One week away from another Racecation. My trip to Chicago! A big marathon called the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, a World Marathon Major, and fittingly a major achievement for me, as well. Chicago will be my 15th marathon.
Yes, in just a week’s time I will be headed here….. Chicago’s Midway Airport.
….and then a ride here…McCormick’s Place. The site of the BOA Chicago Marathon Expo.
…..and then here… The Langham Chicago. The #1 rated hotel in Chicago on TripAdvisor.
As I enjoy my coffee on a beautiful 60 degree morning, I can’t help but to reflect on what a positive impact running has had on my life. It helps me stay in shape in my mid 40’s, it keeps me calm, and gives me time to myself. It grounds me. It gives me goals, and things to aspire to. It gives me reason to be out in nature and enjoy our amazing world. It gives me reason to travel, and experience places I never would have seen otherwise. It makes me happy!
On the cusp of running my 15th marathon, I look back on the first 14. My first in Myrtle Beach, SC. Wow, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I ran an amazing race, mostly because I was a virgin and just gave it everything I had. That 3:33:24 proved to be a hard PR to beat. I had no idea then just how good that finish was. My next marathon was a disaster, and had the most negative impact on me. A 4:11:27 at Tobacco Road, scarred by injuries and extremely painful for the final 19 miles on the most boring marathon course ever. I think it was here that I learned the most marathon lessons.
After a car accident, a broken metatarsal and much agony, my next marathon in the Outer Banks of NC proved to be, and still is, my worst marathon finish in 4:13:58. I struggled with PF for almost 8 months. I ran thought it, smart or not. It sucked. It was after that race that I figured out how to take care of my body. How to listen to my body. I took a month off. No running at all from Thanksgiving through Christmas. I began anew the start of the next year.
I ventured off to Asheville, NC and ran the exclusive inaugural marathon at the Biltmore Estate. It snowed, windchill in the single digits. It was beautiful, but I found it difficult to run that far while my toes were frozen, and I had icicles in my hair. Another 4 hour marathon. I won a contest, and got to travel to Virginia for what is touted to be “America’s Toughest Road Marathon”, the Blue Ridge Marathon. With over 7,000 ft. of elevation change over the course of three mountains, I almost loved every moment still. A true test of grit and determination, my marathon focus turned positive again that day. Although I finished in 4:04:59, I felt like the King of the world after conquering that course. I was reborn.
That marathon, my fifth, was my last 4 hour plus finish. I’ve run nine more since all sub-4. That day was a turning point. I adopted a catchphrase from the race, “You run Hills, I run Mountains”. After that race I turned in times of 3:45 in Asheville, and then my current PR of 3:32:24 at Raleigh’s City of Oaks Marathon. Too tough courses about six weeks apart, my mojo was certainly back!
Since then, I have traveled to Las Vegas, Charleston, Hilton Head and Wrightsville Beach, four flat courses (well mostly) in search of a new PR. Hasn’t happened yet, but all solid races for the most part. My Birthday marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh, now that one was unique. I just wanted to finish sub 4, and did. My family at the finish. Priceless birthday present. Then the All American, a run with the military. Amazing! Meeting Meb! Wow, I have had some great runs. My last was Big Cottonwood, in Utah. Talk about breathtaking beauty.
They have all led me and my marathon journey to Chicago for #15. Grateful for my health, and happiness. Anxious for another epic run.
I love marathoning!