I was riding a high from completing the Goofy Challenge and starting my Boston Marathon training plan and got caught up in the excitement of running a hometown marathon. I expected to PR at Boston (didn’t happen) and then run Chicago for fun to make up for the awful experience I had two years ago.
Then I ran a bad race at Boston and I was frustrated. I had trained hard for a PR and felt like my fitness was where it should be going into a marathon (note: lack of hill training really killed me for the course). I decided to cut my post-race recovery short and ramp up my miles faster than normal. I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal because I had only raced 15 miles of the Boston course before starting a run/walk regimen that got me across the finish line. I started to look for a marathon in May and I even e-mailed the race director at one in the Chicago area inquiring about registering for the full. I also started taking strength classes and doing two-a-days (run + strength). This was not so smart two weeks post-marathon.
It’s really no surprise that a few weeks later I started noticing a weird pain in my “hip” area. It continued to get worse as overuse injuries tend to do and I finally went to my doctor and had an MRI. I was lucky and didn’t have a stress fracture but the multiple strains in my adductor and glutes meant that a May marathon was out of the question and running Chicago was up in the air. I was told I could run but I decided to drastically reduce the intensity and quantity of workouts I was doing and focus on physical therapy. I swam, I hung out on the recline bike with a book, and I rested a lot. Running felt awkward and uncomfortable and I took that as a sign that my body needed a break- not just from running but cardio in general.
My PT continued to go well (I was told that I healed incredibly fast, especially considering I had an adductor strain) and I was given the go ahead to run-walk. I started small and built up my base during the end of May and June. Running the Chicago Marathon seemed possible again but I was unsure in what capacity. The final push happened when Ian and I took a long weekend trip to Denver and I decided to cut my mileage over the weekend. The extra rest really helped and when I got back to Chicago my pain was minimal and my legs felt almost back to normal. Something magical seemed to happen in Denver (hint: Ian, can we move there already?).
Finally, by the end of June, I was ready to start my marathon training plan. I felt a little under prepared (I prefer to start marathon training capable of running a half marathon) but relatively healthy. I decided to use the Hansons Marathon Method training plan and focus on things like hydration and sleep that I tend to struggle with during training.
In a totally unexpected move, I changed my shoes, switching from my beloved Adrenalines to the Wave Inspires with custom insoles and I felt faster (placebo effect?). Training started to go really well. I hit my tempo paces and struggled (and succeeded) at my track workouts. I graduated from PT and ran all over Michigan (on two separate vacations!)
I hit my highest weekly mileage (66) and ran through crazy fog. I PR-ed a half without truly racing it and I logged week after week of early morning miles. Then life got busy (in a good way ). I started taking classes while working full time and Ian proposed and we started planning our wedding. Family stuff (and stress) crept up and my life ended up being way busier and more hectic than I imagined it would be in October.
Yesterday, after an emotional day and a late night in Evanston, I talked to Ian about dropping out of the marathon. I’ve been so busy and so stressed lately that it seems like the marathon would just be one more thing I’d have to deal with. When I said this Ian looked at me like I was crazy. He reminded me about how much work and time I’ve put into training and told me I’d be insane to not run the race [side note: this is why I'm marrying this man, he gets my run-obsession]. I thought about it for a few minutes and then realized he was right. In February, I decided to run Chicago because I wanted to run a hometown marathon and I wanted to have a good experience on the course. I can definitely still do so.
So what does this mean about my goals for the race? Well, I’m definitely still chasing that 3:20 marathon but I’m not approaching Sunday like I approached Boston (i.e. 3:20 or bust), I’m challenging myself to just run on Sunday. To appreciate spending however long it takes me to finish the race, to not be concerned about family drama, homework, or other stresses and to enjoy doing something I love while running through the streets of my city. That 3:20 marathon will always be there and I know I’m capable of crushing my time goal in the proper circumstances but I’ll be happy and proud of myself no matter how the marathon goes on Sunday.
To anyone else running Chicago, good luck! I hope to see you on the course with a huge smile on your face!