Running for Me: Marathon Grudge Match #ChiMarathon

Apparently it’s happening. Thanks to winning a spot in the lottery, this October, I will face the Chicago Bank of America Marathon, alone.

See you in October, Chicago!
See you in October, Chicago!

I revisit the marathon distance – potentially for the last time – to prove something to myself.

I’ve touched on this a little bit in the lead-up to my effort to get a PR at the Princess Half Marathon in February, but it occurs to me that I haven’t gotten too deeply into the topic.

Why do I feel the need to attempt another marathon, and why do I want to do it alone?

I have to start by saying, I’m so incredibly grateful to have a supportive husband who has run almost all my races with me, at my pace. He didn’t have to and I know I slowed him down in those races.

I’m also super grateful that our efforts at the runDisney events over the years inspired my sister to take up running as well, and I’ve had a blast running various races alongside her as we chased our goals (even though she’s got a current half marathon PR time that’s 5 minutes faster than mine… grrr…).

But this year, I’m focussing on running for me.

In the efforts I’ve put forward since February of 2012 when I ran my very first half marathon I’ve gone from “Can I do this” to “I wonder how fast I can do this”. With the exception of the 2013 Chicago Women’s Half Marathon and the 2014 Glass Slipper Challenge, I’ve always trained and  raced along-side someone else. My success or failure in any given race was inexorably linked to someone else. Or so I thought.

When I look back at my Garmin Statistics leading up to my frustrating experience at the Space Coast Marathon last year, or the Goofy Challenge, as much as I was frustrated at the length of time it took me to complete those races at the time, in retrospect, it’s amazing that I finished at all. I ran less than 300 miles last year. Total. Including the Space Coast Marathon in December. My monthly distance maxed out at 43 miles – in May! You read that right. That’s a total of 43 miles for the month, not for the week. To be fair to myself, I was injured throughout the summer, but still…

I found I was laying some blame for my under training at other people’s feet as well. Sure, it’s a beautiful morning, but I can’t go for a run until so-and-so gets up, or I have to wait until Person X gets home from work, and the like. I knew I was not taking responsibility and accomplishing my own goals because I was afraid to hurt people’s feelings, or felt like I owed my time to others.

I felt like my pace should be improving, too. I looked at other, faster runners with less experience, or more weight to lose than I, or who I just in general felt like I should be able to pace with (a dangerous and probably unhealthy game of comparison, of course). I knew my training paces had to be more challenging, which meant more time on my own. It also meant moving from a generic “just get through it” training plan to something more goal-specific and personalized. I had to work harder AND smarter.

There’s a limit to the number races I can do this year. We’re working on getting Greg his Green Card (it seems like an eternity now) and we’re inclined to take a contract this fall that will mean we won’t get to do the Space Coast Half Marathon or the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend this year (goodbye, Goofy). This bums me out to no end, but I’m trying to look at it as a positive. That’s a lot of saved money, and it means I’ll only have one race to focus on. One race to work towards, to give my best effort.

The brilliant McMillan Personalized Training got me to my goal at the Princess Half Marathon in 100% humidity with only one month’s worth of a plan. Now I’ve purchased a 5 month training plan to get me across the finish line in Chicago. Based on my 2:45:26 half marathon time, the current McMillan pace predictor shows me capable of running a marathon in 5:48:10 if I train properly. That’s over an hour faster than the time we ran the WDW Marathon this year.

So. Here we go.

No more excuses. This time, it’s all me.

Do you run your races alone, or with a running partner? How does that work for you?