Thursday, September 21, 2017

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training, the last few weeks

Well, here we are.  17 days away from the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  And it looks like all systems go for me--I'll be crossing the start line on October 8th!  I had a feeling that the last few weeks of training would likely be the most important and I was more or less correct.  Not only did I start running again, the very act of which had been causing me a lot of anxiety, but I ran my farthest distance ever, and then ran even farther than that.  I also graduated from physical therapy, after 2 long months!  Which brings us to today, 17 days away.  Am I nervous?  Yes, without a doubt!  But I am also excited, and determined.  This journey has been 2 years in the making and it is so close now.

My first farthest distance was 17 miles...  and it almost felt effortless.  The weather was cool and overcast and I settled into a rhythm early on.  I almost couldn't believe it, and I felt so fortunate to have had the experience.  Then I did the famous 20 mile long run--the longest distance of marathon training.  I set out on a Friday morning where it was already warm when I left and around 87 degrees at the midpoint of my run.  The first half wasn't so bad, but it definitely fell apart a little bit at the halfway point.  Luckily I had some great support along the way in Tom and my friend and running buddy Vicky (both of whom have also been training for the marathon over the last few months), who both encouraged me to keep going when I thought I'd have to quit.  It was hard, but I did it!  Five years ago I never imagined I'd be here, about to run a marathon.  What an awesome gift to myself, as cheesy as that sounds.

(Top: 17; Bottom: 20.)

Graduating PT was also a big deal for me, and a great feeling!  Even though I spent all summer going to Athletico twice a week, in a way I got kind of used to it and I am grateful for the experience.  My physical therapist did everything she could to get me over the diagnosis of recalcitrant plantar fasciitis and ready for the marathon.  I am so much stronger than I was two months ago, and I have a plan to continue gaining strength.  I have learned a lot about how my body operates and have seen just how connected every part is.  I feel better about running the marathon knowing I've spent the last couple months working on improving my fitness and strength.  In a way, I almost felt sad saying farewell--but this is my first weekend without a PT appointment and I gotta say, I am feeling pretty okay about it now!

So, what's next for me?  Tomorrow, I plan on running 6-8 miles at a gentle pace.  I managed to get a knot in my right quad at work, which is a returning issue from a few weeks ago, so I have been very careful while on the job and at home.  I've also been rolling it out a lot, and I'm feeling like tomorrow I should be able to give it a shot.  Saturday, just a 2-3 mile shakeout run before work.  And then, on Sunday, the Chicago Half Marathon!  I am so excited to be running this race again...  It is one of my favorites, and after not getting to participate last year because of my injury, I am glad to have the chance this time. (I ran it in both 2014 and 2015.) I am not going for a PR and treating this as a training run, especially with the warmer temperatures, but I am also going to give it my very best.  Vicky and I are going to the Expo tomorrow for packet pickup (I'll be picking up Tom's packet while I'm there also) and then on Sunday morning, we'll be running!  It's supposed to be in the 70s so I am hoping there will at least be a breeze.  We shall see!

After that, the next few weeks consist of easy runs until the big day.  I'm trying to stay hydrated and eat healthy, decreasing my alcohol consumption, and trying to get good sleep, too!  Taper time is here.  I've had such a strange training season, but I am still so happy to be here.  I am confident in my abilities to cross the finish line and I'm ready to leave it all out there on the course.  In a way, I feel like running this is like a love letter to the city--because marathon training has been, and is, such a labor of love for me.  And yet, I can't imagine it any other way.  Here I am, 17 days away from being a marathoner.  Here's to October 8th!

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