No Chicago Marathon. Change of plans.

I have decided to withdraw from the Chicago Marathon, and do not plan on running a marathon this fall. This is despite having paid a pricey entry fee that I obviously will forfeit. Rather than go into a long screed on what became an increasingly simple, straight-forward decision, I’ll write in brief bullet points. I can always add detail later if requested. Reasons:

Too many signs pointed to this Chicago trip being a bad idea.

– Early Canadian wildfires have already covered the city in consistent smoke, and they should continue throughout the rest of summer into fall. There’s a good chance it will persist into October for the marathon. That’s not good air to run in.

– The crime situation in Chicago has gotten worse. While it’s better than the Covid riots, it’s still by accounts of people I know there markedly more dangerous than it was while I lived there. CPD’s understaffed and not really addressing problems. And it goes hand in hand with the next problem, but there’s a lot more vagrants on the trains and at the stations than there used to be.

– The transit situation is unreliable now. CTA while I lived in Chicago was for the most part reliable. But after Covid CTA also lost workers and the train/bus service got more sporadic and unreliable. It still hasn’t improved much, and I don’t want to put myself in a situation where I need to rely on an unreliable system to get around at all.

I wasn’t really excited about running this marathon anyway.

– Frank Shorter famously said you should not plan your next marathon until you’ve forgotten about your last one. Though I’ve long since recovered from Vancouver, I’m admittedly not quite invested in the idea of building towards another marathon.

– It is notoriously difficult to train for marathons in Las Vegas during summer due to the heat. Even indoors, gyms minimize the use of their A/C, and indoor temperatures (which I regularly measure during workouts) are closer to 80°F, uncomfortably warm for endurance workouts, especially long ones. And it doesn’t cool off until mid-October… after this marathon would have completed. It’s not a given I’d successfully get ready for a fall marathon in those conditions.

– Marathon training is very demanding, and there’s so much else I wanted to work on this summer instead:

– I want to dedicate a block of time to serious strength training. When marathon training, I only have enough bandwidth to do some lighter whole body strength training a couple times a week, if that. If not for marathon training, I could strength train more often and work on building strength if not muscle.

– Marathon training doesn’t realistically allow for speedwork and 5k/10K/Half-specific training. Sure, you can do speedwork, threshold tempo work and such while marathon training, but its benefit on your marathon fitness is ancillary at best and you should carefully avoid overdoing it, especially when you’ve got to build around longer easy workouts. If not for marathon training, I could build to some of the 10K workouts that worked very well for me in 2018-2019. I haven’t had much chance to work on them since moving back to Vegas.

– I want to work more on running in this extreme heat, without having to worry about running suitable marathon volume. When marathon training I pretty much have to do all my work indoors, as the 100°F+ temperatures take a lot out of you at short distances, let alone the longer duration workouts you need for marathon training. Many in town go ahead and do it, and most of them burn out on training after a few years. I would like to avoid that and take the pressure off outdoor sessions by not needing to run long for more than a couple hours if that.

That’s all I’ll say on that for now. I’m working this month on a project involving some different training, and will go into more detail on this once the month is completed.

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