First off, Chicago was amazing. My time as in numbers? Not amazing. My time as in experience? Amazing. This was the first marathon where I wasn't coming in with at least decent training under my belt, and looking to race rather than just run. This time I just cruised and talked to people. My training was practically non-existent; I ended up with only one run over 13 miles. Sure, I'd like to be faster, but I'll save that for the next one. It was nice to do one with no worries, no pre-race jitters. If only it had been about 10 degrees warmer!
A number of Knoxians ran this year as well: Dennis "Kramer" Fricks, John O'Malley, Carol Sawicka, Jenna Boostrom, Nan Curry, Jenny Larsen, Brian Park (who apparently carried a diamond ring in a Ziploc bag the whole race and proposed to Jenny on the finish line), and probably others that I don't know about. Two old high school cross team mates ran as well; Lauren Baldwin and Laine Hamman. And finally, two co-workers; Mike Mann and Jerome Stillions. Congrats to all!
Running a marathon, especially one of the majors like Chicago, is really an unbelievable experience. This is something that I believe anyone, with enough hard work and determination, can pull off, but so few do. To see so many together, all pushing forward, staying strong and finishing, is breathtaking. Besides the runners, the fans themselves are amazing as well. While there is certainly much to be said for people who get up in the morning to run 26.2 miles, how about someone who gets up in the morning just to watch someone run 26.2 miles. And then there are the ones who make signs, dress up, pass out food/candy/water, etc. It really does give you hope for humanity. That being said, there is also something to be said for smaller marathons where fans are sparse; then it becomes more of a mental battle.
So, now that I've completed marathon no. 4, it's time to begin preparations for no. 5. I haven't fully decided, but I'm leaning towards Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN on June 16. I like Grandma's for a few reasons. The date is good; I want to run the 500 Festival Mini in Indy this year, and running Grandma's would allow me to do that. I've also heard a lot of good things about Grandma's, and it is less expensive than many marathons. That will be the likely choice, although I've been reading through marathon reviews and might look into doing something closer if I can find one.
I would like to really train for this marathon and see how fast I can go. But of course, there is the problem of the looming rush and the fact that in a month of less, I'll be back to massive overtime. I'm going to hope that I don't get back up into 70- or 80-hour weeks, but with Tichenor, it's really best not to. Especially in the winter, when I will arrive and leave work when it's dark outside, it's going to be a real challenge to get training in. Luckily, heavy training for a marathon as late as Grandma's would start in late January or early February rather than Christmas time, meaning I would be out of the worst part of rush. Still, I want to keep a good training base throughout the winter, so I start out with long runs of 8-10 miles with no difficulty. To that end, I have registered for several winter road races beginning on Dec. 16, which I hope will keep me motivated throughout rush.