Maree’s 26.2 Journey is my blog about training for my first marathon. Follow my journey as I prepare for the Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10.

I can’t believe the marathon is only three weeks away! At this point, I feel prepared to run the race physically, but I know that this is the critical time when mental fitness is essential. Marathoners say that the last few weeks before the race are the most difficult because runners should be ready to run the 26.2 miles, but now they have to maintain that level of fitness. Personally, I have this irrational fear that I am going to lose my ability to run more than 20 miles before October 10th. I have also started setting more concrete time goals for myself, which means that I am worrying about finishing the race within my desired time.

Initially, I just wanted to finish the marathon. I then decided that I would be able to finish the race in less than five hours, which allows for some pretty slow running. Recently, I have set a goal of somewhere between four hours and 30 minutes and four hours and 45 minutes, which would be right around 11-minute miles. I’m fairly positive I can finish within this time frame, but I am afraid that I will start out the race too fast or make another novice mistake that will prevent me from finishing within my desired time.

I decided I would run my very own half marathon this weekend to see if I could beat my friend Anna’s time from the real Chicago Half Marathon a couple weekends ago, and to gauge my full marathon race time. I mapped out 13.1 miles on the Lake Shore Path and tried to pick up the pace throughout the run. Normally, I just run the distance without worrying about speed, but I was curious to see how fast I could run comfortably. I was hoping that I would finish in a sub-2:20:00, which would mean that, theoretically, my full marathon time will be 4:45:00 or less. I decided not to wear my Fuel Belt, because I was curious to see whether going without it would increase my speed. I also used my Zensah Leg Sleeves and the Nathan Arm Sleeves, which I have never used before, since it was only about 55 degrees outside. Both of these products kept my legs and arms warm so that I could finish the run comfortably.

I finished my own half marathon in approximately 2:15:00, which is not only faster than Anna’s time (2:19:00), but makes me think I can finish the full marathon in at least 4:45:00 or less. However, I know that since this will be my first race, there are no guarantees as to how I’m going to handle the competition of running with other people. I hear there will be internationally recognized runners there, which will be very exciting, but also intimidating.

Now I’m off to eat some pasta . . . I have a 20-miler coming up this week!