It's 9 days away now. When I think about it, my heart starts to beat a little faster...I can feel the heavy thumps in my chest. Months of preparation, 14+ weeks of focused training. Countless times asking myself if I think it's possible to achieve the goal I have set before me. Race day is almost here - the 2014 Chicago Marathon is almost here. My goal is to run the marathon in less than 3 hours and I believe it's possible.
The title of my post is "Going All In" because I feel like this has been my motto for this marathon training cycle. I usually give everything I do my best effort, but in this case, it has been on another level. I have been determined to leave no stone un-turned. In the middle of my training cycle for this marathon, I hit a rough patch where I just wasn't feeling enthusiastic or energized and I was talking to my brother on the phone one night, relaying this lethargy to him, and he suggested that I take a few days off. I told him that I couldn't - that I had to push through because I wanted to make sure that I didn't get to the end thinking that maybe there was something else I could have done. Part of the reason for the urgency with this marathon is that I think it will be my last one for at least a few years. With one kid here and the desire to continue to expand our family, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify the time it takes to commit to serious marathon training. I will keep running, of course, but the focus will be on shorter races.
This training cycle was much different than my first marathon. The biggest difference is obvious - it's not my first marathon. When I trained for the 2012 Chicago Marathon, the training was new, my mileage peak was a new personal best for me, everything was novel including the shape I managed to get myself into for that Marathon. This time around, I knew going into it what the training would be like and what to expect. Not having that new-ness took a little bit of the shine off of it. Another thing that was different, in a very positive way, was the weather this summer. In 2012, we had a brutal summer here in Chicago - many, many days where the high temperatures reached 90 or more. This summer was cooler and very temperate which made for much more enjoyable training. Another positive difference is that my body was more ready for marathon training this time around and thus I had much fewer aches and pains this time around. I remember in 2012, I came down with little things here and there that would cost me 1-3 days of training...this time around, I missed only 2 days of training in 14 weeks. Even now, my body feels great and I'm running nearly 100% pain-free. Another major difference this time around was that Leslie and I have a child now, a year-and-a-half old, who understandably demands a lot of time. I couldn't just run whenever I wanted which presented a little bit of a challenge at times.
Like I mentioned, I went 'all-in' for this one which meant trying to fit as much mileage in as possible. Running after work was out of the question - Leslie needed my help with our daughter and I'm gone all day at work. So my running had to be relegated to either the mornings before work or on my lunch breaks. In order to fit in the longer mid-week runs, I resorted to two-a-days on Wednesdays - running both before work and on my lunch break. Needless to say, I didn't really look forward to Wednesdays, two runs in a matter of hours got to be a bit much, especially towards the end. At the beginning of my training cycle I was right around 40 miles/week and worked it up gradually up to 60 miles/week at towards the end. I was pleasantly surprised by how my body responded to the increased in mileage. In the course of training I set new personal records for miles in a month (233) and miles in a week (65). I ran two races during training as well, including a 5K in late July and a Half-Marathon in early-September. Overall, I'm very pleased with how things went, in fact, all things considered I'm not sure they could have gone much better than they did.
So now it comes down to it. 9 more days until I can find out if my body can do it. I've envisioned it a hundred times now - crossing that finish line with something on the clock that still as a 2 as the first digit. How would I react? How will I feel if I don't break 3...will I really be disappointed something just over 3 hours? I'm really curious to see what happens. All signs so far point in a good direction. The half marathon last month, which was a tune-up to see where I was at, went swimmingly and really gave me some confidence. The weather is looking like it's going to cooperate too which is probably the biggest wildcard. I'm hopeful, I'm starting to get nervous, and I'm excited, all at the same time. On top of that, I'm ready for this short journey to come to an end - it's been fun to train and train hard, but I'm ready for a break and for the pressure to be off. I know that I've given it all I've got and I'm ready to see if that will be enough.