2017 Chicago Marathon Training.
Well, where did those 18 weeks go? It's marathon week!
One of my favorite things to do on marathon week is reflect over the last 18 weeks, where I started, where I am now & all the in betweens. Training is always full of moments of "I LOVE RUNNING" and moments of "WHY DO I DO THIS?!" There is physical growth side by side with mental growth. Even after 4 marathons, it amazes me what my body can do- seeing the mileage increase weekly, feeling the shorter runs becoming easier, watching my pace and mind strengthen. Each time it's different, not only are the training runs different, but life outside of the training runs is different so there's a whole different mindset, a different set of thoughts running through your brain along the lakefront trail.
This year, as I've mentioned I joined Chicago Area Runners Association Summer Training Program, again- I've ran with them one other time, two years ago. To be completely honest a couple of years ago I didn't really love the group training, it just wasn't quite what I expected- it was helpful in pace but I felt disconnected from my pace group, it never quite felt like a team for me. But boy was that different this year, our Sunday morning 8:30 pace group was amazing- we got each other through those runs. We ran for hours along the lakefront trail, sometimes chatting, sometimes laughing, sometimes in silence. We kept updated on one another- our trips, our family's, our marathon plan, our jobs. I looked forward to the 5:00AM wakeup on Sunday mornings. and that group surely pushed me along in that 8:30 pace.
I had planned to stick very strong to my cross training and speed workout plans, but as the summer went on my training schedule got bounced around a bit. With a busy couple of months with visitors and trips, sometimes strength workouts at the gym, and speed workouts on the track got pushed to the side- but that's okay, life happens. I will say, I have felt the strongest I've ever felt this year, in most ways. My weekly long runs were strong, my 8:30 pace felt comfortable- I felt confident after most of those runs. However, my weekday runs, specifically towards the end of training, started to slow down quite a bit. I'm not sure if it was just the higher mileage that was making my feet drag and my legs feel heavy on those week day runs, or if it truly was more mental than anything. I tried to not let it get me down, I began to accept that my weekday runs would be a little slower, taking it easy, not trying to push it. But once I had a group surrounding me on the weekends, I gave it my all. The easier weekday runs and stronger weekend runs seemed to work for me those last couple of months when training was peaking at higher mileage. With higher mileage training, I ran my first ever 50 mile week! It was the week of my second 20 miler, which was actually one of my roughest 20 milers I have ever ran- either the high mileage got to me, the 80 degrees & humid weather got to me, or a combination of both. The following week I had to take a couple of extra rest days because my body was feeling TIRED, and I was thrilled to be entering the taper. Now, at the end of my taper, my body is feeling much more rested and ready to go. My Achilles is feeling a little worn down, so I'm definitely making resting & foam rolling the main priority this week!! People keep asking me how I'm feeling about race day, my answer is "Well, I've done all I can do at this point! HA!"
Nutritionally this year I have figured out more do's and don'ts and tried my hardest to listen to my body. What I've learned is, IT SURE IS SENSITIVE. For real. I have to be very conscience of what I'm putting into my body before a long run, I typically can figure out where I may have messed up nutritionally the day before if I have issues on a long run- but to be honest, sometimes it's a guessing game. Marathon Day can be a toss up for me, and stomach problems are what I dread and fear most for long distance racing. I've got a plan, and I think I'm starting to figure out what works best- so here's to hoping the 2017 Chicago Marathon is stomach problem- free.
Training was full of highs and lows, celebrations and frustrations. In the midst of training I had wisdom teeth removed, visitors every other weekend at one point, a bacterial infection, Ohio weddings, & the normal daily work and social life- but I got the runs in. In these 18 weeks I've ran the lakefront path, the Ohio trails & the roads of Iceland- step by step, mile by mile. And in 5 days I'll be running through 29 neighborhoods of Chicago, through a 26.2 mile long party, side by side with my biggest running inspiration, my coach, my cheerleader- my dad. My goal for this race is to run to the best of my ability, to push through the hard miles both physically and mentally, but most importantly it's to take the city of Chicago in side by side with my dad, to remember that running that course is a gift and having my dad by my side is something most daughters will never experience. I can't wait to cross that finish line hand in hand with the guy who taught me how truly special and unique 26.2 miles can be.