The Chicagoland Inline Marathon took place on July 22, 2012. Last year I had a very hard race. It rained, and I showed up late, so I started the race late. My time was rough as a result, having never skated in the rain for that distance, skating the entire race alone, and skating on 100 mm wheels for the first time. I was far from pleased with my first ever marathon as the course was hard, and the conditions were difficult. That was my first marathon race. I crushed that time at the NorthShore Inline Marathon in September of last year. This was my third marathon this year, racing the Metrodome in March, London in May, and the Chicagoland in July.
I had two full months to train. After London, I realized that skating is what I needed to be doing more than anything else in my training. I went two weeks without any training for London. We walked a lot, but I wasn’t skating, and I think that is what caused me to have a less than ideal finishing time while in London. I spent two months skating. Lifting and dry land were a second thought. More time on skates meant more time working technique. It paid off.
Heading into this race, I had what I thought were realistic expectations about my finish time. So long as I finished under 1:40:00, I would be happy with the result. first, I had low expectations after London. Second, Chicagoland is a tough race. The road is rough, the laps are long, and the hills don’t stop. Tactically, you want to sprint on the hills to drop the followers. Generally, I don’t have the legs for that kind of sprint, especially on the number of hills that are on this course. My goal was to stick with the peloton for as long as I could, and then hope to find a group to skate with and hang on for dear life. This is basically what happened during the race.
This year, I made it to the race on time. It wasn’t raining. I was in good shape, and made it a point to stay hydrated and kept tabs on my nutrition. I felt good for this race. I felt ready. At the start, there was a group of Team Rainbo skaters grouped together at the start line. The advanced group lined up in front of the rec skaters so we could get a good start. About 30 skaters were on the line. The course was dry and cool by comparison with the weather the previous week. When the horn sounded to start the race, we took off as a fairly large group, and took some time to form out into a line. About 20 skaters or so got in front of me off the bat. I managed to stick with the pace up around the first left turn and up the first long hill. The first hill is a steady climb that is long. It isn’t a hard hill, but it continues to get steeper, then dips down and goes back up another hill. On the far side of this hill is a fast section and the pack pushed hard down the hill. The pace remained high through the turn around on Central Avenue. Central is the longest straight section of the course. Its basically a one long street, and the reason this is a tough part of the course is this section has the big hill.
As we came back from the turn around, three skaters made a break up what feels like the steep hill. The rest of the pack gave chase up the hill, and those of us at the back did our best to keep up. I wasn’t able to hold the pace, but we dropped a sizable number of people after the fast start. While the rest of the group lurched forward, I found myself skating with two other Team Rainbo members, John and Guy. I skated with John at the Metrodome, and we practice together regularly. Guy is one of the more experienced guys on the team, and he helped John and I pull it together for the rest of the race. Guy is a strong skater, and definitely helped pull our line and keep the pace up even though we were all tired. Guy, John, and I kept a good pace, and toward the start of the second lap we started picking up skaters from the main chase pack. This continued through the second lap, and we picked up several more by the end of the race. Our line went from 3 to 10 by the final sprint. We lost the first skater we picked up. That skater was Dennis. He is from St. Louis, and really helped push us up and down the big hills. He said after the race that he couldn’t hold our pace, but he did very well on those hills, and without him, there are at least two points in the race I would have jumped out of the line and given up.
At the end of the third lap our group came around down one of the last hills toward the last major corner, and Guy jumped the line with another skater. I took off after them knowing that if I didn’t keep up they were going to lose the rest of the group. Sensing the urgency, the rest of the pack shuffled and caught up. We hit the last corner going into the AT&T complex and that is when our field sprint broke out. I got a head of the leaders of the line, and was followed by another Team Rainbo member I don’t know. I got as deep as I could, and pushed as hard as I could but he stayed with me. I think I broke for the sprint too early because my legs gave out about 100 meters from the finish. I did my best to keep the pace but I couldn’t give it any more. We crossed the line, but there wasn’t a race clock, or at least I didn’t see one. However, with a race start time at 8 AM, the time clock read about 9:35. Endomondo said 1:33:03 and that clock started a little late. I was happy with a 1:33:00 as a new personal best.
This was a great race. My official finish time was 1:32:52, which is a new personal record. Top speed on the first lap coming down the big hill in the big line was 27.3 miles per hour. Average pace was about 16.8 miles per hour. My fastest mile of the race also set a new personal best at 2:45 minutes. My half marathon time was 44:47 minutes, also a personal best. The metrics for the race can be found here. The lead group in the division was going very fast, and the guys who one the division could have probably kept up with the Elite divisions. I placed 19th (updated 8-1-12) overall, and I am pretty sure I placed second in my division. It was a great race, and re-set most of my personal best times. The video is forthcoming, I am still having some issues with my editing software. I may post the video without the gauges first, though the videos will come in later posts.
This was a great race. A hard race, but a great race. It felt good to conquer this one because I have always felt this course to be my nemesis because of the hills. I can’t complain. Everything worked. The weather worked out, the Bont Black Ops wheels performed exceptionally, and my skates were in solid form. Had I not been able to stick with the line I was skating with this time wouldn’t have been possible. I know where I need to train, and I am looking forward to next year.
Next up is the Minnesota Half Marathon on August 4. This is a short turn around, and I need to keep skating. Unfortunately, this is my last race of the year because I have a schedule conflict for the NorthShore Inline Marathon. Either way, I have a better idea of where I need to be for these races, and I know what I need to be working on. I am going to construct my training around form and fitness and be ready to tackle the Metrodome, provided the race still goes on, next year.