By Lance Adeszko 6/23/11
The odyssey nearly ended before it began. Have you ever seen the original National Lampoon's Vacation movie? In the opening sequence, the Griswold's are set to leave for their family vacation. The car is parked in the garage with a carrier on the roof rack loaded with suitcases.
Clark proceeds to back the car out of the garage not realizing that the roof rack and carrier extend higher than the height of his garage door opening. He hits the gas and the family luggage is swept onto the hood of the station wagon like snow from a giant snow brush. It's like watching a truck stuck on lower Wacker Drive. If I were the Griswolds, my quest for Walley World would end right there. Obviously the vacations gods would be sending me a message.
Yesterday, I had a similar experience. I sent my blog posting in for editorial approval and proceeded to the Sun-Times.com Chicago Marathon website. There are lots of great running tips and Marathon information there. As promised, I was going to download the Hal Higdon Marathon training program provided on the Sun-Times.com website. I've used Higdon's approach for my half marathons in the past. For the uninitiated, he provides training programs for novice, intermediate and advanced runners. I've used both the novice and intermediate programs previously and decided I'd used the intermediate program for this training regimen. Higdon provides a day by day approach to race preparation. I like his approach because he intersperses one day of cross training with short and medium runs throughout the week and longer distance runs on the weekends. The short and medium runs start at 3 and 5 miles early in the race preparation and extend to 6 and 8 miles closer to the race day. Fridays are always a day of rest.
When I downloaded the training guide, I noticed it was an 18 week program. I began by writing the race day (October 9th) on the last day of the guide and began working backwards. As I wrote each week backwards (10/2, 9/25, 9/18 etc.) next to each weekend, by pencil grew heavier. It was as if I was writing with the Excaliber. Alas, finally I wrote the dreaded date 6/26. Worse yet, there were still two weeks of training to be completed. That meant that I had already missed the first two weeks of the training program. I was starting late. No way could I continue my pursuit of the perfect training program having missed the first two weeks. For those of you that can sympathize with the circus in my sick, OCD mind, that would be like missing the first 3 minutes of a movie in a first run theatre. I have to see every coming attraction and promotion for concessions to fully enjoy the experience. Similarly, I must run every inch of every mile to say that I properly trained for this marathon. Ok...deep breaths. You've been running for years...I'm sure you more than made up for that lost mileage I told myself. Still, it nagged at me all morning like an ex-wife. I can say that. I should know. I have two of them.
Most mornings I'm in the office by 7 a.m. By noon, I'm ready for a bus ride home. Instead, I know only half of my work day is complete. My noon lunch runs break up the day, refresh me and recharge my 51 year old battery for the afternoon. As usual, I headed to the health club across the street. For 25 years, I've run the streets of Chicago and headed east for the white concrete along Lake Michigan to run the shoreline. I've learned to bob and weave like Mohammed Ali in his prime thru traffic and pedestrians alike. Luckily, in that time, I've never had a collision with a vehicle, bike or jay walker. I had one near miss with a truck several years ago. The driver yelled a profanity at me I deserved and will never forget. I was wearing my Walkman, (yes...that's how long ago this took place...the Walkman was the music companion of choice at the time) and he yelled, "take those *%$# things off your %$#@ head." I remember making a gesture indicating that he was number one with me using a special hand signal that was ungentlemanly of me. In any event, as I headed out yesterday, I had my second near miss within 1 block of beginning my marathon training. A taxi had been picking up a fare and started rolling forward prematurely. The back door to his taxi wasn't fully closed and he was off earning his living. I hit the hood of his livelihood with my palm for safety to send a warning that I was illegally crossing against the light. Again this would have been my fault but at least we didn't exchange profanities. As I continued running, I kept thinking that this marathon training may have ended like the Griswold's vacation before it started. Obviously the running gods were sending a message. Nope. Can't think that way. Can't make another excuse not to do this. I have to keep pressing on. So, I finished my 4.5 mile run in just over 32 minutes before an afternoon thunder storm hit. It occurred to me that I needed to start pacing myself for a marathon. I can't run like I'm doing my usual 3-5 mile jaunts whereby my two speeds are: "way too fast and off." I need to start thinking about slowing down for the long haul. I won't be able to keep that sort of pace for 26 + miles.