Chicago Marathon Training Week 15

Sunday, September 14: Rest.

Monday, September 15: Personal Training.
After a miserable night of sleep courtesy of my insufferable neighbors, who took the Bears game as a perfect excuse to open the man cave up for Sunday night business, complete with armchair refereeing (“FLAG! Where was the flag?!” “HOLDING!”) and fanboying (“BEAR DOWN!”), I was NOT in the mood to go to personal training. I was exhausted, and, as a result, a major, major grumpy pants. And my arm/shoulder was killing me, because of course it was. My ever-perceptive trainer, bless his heart, knew something was off (perhaps my monosyllabic responses clued him in) and finally succeeded in getting me to complain with reckless abandon about my shoulder, my doctor, and my neighbors. As a result, he scrapped his entire plan for me for the day and instead had me spend the duration of my session with a tennis ball attempting to both work out the soreness in my arm and, possibly, figure out what the heck was going on with my shoulder in general. It hurt a lot, and obviously he’s no doctor so he couldn’t make any sort of diagnosis, but it was nice to feel like someone actually listened to me wanted me to feel better for a change. Of course, the whole spending-an-hour-digging-a-tennis-ball-into-my-shoulder thing made it ache for the rest of the day, which, combined with my exhaustion (and subsequent heightened anxiety), made for a less-than-stellar day.

Tuesday, September 16: Physical Therapy + Dance.
I don’t know what I did to get so lucky, but I once again made it through PT without having to do many exercises! Hooray! Haha. My PT did the usual knee stuff, since my knee hadn’t felt super stellar after my long run on Saturday, and messed around a little with my foot, which had also felt sore on Sunday post-run. He did a little work on my shoulder as well, which, of course, still hurt (though I will say it felt MUCH better when I woke up Tuesday morning than it had in awhile).

I went to dance on Tuesday but only put in a half effort. My shoulder wasn’t super thrilled with the idea of dancing, so I basically let my right arm hang by my side while trying to just use my left arm. I really didn’t want to fall behind on the choreography, so I figured being there and learning it, even if I couldn’t dance full out, was better than skipping class entirely. I did skip breakdance, however, since I knew I’d be useless with only one healthy arm.

Wednesday, September 17: 10 miles in 1:40:32 for a 10:03 pace.
Longest weekday run ever!


(I only did five instead of 10 last year, due to my birthday, a massive thunderstorm, and a strained hip flexor.)

I was really nervous about my run on Wednesday since I had been anxious all day (oh hey, story of my life) and it was making breathing…not difficult, exactly, but also not normal. I had a feeling I was working myself up and making the situation worse, so instead of letting my mind do whatever it wanted on my run like normal (or, worse, fixating on every little thing that felt wrong), I forced myself to spend my entire run–all 1:40 of it–thinking about things I’m thankful for. Family, school, old friends, new friends, old jobs, my current job, hobbies: if I was grateful for it for any reason, I thought about it on my run. And wouldn’t you know it: my breathing was fine, my body was (mostly) fine (my knee wasn’t super happy, but not to the point where I couldn’t run), and I held a really solid pace for 10 whole miles.

Thursday, September 18: Physical Therapy.
Kicked off my birthday with a nice hour of PT :) Although I did have to do stim, which I really don’t like, but whatever. My PT only made me do 12 reps of exercises instead of 15 in honor of my birthday haha :P

Friday, September 19: 5 miles in 52:07 for a 10:25 pace.
Whew. This run was ROUGH. My diet on Thursday did not at all reflect my normal eating habits (Portillo’s for lunch with a chicken sandwich, fries, and chocolate cake followed by Mia Francesca’s for dinner, which featured a TON of bread, the entire bowl of spaghetti [when I really could have only eaten half and been perfectly satisfied instead of overstuffed], a cocktail, AND dessert, in addition to breakfast, snacks, and the coffee cake I brought to work for my birthday), and my run (slash life in general) on Friday DEFINITELY reflected those messed-up eating habits. I felt pretty crummy for most of the day as my stomach tried to comprehend what on earth I had done to it the day before. I hoped it’d be able to run it off, but that was NOT the case. Not even a little bit. I felt okay for the first mile and a half or so, but mile 2 was a huge struggle in the nausea department, and I ended up taking a quarter-mile walk break from 2.75 to 3 to give my digestive system a chance to calm down. I planned on employing a run/walk method for the rest of the run if necessary, but fortunately I felt okay enough to run the rest of the way. Realistically, this is a lot like how I felt during the marathon last year, so I suppose Friday was good practice for what to do in case I feel like I may throw up at any second on October 12 (which hopefully will NOT happen!).

Saturday, September 20: Rest.
I did a bit of walking, courtesy of the CTA (WHY did they kill the bus on Lincoln Ave.?! I will never understand why they got rid of that bus. It made SO MUCH SENSE to have a bus that ran up and down a MAIN ROAD. It doesn’t make ANY sense to eliminate that route when there are no other viable alternatives, particularly since Lincoln is a diagonal road, so there aren’t any parallel routes you can take, which is stupid obnoxious when you have four errands to run up and down Lincoln Ave. and no simple way to get from Point A to Point B, even though Point A and Point B are on THE SAME ROAD. I don’t care that they got rid of that bus almost two years ago — I’m still annoyed by it, especially whenever I need to go to Universal Sole. /endrant) and picked up my 20 miler bib, but that was it.



My stomach was still feeling a bit touchy, so I spent nearly all of my afternoon in bed trying to convince my body to get its act together.

A couple thoughts from my experiences this week:
– I’ve got to make more of an effort to get this anxiety beast under control, because it has been nothing but out of control for the past…well, for the past 15 weeks, really. I know things I can do to help myself–mindfulness, talking about it, getting enough sleep–but instead of just knowing what helps, I need to actually implement those things, or I’m going to lose the one shred of sanity I have left by the end of taper.
– I think I need to develop a different approach to carb loading, particularly when I’m stressed/anxious. I carb load relatively gently throughout the week leading up to a half marathon or marathon (or 20 miler), adding in something carby to each meal (two slices of toast instead of one, extra pretzels, a side of naan with dinner [that's my favorite :) ]) before going ALL IN 48 hours prior to the run, where I basically stop eating anything that’s not white (white bread, white pasta, bananas, applesauce, chicken…and not much else). While this method has worked just fine when I’m not particularly worried about my run, I very clearly remember feeling MISERABLE in the days leading up to the marathon last year (when I was super stressed/anxious) and the two days following the marathon, and that’s how I felt on Friday and Saturday, too. While I think my anxiety absolutely contributes to my stomach woes, I think eating the same not-super-nutritious food over and over and over again meal after meal for 48 to 72 hours isn’t doing me a world of favors, either.



I’ve been hesitant to change my method because while it may not make me feel super great in the moment, it at least up to this point hasn’t made me sick on a run. I’d really rather not run a marathon feeling like death again, though, so some experimentation may be in order for three weeks from now. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears!


Filed under Marathon Training

Thursday Things

1. Happy birthday to me! :D I’m officially a mere 365 days away from being able to rent a car. Let the countdown begin! Hahaha. Having my birthday fall during peak week of marathon training makes things a bit…challenging, to say the least, when it comes to celebrating. On the one hand, I like to treat peak week as marathon week, especially in terms of nutrition and rest, in order to practice for the marathon. On the other hand…it’s my birthday, darn it, and I’ll do what I want! I don’t have to run today, and there have been rumblings around the office of going to Portillo’s for lunch, since September 18, incidentally, is National Cheeseburger Day along with National Let’s Celebrate Bethany Day. Plus I <3 Portillo’s, mostly for their cake shakes. Which does present a different dilemma: if we do, in fact, go to Portillo’s for my birthday, should I get a cake shake, or just the cake? I’ve never had just the cake, but I don’t expect to get cake in any other capacity for my birthday…and cake shakes always leave me with tummy aches, which are not conducive to happy birthdays in my experience. But they’re so good. Life is hard, you guys.

Other than that, I anticipate a rather low key birthday. I have PT this morning (because really, who would I rather celebrate my birthday with than my BFF, my PT? Haha. Another struggle of peak week: trying to find time to go to PT.) and dinner with a couple of friends from college this evening, plus spending my day at work, of course. I don’t anticipate doing anything this weekend, either, since I’ve got a kinda sorta enormous run coming up on Sunday. Oh well. All the more reason to celebrate with reckless abandon once the marathon is over ;)

2. I found an artifact in my library book!


Well, “artifact” may be a bit of a stretch, but still. Part of me wants to hang onto it as a piece of CTA history (now that we’ve switched over to Ventra and you don’t see these sorts of passes anymore), but another part of me wants to leave it in the book so the next person to check it out gets the same surprise on page 123. Decisions, decisions.

The book, in case anyone is interested, is When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenwaldt and follows the story of Irma, an immigrant to the United States from Italy in the late 1800s. I used to love historical fiction but haven’t read any in years. Anyway, I enjoyed the book, though it did occasionally feel like Schoenwaldt was trying too hard, but overall I found it to be a good read, if you’re in the market from some historical fiction!

3. On Tuesday, I was chatting with one of my friends from dance. She was telling me about preparing for a piece she had recently danced in, particularly one especially difficult combination, and how she had been seeking advice from other dancers she knew. At one point, she mentioned a Sonya, and when I looked at her quizzically, she was like, “Sonya Tayeh.” At which point I FLIPPED.

MY FRIEND KNOWS SONYA TAYEH. Like is on a FIRST NAME BASIS with Sonya Tayeh. Sonya Tayeh, for those of you who are unaware, is a choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance, and is a.m.a.z.i.n.g. See below:


After probably lambasting my friend (“You’ve known me for TWO YEARS and you’re just NOW telling me you know Sonya Tayeh?!?!?!?!?”), I also realized I can now officially refer to Sonya Tayeh as a “friend of a friend,” which just may be the best thing of my LIFE. This also means, according to The Oracle of Bacon (God love the Internet), that I am only four degrees of separation away from Kevin Bacon, which, in turn, means all of you are now only five degrees of separation away from Kevin Bacon. You’re welcome for that insight.

(This whole experience made me wonder if I have, in fact, been fewer degrees of separation away from cast members of SYTYCD than I was aware of. The dance world seems to be a bit small, not entirely unlike the running world, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of my teachers secretly knew SYTYCD choreographers and have been holding out on me all along.)

Have you ever found something interesting inside a library book? I once found notes that had clearly been passed between friends in a library book. That was exciting. I also once wrote nice little notes in college and stuck them in random library books. I hope someone finds them someday!
Do you know anyone famous? Or, alternatively, have cruel friends holding out on their famous connections?


Filed under Life

Chicago Marathon Training Week 14

Monday, September 8: Personal Training + Physical Therapy.
Another Monday, another PT day. Personal training went all right. My shoulder area still hurt, so my trainer had me do some tennis ball rolling and I discovered a couple spots that were SO sore. Ouch ouch ouch. I still managed to do all my exercises, though, mostly because with all this shoulder pain, nothing has ever particularly aggravated it (other than carrying my work bag on my right shoulder, which I stopped doing last Thursday).

Even though I didn’t originally want to, I did end up telling my PT about my shoulder when I went in for physical therapy on Monday. He checked it out (my first non-leg related injury screen! Haha) but didn’t have much to say other than it felt “ropey,” which seems to be a go-to description for my muscles. He gave me a couple stretches to try, which did basically nothing, but A for effort?

Tuesday, September 9: Dance.
My shoulder pain improved by leaps and bounds Tuesday, and I enjoyed my first ache-free day in a week. Or rather, “enjoyed.” Having no more shoulder pain gave me ample opportunity to obsessively worry about anything else that hurt and/or convince myself I’m dying. If I had a penny for every time anxiety beat rationality over the course of this marathon training cycle (or, rather, over the course of 2014 in general), I could afford to register for every Disney race in 2015.

Then I went to dance and ruined everything :( I really thought I’d be fine, given how great I felt all day Tuesday, but probably 15 minutes or so into hip hop my shoulder started to ache. I considered bailing on break entirely but decided to stick around to see what I could do. Not much, as it turns out. After giving it my best effort for 20 minutes or so (and being reminded by one of my friends to, “Stop if it hurts. It’s not worth it,”), I spent the rest of the class hanging out at the barre watching everyone else dance.

Wednesday, September 10: 9 miles in 1:33:58 for a 10:26 pace.
You know those runs where you’re all, “I do NOT want to do this. I do not want to do this even in the slightest.”? Yeah. This run was one of those. I slogged through nine miles and fought a mental battle against what I wanted to do (i.e.: go home) and what I needed to do (i.e.: keep running) for just about all nine of those miles. I was SUPER over it by like mile four, which made for a loooooooong last five miles. I didn’t do a good route-planning job, either, and passed I think four different intersections where I normally turn to go home while I still had several miles to go, which did nothing for the whole I-want-to-quit thing. I did, however, finally make it up to the brand spankin’ new track at Wilson and took a lap on it, which was AMAZING. The track is still so, so soft and so, so pretty. There were a ton of people out there, too, practicing soccer or doing track work or just walking laps, and I thought that was pretty cool.

I also realized on Wednesday just how out-of-control my blister situation has become.


See how it juts out a bit more on my left big toe than my right? Yeah. That’s a blister. Or a blister/callous, really, at this point. I guess it’s a good thing you can’t find Asics Gel-Cumlus 15s anywhere anymore, because even though I’ve liked running in those shoes, they do not play nicely with my feet.

Thursday, September 11: 5 miles in 49:22 for a 9:52 pace.
It was COLD! Oh so COLD! Oh my goodness, you guys, I wore a long sleeve shirt and shorts on this run and didn’t overheat at all. THE BEST. I also learned on this run that Google may not be the most reliable way to pre-measure a route. A coworker asked if a store not *too* far from my neighborhood still existed, so I said I’d investigate on my run. Though I knew where the store was, I had never run around that area before, so I tried to use Google Maps’s walking directions to plan my course for the day. I had a perfect five mile loop course per Google, but while running realized I definitely was not going to hit five miles if I followed the course exactly and had to add in a few blocks. Obviously not the end of the world by any means (and it’s nice to have something practical to think about while running!), but good to know for future reference in case I’m ever Garmin-less.

Friday, September 12: Physical Therapy.
Alternatively, “An injury screen I paid for.”

As I mentioned last Thursday, my GP diagnosed my shoulder pain as a brachial plexus injury, further feeding into my suspicion that my doctor is bonkers and I should never go to her again. I emailed my PT, per his request, after my doctor’s appointment to update him and expressed my doubts about the diagnosis, so he said he’d take a closer look at things on Friday. This ended up being the bulk of my appointment on Friday (which was fine, since only my knee had been bothering me lately, and it got me out of doing too many exercises :P ). He did all sorts of things to try to figure out what was going on and came up with pretty much nothing, other than, “Well, you don’t seem to be broken.” (Questionable, though I think he meant in the bone sense, not in the overall, “You’ve been seeing me for one thing or another for literally 14 weeks at this point” sense. Haha.) He told me to take the meds my GP prescribed (more on that in a bit) and if things didn’t get better to make an appointment with my sports doc. Anyone want to place bets now on the likelihood of me not breaking up with my PT post-marathon like I originally intended?

Saturday, September 13: 13.98 miles in 2:23:59 for a 10:18 pace.
Soo…it was cold Saturday morning.


Real cold. (Relatively speaking, I suppose. Not compared to last winter!)

As I’ve said approximately 234837 times before, I’m for sure a cold weather runner. That being said, I really don’t like 30s or 40s. If it’s any colder or warmer than that, it’s easy to dress in a way that’s comfortable both pre/post-run and during the run, whether that’s bundled up to high heaven or in shorts and short sleeves. When it’s in the 30s or 40s, though, I feel like it’s hard to find that line between what’s warm enough to keep you comfortable when you’re outside not running while cool enough to keep you comfortable while you are running. I ended up going with capris, a short sleeve shirt and arm sleeves, which was great while I was running, but definitely did not do much while I was not running. Brr.

Annnnnyway. We ran fast. Far faster than I wanted to run, really. I assume we managed to be so speedy thanks to the cold, but personally I wasn’t feeling it. My right leg, in particular, definitely was not feeling it by the end of things. Meh. After the run, I went out to brunch with my CARA buddies, which I think is one of my new favorite Saturday activities. I’ve really made much more of an effort to be connected to the group this year, and I think that’s made a HUGE difference in my experience with CARA. I genuinely look forward to the time I get to spend with them, even more so than last year, especially since they “get it,” you know? Some of my other friends have been…less than understanding about the whole time commitment aspect of the marathon, to say the least, this year, so it’s nice to have people in my life who get why I have to be in bed around 8:00 on Friday nights and don’t scoff at my more-than-once-a-week 4:45 a.m. alarms.

So. About this whole shoulder situation. My GP gave me a script for prednisone (a steroid) and baclofen (a muscle relaxer) to clear up my “brachial plexus injury.” Since I am 1000% convinced she misdiagnosed me, given my COMPLETE lack of ANY symptom associated with a brachial plexus injury, the fact that my PT was not able to recreate (or, really, create) any pain associated with a brachial plexus injury when specifically testing me for that, and the fact that I have not recently been in any motor vehicle accidents, football tackles, and it’s been almost 24 years since I was last born, I’m SUPER ambivalent about taking any of these drugs. I mean, to be honest, I’m ambivalent about taking drugs just in general. Ibuprofen and an acne antibiotic are as hard as I ever go. And even though my GP, my PT, my sports doctor, who I called on a Saturday (sorry Doc…) to see if prednisone during peak week was a bad idea, AND the pharmacist all said I’d be fine taking the medicine…I still haven’t taken any of it. I just…I don’t know, team. It doesn’t seem worth introducing a brand new drug into my system–especially a drug that makes you feel like Superman (but only makes you feel like Superman, and does not actually make you Superman), increases your heart rate, makes you retain water, AND suppresses your immune system–at this point in marathon training, ESPECIALLY to treat a condition I really, really don’t think I have. I filled my script, so maybe after the marathon if things continue to not be great (and/or I haven’t gotten a different/accurate diagnosis) I’ll give it a shot, but for now I think I’m going to hold off on the drugs.


Filed under Marathon Training