Brian Hieggelke

10-10-10: The Kindness of Strangers

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We finished the race, 26.2 miles, albeit a tad slower than we hoped. But given the heat, and Jan’s consistent problems with running in high temperatures, I was more than happy. Around mile 20, a bank clock read 87 degrees. Race officials, who’d started the race “code green” for optimal running conditions, had switched to code yellow and then, for the last six or so miles, code red. But I will never say anything other than “glorious” about eighty degrees and sunny in Chicago in October: I’ll take this over last-year’s fifty-degree-cooler day any time.

This is something you have to experience to believe: running the Chicago Marathon with a partner can truly be fun, and it was. The neighborhoods explode with character, whether it’s the Wonder Women cheerleaders in drag in Boys Town, the booming salsa music in Pilsen, or the Chinese dragon kicking it in Chinatown, the entertainment along the way makes the tougher elements, like the pain and fatigue, bearable. Read the rest of this entry »

10-10-10 Minus 1: A Family Affair

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3.5 miles, last run before the big one.

My daughter Erica and her fiancée Fievel flew in last night to cheer us on tomorrow.

We went to the Expo today and, well aware of the risks of spending too much time puttering around the aisles, proceeded to spend four hours. Who can pass up complimentary cut-up Luna bars and mini Greek yogurt sundaes? It’s an astonishing experience in its own right, seeing the masses of humanity all joined together in the common cause of shopping for official t-shirts or the latest trick in running shoes. Actually, this year’s highlight was Nike’s runners’ wall, a massive edifice that lists every runner’s name. Like the Viet Nam Memorial, sort of, except for the self-absorbed rather than the self-sacrificed. We were really psyched to find our names together at the edge of the wall. Read the rest of this entry »

10-10-10 Minus 2: Caught Up in My Shorts

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New Balance's 9 inch Road Short

So I decided to stick with the training program and not run today. All of this barely running, and my legs are feeling creakier than ever. Jan said she’s feeling the same and brilliantly observed that we’ve been off our daily dose of the i vitamins (ibuprofen, that is). I hope that’s all it is. I didn’t feel much in the swing of it today, since I didn’t run, so I surfed Twitter a bit to see how folks were buzzing about the race. The buzz is, simply, hot. My earlier elation about the weather is, well, a bit more tapered, now that the high is forecast at 85, not far off the ill-fated high of 2007. Not a problem for me, but Jan and hot running are not so friendly.

I found, on the Twitter, this couple from Australia who are running their fiftieth marathon together here on Sunday; they’ve turned it into a gig of sorts (coupleontherun.com). That’s some quality time together. I’ll be lucky if Jan wants to ever run one again after Sunday.

I think I’m gonna have to bail on the black shirt; maybe even go sleeveless. I’ll figure that out tomorrow. But I know I’m wearing my gray Saucony shorts. Suitable running shorts are by far the most challenging running gear to find. I don’t do the short shorts (think Bill Clinton on a jog), but I prefer the medium short length. I’ve tried the slightly longer, baggier style, and while I like the look, I get chafing problems on long runs over ten miles. New Balance just sent me these super long, super baggy shorts that look like they belong on the basketball court (I’m guessing they’re popular with suburban dudes who sport goatees). I’ve worn them a few times on shorter runs and they’re pretty comfortable so far but I dunno, I’ll likely switch them over to hoops. Nike also gave me some shorts last fall, with a Spandex-style lining. They seemed cool but the lining is too tight and  I can’t really wear them much.Give me a shirt in my size and I’ll wear it. Give me shorts in my size, and it’s hopeless. Read the rest of this entry »

10-10-10 Minus 3: Dress for Success

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New Balance Heathered Short Sleeve

Was supposed to rest today but couldn’t resist a little 5K. This weather is borrowed sunshine.

The weather forecast for Sunday is solidifying: Low 58/High 80 as of this writing. Gorgeous! I can pretty much finalize the wardrobe at this point, and it won’t be much. Shorts, short-sleeve shirt, shoes and socks.

Runners have more shirts than they can wear. It’s usually the giveaway for most races; it’s often the easy Christmas gift for a runner. The shirt is where the runner asserts personality. The race t-shirt exerts experience and sometimes exoticism if the race is off-the-beaten path (even metaphorically; I get the best comments when I wear my turquoise finisher’s shirt for the SF Women’s Half Marathon). Though most races know to give out wicking shirts rather than killer cotton, the fit and cut can be all over the map. And the graphic design, well, in some cases, embarrassing. Fortunately, most bigger races give out pretty good shirts. I’m partial to the old Chicago Distance Classic and new Rock N Roll Chicago editions, in addition the SF shirt mentioned above and the 2009 Chicago Marathon shirt. Read the rest of this entry »

10-10-10 Minus 4 It’s the Shoes

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From this year's Nike Chicago Marathon line

Four miles this morning. Glorious weather. I’m getting giddy with excitement; I don’t think I felt this way last year. It might be the cold weather then (I hate cold weather!), but it also might have been some nervousness about my first marathon. No butterflies this time.

Jan and I went over to the Nike showroom this afternoon to see the line of gear designed for this year’s race. Since Nike’s a major sponsor, they design a full line of shorts, shirts, jackets, etc. and it’s different every year. It sells out, some even at the pre-race expo, I’m told. I found out the hard way last year, when I wanted to get a Chicago Marathon running shirt as a Christmas gift for my Seattle-based daughter, Erica, who’s taken up the sport on her own volition. Not a sign of such at Niketown, a mere two months after the race.

The first year Nike sponsored the Chicago Marathon, 2008, they sent me over a bunch of the shirts and I loved them. They still remain among my favorite running shirts—design, fit and comfort—in fact, I wore the long-sleeve version in last year’s marathon. (Ironically, the only marathon shirt I have to commemorate the marathon I actually ran is the official shirt. But there’s some poetry in that, I think.) Read the rest of this entry »

10-10-10 Minus 5 Life Interferes

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Got up and finished writing this review of Rachel Toor’s fine running memoir, then three miles again.

A beautiful week, isn’t it? I think runners from elsewhere may be rolling into town. Why? At Starbucks this morning, busier than usual during my off-peak visit. A couple of guys are standing and talking, with coffee, blocking the line. The door opens. Boisterous greetings, along the lines of “Oh boy, are you running?”

I am jealous. I want to hang out at coffeehouses this week and greet fellow runners. Instead, my day was deadline. Except for my half hour running and the daily necessities, I worked from 6am past 10pm. But no more deadline days before the race.

The Chicago Marathon is now sending a daily email with race details. I should read them closely but assume everything’s like it was last year. I may be sorry. Today we got the one that explains the color coding for race conditions that was implemented after the 2007 race, when temperatures hit the high eighties and the race was shut down early. This year, we’re code green. So far.

Green is good.

10-10-10 minus 6 Vested Interest

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Ran three miles today in some of the coldest air since the summer. Taper’s got me worrying about gaining weight this week. I’m pretty sure I’m heavier than I was when I ran last October. I think that’s why I’m getting slower. That and I’m getting older. I’m not happy about this. I can run a marathon, but I’m heavier, slower and older than I was. Is this progress?

Primal considerations hold sway now. What will I wear (the weather, the weather), what will I eat, how can I make sure I’m sleeping OK? The more you think about things, the harder sleeping will be.

What I will wear is starting to shape up. Though I needed it today, I won’t need my vest. If you’re just starting out running, you need shorts, shoes, socks and shirts. And a vest, a thin shell that protects you against the wind and the cold. I have jackets, long-sleeve shirts and assorted other warmer gear, but nothing gets more wear than the vest. Mine is a bright yellow Brooks number that I got as a Christmas gift when I started running. My son is embarrassed for me when I wear it. Way too bright for his taste. Read the rest of this entry »

10-10-10 minus 7 What if I Get Injured?

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This is it: the countdown week till the marathon. The weather is starting to look like it might even be on the warm side next Sunday, which I normally love, but is not great for Jan.

No run today, but I played in my weekly basketball game. I had an unusual (for me) panic this morning, when I started worrying about injuring myself at hoops. Though guys, younger guys, seem to get injured in our game at the rate of one every other week or so, I’ve never had any problems worse than a seriously jammed finger. So I’ve never even thought about things like this, but it hit me this morning what a letdown it might be for Jan if I couldn’t run as planned with her. (And what  a devastation it would be for me: I’m really looking forward to the race this year and accomplishing this together.) I decided to take it easy. Injuries seem to strike late in the game, when everyone’s fatigued so I dropped out early, after about seventy minutes ( we play about two hours).

I’m reading “Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running” by Rachel Toor. On the bus home after basketball, I read chapter 17 (the book is divided into 26 chapters, natch), which starts out, “Run long enough and you will be injured.” Good karma, I thought as I read that chapter, on injury, that I left basketball early. Read the rest of this entry »

10-10-10 minus 8 Nike+

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NIke+ SportBand

Last “long” run before the marathon this morning: eight miles. Two weeks ago, that distance was a routine weekday run, so it was not really a physical challenge. Except: the weather. Cooler, yes, low 50s, but light rain and gusting 25 mile per hour winds. This would not be pleasant marathon weather, since running into the wind today was like a standstill. But the marathon weather forecast is promising: high 60s, 30 percent chance of rain.

I ran with three tracking devices today. (Four, including Jan’s.)
Nike+Sportband: 8.46 miles
Nike+iPod Touch: 8.32 miles
Nike+GPS iPhone 4: 8.25 miles
Nike+iPod Nano (Jan): 8.01 Read the rest of this entry »

10-10-10 minus 9 It’s All About the Weather

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This morning's view from my window: not a cloud

Three miles today, and it is a glorious morning for running, especially if you’re like me and do not get up at dawn and run when the air is in the forties. At this point, everything is sort of set for the race. I’m in shape—I’ve done all my long runs and I can’t lose much weight in a week, alas—so the one big factor that will influence the quality of my marathon experience this year is the weather.

Today’s the first day that ten-day forecasts incorporate the big day. My dream would be a day somewhat like today, where I could run in shorts and a t-shirt, and enjoy the city on a sunny day. Right now, the forecast is a high of 67 degrees, low of 51 degrees (perfect for me!) and some rain. Not very excited about the rain, though I’ve done my share of running in it, but if it’s light, and not freezing, it can actually help in some ways. My personal record in the half-marathon was set a couple years back in a pouring September rain. But the rain dampens the experience for spectators, and since Jan and I have a few folks coming to watch (including our daughter and her boyfriend from Seattle!), I want them to enjoy the day as well. Read the rest of this entry »