Chicago Marathon Training Week 10

Sunday, August 10: Dance.
Originally, I thought about running on Sunday morning, but after Saturday’s run, I thought it’d be much wiser to get some sleep and let my legs rest. I had dance rehearsal that afternoon, anyway, where I was a stressed out, exhausted grumpy pants. So all around a real joy to be with. I also swung by Fleet Feet on Sunday as I had just about run out of Shot Bloks.


I am no longer close to running out of Shot Bloks. Haha. If you buy 18, you get a 15% discount, and I figured I’d need close to 18 packs anyway. Plus I had a $15 rewards credit (?? I don’t know where that came from, since I thought I had used my credit on Body Glide a few weeks ago. Whatever!), so I ended up getting a pretty good deal on all of these. I did have to smile, though, when I dumped my stash on the checkout counter and the guy ringing me up asked, “Training for a marathon?” What was your first clue? :P

Monday, August 11: Moving.
Surprise! I moved on Monday.


This is not the post to go into all the details of my move, but the Spark Notes version of Monday: movers are AMAZING, moving mid-month on a Monday > moving at the end of the month on a weekend, and moving is always and only terrible, no matter how amazing your movers/parents/new place are/is. This also accounted for my stressed-out state on Sunday. And last Saturday. And most of last week. And most of June. The whole moving process also aggravated my heel LIKE WHOA.

Tuesday, August 12: 7 miles in 1:08:28 for a 9:46 pace + Physical Therapy + Dance.
In what should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, I was a mess and a half at therapy on Monday evening (see: moving is always and only terrible). My therapist strongly suggested I take Tuesday off work, so that’s exactly what I did. Mental health days ftw!

I originally planned to do my four miler on Tuesday, but I decided to prepare to run seven miles just in case I felt up to it. My heel hurt for the first two or three miles but felt fine as I kept going (probably/possibly because I had begun to daydream about what I’d eat when I got home and figuring out where to run. New apartment = new running routes), so I kept going until I hit seven miles. It felt so. good. to have that outlet, and it also felt so. good. to run a 9:46 pace on an easy run in light of Saturday’s struggle.

My PT e-mailed me on Monday to see if I could come in during the early part of the week, but with my move and work, I figured that wouldn’t be a possibility. After deciding to take Tuesday off, I e-mailed him to let him know my entire Tuesday was now open. I hadn’t heard back from him by the time I went for my run, so I figured we wouldn’t have an appointment and did my PT exercises on my own. I sat down to an early lunch and happened to check my e-mail, where I had a message from my PT asking if I could come in at noon. At that moment, it was 11:15, and I still hadn’t showered (in fact, I hadn’t showered since Saturday morning after my run. I was disgusting.), but I said I could do it. I packed up the remains of my lunch, took the fastest shower of my life, and walked into the clinic at 12:01. Go me :) My PT took the fact that I had already run as license to work me hard, so after beating up my calves and foot, he gave me a billion exercises as well. Fun day! Haha. At least I was clean :P

AND THEN I had dance Tuesday night. We had graduation on Tuesday, which is always the hardest day of the session, as it usually involves two straight hours of basically non-stop dance before the performance. This week was no exception. But now I’m done with dance for two weeks. I love dance, but I’m really, really ready for a break.

Wednesday, August 13: 4 miles in 40:07 for a 10:01 pace.
I had a bit of lead legs syndrome on this run, but surprisingly I knocked out some pretty solid mile splits nevertheless. I imagine the September-like temperatures we had last week contributed mightily to that.

Wednesday’s run also brought up a question I’d like to pose to the group: what is appropriate sidewalk-running etiquette? At my old apartment, I lived a block and a half from the Lakefront Trail, and that was the only place I ever ran. Now, though, I’m far more likely to spend time running on sidewalks, and I’m not sure how to deal with pedestrians, particularly when pedestrians are walking in the same direction I’m running and take up all or most of the sidewalk. Do I hope they move? Do I step into the street to pass them? Is “On your left!” an appropriate thing to say if people don’t hear me and don’t move? I tried “Excuse me!” (in a polite tone) a couple of times, which seemed mildly effective, though I do think I scared a woman I passed. IDK. LIFE IS HARD. I MISS THE TRAIL.

Thursday, August 14: Personal Training + Physical Therapy.
Oh man. What a day. I did both of these things before work, which made for a looooooooong morning. Personal training kicked off at 5:15 a.m., but the early hour did not mean my trainer took it easy on me. Once again, I did two tri-sets, the first of which was BRUTAL. That set in particular involved a lot of weights heavier than I normally would’ve selected for myself (which, I suppose, is one of the benefits of a personal trainer). The second set wasn’t quite as physically challenging but involved a lot of complex movement patterns that made for a mental workout ;)

My training session concluded at 6:15 a.m., which, for the second time that week, gave me 45 minutes to shower, get dressed, and make it to PT for my 7 a.m. appointment. This was all going along just fine until I went to my locker after I had dried my hair and couldn’t open my combination lock. I tried and tried to no avail, and finally ran to the front desk in a panic, where the lifesaving front desk attendant grabbed a pair of lock cutters and cut my lock off my locker, giving me exactly enough time to get to PT by 7:00.

PT went well and essentially was a repeat of Tuesday’s appointment. I’m happy to report my marble picking up skills are improving on my left foot :P

Friday, August 15: Rest.

Saturday, August 16: 14.85 miles in 2:36:52 for a 10:34 pace.
Or, officially, 15 miles, but it’s 14.85 according to my Garmin, so whatever.

I’ve got to be honest: I was pretty nervous heading into Saturday’s run. Not only did I need to figure out my new Saturday schedule since I’m living in a new place, but my crappy 10 miler last week shot my long run confidence, 15 miles sounded really intimidating, and to top it all off I came down with a cold on Thursday, which I feared would spell disaster for Saturday’s run.


But it didn’t! We ran a little differently than normal, heading waaaaaay up north before turning south so as to “avoid” the Air and Water Show crowds (which really did not happen, since we still ran from North Ave. down well beyond Oak Street on the Trail, but whatever. At that point in the morning, mostly just vendors were out, rather than tourists.), but this meant we got to spend more time in the shade. The sun can be so brutal on those early Saturday runs, and I was happy to avoid it as much as possible. My running buddy had some struggles towards the end, but when she finished it was her longest run ever! There were actually a lot of people in our group who recorded PDRs on Saturday, and I was so excited for all of them. I remember last year thinking I’d be bummed to come back, since everyone was so encouraging during those last two months when you get PDR after PDR on long runs, but I’ve found it’s just as fun to be on the congratulation-giving side as it is to be on the congratulation-receiving side :)

I, personally, had a pretty solid run, despite my sinus being filled to high heaven with goop (you’re welcome for that visual :P ). I felt much stronger than I had felt on the 10 miler last week, and my body didn’t fall apart. My heel didn’t hurt at all, actually, which was FABULOUS. My knee got a little sore towards the end and was actually really, really sore on the CTA on the way home (it’s a good thing no one was looking at me, because I’m pretty sure the grimace I made when I bent my knee would’ve elicited some major concern from strangers). I took an ice bath when I got home (’tis the season!) which kind-of-but-not-really helped my knee, though it did help cool me off. I finally did an A+ job of hydrating on Friday (three full water bottles, or about 66 oz.), but lost a lot on the run. As I write, I’m currently nursing my fourth pint glass of water for the day. Can’t stop won’t stop.

Overall, I’m feeling pretty good about how things went this past week. I’d be so down for my knee to stop hurting, but other than that I have little to no complaints. We’ve got another build week coming up, including the dreaded 16 miler (where I bonked so hard last year), but fingers crossed for good things!


Filed under Marathon Training

Chicago Marathon Training Week 9

**Before jumping into this week’s recap, I wanted to let you all know that one of the most wonderful human beings you will ever meet, Jamie, is hosting a Pilates fundraiser class for the Kidney Cancer Association next Sunday (August 17) at Harmony (1962 N. Bissell, roughly 100 steps off the Armitage Brown Line stop). Jamie is one of my CARA group leaders, and, honestly, is 99.5% of the reason why I wanted to run the marathon again this year. She is the epitome of a 10:30 Awesome, and I would so love it if you’re in the area and can come out and support her KCA fundraising. Never taken Pilates? Me neither! We can flail our way through it together :) You can get all the info here, and feel free to share it with anyone you know who may be interested! It’s nice to be nice.

(I’m also still doing my own fundraising for OAR Run for Autism, if you’re feeling particularly generous :) ).

Sunday, August 3: Lollapalooza.

Don’t even try to tell me that doesn’t count as cross training ;)

Monday, August 4: Rest.

Tuesday, August 5: Dance.
My heel, which hadn’t really bothered me at all since my run on Saturday, started acting up after I left the office for the day and continued for the remainder of the night. It didn’t impact my dancing, but it did make me nervous. Still struggling to get the whole mental aspect of this injury business under control. Dance itself went well, though, but I’ve definitely hit the barely-breakdancing stage of marathon training. The last thing I want to do is hurt myself doing something stupid in break, which means I spend more time standing around and less time dancing than usual. Sorry not sorry.

Wednesday, August 6: 7 miles in 1:12:57 for a 10:25 pace.
My heel still hurt a little on Wednesday morning, which made me worried that I’d focus too much on it and make yet another mountain out of a molehill on my run. I know that throughout training, my worst runs have been those I’ve done alone, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these bad runs and a lack of distraction have gone hand in hand. Having no one to talk to but myself means that, inevitably, I’ll start thinking about what does/does not/is beginning to seem like it may hurt, which does me approximately negative elevenity billion favors. So, in an effort to prevent that, I spent my run counting the number of people heading toward me wearing pink. (Approximately 116, five of which were men, one of which was a baby in a stroller.) And wouldn’t you know it, I felt pretty good on the run. I had a brief bout of minor toe numbness, and my knee was creeping into this-hurts territory by mile 6.5, but my heel was just fine, and, overall, I’d say my body held it together quite well.

My knee was not quite as hot post-run, which seems to be the new pattern to my pain. It hasn’t returned to 8-out-of-10 territory on the pain scale, but I’d prefer it to be closer to, you know, 0. It didn’t hurt so bad that I couldn’t complete my PT exercises after running, but I have trouble when I’m on the floor if my foot stays put while my leg moves (this is also a problem when I roll over in bed). It’s hard to describe and tends to make me nervous about my ligaments, but since the sports doc checked my ligaments/meniscus before anything else and I came out clear on that (and since my symptoms match PFPS so closely, and since I never suffered any major trauma), I imagine they’re probably okay.

Thursday, August 7: 4 miles in 40:44 for a 10:11 pace.
My heel hadn’t bothered me all day, my knee hadn’t given me too much trouble, and though my back had been twingey at work, that had dissipated as well by the time I headed out for my run. What had not dissipated, however, was the enormous turkey club sandwich and fries I foolishly had when we went out to lunch to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday, thinking, “I only have to run four miles today! I can eat whatever!” Yeah. Wrong. Will not make that mistake again. The back half of my run was rough and mostly a battle between my stomach and my brain, both of which had very different ideas about what should be done with the remains of said sandwich and fries. Thankfully my brain triumphed, but I only made it halfway through my PT exercises before calling it quits due to a very grumpy tummy. Even though I did have some solid times, my legs felt heavy and I overall just felt sluggish on this entire run.

Friday, August 8: Personal Training + Physical Therapy.
I did tri-sets again in training, and they were…okay. My heel was sore, and I’ve quickly learned that any sort of heel soreness = instant downward mental spiral into depression/terror/hopelessness, so needless to say I was a bit “off” during training. My ever-perceptive trainer picked up on it and altered my workouts accordingly. He, too, has had plantar fasciitis, so he offered a few tips and made sure to stretch out my feet/calves at the end of our session. Obviously my injuries aren’t his fault, but I think he feels bad that I keep having new things pop up, since one of the biggest goals of all of this was to keep me from getting injured during marathon season. Whoops. On the flip side, the other goal was to make me faster/a better runner, and comparing this period of marathon training to the same period last year, according to my Garmin stats, I’m averaging 21 seconds/mile faster this year than last year. The weather has been cooler this year than last, which I know makes a big difference, but up to this point I have yet to struggle from an endurance standpoint on a run, which was not the case last year. I may be falling apart at the seams physically, but I’ve found anything between 9:45 and 10:30 (depending on the day) genuinely does feel easy this year, whereas 10:30 was a pretty solid effort last year, so I do think I’ve at least made improvements in that department. I’m also like 30-odd miles behind where I was this time last year, but let’s not worry about that ;) I’ve only missed one Saturday long run and one midweek long run for a total of 14 or 15 miles, I believe, which means the remaining miles I’ve missed, realistically, would’ve been junk miles anyway. I don’t mind missing junk miles for the sake of injury prevention (or healing, as the case may be).

PT was all right, though this plantar fasciitis business means I’m in for a long road of more bottom-of-the-foot Astym, which, as we’ve established, is the worst. Guh. My left calf also was not having the manual therapy my PT did, and much weeping and gnashing of teeth occurred (well, maybe not weeping. But I could’ve wept. Owie :( ).

Saturday, August 9: 10.08 miles in 1:46:34 for a 10:34 pace.
Do not let my overall pace fool you. This run was misery from start to finish, and the only reason I have a 10:30 average pace is due to the fact that a couple of our early miles were closer to 10:15 than 10:30.

I could tell from the second we started running on Saturday that my legs were not going to be up to the task on Saturday. I was sore and worn out from personal training and physical therapy, and my legs did not want to move as fast as I needed them to move. I was already dying by the time we hit the first water station, which was only 2.5 miles into the run. I managed to hang with the group through mile 6 or so, but the sun down south of Castaways sucked out the little energy I had left, and by the time we re-crossed the North Ave. bridge on our way back, I was done. I watched the backs of my group members get farther and farther away from me and had some serious flashbacks to last year. One of my group leaders hung back with me, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much that meant to me. I didn’t ask her to stay back, and she didn’t ask if I needed her company: she just silently fell into stride with me, made a couple comments on our last four miles (but not much), and generally just provided the exact moral support I needed at that moment. This is exactly why I train with a group. Could I run 10 miles on my own? Absolutely. Would I have made it through 10 miles this past Saturday without help? Honestly, I kind of doubt it. I was struggling so. hard. (this was the first run all cycle where I’ve logged an 11 minute mile), and I desperately needed company. I’ve been brainstorming a list of people who have made up my “team” for marathon training that I want to make sure to thank in one capacity or another when this is all said and done, and let me tell you, that group leader FOR SURE found her way onto that list on Saturday.

I have inundated you with words and rewarded you with very, very few pictures, but if you will just indulge me for a bit longer: we’re officially halfway through training. This first nine weeks clearly have not gone at all like I would have hoped, so now seems like as good of a time as any to re-evaluate some things and set some goals for the remainder of the season:

#1: Make it to October 12.
Top priority, bar none. I want to get across the start and finish lines of the Chicago Marathon, and then I will be done running for quite some time.

#2: Work on my mental game.
Because, plantar fasciitis or not, allowing myself to fall into a negative thought process only makes bad situations worse, and I need to stop doing that.

#3: Take better care of myself.
My diet and sleep patterns over the first half of the season have been horrific, to say the least. If I expect my body to treat me well, I need to start treating it well, too.

#4: Commit to doing whatever I can to heal current injuries and prevent future injuries.
My PT homework track record has been spotty at best, and while I do get in once-weekly strength training sessions with my trainer, that’s it. I know I’m going to have less spare time as the season goes on, but this, like sleep and quality nutrition, is something I can’t compromise on any longer. If that means getting up earlier (and, consequently, going to bed earlier) in order to do my PT before work, so be it. But I need to take that time to do my exercises, foam roll, and stretch, or I’m going to be in PT until Christmas, and though I have hit my deductible (hooray! Cheap healthcare for the rest of the year!), I’d certainly prefer to not be in PT until Christmas. Or Thanksgiving. Or Halloween (although they do have good candy in the clinic around Halloween…:P).

PLEASE feel free to hold me accountable to all of those things. E-mail me, comment on posts, tweet at me — whatever. I am all for being encouraged, and goodness knows I’ll need it!



Filed under Marathon Training

Sunday, Muddy Sunday (#lolla)

Oh, Lolla.


Let’s begin on Saturday night, which saw a friend and I trekking out to Concord in Logan Square for the Anna Lunoe/Duke Dumont/Flume after show. This friend and I have seen Flume every time he’s been in town since March 2013, so it’s safe to say we’re quickly approaching superfan status *brushes shoulder off*. Obviously seeing him on Saturday (well, it was technically Sunday by that point) was non-negotiable.

^^ “Our” Flume song.

We left Concord as soon as Flume finished his set, but by that point it was 2:20, and we still had to get a cab/drop my friend off/continue on to my place, which is to say: I didn’t go to bed until 3:30. Bad news for Sunday. I can handle the 3:30 bed times when I have a full day to recover, but that certainly wasn’t the case when I had a full day of Lolla on tap. Active recovery…?

I met up with a different friend on Sunday around 2:00 (p.m., this time ;) ) and we made our way down to Grant Park for a packed day of music! After swinging into Walgreens so my friend could buy an umbrella “just in case” (this proved to be the best decision ever), we headed into Grant Park and made our first stop at the Grove for NONONO.


I know exactly one NONONO song, Pumpin’ Blood, but fortunately we only heard the very end of their set and they closed with Pumpin’ Blood, so all was well :)

After that, we walked to the Lake Shore Stage for London Grammar. As we left the Grove, a few rain drops began to fall, which soon turned into more than a few rain drops, which soon turned into a downpour. The rain continued through the beginning of London Grammar but let up by the end, which turned out to be a theme for the day. It did rain again after their set, but just briefly. We grabbed some mediocre food (or at least my food was mediocre) while killing time before The 1975, whose music I actually do know.


They were delightful and British, and we were under trees, so I only got slightly rained on instead of drenched during rainstorm #3 of the afternoon.

After The 1975, my friend headed off to The Avett Brothers and I went to get my trap on at Flosstradamus.


I’ve really gotten into EDM over the past year and a half, which is a little weird considering that I’m like 97% straight edge (I’ll drink if I’m out, but by “drink” I mean “have one drink and call it a night,” but as far as other, ahem, “recreational substances” go, I abstain.) and that does not tend to be the type of crowd EDM shows always attract (Flosstradamus, for example, closed with a tune entitled, “Roll Up the Grass,” during which they wanted to know, “WHERE MY STONERS AT??” Not here, that’s for sure.). I do, however, really, really like to dance (soberly. I know. Crazy stuff.), and obviously EDM caters to that (see: D, as in “dance.”). Trap in particular is super danceable in my experience, so I enjoyed Flosstradamus very much.

As soon as Flosstradamus’s set ended, the skies opened up and it just poured. Grant Park was already well on its way to turning into a mud pit, and that (mercifully) last storm definitely sealed the deal. I waited out the rain under my umbrella/trees, and then shimmied my way up towards the front of the Grove to see Flume again (see: super fan).


This show. So, there are a lot of children at Lolla. And by children I mean high schoolers, but whatever. They’re children. There were so. many. teenagers. at Flume. I don’t remember how I spent the summer I was 16–babysitting, maybe?–but I definitely was not seeing DJs play music festivals. Being surrounded by so many youths makes for an interesting concert experience to say the least–I may or may not have turned around and told the could-not-have-been-older-than-18-year-old who was determinedly trying to dance with me, “Buddy, I am too old for you,”–but since I had essentially seen the exact same Flume set less than 24 hours earlier, it wasn’t the end of the world. And man, what’s growing up if you’re not judging teenagers and their wild ways, amirite?!

When Flume finished, my friend and I went back to Perry’s (which was a nightmare. Any grass that had once been on that field was long, long gone, and the whole area was an insane muddy mess) for Chance the Rapper, who I definitely did not see.


Great view of the A/V tent, though. Ha.

Both my friend and I were super, super tired by this point, and when she suggested not sticking it out for the entire set, I agreed without hesitation. We hung out until about 9:00 (and thus missed R. Kelly by, oh, maybe five to ten minutes. FAIL.) and swung by Skrillex on our way out.


In. Sane. Oh man. Danced so hard.

We stuck around Skrillex for maybe ten minutes or so before making our way to the CTA to head home. I was absolutely exhausted and throughly regretting my decision to not take Monday off work but still so, so glad I had a day at Lolla. It’s really an experience that can’t be beat, at least in Chicago, as far as I’m concerned, and if you break down the cost, I saw seven acts for $100, or just over $14/act. That’s not too shabby, in my opinion.

My Mizunos, on the other hand, will never be the same.



Filed under Life