Thursday Things

Florida trip recap edition! I had hoped to get this up last week, but I was super busy after I got home, so you get to hear all about my time in the magical land of livable conditions in February today.

1. I went to Florida during the first weekend in February with a few friends. One of them had a conference in Orlando, and we all decided that was as good of an excuse as any to escape the frozen wasteland that is Chicago for a couple days. It took us a bit longer to get to Orlando than any of us anticipated: some of us were on one flight while the rest of us were on another, and both of our flights were delayed by over two hours due to mechanical issues on the planes that were supposed to take us to Orlando. But our planes got us there safe and sound very late Friday night/very early Saturday morning, and after…definitely not eight hours of sleep, we made our way to Universal!

I had never been to Universal before, but all of us are Harry Potter fans, so stopping by both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure was a must. Another must: getting breakfast at Voodoo Donuts before going into Universal Studios. Not feeling up to going to Voodoo Donuts in Eugene was easily the second-biggest disappointment I had when I was there for five hours last summer–the first being missing NCAAs at Hayward Field–so I was not about to miss my chance again!

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Once we got to Universal Studios, we made a beeline for Diagon Alley and immediately got in line for Escape From Gringotts, the main ride in Diagon Alley. It was the right level of scary and I, a non-roller coaster person, really enjoyed it!

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We wandered Diagon Alley for a bit, then got on the Hogwarts Express to travel to Hogsmeade inside Islands of Adventure.

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Getting on the ride inside Hogwarts, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, was once again our top priority, so we headed straight to the castle to get in line. I loved this ride, too! Again, just the right level of scary to be thrilling without ramping up my anxiety (ahem, Space Mountain). I also LOVED waiting in line. The inside of the castle is just like in the movie! They even have talking pictures. Really. It was AWESOME.

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We were all hungry after getting off the ride, so we went over to Jurassic Park for lunch, but not before stopping for an all-important Butterbeer.

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We also got pumpkin juice, which, like the rides, surprised me by how much I liked it. It’s made with apple juice and definitely tasted more apple-y than pumpkin-y, which was fine with me.

We spent a fair amount of time walking around Islands of Adventure. Everyone else went on the Jurassic Park River Adventure ride, but I didn’t want to risk getting wet so I hung back. We returned to Diagon Alley after that to get ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s, where they had sticky toffee pudding ice cream. WHAT. Sticky toffee pudding is my favorite dessert, so I obviously got that flavor. We got kicked out of the park soon after finishing our ice cream since it closed at 6 p.m. that night for a music festival, so we got dinner on the CityWalk and then returned to our hotels to rest up for Disney the next day.

2. On Sunday, we started our Disney adventures at Magic Kingdom!

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I haven’t been to Disney World (or Florida at all, for that matter) since spring break 2001, so needless to say, it’s been awhile. I was really excited to go back and experience it at 28 vs. 10!

We started at Splash Mountain, which I’m pretty sure scared me more at this age than it did when I was 10, ha. We got breakfast at a cart afterwards, and naturally, I spent my entire meal staring at a White Ibis hanging out nearby:

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UGH, what a beautiful bird! Its pale blue eyes are just stunning. Seeing ibises was easily one of the highlights of Disney for me. #onbrand

We went to the Hall of Presidents, rode Pirates of the Caribbean, and climbed through the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse before heading to Tomorrowland for lunch. We wandered that side of Magic Kingdom for awhile, killing time before our Space Mountain FastPass+ time rolled around. We went on “it’s a small world”:

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and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which was…maybe not worth the 45 minute wait, in my not-preschooler opinion. Ha. But then we went on Space Mountain which I swear I liked at 10, but scared me so much at 28 that I had a hard time breathing when I got off from all the anxiety that dumb roller coaster provoked, so there’s that. It all balances out, I suppose 😛

We finished our rides for the day with Under the Sea, and then half the group went shopping while the rest of us went to dinner at The Plaza. Those of us at dinner left the park a little after 6 p.m. to head back to the Ticket and Transportation Center, because we had tickets to Ferrytale Fireworks: A Sparkling Dessert Cruise.

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I had read a couple reviews on Disney blogs that suggested the cruise wasn’t worth the price of admission, and meh. Maybe that’s true. The smoke from the fireworks kept us from seeing the projections on Cinderella’s Castle, and the desserts were definitely deficient in the chocolate department in my opinion. I thought it was a cool experience regardless, and I’m glad we did it.

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I made sure to get my money’s worth of dessert, don’t you worry. This was plate #1 of…three? I think? Eventually I stopped filling my plate and just shoveling what I wanted into my mouth. Ha. What half marathon goals? 😛

3. The last day of the trip, we went to Epcot. I loved Epcot when I was a kid, even though it’s more “adult-y” (though, story of my life, haha. Pretty sure I was born 45 years old.), and I’ve wanted to go back for years and experience it as an actual adult. Ironically, my favorite part of going to Epcot in 2001 was visiting the countries, and this time, it was visiting the Disney characters. Apparently I’m reverse maturing.

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We started the day at Soarin’, then had (what turned out to be) a totally unnecessary breakfast before hitting up a bunch of character spots, where we met Vanellope and Ralph from Wreck-It Ralph, Joy and Sadness from Inside Out, and Mickey, Goofy, and Minnie. (We also later met Donald in Mexico, Mulan in China, and Tigger randomly in the United Kingdom.)

Real talk: I 100 percent get that it sounds silly to meet characters as a grown up. I know that there’s a normal person inside that costume–a normal person who’s almost certainly younger than I am–and you’d think that would kind of ruin the magic of it all. But man, it was so fun! The people who play the characters go above and beyond to make you feel special, even if you’re a grownup with no kids in tow. I was wearing my shirt from the Life Time 5K in 2016, and when Minnie saw it, she “asked” if I’m a runner (by mimicking running and then pointing to my shirt). When I told Sadness I was SO excited to meet her (…which I was), she traced a single tear down her cheek. When I told Donald it was nice to meet him, he pretended to kiss my hand, like I was, you know, a Disney princess. I MEAN, COME ON. I know it sounds so stupid, but they just make you feel like it’s a big deal that they’re meeting you rather than the other way around, and I don’t think it matters how old you are: it feels awfully nice to be treated like that.

We went to Epcot during the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, which included a thrice-nightly Disney on Broadway concert. Obviously I was interested in that, so we ended up making a reservation at Rose & Crown in the United Kingdom for lunch that came with reserved tickets to the 6:45 p.m. Disney on Broadway show. Unbeknownst to us, the reservation was for a three course prix fixe lunch, so we ended up getting way more food than anticipated (hence why breakfast was unnecessary). It was all super delicious, though, especially the sticky toffee pudding I got (in non-ice cream form) for dessert. Nomz.

We wandered through the countries all afternoon. I saw my first anhinga in Italy:

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All about adding birds to my life list.

Then at 6:45, it was time for our Disney on Broadway show, featuring Gavin Lee and Heidi Blickenstaff!

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Both were in various Disney shows on Broadway in the past: Lee was Bert from Mary Poppins (though more recently he was Squidward in SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, which is why I wanted go. When SpongeBob performed its song for being a Tony nominee for Best Musical last year, the song performed was basically a Squidward solo. I figured if this guy was good enough to get to do that–especially when there had been a lot of hype about Ethan Slater, who played SpongeBob–he must be worth seeing live) and Blickenstaff was Ursula in The Little Mermaid. I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed by the show, mostly because it only lasted 30 minutes, but it was a really great 30 minutes of entertainment. Lee and Blickenstaff were both insanely good, and it was quite the treat to see them live (and from the second row, no less!).

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We got dinner in France, popped by The Seas to visit Nemo and Marlin:

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before settling in to watch IllumiNations:

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It was quite the show, and a great end to a fantastic trip to Florida 🙂

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Chi Town Half Marathon Training Week 4

Sunday, February 3: Magic Kingdom
Intended to run eight miles before spending the day at Magic Kingdom, opted to sleep in instead. Again. Felt guilty about it, especially after how much standing around I did at Magic Kingdom (vs. walking around at Universal). I logged 14,766 steps for 6.25 miles and 13/13 active hours, so again, not a rest day, but also not what I wanted. And also not equivalent to an eight mile long run.

Monday, February 4: 3 miles in 31:35 for a 10:31 pace + Epcot
I finally got a Florida run in, though once again, three miles is not eight miles. This was meant to replace the two miler I originally planned to do on Thursday of this week, and I suppose it did replace it (I ran two miles after all – and then another one), but that one mile doesn’t make up for the seven others that went un-run. I probably should’ve just cut my losses, accepted that that eight miler was never going to happen, and not tried to make up for it by running an extra mile on Monday, but whatever. It’s done, and I need to get over it. There wasn’t convenient running by my hotel (I ran on every available sidewalk in the area and got to 2.85 miles, but at that point I figured I may as well go a little farther to get a full three), so running eight miles would’ve been a headache anyway. After my run, I went to Epcot where I walked way more than in Magic Kingdom, logging an additional 20,459 steps and 8.49 miles.

Tuesday, February 5: Dance
I returned to Chicago a little before noon on Tuesday (boo), so I had plenty of time to get to dance that evening. To my great surprise and even greater delight, we started learning new choreography! It’s not new to me–I did this routine in the March/April 2014 session–but that’s fine. I’m still excited to do more than two routines this time around!

Wednesday, February 6: Strength training – legs (AM) + 6 miles (with five hill repeats) in 1:02:11(ish) for a 10:21 pace
After a polar vortex/vacation-induced week off a strength training, I hit the gym Wednesday morning to get back into the swing of things. I really like that the workouts I’m going through now were written for me to do during taper in marathon season. I’m lifting much heavier than I did during taper, but the workouts are shorter. It’s nice to be able to get in and out of the gym quickly!

I ran outside! In Chicago! In February! It’s a midwinter miracle! I returned to Chicago on Tuesday to dry-as-a-bone sidewalks, and since the ice storm we were promised Tuesday night into Wednesday never materialized, I got to run outside for the first time (in Chicago) since January 18. Yikes. It was so glorious and felt amazing, though it did remind me how much longer everything takes when I run outside. I have to get home and change, which always takes longer than it should (I inevitably convince myself that I can watch “just two short videos” on YouTube or read “just one” Washington Post article, and 30 minutes later, I find myself still on the couch, having watched way more than two videos or read way more than one article, and not one bit closer to getting out for my run.), and there’s the whole waiting-at-intersections piece as well. Speaking of which: at one intersection I apparently didn’t stop my watch, so when I tried to restart it when the light turned green, I actually stopped it, and basically everything was a disaster for a minute and 20 seconds. I took that time off my total Garmin time, because I couldn’t figure out exactly how long I was at the light and how long it took me to run the next block (with my watch stopped), so I took the whole 1:20 where it looks like I’m not moving on Garmin off my time. It took me somewhere between 1:02:11 and 1:03:31 to do this run.

Thursday, February 7: Strength training – upper body (AM) + 3.88 miles in 40:00 for a 10:19 pace (PM)
In my ongoing effort to not phone it in during training, I once again upped my weights for this workout, and it was tough. But tough in a good way. I know I’m not going to get stronger if I don’t challenge myself, but it sure would be a lot less sweaty to not do that, ha.

This run was not good. It was a Hal Higdon-style tempo run, and I hoped to work up to minimally a 9:30 pace (ideally more of a 9:20/9:15 pace) for the middle peak. I did work up to a 9:30 pace, but five minutes into those 10 minutes of peak pace, I had to stop to the treadmill and take a break. This is the third treadmill run where that’s happened. I think part of the problem has been that the heat has been blasting in the gym lately, which certainly doesn’t help matters. But regardless, it does not make me happy that the last two speed workouts I’ve done on the treadmill have both been interrupted by my inability to hang onto the pace I want to run. It makes me feel really discouraged about the likelihood that I’ll break 2:00 (…in just under two months, so I’m admittedly being a bit dramatic with so much time left), and it made for a very frustrating run.

Friday, February 8: Strength training – legs
No rest day for me this week 😦 I wanted to get in my third strength training workout for the week, so I went back to the gym Friday morning. I woke up with some pain that made me anxious (what else is new?), so I took it a little easier on this workout than I normally would have. Knowing I had a long run on the schedule for Saturday also made me want to keep things easy-ish.

Saturday, February 9: 9 miles in 1:39:18 for an 11:02 pace
Blah. I started to feel a cold coming on when I got off the plane Tuesday morning, and my nose was running pretty bad by Friday. Since my symptoms were all above the neck, I didn’t feel justified in skipping my long run, and I knew skipping it would make a particular organ above my neck (i.e.: my brain) feel REALLY bad, since that would mean bailing on two consecutive long runs. So I bundled up and headed out. I’m happy with how all my non-Lakefront Trail miles of this long run went, but for whatever reason, all my miles that were primarily on the trail were 11:00+ (even though there really wasn’t any wind to speak of Saturday morning), and that bugged me.

I’m a third of the way through training, and I’ll be honest: I’m not even remotely happy with how training has gone up to this point. I have yet to log a week where I do every single workout as written. I’ve only outright skipped one workout–two, if you count the rest day that never happened during this past week of training–but everything else has been all effed up from the way I wanted it to work out. I’ve moved runs around, I’ve chopped miles off some runs and added them onto others, I’ve done nine of 15 planned runs (nine of 14 actual runs) on the treadmill. I know a lot of this is out of my control. It’s not my fault no one in my neighborhood can be bothered to shovel their sidewalks. It’s not my fault the polar vortex came to visit.

I know sub-2:00 is an ambitious goal, and I know that plenty of things could conspire against me to keep it from happening on race day. What I did not want to even run the risk of having happen was that I’d cross the finish line with 2:xx:xx on my watch and think, “This wouldn’t have happened if I had trained better.” And while, yes, I’m getting my miles in, I’m definitely not getting them in in the manner or at the speed that I wanted to get them in.

I know I still have plenty of time to improve. I’ll get over this cold eventually (right?). It’ll stop being cold eventually (right?). But I feel like thing after thing after thing has gotten in the way of me having an effective first month of training, and I’m not happy about it. My confidence is shot, and that’s obviously not helping matters, either. I’m feeling negative about this whole sub-2:00 goal right now, and I really hope things turn around in the next four weeks.

Chi Town Half Marathon Training Week 3

Sunday, January 27: Strength training – legs + spinning for 40 total minutes of cross training
The impending polar vortex/Chiberia/soul-searching as to why I didn’t act on those impulses to move to San Diego when I was there for a conference last June led me to move my Monday strength training up to Sunday (so I could move Tuesday to Monday and Thursday to Tuesday, in case I couldn’t make it to the gym on Thursday). I had 40 minutes of cross training on my schedule for Sunday, so I did my Monday leg workout first–which was mercifully easy, because it’s the one originally written for me to do the day after the 20 miler in September–and rounded out my time with 24 minutes on the spin bike at the gym. Why the spin bike as opposed to my usual stationary bike, you ask? Because for the first time ever on a Sunday, I couldn’t get a stationary bike. I thought about hopping on the elliptical, but I really wanted ~more~ of a workout, so I opted for the spin bike instead (and walked away with the consequential butt pain. Why are those seats so horribly uncomfortable?!). It was a bit of a nuisance to get the thing configured so I could reach everything, but I got there eventually.

Monday, January 29: Strength training – upper body (AM) + 6.5 miles (tempo) in 1:06:39 for a 10:15 pace
I ventured out into the snow Monday morning to get strength training workout #2 of the week in before work. Days like Monday make me so grateful for the CTA and its operators who get me from Point A to Point B safely in miserable weather. I’ve been feeling motivated to lift heavier recently, and while I didn’t set any PRs during this, I hit all my previous PRs. That felt great!

Speaking of PRs: treadmill PDR for me on Monday! Woo! I’m so glad I discovered that I can read on the treadmill, because that made this run a bajillion times more manageable than it would’ve been otherwise. I warmed up for 1.5 miles at a 10:54 pace, then did 3.5 tempo miles at a 9:31 (I think? It was either 9:30 or 9:31) pace before cooling down for another 1.5 at 10:54, all at a 1.0 incline. I thought about bumping my tempo pace up to 9:2x, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure I was ready to run that far that fast yet, so I kept it at 9:31 for this tempo run. I have tempos every other Monday of this cycle, so there’s still plenty of time to get those middle miles faster (plus the Hal Higdon-style tempo runs I have every other week as well). It’ll be interesting to see how my tempo runs go when I start running outside again. It’s a lot easier to stick to a specific pace on a treadmill than it is running outside! I hope I can push myself appropriately once I’m able to hit the sidewalks again.

Tuesday, January 29: Strength training – legs (AM) + dance (PM)
Three days of strength training in a row is TOO MUCH. Even though I did an upper body workout on Monday (and, admittedly, wasn’t sore from it), I was getting really sick of picking heavy things up and putting them back down again by Tuesday morning. I did set a deadlift PR, though (barbell + 50 pounds – I think that’s 95 pounds, but I don’t know how heavy the barbell at the gym is. I assume it’s 45, because nothing about it suggests that it’s not a standard barbell, but since I don’t know for sure, I track my weight by barbell + known weight of plates), and that was exciting! And hard, ha.

I really hoped dance would be cancelled, but alas. Unsurprisingly, 1) barely anyone showed up and 2) the people who did show up are all regulars in some capacity. I had my fingers crossed my teacher would take that opportunity to teach us some cool random choreography, but no dice. We reviewed/cleaned up what we learned the first week of this session, and since all of us have taken breakdance at some point, did a little bit of breaking at the end of the choreography we had learned up to that point. I don’t know if that’ll stay in the routine or not, but boy! It has been A. LONG. time since I’ve done breakdance freezes, and I expect to have a pretty bruised shoulder as a result. I’m glad I can still do it, though!

Wednesday, January 30: 40 minutes cross training (Fitness Blender)
This one:

 

I do Fitness Blender videos every now and again, but it’s been a long time. I usually do them when I’m taking some time off running and want something easy to follow that I can do at home. Because I had zero interest in venturing outside on Wednesday, I went through Fitness Blender’s videos on YouTube to find a 40 minute, cardio heavy workout. This fit the bill! From a heart rate standpoint, I definitely got more out of this than I usually get out of biking at the gym, so I think it was a really effective (if challenging!) cross training option.

Thursday, January 31: 4.5 miles (with 6×400 w/ 200 rest) in 46:32 for a 10:20 pace
I emerged from house-bound exile Thursday afternoon to go to the gym to do my intervals. I felt really overwhelmed on Wednesday and Thursday and hoped going for a run on Thursday would help me slow down the swirling anxieties in my head and get some peace of mind. It didn’t. Womp. I struggled a lot more on this run than I expected to, and by the fifth interval had to slow down both my hard pace and my recovery pace. That didn’t help my mood at all, unsurprisingly, and instead of reducing my anxieties, gave me a new one: how am I going to manage to do this off the treadmill once the sidewalks are passable again? And if I can’t maintain fast paces during training, how am I ever going to maintain a fast pace during the race? (<- things I do not need to be worrying about more than two months out from the race *eye roll emoji*) Blah.

Friday, February 1: Rest

Saturday, February 2: Universal Orlando
I intended to run eight miles Saturday morning. I did not run eight miles Saturday morning. I ran zero. I did, however, take 17,410 steps for 7.37 miles (according to my FitBit) and logged 13/13 active hours for the day, so I feel like that has to count for something. I certainly wouldn’t call it a rest day, at least.

Thursday Things

1. Greetings from the tundra!

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I’m sure it’s not breaking news to anyone that it’s been polar cold in Chicago recently. I haven’t left the house since Tuesday and don’t have plans to until tomorrow. It’s so cold we even had to close the windows in my house! That’s how you know it’s serious 😛

My office seemed to be the only one in Chicago that didn’t close for the weather, but I at least have the ability to work from home. That’s especially beneficial at this particular moment in time for me, not just to avoid frostbite/hypothermia, but because I managed to lose my Ventra card sometime between leaving the office and arriving home on Tuesday. Not just my Ventra card, actually – the entire wallet I kept it in *headdesk* Fortunately it was just my repurposed student ID wallet from college, so there wasn’t much important in there (just my Ventra card, the card from my old gym that I was too nostalgic to get rid of, and some of the old, pre-Ventra CTA passes that don’t even work anymore). I’ve reported it lost and ordered a new card, but it’ll be at least a week until that arrives, so getting around town is going to be a bit of a headache in the mean time. Plus, I need to find a new ID wallet to hold my card. Sigh.

2. Losing my Ventra card has really thrown a monkey wrench into my workout hopes/dreams this week. I had zero intention of going to the gym on Wednesday, even though my training schedule called for intervals that day. This is only a three-run week for me instead of a four-run week, so I had a bit more flexibility and could swap Thursday’s cross training for Wednesday’s run, which was a lot easier to get done at home.

But of course swapping Thursday’s cross training for Wednesday’s run implies that I’d be doing Wednesday’s run on Thursday. And I could do that. But I don’t want to do that. I mean, I want to get my run in, but I don’t want to go outside to get to a gym where I could do it. I could cut my losses and skip the run entirely, but I have a feeling I’m going to be doing  a lot of loss-cutting over the next several days. I’m supposed to be escaping to warmer climes on Friday, and while I certainly intend to try to get in all my scheduled workouts, I have some serious doubts that everything will go as planned. It’s one thing to bail on one run; it’s another to bail on three runs and a cross training session. Under normal circumstances I’d get over it, but I really want to take this training cycle seriously to, at the very least, be able to feel like I put in the work necessary to run a sub-2:00 half, even if I don’t end up running a sub-2:00 half. Blah.

3. I don’t think I have ever been more excited for a trip than I am for the one I have scheduled for this weekend. I want to get OUT. OF. HERE. I just hope everything at the airport sorts itself out by the time I’m scheduled to depart on Friday. All the cancelled flights over the past few days have made me nervous about what kind of trickle-down implications that could have for my flight Friday, but hopefully I’ll be able to get out on time. Fingers crossed.

Chi Town Half Marathon Training Week 2

Sunday, January 20: 35 minutes cross training (yoga)
This one:

Technically that was 37 minutes, but whatever. Close enough for me. I had a crazy schedule on Sunday, so it was a lot simpler to do yoga at home than take the time to go to the gym (and work out at the gym). Hopefully next week I’ll be able to hop on the bike for some more cardio-heavy cross training.

Monday, January 21: Strength training – legs (AM) + 2.98 miles in 30:00 for a 10:04 pace (PM)
Monday morning did not get off to a good start. The first thing I do when I wake up on gym mornings is check the bus’s arrival time, since I get up with exactly enough time to get ready and head out the door to catch the bus. When I saw it was scheduled to come eight minutes earlier than normal, I knew there was no chance I’d make it, which would delay my arrival to the gym. Then I moved to get out of bed and a weird pain in my side that caused me to fly into a panic, convinced I was on the verge of death (this is my usual reaction to any unexpected feeling in my body). I ultimately decided to go to the gym anyway and see what happened, particularly since I didn’t have any other concerning symptoms (nausea, vomiting, fever, etc.). I was so late to the gym based on the bus schedule/side pain panic, though, that I ended up skipping the entire last third of my workout and all the planks I was supposed to do between single leg deadlift sets.

Due to my schedule/the sidewalks, I swapped Wednesday’s workout for Monday’s and did a 30 minute tempo run on the treadmill after work. My tempo runs done by time will all be Hal Higdon-style, as I call them (gradually increasing to a fast pace held for five to 10 minutes, then gradually decreasing to a slower pace). My goal for this was to do five minutes at an 11:00ish pace, five minutes at a 10:00ish pace, 10 minutes at a 9:00ish pace, and then come back down (five at 10:00ish, five at 11:00ish). The treadmill, however, sabotaged my plans! Five minutes into my intended 9:00 pace, the treadmill dropped me down from 6.6 mph to 6.5 mph. I suppose it’s possible I did something to make this happen, but I can’t imagine how I would’ve dialed the speed down a tenth of a mile per hour without noticing. I ended up doing five minutes at 6.6 mph, 4:30 at 6.5 mph and then, upon realizing my error, :30 at 6.6 mph before dropping down to 6.0 (10:00 pace) for the down side of this tempo pyramid. I discovered that Hal Higdon-style tempo runs are far more tolerable on the treadmill than normal tempo runs, so that was nice.

Tuesday, January 22: Dance
We reviewed everything we did the week before, thank goodness. I had forgotten most of the second half of the choreography and needed a refresher. I also talked to my friend who’s been in class as long as I have about how this choreography was different than what we learned last time,. It turns out this is to a different part of the same song, hence the different dance. That’ll do it!

Wednesday, January 23: Strength training – upper body (AM) + 4.5 miles (with four hill repeats) in 48:19 for a 10:44 pace (PM)
Normally I do my upper body strength training on Tuesdays, but since I had my biometric screening at 11 and wouldn’t be able to eat until it was over, I didn’t want to do anything that could make me hungrier than I was in the first place. So I waited until Wednesday, even though I always have late nights on Tuesday. This workout was pretty high rep (15, rather than the usual 10-12), so I couldn’t lift quite as heavy as I wanted to. That being said, I lifted for longer than usual, so I assume it all evens out.

My run on Wednesday was totally different than I expected it to be when I wrote my training plan. I intended to do six miles with four hill repeats, but that assumed I was going to run to my normal hill where I do repeats, which is a couple miles away. Due to the perpetually icy sidewalks, I was relegated to the treadmill. I had extremely limited interest in doing more than two warmup and cooldown miles on the treadmill, since don’t need to get to the hills on the treadmill: they’re available whenever I want to change the incline. Because of that, I decided to cut this run down to 4.5 miles for the sake of my sanity and up Thursday’s planned three miler to 4.5 miles as well, which all told added up to the nine I wanted to do across those two runs anyway.

In a predictable turn of events, I did my math wrong and warmed up longer than necessary (1.75 miles). I then did four hill repeats, with .25 miles at a 3 percent incline followed by .25 miles at a 1 percent incline (my normal incline setting on the treadmill). After that, I cooled down for a mile.

Thursday, January 24: Strength training – legs (AM) + 4.5 miles in 51:01 for an 11:20 pace (PM)
I had squats on my schedule Thursday morning, which always makes me a little nervous due to equipment availability. Thankfully, the gym was basically empty, so I had no trouble using the rack and getting in the rest of my workout.

Another day, another treadmill run. I thought this was going to be a disaster. The music in the gym was so loud that I could barely hear the podcast I was trying to listen to, which caused some serious mental fatigue. My #1 problem with podcasts is that I can only listen to them when I’m doing something mindless (folding laundry, running on the treadmill), because if I need to be able to focus on what the host says. Unsurprisingly, when you can barely hear what the host is saying, it becomes really hard to focus! My headphones were almost dead anyway, so I gave up about two and a half miles into my run and tried to convince myself that enduring this would help me build the mental stamina I’ll need to not throw in the towel when the going gets tough during my half marathon.

And then, a breakthrough.

It occurred to me that years ago, I had commented a blog post where the blogger mentioned reading on the treadmill. I couldn’t comprehend how she could do that. I found the bouncing of running (even of elliptical-ing) makes reading next to impossible. She responded that she had a Kindle, so she could bump the font size up, which made it possible to read on the run. I wondered if Libby had similar functionality, and lo and behold, it does!! GUYS. I CAN READ ON THE TREADMILL. ALL OF MY PROBLEMS HAVE BEEN SOLVED!!!!

I’m not being dramatic when I say this has changed everything about treadmill running. I know my entire problem with the treadmill stems from the fact that I find it so crushingly boring. I can do interval-y workouts on the treadmill just fine, because I rarely stay at the same pace for more than a few minutes. I spend the whole time staring at the screen, sure, but there’s a big difference between staring at the screen waiting for it to go from one quarter mile to the next so I can change my pace/incline and staring at the screen willing 1.12 miles to magically turn into 4.50 miles so I can stop running. Nothing–not the TV, not music, not podcasts, not even audiobooks–provided enough distraction to keep me from starting at that damn odometer, wondering how half a mile outside breezes by but half a mile on the treadmill feels interminable.

But reading a book does! Reading keeps my mind off the odometer, but most critically, it keeps my eyes off the odometer. I’ve found that distances tick by a lot faster both inside and outside when you’re not glued to your distance tracking device, be that your treadmill’s odometer or your GPS watch. I rarely have a problem keeping my eyes off my watch, but now that I’ve found a successful way to keep it off the treadmill odometer, I think I might be able to survive the rest of this training! Woohoo!

Friday, January 25: Rest

Saturday, January 26: 7 miles in 1:19:00 for an 11:17 pace
Woo indoor running! 😐 The temperature was ridiculous and the sidewalks were still dangerous, so despite the bright and shining sunshine, I took my run inside. Again. Instead of going to my gym, I bought a guest pass to one closer to my house (my gym being convenient when I’m on my way to or from work, but not convenient at other times, like Saturdays. This gym is on my way to nowhere, but it’s closer to my house than my normal gym, so I decided the price of the guest pass was worth it.). This gym happened to have the same treadmills my gym has, which was a nice surprise – no learning curve on that front. I have such a hard time guessing what’s a “good” pace for treadmill running, so I went conservative and did 5.4 mph on a 1.0 incline. Once the treadmill timed out at an hour, (5.39 miles into my run, which makes sense, given the whole 5.4 mph thing) I went upstairs and finished the remaining 1.6 miles I had on the indoor track. It was 13.8 laps to a mile, which seemed like it’d be really difficult to monitor since the track didn’t have any markings indicating where .8 of a lap finished, but I had my Garmin on, so I was fine. Or at least fine enough. I certainly would’ve preferred to do this outdoors, but I’m glad I got the miles in regardless.

 

Thursday Things

1. Whose bright idea was it to train for a goal half marathon during the winter? Seriously, what was I thinking?

I assume I was thinking something along the lines of, “You run faster when it’s cold outside, so you should train for a race that will likely be cold.” I was also probably thinking something along the lines of, “This will keep me engaged and interested during the winter,” or, “You got your PR at this race in 2014, so it seems like as good of a race as any to try to PR again.”

Regardless, I definitely did not consider how difficult it would be to do all the training I wanted/planned to do when the sidewalks are anywhere between glazed with ice and buried under inches of snow. I mean, I can get my running done on a treadmill. I just wish I didn’t have to do so much of it on the treadmill. I think, when I put this training plan together, I had it in my mind that the only obstacle I’d face would be cold and darkness. I guess I forgot that it snows during the winter? The apparent impossibility of clearing sidewalks in my neighborhood is going to turn me into the sort of runner who longs for summer. Out of the six runs I’ve done in training thus far, a whopping two of them have even had the option of being outside. Gross.

I know things will get better as the cycle goes on, because presumably, it won’t stay in the single digits/teens forever. (Right?) But unless there’s a dramatic change in the forecast, I’m staring down a treadmill PDR next week, which, ugh. That certainly wasn’t a record I hoped to set as a result of this training. (Though hey, if I don’t PR my half, I guess I’ll have something else I can say I accomplished for the first time! Haha.)

All that being said, the last time I came within spitting distance of my half PR (F3 in 2016), I did most of my training on the treadmill, so perhaps I shouldn’t whine about this so much.

2. I had my annual physical on Tuesday, including the biometric screening I have to get done for work to avoid paying through the nose for my premium. That biometric screening requires a blood draw (boo), and that blood draw requires fasting ahead of time (boo x2).

I waited too long to schedule my physical this year, which meant I couldn’t get an appointment any earlier in the day than 11 a.m. As someone who is usually famished by the time I get around to breakfast at 8 a.m. or so, the idea of not eating until after my 11:00 appointment was concerning, especially since I usually have dinner at 7 p.m.

So, Tuesday morning, I did what any normal person would do: I set an alarm for 1:30 a.m., got up, and had a snack before my eight hour window closed. Ha. It felt weird getting up at 1:30 in the morning just to eat pretzels and almonds, and certainly didn’t do me any favors in the sleep department, but at least I wasn’t starving when I woke up!

I got (most of) my numbers back yesterday, and my cholesterol continues to be too high. My doctor recommended I “exercise regularly.” Guess the six days/week, including three two-a-days/week, doesn’t count as “regularly.” Or maybe it’s the brown rice, black beans, and fresh veggies I eat for lunch literally every week day that are the culprit? *rolls eyes forever*

I don’t have a family history of high cholesterol, so I will admit that it’s a bit out of left field for me to have mine, but I really, really don’t think that my lifestyle choices are to blame here. I’m not a vegetarian, but I eat as if I were one probably 80 percent of the time, and I’d guess that when I do eat meat, 95 percent of that is chicken. I’m not a “cheeseburger every week” sort of person. I’m more like a “cheeseburger every quarter” sort of person. So all of this “exercise more and eat red meat less” stuff is…unhelpful, to say the least.

3. We don’t control the heat in my apartment, and sometimes, I really like that! We don’t get charged for it, and it’s not up to any of us to decide how warm or cold it should be, so that eliminates the possibility of thermostat wars. Other times, though…

indoortemp

Yikes. If it were that warm during the summer, that would be enough for us to turn the air conditioning on. “Air conditioning” this time of year just means cracking the windows, but it really seems like that shouldn’t be necessary in, you know, January.

Chi Town Half Marathon Training Week 1

Sunday, January 13: 30 minutes cross training (yoga)
This one:

I’m being a little less prescriptive about my cross training for this cycle. Ideally, I’d like to bike (or elliptical, or otherwise engage in some sort of cardio) for my cross training, but sometimes that’s not feasible–and sometimes, I just need yoga. Sunday was one of those days.

Monday, January 14: Strength training – legs (AM) + 4.25 miles (tempo) in 43:08 for a 10:09 pace
I more or less kept up with strength training after the marathon ended, but now that I’m officially training, I’m no longer considering strength training to be “strongly recommended, but technically optional.” So I went to the gym Monday morning for a pretty simple leg workout.

I made my much-dreaded return to the treadmill Monday afternoon. Since so many people in my neighborhood seem to think that shoveling their sidewalks is someone else’s responsibility, I didn’t feel comfortable trying to go for a run outside, and I especially didn’t feel comfortable trying to do a workout outside. Thus, the treadmill. It was pretty miserable, I won’t lie. Spending your entire run staring at your distance, acutely aware of how much longer you have to run, is wildly unpleasant. (And since, at least as far as I can tell so far, you can’t program workouts into the treadmill, I don’t have much of a choice but to keep an eye on my distance so I can adjust my speed accordingly.) I survived, and actually felt like I got in a great workout, but I wish it weren’t so soul-crushingly boring. I did this tempo run as a “normal” tempo run (i.e.: warm up for a mile, 2.25 miles at tempo pace, cool down for a mile) as opposed to a Hal Higdon tempo run (gradually increase speed to the middle of your run, hold that pace for 5-10 minutes, gradually decrease speed to the end of your run). I thought I was being ambitious with my tempo pace (9:30), but I held on just fine, which was very encouraging.

Tuesday, January 15: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance
My third trip to the gym in 24 hours! I’m not actually working out any more than I was during marathon season, but when I trained for the marathon, I ran outside on Mondays and had a change of scenery. It was weird to go to the gym so many times in a row. I got in a great upper body workout, but I lifted heavier than usual on some of them, so I anticipate I’ll be sore tomorrow.

Dance was NUTS. After telling us last week that we’d only learn two songs this session, we dove head first into new choreography in class on Tuesday. This was only the second class of the session, one we usually spend reviewing what we learned the week before, so I was surprised 1) that we were already learning something new and 2) how quickly my teacher was blowing through the choreography. Class was non-stop, and I was really impressed that the new people were able to keep up at all. Incidentally, I’ve learned choreography to this song before (from the same teacher), but the choreography is completely different than what we learned the first time (“the first time” being April 2013.)

Wednesday, January 16: 4 miles (with 5×400 w/ 200 rest) in 40:50 for a 10:12 pace
(Side note: I have such a hard time remember to type “January” instead of “June” on these things, because I’ve never tracked my training like this outside of marathon training!)

I decided that I’m only going to do speedwork outside if I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can do it all on non-icy sidewalks. Since I didn’t have that guarantee on Wednesday, it was back to the ‘mill. I found this workout to be a lot more tolerable than the tempo run I did on Monday, because I barely had time to settle into a pace before needing to speed up or slow down during those 400s. It’s hard to get bored in that situation!

The treadmills at the gym can switch between displaying your distance in miles or kilometers mid-workout, so I ran a warmup mile, then changed the display to kilometers, since it’s easier to keep track of 200s from the kilometer view than mile view (200 meters is .124 miles, but the treadmill display only goes to the second decimal (i.e.: 1.25), so it just seemed a lot simpler to do it in kilometers). What I did not consider, nor realize until I switched from miles to kilometers for the first time, was that all the metrics would change to kilometers, including my speed. No longer did the treadmill tell me my minute/mile and mile/hour pace: instead, it showed me my time in minute/kilometer and kilometers/hour. Believe it or not, I’m pretty unfamiliar with my minute/kilometer and kilometer/hour paces, haha. I switched back to miles for a second to determine that my recovery pace (11:06 minutes/mile) translated to 8.7 km/hour, and my 400 pace (roughly 8:00 minutes/mile) translated to 11.9 km/hour. Good to know for the future! It also took me for.ev.er. to figure out how to efficiently move from one pace to the other. The treadmill has a function that allows you to jump to your last pace (so when I was running 11.9 km/hour, I could tap the screen to immediately drop down to 8.7), but you had to hit it just right to get it to work, and it took me until my fifth interval to figure out what “just right” was. But I got it, and now I’ll know how to use it next time.

Thursday, January 17: Strength training – legs (AM) + 3.01 miles in 34:10 for an 11:22 pace
I had a hard time getting up Thursday morning, and kind of wanted to just curl up in the locker room and nap through my workout time instead of, you know, working out. But that seemed both uncomfortable and generally frowned upon, so I drug myself out to the gym. I thought I was being really badass and lifting heavier than ever before on all the exercises for the day, until I consulted my lifting PR spreadsheet halfway through and realized in fact I was lifting lighter than any of my PRs. Fail. I was lifting heavier than I’ve lifted in a while, though, so I figure that’s something.

While I’ve been a tried-and-true three-days-of-running-per-week runner basically since I started running in 2011, since I’m trying to do something I’ve never done before (i.e.: run a half marathon in under two hours), I’m training like I’ve never trained before, and thus will be running four days a week rather than three for two-thirds of this cycle (I’m doing two weeks of four days followed by one week of three days). I’ve mostly avoided four days of running per week because it’s always felt like too much, so if I’m going to do that this time around, I want to be sure to take my extra run very easy. That’s certainly what happened on Thursday!

Friday, January 18: 6 miles in 1:06:20 for an 11:03 pace
The forecast had threatened a Friday night/Saturday morning winter storm all week, so I decided to switch my long run from Saturday morning to Friday afternoon. Six miles isn’t too overwhelming of a distance, and I needed to be in the suburbs early Saturday afternoon, so getting it done on Friday seemed like it would make Saturday a lot easier. It was really cold, and the wind was biting, but the sidewalks were (relatively) clear. When I left for the suburbs Saturday morning around 10 a.m., most of the sidewalks around me hadn’t even been shoveled yet, so I feel like I made the right decision. Running through five-ish inches of unshoveled snow wouldn’t have been much fun!

Saturday, January 19: Rest