13 days out now from the 2012 Chicago Marathon, the man's BIG race of 2012.
Last weekend we put in our last 20 before the race. It was cold and blustery with a bit of sprinkles here and there, a complete 180 from all of our other long runs so far this year. Summer came into Chicago fast and hard in the early weeks of D's marathon cycle. For a man that was just getting back into distance running and hadn't run over 10 miles in 6 years, training became a bit more challenging than we anticipated in the harsh summer weather.
Those first few long runs were tough on him both mentally and physically, we took plenty of walk breaks in the late miles and ended up shaving several miles off the top of quite of few of these runs. Even when I progressed his training slowly, it seemed to take his body a bit longer to get the hang of this whole marathon training thing after a 6 year hiatus. For awhile we weren't really sure if he was going to be able to make it to that starting line on 10/7 healthy, but we both kept patient and were holding out for the moment that things would finally come together. 7 weeks in, he was finally able to get in a solid long run (17.18 miles with an 8:58 average to be exact where the last 5 miles where lingering just around 8:00 flat) without walking and feeling beat to hell in the late miles.
1 kick-butt run is all he needed to tell him that it was on for 10/7 and that there was no reason whatsoever to doubt that he couldn't do it. We took this as a sign that he was ready for some challenging workouts and set our sights on running one awesome marathon together and time to ramp up his training.
When I told him to do 800's at an 3:30-35 pace
He would do them at 3:00.
When I told him to do a 4 mile tempo at 7:45 pace
He would run the first few miles at 7:30 then bust out with a low 6 pace in the last mile.
When I told him to be patient with the long run pace
He would push it anyhow in the late miles and try to school me in the end.
And now he's ready.
It's amazing how much a runner, or any athlete for that matter, can grow in a 4 month time period with a bit of persistence and patience. Goals that once seemed far off can become well within reach, and the possibilities of what lay ahead really gets your motor going. The coolest part is when that runner is your own husband where he tests and challenges you every step of the way completely blowing your expectations of his abilities out of the water.
That last 20.01 miles we ran last Saturday took us 2:56 minutes, which is an 8:47 average pace.
That was 7 minutes ahead of his last 20 miler 3 weeks prior, where his last 7 miles were a progressive build down to a 7:28 pace for mile 20.
We aren't getting too concerned about marathon pacing yet, just focusing our efforts on running a smart solid race where we restrain as much control as possible in those early miles to conserve a heck of a lot of energy to cruise right through the finish. No matter what that clock says, I think he already is a winner and I couldn't be more proud of him for waiting out the rocky start to he had with his training patiently for this exact point in time.
This is the most excited I've EVER been for a marathon where I'm really enjoying not thinking about myself and my goals where all my efforts are instead focused on what is best for D. It actually makes the whole marathon experience worth it to know that you're going to be at your best friend side as they shoot for and nail their own goal.
Chicago Marathon 2012, here we come!