Another (last) go round

(yes, yes… it’s been awhile… forgive me… please?)

This morning I watched the sun come up on Lake Michigan, with the city skyline at my back. Despite being a life-long Chicago area native, I’m pretty sure that this is the first time I’ve experienced this, and I’m glad that I hauled my butt out of the hotel bed to get out there.

I looked at both the sun coming up and the streets already prepped for the 45,000 marathon runners who would take over the next morning, and couldn’t help but reflect on the journey. I don’t know what it is, but sunrises and rows of virgin port-a-potties make me all contemplative, it seems.

So – yes – I’m running the marathon tomorrow. I know that I had proclaimed on a number of occasions that I was done with marathons… but, I knew I wasn’t quite done. I needed one more shot — one more go at not even necessarily hitting my goal time (and PR’ing the race), but going into it knowing that I did my homework and finishing knowing that I gave it 100% effort. My previous 3 marathons had extenuating circumstances of some sort — GI issues, heat cancellations, injuries — and I knew that for my own peace of mind, I had to have one “good” marathon.

The training started about 4 months ago. Well, actually, the training started shortly after my credit card got dinged with the impossibly high entrance fee, I suppose. I started building base, running here and there so I could get trained enough to even START the marathon training.

A new thing I did: I joined CARA (Chicago Area Runners Assocation) and signed up for their marathon training program. And without even knowing my results, I’m crediting my success to them. Doing the long runs with them not only made me accountable for the weekend miles, but the weekday miles, lest I not be able to keep up with my pace group.

Throughout the last 20 weeks, I’ve come to the same conclusion, though: I simply do not enjoy marathon training. Especially this time, when I did things right and really upped my mileage, I just get sick of running so much. Not only that, but everything else I do is prefaced with the question, “Will this affect my marathon training?” I’ve back off all strength training and other sports for fear of hurting myself, and I miss the variety that NOT marathon training offers.

But, when all is said and done, I did this one up right. In 2007, I thought I was well trained, having run about 335 miles over the course of my training. This year? 477 miles.

I’m as ready as I can be. My goal is sub-4 hours and a half marathon that I did on a whim a few weeks ago translates out to a 3:52 marathon. So – this is possible.

Really, the only thing that will keep me from this is me. This will be hard; it’s SUPPOSED to be hard. The biggest struggle will be mental. The urge to quit, to slow down, to make excuses why it might not be my day… the temptation is overwhelming sometimes. To not succumb, that is what a marathon is all about.

But, I’m stronger now. I’m determined that whether or not I hit my goal is second to whether or not I leave everything out on the course. I have friends and family coming out to watch (thanks, everyone! I appreciate y’all responding to my guilt trips!) and I can’t let them down any more than I can let myself down.

And this is my last shot at it. (really!) And I’m gonna do it.

Like a Nike sweatshirt told me, “Don’t Suck. Just do it.”


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