Chicago: to be or not to be, that is my question

This week, most East Coasters are asking “did’ja feel it?”—the “it” being Tuesday’s 5.8 earthquake. But the question on my lips is “should I do it?”—the “it” being the fast-approaching Chicago Marathon.

With my coach’s blessing, I signed up for the October 9th foot race moments after registration opened on February 1st. Eleven weeks away from my 26.2 debut at Boston, I was going gaga over going long. I had few conversations that didn’t revolve around Hopkinton, Sauconys, fuel belts, GU or cadence. I steeped myself in stories of Joan, Alberto, Dick, Bill and Johnny. (For those of you who don’t steep in the same teapot, that’s Benoit, Salazar, Beardsley, Rodgers and Kelley. If you’re still not with me, those are all, um, wicked good runners). The 20 milers just around the bend tantalized. Not wanting the love affair to end on Boylston, I set a date in Chicago. And while I was at it, I planned to collect all five World Majors—I’d chase down Boston and Chicago with New York, London and finally Berlin.

I could certainly think of worse ways to pound the pavement of my fourth decade.

Little did I know that a). each of my feet possessed stretches of connective tissue called plantar fascia, b). I was in the process of making the left foot’s fascia livid and c). once the tri season commenced, “long” would lose luster and I’d  fixate on “fast”.

Fast-forward to present day. My plantar fascia is on the mend (thanks to a podiatrist, a custom orthotic insert, a rather goofy Sock, three pairs of Danskos and more ice than chilled the drinks of 15,000 geeks at CiscoLive before they crooned this drunken duet with Train). With Nationals in my rearview mirror, I find myself thinking my passport could use the love my World Majors goal promises. I wonder whether I could “BQ” in Chicago; the pace calculators say yes.

In short, I’m warming back up to marathoning in general and the Windy City in particular.


I’ve paid the entry fee, reserved a room and nabbed seats 23 A, B, and C on American Flight 451, Boston to O’Hare. But I wonder: where does this fall on the list of Dumbest Ideas Ever?

Here’s the guidance thusfar:

The Podiatrist:  “It’s too bad Chicago isn’t in November. Your plantar fascia should be fine for a November marathon. Chicago is a flat course, so it wouldn’t inflict much damage. But then again, you train in Boston not Chicago and Boston isn’t flat. Tough call.”

The Coach:
“Chicago. I have been thinking about this. I’m concerned about your foot. If you can do 11-12 miles pain-free this weekend, then I think you’ll be ok. If not, rethink this. You don’t want it to become chronic; marathon training will make that tough. Plus with all your scheduled tris this fall, getting in proper marathon training may be tough. Let’s see how the run goes this weekend and go from there.”

The Sub-Three-Marathoner-Turned-Triathlete Friend: “Take a look at the USAT Rankings. It’s only your second season and you’re already close to being a ranked triathlete. In 2010, you had a gender-adjusted score of 78.5. You were 252 of 2258—i.e. in the 24th percentile. The lower limit of “honorable mention” was 84.6. In 2011, your overall performance (best 3 of the 4 that have been graded—Mooseman, Cohasset, Marlborough, and Nantucket) is 80.6. Your best was Marlborough at 82.3. You would probably need to finish at ~84-85 to be “honorable mention”, based on last year’s numbers. If you finished at 82.3, then you’d be at ~15th percentile. When you’re this close, why would you want to throw a wrench into the works with a ‘junk miles’ marathon?”

Me:  ACK! (This time I am not referring to Nantucket).

I guess you could say I have one Saucony in Chicago. Meredith, since I burned through my Phone-a-Friends I’d like to Ask the Audience.

Blog readers: cast your vote in the comments field below. Is Chicago to be or not to be for me?

–          Christine

About garmin_girl

I'm a 40-something single mother of three--two great human girls and one four-legged Dalmatian banshee--who is hellbent on swimming, biking and running straight through my midlife crisis. Care to tag along? Crazy loves company! ;)
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6 Responses to Chicago: to be or not to be, that is my question

  1. Christine says:

    Heck ya!

  2. Pam says:

    Give the foot a break, Maverick needs you.

  3. Andy McPhee says:

    You know my answer already: NO! But do go to Chicago, as Emma says. If you’ve never been, it’s an absolutely wonderful city. I LOVE it. So many fantastic neighborhoods, so much to see and do. GREAT city. And…as Starbucks announced today, Chicago will have the Pumpkin Spice Latte sooner than any other place on the globe, so it’s got that going for it.

  4. In the interest of full disclosure, I post this comment received from the Sub-Three-Marathoner-Turned Triathlete Friend via email:

    Very entertaining blog. Keep in mind these Jon Didriksson quotes:

    “The leg muscles of repeat marathoners are like straw. They lose all elasticity.”

    “If you get the itch to do another marathon, the best cure is to go to the finish and see all the corpses stacked up.”

    I vote nay.


  5. Update: Since Hurricane Irene appears hellbent on becoming this weekend’s unwanted house guest, I ran those coach-prescribed 12 miles a day early. I am thrilled to report they were not only completely pain-free but gave me the same heady feeling I get whilst descending in the aero position.

    You know what that means: I am definitely leaning westward! 🙂

  6. Pingback: House Money | CJ Runs Like a Girl

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