Chicago Marathon Training Week 10

Sunday, August 5: 80 minutes cross training (20 minutes stability + 60 minutes bike)
As I was on my way from church to the gym on Sunday, I realized I had brought everything I needed with me except shoes. Oops. I had no desire to delay my workout by the additional hour it would take to get home and back to the gym, so I opted to do my workout in the most stable footwear of all time: my flimsy $12 sandals I tend to wear to church. At least they have a back strap…? I didn’t plan on doing all that intense of a workout in the first place, and having barely any shoes on my feet did nothing to change that. I did the NTC Runner Stability workout, which is a lot of hip, core, and balance work (and obviously designed for runners), and then hopped on the bike for an hour.

Monday, August 6: Strength training – legs (AM) + 9 miles (with six hill repeats) in 1:43:05 for an 11:27 pace
Monday morning’s strength training workout was bonkers. It started out with 120 leg presses and 120 jump lunges (broken up into sets, thankfully) and if it sounds like that was a lot of work, you are correct! And that was only the first third of the workout! I spent most of the last third wondering how much my legs would be able to function on Tuesday.

The forecast leading up to Monday had me concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get my run in, but none of the severe storms predicted for the afternoon materialized. It was a bit on the warm and humid side, so I took it slow and didn’t worry too much about my pace. My hill repeats went well and were a nice way to break up a fairly long weekday run. Disaster came thisclose to striking with about .2 miles remaining in my run, when my toe caught on an uneven manhole cover and I went hurtling towards the ground. I have NO idea how I managed to catch myself, because in that split second I was falling, I was 100 percent sure I had way too much momentum to stop and had visions of scraped knees and bruises in my head. I somehow didn’t hit the ground and continued on my not-so-merry-anymore way, a bit shook up but VERY glad I made it through the briefest of ordeals unscathed.

Tuesday, August 7: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
I had a good workout Tuesday morning, albeit a slightly more challenging one than I anticipated. While my gym has one of just about everything in the dumbbell and kettlebell department, it only has one of just about everything, which means on days like Tuesday, when a personal training client is using all of the 20 pound weights, my options are to lift lighter than I’d like to or lift heavier than I’d like to. Because I wanted the 20 pound weights for rows, an exercise I know well, I opted for heavier, but it was still a little irksome.

We started getting this session’s choreography in order for graduation at dance on Tuesday. As I expected, we won’t do anything beyond the two songs we learned, but we added some transitions and such to the overall routine, so I guess that’s something. I also got floor burn 😦 I don’t think I’ve had a floor burn since my basketball days, but I can report that it’s just as painful in 2018 as it was in 2003! In case anyone was wondering 😛

Wednesday, August 8: 6 miles in 1:02:49 for a 10:28 pace
I had a mid-afternoon appointment on Wednesday, so I took my August half day Wednesday afternoon and run commuted home around noon. I cannot get over how much more pleasant run commuting is at noon rather than during the evening rush hour! Too bad I can’t get away with working 40 hours a week and leaving at noon every day 😛 This was a pace run, and since my goal marathon pace is 10:52, I was definitely a bit too quick. I find pace runs to be a bit of a challenge, not necessarily so much from a pace itself standpoint (though I admittedly got off easy on Wednesday with very cooperative weather) but from a figuring-out-what-my-marathon-pace-should-feel-like standpoint. I can’t rely on my watch to give me accurate feedback when I’m around buildings (which doesn’t just apply to run commutes, but also applies to a fair portion of the marathon course itself), so I’m trying to work on understanding what a marathon effort feels like with these pace runs. You would think with six marathons under my belt I’d have a pretty good idea of what that effort feels like, but since my effort on five out of six of those has been “easy for the first 14-18 miles, trying very hard not to die for the remaining 12-8 miles,” I don’t feel like I have a good grasp on what marathon effort is supposed to feel like.

Thursday, August 9: Strength training – legs (PM) + 55 minutes yoga (PM)
My strength training on Thursday was pretty standard lower body work. One of the exercises for the day was lateral lunges, and when doing the first set, I noticed that my left knee felt odd. I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as pain, and if it had been a sensation I felt while running, it wouldn’t have been enough to make me stop, so I kept going and wasn’t bothered during the second or third sets of the lunges. After getting to work, though, the knee situation was a different story. It was SO STIFF when I’d get up from sitting for more than 30 minutes or so. I’ve had runner’s knee before, and this was definitely not the same sort of pain (if for no other reason than that it was stiffness, not pain). Walking helped substantially–I felt the best I had felt all day after I returned from my 1.25-mile lunchtime walk.

Based on the knee situation and the fact that I just really, really wanted to relax, I took it super easy in the yoga department on Thursday and did this practice:

which was technically 58 minutes, but whatever. Close enough to 55 for me. It was extremely slow, extremely breath focused, and extremely what I needed.

Friday, August 10: Rest

Saturday, August 11: 15.18 miles in 2:49:03 for an 11:08 pace
After several weeks of running with the “11:00s” who were running at an 11:30 pace, I finally accepted that I really should be doing my long runs at an 11:30 pace and started with that group in the first place – and by “that group” I mean “me,” because I was the lone person interested in starting at an 11:30 pace this week. Why does this keep happening to me?! Does no one like me?!?! *sobs* (I’m totally kidding. I don’t think anything of it, other than that it’s nice that CARA will still provide a group leader for just me.) Anyway, it only took one water stop for us to pick up another runner, and a few others joined as the morning wore on. We were definitely taking things quite easy, even walking a little every now and again, and I was feeling super comfortable. I seriously considered sticking with the 11:30s for the whole run since it felt so comfortable, but since I had mentioned on this very blog just one week ago that I intended to at least attempt to fast finish my 15, 16, 18, and 20 mile runs I figured I should give fast finishing a shot, and told the 11:00 pacer at a water stop around mile 7 something that I planned to run with her for the last five miles in front of everyone in the 11:30 group to give me even more accountability to do so. The 11:30 group leader ended up sending me off with the 10:30s around mile 8ish to try to meet up with the 11:00 group leader. I never found her and didn’t really manage to hang with the 10:30s, so I was on my own for those last miles. It worked out really great, though. My intention was to do the last five at goal marathon pace (10:52, in case I haven’t beat that into your heads enough by this point), and my splits were 10:52 (!!), 10:45, 10:49, 10:57, and…something. My GPS got messed up at the end, so my watch says it was a 9:28, but I have serious doubts about that. Regardless, I’m super happy with the splits I know are accurate. I’m happy I was able to do them, period, after running 10 miles at an 11:30ish pace, and I’m happy that I was able to keep them in the 10:52 range, particularly in light of my whole “trying to figure out what marathon pace feels like” goal.


My knee still feels a little funky as of writing this on Saturday, though it felt totally fine while I was running an 11:30 pace on my run on Saturday and 97 percent fine while running at GMP. Because, naturally, running 15 miles doesn’t bother me, but sitting at work does. Clearly I should quit my job and become a professional runner 😛 Now that we are in the depths of marathon training, I’m trying to be even more intentional about taking care of myself and recovering, so hopefully that intention will fix my knee woes by sheer power of will (because that’s definitely how hat works) and I’ll be good as new next week! And, if I’m not, at least I know who to reach out to for insight/assistance.


5 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 10

  1. As far as the whole pacing yourself in GMP runs…yes, it’s always tricky, even for seasoned marathoners, and a lot of people struggle with going too fast. It makes sense if you think about it: in training you’re only running at goal pace for 5-8 miles, which is a lot different than running 26 miles at goal pace, I think our minds subconsciously adjust our effort level to match the distance we’re running. Like, I sometimes struggle on weekday runs but then find I have no trouble with long runs – my body knows it needs to slow down and relax so it does.

    But, also, I think you really underestimate what you’re capable of in the marathon. Your 2:09 half from this spring and your LR training paces indicate that you are capable of a much faster marathon, especially if your training is going well. If it is truly that hard to slow down on your goal MP runs while maintaining a relaxed effort level, you might consider shooting for a slightly faster time goal. I mean, why not? If you were in shape to run a 2:09 half a few months ago I think you are definitely within reach of a 4:30-4:35 marathon. Think about it.

    • I’m glad that I’m not the only one who struggles with GMP runs. I think you’re totally right about the distance thing–it was even something I was thinking about on my six miler last week. Sure, I could do that for six miles, but an additional TWENTY?! But I tend to feel that way when trying to do any sort of goal pace run, I suppose. I know I feel that way about half marathon pace runs, or even 10K pace runs.

      I have to admit that I honestly have a really hard time trying to figure out what I am *actually* capable of in terms of a marathon finishing time. I will say, though, that I don’t think it’s fair to make any estimations based off any of my three fastest half marathon times (2:02, 2:05, 2:09), because all of those races were on days where it was 45 degrees or colder for the duration of the race. While it’s possible that it’ll be that cold for the Chicago Marathon, it’s highly unlikely that it’ll be that cold. There have only been three times in the race’s entire history where the daily high didn’t get above 45, and two of those were on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31. Of course, that being said, the most recent cold (“cold”) Chicago Marathon was on Oct. 7 race, so maybe I’ll get super lucky this year! Because obviously all Oct. 7’s have the exact same weather 😛 I really think temperature impacts my performance on race day more than anything, even more than my training leading up to the race, so if I really wanted to shoot for a 4:30ish marathon, I’d have to do one later in the season, like Indy or CIM or something like that. I mean, yes, I did a 2:09 half in April, but then I did a 2:19 half a month ago, and I wasn’t taking it particularly easy at that race: I wanted to get done and get home as quickly as possible. I guess we’ll see how the rest of the season shakes out, especially when it comes to fast finishing the 18 and 20 milers (and a half I have in late September). Hopefully that’ll give me a decent idea of where I am fitness-wise to guide me with my time goals for race day.

  2. I think it’s smart to continually assess your GMP throughout training, as you mentioned you will in your comment. And especially because the weather is such a huge factor for Chicago, as you mentioned! And I think it’s really smart to train for MP feel with your GPS being wonky, in the city.
    In my last training cycle (me me me, ha) I did MP runs every week for 6 or so weeks before my race (which I bombed) but got up to 12 miles MP and had a very good feel for it. So I think our bodies can totally learn it!
    I am glad you didn’t fall!
    And I hope your knee feels better. Maybe it was just overuse from all the lunges this week. Seems like a lot!

    • It’s encouraging to hear that I’ll (hopefully) get a feel for MP as things go on. I’m SO used to all of my runs during marathon training being very slow, and having never attempted to train the way you’re “supposed” to train, at least in terms of long runs (i.e.: your long run should be slower than your GMP), I have to say that it is a little scary to think about how comfortable I feel at an 11:30 pace–like I could DEFINITELY do that for 26.2 miles–and then remember that I want to run like 40 seconds/mile faster during the event itself O.O But there’s still seven weeks until race day, so plenty of time to adjust!

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