Two months until the Chicago Marathon

Things always seem so far away when a journey begins, then time seems to accelerate as you get closer.

Well, August has begun and the heat from July has decided to stick around for one (hopefully) last hurrah. As of today, I am two months away from an attempt at achieving a lifelong goal: complete a marathon. The Chicago Marathon is on October 10, 2010, and I’ll be there toeing the line with roughly 44,999 others. I’ll be the one in running shorts.

This past Sunday was the longest run of my life: 17 miles. I was so nervous about it that I didn’t sleep well the night before and awoke in the morning long before my 5:30 alarm went off. After grabbing a quick bite to eat (my pre-long run traditional banana with peanut butter), a drink or two of water and doing some stretching, I set out at 6:05 AM. As I started down the road I live on, it turns east and I had a picture-perfect view of the moon with just the tiniest hint of a sliver. The sky was still pre-dawn dark blue and as I looked up at the moon I saw a meteor streak by. I figured that had to be a good omen. For the next couple of hours I wound through the streets of my hometown, try my damnedest to maintain a steady, even cadence and pace. All in all, my Garmin tells me I did a good job at that. At about mile 13, my wife met me to give me fresh, cold water bottles and good conversation to keep my mind off the running. Both the water and the talking helped a ton. I finished up in 2:33:03, or a pace of 8:59/mile. Now this week’s 18 miler doesn’t seem so daunting.

I’ve found running to be like a parent watching their children grow. The growth happens in tiny, almost imperceptible, little increments, every day. But every once in a while you get a glimpse of some startling, new capability and you just smile. When I could only run 30 seconds at a time without getting winded, 17 miles might as well have been to the moon. When I finished my run on Sunday, I allowed myself a little smile in recognition of how far I’ve come.

But, I’m not done yet. I’ve got more buidling to do if I’m going to make it to 26.2, so that little smile is all I get at the moment. Now it’s back to building up the milage in the heat and humidity of August.

Here they are, my stated goals for the Chicago Marathon, in order of priority:

  1. Finish the race without injury.
  2. Finish the race within 5 hours. (avg. pace:  11:25/mile)
  3. Finish the race within 4 hours. (avg. pace: 9:09/mile)

I believe I can attain all three of these goals, so now I need to do the rest of the work to get there.

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