Round 3, Aaron: 1, Chicago Marathon: 2

Round 3, Aaron: 1, Chicago Marathon: 2

by Aaron A.

When I finished my second Chicago Marathon last year, my ET blog post talked about my next challenge being mental toughness during the race.  However, I think this year’s race season was more about mental toughness in the 364 days after the race.

A few weeks after the 2011 race, I continued to have problems with my right knee which turned out to be a classic case of “Runners Knee.”  It got so bad that I couldn’t walk down stairs and running was even more painful.

So in December I started doing physical therapy with John at ARC Physical Therapy.  John told me that my right quad and glut were weak and my IT band was tight resulting in pulling my knee out of position when I ran.  Nice.  So the running joke around my family became that I have a weak butt.  With PT sessions twice a week, Coach Joe had me start back up with what I think was the biggest hill ever.  I could only jog/walk for a short distance.  That was a huge mental challenge for me.  But over the following month, the coach was able to safely move my mileage back up and all was good.

Meanwhile, I have this strange goal for myself that I’d like to do the Chicago Marathon five times.  Maybe it’s that five is a nice number or that the 5th marathon would be when I turn 40.  So I signed up again for what would be my 3rd Chicago Marathon.

By early spring my knee pain was completely gone and the coach progressed me back my normal, more intense, interval training.  Things were good for the entire summer.  However, leading into September I started to have some minor problems again but this time with my calf muscles.  So I went back to John at ARC.  With his help and with a few sessions with Sarah of Experience Massage I was able to get through the remaining long runs prior to race day.

Race Day, 10/7/12, my only race of the season.  It was the perfect day for a marathon.  Temperatures were in the 40’s (which is a lot better than the 80’s the two prior years.)  I started the race with one goal in mind.  Keep things in control.  I must keep the heart rate below 155 for the first half of the race.  With that in mind I held a good 10 minute pace and kept things below 155.  For the six miles after that, I kept the heart rate under 165 and then in the remaining time under 170.  By following my plan and staying in control, I crossed the finish line with a PR!!

So I’m chalking this one up as a win!  Not for being a PR but because with the help of Coach Joe, ARC Physical Therapy, Experience Massage and the Experience Triathlon crew, I finally learned how to run the marathon and stay injury free… Go SLOW in the beginning and in the end you’ll be faster, something that I didn’t learn the first 2 times.  Crazy, right?! 🙂

So the score is Aaron:1, Chicago Marathon: 2

I’m going to even up the score next year!!

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  • Congrats, Aaron, on running a great marathon, following the plan and getting that PR! So happy the race and season was a success for you! Looking forward to another great year of training and racing with you.

  • Sarah F.

    Hooray, Aaron! Congrats on an awesome race, & for pulling through all your tough knee and calf issues…the sky’s the limit on those next two marathons….especially #5 on the big 4-0!