One foot in front of the other. Keep them moving. Strong form. Smooth motion. Continuous turnover. These were the things I was telling myself as I heard my feet pounding the hot pavement along with the shouts and cheers from thousands of encouraging onlookers. I'd been at this for over two hours at this point, and it wasn't getting any easier. I gave my head a quick shake and I exhaled with purpose in an attempt to snap myself out of the the delirious state of mind that had overcome me. Like an over-tired driver trying to wake himself up after continuously nodding off on a long road trip, I was convinced this would work. I winced in pain as I wiped salty sweat from my eyes and took a swig of the bottle of water that I had collected at some point from a well-wishing spectator. As I made the right hand turn onto Wentworth Avenue I gritted my teeth, dug a bit deeper and finally crossed the long-awaited 35 kilometre mat. I glanced at my watch expecting the worst.
As I took off the start line with 6,700 other runners, I reminded myself of my race plan. “Take it easy” I cautioned myself. “Stick to your pace.” This race, unlike most others I’ve run, was not about going as fast as possible. It was not about getting a personal best. This race was a dress rehearsal. A dress rehearsal for the Chicago Marathon, which was a mere three weeks away. The goal today was to try everything out - nutrition, fuelling, hydration, clothing, pacing, drafting, kicking - everything that I would need come marathon day on October 8th. From a time perspective, my stated goal before the race was to run a 1:28:something. I wanted to cross that finish line in about the same time I’d plan on finishing the first half of Chicago.
After an epic 36km long run last Friday, I was making the long drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake for my sister-in-law’s wedding when it hit me. Chicago was only one month away. It’s been this distant goal for so long now, yet all of a sudden it was around the corner. As I cruised down highway 403 I thought about how far I had come - from not being able to run at all 6 months ago, to now feeling fitter, stronger and faster than ever. Training has been going well - really well. Here’s what I’ve been up to and where I’m at.
A lump developed in my throat as I read this tweet. Woah, my race is coming fast. The last 12 months have been an absolute whirlwind of ups and downs for me from a running perspective. After coming back down from my highs - and lows - from Boston, I set my sights on running a half marathon PB, which I finally nailed in October in Vancouver (after a less than ideal race in Ottawa at the Army Run). Heading into the New Year, I was feeling stronger and more confident than ever. That was until I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, a nemesis that would keep me away from doing my favourite thing for 4 months.
I'm back. I've said this before, and regretted it. I've wanted to say it again for weeks - months, really. But I've been too scared, nervous, and anxious to let myself admit it, or rather embrace it. I'd been burned once before, and didn't want that to happen again. But I'm ready now. I'm back. I've conquered my plantar fasciitis and am ready to kick off my training for the Chicago Marathon this fall.
“Why are you doing this to yourself?” I sat there in silence for a moment, my foot soaking in an ice bath, thinking over the very pointed, honest question that was just posed to me. On the table in front of me, my marathon training plan was open on my laptop where I had been making constant tweaks and edits, trying - desperately - to Frankenstein my plan to accommodate injury recovery while ramping up to train for a marathon in less than 75 days. The math wasn’t adding up, no matter how many ways I approached it. “It can be done” I’d been telling myself. But it was becoming clear that I’d been trying to force a square peg into a round hole.