Chicago Marathon Training Week 7

Sunday, July 16: 13.73 miles in 2:17:16 for a 9:59 pace + SF
Rock ‘n’ Roll by my watch’s (very incorrect) stats. 9:59 pace my butt. I wish!

Monday, July 17: 52 minutes XT (yoga)
My apartment’s internet died on Saturday afternoon (when the repair guy came on Tuesday, he discovered that a squirrel had chewed through the wires outside O.O Considering that I had only about a week left in the apartment and plenty of data left for the month of my phone, I was much more concerned about the well-being of the squirrel than my internet haha), so instead of streaming a yoga video like normal, I downloaded three different NTC yoga workouts (Run Ready Yoga, Essential Strength Yoga, and Lengthen & Flow Yoga), which, add up to 60 minutes of yoga. I needed to get to therapy, however, so I cut a couple of them a little short and ended up spending 52 minutes on yoga total – close enough to the 60 minutes I had written on my training plan. The practices were…ok. I was #notimpressed with Run Ready Yoga, particularly the way it gave cues, particularly the way it didn’t give cues on when to switch from one side to the other. Not helpful.

Tuesday, July 18: Dance
We finished (I hope. I pray) That’s What I Like, and if I never have to learn choreography to another Bruno Mars song again, it’ll be too soon. We then moved on to a what I initially thought was a new routine, during which my teacher kept talking about how this routine was so old, how he had made it in 2003, how some had said it was his best routine ever. I didn’t remember the choreography at all, but I remembered that speech, so I dug into my archives and lo and behold: I did that dance in the October-December 2013 session. This was a particularly helpful discovery considering that I won’t be in class this Tuesday, so now I can watch the video and teach the choreography to myself in my free time (lol good joke, Bethany).

Wednesday, July 19: 8 miles in 1:23:54 for a 10:28 pace
I was a little worried about this run would go, since the weather returned to typical July conditions on Wednesday, but fortunately, it wasn’t too bad. I run commuted these eight miles, and once again, I had a sub-10:00 first mile. Since this has now happened on two run commutes in a row, and since I am not someone who typically logs sub-10:00 miles in the middle of July without feeling any sort of discomfort, I’m beginning to wonder if my watch is measuring things incorrectly and telling me I’ve run a mile before I’ve actually run a mile. There was a bit of a breeze on Wednesday, which helped keep this fairly tolerable, though I was absolutely drenched with sweat when I got home. I was also pretty wiped out by this run, which has been an ongoing issue for me all marathon season. I always feel really tired after workouts these days–not like, unable to move exhaustion, but more “I would like to take a nap for the next 30-60 minutes, please,” tiredness. It always dissipates once I get in the shower and doesn’t usually come back later, but I don’t remember ever dealing with this before. On the other hand, I also don’t remember a marathon season where I’ve been SO bad about going to bed on time, which may have something to do with the tiredness situation.

Thursday, July 20: 5 miles (pace) in 49:31 for a 9:54 pace + SPF
SUPER HAPPY with this run. It was swampy outside, so I expected my “pace” (which, as I’ve explained before, is a comfortably hard pace for me, as my anticipated marathon pace is close to my easy run pace) to be fairly slow. I was hoping for somewhere in the 10:15 range, but the closest I ever got to that was a 10:10. My last mile was a 9:26! I have very, very serious doubts about my ability to do anything even remotely close to this for an additional 21.2 miles in October, but it still makes me really happy to be able to hold a 9:54 pace for five miles in lousy conditions.

Friday, July 21: Rest

Saturday, July 22: 7 miles in 1:14:25 for a 10:38 pace + SP
According to a “perfect” schedule, I should’ve run 12 miles on Saturday. However, since I missed the cutback week long run last week and did a half marathon instead, I swapped those two runs, meaning I only had seven miles on my schedule for Saturday. This meant, at best, I’d only do three miles with my CARA group before leaving them to finish my run on my own. It was raining when I woke up, and the radar made it look like it might storm at some point, too. CARA took a long time to definitively say whether or not long runs would take place that day, so I made an executive decision to not wait for the bus in the rain and then walk a mile to meet up with my group only to run three miles with them, and instead crawl back into bed for a solid 20 minutes before finally throwing myself out the door at 6:15 or so. Chicago Endurance Sports had cancelled their long runs, and most CARA groups (apparently) went north instead of south on Saturday morning, so the Lakefront Trail was practically empty, at least by usual summer Saturday morning standards. It felt like a sauna outside, and the “rain” didn’t amount to much of anything in the cooling department, so this wasn’t particularly pleasant. But I got it done, and honestly, it was kind of nice to run alone for a change. A few weeks ago I mentioned that running doesn’t make me feel better when I’m upset, and I still maintain that that’s true, but this past week especially, when moving had been stressing me out AND all of a sudden work got insane, I found running alone to be a very, very welcome break from the chaos that seemed to permeate every other corner of my life last week, including on Saturday. Plus, I have become…less enamored, shall we say, with my running group this year, particularly as I’ve noticed a distinct increase in cliquey-ness that I neither welcome nor want (like at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, for example, when one of the girls in my group who I had texted that morning to run together at the race didn’t bother to tell me when she got to Grant Park but did bother to tell two other girls in our group, who she then ran the entire race with and posted plenty of pictures on Facebook of the three of them after the race. Maybe it’s petty, but I’m still smarting a bit over that.), so I have, consequentially, felt less inclined to run with the group than I did in the past.

Preliminary corral assignments for the Chicago Marathon came out on Friday, which I, as always, have Opinions about, but those Opinions are too long for a blog post that’s already eclipsed the 1000-word mark, so you can look forward to that rant on Thursday. In the mean time, I’m very much looking forward to a promised cool down early this week. Four straight days of crushing humidity is four too many for me, and I can’t wait for some runs that don’t feel like they’re taking place in a tropical jungle.

Thursday Things

1. I’m officially less than one week away from moving and I. Am. Stressed.

I have never found moving to be a relaxing occasion, so I can’t say I’m particularly surprised. In fact, when I planned my move this year, I took two days off work from the get-go: one for moving day itself (since I prefer to move on weekdays, when movers are easier to book and parking tends to be simpler), and one for decompressing the day after. I fully expect to cry at some point on moving day, because I can only recall a couple of moving days that didn’t involve stress-induced tears.

I’m not nearly as ahead of the packing game as I wish I were, but since I have very few plans for this weekend aside from packing (and even took a half day tomorrow to buy myself some more time), I think I’ll probably be okay in that department, at least eventually. My unrestrained purging has definitely helped make packing easier than sometimes. I’m more stressed out thinking about unpacking, which I find to be infinitely worse than packing. I obviously have space in my new apartment for my things, and I have a vague idea of where those things will go, but I know full well from every past moving experience that I’m going to get into my new apartment and become paralyzed by overwhelm at the amount of stuff I have and the number of places where I could put said stuff. (This is likely where the stress-crying will happen.)

I’m also stressed about my new living situation in general, not because I anticipate that it will be a bad situation, but because the circumstances are so different from past moves. I moved in college out of necessity–the school year ended, or my semester in Chicago ended, and I needed to move out of my housing–and really, when I moved from my first apartment in Chicago to my current apartment, that was out of necessity, too. I didn’t feel safe in the building, particularly after we woke up one morning to an inexplicably smoking oven, and I really, really could not tolerate living with one of my roommates anymore. That’s not entirely the case this time. It sort of is–my landlord has decided to sell the condo because the condo association wouldn’t allow him to rent the unit again–but I had made my decision to move well before my landlord decided to divest himself of the place. My new living situation makes a lot more sense that my current living situation from a variety of standpoints–lifestyle, financial, commuting–but I’m sad to leave my current apartment and neighborhood behind. I really like my current apartment, and I really like my current neighborhood, and I’m not chomping at the bit to get out like I was when I moved three years ago. That, also, is part of it: I’ve lived in this apartment for (almost) three years (it’ll be a couple weeks short of three full years, but close enough). Aside from my childhood home, I’ve never lived anywhere for that long, and I’ve certainly become attached to my current address.

It’s bittersweet, I suppose. I’m excited for the change, but also nervous about the change. I’m looking forward to having my housing make sense for my life, but I’m also having a hard time wrapping my mind around no longer having the current arrangement I’m used to. I’d really like to fast-forward six months or so, after my new situation is no longer new, and skip the adjustment period entirely. But life doesn’t work that way, as much as I wish it did, so I’ll have to push through it and get to the other side.

After I finish packing, that is.

2. After ranting last week about the inconsiderateness of my coworkers for scheduling a team outing in a location nearly impossible for me to get to by public transportation, I 1) was informed by my boss that I could expense the trip out there, thus making an Uber infinitely more appealing and viable and 2) ended up having a great time!

We went to Top Golf, which, I will admit, I was not particularly thrilled about. I had never touched a golf club outside of a putt-putt setting, so the idea of spending my afternoon at a gamified driving range did not sound like a good time. As it turned out, most of my coworkers weren’t golfers, either, so we were all in this discovering-which-club-to-use-for-which-purpose boat together.

topgolf

I’ve never been to a real driving range, so I can’t compare Top Golf to the actual thing, but at Top Golf, there are several areas out on the range, each designed more or less like a target. Your goal is to hit the your golf balls (registered to you via a microchip inside the ball) into the areas of the targets with the highest point values to rack up the highest score and win the game. While I certainly did not excel at that aspect of Top Golf (I routinely hit my golf balls into three point areas, which was the lowest point areas on the range, if I got them into the target at all), I was quite excited to discover that I could at least hit a golf ball a decent distance (by my standards, that is), and I ended up having a lot of fun. It certainly beat being at the office on a Friday afternoon during the summer, and it seemed like everyone–including me–really enjoyed themselves. Team outing success!

3. Some updates from my pride and joy, aka my garden:

Update #1: I HAVE TOMATOES!!!!!

firsttomatoes

I discovered these little guys for the first time last Wednesday, and I could’ve cried for joy, I was so excited. I also had a third tomato pop up sometime between Sunday morning and Tuesday morning. These ones pictured have swelled up a bit more since Wednesday, as one would expect them to do, but they’ve still got a ways to go until they’re edible. I did some research on my particular plant later last week and learned that some people have had one of these plants produce 300 tomatoes. If that’s the case, everyone I know is getting homemade tomato sauce and salsa for Christmas, whether they want it or not. But right now I only have two and they aren’t even ripe, so let’s not put the cart before the horse. Plus, as far as I’m concerned, I’m definitely still not out of the woods in terms of Things That Could Destroy My Tomato Crop (bugs and disease, primarily), so I’m definitely keeping all of my optimism very, very cautious for now. Regardless, it’s still exciting to see progress.

Update #2: I no longer have dill.

So, this is quite the story. I went to check on my plants over the weekend, and I noticed that the bathtub looked emptier than usual. It didn’t take much studying to realize a decent number of my wildflowers had disappeared. I looked around for evidence that a creature had dug them up, but I didn’t see anything: no scraps on the ground, no paw prints, etc. While looking around, I also discovered that my dill plant had been completely torn up from the ground and had also disappeared.

Now, my dill, like my other herbs, had grown quite prolifically, and while I was starting to worry that everyone was going to get tomato sauce, salsa, and pickles from me for Christmas, I certainly didn’t want my abundance of dill to be remedied by the disappearance of my plant in its entirety.

I started to suspect my plants had been uprooted on purpose, and cautiously made my way over to a trashcan that sits in the courtyard. I looked inside, and sure enough: there was my dill, along with a bunch of other greenery.

Because I am far too emotionally invested in my garden (this has been an ongoing problem for me in my gardening life, haha), I immediately burst into tears. While I was partially upset at the cruel and unusual murder of my dill, I was even more upset at that idea that someone intentionally did this. Raccoons, squirrels, rats, or other vermin don’t dig up dill plants and put them in trashcans. This was obviously the work of a human, and I was so hurt by the fact that someone could be so willfully mean to me, especially since I really didn’t care at all if the neighbors helped themselves to some of the herbs growing in the garden.

I put on my gardening gloves and fished the biggest dill plant out of the trash. It still had some of its roots attached, so I attempted to replant it, though it has yet to be seen if the plant will survive such trauma (I’m not holding my breath). As I did this, I noticed that some of the other greenery in the trash looked a lot like the weeds that had been growing in the cracks between the pavement in the courtyard where my garden grows. All of a sudden, the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. I know for a fact that my (future) landlord was in the courtyard that morning. Looking around the courtyard, it was obvious that he had done some work: weeding in the pavement cracks, rearranging some of the things he has in the area, etc. These efforts to tidy up the area, I concluded, led him to my garden, where he likely recognized the tomato, the basil, and the oregano as things I meant to have in that space. In not recognizing the dill or the wildflowers (the ones that disappeared did have a somewhat dill-like appearance, in that they had short, thin leaves like the dill), he assumed these were all weeds, and, in an effort to be kind, thoughtful and helpful, pulled them up and threw them away. He was, after all, the person who suggested I use the bathtub for gardening in the first place AND the person who, without me asking or even suggesting it in the slightest, took it upon himself to completely clean out all the weeds and overgrowth that had accumulated in the tub since it was last used for gardening purposes so that I’d have a clean area in which to plant, so I can’t imagine he intended to be mean or in any way harmful when he accidentally pulled up plants I was, in fact, trying to grow.

I haven’t addressed this with my future landlord, partially because I don’t have the heart to (I mean, how can you yell at someone who’s just trying to be nice and helpful?), partially because I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with him, and partially because if he had to pull any plant out of my garden, my dill would’ve been the first choice, since I’m not worried about finding ways to use oregano or basil, but I definitely had concerns about how I would use how much dill I had grown. But if I plant in the tub again next year, I think I’ll put some cutesy garden labels in with all my plants to hopefully avoid a repeat of this in the future.

Have you ever been golfing? Or to a driving range?
Any tips on how to make a move less stressful?

 

Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon Race Recap

After running my first Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon two years ago, I swore up and down that I would never do that race again. I didn’t have a particularly bad experience with Rock ‘n’ Roll or the race as an entity, but the race as a concept–that is, a half marathon in the middle of July in Chicago–just seemed like a stupid idea. While, admittedly, this is about the time in marathon season where I’d need to run that distance anyway regardless of whether a medal awaited me at the end or not, there are so many better times of the year to run a half marathon in Chicago, I felt, and since I had done the race once, I really didn’t think I’d need to do it again.

rnrchicagopacket

Well, things change, and once again I found myself registered for this race. Fortunately, the weather on Sunday could not have been less mid-July-like, with temperatures in the low 70s, a dew point of 64 degrees (a vast improvement from the 72 degree dew points we had more than once last week), mostly overcast conditions, and a cooling breeze out of the north *praise hands emoji*.

rnrchicago-1

I got to the race a bit later than I expected and panicked while waiting in a portapotty line that I wouldn’t make it into my corral in time (a stupid worry, in hindsight, given that Rock ‘n’ Roll’s “policing” of its corral is nonexistent), but I got through quickly and managed to get into Corral 10 with time to spare. (A perhaps interesting side note: I was in Corral 10 of 20 at this year’s race. In 2015, I was in Corral 20 of 36. In 2015, there were 14,060 finishers between the 10K and half marathon; this year, there were 12,002 finishers between the two races. The downward trend in finishers continues!).

Despite favorable-for-mid-July conditions, I didn’t have any goals/hopes/dreams for this race other than to finish. I had some hamstring soreness Saturday evening that continued Sunday morning (but fortunately has now cleared up) that I didn’t want to aggravate during the race, which was all the more reason to hang back, at least in the early miles. My soreness didn’t bother me at all while running, which was a nice surprise.

I’ve run downtown enough times to know that my watch can’t make sense of all the tall buildings, so I manually lapped my watch at each mile marker I saw. I missed mile two, so I didn’t get any splits for that mile, but from what I could see, it looked like I was running fairly consistently in the 10:35-10:45 range. That’s about what I expected out of myself for this race, so I didn’t have any complaints.

The forecast leading up to the race had consistently called for morning thunderstorms, so when I turned onto Michigan Ave. a little bit before the halfway point and saw dark clouds looming in the north, I panicked. My worst fear heading into Sunday was that a thunderstorm would pop up while I was on the south portion of Michigan Ave. with no nearby place to shelter, and it looked to me like that was becoming a possibility. I picked up my pace and started doing 10:2x miles, somehow thinking that I’d be able to outrun a storm at that clip. It ended up not even raining, so my speed was unnecessary, but I suppose better safe than sorry?

Rock ‘n’ Roll went WELL above and beyond the call of duty in the on-course cooling department. I assume the race assumes the weather is going to be miserable during Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago, given that it’s always in the middle of July, but the cooling mechanisms available were borderline excessive, given the not-steamy conditions. I didn’t mind them, necessarily, but it seemed to me like there were more open fire hydrants this year than in 2015, when it was extremely steamy. On the other hand, the water stations weren’t running on empty by the time I got to them this year, either, which was a nice change from my 2015 experience with this event.

My usual, not-trying-to-do-anything-spectacular goal for a half marathon is 2:15, and coming up Columbus, I thought I had a decent chance at, if not hitting 2:15, at least finishing in the 2:17 minute. I crossed the finish line in 2:17:15, so self-high five for my last minute accurate prediction 😛 Also, I continued to loathe how much of Columbus we had to run for the final stretch of this course. It seriously feels like you will never, ever get to the finish line since it is SO. FAR. AWAY. compared to other Columbus finish lines (i.e.: those of the Shamrock Shuffle and the Chicago Marathon).

rnrchicago-2

I collected my medal (which, along with the t-shirt, I am not a fan of. The t-shirt design seems wildly uninspired to me, especially compared to what I got in Nashville and at RnR Chicago two years ago, and I really think we should ban race medal interpretations of the Bean. I hated it on the Chicago Marathon medal in 2015 and I hate it on this medal, too. It looks like a manatee in both instances, and, with so many other, easier-to-represent Chicago icons, I wish races would go with anything else.) and proceeded to the post-race party, where I stretched out a particularly grumpy right hip and relaxed for a bit. All things considered, I’m pretty satisfied with this race. We really couldn’t have hoped for better weather this time of year, and I’m so glad it didn’t storm on us!

rnrchicagomedal

 

 

 

Chicago Marathon Training Week 6

 

Sunday, July 9: 75 minutes XT (30 minutes bike + 45 minutes strength training)
Exact same thing as I did last week: easy 30 minutes on the bike followed by Motionally Stable in the NTC app. Not a whole lot to note about this workout other than that there were more people at the gym this Sunday compared to during the holiday weekend last Sunday, and I got through a LOT of Runners World on the bike 😛

Monday, July 10: 6 miles in 1:02:30 for a 10:25 pace + SPF
One stormy day down, one to go. I got lucky Monday afternoon and was able to run commute home, despite the forecast (and the fact that it looked less-than-promising outside when I left the office). Even more luckily, the impending rain chased nearly everyone inside, so I had clear paths on my way home. It was a nice change from last Monday’s tourist-dodging adventure! The humidity was CRUSHING, but I got through it. I also somehow dropped 9:4x first miles? I don’t know how that happened, because I certainly didn’t feel like I was running that fast, but my watch says I did a 9:48 and a 9:44, and if it wants to tell me that, I’m happy to believe it.

Tuesday, July 11: Dance
Two unsurprising things happened after missing the second week of the session due to the Fourth of July. Thing #1: some people who had showed up the first week did not show up this week (though to be fair, that usually happens regardless of whether or not a national holiday falls on the second week of the session). Thing #2: nearly everyone had completely forgotten what we had done two weeks ago. So, we spent a fair amount of time reviewing, and then added a little more to the end. And we got out on time!! Hooray!

Wednesday, July 12: 6 miles in 59:59 for a 10:00 pace
On Tuesday, I started seeing reports that Wednesday afternoon was going to have heat indices at or near 100 degrees. Having already once this year changed a planned seven miler into a 2.75-miler due to a heat index of 97, I made the executive decision to get up early on Wednesday morning and run my six miles before work. Now, it is worth noting that weekday morning running is my least favorite kind of running. I find it extremely stressful, since I don’t feel safe with so few people out and about at that time of day and I have the pressure of needing to get to work by a certain time, I don’t appreciate that it requires getting up earlier than I’d normally choose to get up on a work day, and it throws off my entire routine. But, since I really did not want to skip or shorten this run, I sucked it up and did it in the morning.

I don’t know where all my speed came from. I ran a 10:45 first mile, and from then on out it was almost exclusively 9:xx miles, with one 10:06 mile thrown in. I suspected my watch was measuring short, but I did an out-and-back, and it hit all my mile markers at the exact same spot each time (and hit them where I expected it to hit them), so I guess the pressure of needing to get through my run and to the office made me much faster than normal. I was drenched with sweat when I got home thanks to the humidity.

Also, speaking of the weather: I don’t think it ever got above 80 degrees on Wednesday, never mind to 90/feeling like 100. I gave up my planned run commute to get up early, get to work late, AND get home later than I would’ve if I had run commuted (since I got into work so late and had to stay late as a result). I was not pleased.

Thursday, July 13: 45 minutes XT (yoga)
This one, but for real this time:

I was not plagued by internet issues Thursday, so I got all the way through this practice. Towards the end, there was a pretty intense hip opener that my glutes really appreciated.

Friday, July 14: Rest

Saturday, July 14: Rest (due to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon the following day)

One-third of the way through marathon season! Saturday marked four straight weeks of never once missing a planned workout, which is certainly the best I’ve done in awhile (my printed schedule has all of my workouts from April 23 through October 14 on it, and prior to this four-week stretch, the best I had ever done was two straight weeks with no missed workouts). I don’t know how much longer that will last–the forecast for later this week does not look promising, so we’ll see what happens with the runs I have on ym schedule–but since I feel like the theme of my marathon training for the past five years has been, “I was supposed to do this, but decided to this instead,” it feels nice to be able to stick to a schedule for a change. Shoutout for the five hundredth time to M3 for being a plan that fits my life.

Thursday Things

1. To my great surprise, I had the chance to continue my exploration of the CTA’s Historic Fleet earlier this week with buses!

ctahistoricfleetbuses-1

The historic bus display hadn’t been even half as publicized as the historic train trips around the Loop, but I happened to see a post from the CTA about it on Twitter, so off I went.

ctahistoricfleetbuses-4

The buses obviously aren’t quite as historic as the train I saw in June, but it was still cool to get on them and see how things have changed. I found the seats particularly interesting, since they seemed to be the same sort of seats you find on school buses (at least, the buses smelled like school buses, so I assume the seat coverings are similar). Nowadays, the seats on CTA buses are a lot nicer! But we don’t have decorative mid-century stars on the walls anymore, either, so I guess you win some and lose some.

ctahistoricfleetbuses-3

I appreciate the CTA’s commitment to preserving part of its history via the Historic Fleet, and I even more appreciate the agency allowing nerds like me to see the fleet first hand. Buses and trains seem like such uninteresting, basic things, but seeing the historic vehicles really helps you see how much transportation has evolved in a relatively short period of time. It gives you a much greater appreciation for the technology we have now when you can actually see the development that’s taken place. Or at least, it makes me appreciate the buses and trains we have now a lot more.

ctahistoricfleetbuses-2

2. On Friday, my “team” at work (by which I mean everyone else who reports to my boss and me, since I no longer have a team) is having its (first, to my knowledge) annual summer outing. I got talked into being on the planning committee for these outings, which consists of me and four other people who all live in the suburbs and work in my company’s suburban office. When we first started tossing around ideas, I had one request: that wherever we pick be easily accessible by public transportation because I, not having a car, am highly dependent upon pubic transportation to get from Point A to Point B.

Unfortunately, my suburban counterparts do not understand the plight of the urban dweller, and, despite my (extremely small, barely made) protestations, have scheduled our event to take place in WOOD DALE. While Wood Dale is, indeed, accessible via Metra train, the only area particularly accessible via Metra train is the area within the immediate vicinity of said Metra train stop. Our event is nearly three miles from that train stop, with nary a non-rush hour bus to take a person from the stop to, well, anywhere else, it seems. When you tell Google you want to get from my office location to our event (which starts at 1 p.m.), it gives you the option of arriving at 9 a.m. or 4 p.m., but no other time in between. NOT HELPFUL.

The whole thing just irks me. I mean, the event sounds fun, and only having to be in the office for a half day also sounds fun, but I feel like suburbanites just do not understand what it’s like to live without a car. I get that it’s an inconvenience for all of them to come into the city, and since less than a quarter of those attending the event live in the city, I understand why it’s more fair to make the Chicagoans go to the ‘burbs than it is to make the suburbanites come into the city. But getting to this event isn’t just an inconvenience for me. It’s an impossibility. Using my typical mode of transportation, I literally cannot get to the party, and I really get the impression that this is incomprehensible to people whose day-to-day existence involves going to their garage, driving to where they need to go, parking in a lot, doing whatever it is they need to do at their destination, and then repeating the process in reverse.

What I initially expected to be an annoyance over my coworkers’ lack of empathy for my transportation situation quickly spiraled into outrage at the entire American way of living (you know, as one’s outrage does). Well, maybe not the entire American way of living, but the American way of living that worships the almighty motor vehicle. To be sure, cars are incredibly convenient ways of traveling, but I wish we viewed cars as more of an “as-needed” supplemental vehicle rather than a go-to vehicle (like the way I view the bus when it comes to the CTA. I’ll take a bus if it’s the only logical way to get somewhere, but if I have the option of taking a train, I will absolutely take the train every time). Think of how much better public transportation could be if governments could spend more infrastructure money expanding and enhancing train lines or bus routes instead of overhauling highways! Think of how much cleaner the air could be if we substantially reduced the number of people driving! Think of how much safer, and thus, how much more attractive of an option, it would be if roads were built from a bike-first perspective, catering to the needs of cyclists first and drivers second! Think of how much more time we could spend being active rather than sedentary if everyone lived within walking, running, or biking distance of their office, even in the suburbs!

Obviously, these are all pipe dreams. I’m under no impression that the car-first lifestyle is going anywhere, particularly outside of the confines of a major city where public transportation is a viable option. But one can dream!

3. AccuWeather is taking my emotions for a ride, and I do not appreciate it. I’m running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on Sunday, and I knew when I signed up for the race that the weather would likely be terrible. I fully expected the weather to be just as bad as it was in Nashville, although this time, being that this race is in mid-July, not late April, I planned on heat and humidity and have experienced it plenty of times over the past month and a half or so.

I know looking the forecast for a race as soon as it starts showing up on AccuWeather is useless, because anything more than 24-48 hours out is a guess at best, and will likely change several times before the day arrives. Nevertheless, I’ve kept an eye on the forecast for Sunday, and it has been ALL over the place. On Monday, they said a high of 77 and “delightful.” On Tuesday, they said a high of 84 and humid. On Wednesday at 7:45 a.m., they said a high in the 70s with a morning thunderstorm in the area (perfect), but by 9:15 a.m. that same day, had changed their tune to a high of 76 and “Not as warm with some sun.” What the heck, AccuWeather?? Pick a story and stick with it, darn it!

So who knows what will happen on Sunday. I’m just out there to get in a long run anyway, so I’ll take whatever I can get.

Who else is running Rock ‘n’ Roll on Sunday?

Chicago Marathon Training Week 5

Sunday, July 2: 75 minutes XT (30 minutes bike + 45 minutes strength training)
FINALLY. This is the type of workout I’ve intended to do on every Sunday of marathon training, but for various reasons I had never actually been able to make it happen until this week. I went to the gym after church and started my workout with an easy 30 minutes on the bike (6.2 miles, averaging 12.1 mph – I told you it was easy haha) and finished with Motionally Stable, a 45 minute strength training workout on the NTC app that I’ve done approximately eleventy billion times since they updated the app last year, since it is literally the only 45 minute strength training workout in the ENTIRE app worth doing (the only other time based 45 minute strength focused workout in the app spends 14:35 of those 45 minutes warming up and cooling down O.O Motionally Stable, by contrast, spends 9:55 warming up and cooling down, which seems a lot more reasonable, since that’s about five minutes to warm up and five minutes to cool down. I’ve had close to a full year to get used to the revamped NTC app, and I still hate its awful workout selection and wish they’d just give me all my old workouts back.) It was quickly apparent to me how long it’s been since I’ve strength trained based on how tired this workout made me. I’ve got to be better about making time for these Sunday workouts.

Monday, July 3: 8 miles in 1:23:49 for a 10:29 pace + SPF
Run commute #2! I am officially all aboard the run commuting train. I’m obsessed with how much time it saves me. I honestly think it’s the only thing that’s going to make these super long weekday runs manageable for me, at least from a happiness standpoint.

I expected my commute to go smoothly since I was one of I think 14 people working in the entire corporate community in Chicago on Monday, but the commuters I lost were MORE than made up for by people crowding the lakefront under the extremely mistaken impression that a 10 foot (or however wide the Lakefront Trail is) paved path meant they could and should take up that entire area by walking four abreast. The entire trail wasn’t a nightmare, but a lot of it was, and I feel very fortunate to have made it through the hubbub without incident. I ran past someone who was not so lucky–I don’t know what happened, but she appeared to have been mowed down by a bike not too long before I ran by, laying face down on the trail with one of her shoes nowhere to be seen, surrounded by four different police officers on bikes and two lifeguards from the nearby beach, with two more bike paramedics heading her way–which was a stark reminder of 1) why we need separate bike and pedestrian lanes on the trail and 2) why, even with, but particularly in the absence of, said separation, everyone–runners, cyclists, walkers, tourists on those awful multi-person bike contraption type things–needs to be aware of their surroundings and respectful of others using the trail.

I did run into one problem with this run commute, which was forgetting to bring any Honey Stinger chews to work with me. I popped into a CVS at lunch on a mission to find an acceptable substitute and ended up buying gummy Lifesavers. They worked perfectly well for me on my run, but all CVS had available was a seven ounce bag with 50 pieces of candy (I only needed about seven to get to the 100 or so calories I get by eating five Honey Stingers), so now I’m locked in a constant struggle between my desire to snack on the Lifesavers all day at work and my desire to, you know, not eat processed sugar all day. Haha.

Tuesday, July 4: Rest
Dance was cancelled for the holiday and my training plan calls for two rest days per week anyway (even though I usually only take one), so instead of coming up with some extra workout just for the sake of getting in an extra workout, I took the day off. Happy birthday, America.

Wednesday, July 5: 4.46 miles in 45:00 (tempo) for a 10:05 pace + SPF
At long last, I can tell you about the other kind of speed work this marathon training plan incorporates! I’ve always understood tempo runs to be the sort of run where you warm up for a mileish, run comfortably hard for several miles, then cool down for a mileish. Hal Higdon, however, wants you to do tempo runs differently on his M3 plan. He requests that you start out at a comfortable pace and gradually increase your speed until the halfway point of your run, where you should sustain roughly a 10K pace for five or so minutes, before gradually slowing down. This, I have found, is FAR and away the most challenging workout of the entire marathon training program. It’s physically difficult, because it requires precise pacing (don’t speed up too fast, don’t run too fast at the peak, don’t slow down too quickly), and it’s also mentally difficult because of the physical difficulty, especially on the back half.

I do these runs in five minute segments, increasing (or decreasing) my speed every five minutes (or at least that’s the plan – it doesn’t always work out that way!). While I thought I was doing all right for the first half, I definitely went a bit too hard on my peak, and struggled a lot on the second half of this run. It didn’t help that I had lead legs as soon as I started running. Those normally clear up after a mile or so of easy running, but there was no easy running to be had during this workout, so this was a tough (but satisfying, from a “I pushed myself hard” standpoint) run.

Thursday, July 6: 45 minutes XT (yoga)
This one:

While I am normally all about Yoga with Adriene, after how tired my legs felt on Wednesday, I really wanted to do something that would allow me to recover and give my legs a break (i.e.: no warriors, balancing poses, etc.). Yin yoga seemed like a solid option, so I found this video on YouTube and off I went. Some of the poses were really, really hard to hold for as long as I was supposed to hold them, and I ended up making a fair number of modifications (not having blocks also required some modifying). I did nearly fall asleep on several occasions, though, so clearly I got the rest I was looking for!

Friday, July 7: Rest

Saturday, July 8: 10.26 miles in 1:47:00 (really! I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen before during a marathon training long run, finishing on an :00!) for a 10:24 pace.
Another perfect Saturday morning.

10milersunrise

After a couple days of crushing humidity, I woke up to temperatures in the mid-60s Saturday morning and quite a strong breeze out of the north (you can’t really tell from this picture, but Lake Michigan was quite wavy Saturday morning). The first half of the run was a bit warmer than I expected, but as soon as we turned the wind provided some very nice cooling. We’re now getting into the distances that involve running in the Concrete Section of Hell (I need to come up with a catchier name for that) on the Lakefront Trail (*weeps uncontrollably*), which is the area between Castaways and Ohio Street Beach, so any time anything assists with keeping me more comfortable while I have to run through there on Saturday mornings–a gentle rain, wind, or even plain ol’ cloud cover–I’m most grateful.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with training this week. I have two six milers on my schedule, but the forecast also has three straight days of thunderstorms on its schedule. For six miles, I really only need about a 75 minute thunderstorm-free window (accounting for time spent waiting at stoplights), so hopefully I can get one of those on Monday and one on Wednesday–ideally when I plan to leave work, since I’d like to run commute both of those days if at all possible. I have a half marathon this coming weekend, so I’m not opposed to taking a little bit of a break this week, but I’d like to just take a little bit of a break, not a complete break! Fingers crossed.

Thursday Things

1. Look what I did this weekend!

beach

I went to the beach!

This shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is, given that I live in Chicago, where we have an abundance of beaches that I could visit on any day between Memorial Day and Labor Day if I so chose. However, like many amenities the city offers (world class museums! Award winning restaurants! Concerts and sporting events on a nearly nightly basis!), more often than not I forgo the opportunity to do any of these things in favor of doing boring life things, like grocery shopping and doing laundry and cleaning and working. And while nearly all of those things easily could’ve gotten in the way of going to the beach with some of my friends on Sunday, I decided to go to the beach anyway.

It’s funny: going to the beach is something I always assume I’m going to hate, because it involves so many things I do not at all enjoy–being hot, needing to wear sunscreen (and the consequential stickiness that comes with sunscreen use), sweating, being outside in the summer in general–and yet I almost always end up enjoying it FAR more than I expect to. I guess that would be a good argument for trying to go more often, but making it once this year is already more than I’ve been since…uh…I don’t even remember when, so hey! Progress!

2. For the second year in a row, I attended a Cubs game on the Fourth of July, because #america. Plus, I really wanted to go to a Cubs game at some point this year, so this all worked out quite nicely.

cubsgame

The Cubs had a disastrous fourth inning (they gave up five runs – yikes) and though they tried to stage a comeback in the ninth, they couldn’t quite pull it off and ended up losing to the Rays 5-6. BUT. As far as I’m concerned, the outcome of the game is basically irrelevant, because far more exciting things happened during the sixth inning.

I needed to use the bathroom, and the lines for the women’s bathrooms, unsurprisingly, were ridiculous, so I left to get in line at the top of the sixth inning. While I was in line, one of the people I went to the game with texted me to let me know that Ricketts was sitting two rows behind us. For those of you unaware, Tom Ricketts is the owner of the Chicago Cubs and the very, very, VERY last person I would’ve ever expected to be seated two rows behind us in section 530 (aka the nosebleeds. Our seats were only six rows from the very top of the stadium.). I got out of the bathroom as fast as I could and powerwalked back to by seat, where, lo and behold, I saw Tom Ricketts.

I basically died of excitement. I honestly couldn’t tell you a single thing that happened while the Cubs were up to bat in the sixth inning because I was WAY too busy completely freaking out over the fact that Tom Ricketts was RIGHT THERE!! Several people had gone up to him and asked for autographs, and though I, in typical fear-of-approaching-celebrities fashion, was way too scared to actually go up to him and ask him to sign our tickets, others in my party were not, so up two rows we went to see Tom Ricketts and get our tickets signed.

tomricketts

GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

signedticket.jpg

He was super accommodating and didn’t seem even the tiniest bit annoyed that we asked him for an autograph (I mean, he was holding two Sharpies, so clearly he’s used to being interrupted during games for autographs), and when he left during the seventh inning to go elsewhere, he stopped multiple times to take selfies with Cubs fans. AND on top of that, when he got down to the concourse between the 400 and 500 level, there was a young boy, probably about eight years old or so, and (presumably) his father walking by, and Ricketts just handed him a signed baseball. No introduction, no being stopped by the kid to ask for the ball, nothing. Just gave him the baseball apropos of nothing. Is that not the coolest thing ever?? I didn’t need any convincing to become more of a Cubs fan, but when the team is owned by a guy who is that chill and friendly about interacting with fans, how can you not love the Cubs?

3. I really hope you guys are into constant garden updates, because I foresee a lot of them this summer.

garden

Gah! Look at how much my vegetable and herb garden has grown! I took that picture on Saturday, exactly two weeks after planting, when it looked like this:

foodgarden

I seriously can’t believe how much everything has grown! I suppose that should be my baseline expectation, but I really didn’t think I’d see this much development in just two weeks. My basil has gotten much taller, my oregano is bordering on become invasive it’s grown so much, my dill is doing better than expected, and my tomato! I’m just flabbergasted at how tall its gotten in the space of two weeks! When I went out to weed the bathtub (lol what a phrase) on Tuesday, it had sprouted THREE flowers! Flowers have the potential to turn into tomatoes, and I was so excited to see them that I did a happy dance right there in the courtyard. Granted, I don’t actually have tomatoes yet, but at least this is a distinct step in the right direction!

I am also proud beyond measure at the fact that my wildflower seeds germinated and sprouted and are growing into real, live plants! I have never once successfully grown anything from seeds, so even if these are just wildflowers native to Illinois that, one would think, should take little to no effort to grow in Illinois, I’m still just bursting with joy that they actually did something other than die.

wildflowers

Speaking of plant death, my lobelia risk was a complete bust. Nearly all of those plants have died. Womp. I don’t know exactly where I went wrong with them, though I suspect they might have been far more sensitive to the heat and/or dry soil than my begonias or fuchsias. Lesson learned. My fuchsias have been a bit hit or miss. I planted two in medium-small plastic pots and two in medium-large plastic pots. The two in the medium-small plastic pots went in the front of my arrangement, while the medium-large ones went in back. Those in the medium-large pots are doing just fine. One has a katydid living on it, which always makes me jump out of my skin when I’m deadheading the plant and the bug creeps up out of nowhere (they’re very good at camouflage!), but according to the internet, katydids don’t seem to be particularly harmful, so I haven’t made an effort to evict it yet (even if it does freak me out–and gross me out). The ones in the medium-small pots, though, are not doing very well. I don’t know if they don’t have enough space, or maybe they’re getting the wrong amount of light based on their location? I could move them, I suppose, but I haven’t tried that yet. They just have not thrived at all like the ones in the medium-large pots, which is a bit of a disappointment.

flowers

Meanwhile, my begonias continue to be the stars of my show. I suppose I’m going to have to just fight my “variety is the spice of life” impulse when it comes to flower shopping next year and just get begonias, because without a doubt, they’ve been the hardiest, easiest, most prolific flowers I’ve ever tried growing, both last year and this year.

What’s the next step in tomato gardening after getting flowers? I don’t want to screw this up!
How did you celebrate the Fourth?