Chicago Marathon Training Week 14

Sunday, September 2: 30 minutes cross training (circuit)
I was with family for most of Labor Day weekend and didn’t have access to a gym, nor did I have a spare 85 minutes on Sunday to do the workout I originally hoped to do. NTC’s Zero to 100 in a living room had to get to the job done. Even though it’s one of my favorites, I haven’t done that workout since January, so it was nice to go through it again.

Monday, September 3: 6.4 miles in 1:10:21 for an 11:00 pace
Another day of Labor Day weekend, another shortened workout. I thought I might try to get up early on Monday to do my eight miles before the heat got too bad, but sleeping in and spending time with family ended up taking priority over my run (which, grand scheme/big picture, is probably for the best). I got back to my apartment around noon on Monday and, after some unpacking from the weekend, decided to take my chances and head out for eight miles around 12:45. I knew storms were developing on the radar, so instead of doing an out-and-back like I would’ve normally done on Monday, I decided to do laps around a three-ish mile loop near my house instead. I got through the first lap without incident, but noticed ominous clouds gathering over the horizon as I started the second lap. When I was as far from home as I could be on this loop (of course), my phone buzzed, letting me know a Special Weather Statement had gone into effect. More often than not, AccuWeather sends me notifications about Special Weather Statements related to storms that are no where near me and not moving in my direction. I stopped to check this one, and sure enough, it was about strong thunderstorms in the area of Bolingbrook and Naperville. I was five-odd miles into my run, so I figured I’d do my best to get in another three. I started to hear more consistent rumbles of thunder, so I then thought I’d head home and run laps around my block until I got to eight miles. On the way home, though, I saw a bolt of lightning. It seemed increasingly unsafe to stay outside, so I called it a day when I got back to my apartment, even though I was 1.6 miles short of what I intended to run on Monday. I’m annoyed that I had to cut my run short–this was the first run all season I had to shorten–but if it had been a normal Monday and I had gone to work, I wouldn’t have gotten my run in at all, given the timing of the second round of storms that came through Monday afternoon, so I guess I’ll take what I can get.

Tuesday, September 4: Strength training – legs (AM) + dance (PM)
I skipped the gym on Monday, so my normal strength training schedule got pushed back a day. I’ve gotten so used to my usual gym routine that it was really weird to do legs on a Tuesday! Tuesday’s workout felt really effective and was a nice way to start the day.

I got my own first day of school with dance resuming on Tuesday. It’s already shaping up to be an interesting session. Only five people showed up on Tuesday (compared to the usual 10 or so), three of which are regulars, one of which is me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a class with only two new people. It’ll be interesting to see what the dropout rate looks like this time around! The combo we learned was completely new to me, so that was fun.

Wednesday, September 5: Strength training – upper body (AM) + 8 miles (2 mi WU, 8x.5 mi (4:40, 4:37, 4:37, 4:43, 4:50, 4:46, 4:53, 4:39) w/ .25 mi recovery) in 1:26:52 for a 10:52 pace
I had a tough-in-a-good-way workout Wednesday morning. My arms were already sore by the time I left the gym. It was a bit disorienting to be there on a Wednesday! I’ve never been on Wednesday morning before.

I had my last 800s workout of this marathon season Wednesday afternoon. I’m not entirely sure why I scheduled it for this week and not peak week (possibly because of the eight miles thing?), but I’m sure there was a reason for it when I put my schedule together months ago, so off I went. It was a balmy 91 degrees when I left the office, making Wednesday the toughest conditions I’ve had for 800s (though it was 77 by the time I got home, so there’s that). A boys cross country team from a local high school was at the park where I do my 800s when I arrived, so I got to run “with” them–and by “with” them I mean “tried my best to stay out of their way because they were all a million times faster than I am, even during speedwork.” Their coach apologized at one point for them not paying attention to their surroundings and occasionally crossing my path, but it really didn’t bother me. They got there first, after all. Plus, I could use the things he was telling his runners (“Swing your arms! Run tall! Kick your legs!”) as free coaching for myself ๐Ÿ˜› As for my workout, I’m honestly not very happy with how it went :/ This was by far the least consistent I’ve been on my 800s (16 second spread), and even though my last one was one of my best, I was also pushing myself to give it everything I had, which isn’t really the point. The point is to be consistent across all eight 800s, and I’m not at all happy with my consistency–or rather, lack thereof. I also walked two and a half of my recovery laps instead of jogging them: another thing I didn’t want to do. Out of the five 800s workouts I did this season, I’m least happy with this one. Boo.

I averaged a 4:43 800 during this workout, and my overall 800 average for the season is 4:45 (heyyyyy). My fastest 800 was a 4:36, and my slowest was a 4:59. We’ll find out how much any of this 800s lore holds up in a month (with the caveat that I did not ever reach a full Yasso 800, nor were any of my “800s” actually perfect 800s (they were half miles, meaning they were actually 804.672s) so it’s possibly not fair to use my data to try to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of Yasso 800s). I’d be perfectly happy with a marathon finish time anywhere between 4:36 and 4:59 (well, maybe not perfectly happy with a 4:59, but happy enough), so here’s hoping.

Thursday, September 6: Strength training – legs (AM) + 60 minutes yoga (PM)
Dragging myself out of bed Thursday morning felt like an impossible feat, so unsurprisingly, going to the gym wasn’t exactly firing me up. The gym was SUPER packed when I got there. I couldn’t even do my deadlifts with a barbell because all the barbells were being used. First world problems.

I did this yoga Thursday afternoon:

I wanted to do something restorative-ish that wasn’t purely yin yoga, and this fit the bill. It was a good practice and kept me moving enough that I didn’t fall asleep, which…was not the case the last time I did yoga. Haha.

Friday, September 7: Rest

Saturday, September 8:ย 14 miles in 2:38:49 for an 11:21 pace
I don’t have a particularly specific measurement for Saturday’s run, because gmap-pedometer, which had been a highly useful tool all season, suddenly decided on Sunday night that it won’t allow me to say that I ran on the RUNNING portions of the Lakefront Trail, so I couldn’t measure my run from Saturday the way I normally do. So we’re just going to say it was exactly 14 miles, because that’s what it was supposed to be. But seriously, what the heck, Gmap??

Anyway, this run was INSANELY windy. The wind was coming from the east north east, so we had the delightful privilege of running more or less into the wind the entire run. Woo. ๐Ÿ˜ It wasn’tย winterย bad (i.e.: it was possible to make forward movement), but it was a lot worse than I’m used to during summer training. The waves on Lake Michigan were bonkers! We got sprayed from the waves so many time during this run. The wind definitely made pacing hard, and I felt like I worked a lot harder to finish 14 miles than I would’ve liked to have felt.


So. Less than a month until race day. That makes things feel a lot more real, and I’ve got to be honest: I’m nervous. My self-doubt has been growing lately, which only compounds the situation. I’m nervous that I won’t be able to run a 4:45, and I’m nervous that since I’m doubting myself, my mind is going to hold me back more than my body. I know that having the right attitude and mentality going into a marathon makes an enormous difference when it comes to your race day experience. I hoped to read Deena Kastor’s new book about that topic prior to the Chicago Marathon, but it’s currently on a six week hold through Libby, so I doubt I’ll get my hands on it before race day (though if anyone has recommendations for other similar books, I’m all ears).

Part of what feeds into this nervousness is my training. Every other marathon season, I’ve trained somewhere in the neighborhood of a 10:30-10:50 pace on nearly all of my runs (and subsequently gone on to run anywhere between an 11:08- and 12:23-paced marathon). The idea of training slower to go faster on race day is totally foreign to me in the world of marathon training. I should note that that idea is not totally foreign to me in the world of every-other-distance racing: all of my best other-distance races have been faster than my average training run. But it just feels different, you know? I’ve been around the marathon block too many times to continue mistaking it for just a longer other-distance race. I really think marathoning is in a totally different category than running half marathons, 10 milers, 10Ks, 5Ks, etc. They are so long. Yes, you can fall apart in the later miles of any race, but I truly don’t think it compares. There’s a big difference between hitting the wall two-thirds of the way through a half marathon and having to drag yourself through the remaining three and a half miles and hitting the wall two-thirds of the way through a marathon and having to drag yourself through the remaining nine miles.

I think that’s what’s really getting to me: I haven’t come remotely close to running any substantial distance at my marathon pace. I’ve done it for the last five miles of a 16 miler, sure, but that’s only five miles at GMP. I can’t drop five miles at GMP during the marathon itself and expect to hit my goal time. I am extremely confident that, barring an unfortunate and unforeseen circumstance, I could cruise through the entire marathon at an 11:30 pace no problem. But at a 10:52 pace? I haven’t even run 10 miles at that pace during marathon season, never mind 26.2. What is supposed to lead me to believe I can do that for an entire marathon? I don’t have the advantage of bright-eye naivete I once had at this distance. I have five marathons worth of experience that show me that the last eight to 10 miles or so of a marathon can be really, really hard. I only have one marathon worth of experience where the opposite was true. Last year’s marathon was an absolute dream, but I started it off really, really slow, and finished in 5:04 (plus change). I want to run it NINETEEN MINUTES faster this year. That’s 44 seconds/mile faster across the entire race.

I know that you can surprise yourself on race day (I have plenty of times), and I know that a lot–A. LOT.–goes into to determining your success on race day. Training obviously plays a part of it, and from a volume and cross training standpoint, I trust that the schedule I’ve followed so far this year can get the job done. (From a pace standpoint, not so much.). But the weather makes a difference, your nutrition makes a difference, what you do in the week leading up to the race makes a difference (which is why I have naturally scheduled two evening events for the week of race day. That can’t possibly come back to bite me in the butt. *rolls eyes*), your mentality makes a difference (*significant look* Ahem, self). I also know that while race day is less than a month away, it’s just barely less than a month away, so I still have time to work on my mental game (because as we all know, getting less anxious and more zen is a walk in the park during taper ๐Ÿ˜› ). This crisis of confidence stuff is no fun, and I would really like to put it to bed sooner rather than later.

On to peak week.

6 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 14

  1. Deena’s book is so good. Someone bought me a copy and it’s something I will definitely read again so if you decide to buy it, it’s worth it. She talks a lot about reframing negative thoughts. When they seep in, acknowledge them but with a positive spin. I think she also defers negative thoughts too “this hurts” vs “I like challenging myself.” You can work on that before you read the book! I also recommend “How Bad Do You Want It?” by Matt Fitzgerald.
    All the things you mentioned determine your race pace, but the mental game is SO HUGE. SO SO SO HUGE. So any way you can stop doubting yourself and just go for it… find that way!
    Monday’s weather was so weird with fitting a run in! 6.5 of 8 is great! And I didn’t know you could set up those alerts.
    Gmaps pedometer is making me NUTS this week. It’s being odd snapping to roads AND trails for me!

    • I looked it up, and both Deena’s book and Matt Fitzgerald’s book are available on iBooks, so I might buy one or the other (or both…I’ll have plenty of free time once taper starts, right?? Haha.). In the mean time, though, that’s a helpful tip about putting a positive spin on negative thoughts!

      Ok, I’m glad it’s not just me with Gmap pedometer. I found another basically identical tool,, that worked just fine for me earlier today if you need an alternative in the mean time!

      • I have actually re-read How Bad Do You Want It? several times so I do recommend it!!! Both of them! Let me know which you get!

        Ahh, thanks for the link. I do need an alternative!

      • I bought Let Your Mind Run last night! I got some early birthday money that was earmarked for the purpose ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a little bit left to go on my library book, but I should finish it early on in my workout this afternoon, and then it’ll be on to Let Your Mind Run! I’m excited to read it!

  2. I’m sure that with this being your last marathon, as you said in the beginning, you are probably feeling a lot of pressure to have the race of your dreams and hit your goal time since you won’t get a “do over” next year. That’s an obviously understandable feeling, but unfortunately, it’s really not helpful. Remember that if you don’t run a 4:45, that’s okay. Repeat after me: THAT’S OKAY. Your friends and family will still love you, you’re still a runner, and you’re still someone who worked really hard in training to run a marathon to the best of her abilities.

    I know it’s easier said and done but the best thing you can do for your mental game is to let go of all this pressure you’re putting on yourself to run a certain time. Reframe it as “I trained hard to run a 4:45 and I know I can do it, but if it doesn’t happen, there’s still plenty to be proud of and celebrate at the finish line.” That’s what I do – I always go in with the mindset that no matter what the clock says, this is a win-win situation for me, and it frees me up to let go and have fun, and when we let go and have fun, that’s when we tend to do our best running! There is no magic tip or trick that will take away all your self-doubt and make you *sure* you can hit your time goal. You just have to go out there and have fun doing what you love, and trust that the training will come through for you.

    • You and my therapist must’ve had a chat, because she said something very similar during my appointment this week ๐Ÿ˜› Last year when I went in with zero expectations, goals, etc., I had the most enjoyable race I’ve ever had. While it’s very easy to exceed your expectations when you have none to begin with, it was also much easier to enjoy the race in general since I wasn’t trying to accomplish anything other than finishing. Channeling that sort of mindset again will probably help me a lot more than entering every combination of paces I can think of into a time calculator to try to figure out how to run a 4:45 without going out too fast, just stressing myself out more in the process!

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