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Thoughts on Chicago

Entering into Chicago, I had big race plans. I always do… and they always get derailed. In fact, about a month ago, I wasn’t even sure I would make it to Chicago. My training had suffered quite a bit and I knew I would never even come close to my time goal. But Mario convinced me to look at it as a fun run and as an opportunity to run one of the top marathons in the world. Okay fine, a fun run it is.

My plan for Sunday morning was to go with what felt easy. That’s always my plan when I sign up to run a marathon and have missed quite a bit of training. Go with what feels good. No worries, no pressure, just a nice, leisurely 26.2 mile jog.

I’m not quite sure how it works, but it always amazes me how the body can do things on race day that you really didn’t think possible. For a large portion of the race, I was pretty confident I was going to run sub 3:20. My mile splits were consistently between 7:20 and 7:40 and I felt great. I even ran a 7:08 mile without really even trying to go that fast. Yes, I did think to myself that perhaps I was pushing too hard too soon. But then I remembered a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” Perhaps I’ll just experiment and see what I can do.

Never in a race, have the miles gone by so quickly. Typically I dread miles 13-20 because they are always the hardest for me. However, the miles went by so quickly that it just felt like a normal Saturday long run. It wasn’t until mile 18 that I started to feel the consequences of going out so fast. Mile 20 was my first mile over 8:00 and then they progressively got slower from there. But even though the miles got harder physically, I welcomed the mental challenge. As I mentioned in my last post. I’ve been learning a lot about meditation and this was an opportunity for me to see if I could channel my inner Buddha.

There were moments when I thought about how I couldn’t wait for the race to be over. Then I remembered another quote from Peaceful Warrior… “The warrior does not give up what he loves. The warrior finds the love in what he does.” I love running and I have for a very long time. And even though it was really hurting during those last few miles, I was still running, which was something to be thankful for. There was even a point at mile 24 when I wanted to walk so badly. A few things crossed my mind. First, what’s the worst that could happen if I keep running? Pass out? Fall over? Throw up? Since none of those things were happening, I decided to keep going until they did. Then I saw a few people holding signs that read Have Faith. It reminded me of the bracelet I was wearing in honor of my good friend’s husband who recently passed away. On the bracelet are the worlds “Fear not, for I am with you. Isaiah 43:10.” I didn’t walk until I crossed that finish line in 3:26:44, a PR by one minute and with no speed training for the last 3 months.

The Chicago Marathon was an awesome race, and I’m glad I did it. However, I don’t think I’ll ever do it again. Large races aren’t my thing. But it is worth pointing out that Chicago does an amazing job with organizing the event and the volunteers are incredible. Even as I walked back to my hotel, people along the streets were cheering for me and shouting congratulations. I even got to board the plane early to come back home yesterday.

As far as things learned from the race, I have several. First, I need to figure out my nutrition. I took one gel at mile 15 and then drank water or gatorade for the remaining 11 miles. Second, electrolytes are essential. Due to the fact that I felt pretty nauseous after the race, I didn’t eat or drink anything for a few hours. It was until yesterday morning that I realized perhaps the reason I had a splitting headache was because I hadn’t consumed any electrolytes after running 26.2 miles. The headache finally went away last night. But perhaps the biggest thing I learned Sunday morning was that my feelings toward the distance have changed. Yes, 26.2 miles is a long distance to run but it wasn’t as bad as I remember in other races. In fact, it felt more like a long run on a Saturday morning than anything else. This change in perspective makes me excited.

I’m taking a few days off. Some light stretching today, some light cardio tomorrow, and maybe a few easy miles at the end of the week. As crazy as it is, I have another marathon in exactly one month. However, this one will absolutely be a slow, fun run. My body still needs time to rest.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Here are my stats from the Chicago Marathon. My Garmin lost satellite a few times during the first mile so I had to hit lap/rest at the 1 mile marker to get it back on track.

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Everything Changes

Lately, Mario and I have been reading quite a few books on Buddhism. And interestingly enough, as I have moved from a more traditional approach to weight training to calisthenics, I have found quite a few people, mainly Al Kavadlo, who have been greatly influenced by Buddhism. At first glance, it may be difficult to see how Buddhism and fitness are anywhere closely to being related.  But, in fact, they very much are. Allow me to explain…

We just finished watching Peaceful Warrior, and it’s kind of like The Karate Kid with a little more depth. “Socrates” (the Mr. Miyagi of the film), forces Dan, the main character, to embrace  some key principles of Buddhism, which in turn help him to find himself as a person and as a gymnast. To relate this to running, I’d like to share three key points of the film that can help us  as athletes, to find peace, even when things are a little rough.

1) Be present. In this very moment. Right now. It’s not about the run tomorrow, the race next week, or how many miles are left in the marathon you just started. When you fail to focus on the present, you miss everything else going on around you. Perhaps one of my favorite lines from the movie is “There is never nothing going on. There are no ordinary moments.” Be present and really pay attention. There is no point in worrying about a workout that may or may not happen.

2) It’s about the journey. The journey is what brings us happiness. Not the end result. When we reach our end goal, more times than not, we still want more. From my own experience, I find this very much to be true. It was always a dream of mine to qualify for Boston. I’ve done it, twice, and I still want more. I once read the following: “If you aren’t happy with what you have, what makes you think you’ll be happier with more?”. Enjoy the journey and be happy with where you are right now.

3) Everything changes. In the past few months, I’ve had quite a few reminders of this one. From the marriage of good friends to the loss of loved ones, nothing is permanent. With respect to running, my own fitness level has declined quite a bit from the beginning of the summer. Sure, it’s not what I had envisioned going into Chicago but this is where I am right now and that’s okay. Just as I am not 100% right now, I won’t always be this way. Everything is constantly changing and when we can come to terms with this, we will not let the setbacks define us. Instead, they will help us along our way. It’s all part of the journey.

I really enjoyed the Peaceful Warrior and if you are looking for a good movie, it’s available on Netflix for instant streaming. Here is the trailer:

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Chicago is next Sunday. Here are my stats from my last long run this morning. I look forward to a fun race and hanging out with good friends after I cross the finish line. No expectations, but if you want to follow me along the course, my bib number is 7328 and you can sign up here for runner tracking.