Pulling the plug on Chicago

Long time, no blog. It’s been nearly three months since my last marathon. Life has been extremely busy – work, summer fun, life changes, and marathon training.

I’m three weeks into training for Chicago Marathon. I hired an awesome coach and was excited to have her do the thinking for me. It’s impossible to view yourself objectively. Running was going very well.

Until it wasn’t.

I’m in the process of making some big life changes, things that affect every area of my life. I am emotionally and physically drained. Training for a PR on top of it became too much. Even though I was nailing my workouts, something felt off. I wasn’t finding joy in running, something I’ve never experienced before.

Running is my escape from life’s stress, and no matter how busy or tough training gets, I thrive off the push. Ironically, training makes me more efficient in all areas. I am the best version of myself when I’m training and pushing my limits.

Until I’m not.

The mental exhaustion I’m feeling is hard to quantify. My life-changing stress has begun to physically manifest. I’m making bad food choices and sleeping terribly. I’m overwhelmed to the point of becoming paralyzed by inaction. All of that adds up to stressful miles, especially those hard speed workouts where you have to be on point.

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Just another day of grinding away…

I was smack dap in the middle of a 13-mile long run on Sunday. I ran a route with a large hill. After the climb, you overlook the town. It’s serene and peaceful with a beautiful view of the prairie and river. When I reached the top, I overlooked it all and just broke down. After lots of tears, I knew to avoid burnout and truly care for myself, I had to make the decision not to race Chicago. I’m not sure if I will run it at all, even for fun.

Once I conceded the race to myself, I didn’t have the desire to finish out my long run. I’ve never bailed on a long run before. Ever. Once I commit, I don’t bail. When those thoughts ran through my mind, I knew I was making the right call.

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A panoramic view of the prairie. Also a good place to lose your shit. Nature doesn’t judge.

While this decision is right, it’s also sad and disappointing. I’ve had Chicago on my mind since last October when I registered. Boston went better than expected, so I was primed for a PR (with a good training cycle).

I’ve never had to back out of a race before. There were times where I should have but ran anyway. One of those times ended in passing out on the course with heat exhaustion and being propped up by race volunteers to walk to the finish. I was too stubborn to back off. Yes, I am usually “that person.”

This time, I won’t be too stubborn. I know I have faster marathon times in me, but right now, it isn’t a healthy time for me to chase them. I feel like I’m disappointing people, most of all myself.

On the other hand, I look forward to taking a mental break, something I didn’t do after Boston when I needed it. Just two weeks out, I was logging 50-some mile weeks. How silly of me.

Marathon training is consuming. If you’ve done it, you know the work it takes. The miles are just the beginning. After you run, there’s fueling, hydrating, rolling, smashing, lifting, laundry……you name it.

My coach emailed me today and I dropped the bomb. She was very supportive, just as I thought she’d be.

So, there it is. I’m strong, but sometimes I need to back off to take care of myself, too.

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16 thoughts on “Pulling the plug on Chicago

  1. Congrats on making the decision that is best for you, mentally and physically. You are really a great example to everyone–self care isn’t hoisted up as success like a PR, but it should be. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. It’s strange how he universe comes to guide you! I’ve been feeling the same after Boston and leading up to what was supposed to be Ironman Whistler. My heart has not been there to do it because of my current work load. You think you can do it all but then something’s got to give. I never want it to be training but at some point that choice has to be made to back off and focus on life. Thanks for expressing the thoughts I’ve had for weeks now.

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  3. Great post. Learning to let go & truly let go of control means focusing on what’s most important & we runners like to keep running as most important Bc it’s key to our very survival so often. But letting go of controlling running and embracing training sometimes means seeing things as they are / you found yourself pushing hard after Boston to stay geared up for Chicago but your brain is overwhelmed with life changes. And so letting go means allowing yourself to regroup . We runners like to use running to regroup! I’m really intrigued by this decision you made as I embarked pushing myself pretty hard after my Spring DNF in my full .. And I have to be so careful as I start this next cycle as to what my goals are & how hard I need to push versus control versus let go. because letting go means listening too, I’m finding😁. I’m just uber impressed by you & your running & this post . As you can tell it helped me process things too 🙂 good luck . You will be back !

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    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful response. Letting go is really tough, especially for strong-willed, Type A runners. 😉 I wish you luck it’s you also move forward with training and I appreciate the good vibes!

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  4. I am so proud of you. You are so strong and are such a huge inspiration to me. Our paths crossed for a reason. And this just inspires me even more. I look up to you a lot. Your self care is priority. Love ya coach😘

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  5. There is nothing wrong in deciding not to race. Sometimes it’s the best choice.
    Run now for fun and stress reduction. I noticed when I took the pressure of serious training off for a while, my love of running returned. Try running without a watch. It’s very freeing.

    See you on the roads!

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      1. Have you ever listened to the Running4Real podcast by Tina Muir? If not, I highly recommend it. Tina Muir was/is an elite runner who stepped away for health reasons. Her podcast aims at running for the love of running. There are some excellent episodes on psychology of running. A couple of them address injuries and the psychological impact they may have.

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