Chicago Marathon Training Week 11

Sunday, August 14: IM 70.3 Steelhead spectating.
My FitBit claims I got 36,000+ steps on Sunday, though I call shenanigans on that, since there’s no way I walked upwards of 18 miles that day. I imagine clapping for an hour and a half helped my step count substantially. Regardless, I did get a lot of walking in that day.

Monday, August 15: 4 miles in 40:08 for a 10:01 pace.
Knocked this out Monday morning, and I’m glad I did, as the weather Monday evening turned out to be rainy and gross and awful. I was surprised by how fast I did this run. I didn’t really have any intention to run that fast, but I suppose having the pressure of getting to work on time got my butt in gear.

Tuesday, August 16: SoulCycle.


I hadn’t been to SoulCycle since February, and a few weeks ago, received an email declaring that the studio “missed my soul” and would reserve a bike for me on the house if I wanted to come back. Since free SoulCycle is my favorite SoulCycle, I took them up on that offer. I didn’t turn out to be entirely free, because I did need to rent shoes, but it was free enough. My roommate has also wanted to check out SoulCycle for a long time, so this was a good opportunity to make that happen. The class was surprisingly…easy? Maybe I’m in way better shape than I was in in February, but I expected to get my butt kicked, and that didn’t happen quite as dramatically as I anticipated. It was still a great class, just not quite as challenging as I remembered. I also had a different instructor than I’ve ever had before, which probably impacted things as well.

Wednesday, August 17: 7 miles in 1:10:59 (5 miles at tempo) for an overall 10:08 pace.
Oof. What a slog. I was supposed to meet some girls from my running group for this, but rain on the afternoon commute led to the cancellation of those plans, so I did these seven miles solo. I hadn’t done any speedwork in a while, so I aimed to make this a tempo run with a one mile warmup, five miles at tempo, and then a one mile cooldown. That kinda worked. A little over a mile into my run, my watch beeped and displayed a “Battery Low” screen (which I anticipated would happen, since I noticed it only had 10% battery remaining when I left for my run). I had never had that happen with my Polar M400 before, so I expected it to behave like a Garmin–that is, die instantly. But it didn’t! It continued tracking me for my whole run! I thought the Battery Low screen wouldn’t go away until I charged my watch, but when I accidentally lapped my watch a few miles later, it brought the stopwatch/distance tracking back up (and it had been beeping at all my miles). That was a most welcome surprise.

Anyway, the run itself. That rain that cancelled my group run led to some intense humidity, and as a result this run was all over the place. I aim to run my tempo miles in the 9:30 range, though that proved to be a little difficult when I couldn’t see my pace on my watch. I did a 9:24, 8:55 (oops), and 9:28 before feeling like I couldn’t breathe, so on my fourth tempo mile I took a bit of a walk break and did an 11:03 mile. I did make it through one more tempo mile (9:58), and then walked a quarter mile before running the remainder of my cooldown mile. This wasn’t particularly enjoyable, but I was really surprised at my paces when I saw them, especially given the weather.

Thursday, August 18: Strength training.
I did Pace Breaker on the NTC app. This was the first time I’ve done a rep-based workout on NTC, as opposed to a time based workout (all the workouts were time based before the update earlier this summer, and a decent number of them–including all the ones I’ve done–continue to be time based). The workout had a time estimate of 32 minutes, which was perfect for the amount of time I had available. I don’t know who came up with that time estimate, but whoever it is clearly is in much better shape than I’m in, because I didn’t even come close to that. I really only had 32 minutes, so I ended at that point, but I had to skip the entire last set of exercises and the cooldown to do so. This was an EXTREMELY lunge heavy workout–I think I ended up doing a total of 120 lunges when it was all said and done? That’s about 100 more than I’d usually do in a day (okay, fine: it’s 120 more than I’d usually do in a day), and I was really worried about how sore my legs would be afterwards (fortunately, they were much less sore than they usually are after a new NTC workout).

Friday, August 19: Rest.

Saturday, August 20: 18 miles in 3:12:22 for a 10:41 pace.
I would like to kindly request the cancellation of all 18 milers from here on out.

I don’t know if any of you remember the debacle that was last year’s 18 miler, but if you don’t, please feel free to refresh your memories. I had a most unwelcome bout of deja vu on this year’s 18 miler as well. I woke up Saturday morning to see this promising image on the radar:


which did nothing to inspire confidence in me that I’d get through this run 1) without being rained on 2) without being stormed on. All things considered, I think I was fairly zen about the situation. I knew if I didn’t get 18 miles in on Saturday, I wouldn’t do an 18 miler all season, but I also knew that life would go on if I didn’t hit 18 miles–the benefits of having run marathons before, I suppose. Regardless, I still wanted to get in 18 miles. The best way to make that happen, by my estimation, would have been to run a little bit before my run, run with the group for awhile, and then break away from them and run home to finish my 18.

That’s how things began. I ran to the group run, which I’ve done several times in the past, and felt just fine. As soon as I started running with the group, though, things just completely fell apart. My group leaders have been spot on with pacing this year, but if my watch splits are accurate, we were doing closer to 10:15 than 10:30 for the first four miles or so. My legs could not handle that at all, so I told the girl I was running with that when we got to water at mile four, I was going to go to the back of the group and fall off. While I wasn’t enthused about running 14 miles solo, I didn’t think it was worth killing myself early on to try to stay with the group, only to have to walk later. Truth be told, I wasn’t that upset about the situation. I hadn’t had a bad long run all year and knew I was due for one, and though I’d prefer to get that sort of thing out of my system on, say, a 10 miler, I’d also rather get it out of my system before any marathons come up.

One of our new group leaders hung back with me, which I really didn’t expect, and chatted with me for the next six miles of our run. We weren’t too far off the group, really, and I felt a lot more relaxed and capable of maintaining that pace. Around mile 8 or 9 (for me–they were all behind me, mileage wise, since I had run to the training site) it started to rain a bit. Then at mile 10.25, I saw lightening and heard thunder. I was about two steps from the Division underpass, so I bid farewell to my group leader and sought shelter.

AccuWeather threatened another 120 minutes of “heavy rain and a thunderstorm,” which was a bit inconvenient, as I definitely did not have 120 minutes to stand in an underpass, and also had 7.75 more miles to run. I hemmed and hawed for awhile, hanging out with some tourists for the Air and Water Show also seeking shelter in the Division underpass, before finally deciding I hadn’t heard thunder recently and that I could chance it.

It was pouring. I haven’t run in rain like that for a long time, and if I never run in rain like that again, it will be too soon. I was soaked to the bone within minutes, and the Lakefront Trail was just filled with puddles. The rain let up two miles or so later, only to come back with a vengeance in another two miles. All told, I think I got rained on for a total of six or so miles. And let me tell you, I have never, ever chafed like I chafed on that run. I have a line of chafing from the bottom of my sports bra that is six inches long (I’m not exaggerating: I literally measured it), and because apparently one piece of underwear rebelling against me wasn’t enough, my underwear also bit my butt, and let me tell you, butt chafing is a particularly unpleasant sensation. I also earned at least two new blisters, though compared to all my chafing woes, those were pretty minor inconveniences. I am slathering my entire body in Body Glide if there is ever so much as a threat of rain on a really long run ever again. But I got in my miles, and that’s what counts.

I’m less than a month away from marathon #1 of the season, and truly cannot wrap my mind around that fact. Having never run any marathons but Chicago prior to this, it’s very disorienting to have my schedule not follow the Chicago training schedule. I haven’t done a week-by-week analysis, but I think my mileage overall is tracking low this year, which also concerns me a bit. Obviously I don’t really have time to make that up at this point, and since I didn’t have a time goal in the first place, I suppose it’s not the end of the world. I do wish I felt a little more prepared to be less than a week away from peak week, though.


14 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 11

  1. That’s a good week! And that’s impressive to run through that downpour…I was going to do 14, but my friend was only doing 12. Then, the rain started with about 1 block to go to 12 miles, so I called it quits then and right when we got to the car the downpour started, so I’m glad I didn’t try those 2 more miles.

  2. Ummmmmm FREE SOUL CYCLE?! I wonder if they do that here……. I don’t think it’s as challenging as other spin studios I’ve taken, but I’ll still take a free class valued at $30+. I remember my 18 miler last year kicking my butt. It’s crazy how fast this marathon training season has gone!

  3. I actually kind of like running in the rain, but not when there’s thunder. That always freaks me out a bit. Thankfully I’ve never chafed from running while wet. My worst chafing has been when it wasn’t raining! On the plus side, though, at least now you know what to prepare for in case of any chance of rain on marathon day!

    • I don’t mind running in the rain that much either (though I prefer a gentle shower to an APOCALYPTIC DOWNPOUR haha), but as soon as there’s thunder or lightening, I’m out. And yes, I am now painfully (literally) aware of where, exactly, I need to Body Glide in case of rain in the future. Not a lesson I particularly wanted to learn, but better during training than later!

  4. Soul Cycle is one intense workout. Congratulations on making it through and feeling like it wasn’t a total butt-kicker! That’s a great accomplishment!

    I am really sorry to hear about all the chafing. I’ve experienced the butt chafing in the past and it is truly, truly awful. It definitely made me appreciate the fine art of BodyGlide usage!!!

  5. I’m glad you were able to complete your 18 miler! I think you are due for some better weather next time! I did my final long run for the Ironman of 16 miles this weekend and I have some terrible terrible boob chafing. Ugh. I guess I need to use more BodyGlide next time. Butt chafing is one of the worst though. I hope your situation improves before the next long run! Great week of training!

  6. I’ve run a couple of marathons on minimal training (Boston ’13, NYC ’11) with moderate success. My advice is: 1) If you are going to cram now, only cram a few additional slow miles per week. 2) Do a full taper 3) As for the race, go out slowly the first 20 miles possibly even do the run/walk thing over that distance. If you feel good at 20, run it in, otherwise run/walk.

    • Thanks for the insight! Not having any time goals for either of these races does take the pressure off a bit, but I’m still a little leery of how few miles I’ve put in this season. I’m glad to hear it’s doable, though, and appreciate your advice a lot!

      • Anytime! 🙂 For both races I figured if I could run ~20 miles and walk ~6 (in intervals of course) I could still have fun, be fresh for most of the race and not be on the course forever. So, I just needed to train so I could run 20. Which was doable given my compressed schedule. For Boston, I ran 5 minutes and then walked 35 seconds starting from mile 1. By mile 21 I felt so good, I ran the rest of the way in.

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

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