No second guessing, 2019 was a win

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The Mother’s Day 5K was my favorite race of 2019. I wasn’t expecting much from myself but ran as hard as I possibly could, felt awesome (in a brutally painful kind of way) while doing it and just missed a PR. I can’t wait to have more days like this. (Photo by Maine Running Photos)

It is easy right now to look at 2019 as kind of a shitshow in terms of running. My knee problems from 2017 reared their ugly head, I strained a hip flexor, and my left hamstring hasn’t really been right since the last month of marathon training.

 

My aches and pains are on the mend thanks to a lot of physical therapy, a lot of rest, a lot of trying to do things the right away.

That being said, I’m only running for 5 minutes at a time right now (5 minute jog, 2 minute walk, repeat). I’m feeling better every day, but it is hard not to be frustrated that I am not training for the Mid Winter Classic the way I want to be.

It would be easy to look at that, to focus on my body falling apart when I pushed toward my big audacious goals, and think of 2019 as a failure. After all, the biggest race of my year broke me.

2019 was far from a failure.

2019 was a year of huge wins.

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Riding the pain train at the Chicago Marathon. I was in a world of hurt right here. My right knee and left hamstring were screaming at me. I didn’t totally quit, though, and while I didn’t reach my ultimate goal of 3:47, I did set a marathon PR. You can never be upset with a marathon PR, especially when your body is revolting on you so much.

Yeah, it wasn’t perfect and I’m dealing with the fallout, but I met all but one of the goals I set for myself this year. I proved to myself that I can train harder enough to run another marathon. I figured out what my body is capable of and what goals I really want to chase in the future.

 

How can that be considered anything but a huge success?

That list of goals I set for myself in 2019 was geared toward one big goal, the one goal I didn’t meet this year. Running high-for-me mileage (a 50-mile week and a 200-mile month), running a sort-of-fast-for-me half marathon (sub 1:45), running a decent effort in the 5K (sub 23 minutes), losing 20 pounds, were all part of the process of preparing to run a 3:47 at the Chicago Marathon.

I met each of the goals I set leading up to the Chicago Marathon.

• I ran 1:44:59 at the Lake Auburn Half.

• I just missed my 5K PR, running 21:36 at the Mother’s Day 5K.

• By giving up beer and cleaning up my diet a bit, I lost 20 pounds (I’ve gained some of that back since the marathon).

• I ran 50 miles in a week and 200 miles in a month.

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The Lake Auburn Half was another huge win. I started off easily, pushed myself harder than I ever have in the second half of the race, and gained a ton of confidence. Days like this are why I love running so much. (Photo by Maine Running Photos)

If you have followed along at all, you know the only goal I didn’t meet in 2019 was finally running that 3:47 marathon. I was on pace for a long time at the Chicago Marathon, but the second half of the race was a painfest thanks to those hamstring and knee injuries, and I wasn’t quite tough enough in the last 5 miles (oh, and I had two bathroom breaks before that and that cost me some time) to finally run 3:47.

 

But I did fight my ass off to set a PR at Chicago, finishing in 3:49:45. I wish I had been a little tougher and hadn’t quit on myself a few times in that race, but I’m extremely proud that I handled the pain in those last 5 miles much better than I did at the end of the Sugarloaf Marathon in 2017. I stuck my nose in it, I didn’t allow myself to completely quit, and I proved to myself I could do hard things.

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Chicago hurt, A LOT, and I’m still dealing with the fall out, but WHAT A DAY. It was such a huge win. It was probably my last marathon and I’m OK going out on this note.

If that’s not a win, my standards are way too fucking high.

 

As I reflect on 2019 I will think about all of those successes. I will also think about the things that went wrong. The wins show me that if I put in the work I can accomplish the things I want to. The losses show me that I have to work that much harder to continue to be able to accomplish the things I want to.

Moving forward, I have no big audacious goals for 2020. All I want to do is get myself to a spot both physically and mentally where I can enjoy running again. The goal is to do the work to make my body better, to get stronger and fitter to try to prevent these injuries that keep putting me on the shelf from putting me on the shelf. I have started doing that work, but I have also cut myself some slack. I worked hard for a lot of 2019, it’s OK to step back and refresh a little bit.

At some point in the future, I will set some goals to chase after. I will probably never run another marathon, but I will set some lofty goals. I will try to run some fast races. If I learned anything in 2019 it is that I am capable of reaching those high standards I set for myself and I enjoy doing the work I have to do to get there.

Small progress is better than no progress

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Woodway jogs at Starting Line Run Studio on Sunday morning. This felt like progress.

All the ways we have as runners to measure progress – more miles on a daily and weekly basis; faster intervals during the mid-week workout; a faster 5K PR; a few more miles tacked onto that Sunday long run – none of them are relevant to me right now. Sure, I want to get faster, I want to be running for more than 3 minutes at a time. I’m a competitor, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about that stuff.

But right now, the only measure of progress I’m worried about is feeling better. Was my knee not quite so sore and did the soreness hold off for longer? Did that achy hamstring just feel tired or was it crampy and pulling? Did I feel like I could keep running at the end of each 3 minute rep without increasing the level of pain or the level of my breathing?

As I work my way back from an achy left hamstring and a case of patellofemoral pain syndrome (i.e. runner’s knee) in my right knee, the only thing I’m worried about is feeling better. Sunday morning as I jogged for 3 minutes at time on the treadmill at 10 minute per mile pace, I wasn’t worried about how slow it was or how many miles I was going to cover. No, instead I was checking in on my knee and my hamstring. I was thinking about my form, making sure not to over stride and heal strike, and monitoring the situation in my legs.

Sunday was a good step in the right direction. Last Wednesday, after an hour of physical therapy in the morning, I did my jog/walk along the East End Trail in the evening. It didn’t take long for my knee to hurt and my hamstring to cramp. I was already bummed out watching everyone else in the Mid-Winter Classic training group take off for their “beat your last interval” workout, so the pain in my legs put me in a pretty foul mood.

Things turned around slightly on Friday, when I took my “run” to the treadmill. I wasn’t nearly as sore or crampy and almost felt like a runner. Sunday was even better.

It’s hard not to feel discouraged when I’ve lost so much fitness and jogging/walking for 50 minutes is the most I’m able to handle right now. It’s hard not to get discouraged watching other people do the type of workouts you want to be doing, but am not quite physically able to do right now.

Sometimes though, you have to put things into perspective. Someone much smarter than I am recently told me that instead of comparing myself to others and trying to compete with them, I have to accept where I am at. Their journey is not my journey. That is not where I am at in my life, I shouldn’t feel bad about it, just accept it and do what I can. 

So, that has been my plan of attack. I’m not always as motivated as I would like to be, but right now my only goal is to do what I am capable of and feel good about it. I do my physical therapy every day. I run every other day. If I feel up to it, and my legs aren’t telling me to lay off, I’ll do some body weight exercises. Whatever I can do is what I can do. Whatever anyone else can do doesn’t matter. 

I feel like I’m moving in the right direction. I know I have a long way to go, and I will most definitely get discouraged by the process sometimes, but all I can do right now is stick my nose in it and do the work I am capable of doing.

Small progress is better than no progress. No matter how you measure it.

Symbols of excellence … or of just being better

img_4664When I stepped on the treadmill Monday morning I pulled off my hoodie. Underneath, I was wearing a blue and black singlet with a huge Chicago Marathon logo on the chest.

I felt a little silly wearing a singlet on the treadmill when I was going to be doing less than 40 minutes of work. I wore a singlet a lot in training this summer, but for me putting on a singlet is like putting on a game jersey, a uniform. Putting on a singlet means, it’s race day. It’s a signal to my brain that this is different than every other day. It’s time to perform, to put all that training to use.

In other words, it’s symbolic of the significance of the day.

Monday morning was nothing special. Heck, I was going to be walking more than I was going to be running. I planned to be on the treadmill for 38 minutes and cover about 3.1 miles. In other words, I was going to do 5K about a minute faster than it took me to “race” the distance 8 1/2 years ago when I “ran” my first race.

Like I said, nothing special.

But I wore that singlet for a reason. Just like race day, it was symbolic. I wore that singlet to remind myself that I am capable of big things, despite the way my body feels right now. Less than three months ago, I ran a freakin’ marathon. Yes, it chewed me up and spit me out, left me broken and bruised, but I ran a marathon. And I ran it faster than I’ve ever run 26.2 miles before.

So yeah, I’m a little broken and not quite feeling like the dude who ran a marathon on Oct. 13, but that singlet was a reminder that I am indeed able to do the things I want to do. If I stick my nose in it, do the work I’m supposed to do, the work I need to do to prepare for those things, I am capable. I am able to do the work. I have done it before. And big things can happen when I am willing and able.

That singlet was a reminder to get to work doing those things.

Running is not a heck of a lot of fun right now. Actually, I’m not even running that much. I hop on the treadmill every other day, walk for 5 minutes, then do about six intervals of 3 minutes jogging, 2 minutes walking. I’m actually spending a lot more time doing physical therapy, trying to repair my body and strengthen it to hold up to doing the type of running I want to be doing.

That’s fine. I’m OK with that … for now. I had a great year of running and a couple of stellar races, it’s actually a good time to give myself a break, assess where I am at, and fix the things that are broken. It’s a great time for me to create new routines, new habits related to fitness and running. If it was forced upon me because I got so banged up running the marathon, then that is a blessing.

I may not feel like the guy who ran the Chicago Marathon a little over two months ago, I may have felt silly wearing that singlet on the treadmill for a run/walk Monday morning, but right now I’m just focused on doing the right things. I can’t compare myself to where I was, I can only do the work to get back to where I was – no, scratch that, I can only do the work to be better than I was.

That singlet was a reminder of what I’m capable of, but also a kick in the ass to be even better.

Re-thinking my 2020 goals

img_4612-1At this time last year, I sat down and wrote down a list of goals for 2019. I did the same thing in 2018, 2017, 2016 … oh, you get the point.

And goals have been on my mind a lot in the days and weeks and now months since the Chicago Marathon. I have done some brainstorming, thinking about the races I would like to run, the times I would like to chase.

I think it is time to pump the brakes on all of that.

It’s time to stop thinking about big, fast goals, and time to worry about getting myself healthy enough to run. I’m working on that, but I’m only running for 3 minutes at a time right now (jog for 3 minutes, walk for 2 minutes), and it doesn’t feel great.

So if I’m not really running, why am I worrying about goals?

The reason I set goals is because it motivates me to do the work. I’ll run without a goal race or goal races on the calendar, but it is pretty half-ass, and I don’t get a ton of joy out of that. When I have a goal, I’ll work toward that goal, stick to my routines, and I’ll enjoy running a lot more.

Right now, though, that is not the best use of my mental energy. All thinking about goals is doing is bumming me out about what I can’t do right now.  I can’t really train for the Mid Winter Classic. I can’t do any speed work. I can’t do long runs. I can’t REALLY run.

So instead of my list of running goals looking similar to the one I had last year (run a 3:47 marathon, a sub 1:45 half marathon, a sub 23 5K, a 50-mile week and a 200-mile month) it will look more like the last goal on my short list for 2018 (JUST FUCKING RUN).

That’s it. My only goal to start as we close in on 2020 is to do the work I need to do so I can run without significant pain. That is going to mean a lot more than running and not a ton of running to start. As I start to feel better, start running on a more regular basis, and start actually training (if that ever happens), I’ll plot out some goals, maybe even some of those goals I’ve been thinking about for the last two months. But right now, those goals I was thinking about (setting a 4-mile PR and place in my age group in the Maine Track Club grand prix are off the table.

For now, my only goal is to do the work to feel good about running. I’m in no position to expect anything else.

Running (a bit) and frustrated

IMG_4610Wednesday morning I jogged on a treadmill for about 5 minutes. Wednesday afternoon I ran/walked 2.5 miles. Since I had run just 13 miles since the marathon and had five weeks of absolutely no running, I should have been over the moon that I was able to hit the streets and jog for a little bit. And yeah, I was happy, but I was also super discouraged.

Now, before anyone tells me not to be discouraged, to just do the work and I’ll get back, plus, it’s was a really good year until after the marathon, I know, I get it. I’m extremely grateful for all the miles, for the three really good races I ran this year, for finding my love for running again. And yeah, I know from experience, I can do the work to ease the pain in my knees and get to a place where I can train the way I want to and love running again.

You don’t need to tell me, I have had weeks to think about it.

This has been a good year and I have accomplished a lot. I nearly set a PR in the 5K in a race I figured I’d be lucky to get within 2 minutes of it. I negative split a half marathon, pushing myself to harder for that second 6.whatever miles than I have maybe ever. I ran my fastest marathon ever despite a knee that hurt like a mutha for 13.1 miles and has kept me on the shelf and off the streets for more than a month since.

But when I went for that jog/walk on Wednesday afternoon, I felt like all that hard work I did this year was gone. All the effort I put in last year to get healthy enough to really train, and all the fitness I gained this year, gone. I have gained weight (funny how when you keep eating like you are training for a marathon but aren’t running a step how that happens), I’ve lost strength, and my motivation is no existent.

The plan for running right now is to jog for 3 minutes and walk for 2, for no longer than 30 minutes. A minute into my first 3 minute segment I was out of breathe. I lasted 30 minutes out on the road, but it wasn’t fun. I felt sluggish, sore and frustrated.

But it’s a start, I guess.

I have a long way to go. My knee still isn’t 100 percent and I’m terribly out of shape. I’m still planning to run the Jimmy the Greeks 4-miler and the Mid Winter Classic, but neither race is going to be pretty. And yeah, I know, just have fun … I get that, but I want to race. Right now, I’m not even in shape to run, much less race.

I’ll find a way to deal with my frustration, maybe by continuing to do the work I need to do to feel good again. I know this emotion is a waste of time. I need to accept where I’m at and do the work to overcome this obstacle.

I’ve done it before, why can’t I do it again?

Broken down old bum

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Cold, wet, rainy and in pain. That was my Tuesday.

I thought a full week of rest after the marathon was enough to get back on my feet and slowly start running again.

I was wrong.

I thought a week later, after taking four full days off from running, everything would be recovered enough for me to run pain free.

I was wrong, again.

Fifteen minutes into that first run, seven days after setting a 27 second personal best at the Chicago Marathon, my right knee started to hurt. That is the same knee that put me on the shelf in October 2017 (my left knee was pretty bad then too, but thankfully, no longer seems to be an issue). It is also the same knee that started to ache just past the half marathon in Chicago and derailed my quest to finally run 3:47 (my left hamstring had something to do with that, too).

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Working out … or taking lame mirror selfies?

I took Tuesday off completely, then hit the gym on Wednesday for some physical therapy/strength work and time on the elliptical. Everything felt OK after the gym session, so I decided to try a few more miles on Thursday. Same thing. After about 15 minutes, my knee started to hurt. I slogged through another 25 minutes, jogging about a 5K.

I wanted to give it another shot, so I decided to run a few more miles Friday morning. It wasn’t any better, and to make matters worse, my adductors and hamstrings were on fire after all that PT on Wednesday. I actually think I re-tweaked my left hamstring, the one that was giving me trouble before and during the marathon.

Yes, I’m a broken down old bum.

So I didn’t run Saturday, instead going to the UMaine football game and eating way too much while tailgating. Sunday I was tired, and a little grumpy because of how my knee felt, so I took another full day off. Monday, I went back to the gym, rode the elliptical for 40 minutes and did a bunch of physical therapy – minus the split squats and side lunges that tore up my hamstrings and adductors last week.

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The second or third time I’ve been to UMaine since I graduated 22 years ago. Worst alumni ever.

I woke up Tuesday morning planning another trip to the gym, but as I drove past the Back Cove Trail I couldn’t resist the urge to give running another shot. I took extra time to warm up in the cold and the rain, doing all my dynamic stretches and form drills, before starting to jog. I jogged across the parking lot to the porta potties and thought, “Hey, I feel OK. This might happen.” After a pit stop, I turned back toward my car, jogged onto the path, and thought maybe, just maybe, the worse pain I would feel on this run would be from cold hands (when you don’t plan to run, you usually aren’t prepared for the conditions) and that achy left hamstring.

My hamstring tugged a few times, but wasn’t so bad (it’s more sore today). And for the first mile or so, my knee was OK. I would feel some pain in that spot on the outside of my right left, just below my knee cap, but I was optimistic it was going to be OK.

Until it wasn’t.

A mile and a half in, my knee was all I could think about. Two miles in, I stopped for a brief walk, which seemed to ease the pain a bit, so I tried to run again. I made it up the slight hill just before the bridge, then stopped again, with traffic whizzing by on I-95 just on the other side of that jersey barrier. Every time I pulled my knee up through my gate cycle and push it back to the ground, it hurt. Well, actually, it hurt all the time.

I decided to run again, painfully making my way down the hill and when I was done 3 miles, I decided to walk the last .75 miles to my car. I was upset, angry and feeling defeated. I was also stubborn and was much in the mood for a scenic walk along the Atlantic Ocean, so I started running again. It hurt, yeah, it pretty much sucked, but somehow, I made it back to my car, ran past it for another quarter mile so I could finish off a 4-miler.

And I promptly decided that I won’t be – I can’t –  running for a while.

A part of me is not terribly worried about my current condition. This is the same pain I felt in Oct. 2017, when I was eventually diagnosed with arthritis. I assume there isn’t much I can do about it, other than give it a break and get into the gym for as much physical therapy and strength work as possible.

Plus, once I was diagnosed and did a ton of physical therapy (and had a needle full of cortisone jammed into my knee) I was able to get back to running on a regular basis with few, if any issues. From time to time my knee would bark at me, like in the days after the Kennebec River Rail Trail Half Marathon last September, but for the most part, I have run with little if any pain in my knees.

Until Chicago.

Which makes me wonder, is this just a case of: My body can’t handle the rigors of the marathon and once I recover, I can get back to running on a regular basis (as long as I do my strength and physical therapy work), as long as I don’t ask my body to run another marathon, or is there more to it than that? Is this pain in my knee going to keep cropping up, now that I’m an old fart and working with an already messed up joint?

I don’t quite know what the next step is. I’m not going to run for a while and I’m going to try to get into the gym to spend some time on the elliptical and doing all the strength work I can handle.

Maybe it is time to get this thing checked out again. It probably wouldn’t hurt to have a doctor look at it again, just to make sure I’m not actually shredding my knee to bits, and maybe I can get a little relief in the process (plus, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get this left hamstring looked at).

I don’t know what I’ll do next. I do know that running isn’t really an option right now. I could probably gut it out and be miserable, but fuck that shit. That’s no fun.

It will be hard not being able to run, to have that not be a part of my routine, and to not become a lazy slug because I can’t log miles. Hitting the gym and trying to get myself to a place physically where I can run without feeling like my knee has been slugged by a baseball bat will have to become my routine. That will have to be the thing that gets me out of bed and keeps me from feeling useless. In the past, not running has had taken a toll on me mentally. When I can’t get out the door to run and to chase my goals, I go into a funk, I get depressed and I hide out even more than usual.

Finding a way to combat that will be as big a challenge as getting myself healthy enough physically so that I can run again. And I’ll have to do a better job then I did today, when all I could think of at the gym was that I wasn’t running. It bummed me out and I bailed before I actually got any work done.

That’s not going to help, so I really need to find a way to not only change my physical condition, but my mental as well.

Because the only thing worse than being a broken down old man is being a broken down old man who won’t leave the house.

Chicago Marathon 2.0

IMG_4493.jpgSomewhere between mile 19 and mile 20, a runner just in front of me took a few steps to the side of the road, stopped to walk and muttered, “fudge,” only he didn’t say fudge.

My thought as I ran past was, “I feel ya brother.”

About 15 minutes later, I took a few steps to the side of the road, stopped to walk and muttered, “fudge,” only I didn’t say fudge.

For 21 miles of the Chicago Marathon, I was on pace to shatter my PR and finally, FINALLY, break that elusive 3:47 goal I have been chasing for the last 6 years. The race really started to hurt a long time before that, but it wasn’t until I finished mile 21 that I really started to feel all the aches and pains in my old body and started to crash and burn.

My fifth attempt at the marathon taught me a lot, but more than anything it taught me what I had already learned in my previous four marathons: These things are hard. For a broken old fart like me, they are really hard.

But more importantly, I learned that there is still a little bit of fight in this old broken down body of mine, I just wish I had figured that out a few miles earlier.

I had a handful of goals for the Chicago Marathon, the most important race of the year for me. 3:47 was at the top of that list. Setting a personal best was next, followed by feeling good about myself. Lastly, I didn’t want to finish the race saying, “I never want to run a marathon again.”

I definitely accomplished one of those goals and definitely didn’t accomplish another. The other two, well, the jury is still out.

IMG_4498.jpgI didn’t finish in 3:47, but I did PR. My time of 3:49:45 is 27 seconds faster than I ran at the Maine Marathon in 2016. It is also 7 minutes, 10 seconds faster than I ran at the Chicago Marathon in 2014.

There was a lot of time Sunday where I felt pretty good about myself, and a there was some time when I felt disappointed in myself. So that one is a mixed bag.

As far as wanting to run another marathon … well, that is very much up in the air at this point.

My race plan Sunday morning was to start with the 3:50 pace group and see how I felt. I’d run with them for a little bit and if I felt like I could run faster, I would leave the group. If I felt like I needed to stick with them, I’d stick with them. I didn’t really consider what would happen if I felt like I couldn’t keep up with the 3:50 group.

I ran the first mile or so of the race with the pace group, trying to settle into whatever pace the two pace-setters were setting. I also had to pee because the lines for the porta-pottys before the race were absurd and I didn’t feel like finding a bush and relieving myself in front of 45,000 other people (no one else seemed to concerned about that, though … people were peeing everywhere), so I at some point early I wanted to leave the group and get a bit of a lead on them, so when I found a porta-potty, I wouldn’t fall too far behind.

I found the bathroom just after the 5K mark and took my chance. When I got back on course, I caught right up to the pace group and tacked onto the back. The group, however, was all jammed together and there was no room to run, so after half a mile or so I pulled out around the group and went on my own.

It was soon after leaving the group that I made a choice. My GPS was pretty useless, so I didn’t know at any given time what pace I was running. I manually kept my laps, so I knew what I was running in mile in. I was mostly between 8:35 and 8:40 pace so I decided to keep running how I felt and go for it. I made a choice that this was a day to go push it and actually see what I was capable of. I didn’t know if that would blow up in my face, but I was determined to give it a try.

And regardless of what happened, regardless of the fact that the last 10K of the race was a pretty terrific struggle, I do not regret that decision. Not one bit. Yes, I told myself before the race I would be OK if I didn’t leave it all out there and ended the race feeling like I had run a good race but wasn’t totally destroyed. Once I got into the race though, I decided that wasn’t good enough. I wanted to race. I wanted to push myself. I wanted go for it.

That was a great decision until about mile 22. I clicked off a bunch of 8:30 miles-8:40 miles until mile 10, when I made a second bathroom break. I quickly got back on track and threw in some really good splits.

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These are not the right miles because I missed one of my splits. This is actually mile 11 to mile 21.

I was on a roll despite a left hamstring that hasn’t felt quite right in the last two weeks and started barking around mile 5, and my arthritic right knee, which started to hurt at the half.

But when I crossed the mile 21 point, it all started to catch up to me. My knee was really bothering me and my legs were starting to get heavy. I slowed to 9:02 in mile 22.

I don’t regret much of what I did on Sunday, but looking back, there are two things – or two miles – I do regret. I let the pain and suffering get into my head in mile 23 and I stepped off the side of the course to walk for a little bit. I was hurt. I was suffering. I felt defeated. I was ready to quit.

I sulked my way through a 9:54 mile and forgot all about that 3:47 goals, I was nervous I wasn’t going to finish. I was having flashbacks of that awful final 10K at Sugarloaf and convinced I would never run another marathon.

Somehow, I sucked it up and ran an 8:33 mile, but then I quit again, running mile 25 in 10:02.

But then I got a little pissed off and challenged myself. I was upset that I had pretty much cost myself that 3:47 by quitting on myself — TWICE — but after a little math I realized that I still had a chance to PR. I had 1.2 miles to go, if I couldn’t run 1.2 miles, well, what I was doing out here anyway?

I ran through the wall of sound created by the crowds lining both sides of the street, fighting the urge to walk because I knew if I walked, my PR was still going to be that 3:50:12 I ran at the Maine Marathon. At this point, that was unacceptable.

I made the turn into Grant Park and up one of the few hills on the course, and just before turning to run the final 200 meters of the course, looked to my right and saw the 3:50 pace leaders. Sweet, I thought, I’m definitely going to break 3:50. Then I heard the 3:50 pacers shouting at their group and was glad I made the decision a long time ago to leave them. I’m not sure I could have taken 3 hours and 50 minutes of pace leaders yelling at me.

So I took off, wanting to get away from the yellers and wanting to finish as far until 3:50 as I could at that point. I pounded my fist into my chest a couple of times and let out a yell as I crossed the finish line, much different than the curse words I spewed at the 2014 Chicago Marathon.

I was glad to be done. I was glad to PR. I was glad to be able to push myself through this after the shitshow at Sugarloaf and after the two months I was unable to run shortly after that. I was also grateful that the strained hip flexor that put me on the shelf for two weeks this summer didn’t completely derail me.

Chicago was a win. I wanted a little more, but I cannot be upset with a marathon finish and a marathon PR. It was two years ago, almost to the day, that I had to skip my leg of the MDI Marathon relay because of my cranky old knees. I didn’t know when I’d be able to run again, much less if I’d ever be able to run another marathon.

So yeah, Sunday was a big win.