I have to admit transitioning from IM training to marathon training was not something I was crazy enthusiastic about. Let me be clear, I love everything about training for endurance sports, the build up and break down of the workouts and my body...but after having such a mixed experience with the marathon last year I was a little stand-offish. Not to mention my charity group, PAWs, had already been training for over a month now while I was doing IM training. So I had kind of missed that window of opportunity (in my mind) to meet everyone and mesh with the group. I probably could have met up with them at 6am mid-training season but I opted not to. I wanted to train more on my own anyways but I love everything about raising money for an amazing organization....and I was not about to switch up my long run days from Sunday to Saturday....maybe that makes me something of a brat :P
So I waited two-ish weeks before actually hitting the running full on. My coach told me to do some active recovery in the pool, and I did some upper body weights as well. But the time had come for me to eventually drag out my training notebook and start breaking down the remainder of my training months and how I was going to appraoch it. I'm following the Hal Higdon Intermediate I schedule (http://halhigdon.com/training/51139/Marathon-Intermediate-1-Training-Program). I thought I would be jumping in on a recovery week when I started....NOPE! I was picking up on the week when I was scheduled for 17 miles. GREAT! As much as I was trying to come up with an excuse to wait another week I quickly realized that the next week would only up another mile.
Sunday morning arrives and I had prepared myself mentally for this run for the past two days. I hadn't done 17 miles in a while and the trick to them is that it's all mental. Granted I had just gotten off work at the bar at 3am but I hydrated well and didn't join in on the fried food fest with my co-workers and slept in until about 10:30. I had my ipod playlist, my honey stingers and a little caffeine kick to get me going. All I had to do was step out the door.
I have to say, the run itself took me up to Chicago Avenue, downtown. I loved everything about the run up there, because it had been a while since I'd run that far north on the path. And I made sure to run next to the lake, watching the swimmers in Oak Street beach and occasionally catching a wave splash up on the cement.
The run back was a little challenging, I had to stop once to do a quick stretch out but I have learned from past long runs not to sit down! A quick quad and ham stretch and move on. Only 4 more miles to go, push through it!
Coming up to the 53rd street entrance I was growing more and more excited. I was about to finish the longest run I'd done in a while....I picked up my pace and raced to the water fountain....where I collapsed next to as soon as I reached it. I grabbed a quick drink and threw myself down on the ground for a quick stretch. I laid there long enough to realize there were tiny bugs crawling on me before I jumped up and began my walk back. Normally I jog home to get back faster, it's only a few blocks but I would be lying if I said I wasn't in pain a bit and decided not to be a hero on this one.