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Moving On After the Chicago Marathon

Thank you to every BRF for their comments and support regarding Sunday’s Chicago Marathon. I was surprised not only by your interest—had no idea so many were tracking me—but was also touched by your concern.  I was never terribly at risk, but your well wishes mean a lot to me.

Moving_on The marathon was surreal.  We all knew individually it would be hot and challenging, but nobody expected it would be a collective calamity.   Running in the race was like witnessing a long, slow chain reaction of crashes and dodging those who were collapsing because those of us still running weren’t in any position to give aid.  Talk about feeling helpless.

I’ve also read endless blogs and comments about the situation.  Seems the biggest point of contention is about the lack of water and cups at water stations.  Some are calling for the resignation or firing of Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski, and there have even been comments about a class-action lawsuit.  Those sound rash and like a bad investment of energy and time.

A balanced read might also include the news conference with Pinkowski yesterday, including watching the video.

My sense is that discussion of the facts and opinions about Sunday’s race are going to rage on, which is reality and a great part of social media.  For me the most important concerns are for those who are still struggling medically and for the race organizers that they get their facts straight and respond appropriately, which I believe they will. 

The Lounge is intended to be place to hang out for good running conversation, sharing what we know about running, and connecting and supporting runners.  It's not a place for false optimism or plastic platitudes.  I believe runners are uplifting and we're at our best when we're living in the moment or looking forward.  I so admire those who are already looking ahead, like Lisa, Great Lakes Running Girl and Derek channeling their focus on next races and getting behind their BRF’s races.  Let's also reach out to those whose spirits and wellness need our concern, like Jamie, and others you probably know.  That's a much better use of our time and abilities than rehashing and ranting.

And it’s not all about marathons or races either.  Amy and I are more about the experiences, challenges, accomplishments, and passion of bringing running, runners, and living together.   

Good luck to everyone recovering, getting ready to run, and most importantly to those who are living the adventure of the running life.  Let's move on to the excitement of running that's ahead for ourselves and others.

Thank you again, everyone, for all your support. 

Forward button on Flickr by Minhaluanova

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Comments

Doug

You're absolutely right Tom. Although many people are upset about their personal losses this weekend, the best thing for us to do is to support each other!

Pointing fingers will do no good, we just need to hope the truth comes through and race directors learn a lesson about preparing for the worst.

Database Diva

Races can be a lot of fun, but if I were to measure the quality of my running life by my race performance, I would probably take up a different activity. While I appreciate the training that people put into preparing for that one big race, there are so many factors outside our control. When the gamble pays off and we meet or exceed our goals, it is very satisfying, but when all of that hard work is cast aside because of the things outside our control, it can be devastating. This is why I maintain that the most important run of your life is your next one, and if it doesn't go well, the one after that is also important. For me it is all about my daily run. Races are secondary. I make it my goal to not do anything during a race that will keep me from running the next week. I don't always meet that goal, but I try.

I also worry that our "the show must go on" attitude is unhealthy. On Labor Day, the Disneyland Half Marathon started at the scheduled time, but everyone was advised not to run because of the heat. They were also warned that the event could be canceled. A couple weeks later two of my Marathon Maniac friends required medical treatment after the Maui Marathon, which was also warm and humid. Our training may give us better endurance than most people, but it doesn't make us invincible.

As runners it is our nature to keep moving forward. My wish for everyone is the resilience to keep moving forward, to find a new goal, and to have the best run of your life at home (or wherever you are) this weekend!

Derek

Thanks for the kind words. I'm lucky that timing wise there is another race that I can go after. Even better that I get to run it with the guy who put the whole marathon idea in my head.

I agree firing Pinkowski is probably not a good idea, let him apply some lessons from this year. A class action lawsuit suit seems a bit of a stretch and in actuality would only serve to hurt the sport as it would drive up liability costs for race organizers.

Ultimately, I got out of the press briefing that the major mistake was measures taken for relief from the heat were positioned wrong. When that was discovered, it was too late to move them.

My knee jerk reaction was, "I'll never run Chicago again" but as I distance myself from Sunday, that feeling is subsiding. The course is what did it for me. Having lived in Chicago for four years, and spent a fair amount of time beyond that working there, I know for a fact that even on a late Sunday morning, one could not DRIVE the course in six and a half hours. Traffic would prevent it. Getting to see that much of a great city while being cheered on by countless on-lookers is an amazing experience.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those still recovering from the race, both at home and in hospitals.

Bill Carter

You make some great points Tom. Trying to organize and run an event as large as Chicago must be an amazing undertaking. I expect that after some time, people will realize that hindsight is 20/20....now if only my patients could see that well. (I couldn't resist a little attempt at humor)

crossn81

Anyone else in the mid-west could come to the Indianapolis Marathon on October 20. This is an excellent race. Registration ends on October 12.

InTheFastLane

I finished, 50 minutes later than I wanted to, but I finished. It was not the Boston qualifier I was looking for and knew I was in shape for. Sure I am disappointed and still pretty messed up physically from the experience, but I have been a competitive runner for a long time now and one of the things I learned way back in high school is that you can't control the weather, you can't control how other people do, the only thing you can control is yourself and sometimes even that is taken away under conditions like Sunday. But, I can control what I take away from the experience and I can choose my attitude. I will live to run another day, and that in the end, is most important.

InTheFastLane

BTW - I forgot to mention that those mylar blankets looked like a terrible idea as I stumbled through the finish area. But, as I waited in the re-unite area for my husband, I really wished I had one to lay down on instead of that gravel.

Jamie

Thanks Tom! You are absolutely right about everything. We all just need to use this, learn from mistakes, and move forward. The biggest thing is supporting each other when we need it the most.

Dave E

Tom,

Just found your site through Mozilla Stumble. I ran in my first marathon on Sunday with you in Chicago. While a relative beginner to the sport with only a year and 4 1/2 marathons under my belt I'm an upper midpack runner that would have been in the top 25-30% of finishers...not so fast but not that slow. I'm disheartened by all of the bad coverage of our sport. In the year or so I've been running it has transformed me, consumed me, has become my passion that has improved my health and my outlook. I worry that the allure may now somehow be dimmed to those observing this implosion. A lost opportunity to get healthy, to set a virtuous example for our kids. I was somewhere near M24 when the race was stopped..way, way off pace due to some massive leg cramps but you know, I had some wonderful conversation with other runners on that 2mile walk in. There's enough blame to go around including to those of us who went on despite the conditions. The city and its residents were truly amazing in their support. I for one am looking for another fall marathon...I haven't finished my quest this year, it won't end on the burning streets of Chicago. PS..As I sit here in Wisconsin it's now in the lower 50's with dewpoints in the 30's...actually COLD.....grr.

Good Running

Alex

What Dave said there is right on. What running has done for me has been incredible, and I really want to share that with more people. It's unfortunate that the kind of coverage we are getting with this might discourage a lot of people from considering it. I for one had lots of fun swapping stories with a bunch of complete strangers as we crept in over those last couple miles. You can always choose to enjoy the journey.

Lisa

Thanks, Tom! I'm looking forward to another race in a few week's time, so there's no time or energy for bitterness.

Would I run Chi again?

Absolutely.

I have a fascination and love with this race. I can't explain it.

Glad all is well with you, and I'll be sure to post a race report from Grand Rapids.

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