Thursday, November 3, 2011

Marathon Inspiraton - Josh Lemke Chicago 2011 Recap

Josh Lemke Recap of 2011 Chicago Marathon (editors note: Great job Josh and thank u for sharing)

I’ve eagerly awaited February 1st’s arrival for the past five years for one reason and one reason only; it was time to register for the Chicago Marathon. As February 2nd rolled around each year I would tell myself that this year I would dedicate myself to my training and actually stick with it as well. This year turned out to be a little different…

It was a chilly morning in February as I showed up for a Wednesday morning run at the Dowd YMCA with the Charlotte Running Club. I found myself apprehensive as I walked through the entryway to the Dowd as I had no idea as what to expect. In the previous years I’ve participated I trained on my own. I had never run with a group let alone a club dedicated to running, or “running club.” I first met Michael Kahn as I ventured my way through the brightly lit hallway. He was excited that another member was joining for a Wednesday run. Apparently the attendance wasn’t as good on Wednesdays as it was on Thursdays. Michael then introduced me to Chad Crockford, Justin Breland and Jason Martin.

It was 6 a.m. as we set out for our run. As I fell towards the back of the group I quickly realized that these guys were out of my league. They immediately started talking about their sub 3 hour marathon times, running Boston and next weekend’s tempo run. “What’s a tempo run,” I thought, I had no idea. As they carried on chatting back and forth on a run that seemed effortless, I was struggling to keep up and began praying that the run would only be 4 or 5 miles. As we pulled back into the “Y,” 8 miles later, out of breath, legs sore and my heart pounding, I immediately knew that this year, this year would be my year.

Let me give a quick recap of my previous Chicago Marathons.

2007: My goal – Break 4 hours. The marathon was cancelled mid-run after a record breaking heat wave that killed one person and sent more than 350 to the hospital. I finished before the race was called in a time of 3:47:01.

2008: My goal – Break 3:40. It was only 7 minutes faster, certainly I could do that. I finished with one second to spare in 3:39:59.

2009: My goal – Break 3:30. It was cold this year. Low 30’s at the start. I dropped my gloves a little too early and my hands were freezing! I finished in 3:29:24.

2010: My goal – Faster than last year. My little brother ran the race with me this year. For the first time I started in the open corral and it was a madhouse. My 4th marathon, his 1st. I edged him out by 7 seconds finishing in 3:48:02. Disappointment set in…

2011: My goal – This was my year!!!

On every training run you quickly learn that almost every day you will be asked, “What is your goal?” I stated that my goal was a “Low 3 hours.” The goal I really wanted but highly doubted was 3:05. The hail mary of goals, the goal I desperately wanted yet hardly considered was to beat 3 hours.

Chicago Marathon 2011

4am – Alarm goes off, I quickly jump out of bed, push ‘brew’ on the hotel coffee pot that I had set the night before and get in the shower.

4:20am – Sipping my coffee and eating a bagel with peanut butter.

4:30am – I told my partner, Matthew, and friends (Kyle, Josh, and Philip) that were there to cheer me on that I wanted to leave the hotel by 5am, I am getting antsy and send text messages to make sure everyone is up and moving.

4.50am – I am down in the lobby texting again to see if they are coming down.

6:10am – We make it to the Balbo Hospitality tent where there is a private gear check and port o potties. A must have in Chicago as the lines are a mile long!

6:20am – Apply body glide, band aids on the nipples, check my gear, and use the restroom for the 15th time, just to be sure.

6:45am – Stretching and pacing, stretching and pacing.

6:50am – Make my way to the B Corral and like every year it is a mad house trying to get there, and there is fear in everyone’s eyes that they will close the gates before they get into the corral!

7:15am – In the corral and waiting for the gun…nerves are getting high and I think I may have to use the restroom again, yikes!

7:45am – The gun goes off and I am shooting for a 6:50 pace which would put me right at 3 hours.

Mile 1 – Even though I am in the B corral the crowd is still tight and I am trying to make my way through. First mile complete in 7:20. I am not off to a good start and am feeling frantic, wait, its only mile one. Chill out!

Mile 2 – The crowd has not cleared out, at all, but I manage to pull off a 6:40 mile. This is much better and I try to settle into my pace.

Mile 3-8 – I am cruising along, enjoying the scene, I was expecting to see my cheer squad around mile 3 but the crowd was a dozen deep and it was impossible to find anyone. I’m pulling off 6:45 miles, give or take a few seconds and I am very happy and feeling great.

Mile 9 - Approaching Boystown and from previous years and training runs I know that at this time is when I like to have someone to run with. I see a guy in front of me that looks like he is going at a good clip. I run up with him and ask his goal. “Sub 3” was his response. Quickly compare times and I am about 10 seconds ahead of him. Perfect! Greg was my new best friend!

Mile 10-17 - We chat back forth a little bit and quickly agree that there will be no more talking. With each passing mile we smile at each other seeing that we are on pace for sub 3 hours.

Mile 18 – This is where I begin to break down every year…”This is my year…This is my year…” Feeling pretty good!!

Mile 19 – Ok, now I am starting to feel it. With each bend of the legs I am beginning to feel a sharp pain in my knees. This is my year, forget the pain. Still on pace for sub 3 hours. “Is this real?”

Mile 20 – Greg is starting to pull away.

Mile 21 – Push it for the next 60 seconds and catch back up with Greg. Don’t let him go. Holy cow my legs are really starting to hurt…but I catch Greg and run a 6:51 mile. Still on pace for 3 hours.

Mile 22 – 24 – I lose Greg again and my legs are really hurting. With each push off I feel a Charlie horse on the verge of taking over my calves. I try running without bending my legs too far. My miles are starting to edge above 7 minutes and I slowly see the 3 hour mark slipping away. I dig deep and try to pick it up but the legs win and I simply cannot push any harder.

Mile 24 - 26 – Quickly I am computing times in my head to make sure I am going to hit my 3:05 goal. I realize that even if I do 8:30 miles I will definitely make it. I have a feeling of relief and exhilaration pour over me but at the same time I want to continue to push my body to its limit. This is my year and I am not leaving anything behind on Michigan Ave.

The Home Stretch - As I make the 2nd to last turn up Roosevelt, the only hill on the course, I pick it up as much as I possibly can. To me it was agony; to everyone else it probably didn’t appear I was moving any faster than I was moments earlier. I make the final turn down Columbus towards the finish line and it is hard to believe that I am actually going to break 3:05.

As I cross the finish line, my first thought is, “Next year, I will go sub 3.”

Official Time: 3:02:45

I would like to say a special thank you to everyone in the Charlotte Running Club for your support, guidance, and motivation. Thanks to Matthew, my friends and family for their continued support of my running. A very special thanks to everyone who made a donation to “Time Out Youth” in support of my fundraising efforts this year. In total I raised over $3,500. If you did not get to make a donation and would like to please click on the following link:

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