Are you happy?
A friend texted me the day after the Chicago Marathon asking if I was happy with my race.
I know that my time of 4:17:23 is my worst performance on this course by ten minutes (and is one of my ten slowest marathons overall), but I enjoyed my experience so much more this year than in the past and I’m grateful for having a relatively pain-free long run in a beautiful city with amazing crowd support.
Before the race I told everyone that this would be my 30th and final marathon ever. After two very disappointing races in the past year and a painful injury in April that sidelined me for 7 weeks, I had lost my love and motivation to train for the marathon. Five years have passed since my PR and the last time I achieved a time goal was when I qualified for Boston for the 4th time at the 2015 Chicago Marathon. The 2017 Boston Marathon would have been one of the most miserable races of my life if I didn’t have my twin sister by my side for the entire 26.2 miles. I don’t think I would have made it to that finish line without her.
Luckily I had already signed up for Chicago before that race or I probably would have ended my marathon career in Boston. If I did “retire” from the marathon, I could honestly say I had a good run (pun intended!). I achieved my goal of qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon, not just once, but four times. My first marathon was 5:17:03 and I eventually took over and hour and 40 minutes off that time to run a PR of 3:36:35. Not too bad! I had a lot of disappointments and painful races, but I kept trying … running at least 1 and up to 5 marathons a year since 2007.
When I finished my first Chicago Marathon in 2011, I was hysterically crying in the hospitality tent after the race. My training had gone so well, I ran a few PRs leading up to that race, yet I finished well off my BQ goal. The following year when I ran my PR of 3:36:35 I barely enjoyed it because I was so disappointed that I hadn’t hit my goal of sub 3:35. Little did I know then that it would be my best time by far and only the second time I’d ever run under 3:40. I wish I would have appreciated that achievement and let myself experience the pure joy of running a great race without letting my perfectionist self find the flaws in my performance.
My training this year was not ideal. After taking 7 weeks off with no running, I slowly came back beginning in June. Even though I ran two 20 mile runs this cycle, I almost never ran anything under 10-11 minute pace unless it was a race and I only ran a few of those. So I’m pretty happy I ran the first half of the race in 2:02 because that’s the longest distance I’ve run anywhere near a 9:20 minute pace since April and it felt comfortable. The last 8-10 miles I slowed down quite a bit, but I made the decision to just keep running at a manageable pace without pushing myself and accepted that I’d have a huge positive split (I’ve only ever run two negative split marathons.).
I don’t know if I’ll ever qualify for Boston again, but I’m fine with that now. I used to think what’s the point of continuing to run marathons if I can’t hit my competitive goals. I felt so embarrassed, sad, and frustrated (and, to be honest, like a huge LOSER!) and I just wanted to end on a high note. I didn’t have a sub 4 hour marathon or a BQ this year, but I finished the race excited about training again and that’s a victory!
Highlights of the race:
Worst parts of the race: