Thursday, April 18, 2013

Craving Endurance

My marathon journey started with the 2005 Chicago Marathon. I had no idea what to expect, I wanted to run a marathon just so I could say I did it. At the time, I didnt know that my obsessive compulsive inner beast would kick in. I was hooked during the training, it overtook me. I craved the weekly long runs especially when they got to be 15 miles or longer, there was just something about it that kept me coming back for more. My initial goal for the marathon was something around 4:00 but as my training progressed, I kept taking that goal time down a notch. I finally set my target time at 3:45 with the thoughts of qualifying for the Boston Marathon (3:40) lingering in the back of my mind. Well, I finished that first marathon with a 3:41 and change, missed Boston by like 30 seconds. I was elated and was already targeting Chicago 2006!!
I ended up qualifying in Chicago in 2006, ran Boston in 2007 and 2008. I was completely obsessed with the marathon, it became everything to me. I absolutely loved Boston, I loved the prestige, I loved the hills, I loved everything about it. It was special being able to say that I qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon. The whole thing kinda brought tears to my eyes. When I ran in 2007, I was lucky to have my parents and my best friend there with me to support me and cheer me on. Seeing them around mile 18 was incredible, i even stopped to jump on Cory and give her a giant hug!! I couldnt stop too long because I was running a great time. After that first Boston, the marathon was even more a part of who I was then it was previously. It was all I wanted to do.
I started cranking out 3-4 marathons a year which lead to injuries after my fall marathons, obviously my body wasnt a fan of the abuse. Since my first marathon in 2005, I've finished 12 marathons and have qualified for Boston 10 times. I missed it my first year and then again during the Chicago Heatathon where they actually ended up cancelling the race due to extreme temperatures. Throughout those years, I progressively cut time from that 3:41 I ran in 2005. In 2009, I finished up Chicago with a 3:14 and thats still my best time.
In 2010, I climbed my first skyscraper and was hooked on something different. I still ran the Chicago Marathon that year and had my sights set on 3:10, I was totally ready for it too but it was another warm year and I ended up with a 3:19. That was the end of my marathons, I was going into a marathon hiatus. I wanted to focus on stair climbing, see where that could take me. I was a good runner but I was never gonna win any major races but I could win major stair climbs and I could place in the top 3 against world class international climbers. It was a niche I could really excel in. In 2012, I traveled all over the world competing and didnt really focus much on running. I started to consider myself a stair climber instead of a runner and thats what I was getting known for.
Running friends would always ask if I was doing a marathon, nope! Not even interested. I was still hitting up some semi-long runs just for the heck of it because I'm an endurance junkie but really had no focus on running. I ran a few shorter races in 2012, finally broke 19:00 in a 5k but other than that, didnt do too much. I liked having stair climbing as an excuse plus then I didnt have to push myself during road races or be disappointed if I was slower than I was when I considered myself a "runner".
This year, I just haven’t really been focused or motivated on much of anything.  Been struggling with finding that drive and passion to really get into my training and push myself.  I struggled through an entire stair season but luckily, still ended up with some decent results and won the major Chicago races which I was happy about. 

I was looking for unique challenges, ways I could motivate and push myself while still doing something different.  I wanted to be out of the ordinary, wanted to excel.  That’s when we decided that mountain or trail running would be good for me.  I was good at going vertical, tilt the road up and I was on my way.  So I signed up for the Mt. Washington Road Race, 7.6 miles up Mt. Washington in New Hampshire with a grade of no less than 11%.  Yowzas, what have I gotten myself into!! 
I knew plenty of people running the 2013 Boston Marathon and was tracking their progress along the course.  Then came the tragedy, the bombings.  I was shocked and just felt a deep sadness in my heart, this hit home for me.  That race, the course, everything about it, held a special place in my heart.   I could really relate to this and it made me ache for those involved and those who suffered because of it.  I couldn’t believe that something I cherished so much was ruined.  The runner in me was speechless.  This wasn’t going to drag me down, it did the exact opposite.  It lit a fire underneath me and out of nowhere, I became a runner again.  I wanted to qualify, I wanted to show up and run in 2014.  I wanted to be there, I wanted to prove how much it means to me and how no one can take away the bond that I have with that race.  That race helped define me as a runner, as an athlete.  It gave me a goal, something to shoot for, set my eyes on.  It was a great accomplishment. 

I am coming out of my marathon hiatus and will be running the Fox Valley Marathon in September. I will qualify for Boston; I will be there in 2014.  I’m going to shoot for that 3:10 that I missed during my marathon in 2010.  This has given me some major motivation, the motivation that I’ve been lacking.  I feel excited, I ready to do this.  I wanna put in the miles, I wanna put in the hard work.  I was take all that I’ve learned from stair climbing and apply it to running.  Climbing skyscrapers, has taught me how to push myself to the limit, how to give it my all and how to never back down.  I’ve obliterated myself during an 11:00 race.  I used to love the marathon because it was a prolonged dull pain whereas 5ks were short and extreme, I couldn’t handle the shorter distances but stair climbing has taught me how to do that.  Now I’m going back to my endurance roots, back to being a runner.  Back to where my journey started and how I became the athlete I am today. 
Running friends, you’ll be seeing more of me this summer.  Were gonna train hard and do the work together!!  “Step-sibs” don’t you worry, I’ll be back in the stairwell in time for Sears and am gonna hit the training hard for Empire, Hancock and Strat.  I will shine at those races.  

Something I remember from my Boston experiences “Boston – Its all about the promises” and “Impossible is Nothing, Boston is Everything”. 
And as always – Run Fast, Climb High!!