Last Sunday, some of my Yankee Runner marathon training group (all paces, not just mine) ran the last 6 miles of the Chicago Marathon course. I participated in this last year as well and thought it was a good chance for first time marathoners (or first time Chicago Marathoners) to get familiar with what can be a very difficult time during the marathon. For first timers during the marathon, it puts them at miles that they've never run before. Typically, the longest run they may have done is 20 miles. The last 6 miles is unknown territory. So the reason the Yankee Runners do this "last 6" run is to familiarize yourself with the course, know the turns, will there be shade, where might there be crazy crowds.
It is weird because we get dropped off in the middle of nowhere. We run near and through Chinatown, on the streets where there are cars. People look at us like we are crazy! What is this crazy group of people running around here for?? Maybe next year we should put old bibs on and make it look like we are doing a race. That would be fun! Haha!
I also joked with Maggie that we were taking a sightseeing tour of Chicago...by foot. A woman asked us as we ran past if we were "practicing for the marathon". The wording of that was really funny to me. Yes, we are practicing. Here is Maggie's recap of that day.
|The Yankee Runners that participated in the last 6 mile run|
|Some of my 10:00 pace group I've been training with all year (and all new run friends I met this season).|
Now...it's race week!! I'm super excited! If you would have asked me in March, while injured and training for the Illinois Marathon, if I was excited to have signed up for Chicago this year...and 2 marathons at that...I would have said without a doubt...NO WAY!! Kelly even mentioned to me that I could sell my Chicago bib if I wanted to, which depressed me even more (and knew I couldn't do that unless I had no choice).
I was miserable in March. I was injured. I couldn't run a good pace anymore. And my Illinois Marathon was equally miserable. It was mentally and physically challenging (so much so that I started to cry at mile 24...first time during a run ever). But as I said before, as soon as I crossed the finish line and found out that I only missed my best time by 9 minutes (and felt 100 times worse), I was excited to start training for Chicago. I KNEW I could do it!
After realized I was severely anemic and getting that under control as well as my physical injuries, my pace started picking back up. Right before starting this summer training, I could sometimes not even run 1/2 mile before I had to stop and walk, completely out of breath. I later found out this was a symptom of the anemia. I remember when I was finally able to run 4 miles straight through again and I could have jumped for joy! Granted it was at a slow 10:30 pace but I was able to do it.
Starting marathon training in June, I was unsure what pace group to run with. I was struggling to run a 10:00 minute pace but that was the pace I trained with before and that's where all of my friends and my awesome pace leader were at. And I was struggling running with them. I would try to "hang in there" until our scheduled water stops. And more often than not, I fell off pace by the end and lagged behind. After I dislocated my shoulder in July, I decided that the 10:30's might be a better fit for me, especially because of my injured shoulder. But after running with them once, I was miserable. The pace leader didn't talk (and wore headphones), everyone had their own "clicks" of which I was an outsider. I never ran with the 10:30's again. I moved back to the 10:00's and decided even if I ran half with them and half on my own...it was better than being "alone" in the 10:30 group.
But I didn't have to worry too long. I'm convinced a good part of my running success as of late is my iron. I think once my iron levels really started to improve, so did my running (and breathing). I had always said when I was struggling, before I knew what was wrong.."My legs feel great! They want to keep running. It's my lungs that's having an issue!" So once iron levels improved...my running improved quickly. I'm feeling close to where I was in 2010. I try to run an "easy" pace, which used to be around 10:00's or later...and I can't seem to go slower than 9:45, more often 9:30's (for shorter distances). And it makes me happy...Every.Single.Time.
I'm not an idiot to think I'm going to be some super speedy fast lady at the marathon. I have finally made a decision on how I'm going to start. Since I know it will be crowded anyway, this is a great opportunity to pace yourself. I will start with my friend Shelby and run as easy as possible...I'm guessing as close to 10:30 for the first 3-5 miles...as a warm up. After that, I will see how I'm feeling and just take it from there.
|My spectator notes...|
And I'm even more excited for my first time marathon friends!! I hear their excited and their nerves! I remember those days like they were yesterday (and since I still feel the excitement and nerves!). I know my friends will do amazing. I'm tracking several of them even though I won't know what happened or is happening until I finish the marathon.
I almost forgot!! The weather! It keeps changing but seems pretty consistent as of late with it being in the low to mid 50's for a high and upper 30's to lower 40's for a low. And partly sunny. Um...can you say almost near perfect marathon temps! I haven't been obsessing over the temps since all of my friends are obsessing enough...and posting 12 times a day on facebook about it. Since it's closer, I may start obsessing...but no sense in worrying over something you have absolutely NO control over!
I have a busy weekend too. I have my charity banquet dinner on Friday night up in Schaumburg (such a far drive!). I have a blogger meet up lunch downtown on Saturday. And so either before or after lunch, I will make my way to the expo. Most likely alone. I seem to always go to the expos alone! Although I might ask some stranger to take a picture of me this time while I'm there!