2000 Chicago Marathon

Sunday, October 22, 2000

Report by: Eric Barron

You want to set a personal best for the marathon. You run the Los Angeles Marathon several times. Your times are okay, but not what you feel they could be. Then you run the Chicago Marathon. Then you wonder what the hell you were thinking trying to run a fast marathon in Los Angeles.

As it so happened, the weather was good for the start of the 2000 Chicago Marathon, with a temperature of 57 degrees and little wind. Over the next few hours, the temperature rose and the wind picked up, but if you ran this year's Los Angeles Marathon, you were not going to complain. Likewise, though the Chicago course includes two or three overpasses, these "hills" are far fewer and less severe than those on the Los Angeles route. Finally, though it is debatable, the crowd support and aid stations in Chicago are slightly superior to those in Los Angeles.

Nevertheless, all of the assets of the Chicago race guarantee squat with regard to a final time. Even assuming your training has gone well, you still need two key ingredients: luck and guts. Luck, the good kind, usually comes in the form of the non-materialization of injuries. Guts, the intangible sort, usually come in the form of deafness to the voice at 23 miles that says, "You know, if you slow down, you will stop wishing for a quick and painless death."

And so it was that many TCLA'ers put their training, guts, and heart on the line at this year's Chicago Marathon. The first TCLA member to finish did so unnoticed by the rest of the team. Perhaps fearful of whether her months of hard training would pay off, particularly having recently been sick, Rikako Takei kept her attempt at the marathon a secret until it was over. No one would ever doubt she had the guts, and thankfully she had the luck, resulting in a personal best. The next three TCLA women to finish often trained together, and it is fitting that each of them also set personal bests. Catherine Hackney looked strong in the early going and never slowed. Wenise Wong's novel approach (for her) of sticking to a training and racing plan paid off with a 12-minute p.r. (in the process passing ex-TCLA'er and Chicago resident, Meshelle Osborne, at the 26-mile mark). And Stephanie Cahn started making her plans for Boston about three seconds after she crossed the finish line. Finally, Jennifer Sample and Ellen Kukuchka ran quite respectable races, but were lost in the crowd of 27,000 runners after the race, so no post-race comments were available from these two.

Luck must be a lady indeed, because the TCLA men had little of it. Halfway through the race, Mike Kukuchka started suffering from a foot problem, and though he stopped several times to try to solve it, he was unable to run as fast as he wanted. Similarly, Joe Lohmar had some patellar tendonitis flare up at the 14-mile mark, and he bravely, albeit more slowly than he otherwise would have, hobbled over the rest of the course. Larry Friedman was looking to run around 3:50:00, and though he did not manage that, he did break the 4:00:00 mark. One man whose spirits seemed bright at the end was Dave Dougherty, who while visiting with his family in Chicago, also turned in a nice marathon time.

Jennifer, Ellen, Wenise, Mike, Joe, and Larry had all met the night before the race for a pasta dinner. It was nice for them to be able to get together to feel a little more comfortable in a strange city, and to relieve pre-race jitters. True, it is nice to sleep in your own bed the night before a marathon, but sometimes you have to get on a plane to get what you want.

Average Finishing Time: 3:40:1.9
Averge Per Mile Pace: 8:23.5
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