Thursday Things

1. So I’ve got this race coming up on Sunday, in case you happened to tune me out for the past four months ;)

Does anyone remember me at this time last year? How I was FREAKING THE EFF OUT over basically everything? I think I have done a remarkable job of staying level headed throughout taper up to this point. In fact, I think I’ve been more rational over the past two weeks than I had been at any point between the start of training and the 20 miler.

Exhibit A: I’ve had all sorts of random aches and pains for the past week and a half. My hip flexor was sore out of nowhere last Sunday and Monday. On my run last Wednesday, a fair portion of my left leg hurt in all sorts of weird ways. This past Monday and Tuesday, my right big toe was sore (or, if you want to be technical-ish, the metatarsal head of my first toe. Look who’s learning her anatomy!). In each and every one of these situations, I said, “You know what? It’s probably just taper.” I think my PT was shocked by this turn of events ;)

Exhibit B: Last Saturday, they were predicting thunderstorms for race day. Instead of FREAKING THE EFF OUT like I did last year, I said, “You know what? Last year on Monday and Tuesday before race day, they said it was going to storm, and it ended up being beautiful. I refuse to waste any emotional energy on this until at least Friday.” And then I got mad at everyone who was worrying about the weather for wasting their emotional energy. (I do wish the local meteorologists would come to a decisive conclusion, however. Every single day this week the forecast has changed, and I’m tired of the mind games. Pleeeeeaaaassseeeeeee no rain!)

My parents put various relatives on Bethany-Losing-Her-Mind Watch while they were in Italy and unreachable by phone (since I have a tendency of calling my mom over every single crisis, no matter how minor), and on Sunday night I was surprised by a phone call from one of my aunts, who was concerned that I hadn’t called, as she (unsurprisingly) had expected that I would have multiple mental breakdowns throughout taper. But I hadn’t! I was (and still am) doing just fine! This is my kinda taper :D

2. Lest you think I’m the picture of sanity, however, I’m happy to assure you that I and my pre-race germophobia have gone completely off the deep end.

dishes

Last Thursday, one of my roommates was coughing up a lung, and I immediately went, as one of my co-workers put it, into “full on Ebola mode.” After we ran the dishwasher Thursday night, I took two of everything–plates, forks, spoons, glasses, etc.–and have been hoarding them in my room to 1) make sure none of my roommates spittle them germs all over them and 2) to make sure I don’t have to touch anything my roommates and their germs may have touched.

This is just the tip of the crazy iceberg. All of my food in the fridge is double bagged. I think I’ve singlehandedly gone through a roll of paper towels in my aversion to touch anything anyone else could have touched (including, but not limited to, door handles, microwave buttons, the refrigerator, and so on). I now carry around my own towel instead of using the one everyone else uses in the kitchen. I even took out a brand new sponge that I’m also keeping with my dishes hoard, so as to avoid using the common sponge in the kitchen. And let’s not even talk about how frequently I now wash my hands.

I’m blaming it on taper so my roommates don’t think I’m totally insane (LOLJK. That ship sailed a loooooong time ago.)

3. Are you tired of marathon talk yet? Oh well!

So. Game plan/goals. Goal #1, as it always should be in my opinion, is to finish alive. Just slightly below that, however is Goal #1.1: to PR.

Realistically, I don’t think PR-ing is *too* high of an expectation. I at least have an idea of what I’m getting myself into this year, which certainly was not the case last year. I know the race is going to be a challenge. I know I’m going to be in a LOT of pain. That being said, I have, at least from a pace standpoint, had a MUCH better training cycle this year than last year. According to my meticulously tracked Garmin stats, last year I averaged a 10:42 (5.6 mph) training pace for the duration of my marathon training. This year, I’ve averaged a 10:20 (5.8 mph) pace. (I’ve also run 30 less miles in this cycle and logged nine less runs, but let’s not worry about that ;) ). I only couldn’t keep up with my pace group on one long run all summer, and I’ve seen more 9:xx miles in this cycle than I ever imagined possible. I really believe I’m capable of running this marathon faster than last year.

Goal #2: Stick to my plan if I need to walk. One of the things that I think destroyed me last year was not being prepared to walk and not having an effective way to maintain any sort of decent pace while walking. Thus, my plan for this year, if I need to walk, is to start with a 4:1 run:walk ratio that I will not deviate from, not even for aid stations (which is not to say that I’ll skip the aid station, just that I’ll run through it if it happens to coincide with running minutes if I’m using my run/walk plan). If that becomes too much, I’ll switch to a 3:2 run:walk ratio, and if (heaven help me), THAT becomes too much, I’ll switch to a 2:3 run:walk ratio. My method last year was “walk until you think you won’t die, and absolutely walk through every single aid station you see no matter how not-on-the-verge-of-death you feel.” That was ineffective, to say the least. I’m hoping that having a plan and sticking to the plan will help me with Goal #3…

Goal #3: Finish in under five hours. 4:59:59 is totally fine by me. I actually dreamt on Monday night that I finished in 4:55, which would be just lovely. I just want to break five hours.

Goal #4: Run the whole thing through the corner of Damen and Van Buren. Last year, I started walking just a bit before we got to Damen, and I’d like to at least make it to Mile 15 (Damen and Van Buren, essentially) this year before resorting to my run/walk plan (ideally, I’d like to make it a lot farther than that, though).

Above all, I really want to enjoy myself on Sunday. Last year, I was nearly sick with nervousness in the week leading up to the race and for most of the race itself. This race is not the be-all end-all of everything: it’s a time to celebrate what I’ve worked for over the past 18 weeks. Regardless of what happens with my time, with the weather, or with my body, I want to cross the finish line crying tears of pride rather than tears of relief.

Who’s spectating at Chicago on Sunday?? Let me know where you’ll be and I’ll keep an eye out for you!

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Chicago Marathon Training Week 17

Sunday, September 28: Rest.
Though I did attend Fleet Feet’s Breaking Through the Wall seminar. I went to the seminar last year as well, but at that point Meb Keflezighi was not the Boston Marathon champion and Deena Kastor hadn’t set the masters half marathon world record seven days earlier, so in terms of star power, I’d say this year was even cooler than last year :) I also felt different sitting through the seminar this year, having been through the whole marathon song and dance once before and no longer having this naively optimistic thought in my mind that the marathon would be easy peasy. Spoiler alert: marathons are never easy. They hurt. A lot. Whatever mental tricks you’ve ever used to get through a run will all come into play on marathon day, and it was nice to know elites deal with the same wall struggles as us Wave 2 runners ;)

Monday, September 29: Personal Training.
Taper apparently does not translate to easy personal training. My trainer didn’t hold back at all when it came to weights, and though the weights I used technically weren’t *that* heavy, they sure felt heavy to me, especially when we’d get to reps 11 and 12. We did a kettle bell row that was a particular struggle, and I had much more trouble than I expected on hamstring curls as well.

Tuesday, September 30: Physical Therapy + Dance.
I ended up seeing a different physical therapist than my usual guy on Tuesday and was reminded why I prefer my usual guy to the other therapists in the clinic. The one I saw on Tuesday is ALL about the exercises (though surprisingly was not all about beating me up, which, in my past experience with this therapist, was certainly the case…although maybe I’m just immune to it by now :P ), and while I know exercising is good for me, I much prefer manual therapy. But whatever. At least I got a good workout!

I only went to hip hop on Tuesday, per my doctor’s orders to not breakdance for two weeks. My shoulder was definitely feelin’ it by the end of hip hop, so I was glad I had been told to leave, at least from a shoulder standpoint. Not so much from a social standpoint, which is the only reason I take breakdance anyway. Leaving the room to go home just as all your friends are getting to class sucks :(

Wednesday, October 1: 6 miles in 1:01:23 for a 10:14 pace.
My Garmin and I got into a major fight again on Wednesday.

garminsatellite

This screen is the bane of my existence.

While I (futilely) waited for my Garmin to find a satellite signal, I did some Chicago math to figure out where I needed to run in order to make it six miles and eventually overrode my Garmin’s satellite search and took off on my own. I manually reset the lap count when I knew, based on where I was block-wise, that I had run a mile, which messed with my splits but at least had my Garmin beep when I needed it to.

After the Garmin snafu, my run was so-so. My left Achilles/heel/toes was sore/numb in that order, both anatomically and pain speaking (first my Achilles, then my heel, then my toes), but at this point in the season I’m apt to chalk just about everything up to the taper and didn’t get too worked up about it. Instead, I spent the majority of my run debating whether or not I should run or go to the gym the following day.

Thursday, October 2: 4 miles in 41:20 for a 10:20 pace.
I ended up going to the gym.

I was a little hesitant to go to the gym, since I knew if I were to go to the gym, I’d have to go before work, which would give me less than 12 hours to recover. I figured, however, that if I went to the gym, I could run on the treadmill and if ANYTHING felt off, I could easily stop running and get on a bike/elliptical to finish my workout, whereas if I ran outside, I’d be stuck. So the dreadmill it was.

Man, four miles take forever on a treadmill. I actually haven’t run on a treadmill since…April? March? Long enough that I really have no room to complain, especially since I hadn’t run on one at all this training cycle. I watched NBC 5 (Stefan and Michelle and Lauren and Kye and Andy, I’ve missed you so!) and tried to not look at the mileage count every .2 seconds.

Friday, October 3: Physical Therapy.
Back with my PT :D An all-around much more enjoyable experience than Tuesday. It’s funny — last year I bounced among all three PTs in the clinic before finally settling down with one (not my current PT — my old/favorite PT in the clinic moved out of state earlier this year. Rude.), and switching between two PTs this week, I was reminded of how much I prefer one therapist’s style (i.e.: my therapist’s style) to other styles.

Saturday, October 4: 8.08 miles in 1:20:10 for a 9:55 pace.
Um, oops?

It was, once again, FREEZING on Saturday morning. Technically, it was pretty close in temperature to what we ran our 14 miler in a few weeks back, except when we ran 14 miles, it was at least sunny. On Saturday, it was cloudy and/or rainy/snowy(?). And they said this was “summer” marathon training…

8milertemp

We started off at a 10:20 pace, but quickly sped up and ran miles 3-8 at more of a 9:45 pace. LOLWHUT. So much for that whole “10:30″ thing, eh? But it was cold, and it was only eight miles, and we were all excited to get to our post-run brunch, soo…yeah. Twas a speedy one.

The highlight of Saturday (aside from brunch, obviously) was that our group leaders let all of us take turns leading the group on our last two miles back. Having never had the guts to run anywhere close to the front of the group, that was a pretty special moment for me :)

OMG IT’S MARATHON WEEK. Honestly, I can’t believe it. I feel like this whole marathon season absolutely flew by, and I’m so, so sad that training (at least with my group) is over. I’ll of course see them all again on marathon day, and we’re getting together for a short little run the Saturday after the marathon (where I will absolutely violate my own “no running under any circumstance between Oct. 13 and Nov. 13″ rule. Whatever. It’ll be fine.), so it’s not like this is the end the end…but it still makes me really sad. I had SUCH a phenomenal time training with my CARA group this year. I really feel like I made some awesome, awesome friends in my group, and that made such a difference for me comparing last year to this year.

On Monday during therapy (of the mental, not physical variety ;) ) my therapist asked me if I thought I’d do it again next year, and I was like, “I mean…yeah. Yeah, definitely. I’m not even going to bother pretending like it’s something I’m just thinking about. My friends!” I’ve heard people say that with marathons, you’re either one and done or two and through, and I certainly understand that now. If I didn’t have my CARA group, or if no one in my CARA group planned to come back next year, it’d be a different story. But those people have become my people, and I can’t fathom spending next summer knowing all my friends are running together and I’m not with them. Whether I’ll do Chicago next year is TBD. To be honest, I felt like running for charity put WAY more pressure on me than I could handle, and while it was a great way to make sure I got into Chicago, I want next year’s marathon experience to be a bit more low key. Right now, I plan on entering the lottery for Chicago 2015 and seeing what happens. If I get in, great! If I don’t, I’ll probably look into either Grand Rapids or Detroit, which are the weekend after Chicago. Coincidentally, one of my CARA friends is thinking about Detroit for next year instead of Chicago, so that could make things really simple! But that’s all very, very far down the road. I’ve still got a marathon to run this year first ;)

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Thursday Things

1. Well, whaddaya know. This is my 100th Thursday Things post! Remember that one time when I was all, “idk if I’m going to do this all the time…”? (Answer: no, you probably don’t, since to my knowledge not many of you around today were around here in May 2012.) Guess it turned out to be a regular thing ;)

2. You know how technology can “learn” things about you as time goes on? Gmail can anticipate who you want to e-mail based on just a couple of letters or based on the other recipients of your e-mail and iPhones learn how to autocorrect to what you actually mean rather than what you type (hilarious fact: my iPhone autocorrects Cara to CARA, because I very rarely have anything to say about anyone named Cara, while I very often have something to say about the Chicago Area Runners Association).

According to my technology, the main man in my life is, without question, my physical therapist.

It was one thing with Gmail. Yes, I will admit that I was pretty distressed to learn that upon typing any of his initials into the “To” field, his e-mail address is the first one to pop up, but that’s understandable. Our current e-mail thread has reached 36 messages (“current” meaning “yes, at one point there were other e-mail threads”), which in and of itself is a testament to my current pathetic state of affairs, since every one of these e-mails is either trying to figure out when I can get in for an appointment or updating him (always at his direct request — I’m not that overbearing) on my knee/foot/shoulder, but at least I understand why Gmail thinks I would want to e-mail my physical therapist, since he does seem to be the person I e-mail most frequently these days.

The situation, however, hit a brand new low on Monday, when, during an attempt to compose an e-mail to my Mom, my iPhone attempted on no less than four separate occasions to autocorrect what I was trying to write to my physical therapist’s name.

Now, it’s not like he has a particularly uncommon name, and the keys I tried to hit on my iPhone in an effort to write what I wanted to say were quite close to the keys that would make up the first couple letters of his name, so maybe this was an innocent mistake. HOWEVER. When your IPHONE starts to just ASSUME that regardless of what you’re trying to say, you really mean to talk about your physical therapist, I think that, more than anything, indicates that it is DEFINITELY time to get yourself out of PT.

3. My parents, obviously crippled by Empty Nest Syndrome now that all of us kids are out of the house, are in the midst of an Italian vacation to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They’re having a really miserable time and can’t find a decent meal anywhere.

dinner

Clearly.

I, personally, have enjoyed (jokingly) harassing my parents about this trip for weeks on end. I whined and whined about not being invited along (again, jokingly. My parents, who have taken exactly one vacation as just the two of them since I was born [to the wild locale of Toronto when I was like three], more than deserved this trip.), and every time they send me photos of their adventures, I try to respond with something snarky, because that’s how I show my love :P

WELL. As you may or may not have heard, the one and only George Clooney got married in Venice this past weekend. And where were my parents this past weekend? VENICE.

I can only conclude that this means my parents are secretly besties with George Clooney. I mean, really. What are the chances that they would end up in the same city at the same time He Who Will Never Marry got married?? That’s way too coincidental to merely be “a coincidence.”

I e-mailed my parents a caps lock tirade to let them know my extreme anger over them hiding the fact that they were invited to George Clooney’s wedding, and my mom confirmed my suspicions, telling me that they received a personally engraved invitation that specifically only invited two adults to the occasion. I KNEW IT.

(In reality, my parents did not see George Clooney or anyone else of note in Venice, though my aunt and uncle, who are there with them, did see paparazzi, which is kind of like seeing celebrities…sort of. My mom also let me know that Venice was “okay” but “not her favorite.” I, stuck at my desk at work, had a very hard time feeling any sort of sympathy for her difficulties.)

Have you ever been in the same area as someone famous? Celebrities seem to come to Chicago all the time, but I never find out about it until way after it happens. This is probably due in part to the fact that they hang out in places I could never, ever afford, and also to the fact that the “celebrities” in town are usually people I probably wouldn’t recognize.
Funny autocorrect stories?

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