Sunday, September 22: 20.03 miles in 4:05:25 for a 12:15 pace
All week, the forecast called for rain and/or thunderstorms on Sunday. Having been around the Chicago forecast block once or twice in the past, I figured that the meteorologists would ease up on their rain predictions as the week went on. Instead, it only got worse. As of Saturday night, it looked like there was an 80 to 100 percent chance of rain for the duration of the 20 miler. I don’t think I was overreacting by assuming we’d run the 20 miler in the rain.
When I woke up at 3:45 Sunday morning, (yay living in the suburbs 😐 ), my first order of business was to check the radar. There was some nasty weather over in Iowa, but it appeared to be moving northeast. Other than that, it appeared likely that we’d stay dry for the race. Regardless, I implemented Full Rain Protocol for the run. I packed a full change of clothes, down to my underwear and socks, and put them in a Ziploc bag, which I then put in a grocery bag, which I then put in my (not waterproof) gear check bag. I also packed my raincoat and an additional change of clothes for the car, just in case. I double bagged my phone and went to town with the Aquaphor, absolutely coating any area of skin where I’ve ever chafed on a run in the past and slathering my toes with the stuff to attempt to avoid blistering.
As a group leader, I needed to arrive to the 20 miler between 5:30 and 5:45, even though the run itself wasn’t scheduled to start until 6:30 (and in reality started a little later than that). I picked up my group leading supplies (bib, pace bib, pace stick), chilled in the car for a bit, hit up the portapotties, then found my runners and hung out with them until it was our turn to start running at 6:52 a.m.
It wasn’t raining, but it was super humid Sunday morning, and frankly I would’ve preferred rain to the swamp we ran through. The past two 20 milers have been very hot and sunny, but the humidity made this one just as challenging from a weather perspective, at least for me.
Per usual, I wasn’t all that concerned with holding a perfect 11:30 pace, though I did come through the first mile in exactly 11:30 *high fives self* I stuck with my runners for a bit, but one pulled ahead and two others fell behind, so by mile four or so, I was flying solo.
All of six miles into this 20 mile endeavor, I was really starting to lose it. Running felt hard and not fun, and to top everything off, the sun came out, which was the LAST thing I wanted on Sunday. Thankfully, I had never taken my sunscreen stick out of my hydration belt, so I told myself I could take a sunscreen-applying walk break at the next aid station (I had been running through all the aid stations up to that point).
As I was walking through the aid station around mile seven, my runner who had pulled ahead popped out of a portapotty, so I had a running buddy again. That helped me out immensely, and the next three miles flew by. He stopped to take a walk break around mile 10.5, though, and I was on my own for the remainder of the run.
I won’t lie, it wasn’t pretty. I mean, I’ve had worse 20 milers, both from a time and enthusiasm perspective. But I wasn’t in the best mood of my life by any means, and most of the time, I was running for the sake of finishing as quickly as possible, not running because I felt up to it. I desperately, desperately wanted to be DONE. My feet were absolutely killing me, and my pesky ankle was protesting more than I liked, too. I walked through all of the aid stations (and started dumping water on my head somewhere on the south side – I probably should’ve started doing that a lot earlier) but ran most of the rest of the run, aside from a walk break at mile 15 while I ate my Honey Stingers, and a walk break around 18.25 because I was #overit.
To put a cherry on the top of my misery sundae, I also wasn’t feeling super great in the stomach department. I tried to hydrate well on Saturday, but I 1) didn’t hydrate as much as I had hoped to and 2) didn’t anticipate that it would be so sticky on Sunday. I was quite thirsty throughout the run, but I wasn’t absorbing most of it. I could feel water sloshing around in my stomach, and it really frustrated me. I knew I needed to be getting more hydration in, but if my stomach refused to process it, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do.
I nearly cried at mile 19 and at the finish line, not because I was so overwhelmed with what I had accomplished, but because I was SO glad to be done. I hadn’t looked up any of my previous 20 miler times, so I didn’t know it at the time, but this was actually the fastest one I’ve had since 2016. It sure didn’t feel that way, but it’s nice to know that it was!
Monday, September 23: Rest
Tuesday, September 24: Strength training – legs (AM) + dance (PM)
I didn’t need to be to my volunteer day for work until 9 a.m., which gave me AMPLE time to work out in the morning. This being my first workout post-20 miler, my strength training plan called for light weights and low reps, and I was able to get through the whole thing in 13 minutes. Yes please.
Fortunately, all of the soreness I felt Monday had dissipated by Tuesday, so dance wasn’t the struggle I worried it might be. We learned a new combo and were given instructions to “not forget it before next week,” so there’s something for me to work on 😛
Wednesday, September 25: 6 miles in 1:10:19 for an 11:43 pace (AM) + strength training – upper body (PM)
I slept in later than I planned and was a bit frazzled getting out the door for six miles on Wednesday morning. The whole thing felt more difficult than I anticipated, which was a bummer, but I suppose that’s taper for you. I also underestimated how long six miles would feel, thinking that after 20 it should be over in a heartbeat. Not so! Once again, the struggles of taper.
I am loving my early taper strength training workouts. This one took 15 minutes! I’m used to my strength training taking more like 25-30 minutes, so this change has been most welcome. It also won’t last for all of taper, but once I get closer to the marathon, I’ll also start dropping my weights big time for my strength training workouts, so it’ll all even out. Hopefully.
Thursday, September 26: 6 miles in 1:10:03 (with six hill repeats) for an 11:40 pace (AM)
Check out that consistency! How long does it take me to run six miles? An hour and 10 minutes! My work schedule was a little messed up this week, and I didn’t have the flexibility to start my day late like I normally do on days I run. That meant getting up well before dawn (since dawn is fairly late these days) and heading out in the dark, which I do not like. I thought being nervous about running in the dark would make me go faster, but apparently that wasn’t the case. I ran about two miles before tackling my hill repeats. The uphill I ran faces east, so I got to watch the sun come up, which was kind of cool–seeing how much higher it got each time I went up the hill. The weather was amazing, with the first dew points in the 40s (!!) that I’ve seen all season. You’d think that would also help me run faster, but whatever. I guess that’s not really the point of maintenance runs during taper, is it?
Friday, September 27: Rest
Saturday, September 28: 12.22 miles in 2:17:49 for an 11:17 pace
Well, I guess you can’t hope to make it through all of marathon season without a rainy run. This reminded me more of April running than September running! I got to my group run Saturday morning to discover that one (1) of my runners had showed up, so it was less of a group run on Saturday and more of a duo run, but that’s all right. I’m just glad I had someone to run with, because Saturday’s weather was miserable, and it would’ve been that much worse if I had had to go it alone. We had a nice chat and clicked off our miles quicker than usual (i.e.: not at a 12:00+ pace), which was particularly nice after Sunday’s disheartening 20 miler. We had the wind at our back for the first six miles, but when we turned around, we had to head home into a headwind amidst aggressive sprinkling (it wasn’t really raining raining, per se, at least not compared to Friday – but it was definitely precipitating). I had worn my finisher’s jacket from the 2016 Chicago Marathon (which I had never run in prior to Saturday #YOLO), and though I got too warm within the first mile and had to tie it around my waist, I was VERY glad I had it for the return trip. I put it on half a mile after turning around and wore it for the remainder of the run.