The past few months of training for Chicago has been a personal journey. It hasn’t been about gaining bragging rights for finishing one of the world’s biggest marathons, nor has it been about chasing a BQ. For me, The Chicago Marathon has about mental health, my mental health.
When I registered for Chicago, I saw it as an escape from the previous twelve months: moving my parents into nursing care and closing the family home, watching my mother progress into the later stages of Alzheimer’s as my dad underwent rounds of chemotherapy; dealing with my own injury that resulted in a leave of absence for weeks; facing the inevitable in the early spring. In fact, I entered the lottery for Chicago after my dad passed as I knew that I would need the distraction of training over the summer. At the end of May, after barely catching our collective breath, my brothers and I buried my mother just seven weeks after my dad. I made it to the end of the school year knowing that I had something to look forward to: a summer of marathon training.
Going to Chicago has been about me – my recovery. It has given me the focus I needed – pardon the pun – to get my feet back on the ground. Through training, I have had to rebuild my fitness and my running mates have been instrumental in helping me do that. I watched my mileage climb further than I thought it ever would, found some speed that I had forgotten about and, through regular yoga workouts, rediscovered my abs. At the same time, I’ve spent the summer resting and catching up on months of lost sleep. I’ve hung out with my boys and watched their interest in my marathon grow. I’ve asked my husband for running advice (gasp!).
Today at lunch, a co-worker asked me what time I’m hoping to run in Chicago. “I don’t really have one,” I replied. Her jaw dropped. “You?” she asked. “I don’t believe you.”
“I haven’t done much speed work; I’ve really only focused on building distance. All of my long runs have been around 5 minute kilometres. But I’m not really worried about time. I mean, I think I’ll run around 3:30, maybe 3:45.” She raised her eyebrows again. “I don’t really know, but I’m feeling strong,” I told her. “Really strong. I’m feeling fit. I’m healthy again.”
And she added, “Cynthia, you’re smiling again. You’ve got that twinkle in your eye back.”
Yup, I do. And I am ready to take it to Chicago.