Chicago Marathon Training Week 1

Monday, June 10: 3 miles in 29:55 for a 9:57 pace.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I was so excited to run. I spent all day on Monday getting more and more antsy to get out and officially start marathon training, and by the time I finally got out the door for my run, I was smiling like a goon. I ran a little later than normal so I could finish my run at a friend’s softball game. Overall, my run felt pretty good. I’ve been having a lot of trouble with pace over the past few weeks (I’ve unintentionally been running 9:30s when I’d really like to be running 10:30s. 9:30s are nice, but I don’t think they’re sustainable for me over 26.2 miles), and it was nice to have a run closer to 10:30 than most of my recent runs. It was, however, very strange to run through this:


SO MUCH FOG. It wasn’t hard to run through, but it was definitely a weird feeling not being able to see more than 15ish feet in front of you.

I also ran through a strength training circuit three times after I got home from the softball game. NovaCare has a bunch of runner-specific strength exercises included in our marathon training guide from CARA, and I’m hoping to strength train with those and other good runner exercises two or three times each week to not neglect that aspect of my fitness.

Tuesday, June 11: cross training.
Got my dance on, per usual. Hip hop is killing me this session. Our routine is so much more complex than anything we’ve done before, and I’ve been riding shotgun on the struggle bus all session. Ditto that with breakdance, but let’s be real: I think I peaked in breakdance about five and a half months ago. Now I’m just trying to maintain a good attitude. And get a doggone handstand.

Wednesday, June 12: 3 miles in 28:01 for a 9:20 pace.
As you may or may not know, Wednesday was the day of the “derecho” aka totally average, not at all interesting and/or worth freaking out about thunderstorm in Chicago. Because everyone was Freaking Out, I was able to leave work a lot earlier than normal, which meant I also fortunately got a run in outside. I checked the radar as soon as I got home and knew if I booked it I could get my three miler in. I booked it WAY too hard in the first mile (8:18! That’s like a 5K pace!) and therefore struggled at the end, but this run was definitely an exception to the norm. I planned to strength train after my run, but since the weather hadn’t hit yet, I wanted to get a shower in just in case we lost power later (we didn’t. See: most anticlimactic storm ever).

Thursday, June 13: 3 miles in 27:55 for a 9:23 pace.
As I was headed home, a friend called and asked what I was doing in an hour. Since my answer was, “Not much,” and her suggestion was frozen yogurt, I scrapped the original route I had planned for Thursday and ran to frozen yogurt instead. So excellent.


Frozen yogurt then led to grabbing Potbelly’s for dinner, which then led to me not strength training again. Whoops. But at the expense of frozen yogurt, Potbelly’s, and a much needed life stress share session? Totally worth it. The run, however, was once again faster than I wanted it to be. Lately I’ve been very conscious of my form, and I wonder if the fact that I’m working rather hard to have good form (feet landing under my hips, pushing back rather than just landing, good arm swing, etc.) has something to do with the fact that I can’t seem to run slow. I’m sure the cool, comfortable weather doesn’t hurt, either.

Friday, June 14: rest day.

Saturday, June 15: 6.05 miles in 1:03:50 for a 10:33 pace
First training run with CARA!! I was literally dancing around my apartment with excitement before heading out for my first group run. My enthusiasm level might have even topped that of Monday, which was no small feat. I had been looking forward to this since February 19, and I was not at all disappointed.

Someone in my training group compared the atmosphere to that of summer camp, and, as a self-proclaimed camp professional, I completely agree. You had your newbies (like me), who were all a little shy but still excited to be there, your returners who were OMGSOHAPPY to see their old training buddies, and your group leaders whose energy rivaled that of your average camp counselor. All in all it was PERFECT and I LOVED IT and YOU GUYS I AM SO OVER THE MOON THAT THIS LASTS 18 WEEKS INSTEAD OF 10 LIKE REAL CAMP.

The run itself wasn’t too bad. As my pace implies, I ran with the 10:30 group, which I think is all right for me? I’m not sure. I think I’m kind of on the edge of 10:30/11:00. I mean, I was able to keep pace fine with the group on Saturday, but Saturday was also cool and only lasted six miles. I’m not entirely sure if I could stick with it much beyond that, particularly if the weather sucks. We’ll see, I guess.


As you may or may not have noticed, I am still running in the Asics I whined about a few weeks ago. They haven’t given me one ounce of trouble since and in general keep my shins much, much happier than my Mizunos. Happy shins lead to a happy Bethany, so I have a feeling these might be my marathoning shoes.

Sunday: cross training
Sunday Marathon dance rehearsal for an hour and a half (these happen once every other month), plus an extra hour with a hip hop cohort before. Brutal because whoa. Dancing for two and a half hours. Actually at about the 1:30ish mark, I legit thought to myself, “I think my quads have officially run out of glycogen,” and I honestly wanted to find fuel because I was dyingggggggg. Rehearsal ended five hours ago as I write, and my legs are still dead tired. But we needed that rehearsal, and I think it was a gamechanger for most of us. Like I said, our routine this session is BEAST, and I need all the practice I can get. I went straight from dance to softball, where after a tight first few innings yours truly scored a tying run (my first run of the season! Also, the first time I had an at bat and didn’t get out before I made it to first!) to keep the team alive. We ended up winning by five. Woohoo!

All in all, I think this week went really well. The weather looked iffy on Wednesday and Saturday but I was still able to run, which is a huge win in my book. I’m sure at some point all the over-the-top excitement I’m feeling in regards to training will fade (“some point” being as soon as it’s 80+ and/or sunny and humid), but right now I’m definitely enjoying it. I can’t remember ever feeling this stoked to start any training cycle ever over my past two years of running, and excitement is definitely a nice change from the usual sheer terror. Here’s hoping week two goes as well as week one!

17 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 1

  1. I was so happy to see you’d posted this. I love reading about people’s training and I’m so excited for you to be training for your first marathon!

    First, NovaCare is amazing! In four weeks, they’ve improved my hip strength so much. I had a re-eval last week and my PT was surprised to see how much I’d improved. If you can fit the NovaCare strength training into your schedule, I highly recommend you do it. I try to do it on my shorter run days and if I can, I tack it on after my runs. It’s much easier to remember that way.

    As for the pace thing, I say listen to your body and see what happens. Is it possible to alternate between the two pace groups or would you miss out on the camaraderie of training with the same people week after week? I’ve never trained with a group but I find that my long run pace usually starts out faster, slows in the middle of training, and then once my body adjusts to more miles, quickens right before taper. I’m not sure what I’d do in that situation although, it’s always better to be overly cautious.

    I hope to start seeing you on the lake path on Saturdays!

    • Oh good! I was a little worried people might find this kind of boring, so I’m glad at least one person is excited to read about my training!

      Yeah, we’re allowed to change pace groups as we need to. One of our group leaders sent out an e-mail today and straight up said if we were welcome to go up to the 10s or down to the 11s whenever we needed to, even if it was just for a week. I’m sure if it’s ever really hot out I’ll definitely drop down to the 11s, but I think for these next couple of weeks I’ll hang with the 10:30s if I can and see what happens since our long run mileage is still pretty low at this point.

  2. Ahh group running is the BEST!!! I’m so so so excited for you to have started 😀 I have no idea why I didn’t start sooner, but I’m glad I found my group when I did…makes everything so much better! I think your analogy of running group and summer camp is spot on as well 😛 I’m excited to watch you on this journey! Here’s hoping week 2 rocks as much as week 1!!

  3. So softball is still happening? With the same team? How is that going? 🙂

    The CARA group sounds fun! Running with an enthusiastic group really makes a difference for long runs!

    • Indeed it is! I mean…it’s going. I don’t hate my team’s company when I’m playing softball with them, but I don’t particularly enjoy the post-game bar experience still. Well, I don’t know. It was all right last Sunday. I didn’t go this past Sunday because I was SO dead from dance I was just like…no. Cannot deal. Haha. I still don’t think I’m going to be making any BFFs here, but I’m enjoying the actual softball aspect of it more than I expected to, so that’s good.

    • Yes, but I don’t know how much stock to put in it. My only recent times are all from 5Ks, and it seems hard to extrapolate a person’s marathon time based on their 5K time, you know? It has me running a 4:08 marathon…which is maybe possible, but since I’d be THRILLED to run anything under 4:45, 4:08 seems a bit ambitious. But based on how I’ve been running lately, I do think I’m in better shape than I was when I ran my half last year, so it doesn’t seem super accurate to use that time on the calculator either (then it tells me I should run a 5:00 marathon). And obviously there’s a pretty big difference between 4:08 and 5:00. Also obviously I’m overthinking this WAY too much haha.

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