I had actually wanted to run the New York marathon next. In talking things through with my husband though, he suggested getting Chicago done. Even though fall is a busy crazy time for me, it is closer and more logistic for us to handle right now. Knowing how the process is handled in getting into NY, I figured, why not, let's get this done. Even though I run a lot there is still so much I don't know about these big marathons. I'm really just a little fish in a big pond. But as I'm branching out to bigger races I'm learning more about things like the lottery, guaranteed entries and signing up months in advance.
Rewind to a year ago and my running began to fall apart. In November I decided to scale back my running and "take a break" which really meant I was still running, just not nearly as much. For awhile that was ok and when 2016 began I decided to launch back into running and training. Except that never really happened. I knew about the sign up dates for Chicago & assumed I was going to have to sign up for the lottery. Anyone I had known to do Chicago before had done this so I assumed that aside from the elites I had to as well. When I went to the website I kept seeing the phrase guaranteed entry. I almost ignored that figuring it didn't apply to me, but I did some digging around and realized that I in fact qualified for this type of entry, So I signed up and wham, bam, thank you m'am, I was going to run the Chicago marathon.
Fast forward many months and a lot of time with my physical therapist, my running was still in shambles. I did struggle my way through Howl at the Moon and ran 36 miles at that race in August. That gave me some hope that despite my issues I could in fact still run such a distance with little to no training. It certainly isn't ideal, but do-able, I kept trying to get my running back on track and it just wasn't happening. I could handle small distances, but anything more than 5 miles and I just hurt and it seemed impossible. Yet I kept trying. Thanks to insurance issues I had given up on seeing my physical therapist. She was wonderful enough to email with me and still guide me as I was attempting to train. Then my chiropractor came across an issue that really seemed to explain everything that was attributing to me/my body not being able to run. So I set out on a 10 mile run day & tried to fix it all. Which seemed to work perfectly, but fixing one thing lead to an issue on another thing. And suddenly I had a whole new set of problems and a lot of pain. The pain was so bad and persistent that I was constantly hurting and running any kind of distance became impossible. All of this was just 2 weeks before I was supposed to run.
Logistically getting the marathon ran was also becoming a messy situation. It turns out that the same weekend was our high school homecoming. I have 2 kids in high school and we as a family are very involved with the school on many levels. Luckily my 2 high schoolers were not interested in going to the dance so that let me off the hook, but there was still the assembly, parade and game on Friday that was going to occupy my time. AND on top of that Saturday was the sectional meet for my Jr. High cross country team. While there are 2 of us head coaches I would never want to miss this meet as it determined if we as a team or any individual qualifiers made it to the state meet. It's kind of a big deal. So Friday afternoon & evening was consumed with homecoming, Saturday morning with the sectional meet. I would still have time to shoot over to the expo, pick up my packet and settle in for the race.
EXCEPT 10 days before all of this was to happen I found out that our sectional meet was not going to start until 3 p.m. This changed everything. I would not have time to get to the expo before it closed and Chicago has very strict guidelines with picking up your packet. This was also complicated because my family was coming with me to watch me run. So the implications of zig zagging across the state with husband and kids in tow trying to get it all done just were not practical. Essentially nothing was going to be practical with getting this done. Unless I gave up not going to sectionals and coaching my team and I just couldn't bear to miss that either. Long story short as a last resort and even though I didn't want to do it I drove up to Chicago on Friday morning. I left early, when it was still dark out, drove 3ish hours, spent 1 hour at the expo/packet pick up and then got back in my van and drove straight back home to Galesburg. I arrived home just in time to get to the assembly that I've grown accustomed to going to that kicks off Friday's homecoming festivities.
I was bummed that I couldn't fully enjoy the expo. After I picked up my bib and shirt, I kinda zipped through a few of the of the booths, drooled over the amazing merchandise
Even though I was highly skeptical about being able to run this distance or finish, I had my bib. And everything else seemed to go smoothly. Homecoming was great, sectionals awesome and with 2 kids qualifying for state. From the meet my family picked me up and we headed into the Chicago suburbs to spend the night with a dear life long friend. My cross country kids were so sweet to send me off with a bunch of hugs and good luck cheers. They are the best and it lifted my spirits to have them send me off with such enthusiasm.
But deep down I left with a heavy heart, fully of doubt, confusion and anxiety. My hip/IT band still in pain and wondering how I was going to get through these 26.2 miles I had to run.........