Chicago Marathon Training Week 4

Sunday, June 25: Rest
I spent most of the day in Lake Geneva spectating the Bigfoot Triathlon, and while that did involve some walking, it certainly didn’t involve enough to constitute a workout. I knew I would be attending Bigfoot when I put together my training plan, though, so I had already scheduled this as a rest day, so it all worked out just fine.

Monday, June 26: 7 miles in 1:14:14 for a 10:36 pace + SPF
Inspired by Tracy, I run-commuted for the first time ever on Monday, and I loved it. Running home from work had never really crossed my mind until a month ago or so, but the more I thought about it, the more it sounded like an ingenious idea. It does require a bit of planning on the front end, but it was so worth it. I happened to look at my watch at the same time of day I normally leave for my weekday runs, and at that time, I was already 38 minutes–just over halfway–into my run. The worst part about weekday long runs, in my opinion, is how much of my very little free time they eat up. If I can save myself nearly 40 minutes of time by running home from work rather than commuting home by public transportation, putzing around the house, and then finally dragging myself out the door, it is MORE than worth the planning that run-commuting requires. Oh, and as for the run itself, it was mostly fine. My stomach felt weird when I started, probably because I ate my afternoon snack at the same time as usual, which gave my stomach almost an hour less than usual to digest it before running. I didn’t fuel at five miles, mostly because I was feeling too lazy to put in the effort to eat gummies (ridiculous, I know), and I definitely felt my lack of energy by mile 6.5. I know I need to fuel on seven milers, because I’ve played this, “Well, let’s just see if I can do it,” game on seven milers before and inevitably end up dragging during the last mile, but for some reason I continue to try to see if it’s possible for me to get through seven miles without midrun fuel. Conclusion: it’s not.

Tuesday, June 27: Dance + P
A new session of dance started on Tuesday (an abbreviated session, since we won’t have class on the Fourth next week) and, to my dismay, we are continuing our journey through Bruno Mars’ most recent hits, this time with That’s What I Like. It’s not that I necessarily dislike Bruno Mars, but after spending eleventy gajillion weeks on 24K Magic last session, I’m a bit Bruno Marsed out, to say the least. On top of that disappointment, my teacher kept us 10 minutes late, which really, really fills me with rage. I have a tight schedule on Tuesday nights, and that 10 minutes makes a HUGE difference, especially when you factor in the non-rush hour frequency of the CTA at that time of day, which can quickly make a 10 minute delay spiral into a 20 or 30 minute delay. It is so wildly simple to keep an eye on the clock and start winding things down on time, and the fact that, for the past six months, the stated end time of the class has seemed more like a suggestion than a rule is making me want to tear my hair out.

Wednesday, June 28: 4 miles (pace) in 37:40 for a 9:25 pace + SPF
I’m really happy I got this run in. There were threatening clouds on the horizon on my way home, and when I checked AccuWeather as I started to change from my work clothes into running clothes, it said that rain and thunderstorms would start in 10 minutes (to be fair, I don’t know why I continue to believe AccuWeather’s MinuteCast. I have found it to be consistently inaccurate in regards to 1) when precipitation will begin 2) when precipitation will end, and, occasionally, 3) if precipitation is actually happening right now in the moment. Frankly, I’ve found the function to be so wildly unreliable that it seems like a waste to have it at all. Why introduce technology to put you “a step ahead” of the competition if that technology always, always fails? Beyond that, weather is by its very nature dynamic, and its minutiae is almost always unpredictable, so why even bother trying to predict something so unpredictable?? Large, general forecasts make sense, because it is, I assume, fairly simple to predict the general conditions for a day (this temperature range, that kind of atmospheric condition) with relative accuracy (i.e.: how often do you see a forecast that calls for a high of 30 and snow storms and it turns out to be 60 and sunny all day?). But this attempt at pinpoint, down-to-the-minute accuracy always falls short in my experience with AccuWeather, and it seems like it would just be better to not have the functionality at all. /endrant). I decided to run laps around a 1.3-mile circuit rather than my usual four mile loop so I could get home easily if necessary, but (surprise, surprise), it never stormed on my run. It barely even rained. I obviously ran this SUBSTANTIALLY faster than I actually expect my marathon pace to be, but like I said a few weeks ago, I want these pace runs to feel like speedwork, so I’m quite happy with how this run went. My quads were BURNING by the end, which is just what I hoped for. Also, I would like to note that even though this run was more than a minute/mile faster and three miles shorter than my run on Monday, I only got home 10 minutes earlier than I got home on Monday: further evidence that running home from work is a HUGE time saver.

Thursday, June 29: 45 minutes XT (yoga)
This…didn’t go quite as planned. I started out doing this practice:

But then my internet crapped out halfway through. Since I’m still not on the greatest terms with my parents, I didn’t think streaming 20 minutes of video over our shared family plan data would be the best way to get into their good graces again. Fortunately, I had updated my NTC app the day before, and with the update came several new yoga practices. I figured downloading one of those workouts would use less data than streaming a workout, so I picked one (Essential Strength Yoga) and did it until I had been doing yoga for 45 full minutes. I didn’t finish that practice, either, but I at least have it as a backup now if I need it, and, since I didn’t finish this Yoga with Adriene practice, I can do it again the next time I need to cross train for 45 minutes without counting it as a repeat!

Friday, June 30: Rest

Saturday, July 1: 9 miles in 1:33:54 for a 10:25 pace + SPF
Blah. I did not enjoy this run. Three of our usual group leaders (two of which are the ones that typically literally lead us) were out of town on Saturday, leaving us in the…perhaps less capable hands of two other leaders, one of which never pauses her watch during a run, including at water stops, which obviously makes her interpretation of a “10:30” pace SIGNIFICANTLY different than everyone else’s interpretation of a 10:30 pace. As a result, we were mostly running a bit faster than usual, which felt even more than a bit faster than usual since it was hot and sunny. I struggled to keep up and my mood turned sour as a result. I was annoyed at the leader running too fast, I was annoyed at how cliquey the group in general seemed to be on Saturday, I was annoyed that I had to be out there at all…in general, just not a fun run in any way.

So here we are, one month into marathon training, and I’m already overwhelmed. Wonderful. While I knew the weekday mileage with my M3 + Novice 1 training plan would be a lot, I feel a lot more intimidated by it already than I expected. The four miler I ran on Wednesday was the shortest run I’ll have between now and the second week of taper. If I had followed Novice 1 as written, there would only be two weeks in the entire training cycle where I ever didn’t run four or fewer miles on a run. I know it’s still early in marathon season, and I haven’t acclimated to marathon training mileage yet (i.e.: I will not be referring to this week’s long run as “only” a 10 miler, but I’m quite sure when I have a 12 miler at the end of August, I will think of it as “only” 12 miles), so I hope that as time goes on, this won’t feel so burdensome, not so much from a physical standpoint, but from a free time standpoint. Right now, though, it does feel extremely time-consuming, which makes it difficult to do all the other things I need/want to do: getting ready to move, freelancing, just relaxing in general, etc. All part of the process, I suppose.

5 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 4

  1. Did you run with a backpack for your run commute? How was that? I tried running home from work once, when I lived in North Center about 6 miles from my office (now I live 2.5mi from my office) and I felt the same way – super productive! I never made it a habit though. Probably because I got a Divvy membership.

    I’m pretty anti auto-pause, so that’s interesting that your pace groups don’t account for breaks when determining pace. My motto is you can’t pause the race clock on race day, so I don’t want to know my moving pace, I want to know overall pace. But I guess if you pick a pace group knowing that it’s done a certain way, that would be annoying to have a leader who does things differently. Also, I was out at the same time as most training groups on Saturday (6:30-8:30) and despite being out there “early” it was still really hot. I forgot how little shade there is on the LFT north of Ohio. UGH. That was rough.

    • I did not! I have a Nathan handheld water bottle with a fairly large pocket, so I stuff that with the things I absolutely need either to get home or to get back to work the following day (keys, CTA pass, etc.) and leave everything else (work clothes, primarily) at the office and bring it home the following afternoon. I bring a lunch every day, so to get around that problem, I just make sure on Monday to bring both Monday’s and Tuesday’s lunches (which isn’t an issue for me, since I prep all my lunches on Sunday, anyway). I do worry that one of these days I’m going to forget something, but so far (all two times I’ve done it, haha) I’ve been pretty good about remembering what I need to bring!

      I think the reason why we normally pause our watches during training runs (or at least the reason *I* pause my watch) is because the amount of time we take at water stations along the trail isn’t at all reflective of what will happen on race day (which is a different problem, I suppose). Usually by the end of the season, my group leaders try to make us run or walk through the water stations, but for the first two months or so, we’ll lollygag at those water stations for 2-5 minutes, depending on the day, weather, etc. Obviously no one is going to take five minutes at an aid station during the race (unless you’re getting medical assistance, at which point your moving pace has probably stopped mattering to you anyway), so to spend five minutes letting everyone get their water, use the bathroom, line up again, and THEN try to make up that five minutes later on to get back to a 10:30 pace just doesn’t seem logical to me. Either get us in and out of the water station, or stop your watch if we’re actually going to take a legitimate break. And YES. There is not one single section of the LFT I hate more than the section between Castaways and Ohio Street. I even prefer the hills on the south side to that haha. No shade plus the reflection of the sun off the lake onto concrete just makes it so, so miserable. I wish I never had to run there!

      • That makes sense if you’re taking your time at water spots. When I trained with CARA in the south suburbs (Oak Forest), we went through the water stops VERY QUICKLY. I usually carried a bottle and tried to refill at the water stops and was often running to catch up with my group as a result. But we probably had smaller pace groups, and there was only one restroom on the trail we used.

  2. Run commuting sounds awesome! Unfortunately I live a little far for that #suburblife
    I think pausing your watch for every little thing during a run is overkill but a 5 minute break I would definitely be pausing for. I can definitely understand you frustration at your pace leader because I am guessing the pace was significantly faster to make up for the breaks. Though I would argue you should be minimizing the time spent on breaks anyways.
    Would you be able to just leave from your dance class at the designated time? It actually might help the instructor be better at releasing everyone on time. I always have a hard time just leaving though – especially meetings at work eek! But remember it is not your fault that things run over their allotted time and you have other plans <—Also I need to take my own advice here

    • Yeah, we definitely spend too much time at water breaks on our runs, at least most of the time. Part of me doesn’t care, because I appreciate the rest, but obviously that’s not how it works during an actual marathon! Or at least, that’s not how it’s supposed to work – and if it does work that way, you don’t get to take the time you spent at an aid station off your finishing time!

      I could just leave, definitely. I would just feel bad doing it haha. I want to be a good student, so I don’t want to bail early…but I also have places to be after dance, and I don’t like being late to those places because my teacher can’t respect a schedule! We’ll see how brave I can be at class tonight haha.

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