This past October, I watched as so many friends flocked to the Windy City to participate in the 40th annual Chicago Marathon. I have long here how amazing this event is and have to admit, I was slightly jealous not to be there. I live close enough that I could have made the road trip just to go and meet so many inspiring runners, and I was very tempted to do just that. However, it would have been far better to go and run.
In November of 2016, I ran my first BQ. It only gave me a 15 second buffer so I knew I wasn’t getting into Boston with that, but it was good enough to get an automatic entry into the 2017 Chicago Marathon. Unfortunately, there were a lot of question marks in my life at the time and I just couldn’t commit to being there a year later. However, this year I would again run a marathon fast enough to qualify me for the 2018 Chicago Marathon. Registration opened up for me at the end of October, but I have yet to register. So what’s the hold up?
After my first BQ last November, I trained for more than 6 months to prepare for my next attempt. I had two half marathons in my plan that served as training runs. That’s a normal training cycle. That’s healthy. What wasn’t healthy was the decisions I made at the end of that cycle.
My goal race was Ottawa. It went ok, but not nearly close enough to my goal. The next weekend I had planned to run a half, but at an easy run pace. I ended up pacing a 3:35 marathon. Three weeks after that, I decided to attempt another BQ before summer training. I managed a BQ with a 2:38 buffer, but I had just completed 3 marathons in the span of 5 weeks, and my body was done.
I took two weeks off and began training again to go sub 3 in the marathon just 9 weeks later. I should have seen the warning signs. I had 3 or 4 tempo runs planned with 4 miles in each workout. I managed 3 miles the first tempo run and just declined from there. When I got to my fall marathon in Erie, I ran the slowest marathon I had ever run. 5 weeks later I would run another marathon with the intention of doing it at an easy pace. It was still a struggle and I finished 20 minutes slower than I did in Erie.
I haven’t been smart this year. I mortgaged more than half my year to chase down that BQ. I got it and in any other year, I would’ve made the cutoff. This year I came up 45 seconds short. Now, here I am in November trying to figure out how to get myself back to normal so I can train for a sub 3 in a spring marathon. Last Thursday I ran a Turkey Trot and finished the 5k in 21:49 which is about 2 minutes slower than any other 5k I’ve done. I’m obviously not ready to resume training.
Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what’s wrong. I’m waiting to hear back from some doctors to see if they have an idea. I don’t know how long term this is. I may not be ready for a spring marathon which would mean I have to put all my eggs in the basket of an early Fall marathon again, if that. If I do Chicago, I want to do it with a strong effort and not struggle through training and then have a rough race.
So with just days before registration closes for Chicago, I have a decision to make. Do I go for it, with the uncertainty of how well I’ll be able to run in 2018 or do I let it pass and wait to experience it another year?
Help a runner out, what do you think?