All signs are green

With just more than 4 days left to the Chicago Marathon, my final preparations for the race have begun.

Unlike the last few marathons, I don’t really know what to expect. It’s been a year of hard running – with nearly 2 cycles through a training program designed by Greg McMilan – and some terrific finish times. But it’s also brought my first bout with injury, one that has effected training over the past 6 weeks.

Despite the low abdomen strain, there have been some positives in training – two 23+ mile runs and a near personal record at last month’s Dick Beardsley Half Marathon. The effect of the negatives are yet to be determined – some missed speed workouts after aggravating the injury during the Ragnar Great River Relay and dialing back mileage goals. The past 2 weeks have also offered a quandary that is still playing out: the injury hasn’t healed much but the pain is more bearable with medication. Taking meds isn’t something I like to do, and I frequently skipped using them. But the pain gradually gets worse without them so there’s little choice until after the marathon.

In the next few days, I’ll be finalizing a race strategy for Chicago. At Grandma’s Marathon last June, virtually every aspect of my race was perfect – one that I’d replicate every time if possible. Still, I need to figure out what pace to start, when to pick it up and how to navigate the course with thousands of runners. To put it in understandable terms, this race will have more runners than the entire city of Moorhead. As with any marathon, there’s a fine line between going out too aggressively and straddling the red line to finish.

With a huge expo, screenings of “The Spirit of the Marathon,” free pre-race concerts in the park both Friday and Saturday (including Jewel as the Saturday headliner), and the terrific communication from race officials, the Chicago Marathon is shaping up to be a fantastic experience. And the weather also is looking favorable, with the following information sent along via email to runners:

“According to the advance local weather forecast, the weather on race day is projected to be sunny, with low temperatures in the low 50′s (degrees F) and high temperatures in the low to mid 70′s (degrees F). Based on this forecast, the Event Alert Level is Green, which suggests good conditions for marathon running on race day. ”

Today, in an effort to give myself a good test in my final speed workout, I hit the treadmill for intervals instead of the track. With windy conditions in Fargo, I wanted to know – without wondering about wind effects – if I could hit my paces. It wasn’t a great workout, but still good enough to help keep my hopes up for a good race on Sunday. At this point, my plan is to go and run the best I can and see what the race brings.

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