Last month my application was accepted to run the Chicago Marathon. I couldn’t be more excited and nervous. The race is in October.
My goal is to run it at a 7:45/minute pace (or better), which is somewhat doable at my current training trajectory. I’ll be 44 years old by then, which isn’t a bad pace for my age group.
I look at this acceptance as a badge of honor. As some spotlight in the darkness, or something much more stupendous than it is. I take this opportunity as seriously as if it were war. As if my running will result in a better universe. It’s completely delusional. But it’s what’s in my head.
In total, I’ve run three races in my entire life. One 5k turkey trot two years ago and two this last year: a 15k and an 8k. The last two races were here in Chicago proper, and the amount of people racing was astounding. I never realized how popular running really is. The 15k was the Hot Chocolate race and the race site claimed 40,000 people were involved in two different runs and one walk.
The turkey trot last November was also well attended, too. At the finish, there was a sea of people accepting their medals, grabbing bottles of water and free bags of popcorn.
It feels good to compete with such a vast age range with women, men, children, running pros and enthusiasts alike.
The one thing I found is that the finish line is a chaotic mess of finishers. I’m not big on crowds and crowds … they are a plenty.
I can only imagine what kind of chaos at the end of the Chicago Marathon.
When I told my parents about being accepted, they both were congratulatory, but they both expressed concerns about my knees. “I’m worried you’ll blow out your knees.” or, “I’m worried you’ll hurt yourself and you won’t know it.”
Which, I guess, is understandable. I’m not sure they understand the vast number of runners, size and shapes and ages, who run these things. Just because my uncle, a marathoner for years, has knee problems now, doesn’t mean that will also affect me. And if it does, it’s okay. I’ll move on. I also swim, bike, and am open to all sorts of lower impact exercise.
So I guess I have a new year’s resolution that I’ll be forced to keep … at least until October. It’s as if I have no choice. But the thing is, I’ve been preparing for this for years. On the playground as a kid, I remember running almost the entire recess. In middle school, my soccer coach created a position for me that did not limit me to defense, mid-field or striker. I could go anywhere on the field, because I could run nonstop for 90 minutes plus. I played soccer through college and then off and on pickup.
Running is in my blood. I love it. And it seems to love me. At least for now.
It’s my time for meditative long form exercise and I find it endlessly fascinating.
I guess I’ve never blown out my knees, so I’m a little skeptical. And if I were a praying man, superstitious or the like, I’d knock on a piece of wood right now. If my knees blow out before October, you and I both know I jinxed myself. Or my parents jinxed me. Or god has other plans for me. Or whatever number of “my knees gave out” explanations you might have.
So until then, I’m pushing forward with my 7:45 per mile goal … Follow me along and I’ll write about it as often as I can.