Sunday morning, I threw on my new singlet (pictured above, it’s pretty sweet and a nice reminder of why I was heading out the door), a pair of half tights and a Chicago Cubs hat, and laced up my running shoes for my last long effort of Chicago Marathon training. 15.5 miles later, with 5 of those a little faster than goal marathon pace (though my goal is still a little up in the air), and it was time to truly start my taper.
The hay, as the saying goes, is in the barn.
As I write this, just a few hours after an easy 5-miler, I am 9 days, 12 hours and 31 minutes from a race I signed up for nearly a year ago, was not sure I’d be able to run three months ago, and spent the last 11 weeks putting in the hardest work I’ve done in a long time to prepare for.
There is nothing left to do now other than to feel good. The workouts are pretty much done, though I will touch on some speed a little bit next Wednesday. The long runs are done as well, I’ll jog an easy 10 miles Sunday, just to spend a little time on my feet.
In the meantime, my mind will be running with thoughts and questions about the race.
What exactly is my goal?
Am I ready?
Do I have the right shoes?
Do I run with a pace group?
What pace group?
On and on they go.
I’m trying to stay relaxed at this point. Like I said, there is nothing more I can do. Once I was able to start running regularly again after straining my hip flexor in early June, I’ve been doing the work. I’ve done the long runs and I’ve done the workouts. I’ve stretched and rolled and done my physical therapy more than ever before.
If it wasn’t enough, I can’t fix that now, I can only do what I am capable of on race day.
And what am I capable of? I really don’t know.
Ask me one day and I’ll tell you I feel so good I should go out with the 3:40 pace group and try to PR by more than 10 minutes. Ask me another day, like yesterday when after a progression run my left hamstring was kind of unhappy, and I’d tell you maybe I should just worry about finishing and never push the pace.
There is plenty of evidence that I’m in shape enough to at least PR. The Lake Auburn Half showed me I still have some speed in my legs. Those 20-milers I ran on back-to-back Sunday showed me I’ve got enough stamina to spend 3-plus hours on my feet and not be completely destroyed. That 1 hour and 45 minute steady state run last Wednesday showed me I’m aerobically in good shape, and that I can battle mental demons and win.
But still, I have no idea what will happen on race day. Chicago will be my fifth marathon and they have been a very mixed bag. My first was just a run, to cover the distance. My second, Chicago in 2014, was the first time I tried for a goal (3:47, which really, despite what I said, is my most important goal at Chicago this year). My third, was great until mile 23-ish, then the shit hit the fan, but it was still great. My fourth, I should not have run because I was out of shape and still kind of injured, and it sucked royally.
So, I’ll spend the next 9-plus days trying not to question myself too much and trying to talk myself into giving it a real shot. For all this talk about goals, the most important thing is to feel good about myself when it is over. I just don’t want to hate the marathon and feel like I F’ it up.
I don’t think that is too much to ask.
I love this display of brutal honesty and self awareness. No one comes clean like you do, Scootah! And no one can question your resolve, regardless of what happens in Chicago. But if you want my honest opinion, I think you’re gonna smoke this muthah! You know I’ll be pulling for you from Maine. Have a blast and I look forward to your race recap. I’ll be running the Maine half this weekend. I’m looking for a 7:50 pace the whole way. Should bring me in at a 1:42 and change.