The countdown is on for the Chicago Marathon

Today is a lovely fall day, cool and crisp.  What I would have given for this day yesterday, when I did my long run.  I did spend quite a while lying in bed yesterday morning reminding myself that I couldn’t possibly go 20 miles (32 kms) in such humidity, so I kept checking the weather report on my iPhone Touch while reading a novel.  I’d be hard pressed to say whether I was hoping the report would show the rain clouds clearing soon and cool dry weather coming or whether I really wanted a nice clean excuse not to go out, like a massive rain storm approaching.  Eventually, I gave up, reluctantly discarded the possibility of waiting until today in the hopes that the weather would be as perfect as it actually is, and hit the trail.

It has been a less than ideal training season.  Like most places, we’ve had unimaginably summery weather – hot, humid, and great for everything except working in an un-air-conditioned office and running.  And there have been a few nagging injuries, always available for an excuse, right?  But the Chicago Marathon is 4 weeks from yesterday, and that reality is what finally slapped me across the face yesterday morning and said, “Girl, get your butt in gear and get those miles in.”  So I did.  Not fast miles, not all running miles, but at least there were 20 of them.  Now if I had only had reality say that to me a few weeks ago.  But it was SOoooo hot. And there were my injuries, which of course I didn’t want to inflame (and which are now getting sorted out with acupuncture, thankfully).

Last year, I trained for my first – and only! – marathon.  Here are the facts as I know them:

I was 65.  I had overcome injuries and was on a roll.  I followed my training plan religiously.  I thought I could do a 5:45 (I know this doesn’t sound good to most of you, but wait until you’re 65!).  I did a 5:49:54 and was very pleased (thank God for those 6 seconds I saved from somewhere; it sounds so much better to me than 5:50).

This year, I’m training for my second – and last! – marathon.  Here are the facts as I know them:

I am 66.  I followed a similar training plan until some nagging injuries developed and IT GOT SO HOT!  Now I’ve revised my goal from what improved time I can do this year to what combination of running and walking will allow me to finish before the course closes in 6 and a half hours.

This, in fact, was what kept me going for my final 6 miles yesterday.  I spent time determining how fast I could actually walk – not fast enough, as it turns out.  Then I spent even more time doing mental arithmetic, trying out various combinations of running spurts (slow running spurts) and walking spurts that will give me a 4.1 mph average speed, the speed needed to finish in 6:30.  Of course, once I thought I had that figured out, I had to calculate (probably for the million-and-tenth time, but not usually in my head) how I could improve on that.  One thing I did learn from these calculations is that doing calculations in your head as you navigate our trail system is an effective way of making the time go by.  So is concentrating on walking fast instead of dawdling, aka engaging in mindful walking.  If only this one day of cool, crisp weather will translate into more of the same, maybe I can get back into mindful running.  Please, please, please.

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16 Responses to The countdown is on for the Chicago Marathon

  1. Lesley says:

    I did my first long run in a good long time on Sunday – 20km in the humidity. It was tough, and I can’t imagine having kept on going for 32. Actually, I can’t imagine keeping on for 32 in the best of conditions. Maybe I just need to think more about math and the time will whiz by 🙂 Are you doing the Fall Classic? I see you’re signed up. m

    • Jane Fritz says:

      20 mms? That’s a whole half! You must be thinking about the Fall Classic, though I don’t see your name on the list! Yup, I plan on slogging it out. It’s 2 weeks before Chicago. You should do it! It’s been a brutal summer for training. I can’t imagine having done the SJ half like we did last year. Oh well, one step at a time. 🙂

  2. Steph says:

    You can do it! Visualize yourself finishing strong and you will!!

  3. OMG — this is so impressive. I just turned sixty in July, and you are putting me to shame. I think, maybe….maybe….I might want to do something like this….


    Thanks for the inspiration, truly.


    • Jane Fritz says:

      Aha, you’re a young’un! This is my retirement project. I don’t expect it will last forever, but at least I have the time for the training required, which is a lot longer when you run/walk slow. 🙂

  4. Tim Andrew says:

    You looked in fine form when we met on the trail yesterday. I apologise for my daughter stopping you to talk

  5. A.M.B. says:

    How impressive! Good luck with the training and the marathon. Are you very sure it will be your last? Maybe it’ll be an ultra-marathon next!

  6. Philip Curre says:


    I have never responded to any of your blogs, though I do enjoy them immensely. I cannot keep quiet any longer. Since I am the one who is actually going to accompany you on this adventure in Chicago, as I did in New York, I know you are writing this gibberish to pysch me out. You don’t fool me with that loving and caring sister routine. It worked in New York when you snuck up and beat me by 5 minutes. It isn’t going to work in Chicago. I have a full time job but still found time to run yesterday. I had my best time this year. I could have gone forever but decided to stop at 15 kms. All I can say is “buck-up”, I’m not accepting any excuses.

    Your loving and competitive brother,


    • Jane Fritz says:

      You are too funny, Phil!! I’m laughing. You could have kept going but you stopped?! To watch the tennis?! If it makes you happier, I left the house at 10:50 and returned at 3:50, pretty well on the nose. Today I think I could have taken enough time off to finish in 6:30 or better. If psychology alone could get us to the finish line, what would we say to each other??!! P.S. I’m still laughing!

  7. You’ll do fine and we’re are all rooting you on!!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks so much, Rita. I’ll think of you and your lovely farm in the hills of Virginia as I’m running along the streets of Chicago – my first visit to the Windy City.

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