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Chicago Marathon 2017

Maybe not writing and holding myself accountable for my training, weight loss and pace ultimately resulted in less than desired results. After a devastating 2016 Chicago Marathon after a painful training season, 2017 training was a breeze. No injuries and decent pace miles along with a good June half marathon led me to believe a dramatic improvement was in order in Chicago.

The marathon started well. Running a relaxed pace through the half, a goal of 3:45 was well with in reach. Butttt by the 17 mile point the wheels came off and I was telling myself I wanted the quit and give up marathon running for good. Somehow the sense of defeat was in itself defeated, which allowed for me to finish the race albeit at a far less than expected 4:21:56.

After race feelings (both emotionally and physically) were much better. Physically I felt better than any of 8 other marathons I have run which includes 2 Boston Marathon Quilifying times. I was amazed and can only point to the 4 months of a plant based diet as the only difference in personal conduct compared to the previous efforts.

Suffice it to say, I am not done. I will run again as I am planning 2 marathons for 2018. #dontquit

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Marathon Training Kinda Crazy

You know you are kind of crazy when the marathon training is what you look forward to the most. The actual completion of the marathon is fun and exciting, however that is the end in a way. The event really is the training. The marathon for most people lasts less than 5 hours of their lives, but the training is the hobby, is the reward, is the pleasure, is the life of a runner.

Each week of marathon training can be a waiting period if you think in terms of it’s still 18 weeks until my marathon, it’s still 10 weeks to my marathon. Personally I think in terms of long run to long run. I can’t wait to get to the next long run as the runs during the week are just too short. Sunday comes and I am off and running both emotionally and literally.

Let me know if you have similar experiences.

Mental Game Running Goals

On today’s 11 mile run I was focused on every aspect of my successful marathon experiences vs. the unsuccessful ones. The result being in the training before my Boston Qualifing marathons I was able to fight through fatigue. I would feel awful, but would resist the temptation to walk and keep thinking “once I am past this hill, things will get better”.

The body can do more than mind tells you from time to time and it is your job to override those thoughts to get where you desire to go. Training is as much mental training as it is physical development. The BQ goal can be lost week 1 of training if you are not focused on it from the day you start. That is not to say that one bad day will defeat you, but it is how you recover mentally from a bad experience and use that knowledge to not repeat mistakes.

Mental preparation is something that can be practiced at other times off the course. Driving to work, writing a running blog, a lifting session, etc are great opportunities to  focus on your goals and train your brain to not except less. When I have failed, I wasn’t willing to fight poor mental feelings to reach my vision.

Be strong mentally and you will find your kick.

Chicago Marathon 2016

I got in the Chicago Marathon. 7th time overall and first since they went to a lottery system. What a great feeling. Now it’s time to ramp up the miles and the blog entries. Talk to you all soon.

A Few From Fifty

Wow, it has been a few years since I posted last, a few years since   I last ran a marathon and just a few months before I turn fifty. I suppose it is as good time as any to get back in the swing of marathon training and writing about it.

I entered the Chicago Marathon lotto and will find out Thursday April 21st if I got in (or not). If that falls through the back up Marathon is the Quad Cities Marathon. The  QC is only 2 weeks earlier than the Chi so my training schedules are pretty compatible.

Winter training has laid down a stable foundation and my long runs have been at over 10 miles for more than a month now. Feeling healthier than the last couple years heading into spring training, so this should be a good year.

Looking forward to more of these updates. Talk to you all soon.

The Chicago Way

As I am not a Chicago Police Officer nor a Chicago Civil Engineer, the following suggestions on how to improve the Chicago Marathon are completely personal and without much hope of ever coming to fruition. Since this blog is dedicated to goals and visions of better things, why not make a suggestion or two, even if I am dreaming.

1. Reroute the course to utilize the lake front vistas, Lake Michigan looks like the ocean with infant waves and would go a long way to improving the scenic quality of the marathon. Running among the skyscrapers of Chicago is pretty neat, however looking straight up while running is not advised, unless you want to fall over or strain your neck. The view of the Chicago Skyline from Lakeshore is awesome and can take your mind off of the miles and the pain of the marathon.

2. Reroute the course away from the awful smells of underground awfulness. There are a few points on the course that excel in the area of stench. The pursuit of excellence in this area probably is not what the organizers had in mind. I assume that the stink cannot be turned off with a switch or blown away by a huge fan. Something should be done if at all possible.

3. Move the marathon to November. Heat is a marathon PR potential killer. The Midwest has been staying hotter later in the year. Cool or even cold weather is less of a bane on a distance runner than the opposite in temperature. Yeah, this proposal might conflict with the NYC Marathon, but both races are huge participation wise as they stand.

Really the Chicago Marathon is pretty darn great as is. The expo, course, after party and of course, the fans (all million plus of them) are all special. It is a treat to run with so many in a great city and then celebrate with friends both old ones and brand new ones made that day.

Sweet Home Chicago Marathon

Some things are just made for each other. Peanut butter and jelly. Front doors and welcome mats. Nights and moonlight. Long strolls along the river with a loved one. Chicago and the marathon.

I probably biased on this subject. I have only run 7 marathons and 6 of them were Chicago Marathons, but like all great fits, we tend to stick with what works for us. Those jeans that have been broken in just right are hard to get rid of.

If you have run the same marathon more than once, you know what I am talking about. Large city marathons have their challenges and knowing what to expect from traffic to the expo, to the aid stations, to finding your friends/support team after the race, all factor in on the overall enjoyment of the event.

I have discussed some of the tricks of the Chicago Marathon in past blog entries, so I won’t rehash those here. The point of this post is to find what works for you and run with it. Chicago is my fit. I plan to run it again next year and the following year. This was a down/off year for me, but I have that bug in my brain to get back to Chicago and finish a few things.

I hope you find your Chicago whether it’s called Napa Valley, Olympic, Nashville, Rock and Roll or Peanut Butter and Jelly Marathon…. now there’s an idea.

Chicago Marathon Prep

It’s an exciting time as the fall marathon season begins and the marathon training programs wind down. Usually by late August/early September the weather in the Midwest mellows from the exasperating heat to a comfortable range to allow for those final 20 milers to be completed before the big race. This year has been a reverse of that pattern. Early August the temps cooled off, but the heat came back the last two weeks and look to continue for another week at least.

The best plan to beat the heat and still get those long runs in is to get up really early, as in before the sun comes up. 2011 was an especially hot summer and if I didn’t get up at 4:30 and hit the road by 5:00 the temps were in the high 80’s/low 90s by 9:00 and close to the 100’s by Noon. Avoiding the midday sun is always a wise choice, but that year it was an absolute necessity.

Though I hate to drive/waste gasoline to get a run in, the wise thing is to put out water/energy drink on your long run course. My usual course provides a few hiding places for the drinks, so as not to be disturbed by ill-doers. If your course is not so well equipped, the next best plan is to carry your beverage of choice. Personally I don’t like to carry water for several reasons, but the placement of beverages that are the same as the ones that will be provided at your marathon is optimal. As an example: The Chicago Marathon provides Gatorade Endurance formula and water. The Fargo Marathon provided PowerAde the year I ran it, so that year I started my marathon training using PowerAde (which I don’t like) up to Fargo and then switched to Gatorade after and then all the way up to Chicago. You always want to condition your body for all the variables you will be hit with at your respective marathon. The same can be said for energy gels.

Studying your marathon of choice’s website is key to any successful marathon pursuit. Limiting surprises is always a good idea. The more that you know going in, the less opportunity to have the unexpected trip you up on race day.

Fall Marathon Post 2013, Chicago Marathon 2013

36 Again

To be 36 again. Huhmmmmm, that would be a trick. I remember going to the official time checker at the after party at the 2004 Chicago Marathon. The guy entered my information and said, “3:14:11, great job!” He then gave me high five and I felt pretty darn awesome for the rest of the evening.

Flash forward 9 years and that marathon time is a distant memory. 2 more Chicago Marathons sub 3:28, but never close to another Boston Qualifying time. Yeah it hurts, especially since both times I qualified for Boston, I didn’t go to Boston. Sure I am part of the group that can called themselves BQs, but to never have run Boston still stings.

50 is rapidly approaching. Do I have one more shot at Boston? Maybe, maybe not. What I do know is that running is a lot more relaxing now that it is just about my sanity and overall health. Would I like to line it up in Hopkinton and take that hilly trek into Boston? Sure, but will I lose sleep over it? Probably not. Could I take any more wishy with my washy?

After 4o running takes on a different meanings and that is okay. I think.

Rollercoaster Ride

The following post I started to write on March 29, 2011 as I prepared to run the Fargo Marathon in May of the same year. For some reason I stopped writing and didn’t post it:

It is a cliché’ to say that life is a rollercoaster ride. We all know that things go well and then they don’t. Rinse and repeat.

I have never run a marathon with 2 good knees. I injured my knee playing basketball in January of 1991, waited to have surgery until December of the same year. I didn’t rehab the knee as well as I should and have had stability issues with it ever since. When I started getting serious about running I was always able to run straight forward without pain, but never without fear that the knee would play tricks on me. From time to time the knee would tweak while going down stairs or while playing with my kids in the yard, but I was always able to run. Now within the last year, my knee will tweak on occasion while running. Today was one of those days. It stinks. I feel like I can run the marathon

The interesting part of this finished post is that I can hardly remember the knee tweak in question as I was able to complete the Fargo Marathon that year with no issues with my knee. What I do remember is I did where a knee sleeve for both that marathon and Chicago 2o11. The curse of the knee sleeve…

This year I dedicated myself to running unaided (no knee sleeve/support) and so far it has been a success. The knee feels stronger than in more years than I can remember with no trickiness while running. Yeah it still gets weird on me at the oddest times, but if I can run with no pain in that knee I will take that deal every time.

I once heard a story about a man who was told by his doctor not to run as he had some damage floating around in there. Instead of quitting, he ran longer and imagined the pounding was grinding the debris into minute particles that no longer bother him. That man went on to be a Ultra-Marathoner. The mind wins again.

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