No Time For Excuses

Three more weeks! We’re hitting the home stretch, folks!

For those of you fortunate enough not to be in Chicago on Monday, it looked a lot like this:

Cold. Foggy. Dreary. Rainy. So March, essentially, except it’s August. We got all the way up to a whopping 72! When you consider the high on previous Mondays has been 86, 93, 98, 98, and 88, 72 feels awfully chilly.

Though skipping my scheduled five miler was tempting, at this point in the game skipping runs isn’t really an option. With less than a month to go, I don’t have the luxury of cheating on my runs. I could justify skimping workouts early on when I had plenty of time to make up for lost ground, but I don’t have that time anymore. I’ve got less than a month until my half marathon, and you better believe they’re not going to cancel the race because it’s 20 degrees cooler than it had been and drizzly.

Most of my fellow Chicagoans were not of my mindset, however, and I found myself on a rather lonely run. Every now and again I would encounter another runner, but long stretches would pass where I was alone. I spent a good amount of my time trying to decide if that made me dedicated or crazy, but I decided to go with dedicated 🙂

Honestly, even though the weather was gross, Monday really reminded why I’ve hated running in the summer. It is so nice to go out for a run and not feel like you’re going to die. I was able to run five miles at a 10:13 pace, which is almost a full minute faster than I normally do five milers. Five miles, for some reason or another, have also been the distance that’s given me the most trouble throughout my training, so it was great to have a solid five miler for once.

Volleyball, once again, could have gone better for my team on Tuesday. Per usual, we won the first set and lost the next two. I’m actually in a small way responsible for our loss in the last set, as a wildly awful serve by yours truly was the winning point for our opponent. I’m pretty sure we were down by at least five or six at that stage of the game, though, so chances of a victory were slim. With only one week left in the regular season,we’ve found ourselves in a serious do-or-die position: we must win all three sets next week and the team currently in second place must lose all three sets next week if we hope to not be ranked third of four heading into the tournament. This is actually an entirely possible scenario, as we beat the team we’re playing this week 3-0 last time, and the #2 team lost to the team they’re playing 0-3 last time. We shall see!

Technically, I should have run five miles on Wednesday according to my training schedule. However, since doing so would put be at 21.5 miles for the week, which is significantly more than a 10% increase from last week’s 17.5 (and since So You Think You Can Dance started at 7), I opted to run four instead of five. As it turns out, my legs were feeling a bit funky by the fourth mile, and I doubt I could’ve gone an additional mile anyway. My calves in particular gave me a world of trouble. I’m used to my legs feeling stiff for the first mile or so, but on Wednesday it didn’t clear up like usual.

I took it easy on cardio on Thursday and instead chose to push myself in strength training. After 20 minutes on the elliptical, I tortured my core through two separate ab workouts and did a little upper body work as well. I definitely felt it on Friday!

Today was, arguably, the biggest day of my running career thus far. My training schedule called for 10 miles, but I just was not comfortable with the thought of having a 10 miler be my longest run before the half marathon. PDR-ing on race day is one thing: PDR-ing by an entire 5K on race day is another. I recently read (I don’t remember where) that it’s more or less “safe” to up your mileage by 10% per week or by two miles per long run. While it’s entirely possible that I’m taking that advice out of context, I decided since I ran 9.5 miles last Saturday, I could do 11.5 this week.

I try to not let my long runs be junk runs, and the longer they’ve gotten the more mindful I’ve been about doing what I can to ensure a good run. I’ve realized that my body does much better with a high carb, “large” breakfast about two hours before running on my really long runs: i.e.: more than one piece of toast with peanut butter half an hour before I’m out the door, which is what I usually did in the past. At the same time, I also didn’t want to get up two hours before my run just to eat and them bum around until I had fully digested my meal. So today, I compromised. At 5:30, my alarm went off (oof). I got up, had two pieces of toast with peanut butter, enjoyed the BEAUTIFUL sunrise…and was back in bed by 5:45. Haha.

About an hour after that, I got up for real and got ready to run. Though it was sunny, the temperatures were only in the low 60s, which thrilled me. 11.5 miles sounds a lot more reasonable when it’s not 85 degrees at 7 a.m.

I was definitely intimidated heading into today’s run, since this would not only be a PDR for me, but it would also be my first double digit run and the first time I ran more than two hours. I didn’t have much to distract me from the distance at the start of my run, but my brain, in a rare instance of being on my side for these long runs, pulled up another gem I found through Runner’s World earlier this year: run the mile that you’re in. Instead of thinking about how much farther I had to go, I concentrated on finishing mile one. After that passed, I concentrated on finishing mile two. I didn’t really understand that mantra when I read it the first time, but today’s long run showed me how important it is not let a number overwhelm you.

After I passed the two mile mark, I stopped worrying so much about the distance. I like to treat PDR runs as positively as possible, so after I cross the additional distance I’ll be running, I remind myself that I’ve already accomplished what lies ahead: “Only 9.5 miles to go: nothing that you haven’t done before.” This really helps me stay motivated, as does reminding myself that after I cross the 9.5 mile mark, every single step I take is a PDR. Don’t get me wrong: I love PR-ing, but I really think PDRs make me more proud. Conquering a distance for the first time is one of my favorite parts about running.

As I continued running, I encountered the Air and Water Show. I could not believe how early people showed up for that thing! I got to the viewing area around 8:15, and a ton of people had already staked out their territory for the day. I love air shows, but I can’t imagine showing up more than two hours early just to claim a spot! I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to get through, but fortunately the trail detoured rather than closed entirely. Things got pretty tight in the detour, and it was a little annoying trying to navigate through. This is marathon season, y’all! Who schedules these things to coincide? Haha.

Look at that: I saw the Blue Angels without sitting at North Ave. all day!

I had really hit my stride going through the Air and Water Show madness, but around mile four my right hip decided it was done for the day and got all crampy and grouchy. I wanted to push through, but, just like I’ve lost the luxury of half-doing workouts, I’ve also lost the luxury of being able to recover from injury. I decided to pull off around four and a half miles, gave my hip a good stretch, and carried on my way.

At mile five my horrific math skills came out to play. 11.5 is a complicated number to divide in half for someone who struggles with anything more complex than 3+4, and I incorrectly thought 5.25 was half of 11.5, so I turned around at that point. About .05 miles after turning around, I realized I had not, in fact, gone halfway, so in a tizzy I turned back around and briefly considered attempting to figure out where the 5.75 mile mark would be before remembering that since I clearly cannot do mental math, there is no way I could figure that out. Instead, I just kind of ran aimlessly until I though, “Yeah, this looks like a good place to turn around.”

Turning around meant I had the chance to go through the Air and Water Show crowd again. By then, a lot more tourists had shown up and were all over the trail. One particularly eloquent tourist I passed let the whole world know her opinion of the bikers and joggers on the trail. I wisely bit my tongue, but what she said made me so angry. I mean, are you kidding me? You’re on a BIKING AND JOGGING TRAIL on a Saturday morning. WE have every right to be there.  Also, a good number of these runners who are so infuriating you are in the midst of a 16 mile run, while you’re headed to the beach with a cooler so you can sit on your behind all day staring at the sky. Sorry that there are people in Chicago who actually, you know, prioritize their health in any way. /endrant

I had to pull off the trail at mile 8 to stretch because my hip was tight again. Pretty soon after this point, my left leg joined in on the fun, and I was just a hot mess. My legs were so over this whole 11.5 mile thing. My last few miles were s-l-o-w, but I was bound and determined to finish. As it happens, I somehow managed to turn around exactly .25 miles ahead of where I should have, because I was hitting all my usual mile markers .5 miles short of what they should have been on the way back. This meant I had to do a very short out and back beyond my starting point and it was the longest half mile of them all. If anyone passing me took the time to look at my face, they would’ve seen quite the display of determined agony haha. But I made it!

After waddling back home, I spent some glorious time stretching and icing my poor legs. Almost 12 hours later, I’m still pretty sore/have no desire to move, but I’m so proud of what I accomplished. I’m thisclose to running 13.1 miles, and while I won’t actually hit that mark until the race, I know I can do it. A year ago today, I had never run farther than three miles. I never would’ve had dreamed that I could go this far. I guess this really goes to show that anyone can be a runner if they set their minds to it.

And now: taper time. Can. Not. Wait.

(As a side note, it’s also one month to my birthday. Woohoo!)

What do you like more: PRs or PDRs?
Tell me about something you accomplished recently!

5 thoughts on “No Time For Excuses

  1. Congrats on the PR!!! Good for you for sticking it out, that type of mental strength will help so much during your half!

    Also, I can’t believe you ate and went back to bed. Haha! I could never do that, when I’m up I’m up. Especially on a long run day! Kudos to you though, I’ve heard thats what the elite do 😉

    • Thank you!!

      Well! I’m glad to hear I’m “training” on the same level as elites! Haha. Yeah, I was pretty exhausted when I woke up, so fortunately I was able to fall back asleep without too much trouble. Waking up the second time was not exactly fun, though haha. Gotta do what you gotta do!

  2. WOO for the PR! I’m a big fan of both PRs and PDRs. Just the sense of accomplishment of doing something you haven’t done before.

    That run sounds rough with the weather and stretches alone (I hate feeling like I’m the only one out), but definitely agree that it all sounds better than the crazy heat. I’m so ready for fall!

  3. Pingback: Immobile | accidental intentions

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