Chicago Marathon Training Week 13

Sunday, August 30: Strength/HIIT.
NTC Transformer. Goodness gracious, was this a doozy on Sunday. I decided I was tired of not challenging myself, so I ditched my normal 5 lb. hand weights in favor of 10 lb. hand weights. Unsurprisingly, that made an ENORMOUS difference and all of the arm-related moves were a struggle. Note to self: get stronger. Haha. Priorities for after the marathon!

Monday, August 31: 9 miles in 1:43:31 for an 11:29 pace.
GAH. After perfect weather during all of week 12, summer returned with a vengeance on Monday, and boy oh boy did I feel it. I originally planned to do this nine miler on Thursday, but the forecast for Monday looked more promising than the forecast for Thursday, so I left work ridiculously early to get in my nine miler before therapy. I did it, but just barely: I literally had two minutes at home to put down my water bottle and splash some water on my face before heading to my appointment. Fortunately, my therapist has said on more than one occasion that she doesn’t mind if I show up unshowered after a run! Anyway, the air was thick as molasses with humidity on Monday, and I found it extremely hard to breathe. Running right along the lake provided a little bit of relief, but the Lakefront Trail only hugs beaches for so long, and as soon as I was away from the lake it was a major struggle again. Interestingly, my heart rate was substantially lower than usual on this run. This was FAR and away my slowest-paced run of the summer, which probably accounts for the lower heart rate, but I was still fascinated that I found it so difficult to breathe, but my heart rate was lower than it’s been since winter.

Tuesday, September 1: Dance.
Back to the grind. Hip hop was great. Well, good. My shin was a little touchy, so that kind of brought me down, but I love love love the choreography we learned, and we’re dancing to Major Lazer (Watch Out for This, not Lean On), and, well, we all know how I feel about EDM ❤ ❤

Breakdance, on the other hand, was infuriating. I’ve voiced complaints like this in the past, but Tuesday was my breaking (heh puns) point. My dance classes are an hour long. This past Tuesday, my teacher spent five–FIVE!–minutes teaching us breakdance-related things. The rest of the time was spent freestyling in a cypher (20 minutes, which is about 15 minutes longer than a cypher needs to last in our class), warming up (another 5-10 minutes…so now we’re already halfway through class and haven’t even started to learn anything yet), or doing core/upper body strength work (25 minutes). I. Was. Outraged. I get that strength is important for breakdance, all right? I get that you need strong arms. I get that a strong core is key for breaking, and for athletics just in general. HOWEVER. If I wanted to take a CrossFit class, I would sign up for a CrossFit class. I don’t want to take CrossFit. I want to take breakdance. Class on Tuesday was straight out of the Gospel of CrossFit, where reps and completion mean everything, and form means nothing. I was so angry at one point after my teacher described this pushup/six step/ab thing he wanted us to do that, in total, involved four rounds of this weird drill, that I said, out loud, “What if I just did 12 pushups and then left, because I actually didn’t sign up for a CrossFit class?” Do we remember how two and a half weeks ago I mentioned that I am not at all confrontational? That I don’t even like asking my boss for vacation days, because that too closely resembles conflict to me? I know that I can be extremely, cruelly sarcastic, and in general I reserve that sarcasm for imaginary confrontations I have in my head, when I’m pretending that I have the confidence to actually speak up about something that makes me angry – or, if I do happen to use that sarcasm, it’s because I’ve already practiced it via an imaginary confrontation in my head. To lash out like that in real time to an authority figure, of all people, is SO uncharacteristic of me, and I think goes to show just how incensed I was over the direction class had taken.

I vented my frustrations to two of my friends via our group text after class, one of which takes hip hop, the other of which takes both hip hop and breakdance, and during our texting conversation the second friend mentioned how she doesn’t like that our teacher keeps harping on us to practice at home, and then doesn’t spend any time teaching us anything in class, especially considering that most of us actually don’t have access to a dance studio-sized space at home, when pretty much all of us could easily do pushups on our own at home. I think she hit the nail on the head. I don’t see myself dropping the class, even though I’m frustrated, because when I did drop the class for a session earlier this year, I regretted not being there more than I resented the lack of breakdance instruction. I won’t go to breakdance during taper anyway, so I only have a few more weeks to put up with this before calling it quits until after the marathon.

Wednesday, Sepember 2: Climbing.
I had THEE BEST climbing session on Wednesday! Since I imagine you all memorize my weekly training recaps, you know by this point that I’ve been working on the same 5.9 route upstairs since July 29. Well! When I arrived at the gym on Wednesday, I could see that they had started to reset the routes upstairs, and I figured this was going to be my last chance to tackle that 5.9 before it went away forever. I had already set my mind to topping out on it, so after warming up on the 5.8, per usual, I hooked myself up to the autobelay on the 5.9, told myself that today was my day, and went for it. AND I DID IT!! Oh my gosh, I did it!! I mean, if you want to get technical, I didn’t grab the very top hold, BUT I tapped the autobelay device at the top of the route, which I count as topping out, especially since I don’t like to climb above the autobelay device anyway (it’s a lot scarier to come down when you’re above the device than below it). I was so, so, SO proud of myself! I’ve been working on this route for over a month, so I was absolutely over the moon to finally get it. Sometimes in these recaps I whine about how it’s hard to see progress in my climbing because I’m not able to go frequently, but when I reflect on my work on this 5.9, I can see that every single time I tried to climb that route, I figured out another part of my beta (“beta” is the way you climb a particular route), and knowing, “Okay, this is how I’m going to move from Point A to Point B” from trial and error made it easier each time. The first time I tried to climb that route, I got maybe a third of the way up before my arms gave out. The second time, I could always get a third of the way up, and sometimes a little bit beyond that. Piece by piece, I figured out my beta, which meant I could stop wasting my energy on the low parts of the route and had plenty of strength to go higher and accomplish more. It took me a really long time, but that made the reward that much sweeter.

Since I topped out on that 5.9 within the first 10 minutes of my time at the gym on Wednesday, I had a lot of time to do whatever else I wanted and not worry about how it’d affect my arm strength. I somehow managed to top out on one of the downstairs 5.8s as well, and did decent on the other downstairs 5.8, though I didn’t make it to the top. I tried the 5.9 upstairs a couple more times and couldn’t get it again, but that was all right. I even tried a 5.10 just for kicks (that did NOT go well haha). And then I climbed my old friend, the upstairs 5.7, one last time.

The gym hosts events usually once a month, and last Wednesday was “Belay-bor Day” (get it? Haha). They had games and activities, one of which was a balloon pop. After I finished climbing, I went outside to try my hand at the balloon pop, which involved throwing darts at balloons, and one of the balloons I popped had a free one-day pass! (Personally, I was hoping for the free one-year membership, but I’ll take what I can get 😉 ). This means I can go to the gym on a not-Wednesday, now! Yay more climbing!!

Thursday, September 3: 5 miles (intervals) in 57:43 (LOL) for an 11:29 pace.
Well, I guess we now know what kind of pace I run when it’s hot and humid outside! Haha. For the second time in as many runs, I averaged an 11:29, though this was under slightly different circumstances. In general, I run intervals by warming up for half a mile, then do .25 hard, .25 easy until the last half mile, when I cool down. When I left for my run on Thursday afternoon, it was 90 degrees, so I knew I was going to have to make some serious adjustments in the pace department.


I ran almost all of this up and down a road that runs north/south, sticking to the west side, which was completely covered in shade from buildings, and after finishing five of my scheduled eight intervals at run hard (“hard”)/run easy, I backed off to doing run/walk intervals instead. I figured it more or less accomplished the same purpose–raising my heart rate, recovering, then raising it again–even if it was much slower than usual. Besides, if this year’s marathon goes anything like the marathon in 2013 and 2014, at some point I’m likely going to have to use run/walk intervals just to finish the race anyway (though if I could manage to run the whole thing, that would be fabulous!), so it doesn’t hurt to practice.

Friday, September 4: Yoga.
ClassPass, Fleet Feet, and Lolë hosted outdoor yoga downtown at Pioneer Court (immediately next to the Tribune Tower), and since the yoga was geared towards those running the Mag Mile Half on Sunday (which was not me), I knew it’d be an easy, gentle flow. I was right!


This was totally worth skipping my usual rest day for. I ended up loving the practice, and we got so much swag!


Plus, it was awesome to do yoga outside in the heart of downtown Chicago. That’s certainly not something you get to do every day!

Saturday, September 5: 18 miles in 3:17:43 for a 10:58 pace.
Hello, and welcome to the absolute nightmare that was my 18 miler on Saturday.

Even though yoga wrapped up early in the evening and I was still able to make it home by my normal Friday night bedtime, I had a horrific night of sleep and a stomachache, which primarily involved tossing and turning from 8:45 until midnight. That meant I clocked all of less than five hours of decent sleep Friday night, and when I woke up on Saturday morning, I was SUPER tired. I went through my morning pre-run routine, cringed as soon as I set foot outside at the heat and humidity, and then proceeded to miss the bus by less than half a block. I sprinted after the bus for a couple of blocks but couldn’t catch it, so I ended up grabbing a cab to take me to Montrose to do an 18 mile run I had no desire to do. I actually, to be honest, had kind of hoped my stomachache would turn into actual sickness so that I’d have an excuse to skip the 18 miler. It didn’t, so I was out there, albeit incredibly reluctantly.

We started our run way too fast, per usual (10:06 first mile by my watch), and my legs were already feeling leaden by the time we hit the first water stop. I ditched my running partner and lined up closer to the back of the group, where I got passed over and over and over again, until I was completely behind the group. I watched them inch farther and farther away from me and felt oh-so smug, knowing that even though was running slightly slower than a 10:30, the group as a whole was certainly running faster than a 10:30, and I couldn’t wait to pick up various people as they dropped off the group. I was, however, pretty peeved that no one stayed back with me, especially since I’ve stayed back with people in the past who couldn’t hold the group’s pace. I was also a little worried, since losing the group at about mile 2.5 meant that I was looking at 15.5 solo miles, which did not sound particularly enjoyable to me.

Around this time I noticed the sky getting suspiciously dark, but I chalked that up primarily to my sunglasses. I started to hear some pitter patters, and noticed that it had started spitting. I wasn’t all that distressed–after all, last week’s run was rainy as well, and I find it’s much easier to breathe in rain than in humidity–and it stopped pretty quickly. Then it started again. I hadn’t planned on rain, so my phone, though safely tucked away in my FuelBelt, was not in a plastic baggie like I like it to be when I’m outside in the rain. I started panicking, and ended up pulling off to the side of the trail to dump all the Shot Bloks I had in a plastic bag out into my FuelBelt and put my phone in said bag. Less than a minute after I did this, the skies totally opened up. It was a downpour unlike anything I’ve run in before. My shoes were squishing after less than a quarter mile in this. And then: thunder.

While I’m certainly better at dealing with thunderstorms these days than I was in the past, I still DO NOT like to be outside during thunderstorms. Not. At. All. I particularly don’t like being outside on the Lakefront Trail in the concrete jungle between North Ave. and Navy Pier, where you have extremely limited options for hiding away from the weather. I hoped that the one crack of thunder was just a fluke and continued on my way. Then I saw a lightening bolt streak across the sky in front of me.

Using this graph from my heart rate monitor, would anyone like to guess when I saw said lightening bolt?

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 2.42.19 PM

Despite the fact that I had been doing closer to 11 minute miles, that bolt of lightening was enough to get me to kick it into high gear, repeating over and over to myself, “Get to an underpass. Get to an underpass. Get to an underpass.” I dropped a 9:07 mile. Not even kidding. According to my pace stats, at 57:00 into my run, I was running a 10:30 pace. At 57:30, after I saw the lightening, I was doing a 7:12 pace. My overreactive fight-or-flight response may be a real b*tch sometimes, but when I actually need to fly, whoa baby is that effective! I even managed to catch up to the 10:30s due to my sudden ability to shave two entire minutes off the previous mile I had run.

Well, the storm continued, and I knew full well I could not continue, so when I got to the bathroom at Randolph and Lake Shore Drive, I set up camp. That’s the pretty, blog approved version, at least. The actual, real-life version was that my running partner from earlier saw me, asked me how I was doing, and I responded, “Terrible. I cannot be outside in this weather,” then fled to the bathroom, where I didn’t quite have a panic attack, but did have a nice good sob…and texting conversation with my mother. I was so, so, so angry. I was angry at the weather. I was LIVID with my group, especially the woman I had been running with who saw me and didn’t even bother to check to see if I was all right. I was extremely disappointed in my group leaders for continuing the run despite the obviously unsafe conditions. I can’t imagine that CARA’s official policy is to continue running through a thunderstorm if it starts when you’re out on a run, and I saw another group head towards Navy Pier rather than continuing on down the path through the weather, which I think would’ve been the FAR wiser decision.

All told, I ended up hanging out in the bathroom for about 30-40 minutes. By that point, the weather had cleared to the north, though it was still iffy to the south. Theoretically, I had two more miles to go south before I should’ve turned around, but I was NOT interested in chasing after the storm, and I was even less interested in having a potential encounter with my running group, so I headed north and decided I would finish up the 11 miles I had remaining on my own. All things considered, they went fairly well. My legs were awfully sore, and I was awfully slow (I averaged 11:24 for miles 8-18), but I never needed to stop, so that’s something.

The weather should cool down dramatically this week, and I’m hoping that will have a positive effect on my running and times. I actually think I did a decent job of handling the heat, at least from a mental standpoint, on Monday and Thursday. Saturday, however, was a different story, and I was once again all aboard the, “Why am I doing this?” train. I’m sure my tiredness and the weather had a lot to do with things, but it still wasn’t a very pleasant experience. I’ve never had that terrible of an 18 miler, and I’m really, really hoping that this was me getting my terribleness out of my system now and that things will go better for the remainder of the season.

17 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 13

  1. Another great week despite less than ideal weather. Minus your 18 miler. Hopefully the next long run feels better!!!

    I saw the Lole yoga and it looks like such a cool event. The one in New York was incredible (one of the spin instructors I go to went and posted pictures on facebook). If only Baltimore had cool fitness events…

    • I think a lot of outside factors played into the 18 miler not going so well (tiredness, differently timed fueling due to that yoga event [it took place when I normally eat dinner, so I had to eat dinner much earlier than I would’ve liked for a Friday], the heat, the humidity, my bad attitude…haha), but it is what it is. We’ve had a lot of rain today which I’m hoping will cool things off and make for a much better 14 miler this Saturday!

      I had no idea the Lole event in Chicago was related to the Lole event in NYC. I had seen pictures of that, too, but since I didn’t know there was a connection, I didn’t realize I was supposed to wear white to the one in Chicago, and showed up in teal and black. Oops. Hahaha. Fortunately I wasn’t the *only* one who missed the memo…and now it’s easy to find myself in the post-event pictures 😛

  2. I’ve been running pretty much the exact same paces in this heat and humidity. I can’t wait to see what my pace is at when it cools down! I’ve only ran during a storm once by the beach and it was scary!! I don’t blame you for taking shelter in the bathroom!

  3. WHOA, what a long run adventure! I can totally relate to your frustrations (At least some of them), it’s crazy how sensitive we are to our bodies and our external environment. First of all, you’ve been running great even with the insane humidity! At least you’re out there actually running and not skipping out on training. Regarding the rain though, now that’s scary! I actually had a race in Central Park a few weeks ago during which it started pouring (unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before either) with thunder + lightning galore, so the organizers put a halt on everything and essentially cut the race short. Your run organizers should’ve been much more cautious and prioritized the runners’ safety above all else. You did the right thing by venturing off solo (even if it wasn’t intentional at first), maybe you can complain to the club? This isn’t the first time the pace leader makes you all run a faster pace, and now this disregard for safety? Meh…I wouldn’t be thrilled about it either.

    Anyway, nicely done regardless. Hoping next week’s long run goes MUCH better for you ❤

    • Thanks, lady! All of my frustrations with group training this year really came to a head on Saturday, and the fact that I was able to complete 15.5 miles totally on my own without the group has made me question whether or not I need to continue with group training in the future. Obviously I have a long time to make any sort of decisions on that, but it’s nice to know I at least have the ability to run really far without company. I think we have to fill out evaluations of our group leaders after training, and I certainly have a few things in mind that I’d like to say when that time comes around!

  4. Yikes on the scary weather during your long run! That is one of my worst nightmares. Lightning is a no-brainer in terms of safety concerns. I am glad you took cover! And even without lightning, at what point is it downright dangerous to continue pushing through the bad weather versus being “dedicated and hardcore”? That is so annoying that your pace leader is still going too fast, too.

    I truly believe that we all have at least one really crappy run amidst the 15-20 mile long runs. For me, it was also my 18-miler, which SUCKED. And I do also truly believe that the pendulum will swing back now onto the positive side for your remaining long runs and for race day!

    • You’re definitely right! I had a terrible 16 miler my first year and a nonexistent 16 miler last year (I was recovering from a nasty cold and only did 8 instead of 16), so I was due for a late season crappy run 🙂 The good ones are awesome, of course, but lousy ones give you a lot more opportunity to learn and make adjustments moving forward!

  5. You do such a fun mix of workouts like climbing and dancing. I wish I could do hip hop dance classes. The counting and memorization I suck at besides the general lack of skills. Also I HATE running in thunderstorms. Or rain really, but it makes me really paranoid when the forecast calls for them or the sky gets really dark. Way to get through your 18 miler. Some long runs of mine suck and some feel amazing!

  6. I am annoyed that no one stayed behind. And a complaint should be made about your group leader too. No one should be left behind. I think that a group should have two leaders, one in the front and another one in the back. Just my two cents.

  7. Pingback: Chicago Marathon Training Week 11 | accidental intentions

  8. Pingback: Chicago Marathon Training Week 13 | accidental intentions

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