Gonna catch up on things a bit. I don’t think I’ve had a real post since late last summer and a lot has happened. In the last days leading up to the 2011 Chicago Marathon, I had a great run at the Trails of Naperville Half Marathon. It was hot as could be and I was starting to see spots by the last couple miles, but still managed to shave a few minutes off of my previous record. The mid-day heat training over the summer had really helped and I was looking forward to putting in a good showing at in October. I was feeling really confident that I could at last get a marathon in under 4h45m which was my goal for both or my previous races. In the 2010 Chicago Marathon, that goal was smooshed by the insanely hot weather. In the Chicagoland Spring Marathon it was the freezing rain and 25 mph headwind that did me in. Still, I was happy just to finish both of those races, and despite my time on the day, I had a really solid year+ of training under my belt for my first two marathons.

After running the Ragnar Relay in June and a super consistent summer of training, I was feeling great. No ITB, no PF, no niggling injuries from footie. (yep, playing soccer and marathon training at the same time was probably not such a good idea in 2010).

Unfortunately, just a few weeks before the 2011 Chicago Marathon, I lost control of my scooter while coming to a stop at a traffic light, thanks to a road slicked with leaking garbage from a city sanitation truck. Not fun. I landed hard enough on my knee to bone bruise my patella and I tweaked my soleus, deeply bruised my gastrocnemius, and strained my patellar tendon. I went right into rehab and worked really hard to recover enough to run/walk the marathon, but it didn’t work out. I made it to the expo to pick up my t-shirt and race packet, but I already knew I wasn’t going to be starting.

That sucked a lot, but the silver lining is that this whole experience really opened my eyes to strength and stabilization training. One of the exercises I started in physical therapy was leg lifts with 2 pound weights. Piece of cake right? Being able to run for five hours without stopping means your legs should have the strength to lift a 2 pound weight into the air 10 times right? Wrong. What an eye opener. It turns out that if all you do is run, you are really neglecting a lot of muscle that is super helpful toward increasing performance and preventing injury.

So, joined a second gym, started personal training in December and have since been limiting my run mileage and frequency while still posting some pretty sizable gains in my pace and stamina. In January, I smashed my half marathon PR well enough that I’m going to train to qualify for the 4 hour corral in the 2012 Chicago Marathon. To qualify I’ll need to drop from my current record pace of 9m16s/mi down to 8m28s/mi or 1h50m59s. Totally doable. Yee-haw!

I’m starting my Spring training with targeting a <45m 8K run at the Shamrock Shuffle on March 25 and then training for my three legs in this years Chicago Ragnar Relay which are 8.2mi, 4.7mi and 4.2. I'm hoping to rock my target 8m28s/mi for that first leg and then closer to 8m flat pace for the two shorter legs. The best part though of the Ragnar is that I get to captain not one, but two teams this year. We've got 24 parents on board to raise funds for The Irving Schoolyard Project (http://bit.ly/irvingragnardonate). It's going to be a great time and I'm really looking forward to it. After that, I'll take a week or two of recovery and then will start laying on distance with the hope of hitting my qualifying half marathon some time early in August. Gonna have to find a nice cool Northern race for that one.