the finish with a huge split, but I finished. 

And I should technically be proud because as of Sunday I have a new marathon PR. A new personal record time. By about thirty seconds over my first (and previously best) marathon ten years ago.

I will be proud.

Right now, forty eight hours later, having spent yesterday in transit between Chicago and home, after saying goodbye to friends at the end of a vacation, after settling back into my armchair at home and finally putting up my feet to rest, I just kinda feel down.

There is a very real post marathon blues that can hit you and it has multiple times for me. Part of me writing this post is just to acknowledge that and start the multi-week process of working through the post-race depression that hits like the second wall of the race. That feeling of playing the race over in your head, of suddenly not having a goal to work towards, of recounting the event and probably a bunch of actual biochemical effects of, y’know, just having tortured yourself for 42.2 km. Not only all that, but I’ve been building myself up for this race for literally three years and ten months. This race (including it’s imminent cancellation and conflicting feelings around it) was a leg in the tripod that was my covid pandemic experience. It’s been swirling through a thousand conversations and marked a very clear destination for me for a long time. And it’s now over and in the memory book. Just another medal on the wall. Just another handful of race photos. Just another t-shirt to wear out on the trails.

Right now I’m not loving the marathon. Five races in and my experience has been uniformly the same. I love the work. I love the anticipation. I love the start line. I hate the finish and I feel like hell warmed over for days or weeks afterwards. It’s not my race.

I am a marathoner. Five done and in the books. If I ever do another it would need to be a race for which I couldn’t say no, something amazing and perfect and an undeniable adventure. But otherwise I think the universe and my body are both telling me to stick to shorter races for a while. I’m okay with that.

four sleeps

Submitted by 8r4d on October 4 2023

Four sleeps.

I wrote that on some social media platform this morning. After three years and ten months of waiting. A pandemic. A race cancellation. Double deferrals. A knee injury and slow recovery. And an entire spring and summer of hard core marathon training, the race is in four sleeps.

This time tomorrow we’ll be on our first leg of our Chicago-bound flight, so today is the last day of so-called normal before the race travel begins and the adventure steamrolls me towards a start line and…

Marathon five.

Number one was so long ago I’m not sure I can remember the year. It was a local deal and I’d been rubber-arm cajoled in leading the training clinic at the running store where we all hung out. I trained by the book because I was teaching the book and I finished and moved on.

Number two took me to Disney World. I thought why just run a marathon when I can run a marathon challenge, so I “did the Dopey” and ran four races in four days, incrementing through a five k, ten k, half, and ending on my second marathon finish.

Number three was major. A major. I half-jokingly added my name to the group of folks who were entering the New York Marathon lottery in 2016 and was the only one of said group who “won” an entry that year. Won. As in they billed my credit card and as such invited me to participate. It has been my favourite to date.

Number four was a pity race. People were training. Peer pressure got the better of me and I felt a bit guilty for encouraging others to run the local race when I had (originally) no intention of doing so myself. I signed up at the last minute and showed up at the start line the morning after returning from a family vacation. I did quite poorly.

Chicago was supposed to be a redemption run for that showing.

Chicago was supposed to have been over three years ago.

Chicago was supposed to be a distant memory.

Chicago is actually in four sleeps.

Marathon five.

Chicago Route Map

Submitted by 8r4d on March 5 2023

I've been mucking around with adding new technology to this site, including the ability to add some maps to some of my pages. So... why not add a map to my Chicago Marathon planning?

I haven't yet run Chicago so this map is from the Strava community page for the Marathon itself. I've already had a bit of a look at the various loops and various doglegs of the course. It also has an interested elevation profile, particularly that little climb at the end... which seems pretty trivial now, but may not after running for four-plus hours.

vision: start line

Submitted by 8r4d on January 27 2023

It's going to be weeks, maybe months, before I stop feeling like I'm jinxing myself or getting ahead of the recovery process in writing this kind of thing.

That said, last night I hit another minor milestone: I ran with the crew.

I haven't run with the crew since last July.

Sure, it was a short 6 klick run. And sure, I fell behind at the last kilometer because my cardio endurance hit a bit of hump that it took me an extra bit of energy to climb over.

But it was a group run, and yet another destination reached on the road map to the Chicago Marathon start line.

And that has been on my mind a lot lately, not just because it's in my mind as this thing I know I've registered for. It's been on my mind because I've needed to start telling people: letting work know that I need vacation time, booking hotels and (imminently) flights, and answering questions from curious friends, coworkers, and others about why I'm suddenly pushing to start training so much.

Eight months is a long way away, but I mapped out that metaphorical roadmap into a training plan across the upcoming spring and summer and ... it's tight. That thought of getting to the start line in Chicago with the training and confidence to actually run it means that I've got some aggressive timelines to live up to and checkboxes on training, recovery, endurance, and overall fitness to mark off.

It's not trivial. It's not simple. It's not obvious that I can do it.

Right now it's not much more than a plan and an idea. A vision on a start line, eight months, countless training hours, a healed knee, a couple thousand kilometers, and a mountain of motivation between here and there away.

marathon, what?

Submitted by 8r4d on October 20 2022

Neglecting to write here in a while has been something of a deliberate choice as I turned October into an excuse to reduce my screen time. I've been writing ... on paper. Journaling, etc.

But I figure at some point I'll wander back here and start writing and tracking again, and when that day comes I may want to mark this week as important in the long, dark story of my declining sanity.

So. I registered for a marathon.


Back in 2019 I put my name in for the lottery for Chicago. 2020.

If you've studied your recent history you may have heard of a little thing called "the world shut down for two years because of a viral disease!" that happened. Chicago 2020 did not happen. Not for me. Not for anyone.

The folks who organize it, kindly sent a note letting all of us 2020 lottery winners know that we could instead run in a later year, either 2021, 2022, or 2023.

In 2021 things were getting back to normal but international travel was not on that normal list.

The 2022 race happened about ten days ago.

And the 2023 registration, my last chance to use my deferral, opened up with an invitation email about 48 hours prior to me writing this.

So. I registered for a marathon.

It's in about fifty and a half weeks. Almost a full year away. And though I haven't run in three months and can barely walk, my physiotherapy seems to be paying dividends. I'm hopeful. Or crazy. Probably both.

World Record

Submitted by 8r4d on February 12 2024

I was only about ten klicks into the Chicago Marathon that I’d heard that the lead runner had finished.

Fair enough. He’d probably started a good hour before I did in the very first wave, and also fair enough, he was significantly faster than I was.

The lead singer of one of the street bands playing along the side of the course finished their song just as I was passing and announced the finish to the cheers of the runners, and also noted with some excitement that a new world record had been set. Two hours and thirty five seconds.

I wasn’t even close. But for nearly an hour I’d shared the course with the world record for the marathon.

Kelvin Kiptum hadn’t quite come out of nowhere, but the vibe around his win seemed as though as an up and coming runner he had pretty much done just that. Come out of nowhere and set the record and unexpectedly.


We were out last night when I got a string of text messages on our run club group chat.

“Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum and coach killed in road accident in Kenya”

I mean, I didn’t really run with this guy, but I kinda ran with this guy. He was just 24. Run in peace, man.