On October 7, 2007, I finished my fourth marathon. It was the Chicago Marathon, my second in the windy city and one that would go down in distance running history for being the hottest on record and the first major marathon to be called off mid-race. Somewhere around the 2.5 hour mark, race officials decided to cancel the race to prevent additional medical crises. One runner had already sadly died during the race, likely from a previous condition, but with the heat, everything was more difficult. I was just past Chinatown, somewhere around Mile 23 when I crossed a chip mat and didn't hear the familiar beep. It worried me, but I pushed on. About two blocks later, people started yelling at us to stop and walk to the finish, the race was called off. What these people didn't know, is that after 23 miles of running, you cannot simply stop and walk. The muscles in your legs don't appreciate the sudden change, so I continued to run to the finish. I completed the race in four hours, fifty-eight minutes. This is not entirely shameful, but I trained (very hard) for a 4:15 finish so it was disappointing. But nevertheless, I was grateful to have had the chance to finish.
In the months following, I decided I needed to be a faster runner. I was down to an 8:10 or so mile by January and feeling very comfortable running at this faster pace. I was getting closer and closer to 8 minutes a mile, but then suddenly had to stop due to pain in my left heel. It turned out to be acute plantar fasciitis so I decided to take the entire winter off of running to rest and recover.
There is so much to be said for resting, something that is very foreign to most runners. After a 5-month hiatus, I went for my first run last week and did the first mile in 8:30, the second in 9:10 and the third in 8:36. It was difficult, but it was so much better than I was expecting. It's as though the break energized me and had set me up to pick up right where I left off and perhaps be even faster.
My brother-in-law qualified for Boston last week. I am beyond jealous of this, but I do not dare to fool myself for one second into believing that I might do the same. I'm running New York this year and my goal is four hours. If I even come close, I'll be the happiest woman in the world. If I finish below four, I'll be desperately searching for a flat Spring marathon that will allow me to shave an additional 15 minutes off my time and join my brother-in-law in Boston. If not, there is always 2010.