Chicago and Marine Corps Marathon Training Recap, Week 1

Feeling fresh at my first marathon

You read that right, I am training for not one, but two marathons! On October 8th, I will be completing the Chicago Marathon for the 5th consecutive year (Hello, Legacy Finisher Status!), and then just two weeks later, on October 22nd, I will be completing the Marine Corps Marathon. You’ll notice I said completing, and not necessarily running. Let’s not get crazy here. Remember the tagline…Not a runner, just a marathoner. Chicago 2013 was my first marathon, and in fact my first race ever. My ‘training’ consisted of doing as much of the last 10 or so weeks of a 15-week training plan as I could. If the plan said run 3 miles, I walked 3 miles. If it said run 10 miles, I walked 10 miles. And when it said run 20 miles, I walked 20 miles. I might have run a block or two here and there in between, but that was about it. I didn’t follow the plan completely, as life tends to get in the way. So I did what I could and I approached my first marathon without a clue. Ignorance is bliss.

The boys and me at the 2013 Chicago Marathon Expo

That first year, my family and I spent the entire weekend in the city. The marathon was just a few days before our 25th wedding anniversary, so we went out for a beautiful steak dinner on Friday night, a shared bottle of wine included. On Saturday morning we bummed around the city and did a little shopping. I did my scheduled 2-mile shakeout run (walk), and then we headed to the expo at McCormick Place. While waiting in line to speak with the 5:00 pacer, I started chatting with a 5:25 pacer. I told him I had never run in my life, and that on that day I doubted I could even run a block. The more we talked, the more he convinced me that a 5:00 pace was a pretty lofty goal for a non-running-first-time-marathoner. He said I should stick with him and he would get me through. That evening, my family and I went to an Italian restaurant, because of course I had to carb load…so why not have a few beers while we’re at it?

Ready to rock the 2013 Chicago Marathon

On race morning, I wiggled my way through the crowd and found my pacer. While waiting for the official start of the race, he shared that this would be his 259th marathon. Wow! I felt pretty confident he knew what he was doing! The crowd started moving forward and before I knew it, we started to run. In no time, we had run a mile, and I just couldn’t believe it. Then two miles, then five, then OMG I’ve just run 10 miles! The only times we walked were through the water stations. I didn’t know what I was doing there, either. If someone handed me water, I drank it. Gatorade? Yeah—sure (though I’d never had a sip of it in my life!). I took the gummy chews, the banana chunks; whatever was handed to me by volunteers along the route. I figured these people knew better than me what I should be doing.

My amazing 2013 pacers, Tom and Dom

So how did this newbie runner do her first time out? Did she crash and burn? Did she hit the proverbial wall? Did she cry my way all the way home? Nope. Official finish time: 5:24:58. No lie. Look me up under Bib #39704. I crossed the finish line, grabbed my well-deserved ice cold Goose Island beer, and then called my best friend and told her I had just completed the Chicago Marathon. She of course didn’t believe me, because except for my husband and sons, I told absolutely no one that I was doing it. Read: if you ever need to tell someone a big secret, I’m your girl.  Steel trap.

That first marathon finish time remains my marathon PR. I walked all of 2014 with zero training and a still-healing 7 inch surgical incision across my lower abdomen. Official finish time: 6:27:10. In 2015 I did a little walking in the month or two before the race, but decided to bail about two weeks prior because my mom was very ill and I didn’t think I could do it. She had stabilized enough that I drove down to the city the night before to watch my son run the following day.

It’s all good. Here’s my fully-recovered mom holding my insanely-large 2016 Chicago Triple Crown medal.

We went to the expo together and I figured I would pick up my packet since we were there. And then that night I decided what the heck, I’m here; I’ll just do it. So once again, I walked the Chicago Marathon, with an official finish time of 6:27:42. Am I proud of these finish times? You bet your sweet dupa I am! Until a few years ago, I had never run in my life. And in the end, I got the same medal everyone else did.

In 2016, I had such good intentions! I did more walking and running to prepare than I had done in any previous year. I secretly wanted to finish in 5:00 (which was a bit of a stretch), but told everyone I would be happy to finish in 5:30. When I hit the half-marathon point at 2:32, I knew a 5:00 finish would be nearly impossible, so I decided not to kill myself and literally walked for the next five miles. I rallied in the end and finished in 5:28:04, and was as happy as a clam.

So let’s fast-forward to today. Once again, I am approaching a training plan with nothing but good intentions! Each of the previous years, I sort-of-but-really-didn’t follow the Nike “Finish a Race” training plan. This year, I am using the Nike “Set a New PR” plan. I am still doing plenty of walking, but I plan to stick with it on the mileage, and then on race day, I hope the speed will come. We’re not talking BQ here (but, oh, a girl sure can dream!) My only hope is to do more running than walking and finish still standing upright.

And so, the week in review:

Sunday, 6/25:   4 miles completed, as planned. And as a special bonus, I walked another few miles that evening with my son.

Monday, 6/26:   5 miles completed, as planned.

Tuesday, 6/27:   A 30-minute strength workout was planned…and not done. I worked a 12-hour shift and was crazy-busy, and was exhausted by the time I got home.

Wednesday, 6/28:   6 miles completed, as planned.

Thursday, 6/29:   4 miles completed, as planned. Plus a bonus 1-mile PR later in the evening to complete the Strava #MyMile Challenge.

Friday, 6/30:   6 miles completed, as planned.

Saturday, 7/1:   Rest Day, completed, as planned. Woo hoo!

I am very happy with this first week of official training for my two upcoming marathons. The weather in Chicago has been brutally hot and humid and I am doing a lot of walking, but I am getting the miles in. Stay tuned and let’s see if I can actually stick it out until the end!

What races do you have coming up in 2017? How is your training going? Have you ever run a marathon…or any other race without training?


  1. Good luck! YOU are so ambitious, and I’m excited to follow your training (since I’m on a training sabbatical for the summer). I have done a couple marathons being slightly under-trained, but since I do a lot of half marathons, I know my endurance is pretty solid. That said, I do not go into these marathons with any lofty goals. I’m quite content to just have the ability to run a marathon, the ‘speed” is not a priority for me. Best of luck!!

    1. Author

      Thanks so much, Kim, and OH MY GOSH…you!!! I’m so sorry to hear about your whirlwind weekend, and am so glad you are on the road to recovery. I will be following your summer healing as well!

  2. Great weekly mileage! It looks like your training is right on track! Way to Go!

    1. Author

      Thanks! I honestly never thought I couldn’t finish. One foot in front of the other, right? And yes…your secrets are safe with me!

  3. Wow, what a wonderful history of walk-racing. So impressive!

    I hope to meet you at MCM!

  4. That’s so awesome that you are running two marathons this season! I am also running Chicago and I’ll be doing NYC again in November, but Chicago is my goal race!

    You had a great week of training! Love your recap of your marathons. You have such a positive attitude and approach to running/training!

    1. Author

      What fun! I think if I was actually RUNNING these marathons I might not be able to do two in two weeks, but with my walk/run it should be good. Looking forward to following your training recaps!

  5. Congratulations on your past races and good luck on your upcoming two! Your positive mental attitude and hard work prove any goal is achievable!

  6. Oh my goodness! I love reading the story of your first marathon. I love your attitude and determination.

    Good luck running running both marathon. However, based on what I’ve read here, you’ll have no problem at all.

  7. I want to come run with you! I have done one marathon, but I trained very hard. In the end, I fell apart during the 26.2 miles, but I have yet to feel the urge for redemption.

    I have a bunch of races coming up – where I live, there are races every weekend, even in summer (and especially in winter), and I’m excited for all of them!

    Can’t wait to see how this year treats you!

    1. Author

      Haha, prepare for a slow run if you do! I’ve done a couple of winter races here in Chicago, and the weather has been brutal! I’m sticking with the warmer weather ones here, then ‘destination’ races, if any, during the winter months. Good luck with your upcoming races! Looking forward to some great recaps!

    1. Author

      Thanks! I think you guys were long gone by the time I dragged my butt to that point last year…hopefully I’ll have a better time this year and will get to see you!

  8. WOW! 2 marathons in a row! Kudos to you! You have a super attitude and crossing the finish line is always a victory in my book! Keep up the great training!

    1. Author

      Thanks so much! I did back-to-back halfs two days in a row last year, and it wasn’t so bad. I’m hoping two marathons two weeks apart won’t do me in!

  9. I believe this is my first time visiting your blog and I have to say your story is AMAZING. I want you to be my walking/running partner!

    During my last marathon I met two sisters who were doing race walking. They finished in around 5:35 which I think is not a half bad time anyway let alone walking it!

    What will your plan be for the upcoming races?
    I don’t know what other races i’ll do in 2017. I did the NYC half in the spring and that was a big deal for me! Good luck to you!

    1. Author

      Thanks so much! That first marathon in 2013 was my fastest…a slow ‘jog’ and finishing in 5:25. I walked the next two, finishing just a few minutes under the course limit. Last year I did a combo walk/run.

      I’ll be doing the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon on 7/16, then the Chicago Marathon on 10/8 and the Marine Corps Marathon on 10/22. I am hoping to do more running than walking this year!

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