I am running the Chicago Marathon in just one week! If all goes well, this will be my 19th marathon and my 14th state! Woohoo. I had signed up for this race hoping to make a big jump in my PR and finally snatch a BQ. But taking over four hour to finish the Mesa Falls Marathon was a big reality check for me. Sounds like a BQ might be a few races off…
But what are my race goals? And what have I done to try to hit them?
First, what I’ve been up to:
(1) Runs! I’ve been running a lot, mainly because Colorado is beautiful and the only thing I have to do there other than work is run. No complaints though. I’ve found some AWESOME folks to hit the trails with, and my Instagram is a-glow with beautiful sunrises and sunsets (see above). Most of the runs have been between 4 and 7 miles. Although I had a couple of long runs planned after the Mesa Falls Marathon, I didn’t get them done for various reasons, including wanting to spend precious time with my husband on the weekends. I did have a few two-a-day workouts, including a 15 mile day and a 12 mile day. Most of the runs have been at an easy or moderate pace, but there have definitely been a few tempo miles thrown in (like the time I went for the “extra mile” with a trail running group and the sun started setting and we had no head lamps and we tried to race through the run but totally failed and ended up running back in the total darkness).
(2) Climbs. Although I’ve found a few flat routes, a fair amount of the running I’ve done lately has been up or down hill. And when I haven’t been running, I’ve been doing a lot of hiking. I kicked off my Chicago training with a week post-Mesa Falls in Yellowstone, the Tetons, and Jackson Hole. Then the next weekend (one week after Mesa Falls) I did my first 14er, Quandary Peak! I think I did something like 6 hikes in the 8 days following Mesa Falls. So addictive! I’ve also done a little hiking since then, such as a run/hike to Royal Arch for a sunrise earlier this week. Chicago is a flat course but I am hoping that these climbs will make the flat feel superfast.
(3) Orangetheory. I’m still hitting up Orangetheory about once a week, usually on whatever day I go into the office here in DC. Still love it. On Friday, for instance, I did a fantastic Endurance Day workout with 1-3 minute intervals on the treadmill, rowing, and some light lifting. It is a great, structured running workout that contrasts well with my looser trail runs.
(4) Clean Eating. One benefit of living out of a hotel is that I don’t have snacks at my disposal in Colorado. And I’ve heard a rumor that being at altitude can decrease hunger. As a result, my eating has been pretty good for the past several weeks — fewer processed foods, lots of good fats, plates full of veggies. I am not quite at my goal weight, but I am feeling lithe and strong.
OK, so what are my goals for Chicago?
- A+ Goal: BQ with 3:32. For 2017, aspiring Boston runners needed to be 2 minutes and 9 seconds under the cutoffs to qualify. For me that is 3:32:51. This would be a huge, huge stretch for me. I don’t want to totally burn myself out in the first half of the race, so I am not planning to start at this kind of pace (8:05, in case you were wondering…). If, however, I get to the 16ish mile point and I am still feeling good, I will let myself push the pace a little more to see where I end up.
- A Goal: Chip away my time toward BQ with a finish time of 3:40. OK, so this is my real goal. I’d love to make a healthy dent in my current PR time of 3:44:47. A 3:40 finish translates to an 8:23 pace. I’ll probably aim to start the first few miles around 8:30 pace and then settle in closer to 8:23. I really want to finish this race strong — the opposite of what I did at Mesa Falls.
- B Goal: Get a new PR. An 8:33 pace will land me a new PR. I feel like I am at least as fit as when I got my PR five years and seven marathons ago, so I’m hoping I can get this goal for 2016 done. I plan to start the race around this pace.
- C Goal: Get a PB for the year. This year I’ve run some more challenging courses, and my fastest time was at the moderately-hilly Mississippi Blues Marathon. I’d like to beat that time on this faster course.
And what are my fears? Well, other than finding I’m not in nearly as good shape as I thought, my biggest source of anxiety going into this race is my IT band. Many moons ago my IT band bothered me so much that I walked most of the Marine Corps Marathon. I spent a lot of time off rehabbing, doing yoga, strengthening, etc, and I thought I’d been pretty effective. I’ve lived for years without it popping up again. But this past week, after an amazing, energizing, exhilarating week of running and making friends and climbing mountains, I went into a lunge at Orangetheory and felt a sharp catch on my left leg, like it had come out of alignment. I slowed down for the rest of my lunges and was OK, but I felt the pain again during a leisurely walk in the woods yesterday. My hypothesis: my trail running tired out my stabilizer muscles, so now my IT band is going out of whack on up, downs, and deep bends. Hoping a week of tapering, some light stretching, a couple of Aleves, and Chicago’s flat course do a body good.
Who else is running Chicago??? If you’ve run it in the past, give me all the knowledge! Any last-minute PR strategies or IT band tips?