Monthly Archives: October 2010

Gearing up

The week leading up to the marathon is about making sure I’m ready both mentally and physically, but also laying out all the little details that add to my race arsenal. My race uniform gets washed, expo directions printed out, etc. etc. One of the most important of those details is making sure I’ve painstakingly created an epic marathon mix that I will not only listen to on the subway ride to the start area, but also give me some songs to play in my head during the race as I’m trying to pass through some of the less challenging miles earlier on. It sounds trite, but trust me, this is a crucial part of my race efforts.

I’ve been obsessed with music since I was a little kid, playing it the second I got up and falling asleep to anything and everything from the moment I was given my first boom box as a kid. I absolutely drove my sisters nuts with my choice of music and how often I played it. As I got older music was central to forming my identity and I developed some of my first solid friendships around it. Later on it became a main influence to my personal politics. And now, it has become a fundamental motivator and complementary expression of my running.

As important as music is to my daily life and running routine, oddly enough, I never run with music…directly anyways. I often have a song in my head if the daydreams just aren’t coming quickly enough and this is most prominent during race efforts. The right song gives you the right motivation, the right influence and sometimes even sets a good pace.

Some of the other guys I run with also use music for their running in one way or another, but completely opposite to me, they prefer something soft and calming before a race, something that gives them “happy thoughts” as it was explained to me. Yeah, I don’t get it. My vision of my running and the effort it takes to run fast involves a lot of aggressiveness. Something calming is the LAST thing I need leading up to a race and so I prefer to listen to the most fitting music selection for this purpose…..METAL. Nothing else will do. Nothing else will give me the goosebumps I had the second I walked out the door last year in Chicago and the first notes snaked their way into my ears. I was so ready ¬†and the music was so pumped I wanted to sprint into downtown chicago, smashing windows all the way. I know….bad idea. Fortunately, I was able to temper my aggressiveness and held a couple songs in my head for when I needed them most during the run….and I think it worked.

Anyways, all this is to say I have compiled a list of motivational songs (not repeating any from last year…don’t want to repeat last years time!) for my subway ride to the start area and will carry some of them with me onto the course. Unless you are metal head or hardcore kid of some sort, a lot of this might be foreign to you…regardless, this is my list:

Bring Me The Horizon – Diamonds aren’t forever
Oh, Sleeper – The new breed
Arch Enemy – I am legend, out for blood
August Burns Red – Marianas Trench
Slayer – New faith
Goatwhore – Apocalyptic havoc
Metallica – Broken, beat and scarred
Strife – Blistered
Unearth – Black hearts now reign
As I Lay Dying – Falling upon deaf ears
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Farewell, Mona Lisa
Black Breath – Black sin (spit on the cross)
The End – Throwing stones
Have Heart – Have heart
Bring Me The Horizon – The sadness will never end

Honestly, with a playlist that brutal…how can I lose?!

As was pointed out by a commenter on my last post, the runner tracking is now available. If you want to follow me on race day in real time (this means you’ll have to get up EARLY on a Sunday!) you can sign up here. Just put in my bib number (#422) and you’ll be all set. It’s pretty cool to follow actually.

Ok, one more week and we are ready to go. Thanks for following along friends. Rock on.

Indiana Jones and the racers of the lost marathon

You know the opening scene from Indiana Jones where he slides underneath the slowly closing stone door, just narrowly getting crushed while still managing to snatch his precious hat at the same time? I’ve been trying to find that on YouTube, but come up empty every time. I wanted to post it here because that scene most aptly describes how I feel about my marathon goal time. I know, it must be getting old hearing me talk with such concern about running as fast as I’m hoping to run. It would probably be more entertaining to read excited and overly-optimistic rants about crushing the marathon distance and achieving new heights of accomplishment, but forgive me, I’m bound by my honesty. Regardless, that scene is a perfect metaphor for my attempt to drag my chip across the line no slower than 2 hours, 18 minutes and 59 seconds. And those seconds are crucial to list.

See, it would be different if I had been training to run 2:14 or 2:16. If I knew I had that sort of speed and endurance in my body, I’d be training well beyond the 2:19 cutoff, knowing that even if things went south I’d still have a solid chance of coming under the qualifying time. But that’s not where I’m at. I’m training to run seconds, literally seconds, under the qualifying time, because right now that’s what I feel I have in me. Right now, that’s where my body has progressed to. This might change in the coming year (for better or worse), but as it stands I’m still a 2:25 marathoner training to become a 2:18 marathoner.

What that means is if everything goes right 9 days from now, I’ll just barely squeeze in under the HUGE STONE DOOR of qualification. There won’t be a miraculous 2:16 finishing time, leaving me a great margin of error, as if the stone boulder was released a minute late and I was able to walk out the front door carrying the golden statue before it had even begun to close. Heck, my hat wouldn’t even have fallen off! No, this means that when I come across that line, again if everything has gone right, I will have managed to avoid any minor mishaps, overcome physical obstacles and mentally pushed through the last 6 miles and effectively conquered that microscopic margin of error….but I’ll still have to sprint my ass off and slide under that door at the finish.

Ya never know, if I’m feeling good enough (yeah right), maybe i’ll LITERALLY slide across the mat Indiana Jones style, reaching back across the line to grab a dropped Gu packet.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First I have to outrun the massive boulder of physical fatigue that will chase me into the last 6 miles of the race. If I win that battle, then we’ll take on the ever-shrinking stone door of qualification.


In fear of this summer’s constant humidity, I’ve been watching the extended forecast leading up to Chicago, primarily the morning temperatures. Last week we were looking golden with morning temps hovering in the low 40’s, which probably translates into the upper 40’s at start time…..perfect. Today was the first day I could look 10 days out for the actual race date and as it stands morning temperatures will be 52 and the highs at 66. Being the midwest and all….this could all change quite quickly, but let’s just hope it doesn’t get any hotter. These temperatures are doable, even acceptable, but I won’t lie that I wish they were a bit colder. I’d feel MUCH more content if we were looking at the 40’s, but again, this could all change. At the very least, we’re not looking at 70’s or anything, so no reason to think we should bag the attempt and run elsewhere. So Chicago it is!


Finally, I emailed the ¬†marathon asking about runner tracking. It isn’t available on the site right now, but I was assured that if you want to follow any runners along the way (like me!), that feature will be available by next week. All you have to do is sign up and input my bib number. I did this for Jesse Davis during the Boston Marathon and it was really cool to watch. I believe you’ll get my 5k times along the way and my overall mile pacing, which I hope to keep at 5:18 to the end. Here is the info you need

Scott Spitz
Bib # – 422
Pace per mile – 5:18 (to hit my goal time)

Let’s do this.