So I ride my bike down to the Museum of Science and Industry to run the Chicago Half Marathon. I'm pretty enthusiastic even though I've slacked off on my training for a couple of weeks, taking any excuse to cut short (or completely cut out) a long run. Still, I'm feeling in pretty good shape and figure that I should be able to run this race at at least a 11:30 pace. Maybe even 11:00.
But when I find the FOOLS gathered near the Saucony tent, it seems that everybody there is planning to run at a 10:00 pace. One FOOL is willing to go at a slower pace and we end up running the first four miles at an average pace of 10:40. This, it turns out, may have been a bad thing. At the end of 4.5 miles, I can't maintain the pace and around mile 6 I start to feel an ominous pain in my knee which becomes unbearable by mile 9.
Mile 9 is where I run for a while with an African American gentleman who is really struggling to keep going. He tells me that he's celebrating his 66th birthday. I wish him a happy birthday. We talk for a while about the Cubs and I confidently (and correctly predict that Sammy Sosa would hit #61 that afternoon. (I failed to predict #62 although I had considered it possible.) We get on to the starting pitching and Kerry Wood and he says that it's better for the Cubs if they keep Wood out and have him for next year, even if it means missing the playoffs this year.
I mention this because this is exactly what I was thinking at the mile 10 marker, when I decided to drop out of the race. This was, after all, only a training run, not the real thing. Better to leave early and be able to run on October 11th than to stick it out and lose my knee.
I'm not entirely certain what was to blame. Was it the 10.3 mile bike ride to the starting line? The too-fast starting pace (Eric Zorn and my Mom think this was a big factor)? The fact that last Friday I tripped over a bench at North and La Salle leaving me in great pain (my Mom figures this was also a factor)? I don't know. The current plan is to take it easy. Yesterday the knee pain was such that running across the street was kind of painful. This morning I did without pain. Tomorrow (barring rain) I'll try a 30min run on the track at Loyola and see how I feel.
After the race, I saw the IMAX film Everest. It's an interesting metaphor for the Marathon, another superhuman feat of strength and endurance. Of course the Marathon covers a lot more ground, just not as vertical. And one has little danger of losing one's hands and parts of one's face to frostbite. When I was watching the film, I initially thought to myself, "I could do this." Then there was a horrible ice storm and 9 people died. 10 of the 12 (yes, TWELVE!) expeditions up Everest decided to call it a trip at that point. I decided that maybe I could do that, but I wouldn't. I'll just stick to doing the Marathon. I will do the Marathon, even if I have to walk all 26.2 miles.