The Post-marathon Blues

Now what.

I get the post-marathon blues every year. I know it’s going to happen no matter how much I try to tell myself it won’t, but at least this time around I’ve learned to deal with it better.

There’s something truly inspiring and motivating about training for 18 weeks for one long distance race. Hundreds of miles and tough workouts go into the training. You focus on one goal for months…and then it’s over.

Whether the race is amazing or not, you hit your goal when you cross that finish line by completing a training plan and going the distance. I had an AMAZING race. The best marathon I’ve ever run. But then what happens the next day? After the race is over?

I get bummed out. And I already miss running.

I knew my body needed a break from training. I’ve basically been following a training plan for 9 months of this year. And I knew I had to set some other goals for myself in order to have something else to focus on post-race.

I wrote my post-marathon goals down. I made a new plan so that I wouldn’t feel the post-marathon blues quite as much, but they’re still here.

It’s hard for a good thing to come to an end. And to not “follow a plan” all of a sudden is always weird for me. I like my early Saturday long runs and weekly speed workouts. I like high mileage weeks. But I also know my body earned a break, so I have to respect the work I did and take a short break from long distances.

I’m doing better this year in the sense that I’m focusing on cross training. I have started Kayla Itsine’s Bikini Body Guide again, which is three 28 minute circuit workouts a week. I’m going to cycling classes every week. And I’m only running short distances. I did run a half marathon last weekend (“for fun”), but that was the farthest I’ll go for a while.

This is the “off season” and as sad as it makes me to take a step back from running, I know that this cross training and getting stronger is SO important. So I’m trying to enjoy it. I am sad that marathon training for this year is over,  but I am proud that I did so well and am ready to work on being even stronger next year.

I’m done with racing for 2016, but I still have two more races just for fun… a 5K in November and a 15K in December. Come January, I’ll start running higher mileage again since I signed up for a Boston training group that trains from January to April. Yay for weekly long runs and speed workouts!

I have two months to do all the cross training I can before I up my mileage again. Yes, I will still run, but not high mileage weeks or very long runs on the weekends. I don’t know what my 2017 race schedule is yet. Do I want to do a Spring marathon? Should I race a few half marathons or 10Ks? What races? Who knows. And I’m not too stressed about figuring it out right this second.

It’s all part of the process, right?! And I love running too much to risk injury or keep from getting stronger. So, even if I’d rather run 15 miles than do a 28 minute circuit workout, I’m going to suck it up and get them done.

2016 will be hard to top, but I think I’ve got it in me. It starts with these two months of ground work and injury prevention. (There’s nothing sad about that)!


Race Recap: Chicago Marathon 2016

Well guys, it’s over. I put 18 weeks of work to the test and finished the Chicago Marathon in 3:33:53. A Boston Qualifying time. It wasn’t easy, but it was the best race I’ve ever run.

The Chicago Marathon definitely lives up to the hype. I love the expo, love the gear, love the organization. It’s worlds above both marathons I ran last year. I think that’s why I was even more excited/anxious than ever before.

I gave up booze for a month before race day. I limited my sugar week of. I carb loaded the perfect amount. I was ready for that start line. All the miles and all the speed workouts were going to pay off.

I knew I wanted to BQ, but I didn’t actually know how attainable it was. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself because I run better when I don’t. So I decided to run the first half slower and then pick it up as I went (if I could).

The night before, one of my racing team friends, Lucy, told me she wanted to try to BQ too and we were in the same corral, so it made sense to run together. She was a pacer at the CES 20 miler and was able to pace consistent 8:30 miles for all 20 miles, so I knew I was in good hands.

It was chilly at the start, but that was ideal. And I got to meet Toni for the first time in the corral! It was such a nice surprise. She’s just as nice as I thought she’d be and it was a great distraction while we were waiting to start the race.

We crossed the start line at 7:42 AM and got in the groove. Lucy was keeping track of our splits better than I was. Her Garmin was a little bit more accurate and she’s just better at that sort of thing. When I start racing I just want to run and usually that gets the best of me. Luckily, I had a running buddy to set the pace.

We ran about 8:20-8:30 average for most of the first half. Miles truly flew by. The crowds are amazing. It feels so encouraging to have strangers cheering you on. I was able to see my family around mile 12, and it made my race. I was just so happy. I felt good and I was just soaking it all in.

When we got to the half marathon mark (which we hit in about 1:50) we wanted to start gradually picking up the pace. Lucy let me know that she probably wasn’t going to be getting faster and that I should go if I wanted. I was torn. I liked having the company and I wasn’t even sure if I could do it.

I verbally said “How fast do I have to go?” And she said “Fast. Like sub 8 minute miles I’m guessing.” And I decided to just go for it. I left her at about mile 16 and just started to pick up the pace as I went.

I honestly felt great. I saw a friend at mile 18 who went crazy screaming for me and gave me a boost. I grabbed water at just about every water stop, even if just for a sip. I’d only had about 5 Clif blocks by mile 20, but I’d felt like I’d had enough. Water was really working better for me.

At the 20 mile mark I expected to feel tired. Or run down. But I didn’t. I actually had an energy surge thinking about how I only had 6 miles left. I said in my head, “Now your real race starts.”

I kept picking it up. My Garmin was so messed up that I had no clue how fast I was going or how close I was to my goal.

By the time I hit mile 22, I looked down at my watch and realized that if I finished the last 4.2 miles in less than 32 minutes, I would BQ. It still didn’t completely sink in, but that was the first time I thought, “Hey, you might have this.”

And how fitting that right after I had that thought, Demi Lovato’s “Confident” came on my playlist. I decided, well I might as well be confident and just go for it. What did I have to lose after 22 miles? If I ran out of steam, so what. I knew I would be happy I had tried.

The funny thing is…I didn’t run out of steam. Not even close. I was GAINING speed. After 23 miles?! I didn’t know I had it in me. Something about being so close to my goal was propelling me forward.

Just after mile 24 I was battling my thoughts. “Maybe I’m too far.” “Maybe I should just slow down, I still might not make it and I’m getting tired.” And just about a minute later someone grabbed me from behind. I let out the ugliest scream I’ve ever screamed. It was basically involuntary. I was in shock and so focused on that finish line that it really shook me. But it turns out it was my running partner, Arielle. She looked at me and said, “Are you going to Boston?” I didn’t even react in time to speak. She just said “Go Dale. Run fast! GO!”

And I took off. It was kind of a surreal moment for me. I gave it my all from then on. I could do anything for two miles, right? I let the crowd give me strength. I focused on Arielle’s words. I focused on my 18 weeks of hard work that got me to this point.

I was tired, but I had fight left in me. I sprinted up that last hill just before mile 26 like it was nothing. My legs were burning, but I was flying. I knew I had it. I covered that last 400 meters as fast as my legs could take me. And I crossed that finish line at 3:33:53. The tears came immediately after. I’d done it.

I couldn’t believe it. They were happy tears, but I was so emotional. Had I really just run a marathon at 8:09 average pace? And my last mile was my fastest mile of the entire race. Ran it an a 7:08 pace. If you had told my college self that I would have been capable of this, I’d have said you were crazy.

Reaching this goal just proved to myself that when I work hard I can do amazing things. No part of the training or this race was “easy” or came naturally. I WORKED so hard for it. 700+ training miles, countless speed workouts, spin classes, yoga classes, everything I did played a part in my success. And so did all the people who helped me. I couldn’t have asked for better running friends or a more supportive family. I wouldn’t be where I am physically without my support system.

I am thankful for this race. It truly was the best race of my life. I ran smart. I finished strong. I shocked myself. And I qualified for the Boston Marathon. Nothing will take that away.

Sunday, October 9th. 3:33:53. 8:09 average.

1123rd female. 117th in my age group. 5465th overall. 


Chicago Marathon Training: Week Seventeen (25.38 miles) 

THAT’S A WRAP! 17 weeks of hard work comes to a close. I can’t believe the Chicago Marathon is only one week away. This week was the lowest mileage week I’ve had all training, but that was the point. It isn’t called tapering for nothing! And I actually got a lot of great cross training in. 

Here’s a week seventeen  breakdown:

Monday – 4 miles + Cycle class 

Four easy paced miles after work and right before my spin class at Studio Three. My legs were a little tired, but I still powered through the class! I like the back-to-back workouts. 

Tuesday – 4 miles 

Early morning four miler! Tried to keep my pace easy and embrace the taper. My tight legs made this easier. 

Wednesday – Rest day 

Tonight was supposed to be our last team speed workout, but weather was horrible. I went to the store and everything, but then we bailed. No point in risking getting sick this close to the marathon. Rest day it was! 

Thursday – Barre Code class + 3.25 miles 

I tried my first class at The Barre Code after work! And I LOVED it. It was all body weight. Small movements and holds that burn out one muscle at a time. My body was sore the next day in a whole new way. Can’t wait to go back after the race! And then I ran a relaxed 3.25 miles with Kyle later on. I love our run dates. And it lets me run in the dark because I’d never go out at night alone. 

Friday – Cycle class + 5 miles 

Took another spin class at Studio Three in the morning! I had a free one to use from their yoga event last week, so I took advantage of it. It was a smaller class and with one of my favorite instructors. Then I went out for 5 miles around lunch. I worked from home for my last day at my current job, so it allowed me to run at lunch! I accidentally ran the first mile at 7:39 pace, but I slowed after that. Averaged 8:30 pace and felt good. Especially for two double days in a row! 

Saturday – 6.13 miles 

My last long run got cut short due to a crazy down pour, but I loved it. I took it to my favorite hilly trails and enjoyed the alone time. I averaged 8:43 pace. Ran into some deer, got soaked by a storm, and had to call it quits at 6.13 miles, but that’s okay. It was still a great a run. I even found myself kind of crying halfway through thinking about how I was done with training. I’m just so proud of how I did this cycle and I can’t wait to put it to the test. 

Sunday – 3 miles

I wasn’t supposed to run today, but I really wanted to. And since I cut a couple miles off the day before, I decided it was okay. Three relaxed miles followed by stretching! 

I’m not the best at tapering, but I’m really trying. I kept my mileage low and focused more on cross training. My body feels good and I know I only have two “runs” left before race day. WHAT?! It got here so quickly. But I cannot wait to toe that start line. It’s going to be an amazing journey. Really, it already has. 

Seventeen weeks down, ONE to go.

Week seventeen total mileage: 25.38 miles