Marathon Training – Chicago

Egads! The Chicago Marathon is less than 9 flipping weeks away! This will be my first marathon postpartum and I’m so nervous. Adding a baby to our family has complicated things, as you would expect, and often forces you to readjust your goals. Part of me regularly thinks, “why did I even sign up for this???”

When you spend most of your day like this, you tend to get a case of the FOMO

Well, the answer of course is FOMO. I had so many friends registering for the lottery, and I was pregnant and wanted a big goal race to motivate me after baby. So I threw in, and of course right about the time that I started thinking “meh, I don’t need to do it… I kind of hope I don’t get in,”… I got in.

Whatever, I’ve done hard things before. Here we go!

Then add in a relocation out of state. Selling our home in Maryland, moving to North Carolina for my dream job. Tough.

Add in nursing and sleep training an adorable baby girl while getting in hill workouts and long runs. Tough.

Throw in there just the overall adjustment from any one of the major life changes our family has gone through – let alone ALL of the major life changes our family has gone through, and man is this TOUGH.

My BRF Melissa and I on our last run together in Maryland.

One of the best parts about our little community in Columbia, Maryland was exactly that… the community. I had a community of friends and runners, with community pathways that would spiderweb all over town. I could run anywhere from 2 to 20 miles, barely stepping foot on a trafficked road. I had women to run with and pass the time with. Support to train, motivate, and hold me accountable. And I knew this was unique, so I never took it for granted (at least I hope I never did!).

Moving to Asheville, I knew the trail running scene would come front and center. I knew everything would be different, but not necessarily different in a bad way. New challenges force growth in new ways: elevation, new routes, lack of routes, etc.

Bent Creek Trails in Asheville

I’ve found a trail running community and a few new friends to join on runs. I’ve also found that for the most part, I’m going to end up running solo all week and I might be lucky – or at least I’ve been lucky so far – to have even small groups to join on the weekends for my miles. The nice part is, most of the women (and men) I’ve met are training for ultras of some sort so finding someone who’s willing to go the distances I need hasn’t been a challenge.

DuPont Forest Trails outside Asheville

For the most part, my anxiety is extremely high right now, so I haven’t ventured out too far to try new places. During the week, I have mapped out a loop in my (so freaking hilly) parking lot of our apartment complex. It’s about a mile long and climbs about 100 feet in 1/3 of a mile, so those loops are tough! My training plan has me running 3 times during the week and a long run on the weekend. It also has incorporated some strength training leaving room for that or yoga or whatever.

Realistically, I’ve hit my mileage one time in the last month and a half of training. I have some sort of issue every week that life gets in the way, I’m tired or unmotivated, or something of the likes. I have yet to actually do anything that I would consider remotely close to cross training or strength training, though I’ve popped in a few 30-minute yoga sessions here and there. I’ve been pretty diligent about my long run mileage, and making sure that the two times I cut my mileage short it wasn’t for lack of effort.

Ultimately, it is what it is. There’s been an enormous amount of stress on my life the last two months specifically and in an effort to keep running fun, I’m making sure to try and keep the pressure off myself this training cycle. I’ve seen so many friends on social media get burnt out training for something big so soon after baby, that I want to avoid that at all costs! If that cost is me cutting a run, or adjusting my plan then so be it… so long as I’m not risking injury (ahem, let me preach to my own choir and remind myself of the importance of strength training and yoga to avoid risking injury… *face palm*).

This last weekend was 9 weeks out from Chicago. My flights are officially booked. Hotel is reserved (thanks, April!), and the countdown is on. As my mileage ramps up, I’ll just keep doing what I can when I can. There’s a big part of me that’s leaning on the fact that Chicago is hella flat, and I can’t find a flat run to save my life out here. That has to give me strength, right? I’m also leaning on the fact that I’ll get to spend time with some of my amazing friends that I haven’t seen in so long. Stef is coming from Minnesota with her family, April and Jennifer are running from Maryland. This will also be my first time spending time away from Clara, who will be just about 9 months old when I run Chicago. I am nervous, excited, anxious, and everything in between.

French Broad River Trails in Asheville

As these long runs are amping up, I’ve been taking inspiration from audiobooks and podcasts. Since I’m not group running as much as I used to, I’m finding it easier to pass the time and miles when I get back to those roots of when I started running almost 12 years ago. I’ve thrived on passing the miles with Becoming, by Michelle Obama, Girl, Stop Apologizing, by Rachel Hollis, Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, and most recently 26 Marathons by Meb Keflezighi…I’ve also binged on podcasts with The Joe Rogan Experience, In the Dark, and My Favorite Murder. I think it all depends on the day and what I’m feeling.

This has been a little bit of a refreshing change of pace (ha, PUN!). I haven’t listened to music or anything while running in years! Since the move to Maryland almost always had me running with other women, I usually chatted them up or found solace in the company alone. It’s been nice tuning into myself, but I think I’d still rather be running with my #crew.

Anyway, with just about 2 months to go to race day, I’m staying calm and focused, and trying to keep my legs loose and strong. My next goals are to incorporate yoga and strength training each week (since I’ve been slacking), and to hammer down some race day goals. Stay tuned, I’ll try to write more consistently…

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