I will be making my marathon debut at the Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10! Read my Maree’s 26.2 Journey Blog to see how my training has progressed.

I did my last major long run before marathon day on Wednesday – 22 miles in 3:53:00! I found out that the run I did before which I thought was a 22-miler was actually closer to 21, so I felt compelled to do a full 22 before race day. My main reason for this was to gauge my marathon pace so that I can sign up for a Nike Pace Group the week before the marathon. Nike offers pace groups for Chicago Marathon runners so that people who maintain roughly the same speed can stick together, and to help runners reach their personal time goals. Pace groups meet together at the start of a race, and then follow a pacer runner in the front of the pack who holds a sign that displays the group’s desired finish time. I plan on signing up for the 4:45:00 time range, and I’ll be thrilled if I can finish ahead of that pace group. I just keep picturing myself sprinting ahead of the 4:45:00 group at the end of the race . . . hopefully those visualization techniques will work for me on race day!

After my long run this week, I am now required to taper off, and the farthest I am “allowed” to run before the marathon is 10 or 12 miles. It’s hard to imagine that a few months ago 10-12 miles seemed almost impossible; now I feel like I could go that distance in my sleep! The Chicago Marathon has been sending out newsletters to participants once a month, and this last installment focused on “taper madness.” Similar to “cabin fever,” this frustration comes from being unable to go as fast and as far as you want to. The article from the newsletter said that “sooner or later, every marathoner will experience taper madness” . . . I happen to be experiencing it just two days after my last long run!

In order to combat taper madness, marathoners should focus on preparation for the race – what to wear, what to eat, running strategy, etc. I have already decided that I want to run in my ASICS shirt, Zensah Leg Sleeves, adidas shorts, and, of course, my Mizuno Wave Creation 11 running shoes. Without those shoes, I’m not sure how I would have made it through these last few months. All of my friends who are running with me – Megan, Ashley and Chris – are experiencing knee problems, blisters, or other aches and pains, whereas I am experiencing no pain other than generic muscle soreness. I truly owe my running shoes for preventing injury in my training.

In terms of nutrition and running strategy, I am pretty comfortable with my diet (which consists mainly of carbohydrates), and I plan on starting out slightly slower than my pace goal, just to get a feel for the race. Once I get a few miles in, I plan to increase my speed, and hopefully when I reach the last .1 or .2 miles, I can sprint over the finish line. I will probably walk just long enough to consume Gatorade, GU, or food, and I might walk for a short time around mile 22 or 23. For me, walking is not very beneficial mentally, because it’s hard for me to get up the motivation to start running again, but I know my body will probably need a rest at some point in the race.

I should be getting my official race packet in the mail today, so I look forward to tearing it open as soon as I get home! I also wanted to thank all my Blog readers for your support throughout my training; you provided some great motivation!