Chicago Marathon Training Week 16

Sunday, September 17: 19.89 miles in 4:07:17 for a 12:26 pace + S
WHOA BUDDY was this the toughest 20 miler I’ve ever done. At the end of last week’s training recap post, I mentioned that the forecast didn’t look promising for Sunday, and boy, was I ever correct on that. It was already 70 degrees when I woke up at 4:30 Sunday morning, which, considering that sunrise was nearly two hours away, did not bode well for the run.

There were rumors of rain, so I hoped we’d get lucky and at least have cloud cover for most of the 20 miler. Not so. While the sun was mercifully hidden behind the clouds for the first six miles, by mile seven the sun had come out and it did. not. let. up. The sun only got more intense as the day went on, as the sun is apt to do throughout the course of a morning, and the Lakefront Trail proved to be as miserable as ever with basically no shade to speak once we got south of downtown. On top of all of that, the 20 miler course was also different this year than it was the other times I’ve done CARA’s 20 miler, and that threw me for a loop (we went south to Fullerton and looped around Diversey Harbor, which in the past we haven’t done [I didn’t do the 20 miler last year since I was busy torturing myself with a marathon that day, so I don’t know if this change was new this year, or if it was different last year as well.]. We also didn’t do the lap around part of Grant Park, I assume because we made up that distance elsewhere.)

I had a pretty good feeling that I wouldn’t be doing a 3:37 at the 20 miler this year like I have ever other time I’ve run it, but I certainly didn’t expect to be an entire HALF HOUR slower than in years past. That was definitely a blow to the ol’ ego (which, in my opinion, has taken enough hits in the running department lately as it is), and I spent a substantial amount of this run questioning whether or not I’m going to keep doing marathons in the future, particularly given my string of long run disappointments as of late (though, as we all know, the middle of a rough run isn’t really the time or place to make that kind of decision). I started walking sometime after mile 14, and instead of doing my usual 4:1 run:walk plan, did more of a “run for awhile, then walk for 3-4 minutes” plan. I think I ended up running more this way than I would have had I followed my usual ratio, but I was literally running at a 13:00 pace, so I don’t know that it made much of a difference in those last few miles.

I don’t know a single person who had a good day on Sunday, which did make me feel a lot better about things–not in a, “If I’m going to have a bad day, EVERYONE had better have a bad day,” sense, but more in a, “Okay, if everyone did awful today, then I’m not an awful runner – it was just awful weather for running 20 miles,” sense. I’d be lying if I said this didn’t continue to shake my already fragile confidence, but I guess at least if the real feel is near 90 on race day, I’ll know what to expect out of myself (a 5:45 marathon. That’s what I’d expect out of myself if the weather is as bad on Oct. 8 as it was on Sunday.)

Monday, September 18: Rest
Birthday rest day! My favorite kind of birthday workout!

Tuesday, September 19: Dance
My teacher started the class on Tuesday by telling us to “get ready to sweat,” and he wasn’t kidding. We learned a new combo on Tuesday–one that I like SO much more than the one we’d been working on–and it’s pretty fast and high energy. I’ve actually learned part of this combo twice before in class, but what we did on Tuesday didn’t feel familiar, so I think it might come before what I learned years ago?

Wednesday, September 20: 8.21 miles in 1:34:51 for an 11:33 pace + SPF
UGH. This was pure misery. It was 91 degrees on this run, so I wasn’t surprised that it went poorly, especially considering that it hasn’t been 91 degrees in Chicago since August 16 (you know, when it’s supposed to be that hot outside), which was the first 90+ degree day since July 23. Point is, we haven’t had consistent 90 degree weather this year (which is FINE by me), so my heat acclimation is nonexistent, and these eight miles sucked. And just in case the heat wasn’t enough to make me hate my life, there was also a 14 mph wind coming out of the south that felt like it was directly out of the furnaces of hell, and only served to make me hotter rather than cool me off. I know the times for my first two miles of run commuting are always inaccurate, so ignoring those, the fastest mile I had on this run was an 11:29 >.< Miles five through seven were all 12:00+. I know the weather was a huge factor, but it’s still extremely discouraging to see such slow times. For what felt like the millionth run in a row, I spent a fair amount of this run seriously considering whether or not this endeavor is worth it. On the bright side, for the first time ever, my watch measured my running-amongst-buildings almost perfectly. It still had me starting a good block and a half away from where I actually started, but within two blocks, it found me where I was and didn’t go bonkers once for the whole rest of my run. High five, watch!

Thursday, September 21: 65 minutes XT (bike)
Back at it on the bike again this week. It was, once again, sinfully hot outside, and I was very glad that I could keep my workout indoors. I did the exact same rolling hills on level three workout I did last week, though this time I only got through 13.17 miles instead of 14.12. I’m not losing any sleep over it.

Friday, September 22: Rest

Saturday, September 23: Rest

Assuming I survived it, I should have a recap for you of what will, without a doubt, be the hottest Chicago Half Marathon I’ve ever run later this week. I’m really curious to see how the race will go. The weather will be every bit as terrible as it was at Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville in April, but there won’t be hills…but there also won’t be as much shade. Will that make for a better or worse outcome? What a fun experiment I can’t wait to undertake! /sarcasm Seriously, though, this armpit-of-summer weather needs to go directly back to whichever corner of hell it came out of and STAY THERE. As I write this on Friday, it looks like we might be in for some relief by Wednesday which, conveniently, is the next time I plan to run (after Sunday, that is). Here’s hoping.

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Thursday Things

1. Of all the extra benefits my company gives its employees (extra, by my definition, being the things that go beyond your basic health/dental/401k benefits), I’d have to say my favorite one is that you can take your birthday off without it counting against your annual PTO allotment. (If your birthday falls on a weekend, you can take the day before or after your birthday off instead.) I like not working on my birthday just in general, but with the way marathon training timing has worked out for the past two years, I’ve especially liked not having to go to work the day after a marathon (last year) or the day after the most miserable 20 miler ever (this year).

For the second year in a row, the Shedd Aquarium was free for Illinois residents on my birthday day off (last year it was free on Sept. 19, the day after my birthday, but since my birthday was on Sunday last year, I took Monday off.), so I went to visit the penguins to kick off 27.

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The Shedd’s penguins are all molting (I expected that would be the case, since they were all molting when I went this time last year), which means they’re grumpy and fairly uninterested in anything other than their own discomfort, so they mostly just stood around and picked at their itchy feathers. But they were still super adorable! I officially turned 27 while watching them, and I have to say that that beat officially turning 26 while I was on mile 21 or so of the Fox Valley Marathon last year. Though, considering my affinity for penguins and my affinity for torturing myself by running long distances, I guess both ways were appropriate.

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I happened to time my visit to the belugas and otters perfectly, and got to see their trainers working with them.

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I love the belugas so much. Two of my friends recently got engaged via the Shedd’s Beluga Encounter, which I thought was the coolest thing EVER. Anyone can do a Beluga Encounter at the Shedd (if you’re willing to drop some $$$. They’re not cheap.), but if you schedule a proposal Beluga Encounter, not only do you get to meet the belugas and have them do some tricks for you, but their final trick is to bring you a waterproof box that contains an engagement ring. *dies* You can also propose during a Penguin Encounter at the Shedd, though frankly, I’m not sure which one is more adorable, since both animals are unspeakably cute.

Anyway.

I knew belugas could do fun little tricks (I particularly enjoyed their dancing), but I had no idea you could train otters! The trainer could get them all to line up in a little row, but my favorite trick was when they would twirl around in a circle! It was the cutest thing.

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I also went to visit the pretty fishies, which I thought I had never done before until I got downstairs to the Wild Reef exhibit and thought it looked familiar, so I guess I have?

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While in the Wild Reef, I found Dory:

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I didn’t quite find Nemo, because I don’t think there are any Nemos in the Wild Reef exhibit (or if there are, I didn’t see them), but I did find an anemonefish, which is a type of clownfish, so close enough.

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I brought my SLR to the Shedd and was super impressed with how well it handled the low light conditions! I didn’t think I’d get any good photos of anything with how much the animals move, but I was quite happy with how most of my pictures turned out.

2. When I went to the Shedd for free last year, it wasn’t totally free. I had to pay extra to see the penguins (a price I was MORE than willing to pay), and I would’ve had to pay extra extra to see an aquatic presentation, if I remember correctly. Not so this year! I only had to pay extra if I wanted to do one of the 4D shows (which I didn’t), and since I arrived about 30 minutes before an aquatic presentation, I got to see one of those!

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I expected the presentation to be all dolphin tricks, but it turned out to be more about Shedd’s rescuing, rehabilitation, and training missions. I thought it was really interesting! They had the dolphins do some tricks, then brought out a sea lion who had been shot in the face as a pup and as a result is blind (*sobs forever*). They had trained him to do things like wave hello, which was crushingly adorable. Then the dolphins did some more cool things, and after that they brought out a DOG! I was not aware that the Shedd rescues and rehabilitates dogs, but apparently they have four of them. Peach was a total cutie!

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The whole point of bringing out Peach was to show that the same training methods that work on dogs also work on dolphins, so there was a demonstration where Peach’s trainer would have her do a trick (like shaking, as pictured above), and then a dolphin trainer would have a dolphin do a similar trick. The Shedd trains via positive reinforcement (so no “Bad *insert-animal-name-here*!” or saying no), which I thought was really great.

After the show, another trainer brought out a red-tailed hawk! I have to say, I did not at all expect the Shedd Aquarium to be a rescuer to dogs and hawk, but I certainly didn’t mind it!

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This red-tailed hawk doesn’t have a left eye, so it can’t survive in the wild, since hawks rely so heavily on their powerful vision to find prey and eat.

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So instead, it lives at the Shedd.

I guess I can’t really speak to how the Shedd treats its animals, since obviously a show like this is meant to give you a good impression of the aquarium, but it definitely seemed like they care a lot about the health, well-being, and stimulation of the animals in their care.

3. I know there is no task so fruitless as complaining about the weather, but you guys, WHAT is going on with the weather.

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I am beyond not okay with this. It’s September! LATE September! Why are we going to have six consecutive days where it’s pushing 90 in September?!? Granted, I’d be annoyed by six consecutive days where it’s pushing 90 in July or August, but I especially hate it this time of year! I’m going to be running in worse weather during the Chicago Half Marathon on Sunday than I ran in during the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half in July. That’s not how this is supposed to work! The two hottest long runs of marathon season are going to be the 20 miler and the first long run of taper. WHY.

I also know the only thing less useful than complaining about the weather is worrying about the weather, but I’d be lying if I said this unrelenting, unseasonable weather wasn’t making me antsy about the weather on marathon day. Obviously the weather can change dramatically between now and two and a half weeks from now–two weeks ago, the high was 67–but man, I would just feel so much better if it could start being seasonable outside.

Have you ever been to the Shedd Aquarium?
Did you do anything fun for your most recent birthday?

Chicago Marathon Training Week 15

Sunday, September 10: Rest
I didn’t get home from Iowa until 8:30 and still needed to go grocery shopping and make lunches for the week after that. Obviously, the 90 minute workout I planned for the day didn’t happen. Though, looking over the past six weeks on my training log, that seems to be more the standard rather than the exception, so what else is new? At least if race day goes terribly this year, I certainly won’t have to spend any time wondering where I went wrong in training.

Monday, September 11: 10.39 miles in 1:47:33 for a 10:21 pace + SPF
I continue to be #unimpressed with Garmin’s utter failure at GPS tracking among buildings. According to my watch, I ran my first mile in 6:55, and my max speed was 117.5 miles per hour. Look, I understand that it’s hard to triangulate my position when there are buildings in the way, but COME ON. According to Google, the fastest animal (the Mexican free-tailed bat) can only travel at 99 mph, and that’s while it’s in flight. OBVIOUSLY a human–particularly a human who usually runs in the 5.0-5.7 mph range–can’t run 117.5 miles per hour. There really needs to be something built into the software on these watches that prevents these kind of blatant errors. GPS watches have existed since 2003. How has technology not improved to the point where a watch can AT LEAST see that something extremely fishy seems to be happening, and maybe, JUST MAYBE, the GPS pings it’s receiving don’t make sense? I’m not looking for perfection here, but since I am one billion percent sure I’m not the only runner on the planet attempting to use a GPS watch around buildings–and, as I have been dismayed to learn, with this Garmin in particular, it doesn’t even matter how tall the buildings are. While my watch is most inaccurate around tall buildings, the only time I get a good signal is out by the lake. My maps show me weaving all over the road even when I’m in my neighborhood, where the buildings are two to three stories tall–it really seems like it should be a MUCH higher priority to teach these watches how to look for obvious impossibilities and to smooth out erratic mapping accordingly.

Anyway, aside from continuing to think my watch was an utter waste of money and hating Garmin with the fury of one thousand suns, this run went pretty well. It went a lot better than my long run last Saturday, which was a relief. My knee bothered me a little bit, which was a reminder that I really need to dial it in on my PT exercises between now and the marathon.

Tuesday, September 12: Dance
We finished (I think?) the combo we started learning last week. If I’m being honest, I kind of hate the song and the combo, so I hope we’re done and can move on to something else. We had two people show up that weren’t there the week before and no one that didn’t show up from the week before, so it was a bit crowded.

Wednesday, September 13: Your guess is as good as mine in what should’ve been 60 minutes but wasn’t for a who knows pace + SPF
As much as I enjoy berating my watch at every possible opportunity, this disaster-from-a-tracking-standpoint of a run all came down to user error >.< Don’t you hate it when that happens? I had a 60 minute tempo run on my schedule for Wednesday: my first tempo run with my new watch. These tempo runs, if you recall, ask me to gradually increase my speed for the first half of my run, get to a 10K pace by the middle of my run, then gradually decrease my speed for the second half of my run. I do this in five minute increments, so I like using interval timers for these workouts. I figured out how to access the interval timer on my watch, and then set it up before I left work. I set it up on Run Indoor mode since I was still inside, but then when I went outside, I didn’t realize my watch was still on indoor–and thus, not searching for or using GPS–mode. Fail. When you run on indoor mode, your watch calculates distance based on the your average stride length, as determined by your GPS data. That’s all well and good, but considering that three of the five runs I had done with this watch prior to Wednesday had faulty GPS data, I have reservations about the accuracy of my average stride length as determined by Garmin. (For what it’s worth, my watch says I ran 5.9 miles, while MapMyRun says I ran 6.2.)

So that was user error #1 (though, with how frustrated I get by the crappy GPS reception my watch has around buildings, maybe I shouldn’t complain too much about that particular error). I was rolling along quite nicely on this run and was fortunate enough to not have to stop for lights until roughly a minute into interval eight of 12. I slowed down at the stoplight, pushed the button on the lower left corner of my watch, and watched in horror as it ended interval eight and started interval nine while I frantically tried to figure out what was happening and how I could make it stop. After a few seconds, I realized I had pressed the lap button, not the pause button–on my old watch, the button in the lower left corner was pause, while the button in the upper right corner was start/stop. On this watch, the button on the upper right corner is start/pause/stop. Since I had ruined my eighth interval AND was using the interval timer for the first time (so I didn’t know what it did at the end of the workout), I ended the whole workout and feverishly programed a new, five interval workout for to finish out my run. Overall, I ended up running for 63:01 instead of the 60:00 I planned to run. But whatever. I got the run in, and I guess that’s what matters the most.

Thursday, September 14: 65 minutes XT (bike)
All season long, I’ve used my Thursday cross training days to do yoga, but since I’m panicking over the miles I’ve missed this season and the ramifications that may or may not have on my marathon, I decided that for this week and next week, and possibly the week after, I’ll be biking rather than doing yoga on my cross training days to hopefully help my endurance out a bit. I did the rolling hills workout on the bike at the gym and covered 14.12 miles in 65 minutes. I didn’t really know anything about bike speeds before this year, but it is SHOCKING to me how slow I am on the bike! I’m usually somewhere in the 12.x MPH range, which seems awfully slow to me. Is that normal when you’re on a a stationary bike? (I genuinely have no idea.)

Friday, September 15: Rest

Saturday, September 16: Rest

This week went a lot better than I anticipated, which was a welcome change after last Saturday’s debacle of a long run. I’ll have run the 20 miler by the time this post goes up, but as I write this on Friday, I obviously haven’t done 20 miles yet. I have no idea what to expect out of Sunday. If the forecast holds, it will be far and away the worst weather we’ve ever had for the 20 miler (yay :|), with predicted highs in the low 80s and a decent chance for higher-than-pleasant humidity as well (*sobs*). Expectation is the root of all heartache, as the angsty quotes on the internet say, and I certainly learned that the hard way when I went into my 18-turned-12 miler last Saturday with high expectations. My plan for the 20 miler, therefore, is to go in with exceedingly low expectations. I probably won’t be fast. I probably won’t be comfortable. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had to walk at some point. But as long as I cross the finish line healthy, I’ll consider Sunday a success.

Thursday Things

1. As you may have noticed in my marathon training recap post earlier this week, I was in Iowa last weekend. Why was I in Iowa last weekend? For the Tri-State Rodeo, naturally.

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A few of my friends went to the Tri-State Rodeo, located in Fort Madison, Iowa, last year, and somehow, I got roped (pun only slightly intended) into attending this year as well. It was…an experience, to say the least.

The rodeo itself features a variety of cowboy/girl-related events, like bronco riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, barrel racing, and bull riding, but it’s a much bigger to-do than just the animal-related competitions. There were several booths selling a variety of rodeo-related items–leather belts, saddles, blankets, bedazzled baseball hats, rodeo-themed clothes, etc.–along with your standard fair-type food and abundant alcohol. The rodeo events lasted two hours or so and were followed by concerts: Smash Mouth, bizarrely, on Friday, and Jon Pardi, more logically, on Saturday. The concerts were then followed by an on-site after party that raged on until 2 a.m. I plead my long run on Friday and left well before Smash Mouth ended, but didn’t have any excuse to leave early on Saturday, so I stuck around until my friends were ready to leave at 1 a.m. or so. Considering that I really struggle to stay awake past 10 p.m. these days, that was a bit of a challenge for me.

It was an interesting experience in general, I guess. I don’t know if it’s necessarily something I need to do again, or if it’s something I’d say everyone should do once in their life, but I wouldn’t say that I regret going. Well, maybe I regret going from a running perspective, since I’m sure going to the rodeo on Friday night didn’t do me any favors in the Saturday morning long run department, nor did being in Iowa and having to navigate non-pancake flat terrain, but if I hadn’t been in the middle of marathon training AND in the middle of trying to get back into running after my bout with food poisoning, I probably wouldn’t have regretted it quite so much.

2. Fort Madison, as the name implies, was once the site of a fort, so we spent some time on Saturday touring the recreated fort.

Fort Madison (the fort itself) was originally built as a trading post to establish friendly relations with the Native Americans, particularly those who may have had pro-British leanings. Things went well for awhile, and then started to go not so well. Eventually, the U.S. decided to abandon the fort,  but they burned it down on their way out so no one else could take over. The fort that exists today, therefore, is obviously not the original, but rather a replica built in the 1980s. Regardless, I was impressed by the level of detail, and enjoyed interacting with the reenactors who told us a lot about the fort’s function and history.

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They did an artillery demonstration while we were there, firing off the cannon (with a blank, obviously). They only used a few ounces of gunpowder in the demonstration on Saturday, but told us last year they used one pound (half the amount of gunpowder it took to actually launch a cannonball – that required two pounds of powder). When they did that, the blast was so strong it rattled windows all the way on the other side of the street, which had to be close to a quarter mile from the fort itself. Pretty powerful stuff!

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My favorite part of the fort, though, was visiting the infirmary. I suppose I’m more interested in that sort of thing at this exact moment than I would be at other times, having just recovered from being sick myself, but it was fascinating read about the various herbs and plants they’d use to try to help people feel better. I was especially interested in how they handled smallpox vaccinations. The early 1800s predate the hypodermic needle, but Edward Jenner introduced the concept of smallpox vaccination in 1796. In order to vaccinate people, you would find a cow infected with cowpox (smallpox lite), poke one of the cowpox pustle’s with a quill to get some of the pus in the quill (gross, I know), then scratch the quill against the skin of the person you intended to vaccinate to infect them with cowpox, which was close enough to smallpox to create immunity. I knew this was how vaccination worked, of course, but even though it’s obvious now that I think about it, I never wondered before how they went about “injecting” people prior to having needles to accomplish that purpose. Super interesting!

3. I saw this article on NBC Chicago the other day about the most common birth date and found it FASCINATING, especially since it flies in the face of my own personal experience. Growing up, it seemed like everyone‘s birthday was in April. I have three family members on one side with April birthdays (which, considering that there are only 12 people on that side in the first place, is a pretty good percentage), and I remember feeling like every other person in my class in school had a birthday in April. I also remember feeling like I, with my September birthday, was in the minority. According to the article, however, that’s not so! The most common birth date between 1994 and 2014? September 9!

The article links to a heat map, which I found to be a particularly useful way to digest this birth date data. I was totally shocked to see my birthday clock in at the #10 most common day to be born, however! I didn’t know a single person my age who shared my birthday (September 18) until I was in college (there were I believe two other people at my dad’s church who were also 9/18 babies), and according to the list on my company’s intranet site that displays who’s having birthdays in the next week, I’m the only person at my place of employment with a September 18 birthday. And yet somehow this is the 10th most popular day to be born! Although maybe it’s only the 10th most popular day for people between the ages of almost-3 and almost-23? Though, considering that the estimated conception date for a person with a September 18 birthday is the day after Christmas, I guess it’s not too surprising (though having that knowledge does skeeve me out a little bit. I prefer to not think about the technicalities that went into me having life, haha.)

Another thing that I found to be really interesting about all of this is that Christmas is the least common day to be born – even less common than February 29! I suppose if you’re inducing labor or having a scheduled c-section, I certainly understand why you wouldn’t choose to have your baby born on Christmas. But considering that December 20 is the 11th most popular day to have a baby, the fact that only five days later is the least popular day to give birth was super surprising to me!

Have you ever been a rodeo?
How common is your birthday?

Chicago Marathon Training Week 14

Sunday, September 3: 33 minutes XT
After being on the couch from Tuesday through Saturday, I finally felt good enough to get in some activity on Sunday. I went to the gym after church and spent some time on the recumbent bike and did one PT exercise afterwards. I had felt a bit woozy in the morning (hence the recumbent bike), but I ended up making it through just fine and actually felt a lot better when I was done.

Monday, September 4: 3 miles in 33:55 for an 11:18 pace + SPF
Well, I wasn’t exactly moving mountains here, but at least I ran! In a perfect world, I would’ve gotten up early and gone running before it got hot outside, but…I chose sleep over ideal training conditions. I didn’t go for my run until like 11:15 or so, and it was HOT and humid by that point. I shuffled through this run, but that was fine. I just wanted to get some miles on my legs, and that’s exactly what I did. Considering how all of last week went, I count three slow miles as a success.

Tuesday, September 5: Dance
Dance started up again on Tuesday, and to my great delight, the combo we learned on Tuesday was neither 1) set to Bruno Mars nor 2) one I’ve done before. This was the first time in over a week that I actually did the workout I planned to do, which was nice, though it did take it out of me a bit. Class went 10 minutes late, and I was predictably annoyed. I really think I might start walking out when class is supposed to end whether or not my teacher’s done teaching, because I’m super sick of this.

Wednesday, September 6: 8.16 miles in 1:24:19 for a 10:20 pace + SPF
I decided to try out my new Garmin with GPS on a run commute to see how it held up, and, not entirely surprisingly, it was just as bad at handling being bounced around between buildings as my Polar watch was. Fortunately, I had measured out my run ahead of time and knew my eight mile route (so my pace, as reported, is incorrect as always). The weather was just about perfect for running, with temperatures in the mid 60s and no sun to speak of, although I did endure a one-minute downpour about five and half miles into the run that was just enough to soak me and make me cold for the next two and a half miles home. It was FREEZING inside my house, too, since we obviously didn’t think to turn the heat on at the beginning of September, so I didn’t do as much PT as I could/should have, because all I could think about was getting out of my cold clothes and into a hot shower.

Thursday, September 7: 58 minutes XT (yoga)
This one:

Well, well! Look who finally got herself into downward dog again! I skipped yoga for four consecutive weeks for various reasons with varying levels of acceptability (ranging from, “I’m sick” to “I don’t feel like it”), but I had no excuses on Thursday, so back to Yoga with Adriene I went! I expected this to be difficult and challenging after four weeks of no yoga, and was pleasantly surprised to have it go quite well.

Friday, September 8: Rest

Saturday, September 9: 12.13 miles in 2:29:25 for a 12:19 pace + S

I cannot even begin to tell you how terrible this run was. It was, without a doubt, the worst run I’ve had all season, and was probably one of the three worst runs I’ve ever had. I was in Iowa last weekend and had to come up with a route, so I found a perfect six mile loop from my hotel (“hotel” is a generous word for where we stayed) that I planned to run three times to make up for the 18 I missed last Saturday. Admittedly, the route was a bit tougher than I’m used to–316 feet of elevation gain, compared to the 100ish I get on a long run on the Lakefront Trail–and I didn’t have the same relaxing Friday night I usually have either, but this run sucked from the second I started and only got worse as it went on. I was more than ready to quit after the first six mile loop, and I did quit after the second mile loop. I was walking before I hit mile 10, and walked almost all of the last mile. I don’t have a clue what happened, but the whole run felt like shit, plain and simple. I was extremely frustrated and cried more than once as a result. I felt like a complete failure, and this absolutely destroyed my confidence.

So…peak week. I have a 10 miler coming up today, and I am desperately hoping for some redemption, especially after Saturday. I’m seriously concerned about the 20 miler on Sunday, not to mention the marathon that’s less than one month away and only one week of actual training from now (since you don’t really make gains from a training perspective during taper). I’ve never gone into peak week doubting my ability to even run 20 miles, never mind run them successfully. I’m worried now that being sick has completely screwed me over, and I’m PISSED OFF about it. I just want to have a good marathon for once in my life, and now I don’t feel like I even have a shot at that, and it’s all because of whatever I got sick with. I know life’s not fair, but…I’m still really frustrated that life’s not fair, especially when for once in my crummy excuse for a running career, I just wanted to have a marathon time I’m proud of. I know a lot could change for the better between now and Oct. 8, but right now, I’m not feeling good about any of this at all 😦

 

Thursday Things

1. Prior to coming down with the worst stomach bug of all time last week, I went to the Cubs game Monday night!

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One of my friend’s parents have season tickets and couldn’t go to the game on Monday, so a bunch of us got to go instead. The seats were AMAZING–in the 130s, which was a bit of an upgrade from my usual nosebleeds–and it was a ton of fun! Plus, the Cubs won, so I got to sing Go Cubs Go after not getting to sing it on the Fourth of July when they lost, so that was great. I had a hot dog at the game that I am adamantly refusing to allow myself to believe had anything to do with my subsequent food poisoning, because I don’t want to have an aversion to ball park hot dogs in the future! Haha.

I had to do a bit of a double take early in the game when Alex Avila came up to bat. Alex Avila was a Detroit Tiger for most of his career (I actually saw him hit a home run for the Tigers when I went to a game in May), but got traded to the Cubs earlier this year. Avila was such a long-time Tiger that it was really weird to see him in a Cubs uniform. I’m wasn’t sure how I felt about it until he batted two runners in, and then I decided I could be all right with it 🙂

cubsalexavila

(I’m not all right with Justin Verlander being traded away from the Tigers to the Astros, though. That’s just wrong.)

2. Time for your semi-regular update from my garden!

tomatoes

I’ve harvested 15 tomatoes thus far, which have made appearances chopped up on pasta, in homemade BLTs (homemade as in with homegrown tomatoes and homemade bread – obviously I did not raise the pig for the bacon haha), and in bruschetta. My tomato plant stopped blossoming once my tomatoes started ripening, so all in all, it produced 42 tomatoes. Three of those were lost to the squirrels (thus far), but I’m pretty happy with how many I’ve gotten up to this point. One thing that has surprised me, though, is how small many of my tomatoes have been. It seems like once I had my first ripe one, they all just stopped growing in size and started ripening instead. I guess that’s not necessarily a problem, since the small red tomatoes taste just as good as the larger red tomatoes, but I didn’t expect it to work that way.

Speaking of losing things to the squirrels, destruction was wrought upon my garden by their furry paws once again on Saturday:

fallenflower

Sigh.

gardenmess

(This, by the way, is the new way my landlord rearranged everything at the beginning of August. I don’t think my tomato plant liked the change at all.)

Fortunately, the squirrels had the courtesy to only knock over plastic pots this time, so while I lost a fair number of leaves and flowers off the begonia plant that fell to the ground, at least I didn’t lose a pot, too. The closer it gets to fall, the less interested I become in maintaining summer flowers anyway, so I wasn’t too upset about the whole situation. Though I do wish they’d leave my garden alone!

When I was cleaning up the mess, I noticed what seemed to be a gigantic weed growing out of a pot that once held a fuchsia. Unconcerned (see: the closer it gets to fall, the less interested I become in maintaining summer flowers), I decided to leave it until a month or so from now when I pull up all my flowers for the season. Later that afternoon, however, I took a closer look:

newtomato

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m almost positive that that’s a TOMATO PLANT growing in my fuchsia pot. The stem and leaves both look exactly the same as what’s on my plant in the bathtub, so I really think I have somehow accidentally started growing a second plant (though if I had to theorize on how that “somehow accidentally” happened, I would bet that the tomatoes eaten by the squirrels had something to do with it. That is, after all, how that’s all supposed to work: plants grow fruit with seeds, animals eat the seeds, animals poop the seeds, a new plant grows where the seed was dropped.). I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with it. I know it won’t survive the winter outside, but it seems like it started growing too soon to bring it inside and expect it to live through next spring. For now, I figure I’ll let it continue to do its thing and see what happens.

3. Because there is no justice in this cruel, cruel world, this is the scene that greeted me in the office kitchen on Thursday, the day I mistakenly thought I was healthy enough to go back to work:

glazedandinfused

THREE DOZEN Glazed and Infused donuts of all varieties. Even though I felt better on Thursday, I knew I wasn’t better enough to eat deep fried dough slathered in sugar, so I abstained. But man, never in a year and a half of working here have we had THAT fabulous of a donut spread available for the taking, and OF COURSE it happened on the ONE DAY I couldn’t eat them. *sighs dramatically*

4. And finally: a poll of the audience. I go to trivia every Tuesday night with some of my friends, and this past Tuesday, one of the questions was about a children’s book published in 1972 with three commas in its title that was turned into a live action film by Disney in 2014. After thinking about it for approximately 10 seconds, I realized that the answer must be Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. (I was right, by the way. I didn’t realize they had made a movie out of it, though.) However, when I told this to the group, none of the four other people at my table had even HEARD of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Plus, judging by the groans from other tables when the MC read the answer, it seemed like a lot of other people got this question wrong, too.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day was a staple in my literature repertoire as a kid. I must’ve read that book at least 100 times. This is as classic to me as Goodnight, Moon, or The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Am I crazy?? Did other people not read this book (or force their parents to read this book to them) over and over and over and over again?? Does this say something about me as a person that a book about a kid’s rotten day was one of my go-tos?? So, in addition to those questions, my main question for you, dear reader: are you aware of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Is this a book you read as a child?

Do you have a favorite donut? I will happily eat anything from Doughnut Vault, as I firmly believe they have the best donuts in the entire world. But a cider donut also makes me very happy 🙂
What do you do with an accidentally grown tomato plant in September?

Goals for 2017: August Check-In

Goal #1: Publish at least one freelance piece
I…have done absolutely nothing in this regard all month.

Goal #2: Get rid of 50 things
I…have done absolutely nothing in this regard all month as well. You would’ve thought that, since I moved on July 25, I would’ve gotten rid of the things I no longer wanted post-move by now. You would’ve thought wrong. Maybe in September.

Goal #3: Finish Dutch on Duolingo
Still finished, still reviewing. Ever since I finished the Dutch curriculum, I’ve relied on the Practice function to get me my lesson for the day, but I’m starting to think I should take more initiative on my own. I keep going over the same basic stuff with Practice, and I’d like to review other lessons as well. I’m thisclose to hitting my one-year streak, though!

Goal #4: Stay healthy and out of PT
I’m feeling a lot better about this now than I was this time last week. The sliver-thin silver lining to being sick last week was that my knee had plenty of time to get better, so I’m feeling very positive about that. Discovering the Chicago Recovery Room has also made me more optimistic about my chances of staying out of PT.

– Strength train once per week, minimally, during running season: Nope. I missed two weeks, but I knew I would miss both of those weeks, so not the end of the world.
– Stretch after every run: Nope. I stretched after most runs, but not every run.
– Foam roll after every run, even if that means with a Moji rather than a full-blown foam roller: Nope. I foam rolled after most runs, but not every run.
– Do at least three PT exercises twice per week: I was doing really well on this right up until the last week of August, when I didn’t do PT once. Ouch. Granted, I didn’t do it because I was sick, so it’s not like I could’ve done it. Hopefully September will be better on that front.