I started training for Green Bay on January 2nd and actually got really lucky with the weather. I only missed one run because of snow. I had to push a run to another day here or there, but it was a pretty decent training session and I had no injuries to speak of.
Accompanying me for the trip up north was Tiffany, my brother Nick and his wife Jaime. We plodded around the lovely town of Green Bay and ate at TGI Fridays or someplace of that ilk. When we got back to the hotel, my brother Michael snuck up behind me in lobby and surprised the hell out of me. I had no idea he was coming and couldn’t believe he was there. So we all hung out for a little while before calling it a night.
When I woke up the next morning, it was pouring. Fantastic, I thought. Well, by the time the race was about to start, the rain had subsided. The GB Marathon was very small and there was also a half marathon that shared the first 7 or so miles of the same course. My bib number was #189 and I went with an orange shirt and put “CHICAGO” on the front and “DITKA – 189” on the back of it.
Because of the lack of participants, the race director and crew let you line up anywhere you wanted. So, I went for it. I lined up on the starting line right next to two Kenyans. It was ridiculous. When I passed my supporters at the .2 mile mark or so, I yelled to them “This is as close to the lead I am ever going to get!”
Needless to say, starting with the rabbits was a horrible idea. Being up there and with the faster half marathon runners made me come out of the gate way too fast. I repeat, way too fast. I hit mile 1 at 7:20. I tried to slow it down, but I hit the 5K mark at 7:27. Not good. Little did I know that coming out so fast would end up biting me in the ass. And when I say bite, I mean devour and leave me without an ass. By the 10 K mark, the clouds were starting to lift and the 60’s were starting to feel warmer. My pace at the 10K mark was 7:46. So I was slowing down, but not fast enough. For some reason my pace had quickened to 7:41 at mile 10. The worst part is that this wasn’t my first marathon, but I was running it like I was being chased by Tina Turner on a horse. I hit the halfway point at a 7:51 which is good for a 1:42:04. I felt good at that point, but that pace really wasn’t my fitness level for a full marathon back then. I was shooting for a 3:43 or so and was on pace for 3:24.
By now, the sun was out, but there was some great shade running along the east side of the Fox River. Unfortunately, the shade was about to disappear and my fast start was about to catch up to me. My pace dipped to 7:55 by mile 16. Then 7:58 by 17. Mile 18 saw a dip of six more seconds down to an 8:04 overall pace. Mile 19 brought the pace down to 8:08. At this point, I was taking in water (both figuratively and literally), and the temperature was rising and that morning’s rain was now wicked humidity. I stopped in a port-a-john before I crossed some huge bridge. I thought about not coming out. I ran miles 19-22 at an awesome 10:05 pace. I am not sure I would call that running. You could consider it me hitting the proverbial wall – repeatedly. I ran miles 22-25 at a 9:59 pace. I finished up the last 1.2 in a 9:34, finishing with a 3:46:28, an 8:38 pace overall.
I beat my ’04 Chicago Marathon time by six minutes, but couldn’t have run it any dumber. I learned a lot in this marathon. It all comes back to not running a marathon with your head up your ass for the first 10 miles. I placed 231st out of 910 finishers. Keeping with the theme describing this race in two (or so) words it would be dumb and dumber.
Sorry for the lack of pictures for this one.