Yep, that's what happened at Chicago. I still stand by what I posted after the race because I refuse to have a negative outlook based on one crappy year of racing... BUT now I'm ready to pick apart what exactly went wrong for me this year and how to fix it going forward.
Recapping some other stuff first:
1. I did go to Geveva, IL again in September to run the Last Chance to BQ Marathon. After 20 weeks of training with not even a sniffle I managed came down with a 101 degree fever- no joke- the day before the race. *Punches things* It was the dumbest of luck, but me being even dumber I still drove to Illinois and curled up in a hotel bed for 12 hours hoping I would be able to put something together on race morning.
Of course I couldn't! I was absolutely miserable and started walking at mile 15 before dropping out shortly after. I figured I at least had to give it a shot since there was the slightest possibility I'd be able to shake off the sickness and run well, but it was very clear once I got going that could not outrun a fever.
2. Mistake number two was not just chilling out, extending my training for a month, and taking a shot at a redemption run in Chicago. Instead I signed up for the DoLittle Marathon in Waukesha just two weeks later. It's a very small local race on a super fast course, so when I saw the weather forecast was going to be perfect on race day (temps in the 40s, no wind) I got on board.
It was at this race when I started to realize that my problem this year is that despite my best efforts, I'm just not currently in sub-3:40 marathon shape. Even with a very conservative start at DoLittle, I still couldn't keep my goal pace when I needed to. By mile 17 or so and quickly fading, I realized that at the pace I was going I was going to be lucky to finish in around 3:50. (A perfectly good time just not what I've been working so hard for.) At mile 20 I started walk/jogging and at mile 23 the course went close to where I was parked so I took off my bib and bailed once again.
Yes, that makes four races that I have DNF-ed at this year. Granted three of them I had legit reasons (sickness, heat, sickness again) but fourth one I honestly just got really down on myself realizing I wasn't at the level I thought I was at. Not my proudest moment but the last thing I wanted to do was have to talk to a bunch of local running friends at the finish when I was feeling so bummed out.
I decided then that when I ran Chicago all time goals would go out the window. I'd go out "slow", enjoy the spectators, and finish happy at what has become my favorite marathon:
|Having fun! And not even breaking 4 hours!|
Wow I felt pretty terrible at the end of this one, but at the same time I actually really enjoyed myself and for the first time in quite a while I took the time to take everything in around me. Jason came down to cheer for me at the final turn before the runners head up Roosevelt to the finish and I about lost it I was so happy. Chicago really is my favorite race and l look forward running it many more times in the future. I knew going in that I had missed my peak to even try to run a fast-ish race that day but being fast was not the point. I needed a finish in 2018 and I got it.
So that's it for marathons this year! No looking for a November race to try once again to scrape a better time together. I have to face the fact that the new training plans I followed this year just didn't work for me. I really wanted to switch it up this year and I put a lot of faith in the training I followed but looking back now I kind of knew in the back of my mind that things weren't totally clicking for me. My marathon pace never felt dialed in during tempo runs when in the past an 8:15 would feel pretty comfortable for me. I also completed every interval workout on pace but nothing ever felt "good. I was just barely making it through. At the time I chalked it up to having the "cumulative fatigue" of training but at some point things really should begin to come together. It's ok to have bad days from time to time but to never have a real breakthough in months and months of training is pretty rough.
In conclusion I've decided that I need to return to what got me into PR shape in the first place- so I'm going back to the training method that got me my 3:38 and 3:39 marathons a couple of years ago! Back then I thought I had plateaued with the Pfitzinger training plans but now I feel it's time to return to what got me the best results. Additionally, I need to add back in my strength training routine at least twice a week. I don't know why I fell out of doing strength workouts this past year but I did. I put too much faith in all the running I was doing when really I've always believed that consistent strength training can be key in putting you over the top. It's silly that I let it slide so now I'm firmly back on the kettlebell train.
Next up! I plan to run the Last Call Half Marathon in 6 weeks to see what my starting point is for spring marathon training. I am down but never out.