Chicago Marathon Training Week 15

Monday, September 16: 5 miles in 51:26 for a 10:17 pace.
First run in months where I did not break a sweat. Fall, I love you. I had a lot on my mind Monday afternoon and spent a lot of my run processing through everything…and freaking out about my hip flexor. As I’ve mentioned many, many (many) times before in these posts, I’m a paranoid hypochondriac, which means if I have a twinge of any sort, it’s pretty tricky for me to keep my mind off said twinge. My hip flexor had felt 100% fine all day on Monday, and I wanted to run without thinking about it, because I knew even if I set out with a, “Don’t worry about your hip flexor,” mindset, I was going to obsessively think about my hip flexor during the whole run (kind of like that situation where someone tells you, “Think about anything but *fill-in-the-blank*,” and then naturally all you can think about is *fill-in-the-blank*.). Somewhere around the second mile my hip flexor started getting achy, and my mind started getting panicky. I hemmed and hawed for the rest of my run over what I should do about all of this, all while keeping a way-too-close eye on how my hip flexor felt (“I think it feels okay now…yeah, definitely less achy..wait, no…I think it’s getting worse?…maybe not…or maybe it is.”). The instant I stopped running nothing hurt. No aches, no pains of any sort, nothing. Not when I walked, not when I sat, not when I lied down, not when I stretched it…only when I rolled it, and again, it was a bruised sort of pain more than anything. FRUSTRATION.

Tuesday, September 17: cross training.
Uggghhhhh dance was HARD. Really hard. Part of me feels like I shouldn’t complain about that, because I prefer challenging routines to simple, basic ones, but it being this close to the marathon (read: with my injury paranoia reaching sky high levels), I don’t want to work harder than necessary in cross training.

Wednesday, September 18: 5 miles in 53:15 for a 10:39 pace.
Sooo about that birthday 10 miler I’ve been whining about…haha. Early in the day Wednesday I noticed a bit of a storm over in Iowa on the radar that, naturally, appeared to be chugging along right in Chicago’s direction, and, by my very basic meteorological skills, looked like it’d arrive in Chicago *right* about the time I planned to run. When I told a coworker about this after lunch, she said, “Then just go home now! It’s your birthday!” So that’s exactly what I did. Leaving work in the mid-afternoon bought me a little time, but not enough to run 10 miles before the weather came through. My hip flexor also started getting ornery after the first mile (…and it was my birthday…), so after five miles I called it quits. I thought about churning out another five on the treadmill but ultimately decided against it, mostly because of my hip.

Thursday, September 19: light cross training.
I went to NovaCare to get an injury screening regarding my hip, where I told the PT, “Honestly, I probably need to see a sports psychologist, not a physical therapist, because I really think a lot of this is in my head.” Haha. She reminded me that convincing myself I’m going to get injured is a really great way to get injured, so I probably shouldn’t think that way, and then did a quick evaluation. She said it’s possible I have a strain, but it’s likely that my hip flexor is just overworked because my glute meds are weak. This is what I get for routinely skipping strength training because I “didn’t feel like it.” DUMB. Get it together, Bethany. *Technically* Thursday was supposed to be a rest day, but since I didn’t run 10 miles on Wednesday, I opted to do a little work when I got home: 15 minutes of yoga followed by diligent strength training.

Friday, September 20: 55 minutes bike.
I didn’t want to push it with my hip, and this just worked out a lot nicer with my Friday schedule anyway. I hadn’t felt particularly well all day Friday–mild headache, mild stomachache, major hypochondria–but my time on the stat bike went pretty well, all things considered.

Saturday, September 21: cross training.
I somehow accidentally found myself at breakdance on Saturday. Oops. I KNEW this was probably a VERY, VERY poor life choice, butttttt I went anyway. I took it easy, though…kind of…ish. I wore jeans, at least, so I couldn’t dance quite as easily as I can in sweatpants. YES, I’M AN IDIOT AND I’M VERY WELL AWARE OF THIS. Whatever. It was worth it. I learned cool new moves.

Sunday, September 22: 20 miles in 3:37:38 for a 10:53 pace.
I did my very best to treat this just like another long run: got up at the same time, ate the same food, went through the same normal morning routine, etc. My wave didn’t start running until 7:03, but we were still told to be there at 6:30, so for all intents and purposes this was just another “Saturday” to me (except it was on Sunday).


We started our run at Wilson, wound around down to Montrose and then got onto the trail, which we took up to Bryn Mawr before heading south south south south south. One of the things that really shocked me about this run was just how fast the first few miles ticked by. It was like I blinked and all of a sudden we were at Mile 4, and “only” had 16 more to go.


Almost every mile marker had awesome inspirational signs. A+ work, CARA. I thought that was a nice touch.

I was a little disappointed when we got to Diversey and veered off the inner path onto the Lakefront Trail, because that meant we were going to have to run  on the trail through all that beachy business between Fullerton and North Ave., which just always sucks in the morning because there’s so much sun and zero shade. I still think one of the big reasons I bonked during our 16 miler a month ago was because of all the time we spent in the sun, and though I spent much time as I was getting ready Sunday morning telling myself that I could run 20 miles, I was still worried that I was going to bonk again. I told myself if I could just get past the miserable North Ave. to Navy Pier section, I’d be fine, and though I was definitely feelin’ it by Navy Pier, I made it through without much trouble.

I really did just fine maintaining the 10:30 pace I started with until about mile 10, at which point my times started slipping. I got a really nice boost during mile 12 when we ran through an aid station that was playing Titanium (one of my favorite songs we’ve ever danced to in hip hop) and then ran past what will be the FINISH LINE in three weeks (!!), but after that 10:xx times and I were dunzo. I had a couple low 11s, but by the end I was consistently knocking out 11:45s (which still felt a whole lot like 10:30 to me…). However, I ran the ENTIRE thing (except for aid stations, which I walked) and finished it all in 3:37.


This week certainly did NOT go according to plan in a lot of departments: nutrition (hello, birthday, and multiple days of donuts at work), sleep (again, hello, birthday), and rest (zero full rest days. My bad.), so all things considered I think the 20 miler went quite well for me. It was a good mental boundary to overcome, and with all my hip business it was nice to prove to myself that even with a grouchy hip flexor, I can still run 20 miles (my hip flexor, for those of you interested, was sore for probably 19 of the 20 miles, but on the 1-10 pain scale, it was never more than a 2 at worst…more like a 1.5. We’re talking more “annoying ache” than “debilitating pain.”).

After the run we all got our t-shirts, and I really feel like CARA missed an excellent opportunity for humor here. If I were in charge of t-shirt design, you better believe somewhere on this shirt would appear the phrase, “I ran 20 miles and all I got was this stupid t-shirt.”


Gah. This post has gotten super long, and there’s still a bunch I want to say, so I’ll try to be brief. 20 miler, overall, was great. I’m happy with how it went, and I really enjoyed seeing so much of the Lakefront Trail (especially Promontory Point and the Museum of Science and Industry, which, as you may recall, I recent complained about being so far away…and then I ran past it on Sunday. HA! Weird.). I have felt significantly more worn down this week than I ever expected to feel, and with how much longer it’s taking me to get over soreness, I’ve decided marathon training must be a preview of old age. My brain has been my own worst enemy all week, and to be honest, I’m kind of terrified about tapering. I’m SO ready to cut back on mileage, but I’m not looking forward to how my head responds to the taper. Advance apologies to anyone forced to endure my crazy company over the next three weeks.

17 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 15

  1. Yay!!!! Congrats on the 20 miler hun!!! That’s an amazing accomplishment!! I can’t believe your marathon is in three weeks! How is that possible? Tapering is rough mentally (seriously, i almost lost my mind the week of the race for various reasons but not running much definitely played a part), but your body will love you for it. I never understood why your body needs two-three weeks to recover from training/get ready for the full until I finished my last twenty miler. Besides my heel, my body felt so much better on race morning than it did for that last twenty miler, so those taper weeks did their job. You’ll be amazed how you feel come race day!

    • Thanks girl! I’m hoping that knowing ahead of time that taper crazies are a thing will help me deal with it in the moment. Even last week when I was a total emotional wreck for no reason (like even on my birthday, I was legitimately having a wonderful day, and I STILL always felt like crying. What the heck.), I had a feeling it was all mostly due to the marathon, so I’m sure the next couple of weeks are just going to be a blast…hahaha. I am, however, very much looking forward to giving my body a chance to heal/prepare for the race, and hopefully maintain as much of my sanity as possible.

  2. I hope the taper period helps give your hip time to mend itself for the race!! Great job getting that 20 miler done in one piece!
    I think all of us at this point are freaking out over every ache, I am at least!

  3. Wooooo 20 miles! You’re awesome. This is the point of comments, right? To butter the blogger up? Because that’s what I feel like I’m doing every time I comment on someone’s post. Not that they don’t deserve it, because if you can finish 20 miles, you deserve lots of butter, food and otherwise. Wow okay this makes no sense but anyways, great job on this week’s training and I KNOW you’re going to rock the marathon. The weird pains (I’ve been getting them too) could be your mental way of dealing with nerves. I totally just made up that diagnosis but you never know. Oh, and taper sucks but it’s worth it. You might not understand the swimming world, but I dropped 10 seconds in my 100 breaststroke freshman year which is unheard of for a 100. Even 1 second is a lot. So it does work even though it’s a pain in the butt. That’s also when the majority of my aches and pains would come up. It was like my body’s way of rebelling for the lack of activity but come race day, I was ready to shoot off the blocks. Same goes with running. I think…

    • Oh yes, the point of comments is absolutely to sing my praises, so keep on keepin’ on, girl! Hahaha. I like your theory on my aches/pains, though, and honestly, I really do think a lot of it is in my head, so you could be spot on! I need to find a new brain that cooperates better with my body! Haha.

    • Yeah, it really has been a fantastic experience. I don’t know how on earth people train for full marathons all on their own. Even though I haven’t really connected with anyone in my group and often fall off the pace towards the end, just having that general community support has been huge for me.

  4. Congrats on the PDR! I looked for you in the swarms of CARA runners but shockingly never found you.

    Are you planning on continuing with break dance until the race or will you take some time off during taper? I hope your hip flexor feels better!

    • Thanks! I was actually looking for you, too, but didn’t see you 😦 Lame. I don’t know what time I was where I normally see you, but I imagine it was later than normal…we didn’t even start heading south of Montrose until like 7:45, 7:50, probably, which means we were probably in that normal area where I see you at like…8:30ish? When usually we’d be there closer to 7:30 or so, probably. PLUS we didn’t double back, so even less opportunity. ANYWAY. I had my eye out for you and was bummed that I didn’t see you!

      I’m going to continue dance on Tuesdays through the marathon, but I’m done with dance on Saturdays. I wouldn’t be able to make dance and book club this Saturday anyway since they both start at the same time, and then my plan for October 12 is to sit on my couch until it’s time to meet my family for dinner, go to dinner, and then go to bed. Haha. We’ll see about the Saturday in between…but I probably won’t go. It’s so low on my priority list right now anyway that it’s not worth risking injury/wasting my time by barely dancing to not wear myself out.

  5. Pingback: Chicago Marathon Training Week 16 | accidental intentions

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