Chicago Marathon Training Week 16

Sunday, September 17: 19.89 miles in 4:07:17 for a 12:26 pace + S
WHOA BUDDY was this the toughest 20 miler I’ve ever done. At the end of last week’s training recap post, I mentioned that the forecast didn’t look promising for Sunday, and boy, was I ever correct on that. It was already 70 degrees when I woke up at 4:30 Sunday morning, which, considering that sunrise was nearly two hours away, did not bode well for the run.

There were rumors of rain, so I hoped we’d get lucky and at least have cloud cover for most of the 20 miler. Not so. While the sun was mercifully hidden behind the clouds for the first six miles, by mile seven the sun had come out and it did. not. let. up. The sun only got more intense as the day went on, as the sun is apt to do throughout the course of a morning, and the Lakefront Trail proved to be as miserable as ever with basically no shade to speak once we got south of downtown. On top of all of that, the 20 miler course was also different this year than it was the other times I’ve done CARA’s 20 miler, and that threw me for a loop (we went south to Fullerton and looped around Diversey Harbor, which in the past we haven’t done [I didn’t do the 20 miler last year since I was busy torturing myself with a marathon that day, so I don’t know if this change was new this year, or if it was different last year as well.]. We also didn’t do the lap around part of Grant Park, I assume because we made up that distance elsewhere.)

I had a pretty good feeling that I wouldn’t be doing a 3:37 at the 20 miler this year like I have ever other time I’ve run it, but I certainly didn’t expect to be an entire HALF HOUR slower than in years past. That was definitely a blow to the ol’ ego (which, in my opinion, has taken enough hits in the running department lately as it is), and I spent a substantial amount of this run questioning whether or not I’m going to keep doing marathons in the future, particularly given my string of long run disappointments as of late (though, as we all know, the middle of a rough run isn’t really the time or place to make that kind of decision). I started walking sometime after mile 14, and instead of doing my usual 4:1 run:walk plan, did more of a “run for awhile, then walk for 3-4 minutes” plan. I think I ended up running more this way than I would have had I followed my usual ratio, but I was literally running at a 13:00 pace, so I don’t know that it made much of a difference in those last few miles.

I don’t know a single person who had a good day on Sunday, which did make me feel a lot better about things–not in a, “If I’m going to have a bad day, EVERYONE had better have a bad day,” sense, but more in a, “Okay, if everyone did awful today, then I’m not an awful runner – it was just awful weather for running 20 miles,” sense. I’d be lying if I said this didn’t continue to shake my already fragile confidence, but I guess at least if the real feel is near 90 on race day, I’ll know what to expect out of myself (a 5:45 marathon. That’s what I’d expect out of myself if the weather is as bad on Oct. 8 as it was on Sunday.)

Monday, September 18: Rest
Birthday rest day! My favorite kind of birthday workout!

Tuesday, September 19: Dance
My teacher started the class on Tuesday by telling us to “get ready to sweat,” and he wasn’t kidding. We learned a new combo on Tuesday–one that I like SO much more than the one we’d been working on–and it’s pretty fast and high energy. I’ve actually learned part of this combo twice before in class, but what we did on Tuesday didn’t feel familiar, so I think it might come before what I learned years ago?

Wednesday, September 20: 8.21 miles in 1:34:51 for an 11:33 pace + SPF
UGH. This was pure misery. It was 91 degrees on this run, so I wasn’t surprised that it went poorly, especially considering that it hasn’t been 91 degrees in Chicago since August 16 (you know, when it’s supposed to be that hot outside), which was the first 90+ degree day since July 23. Point is, we haven’t had consistent 90 degree weather this year (which is FINE by me), so my heat acclimation is nonexistent, and these eight miles sucked. And just in case the heat wasn’t enough to make me hate my life, there was also a 14 mph wind coming out of the south that felt like it was directly out of the furnaces of hell, and only served to make me hotter rather than cool me off. I know the times for my first two miles of run commuting are always inaccurate, so ignoring those, the fastest mile I had on this run was an 11:29 >.< Miles five through seven were all 12:00+. I know the weather was a huge factor, but it’s still extremely discouraging to see such slow times. For what felt like the millionth run in a row, I spent a fair amount of this run seriously considering whether or not this endeavor is worth it. On the bright side, for the first time ever, my watch measured my running-amongst-buildings almost perfectly. It still had me starting a good block and a half away from where I actually started, but within two blocks, it found me where I was and didn’t go bonkers once for the whole rest of my run. High five, watch!

Thursday, September 21: 65 minutes XT (bike)
Back at it on the bike again this week. It was, once again, sinfully hot outside, and I was very glad that I could keep my workout indoors. I did the exact same rolling hills on level three workout I did last week, though this time I only got through 13.17 miles instead of 14.12. I’m not losing any sleep over it.

Friday, September 22: Rest

Saturday, September 23: Rest

Assuming I survived it, I should have a recap for you of what will, without a doubt, be the hottest Chicago Half Marathon I’ve ever run later this week. I’m really curious to see how the race will go. The weather will be every bit as terrible as it was at Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville in April, but there won’t be hills…but there also won’t be as much shade. Will that make for a better or worse outcome? What a fun experiment I can’t wait to undertake! /sarcasm Seriously, though, this armpit-of-summer weather needs to go directly back to whichever corner of hell it came out of and STAY THERE. As I write this on Friday, it looks like we might be in for some relief by Wednesday which, conveniently, is the next time I plan to run (after Sunday, that is). Here’s hoping.

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2 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 16

  1. I also am terrified at the idea of it being hot on marathon day. Running long distances in weather like this just kills me. And since my training was so subpar, I feel like if I don’t have an enjoyable race day experience this whole thing is going to feel like one giant, unfortunate waste.

    I am so annoyed at this weather! This heat wave is a whole week long! WHY! It really gets my goat that the hottest weekend we’ve had all year *was in FALL*. Go home Mother Nature, you are seriously shitfaced drunk.

    • Man, I seriously couldn’t have said it better myself. Like I’ve said, I’ve spent a lot of this training cycle wondering whether or not I’m going to do this again in the future, and I’m also concerned that if the race doesn’t go well, not only will this whole summer have felt like it was for nothing, but I worry about what it’ll do for my motivation going forward as well. At least it’s finally not going to be 90 degrees anymore – hopefully that’ll help!

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