A standard marathon is 26.2 miles. (To read more about the origin of the marathon, look here). Some people will run ultra marathons (however many miles you can run in an 8 hour period is one example I've heard of), or a 50 mile race (and you think I'M insane for doing 26.2?!?!?!), or others.
Anyhoo, as many of you know, I am joining approximately 45,000 other people of all shapes and sizes from all over the world to run the Chicago Marathon this Sunday. I started training in April, doing short runs of 2 and 3 miles whenever I could. Then in June, I broke out the marathon training schedule I use (Hal Higdon's novice training schedule) and started ramping up the training. I was feeling good, ready to do this again. But at the age of 41 (at the time), my knees had other ideas. They were hurting - not just one of them, but both of them. I started to panic. Should I stop training completely? Am I too old for this? I was diagnosed with runners' knee in both knees and went to physical therapy once a week for awhile. The training schedule I typically do requires 4 runs a week - a short run, a medium run, another short run and a long run. Because of the pain I was in, I resorted to resting up during the week and just doing the long runs each weekend. Each time I would attempt to run a short or medium run, my knees would hurt so bad I could barely walk for days after I did one. I decided that if I was going to do this marathon, I was going to have to pick my spots for training and give my knees the rest, ice, ibuprofen and stretching that they needed the rest of the time. By the time I got to my 18 mile run, I was not feeling it. My knees were aching, I walked a good portion of it, and I was at a crossroads. I needed to make a decision as to whether I would continue on or quit. I was quite down about it, because I felt like maybe I bit off more than I could chew. So I took the next two weeks off, and decided I would, during that two weeks, mentally prepare myself for the next long training run - 20 miles. I got up at 5am, put on my running clothes, took some advil, laced up my shoes and took off. What happened next would determine whether or not I would continue on with my training.
Over four hours later, I had finished the 20 miles. My knees did not hurt at all. I was cramping up a little bit (normal cramps for me, not anything unusual) toward the tail end of the run. I was pleasantly surprised, elated actually, that my knees didn't hurt at all the entire time. I was pretty gassed, but I think that was because of the fact that I only did the long runs while training. The end result was a good one, though. I was ready for 26.2.
This Sunday morning,45,000 runners, myself included, will line up with a common goal. To cross the finish line. Some will finish in potential world record times (no, yours truly will not even be in that conversation, or anywhere remotely close) - times just over 2 hours - which is amazing to me. Others will walk and finish in 7 hours. My goal is to finish in somewhere between 5 and 6 hours. I'm not in the best marathon shape I've ever been in. My goals are realistic. I know my body and my mind and that this goal is reachable, as I've run marathons previously. This is marathon number six for me.
I'm ready. Ready for the crowd and the energy that they bring - without the crowd support it would be very difficult to do this. Ready for conversations with other runners from all over the world and new friendships made as we support each other during this endurance test. From the various bands playing along the marathon course, to the gay cheerleaders, to the high fives from everyone watching and the shouts of support from people I don't even know (which mean the world to every runner out there) - I am stoked. Jacked. Jazzed. Psyched. This one I am going to enjoy. Will there be pain? Almost guaranteed. Will there be doubt? Only if I let it creep in, which I am sure I will in some moments during the race. But the bottom line is I know I can do this. And I will do this. Because I can. Because I need to compete (with the finish line, not with other runners). Because I love to run.
My prayer is that this event is newsworthy for the usual reasons - it's a big event, and one of the fastest marathon courses that exists. And for the safety of the runners, the spectators, volunteers, and everyone in the city of Chicago. There is a big part of me that is running this race for the people in Boston and the children and teachers in Connecticut who were taken from us in such terrible tragedies earlier this year. And of course I'll be thinking of my wife and my son.
If you'd like to track my progress during the marathon, I am bib number 42882. There are different ways you can do it, one of which is to register HERE. It explains how you can get signed up, if you are so inclined.
Thanks for all of your support during this journey. I'm looking forward to the end result on Sunday.
God bless and have a great day!