Chicago Marathon Training Week 8

Sunday, July 26: Yoga.
NTC’s Advanced Yoga. I was in desperate need of a good stretch and this felt lovely.

Monday, July 27: 4 miles (intervals) in 40:53 for a 10:13 pace.
Woof. Monday was hot hot hot (85 degrees when I finished my run, which, at the time, was the highest actual temperature I’ve run in and noted this season), so I was generous with myself on my intervals. Like usual, I did a half mile warmup followed by 6x.25 intervals. Normally, I don’t let myself stop during “on” intervals (running on sidewalks means occasionally hitting stop lights, and when that happens during on intervals, I normally take whatever turn necessary to avoid stopping), but since the weather was so toasty, I let myself stop at lights when necessary and focused much more on effort than pace.

Tuesday, July 28: Dance.
We didn’t learn any new choreography this time around, which is probably for the best, since my memory took a bit of a vacation on Tuesday. I remembered all of the choreography we had learned over the past two weeks, but everything we had learned before that was a struggle. Once we ran through the older stuff a couple times I was fine, but I was surprised by how much I had forgotten. I guess that’s what happens when you completely ignore practicing…

Wednesday, July 29: Climbing.
I wanted to warm up on the upstairs 5.7 autobelay, but it was occupied by a group when I arrived, so instead I warmed up on the upstairs 5.8 autobelay. Normally, there aren’t that many other climbers upstairs when I get there, but there were a handful of climbers up there (as in, people scrambling up 5.11s like it ain’t no thang), and I felt pretty intimidated. There’s a 5.9 autobelay upstairs I had wanted to try out, but with all those people who were, you know, good, hanging out, I didn’t want to take it on, since I was pretty sure I’d fall. Instead, I went downstairs and found a new, currently unrated autobelay (on some routes, the gym asks people for their opinions, and the options on this route were 5.6-5.8. It had a couple votes for both 5.6 and 5.8. Personally, I’d give everything downstairs at least a 5.8, based on the fact that it is really freaking tiring to climb 50 foot walls, and I wouldn’t classify anything downstairs as “easy” due to height. Then again, I usually only climb a few times a month, so what do I know? Going that infrequently makes it tough to build strength and progress.) Anyway, I decided to try my hand at it, and I made it all the way up! I was really surprised and really happy, but as soon as I got down, I realized that the rest of the day would be a struggle for me. My right forearm was SUPER shot after that route – like “could barely make a fist, let alone grip anything” shot. I stretched it out, I “foam rolled” it out with my water bottle, but it was still so tired and crampy, which did not set me up for success with the upstairs 5.9. I made three attempts on the upstairs 5.9 and did make it about two-thirds of the way up (on my last attempt, I made it higher than I had on the first two, which I was happy with), but my arms were too done to let me get any higher. I tried the 5.8 I had warmed up on two more times and couldn’t top out on that one anymore, either, so I got in a climb on the 5.7 for an ego boost, because I can top out that route pretty fast. Without question, the most frustrating thing about climbing for me is how quickly I become too tired to climb successfully. My arms have nowhere near the endurance or strength of my legs! Climbing uses a lot of leg strength, too, but I have yet to figure out how to primarily use my legs to push me up rather than use my arms to pull me up with some assistance from my legs.

Thursday, July 30: 6 miles in 1:05:25 for a 10:54 pace.
SO HOT. It was hotter on Thursday than Monday (88 degrees when I set out. Ouch.), so I was glad I only had to do an easy longish run. I was feeling really grumpy on my way home from work and had less than no interest in running, so when I got home, I had three Shot Bloks right away. Maybe it was a placebo effect, but my mood improved dramatically after I had those, which makes me wonder if some of my afternoon tiredness/grumpiness/not-wanting-to-run-ness is due to low blood sugar. More things to experiment with! Anyway, once again, I took it very easy on this run. With about two miles to go I got a bit of a tummy ache, which was a bummer, but I think that was mostly from being overheated, since I felt much better once I got back home in the air conditioning. I am over this heat, though. Over it LIKE WHOA. I had better be speed demon fast come October to make up for all this suffering.

Friday, July 31: Rest.

Saturday, August 1: 13.54 miles in 2:24:40 for a 10:41 pace.


For the first time in at least two Saturdays I walked out of my apartment Saturday morning and did NOT immediately think, “Oh man. This is gonna be a struggle.” In fact, I felt very optimistic about Saturday’s run. An old CARA friend showed up, my CARA BFF showed up for the first time all marathon season: things were looking great. I ran with my CARA BFF so we could catch up on life, and that was fine and dandy for awhile, but I could tell pretty early on that talking so much was doing a number on my energy. I was living for our water stops within the first mile, which is NOT a good way to feel. Things got worse and worse as the run went out, and finally around mile 8.5ish, I had to tell my friend to go ahead without me. Bonked again 😡  One of my other CARA friends wasn’t feeling super hot, either, so she hung back with me after we passed Castaways, which I really appreciated. I was in a pretty negative headspace, and it was nice to have someone with me to keep me from going too far off the deep end. I was able to run(ish) for most of the last four miles, but I did have to walk at one point, which really upset me. I got so worked up I felt like I was hyperventilating, and when my friend asked me about it, I started crying (which may explain the hyperventilating thing). Though I suppose that’s par for the course these days. Normally I assume my watch is totally off, but my group leader said we did indeed run 13.5 miles on Saturday. Assuming, then, that I can trust my mile splits, we, once again, ran faster than a 10:30 pace (10:29, 10:15, 10:06, 10:14, 10:23, 10:09, 9:56, 10:15 for the full miles I stayed with the group), which probably also didn’t help my exhaustion.

So…yeah. If I had to rate marathon season thus far on a scale of 1-10, I think it’s sitting at a solid 1.25 right now. In the past two weeks, I’ve bonked four out of six runs, and to say that’s taken a toll on my confidence and enthusiasm would be an ENORMOUS understatement. I’ve tracked the weather after most of my runs this year, and based on those stats, it has, admittedly, been MUCH hotter lately than it was through all of June and the beginning of July, so that certainly could play into things. Most of you weren’t around to follow my half marathon training in 2012 (when it was legitimately hot–100 degrees hot), and I remember dealing with a lot of similar things/feelings during that as I’m dealing with now, particularly: feeling extremely slow, doubting my running abilities, and not really enjoying the process at all. The summers of 2013 and 2014–the only summers I’ve spent marathon training–were much more accommodating to me in terms of weather, so I don’t doubt that  that has had at least some impact on my training this year. But I’ve got to be honest, team: I am dreading the next 10 weeks. Just trying to wrap my mind around 10 more weeks of this makes me want to curl up in a ball and weep. I am so tired of terrible runs. I am so tired of bonking. I am so tired of not wanting to do this, of wondering if I want to even run at all anymore, of wondering what on earth I’d do with myself if I stopped running, since running has become such a major part of who I am. I’m stressed and I’m frustrated and I’m not having anything even resembling fun with this, and I don’t know what to do to change those things. It’s pretty obvious to me that I need a MASSIVE attitude adjustment if I’m going to make it through another two and a half months of this without becoming irreparably bitter, but actually making and maintaining that adjustment has proven to be a gigantic challenge.

11 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 8

  1. I have been feeling the exact same way as you. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve said “It was never this hot last summer” during a run. I’m not sure I would have made it through marathon training if it was like this last summer. Just think, it can’t get any worse right? Once it cools down our runs will seem so effortless and lovely it will all be worth it in the end!

  2. I never realized how tough marathon training is mentally and physically. Man oh man I thought it was just about running some more miles, but all I can think is OHMYGOD I AM SO SORE. I’m pretty sure I was crawling the last mile and a half today. Can’t figure out what’s worse- training for a fall race when you train through the summer or a spring race training through the winter. I’d probably take the fall race just because I can’t with winter. Bring on the fall weather.

    • This whole season I’ve been wondering if I should try to brave winter marathon training, because this summer business is misery, and I MUCH prefer running in cold weather. Doing that, though, would mean running a marathon most likely in late April/early May, when it would be way, way warmer than what I trained in, and I think that transition would be worse than training in the heat and running in cooler weather. Basically I just need to move to an environment where it is always 50 degrees and overcast whenever I need to run hahaha! That would be ideal.

  3. I cannot believe the marathon is in 10 weeks. I am nervous and excited too. I’ve bonked on my long runs too and that worries me. I know it’s been HOT but it still worries me. Hopefully it will cool down so we can enjoy our runs.

    • I was pretty surprised that I struggled so much since it felt WAY nicer leaving my apartment than usual, but out on the lakefront where there’s no shade, it was a lot hotter than in my tree-filled neighborhood. Part of the process, I suppose…though I wish it didn’t have to be!

  4. The bonking thing is hard. I remember when I trained for my one marathon and bonked on like a 9 miler and I was freaked out about how I was never going to be able to do a full marathon but eventually my body did catch up. So I am hopeful that will happen for you as well! And yes the heat definitely is rough this year! It is slowing me down a lot!

    • I bonked on a 10 miler last year, too, so I know it happens…it’s just frustrating. I want running to be fun and easy, not upsetting and hard! Haha. I’m trying very hard to keep the whole concept of “delayed gratification” in mind, because I think that’s going to be the name of the game this marathon season.

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