The 2013 Chicagoland Inline Marathon took place on July 21, 2013. I had been working on preparing for this race since the Metrodome Marathon in March. However, as my posts on this blog have detailed, it has been a challenge to train. Between the weather, a new baby, and a new job, skating became less of a priority. In addition, the week prior to the race, I only managed one relatively slow skate and was battling a head cold. Going into the race, I was nervous about my potential performance. Tactically, I wanted to hang with the lead pack of the advanced division as long as I could, and try to get to the front as much as I could to keep pace. This plan was based on my experience last year getting dropped by the pack on the first lap headed up the return hill on Central Avenue. I thought I had a pretty good plan going into the race, but was concerned about my fitness level and the lack of training the week before the event.
At the start, I had gotten a pretty solid position near the front of the pack. When the race started, I managed to get out ahead of pretty much everyone except for 3 or four skaters. Two of the skaters ahead of me formed a pace line pretty quickly, and we stuck together out onto Central Avenue with the rest of the pack on our heels. The entire lead pack formed up quickly on the first uphill, and we cycled through pulls on the line. As we headed out on Central Avenue, I had my first experience pulling the lead. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long and only happened once. I pulled off the front of the line after pulling up the big hill at a solid pace for me headed up a hill. I moved back into the line about 5 spots back. At that point, my plan was moving along fine. There weren’t very many attempts to push the pace as we were moving pretty fast, and the breaks usually hold off until the return hill on Central. I gave up a few spots as we moved down Central, and gave up a couple of more spots heading into and around the turn around on Central. As we headed back up the hills on Central, the only thing I wanted was to stay in the line and not lose the pack. As we came back up the hill on Central, the line kept a steady but quick pace. I managed to stick with the line, and as we turned on to Huntington from Central, the line broke and picked up speed again on the uphill there.
At that point, I was completely drained, and had gassed out. I started way too fast, and expended far too much energy trying to lead the pack. The long set of hills on Central and onto Huntington took their toll. I was hoping to get a gauge for where my heart rate was at this point, but for some reason my heart rate monitor wasn’t relaying data to my Garmin. As a result, the only thing I can look back on is the feeling of my heart pounding in my ears and the lack of power in my legs telling me that I needed to spend more time on cardiovascular fitness. I lost the main pack and skated the rest of the first lap solo. As I came around the finish, I could see the pack starting to break up. I picked up one skater towards the end of lap one, and the two of us eventually picked up another skater out on Central. A group then caught us, and I skated most of the second and the beginning of the third lap with them. On the return hill on Central, we caught a couple more of the stragglers from the main pack. However, I lost this group headed back up the hill on Huntington and ended up skating the section on Lakewood solo. As I made the turn off Lakewood, I was passed by another group that I was able to jump in with. I finished the race with this group, setting a good pace over the last mile. Making the final turn of Central, there was standing water on the course in a prime line around the corner, and as we came around the corner, I broke for the finish only because the pace picked up and I was number 2 in the line. I couldn’t hold the pace and lost a couple of positions at the end.
I finished the race in 1:35:58 per my Garmin, but the official time had me at 1:36:01. I placed 27th out of about 45 total racers in the Advanced division. This certainly wasn’t my goal, but I finished without any serious problems, and managed to stick with the main pack longer than last year. This is a hard course, and every time was several minutes slower this year than last year. Whether it was the degrading road surface (there were a few more holes in the road this year), or the standing water on the course I can’t say. This was a great learning experience. I am glad I jumped out front. I know I can keep that pace in the line. However, I may be better off staying a little farther back in the line and avoiding the pull until later in the race. I am taking this experience into the Minnesota Half Marathon in about a week and a half and the Northshore Inline Marathon in a little under 2 months, and will try to develop a better game plan for those races.
The big take away from this race, though, was my lack of cardiovascular fitness. I need to work on harder intervals. Lately my work outs haven’t been pushing my limits because I have been focusing on technique. I think the technique is working for me, now I need to refocus on cardiovascular fitness to make sure I can continue to hammer the pace all the way through a 90 minute race. Also, I struggled with wasting energy trying to match stride in the pace line. I am going to work on becoming more efficient in shorter strokes, also, since that was an area that cost me in the race, and will continue to be an issue. It seems like training solo has made this difficult. Regardless, I need to refocus on my cardio moving forward. I will also not be taking cardio out of the rotation over the off season this year, and I hope that hard bike intervals mixed with some potential ice skating will keep me in reasonable condition going into the early season races next year.
This was my first outdoor race on my new 2012 Bont Z boots with 3PF frame. I used the same wheel/bearing set up as last year. The skates did very well, and I think I have them about where they need to be with being broken in. I need a new pair of EzeeFits, which I am going to buy at the Minnesota Half, but otherwise, the set up worked great. The new helmet was terrific also.
The video follows, but I warn you that after the first 10 minutes or so it gets kind of boring for about 20 or so minutes. Things get interesting again from that point. Also, the heart rate gauge is dead because my Garmin didn’t track any heart rate data. Otherwise, the video looks good.