Joggling the First Half
John Kelly stayed with me during the first mile dropping back somewhere near State Street. I weaved through the stampeding crowd joggling, smiling and winking at spectators along the way. When you run a marathon in your hometown you spend a lot of time looking for familiar faces in the crowd. This is an additional challenge you’ll experience as a juggling marathoner.
Just after mile 2, I saw my wife and her parents. They have this tall, green florescent sign that says “Go Joggler” on one side and “Go Perry” on the other. It’s great for crowded races. If you want a custom made sign, let me know. I know the guy who makes ’em.
At mile 4, I heard the first “Are you chewing gum too!?” This prompted visions of Michal and his recent gum-chewing, world record joggling marathon. No, I wasn’t.
At mile 6, a CBS reporter asked for an interview. Since I wasn’t trying for a World Record, PR or the $125,000 winning prize, I stopped. The interview was short. I kept juggling.
“We’re here with Perry Romanowski who is juggling while running the marathon. How do you do it?”
“Well, you just throw and catch and throw and catch.”
“Doesn’t that slow you down?”
“Not nearly as much as this heat and the interviews with TV reporters.”
I could see the annoyed sneer through his fake chuckle.
“Well, good luck Perry. That was Perry Romanowski. A man who is juggling the entire marathon.”
After that I was back in the pack. The Northside portion of the Chicago Marathon is one of the best. The crowds are vast and animated. You feel like you’re in the Tour de France. I saw Pink, her sister, and the Brewmaster’s girlfriend,. I heard a half dozen people yell my name but couldn’t make out their faces.
Barry must’ve inspired me because my juggling was sharp. I was doing trick after trick, throwing bean bags high over sings, waving to spectators, and grabbing the bag before it hit the ground. At that point, I had no drops.
My time for the first half…1:48.
Joggling the Chicago Marathon second half
While the heat slowed me down it didn’t feel too bad in the first half. Extra Gatorade and water at all the stops helped. I drank 3 times as much as normal which could explain why they reportedly ran out. Another problem was that they handed out warm fluids. People would take a drink and throw a nearly full cup on the ground because it was hot. Who wants to drink hot Gatorade? Bleah!
At mile 15, I had my first drop. It was in a water station. Someone cut in front of me and bumped a bag out of its pattern. The perfect marathon hopes were shattered. The final drop came soon after around mile 17. I was trotting along and another runner unexpectedly stopped. A bag flew over his shoulder and I just couldn’t recover without hitting him. Damn.
For the rest of the marathon I focused on finishing. My time wasn’t going to be great but by mile 20, I’d be happy to finish under 4 hours. Honestly, I was happy not to be one of the dozens of runners passed out on the roadside. It reminded me of Madison 2006 or maybe the TV show MASH.
As I passed mile 25, the marathon clock read 3:51:34. To finish under 4 hours I’d have to run a sub-8 minute mile. My legs were cramping, there was still a hill to climb, but I knew there’d be a huge crowd to entertain. At the end of a marathon you just have to suck it up, smile and give it all you got.
My all was good enough. Final time… 3:59:00.
After the Marathon
The finish area was pretty typical. They were passing out medals & silvery cover-ups, collecting chips, and directing you to keep moving. I stopped by the Bud Light table and had a beer and a half. Didn’t feel much like drinking though. I collected bananas, apples and water and headed out to the trophy tent. Since I ran for the GBA Charity I was able to go in. That was great, separate bathrooms, free massage tables and a nice spread of food. If you ever do a marathon that is the way to do it.
When I picked up my stuff at gear check there was a girl complaining about how she wasn’t allowed to finish the marathon. It was the first I learned that the marathon was canceled. I felt lucky I got to finish. You can certainly understand how a person would be disappointed they weren’t allowed to finish. On the other hand organizers didn’t want anyone else to die.
Overall, this marathon was a good experience. Despite the heat and slow finish, the crowds were incredible, the sun was bright and I got to spend 4 hours doing something I love, joggling.