Chicago Marathon Training Week 13

Sunday, August 26: 85 minutes cross training (20 minutes stability + 65 minutes bike)
In a wonderful turn of events, I was not tired on Sunday, which made this workout infinitely less miserable than I expected. I did NTC’s Runner Stability workout to start things off, then hopped on the bike for a little over an hour.

Monday, August 27: Strength training – legs (AM) + 60 minutes bike (PM)
I had a great strength training workout at the gym Monday morning. The workout felt super quick but also super effective, which is just how I like them. The bulk of Monday morning’s workout involved squats, and I’ve been surprised to discover how much I enjoy them, at least relatively speaking. They’re just the right amount of challenging–enough to make me feel like I’m working, but not too much to make me worry that I’m going to hurt myself. Win win.

I decided to reschedule Monday’s run due to the weather and do the indoor bike workout I planned for Thursday instead. I might have been able to run Monday afternoon, but it seemed silly to put myself through 10 miles outside in the middle of a heat advisory when I could wait until things were forecasted to cool off on Wednesday and Thursday. If the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday had been equally bad, I probably would’ve gone outside for the slowest 10 miles ever on Monday, but since it wasn’t, to the bike I went. I had a way more effective workout on the bike than I had on Sunday, so that was nice.

Tuesday, August 28: Strength training – upper body
In an unexpected turn of events, I was more sweaty when I got to the gym than I was when I finished at the gym, courtesy of Tuesday morning’s absolutely crushing humidity. That’s not to suggest that Tuesday’s workout was a breeze, however. This was similar to a workout I did several weeks ago that involved 20 reps of every exercise. It’s definitely a burner!

Wednesday, August 29: 7 miles in 1:14:40 for a 10:40 pace
All hail overcast skies, low dew points, and temperatures in the 70s! The accommodating conditions made this pace run much more attainable than it would’ve been at other times during the summer. I was a little quick, as this was a goal pace run and my goal pace for the marathon is–all together now!–10:52. That being said, this run was also a bit more challenging from a cardiovascular standpoint than most of my other runs this summer–I felt like I was actually working, compared to my 11:30 long runs where I feel like I’m cruising along at no effort–so it’s probably a good thing that this isn’t my goal pace for the marathon, if seven miles at that pace was enough to get my heart pumping harder than what I experience on my comfortable-pace runs. I definitely don’t think I could’ve done another 19.2 miles at that pace. I’m also not sure I could’ve done another 19.2 miles at a 10:52 pace, but we won’t worry about that too much right now 😛 The good news is I feel like I’m getting a slightly better grasp on what marathon pace effort feels like, so that’s nice.

Thursday, August 30: Strength training – legs (AM) + 10 miles (with seven hill repeats) in 1:51:42 for an 11:10 pace
Thursday morning’s workout was a super sweaty one. After getting through the strength-focused part of the workout, my strength/cardio combo finisher for the day was kettlebell swings and burpees: 21 reps of each, 15 reps of each, 9 reps of each. If you ever find yourself thinking that you are invincible in the fitness department since you can run long distances, I highly recommend attempting to do 21 burpees (after 21 kettlebell swings and a leg workout). It will humble you very quickly 🙂

I intended to do Thursday’s 10 miler on Monday, but given the choice between doing a 10 miler (with hills, no less) in 90+ degree heat and humidity or 70+ degree heat and low humidity, I think you’ll understand why I switched this run to Thursday. It was glorious in the weather department, but the first four miles in particular were a bit of a challenge. I run on back-to-back days maybe a handful of times per year, and my legs aren’t used to that much work in that little time. (Though I suppose it’s probably good from a marathon training running-on-tired-legs perspective.) I normally do my hill repeats about three miles into my run, but I decided to putter around a bit before I got to the hill and was instead five miles into my run by the time I started my repeats. Five miles (plus seven miles the day before, if you’re being generous) is hardly the 26 miles I’ll have put on my legs by the time I get to Mt. Roosevelt during the marathon, but I figure the more tired my legs are for repeats, the better I’ll mimic how Mt. Roosevelt will feel. The repeats went fine, and the end of my run went even better. I was downright comfortable (from a temperature perspective. From a muscle perspective, not so much.) when I finished! More of that, please.

Friday, August 31: Rest

Saturday, September 1: 18.12 miles in 3:23:23 for an 11:13 pace
The curse of the 18 miler continues! For the third 18 miler in a row, my run was interrupted by thunderstorms. It really is uncanny. The only times I’ve ever had it thunderstorm on a long run have been times I’m running 18 miles: in 2015, when I ran 18 miles in 2016 (while the rest of the group ran 16), and now this year. I never did 18 miles last year, because I was sick the week CARA ran 18 miles, and when I tried to do 18 miles on my own the following weekend, I crashed and burned HARD. Apparently in 2016, I requested the cancellation of all future 18 milers, and I would like to reiterate that request after this past Saturday.

Anyway, back to this year’s debacle of an 18 miler. Knowing there was a chance for storms on Saturday, I checked the radar as soon as I woke up and saw this:


I was absolutely, 100 percent convinced CARA would cancel the run. I mean, honestly, how could they not? Nothing about that radar implied that we’d be able to get Saturday’s run in before the storms. The shortest distance anyone had to run on Saturday was 18 miles. The fastest pace group CARA supports is a 7:30 (though it’s unlikely that anyone running in the 7:30 pace group would be doing beginner mileage, but for argument’s sake, let’s believe that there are 7:30 runners doing beginner mileage). If they ran at a perfect 7:30 pace and did not stop, it’d take them 2:15 to finish. The earliest groups start at 6 a.m. (though no one starts running when the run “starts,” at least in my experience. Announcements start at 6 a.m.). So, assuming the fastest group left on time, never stopped, and ran the shortest distance available for the week–AND was running on the lakefront, not in any of the western suburbs–the absolute earliest anyone would finish would be 8:15. That screenshot, as you can tell by the progress bar towards the bottom, shows the radar at 4:20. You don’t have to be a meteorologist to take a look at that image, know that it’s moving west, and guess that it is probably not going to take four hours to get from where it is in the picture to Lake Michigan.

But regardless, CARA decided to still have Saturday’s runs. While even I, at my turtle 11:30 pace, was able to get in just about 10 miles before I saw the first flash of lightning that morning–which admittedly is a decent amount of running–I still maintain that CARA never should’ve had an official run Saturday morning. Cancelling the run officially won’t necessarily stop people from showing up, but it would’ve given people an out. Yes, we’re all adults and can make our own decisions, but let’s be honest: how many people training for a marathon, who’ve made it this far into training, are going to willingly bail on the second longest run of the season when the training run hasn’t been cancelled? I KNEW it was going to storm. I KNEW I wouldn’t get 18 miles in without having to hide in a bathroom somewhere. I HATE being outside in thunderstorms. Even with all of that, I still showed up Saturday morning. I think the irresponsibility of having the run is compounded by the fact that, at least in the city, groups don’t usually run one-mile loops around the parking lot where they start to get in their miles. It’s very common to do an out-and-back, which, on a week like this, means that you could very well be up to NINE MILES away from where you started, along Lake Shore Drive (i.e.: not in the city, where you can easily duck into the nearest Starbucks and wait it out), with no easy means of getting back to the starting point other than on foot. I’m glad I got my 18 miles in on Saturday, but I still don’t think this run ever should’ve happened.

As for the run itself, things were fine for the first part. Since we knew storms were coming, we went out at a pretty decent clip in an effort to try to get as many miles in before we had to stop. I originally planned on fast finishing the last seven miles of the run, but I felt uncomfortable forging on ahead on my own, so I stuck with the group until we saw enough lightning that my group leader suggested we get to the next bath house as quickly as possible. I took off at a 10:00 pace, and met the rest of the group when they got there. We hung out at the bath house for a bit, tried to take off, only to see more lightning. I was maybe 200 feet from the bath house before I decided I was not willing to go on, and returned to the bath house. The rest of the group joined me shortly after, and after some phone consulting, decided we could try to make it to the next sheltered area. Once again, soon after getting out from under the bathhouse, lightning flashed over the lake. I had no interest in taking my sweet time getting to the next shelter, so I high tailed it to the building, logging a 9:03 mile. How’s that for a fast finish? 😛 There were times where I was running my 5K PR pace in my enthusiasm to get a roof over my head ASAP. I waited there for about 15 minutes, and once I was thoroughly convinced the lightning was gone, finished the last threeish miles of my run. The last five miles of my run did all end up being 10:45 or faster, so I ultimately did fast finish my run, even if it wasn’t under the circumstances I originally envisioned. And I never got hit by lightning, so that was nice. But let me tell you, it is going to take a LOT to convince me to do another 18 miler ever again! Haha.


I’m happy with how this week shaped up, particularly in light of how hot things started out. I will admit that I’m a bit nervous about the weather during this upcoming week as well (spoiler for next week: I’m already behind on mileage, thanks to Monday afternoon’s ceaseless parade of thunderstorms that kept me from the eight miles I had planned for the day), but hopefully everything will work out. Only this week to go before peak week!

4 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 13

  1. I”m glad you got your 18 miles in without any catastrophe. I’ve run outside in thunderstorms and it’s never a good idea. I’m surprised that CARA didn’t call it off.

  2. I can’t believe they let you run in what they almost certainly knew would be a thunderstorm! I mean I get that people are paying (I think…?) and that they wouldn’t want to anyone to not get the full value (or the training!) but I would imagine they have some sort of legal CYA for inclement weather or whatever else. Even if they didn’t officially want to cancel it, a disclaimer saying, “Hey, just so you know this might be dangerous so run at your own risk” or some other advisory warning would have been reasonable. I’m glad you made it through and am crossing my fingers for better weather on your future long runs, especially any 18-milers you may do in the future!

    • Oh yes, we certainly pay for training! Haha. And I’m sure I signed some sort of disclaimer at the beginning of all of it that says CARA isn’t liable if I die on a run, but still. They make it very clear that they reserve the right to cancel a run under poor weather conditions, They actually did cancel the first run of the season due to poor weather conditions! And they cancel runs in the winter all the time! I don’t know why they’re so shy about cancelling runs in the summer, especially when it’s not just a matter of it being unpleasant to run, but potentially dangerous. Especially when they make it clear that missing one run will not derail your entire marathon season! Sigh. It’s over, we all survived, and that’s what matters. Hopefully it won’t happen again!

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