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Chicago Marathon countdown begins…

The Chicago Marathon is only a couple of weeks away and I have now entered into what is called the “taper” phase of my training.  It doesn’t quite feel like tapering, since I have a 13.1-mile run scheduled on Saturday and a 10-mile run scheduled for next Saturday.  But the really long runs are done now until the BIG DAY.

Last week was supposed to be another attempt at a 20-mile run.  Mentally, I felt ready for the run and I set out on a cool, cloudy morning and felt good for the first 12 miles or so.  Then the boredom set in and the sun came out and it started to get really warm and after 15 miles, I decided to finish the run on the treadmill while watching Gilmore Girls, a series that I recently started watching on Netflix.  I really wish I hadn’t done that.  I wish I had just kept going; started a loop where I would be forced to finish the rest of the miles.  I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t, though, because at mile 17 my left knee, which has some arthritis, started to become very painful.  Painful enough that I couldn’t go on.  My knee has been giving me some trouble for the last few weeks, but I’ve never had enough pain to keep me from finishing my runs.  However, I’ve had a lot of restless nights lately due to throbbing knee pain.

Two attempts at 20 miles and both times I failed.  I was feeling pretty defeated.  And I was in a lot of pain.  I immediately texted my friend Charlotte, who is running the marathon with me, and told her what happened.  I then took a hot shower and cried.  A lot.  When I got out of the shower, I saw that Charlotte had tried to call, but I will still a sobbing, blubbering mess, so I got dressed and once I calmed down, I called Charlotte back.  One thing you should know about Charlotte – we’ve never met in person.  We’ve been friends online for a couple of years; we met through our blogging and became Facebook friends after that, and then we decided to do the Chicago Marathon together.  She’s had her ups and downs through her training, too, so she knew how I was feeling.  She gave me a really good pep talk and I felt a bit better after talking to her.  I also made the decision that I would call my sports medicine doctor on Monday because he had told me back in April after diagnosing me with knee osteoarthritis that I could come in for an injection if it started to become bothersome.  I was also debating whether or not I wanted to try the 20-mile run one more time.

I put the run behind me, and David and I went to Chicago for the weekend with my cousin and his wife.  We had a great time touring the city and on Sunday we went to a Cubs game, which was a lot of fun, even though they lost.  I think the timing of the trip couldn’t have been more perfect.  It got me excited about running in Chicago.

I was able to get an injection in my knee on Tuesday afternoon and it feels pretty good, although the big test will be how it feels after my long run on Saturday.  The doctor said that I should NOT try to squeeze that 20-mile run in.  He said that as long as I don’t try to push my pace (no worries there, since I’m a very slow runner) that I should be just fine.  The last two nights of sleep have been blissful and pain-free, though, and I’m grateful for that!

Marathon training is a beast.  I thought that it would be easier the second time, but I’m not sure it ever gets easy.  It’s time consuming, it’s exhausting, and it’s not fun, and honestly, I have no idea why I put myself through this.  I think that runners get called crazy a lot and in a way, I think we are.  You go through all of this hard work, you put your body through hell, just for those few moments of complete exhilaration when you cross the finish line, knowing that you just accomplished something pretty amazing.  It’s a high that I can’t even explain in words, and only those who run can understand the feeling.

This will definitely be my LAST marathon, so I plan on enjoying this race as much as I can.  I’ll be running with a good friend, I’ll be running in one of the coolest cities on the planet, and I’m running for an awesome charity group, Imerman Angels.

I’m strong enough.  I’m brave enough.  I’ve got this.

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