I can’t wait to run my first marathon, which is just over a month away. Follow my Maree’s 26.2 Journey Blog as I prepare for the Chicago Marathon.

Over the weekend, I took a break from training in Chicago and enjoyed a relaxing weekend at home. I took this time as my last vacation from heavy running until the marathon and did some alternative activities like canoeing and riding my horse. I have missed riding my horse for cross-training, because riding strengthens core muscles, which help build running stamina. Riding also builds thigh muscles and increases balance. The workout can be loosely compared to yoga and Pilates in the aerobic and muscular demand on the body. In fact, I love riding even more than I love running, since I have had horses and have been riding since I was eight years old. Below is a picture of me riding Dawson, my horse.

I also managed to squeeze in one five-mile run with my dog, Chance. I have really missed running with Chance, because he helps me keep up my pace and makes the run more interesting, especially when he sees a squirrel, deer, bird, porcupine, or even a stick or a rock on the ground and pulls us full-speed towards it (he’s very excitable). I even decided to run without my iPod, which usually keeps me entertained, because I wanted to enjoy the run with Chance. When I run in Chicago, I prevent boredom by listening to my iPod, people watching and thinking about my To Do List. Examples of things on my list include getting a job, making money, doing homework, paying my bills, planning out my day and other miscellaneous responsibilities. Clearly going through my To Do List is not the most enjoyable way to pass the time on my run, so it was nice to have a break from reality back at home and go running in the woods with my dog.

Chance cooling off in the lake after our run.

Out in the canoe with Chance!

I’ve also noticed a lot of advertisements for the Chicago Marathon on the streets of Chicago and on billboards. Below is an example of one of the ads (the race is on 10/10/10). All of Chicago seems to be getting excited for the race, which is really getting me pumped up to run.

This week I plan on doing a 20-mile run. I have altered my Hal Higdon Novice Marathon Training Program so that I get in a 20-mile run and a 22- or 23-mile run before the marathon. I’ll feel better about going the whole 26.2 miles if I have gone 20 miles or more a few times before race day.

I also wanted to give a shout out to my friend John at Eastbay, who got first place in his age division in a 10K he ran this past weekend! He’s off to a great start for the marathon he plans on running with his Dad next fall.