Race Recap: Chicago Marathon Weekend

"At some point you have to stop making a comeback and start running towards who you are meant to be next."  - Lauren Fleshman
“At some point you have to stop making a comeback and start running towards who you are meant to be next.” – Lauren Fleshman

Recapping a race like the Chicago Marathon is like starting to train for one: I don’t know where to start. The beginning, obviously, but with a race like this, it’s moments of painful bursts of speed and hours on carefully-paced long runs, extra hours of sleep and accumulated minutes spent preparing recovery and fueling meals, it’s fleeting seconds spent thinking about how you can apply a new technique to your training. It’s dollars spent on new shoes, airline tickets, hotel rooms, victory meals, and all the logistics of getting out of your comfort zone and on a plane to the 3rd largest city in the country where the starting line in somewhere in the maze of streets that you’re soon going to run on. It’s all of those things that come down to a span of 2 hours for few, 3-5 hours for some, and 6-7 hours for a few more but the same distance for us all: 26.2 miles. To run a marathon is to witness the human existence, and I think that was what this race was all about for me. I’ve never really felt it before now– that sense that you are really part of something great. But you look up and you see thousands of people in every color of the rainbow, bobbing along in a run and it’s all just like….wow. I am here. Welcome to your life, welcome to existence. This is my world. Continue reading “Race Recap: Chicago Marathon Weekend”

Week Twelve: Chicago Marathon Training

Last week’s training ended on a perfect note. I ran 13 miles all the way through at race pace with no pain and, for the first time, felt like I wasn’t just talking about my goal to run my fifth marathon in Chicago. I knew that a perfect run also presented some physical as well as mental downsides. Physically, would this hip injury thing creep up on me again and how bad would it be? Mentally, can I keep a surge of relief and accomplishment from turning into pride and complacency? Week Twelve would reveal that to me. Continue reading “Week Twelve: Chicago Marathon Training”

Week Ten: Chicago Marathon Training

Last week, after having a successful week of 11.5 miles in week nine, I ran 15 miles in week ten. I didn’t meet my goal of running 20, but maybe that is okay. 11.5 to 20 miles in a week seems like a lot, and I was only trying to build my miles back up for a crash-training month in September. (I honestly have no idea what I am doing here.) Continue reading “Week Ten: Chicago Marathon Training”

Week Nine: Chicago Marathon Training

Best run in awhile. This run gave me confidence that I have what it takes to get to the finish line in Chicago.

Two weeks ago, I didn’t run at all. This last week, I ran 11.5 miles. It’s nowhere near close to the mileage I need for a decent week of marathon training, but I ran. I ran strong, I ran joyfully and with a sense of determination I hadn’t felt in a long time. It got hard at times as I felt the impact of having lost some of my physical and cardiovascular base over nearly four lost weeks of training.

I hear myself telling people that I haven’t been able to train hard this month and yet I still have high hope that I will finish the Chicago Marathon in October. The answer I get is, “Okaaaaayy.” The problem with explaining to people why you run is that they somehow think you are trying to become an elite runner. They can’t understand why you do it so much, why you push so hard. They hear that you’re injured and think that it’s time to find something else to do or that your time as a runner is over. Like they know you better than you know yourself after the hours of alone time you’ve had with yourself on the trail. I can’t understand that pessimism at all and it’s infuriating because it’s really just a nice way of saying, “I don’t think you have what it takes.” As a runner, you really have to know how to push those comments out of your head and know who you are. Continue reading “Week Nine: Chicago Marathon Training”

Chicago Marathon Training: Week….Where am I?…..

Somewhere in cyber-universe, there is a countdown clock that reads 53:20:21:01. 53 days, 20 hours, 21 minutes, and 1 second until the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I only saw that countdown timer when I logged into the Athlete Center to check into the marathon’s deferment policy. I wasn’t planning to pull the trigger on that yet, but I needed to know when the deadline was that I had to make yet another gruesome decision to DNS another marathon, and that date is September 8. Continue reading “Chicago Marathon Training: Week….Where am I?…..”

Week Six: Chicago Marathon Training

Training these days has handed me a lot of frustrations. I’ve been trying to be patient with what feels like “bad” pace times for me. I’ve been trying to just accept where I am right now with running. They say comparison is the thief of joy, but comparing yourself to yourself is highway robbery. I look back through all of the photos I took of my Garmin watch after long, successful runs and realized I was so hard on myself. One 16-miler, I ran with an average pace of 10:10 and lamented that my time was horrible despite having only gotten 4 hours of sleep and running in the jungle humidity of DC summers. Another 5-miler, I ran with an average pace of 8:56 and said it was not a great run. One of my most memorably strong runs was a 7-miler in 16 degrees last November at an average 8:46 pace and I did say I felt strong after that run, but I hadn’t been running “well” for a few days beforehand and the tone of my post was that I felt entitled to that strong run because I’d had a string of “bad runs” before that one. Those runs were within the last year and now I’d give anything to run paces like that. Something has changed with my running just as I was finally starting to see results in getting faster. These days, I can barely hold a 10:00 pace. I don’t get it. What changed so quickly!? Continue reading “Week Six: Chicago Marathon Training”

Chicago and DC…or Bust…!

Like everyone, I’ve had my share of life experiences that make me realize, among other things, that I am not invincible. I can’t fake everything all the time, I can’t always be the person I visualize in my head, I can’t deny that sometimes I would rather sleep in, shut out, and shut down than handle one more thing. After all, it’s true that ducks, looking all cool and calm, paddle like hell under the surface of the water, but when they see a predator come after them, they freak out and fly away. They put the kibosh on the whole “cool, calm, and collected” thing and go a little nuts to get out of harm’s way so they can paddle another day. That’s kind of where I’m at with moving and marathon training right now.

By now, I’ve moved about a hundred times and I’ve always noticed that there’s a weird pyramid progression that goes on with moving. Continue reading “Chicago and DC…or Bust…!”