Friday, August 10, 2012

Put on shirt, apply heart to sleeve

I've been planning out my remaining non-stepback long runs between now and the Chicago Marathon on October 7.  There are only three of them left.  Three.


My three remaining long runs include:

A 16-miler
I'll probably try to do 16.5, since I did 15 last weekend and will try to split the difference between 15 and my next long run, which is...

An 18-miler
I'll be doing this the Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend.  Afterwards, I will be heading directly to the airport (without passing "Go" and without collecting $200) to fly to North Carolina for vacation.  I'll have to start this run even earlier than usual to make sure that I have enough time to stretch and, more importantly, shower before getting on the plane.  Otherwise we'll all risk feeling sorry for whoever is sitting next to me during the flight (Adam).

Let's hope something like this doesn't flash across your TV screens in a few weeks.
A 20-miler
This will be done through the CARA Lakefront 20-Miler.  I am excited about this because being in a race-type atmosphere will help make this run a lot easier.  Relatively speaking, of course.

Dare I say that I'm actually starting to get excited about doing these final long training runs?

I met up with Erin yesterday morning for another great early-morning run.  We ran through Taylor Street, aka Mile 18 of the Chicago Marathon course.  She was telling me that the entire street would be lined with tables of GU, water, and Gatorade.  I told her that I was sure that after the marathon I would forever associate Taylor Street with replenishment.  And not just because of the Little Italy restaurants and the seasonal Italian ice stand (which I desperately need to check out, by the way).

An oasis in the desert. 
I imagine this to be reminiscent of Taylor Street (aka Mile 18) within the Chicago Marathon course.

(By the way, we also saw them setting up for the Festa Italiana, which I'd never heard about until then.  You learn neat things while wandering the neighborhoods at 6:00 AM on a weekday morning!)

On that note, earlier this week I had ridden a bus north on Michigan Avenue between 31st Street and Roosevelt (aka miles 24 through 26 of the Chicago Marathon course).  I told Erin about how I had sat on the bus watching the scenery go by, thinking that this is what I will be seeing while wondering if I had any skeletal bones poking out (or something equally painful).

My biggest fear is that I will go through all of this training - nearly a year's worth of training - and that I won't be able to finish the marathon for whatever reason (ANY reason).  When blogging was just an idea in the back of my mind, I remember many folks saying that blogging would help friends and family to cheer you on during your journey.  They also said that blogging would keep you accountable for staying on track with your training goals.  But what they didn't say was that blogging could also open up a lot of potential vulnerabilities if things don't go as planned.

This is how I accessorize my running wardrobe.

I've been watching the Olympics.  I am reminded day after day how agonizing it must be for these world class athletes to train for years and years and years - then for some to not perform well during the moment of truth on the world's largest stage.  I can only imagine the devastation.

I am certainly not comparing myself to an Olympian.  But I am reminded of the feeling of working so hard and so long for a goal, but also fearing that it may not come to fruition.  Of course, I know that we should not go through life afraid.  Being fearful makes you react differently, makes you see things differently, changes your perspective, limits you from your true potential.  But it is hard for me to comprehend this magnitude of a goal without any inkling of doubt.

I do also know that life will go on regardless of whether I'm able to complete this goal or not.  If I can't complete it on the first try, there are always opportunities to try again in the future.  There's no shame in any of that, right?

For now, I am enjoying how much progress I've made in the last year.  I am also working hard to visualize myself crossing that finish line - I already get tears in my eyes when I think about it.  And I remind myself through some great advice from experienced marathoners that it's okay to cry.  Which I will, no bones about it (whether or not any skeletal bones really are poking out by mile 26!) 

There is a reason why I carry a wad of Kleenex the size of my head in my runners' belt, after all.  My madness really does have a method.  =)

"The miracle isn't that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the courage to start." 

- John "The Penguin" Bingham


  1. Very inspiring, Em! The training you're doing to build yourself is all about the courage to start, rather than what comes out of the finish. So proud of you and I will be there in spirit cheering you on! :) No matter what happens at the finish line. PS I love that picture of the oasis in the desert comparing it to Taylor St. lol.

    1. Thanks so much, V! I am so glad to hear now that you'll actually be in Chicago the weekend of the marathon - it will be SO GOOD to see you in person! I will be shedding tears for sure, and for various reason. =D Miss you and can't wait to catch up!

  2. Make sure you have plenty of Kleenex handy throughout the Chicago Marathon. Marathoners tend to cry during more places than just the finish line! Good luck!

    1. Excellent call on having tons o' Kleenex on hand! I wonder if the aid stations and the medical stations have boxes and boxes of them in supply (especially as you get closer to the finish line)? Heck, I should just strap a box or two to my back, LOL. =D

  3. I can't believe you only have THREE more long runs left before the big day!! Awesome. Try to relax and enjoy every step (literally and figuratively) of your journey towards becoming a marathoner. A marathon is much more than the actual day of the race. Your training and all the adventures leading up to race day are just as memorable and satisfying! Don't over-think things too much and remember that you can't control the future, you can just live in the present. You're gonna do great no matter what!!!! We're here to support you :)

    Oh and I totally keep Kleenex in my running pouch too :) It always comes in handy!

    1. I really appreciate the pep talk, Irina - thanks so much! I'm trying very hard not to overthink the end goal of crossing the finish line... but you're so right that the journey of self-discovery in getting to the goal is just as much a part of the goal as the goal itself!

      Indeed, Kleenex ALWAYS comes in handy. It's like the all-purpose tool for runners! =D

  4. I love this post because this is how all distance runners feels. (Okay, maybe I'm not qualified to speak on behalf of all distance runners, but I know that I have for sure felt this way before.) I often had fears that I'd get injured on my 20 miler or during the taper. (That's why people go so crazy during taper time.)

    You are doing awesome right now. Just focus on those things you can control. (Hm. I need to take my own advice, I think!)*

    1. It is very comforting to know that others feel this same way when trying to cover seemingly unsurmountable distances. I've heard it said many times, too, that even after running numerous marathons you still get anxious about whether or not you can do it. And I TOTALLY agree with you on the fear of injury, I am seriously contemplating putting bubble wrap around myself and never leaving the house in the final weeks leading up to the marathon. =D

      And yes - newest mantra is: Focus on those things you can control, don't worry about what you can't control!!!!!

  5. If you want to finish the marathon, you WILL finish the marathon. I have faith in you. Have faith in yourself :-) But, just know, if for some reason you can't do it, there will be other marathons. And we'll cheer for you just as much :-)

    1. You rock, Erin. Thanks so much for the encouragement and the positivity - I really do appreciate it. Our early-morning runs have been great in keeping me motivated and feeling good, and it's been so helpful hearing about all of your own experiences, both good and bad!!! And thank goodness that there will always be other marathons. Is it bad that I've already started debating if I should look at other marathons after Chicago, in late October and early November, just in case I need to plot my "revenge"? =D

  6. You are AMAZING my friend....I am so proud of you~ Those long runs are exhausting I am sure but you can do it! Going out and doing it (whether you finish or not) is a huge accomplishment! I am still recovering from the injury but this week was the magic week for me! I did the elliptical for the first time is almost 3 months, with no pain at all! Woot!

    1. Thank you so much, Shannon. I am so proud of you, too, for all that you have been battling through and for all your courage. Congratulations on doing the elliptical for the first time in 3 months without any pain, that is AWESOME! There is no better encouragement than to see progress in healing! I am praying for you as always!

  7. The great things about us vs the Olympians is that if we eff up and are not severly hurt we can find another race a few weeks later. Do you read Running Gingerfoxxx? Her first marathon was in the 90s, and it was awful, so she ran one, much better a few weeks later.

    A blog can make you more vulnerable, but I thiink you will find that most readers are caring and have your best interest in mind. If you cannot finish for any reason, I am sure it will be with your best interest in mind.

    But, girl! Quit thinking that way! Look at what you are accomplishing! New PDR after PDR! Keep being a running best! And I know that after your 20 you will know you can do that marathon. That is how I felt after my frist 20 :)

    1. Thank GOD that if we eff up that we have plenty of other opportunities in other weeks without the world having to know about our challenges! Per your suggestion, I read Gingerfoxxx's recount of her Rockford Marathon and her Indiana marathon a few weeks later - so inspiring. It must have taken her so much courage to try again so quickly (I am terrified just trying to get back out there after one bad training run!)

      You are absolutely right that most blog readers are only supportive and caring. I've read several blog entries on things like DNFs, and am always blown away by how supportive is, no matter what. There's beauty in just being human, isn't there?

      Thank you for the awesome words of inspiration and positivity, as ALWAYS. I have found every piece of running advice you've ever given me to be true, so through your words of wisdom I trust that I will be feeling good after the 20-miler, as well. =D