Yesterday I was reading Jenny’s first post in her Chicago Marathon prep series and realized there are so many things I did to prepare for Portland last year that I am not doing this year.
I’ve got all of the actual running stuff covered, but I was doing a lot more in the Motivational Department last year. I think part of that had to do with being scared as hell to actually take on 26.2 miles, but also it was fun to be immersed in training recaps, marathon documentaries and running books. As I head into the final weeks of training for Chicago I need to get back to that!
If nothing else is true, miles 16 – 24 were a total mental battle for me last year. I was hurting physically, as one traditionally does in a marathon, but I was worse off mentally. I never thought about quitting, but I thought about a lot of other things that put myself down.
Instead of being proud of myself for setting my mind to a pretty big goal and then accomplishing it, I chastised myself for all of the little things I could have done differently during the months leading up to Portland.
I imagine that’s a pretty common thing for runners to do during marathons, especially first marathons, but I don’t want to take that same mindset into Chicago.
Truthfully, some days I still feel underprepared for Chicago in comparison to where I was at last year for Portland. I’m running many of my long run miles slower and I’ve done fewer long-long runs. That’s just part of the plan I’m trying out this season and I know it’s a proven method, but that doesn’t mean some aspects of it aren’t playing mind games with me now. Because of those mind games, I really need to focus on things that will motivate and inspire me so that even
if when things get tough in Chicago I keep pushing on. Relentless forward progress.
One thing that I’ve already started doing after reading Jenny’s post is to bookmark a bunch of Chicago race recaps to read, including this one from my coach.
Jesica, my coach, is someone I consider to be a very strong marathon runner. I admire so many qualities about her as a person and an athlete. She has completed eight full marathons and we all know running marathons builds character!
When I meet someone who has completed multiple marathons I have this bad habit of assuming marathons are relatively easy for them. That’s such a bad assumption because a PR attempt is always going to be tough, and running fast for 26+ miles must come with an incredible set of difficulties. Still, I tend to think that someone like Jesica would never think of the marathon as tough, like I do.
Reading my coach’s recap from BQing at Chicago reminded me that the middle miles are usually tough for everyone. Jesica wrote in her recap, “miles 14 through 19 started to get tough.” Yup. That’s so relatable to me because I remember in Portland miles 15 through 22 were REALLY tough for me.
During mile 18 I figured I would die before I even got to the finish line. I didn’t quit because I thought it would make for a more noble story here on the blog if Adam could post an update saying I died trying to get to that damn finish line.
As much as I remember the really difficult middle miles, equally I remember crossing Broadway Bridge towards the end of the course and feeling so much relief. Once I crossed that bridge I knew the end was near and I was going to finish this thing alive. After that I actually picked up the pace a bit when previously I thought I had nothing left in the tank.
I hope to remember that feeling and that surge of energy when I reach the tough miles in Chicago. Hopefully the memory of kicking into another gear at the end in Portland will remind me to keep trucking along when I want to slow down.
I know that reading through other people’s race recaps and watching inspirational documentaries will help mentally motivate me both before and during the race. I distinctly remember during mile 18, which was probably my toughest mile in Portland, having a running graphic I saw on Pinterest run through my mind over and over again. That graphic helped me keep placing one foot in front of the other. That and I have too much pride to give up.
I think what will really help me push through the tough miles in Chicago is my own marathon running experience. Having a full marathon under my belt no doubt gives me so much more confidence. I feel like I know what to expect and how to prepare myself for it.
Last year I read so many race recaps but none of them really prepared me for how I felt in the endless mile 18 in Portland. Now that I have that learning experience under my belt I can really mentally prepare myself for it, and tell myself “just keep pushing because this will pass and your energy will come back!” That’s huge!
Also, I’ve been looking at weather predictions for this year’s race and it seems like we can expect temps in the 60s which is really nice. I know that may be a little warm for some, but it’s going to feel just right to me. Last year in Portland we reached 80+ degrees and that just added to the overall toughness.
Plus, have I mentioned that Chicago is nice and flat? Not flat like South Florida but pretty flat! I’m very happy about that!
My Chicago journey is to be continued… thanks for following along so far!
Experienced marathoners, was marathon #2 any easier than the first?
How was it different/better/similar?