Chicago Marathon Training Week 14

Sunday, September 8: Jonas Brothers ❤
I didn’t do a formal workout on Sunday, but I did jump/dance/flail/scream/cry around for 90 minutes at the Jonas Brothers concert, which feels like it should count for something 😛

Monday, September 9: 8 miles in 1:25:23 for a 10:40 pace (AM) + strength training – legs (PM)
After checking out of the hotel and driving home, I put my overnight bag down in my parents’ house, changed into shorts, and threw myself out of the house to get in my eight miler. I had less than zero interest in doing this run, but I 1) didn’t want to do it in the afternoon when I got back to Chicagoland and 2) didn’t want to do it later in the week, when the highs were predicted to flirt with 90. So off I went for an eight miler around my parents’ house. I didn’t have time to wait for my Garmin to find a GPS signal, so my pace readings were all over the place in the first mile and I didn’t really have a good idea of how quick I was running until a few miles in. With how poorly my 18 miler went from a pace/effort standpoint two days before, I was VERY happy to be able to comfortably hold a 10:40 pace (on a hilly route, no less!) after having such an active weekend.

When I got home Monday afternoon, I headed off to the gym to get in some strength training. I had to modify Monday’s workout a bit due to not having TRX bands available to me anymore, but I made it work. I thought it was going to be a long one, but I finished everything in about 30 minutes, so that was nice.

Tuesday, September 10: Dance
I thought we’d add on to what we learned in class last week, but instead we reviewed it for a few minutes and then moved on to totally different choreography. My teacher mentioned that the choreography was very 90s, and as we were learning it, TLC’s “What About Your Friends” popped into my head. We always learn choreography without music first, so you can imagine my shock when my teacher decided we had learned enough to start dancing it with the music and the song he put on was “What About Your Friends.” I haven’t learned this choreography before, nor have I danced to “What About Your Friends” before, so I was floored to have guessed the song all on my own! That’s never happened before!

Wednesday, September 11: 8 miles (2 mi WU, 8x.5 mi (5:11, 4:59, 5:05, 5:07, 4:55, 4:54, 5:01, 4:56) w/ .25 mi recovery) in 1:28:20 for an 11:02 pace (AM) + strength training – upper body (PM)
Ugh. I realize these training recaps may as well be weather recaps for how frequently I blame/credit the weather for how my run went, but THE HUMIDITY on Wednesday! It was out. of. control. The dew point was a swampy 71 when I headed out to do my 800s, and despite thinking it wouldn’t affect me because “it’s the end of summer” and “I’ve been running in humidity for months,” I was very, VERY wrong. I felt spent by the end of my two-mile warmup, so you can imagine how I felt for the remainder of the run. Blech. I had to walk my first 400 recovery (though I slow jogged the others). I hate having crummy 800 workouts, and I hate even more that I had a crummy last 800 workout (because I don’t have any others on my schedule for this training cycle). These were some of my slowest 800s by a long shot, and it was a big bummer.

Fortunately, my upper body workout Wednesday afternoon went really well. For the first time in a long time, it didn’t feel like a huge hassle or slog. Perhaps I’m getting stronger?! Or just less resistant to doing upper body workouts, haha. Let’s say I’m getting stronger 😛

Thursday, September 12: Strength training – legs + 40 minutes elliptical
Since I didn’t have a chance to strength train on Sunday, what with the Jonas Brothers concert and everything, I had to get my last session for the week in on Thursday. I decided to roll it into my 60 minutes of scheduled cross training to help me not be at the gym for my entire life. My strength training went pretty well, though someone else in the gym was using all the plates I wanted to put on the EZ bar for hip lifts, so I ended up doing dumbbell swings instead, as the internet told me those work the same muscles. Incidentally, the person using all the plates was doing hip lifts on the weight rack, so now I have an idea of what that setup looks like in case I want to try that method later on. I really prefer the bike to the elliptical, but some suspicious activity in the step challenge at work (i.e.: someone who hadn’t been in the top 10 suddenly being in first with exactly 250,800 steps. SUSPICIOUS.) had me on a mission to get in as many steps as possible for the rest of the month. Since you get steps on the elliptical but not on the bike, I spent 40 minutes upping my step count on it.

Friday, September 13: Rest

Saturday, September 14: 14.01 miles in 2:44:23 for an 11:44 pace
While my run on Saturday went great, getting to the run on Saturday was another story. I’ve made the drive from the suburbs into the city for training plenty of times at this point, so when I was walking to my car and thought, “Should I look up directions on Google Maps in case something is wrong with traffic?” my next thought was, “No, I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Of course, you can see where this is going. Soon after getting onto the highway, I was met with a forest of brake lights, as the highway inexplicably went down from three lanes to two (with warning), and then two lanes to one (without warning). There was zero evidence of any actual construction work taking place, naturally. But even with reduced, 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday traffic, it still caused a huge backup. While sitting in traffic, I reached for my hydration belt to grab my phone so I could tell my site coordinator I was on my way but would be late, only to find that I didn’t have my phone. AWESOME. So now I was stuck in traffic with no way of telling anyone and no way of consulting the internet to figure out the best way around said traffic. Just what I needed at 5:30 in the morning. Once I got through the traffic, I zoomed down the highway much faster than I or my car like to go, only to get off the highway at my usual spot to get stuck behind someone who STOPPED AT A GREEN LIGHT, THEN WENT WHEN IT TURNED RED. *explodes* Unsurprisingly, I was all sorts of amped up by the time I actually got to the run (before my group left, fortunately). Like I said, the run itself went really well–probably one of my better long runs all year. I was really bummed to not have my phone, though. I’ve been taking a picture at the exact same spot every week since the first week of training, which has been a cool way to see how the weather/sun positioning has changed over the weeks. I knew I wouldn’t be able to take one next week due to the 20 miler, but I had hoped I’d be able to get the other weeks of training at least. Now I’m going to be missing two weeks in my photo collection 😦

Happiness Begins Tour: Grand Rapids Recap

I considered writing my normal Thursday Things post this week, but since it was going to end up being entirely about seeing the Jonas Brothers in Grand Rapids anyway, I figured I might as well give this post an accurate title so you know what you’re getting into 😛

As I’ve mentioned previously, my love for the Jonas Brothers knows no bounds. I’ve have been 100 percent obsessed since the first time I saw the Hold On music video on the Disney Channel in the summer of 2007. As soon as I found out they were reuniting, I knew I had to see them on the tour they would inevitably announce to coincide with their new album.

I got tickets to the September 8 show at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids for several reasons. Van Andel’s capacity is significantly smaller than many of the other arenas on the tour (the United Center’s capacity is 20,000; Van Andel’s is 10,000), so I knew wherever I sat would be a good seat. Because Van Andel’s capacity is small and because the tour also stopped in Detroit, Milwaukee, Rosemont, and Chicago (twice), I thought I’d have a better chance at getting into the meet and greet in Grand Rapids than anywhere else. (Though I don’t think Rosemont was announced when the meet and greet went on sale, so that was irrelevant at the time.) On top of all of that, the first (and only) other time I had seen the Jonas Brothers was at Van Andel Arena in December 2007 when they were the opening act for the Best of Both Worlds tour–because yes, I, a senior in high school, proudly went to a Hannah Montana concert on a school night. NO. SHAME. (Though I was really there for the Jonas Brothers. The fact that Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus were also performing was an added bonus.)

I went to the concert with my sister and my best friend from high school, who was the one in charge of actually purchasing the tickets. She knocked it out of the park. We got the three seats next to the aisle in the fourth row on the floor. As someone who generally considers 200 level seats to be outstanding, this was clearly on a totally different level for me (both in terms of views and in terms of price point. Haha. These tickets were BY FAR the most expensive I’ve ever got.). I’ve never been that close to a stage before, and it was incredible. I’m officially ruined for all future concerts.

But I’m getting ahead of myself! Before the concert, I had my meet and greet! Technically before that, the three of us went to Founders, since it’s just a couple of blocks from Van Andel, for a super early dinner and beers. Wanting to keep my wits about me, I only had one, but I’m glad I finally made it to Founders.

Anyway, after Founders, the two of them dropped me off at Van Andel for meet and greet check-in at 5:15. While waiting in line, the girl behind me noticed my shirt (from the Best of Both Worlds Tour) and said, “Wow, you’re an OG fan!” As those of you who came of age in the mid to late 00s may recall, this was an era of music where it behooved you to be a fan “before they were cool.” I specifically remember seeing the Hold On music video on Disney and thinking that the Jonas Brothers could potentially be the band I was a fan of before they were cool (ignoring, of course, that the bands you were supposed to be a fan of before they were cool were mostly pop/punk and/or emo bands), so shoutout to you, 16 year old Bethany. We did it!

This girl and I chatted for a bit and I happened to coincidentally find her on Twitter later that evening, as @JonasConcerts, my primary resource for Jonas Brothers news on Twitter, had retweeted both of us. (Side note: thank goodness there are so many extremely active Jonas Brothers fans on Twitter. Back in the day–“the day” being the 00s–I relied on fan forums to connect with other fans and get the inside scoop on what was going on with celebrities I like, but those aren’t really a thing anymore. I worried that all of this would’ve moved over to Instagram, since that seems to be the coolest social media these days, but fortunately for Instagram-less me, there are plenty of Jonas Brothers fans who are more than happy to tweet about them all day long.) It was fun to make a new friend in the meet and greet line!

After about an hour or so, it was finally time to meet the Jonas Brothers. Based on my exhaustive Twitter research, I was under the impression that the meet and greet would last two to three minutes and not feel rushed at all. I suppose this was my first meet and greet, so maybe compared to others, it was relaxed. But it definitely felt rushed to me. I was a little disappointed that things felt that way, but only a little. The fact that I got to meet them at all was just beyond words.

Part of why I went way above and beyond for this concert was because I was celebrating an occasion. I wore something to indicate that, so the Jonas Brothers congratulated me (my heart!) and I thanked them for throwing me a party, ha. We chatted very briefly (like, a sentence or two) about if I had come with anyone else (I had, but they were just going to the concert, not doing the meet and greet), and then I told them I’d be in the fourth row on the floor “wearing this *gestures to self*, so look for me!” We took a picture, and I was on my way. Oh! But not before I got a bonus goodbye high five from Nick, which still makes me smile when I think about it.

I met up with my sister and my friend and got in the merch line to throw even more money at the Jonas Brothers, because clearly all rules are off when it comes to them. Nike wants $45 for a quality, Nike tank top at the marathon expo? WHAT A SCAM. The Jonas Brothers want $70 for a Gildan sweatshirt with their tour dates on it, you know, like the ones your high school volleyball team ordered? TAKE MY MONEY. Ha. The merch line went WAY faster than I expected (my fellow meet and greet attendees who had been in Detroit the night before said they waited about an hour and 20 minutes in line for merch. I waited maybe 20 minutes. Small venues ftw.), and then we went down to our seats!

Jordan McGraw and Bebe Rexha opened. I know exactly one Jordan McGraw song (“We Met at a Party,”), so I wasn’t all that interested in his set – though I did appreciate when he briefly covered Blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?” I thought I knew exactly one Bebe Rexha song (“Meant to Be”), but it turns out I know a bunch of her music: I just didn’t know she was the artist. Oops. So that was a more enjoyable set. The highlight of her set for sure was when she brought a fan from the crowd up on stage with her for a whole song. Lucky him!

AND THEN. The main event.

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I kept my cool when I met the Jonas Brothers a lot better than I expected, so I kind of thought that would be the case when the came on stage, too. I mean, I had just met them. How could seeing them in concert be better than meeting them?! Apparently pretty easily, because the second they started descending from the ceiling to “Rollercoaster,” I lost ALL of my chill. I was screaming, crying, generally inconsolable: the epitome of a fangirl, with not one ounce of shame about it.

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The Jonas Brothers kept performing, it kept being the best thing ever. Around the midpoint or so of their set, they started playing “Used to Be,” the first song where they come into the aisle and head to the B stage at the back of the arena. All of us with aisle seats immediately threw ourselves into the barricades when they started coming down the stairs. Kevin was playing the guitar, so he was unable to hand out high fives while walking down the aisle. Nick was singing with his mic in his left hand, and since I was on his left side, only people on the other side of the aisle got the privilege of high fiving him (but I already had, so *hair flip*). Joe had a mic in his left hand, but he wasn’t singing at the time. He had his right hand out on his right side, high fiving those geniuses who had the foresight to get tickets on that side of the arena.

AND THEN.

Joe looked in my direction.

Saw me.

Reached his free right hand across his body.

And grazed my fingers.

You guys. YOU. GUYS. I’m literally crying again just writing about this happening. I don’t care that I’m six days away from turning 29, and something like this shouldn’t turn me into an easily-excited thirteen year old. I had already shook his hand three hours earlier. I had literally talked to him. But this! Being recognized in the crowd by JOE JONAS. I have been a Joe girl from the moment I became a Jonas Brothers fan. I spent most of the show in 2007 screaming, “I LOVE YOU, JOE!!!!” from the 200 level of Van Andel. I would have appreciated being noticed in the crowd by any of the Jonas Brothers, but to be recognized by my favorite Jonas Brother…! It was, truly, indescribable. I thought maybe I imagined that he saw me and gave me a high five (which, like I said, was more of a finger graze than a high five), or that I was just telling myself that’s what happened because it’s what I want to believe, but I was taking video of it when it happened, and in the video, you can see him look directly at me, smile the tiniest bit, reach across, and then (off camera) high five me. And then you can hear me start sobbing, because obviously.

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I would say everything was downhill from there, and I suppose it was in the “I have now had the moment of my life to which all future moments of happiness will be compared” sense, but man, it was SUCH a good show. I have all of the Jonas Brothers music (duh) and had been listening to their entire discography all week leading up to the show to get ready. I’d daydream about what our fan request song would be, and when daydreaming about it, would think, “You know, it genuinely doesn’t matter what song they play. I’ll be happy to hear anything.” And it was true! When you can go to a concert where every song is exciting, it’s a pretty great night. By which I mean it’s the very best night ever.

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Chicago Marathon Training Week 13

Sunday, September 1: Strength training – legs
I spent all of Sunday afternoon with family, so I didn’t have much time to squeeze in a workout. Fortunately, my strength training workout for Sunday was really short, so I popped into the gym after family time and got it done. We walked around a lot during family time, so we can pretend that counts as cross training.

Monday, September 2: Strength training – upper body + 10 miles (with seven hill repeats) in 1:56:55 for an 11:41 pace
What’s that? No (AM) (PM)? Does that mean…I did both of these workouts together? Yes, yes I did. Please leave your congratulations in the comments below. I really just wanted to get everything done in one fell swoop, so I went to the gym prior to heading out for my run and ran through my upper body workout for the day. I skipped the last part of it because it called for TRX rows (we don’t have TRX bands in my current gym) and then headed off. I could NOT believe how many other people were out and about! I’ve never run in the suburbs on a weekend, so maybe that’s how it always is, and my perception is skewed because I only run on weekdays? Regardless, it was hoppin’ outside. About 4.25 miles into my run, a lady came up to pass me (or so I thought) and was not getting out of personal bubble, which I thought was a little weird, since people normally pass me pretty quickly (I’m not moving all that fast, after all). She then said hello, greeting me like I was an old friend, despite the fact that I had never seen her before in my life. She asked how far I was running, and it turned out she was running 10 miles too, so she decided to run and chat with me for a bit. Definitely not something that normally happens, but she was nice and it helped the next mile or so go by quickly. She wasn’t interested in doing seven hill repeats (imagine that!), so I lost her once I started doing those. They were all right, but by the time I was done, I was pretty gassed. The remaining 2.5 miles of my run were a real slog. I was in full sun almost the entire time, I was hot and tired and dehydrated, and then my stomach decided to cramp up to really round out my misery. It was a lot of work for one morning, but I’m glad I got everything done so I could chill out for the rest of Labor Day.

Tuesday, September 3: Dance
After a two-week break, dance started up again on Tuesday. There were only five people there (including me), which was a pretty small turnout for the first day. One of my knuckle joints was bothering me Tuesday afternoon–I think I cracked it too aggressively or something–and as I was on my way to dance, I thought, “Good thing I don’t take breakdance any more so I won’t have to worry about supporting my weight with this hand today.” Wouldn’t you know it, for the first time ever, my teacher incorporated some breakdancing into the choreography we learned on Tuesday. Figures! Fortunately it wasn’t anything too extensive and my hand held up just fine. Still a weird coincidence, though!

Wednesday, September 4: 7 miles in 1:12:35 for a 10:22 pace (AM) + strength training – legs (PM)
I had a pace run on my schedule for Wednesday and intended to do it between 10:45 and 11:00, because I think that if I were to target a pace during the marathon, that’s what I’d go for. You see how well that turned out. My first mile was a 10:48, but after that, I was running more 10:12s than anything else. I had a lot of frustration from Tuesday to burn (and the weather was glorious), so I’m guessing that’s where this came from. Even though this was almost certainly too fast, and I almost certainly couldn’t run another 19 miles at that pace, I will admit that it felt nice to know I’m capable of running seven miles at a 10:22 overall pace. All of the slow running of marathon training makes it easy to forget I can run faster than an 11:30 pace for more than five minutes.

I need to be better about getting to the gym at a decent time in the afternoon. Once again, I showed up later than usual, and once again, it made getting the equipment I want a struggle. My right ankle seems to get irritated by stretching my leg with the plantar fasciitis stretching thing, and since I used it post-run Wednesday morning, my ankle was still irritated Wednesday afternoon. I’ve noticed that lunges make the irritation worse, and since I had those on my schedule, I planned to sub them out with step-ups instead. All the benches were taken, though, so I didn’t have anything I could step up onto. I did single-leg presses as an alternative to the alternative.

Thursday, September 5: 60 minutes bike
This was a super boring, super light effort cross training session. Even though most of my workouts last more than an hour these days, the idea of spending a full hour on the bike bored me just thinking about it, so it ended up being something I had to endure rather than something I even remotely enjoyed. It doesn’t help that the bike in the gym is directly in front of a west-facing window, which means I have the setting sun blazing in my eyes every time I bike in the afternoon. Not pleasant.

Friday, September 6: Rest

Saturday, September 7: 18 miles in 3:38:46 for a 12:09 pace
Bleh. This run didn’t go quite the way I hoped it would go. After having such a great pace run on Wednesday, I expected running at an 11:30 pace to feel like a breeze, but it most certainly did not. I think part of the problem is my fuel belt. I always feel like this is a problem during really long runs. It weighs me down and makes me feel so sluggish – or at least, I’d like to think it’s the belt that makes me feel sluggish, not me making me feel sluggish 😉 I didn’t run a single 11:30 mile in the entire run, which frustrated me. I felt pretty down on myself around mile 15 or so, but then I remembered that this was the first time I’ve run 18 straight miles (excluding 20 milers and marathons, that is) since 2014. Yes, folks, the curse of the 18 miler seems to have broken. For the first time since 2014, I made it all the way through my scheduled 18 miler without a thunderstorm – without even a cloud in the sky, this year! Thank goodness, because I was in a huge hurry. I needed to get home ASAP to make it to Michigan for a family gathering Saturday afternoon, and my stress about that probably didn’t help the run situation at all. On the plus side, this was one of the only times my group has stayed together for the bulk of our miles, which made me happy. The miles are a lot easier with all that extra company!

 

Thursday Things

1. My company decided to do a step challenge as part of our wellness program for the month of September, and boy, talk about the right time for that kind of challenge! September is always bonkers when it comes to marathon training, but this year it’s extra bonkers due to the marathon falling on the latest day it can. That pushed all of training back a calendar week compared to the past couple of years, so instead of having pre-peak week (the 18 miler week) at the end of August, it started–started!–on September 1, the same day the step challenge started. BRING. IT. ON.

Of course, I’m now extra paranoid about getting sick and/or injured, because I’m really counting on those 129 miles I have planned for September to shoot me to the top of the leaderboard. While I certainly don’t know everyone in the company, and especially don’t know what everyone in the company does in their free time, there’s only one other person I know for sure is running the marathon. Even though there’s no additional prize for being the employee with the most steps in September (there’s only a prize for being one of the top three teams, so everyone else in my department needs to step (heh puns) it up, too), I am only somewhat secretly hoping to individually win – or at least finish in the top three. As of Wednesday morning, I was about 3000 steps away from first place *flexing emoji*

(For the record, there are individual prizes for this challenge, but the way you win them isn’t even an option for me. The company is going to give one person a fitness tracker of their choice (up to $300, so no Apple Watch 4s, but Apple Watch 3s are available), but in order to be eligible to win, you have to post pictures of you getting your steps on Instagram. That seems pretty unfair to me, given that I don’t even HAVE Instagram, and certainly am not going to join so I can post about my step count every day just to get entered into the drawing–because that’s how you win the fitness tracker. It’s not based on who actually goes above and beyond in the challenge. It’s all based on luck, and if your name gets picked out of the hat.)

2. I spent most of Sunday afternoon with family (spoiler alert for next week’s training post), and we used that time to go visit the Morton Arboretum. I’ve been a couple of times before and really like it, so I was excited to go back!

There’s been a Lego exhibit going on at the arboretum since May (it closes on September 15), so we checked that out. It was SO cool! There are huge Lego sculptures of various things–mostly animals–throughout the arboretum, and they were very impressive.

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There were signs by all the sculptures indicating how long it took to build them and how many bricks they used. The numbers were mind-boggling! We’re talking 250+ hours of work and tens of thousands of bricks per sculpture.

I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in the area before September 15. The arboretum in general is such a great place to connect with and appreciate nature, but the Lego sculptures are a cool added bonus. And if you happen to see the hummingbird sculpture, take a picture of it for me, because I didn’t see it 😦

3. Guys. I have tickets to see the Jonas Brothers on SUNDAY. Cue all of the freaking out.

I’ve been following various Twitter accounts and the Jonas Brothers subreddit (as one does) like a hawk since the tour kicked off a month ago, and it sounds like it’s AMAZING. Though admittedly, those reviewing it are probably a bit biased, ha. So I’m super duper excited for that. And by “super duper excited” I mean “cried listening to ‘Fly With Me’ on Wednesday because I love that song so so much and it’s on the set list so I’m going to see it live on Sunday and just the THOUGHT of seeing it live is enough to make me cry.” I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.

BUT. Not only do I have tickets to see the Jonas Brothers on Sunday – I have a ticket to MEET the Jonas Brothers. I. KNOW. Don’t ask me how much money I spent on this concert. Thank goodness Europe came in under-budget. Anyway, I’m so nervous about meeting them! Everyone says they’re really nice and easy to talk to, so hopefully that’s true. I’ve never really met anyone famous before! I mean, I’ve met Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi, but the times I’ve met them, I was there to interview them, not, you know, marvel at being in their presence. Ha. What am I supposed to say?! Others who’ve done the meet and greet on this tour say you get two to three minutes with them – that’s a lot of time!! I will admit that I’ve been practicing how I’m hoping the conversation will go, a la visualizing how I want the marathon to go. I just don’t want to cry. There’s a really good chance I’ll cry. Definitely wearing waterproof mascara on Sunday. Don’t mind me. I swear I’m days away from turning 29. (I almost wrote days away from turning 30. I keep having this problem where I think I’m turning 30 this year, but I’m not. That’s next year. I don’t know why this is happening. Probably because I’ve started considering people in their early 30s to be my age–because, you know, they basically are– so I keep thinking I’m almost 30, when in fact I’m almost 29. Hopefully this will make turning 30 next year a lot less traumatic, ha.)

Chicago Marathon Training Week 12

Sunday, August 25: Strength training – legs + 50 minute bike
Sunday was not the best day of my life and got off to a very slow start (by which I mean I got up at 7:45 to go to church, spent the next hour crying because my stomach hurt and I was tired and I really, really, really, didn’t want to drive into the city, and then went back to bed for another two hours). I didn’t have a lot of momentum from the morning to push me to the gym, but I knew skipping wouldn’t make me feel any better, so off I went. I’m not wild about this week’s strength training lineup, so I tried to knock out Sunday’s workout as quickly as possible (i.e.: no playing on my phone during recovery periods) and then hopped on the bike for 50 minutes. I intended to read during that time, but naturally couldn’t drag myself off Twitter. And I wonder why it takes me so long to get through a book.

Monday, August 26: Strength training – upper body (AM) + 8 miles in 1:32:32 for an 11:34 pace (PM)
I went to bed Sunday night with the intention of getting up early to run Monday morning, but before my alarm even went off, I could hear rain coming down the gutters outside. Once my alarm did go off, I spent a solid 15 minutes stalking various radars trying to determine whether or not it would thunderstorm during the hour and a half I expected to need to complete my run. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t, but by the time I came to that conclusion, I had already wasted enough time that at that point, it wasn’t going to save me any time to run in the morning, so I figured I’d get 30 more minutes of sleep and go to the gym to strength train before work instead. Two of the four exercises I needed to do on Monday required equipment my apartment complex gym doesn’t have, so I had to get creative. Technically, I can finagle my way into lat pulldowns, but the area near the machine that comes the closest to being a lat pulldown machine was commandeered by a woman who’s almost always there in the mornings. She doesn’t give off the friendliest vibe (her propensity to sing along out loud to the R-rated songs apparently playing in her headphones adds to this impression), so rather than trying to work in with her, I opted to do bent-arm barbell pullovers instead, because the internet said those would also work my lats. The biggest benefit of this was that I used the EZ curl bar for the first time (ever – not just at this gym, but at any point) and realized that it will likely be a MUCH better way of doing hip raises moving forward than trying to deal with a 55 pound dumbbell. I can hip raise 55 pounds just fine, but getting the dumbbell of (and even more, back onto) the rack is a challenge. I think the EZ bar has the potential to be a good way to get around that.

Holy humidity, was it steamy for my run Monday afternoon! I was so sweaty that I may as well have just run in the rain in the morning. It would’ve led to the same outcome! I took a slightly different route than normal and got all bent out of shape over how slow I was running in the middle of the run, until I came home, looked at my Garmin stats, and realized the different part meant going uphill for almost a full mile. That explains the slowdown! I’m continually surprised by how subtly hilly it is near me. The elevation maps on my Garmin look a lot different than the ones I’d get running in the city!

Tuesday, August 27: Rest

Wednesday, August 28: Strength training – legs (AM) + 7.01 miles (2 mi WU, 7x.5 mi (4:39, 4:49, 4:46, 4:46, 4:53, 4:48, 4:43) w/ .25 mi recovery (skipped the last .25 recovery)) in 1:16:15 for a 10:52 pace (PM)
I planned to run Wednesday morning, but I was so tired when my alarm went off that I decided to push my workout to the afternoon instead. Per usual, I regretted that as soon as I walked out the door into delightfully chilly weather, which I wasted in the gym instead. Oh well. I did my strength training workout backwards because the loud lady was using the rack when I got there, so my deadlifts had to wait. I was able to eventually get everything in, though.

The wind picked up like CRAZY during the day, and I was concerned that it would really slow me down on my 800s Wednesday afternoon. My first 800 was downhill with the wind at my back, so unsurprisingly I didn’t hit that pace again during the run. Excluding that first rep, though, I’m really pleased with my consistency on these 800s, especially the back-to-back 4:46s. I’m also really pleased with how fast I’ve been doing my 800s in general. With no goals for the marathon this year, I’m doing 800s more out of curiosity’s sake (and because it’s nice to feel like I’m really working on a run every now and again) than to get an idea of what the marathon could hold for me in October. With only one 800s workout left (?!?!?! 😦 😦 😦 ), I’m averaging a 4:51 across all my 800s. If you take out the ones I did on the treadmill (where I had to keep up with the treadmill’s pace rather than setting it myself) and the ones from my first 800s workout this season (where I was running 5:xx for all of them), I’m averaging 4:47. It doesn’t really matter, but it’s nice to think that I might have the fitness to run somewhere in the neighborhood of a 4:47-4:51 marathon (if the weather cooperates – that pesky little x factor!). I’ve been feeling down on myself fitness-wise over the past week or so, and I like having tangible proof that I’m in better shape than I believed.

Thursday, August 29: 55 minutes yoga
This one:

Given that the name of this practice is, “Yoga for Strength & Tone,” I really had no right to be surprised by how active it was, but…I was surprised by how active it was. Ha. I don’t remember the last time I did yoga that was anything more than gentle stretching with maybe a sun salutation or two thrown in for good measure, so this was a bit of a change from what I’m used to. That being said, constantly moving made this practice go by a LOT faster than others, and I liked that a lot. I usually get bored 20-25 minutes into a slower yoga class on YouTube, so it was nice to not feel that way for a change.

Friday, August 30: Rest

Saturday, August 31: 12.13 miles in 2:20:33 for an 11:35 pace
At last, a wonderful long run! The weather was FABULOUS Saturday morning, which made running one billion times easier this weekend compared to last weekend. The fact that I had four fewer miles to run helped as well 😛 This was one of my best pacing efforts, which made me happy. Better late than never, I suppose. My biggest accomplishment of this long run, though, was getting the parking validation kerfuffle sorted out. Parking validation hadn’t been working for weeks, and though I contacted CARA about it the first time it happened, things hadn’t gotten better. I reached out again last week, and in my emails back and forth with CARA, discovered that the validations they gave us were only good for three hours. When you factor in the amount of time that passes between me pulling into the parking lot (thus starting the three hour clock) and actually starting the run, plus the time we spend out on the run that isn’t running time, plus the cool down time, I couldn’t get through all of that in under three hours when running 12 miles or longer. Now we have validations that are good for six hours, which should MORE than cover the amount of time we’ll be out there, even for the 18 miler.

Thursday Things

1. So the experiment begins!

hummingbirdfeeder

I’ve wanted to get a hummingbird feeder since I moved into my new apartment almost two months ago now, but it took me until this past weekend to actually pull the trigger. I had gone to a garden store a couple of weeks ago to look at their hummingbird feeders, but the employee I talked with told me he didn’t recommend any of the ones they currently had for sale for my situation and suggested I come back later to see if they had the feeder best suited for my apartment. They had it in stock over the weekend, so I got it and hung it up Sunday afternoon. I don’t know how much success I’ll have, nor do I know how I’ll know how much success I’ll have. The feeder isn’t very easy to watch from inside, and it’s not like I can ask my boss if I can work from home every day from now until mid-October for the sake of monitoring my hummingbird feeder, haha. (I wish!) But at least now I have the potential of getting hummingbird visitors, even if I might not be aware of them.

2. I’m in such a weird place with marathon training right now. On the one hand, I am over the grind of it all. I’m sick of considering 6:30 “sleeping in.” I’m sick of losing the majority of my Saturdays to long runs/napping to recover from my long run. I’m sick of my feet hurting all. the. time. I’m sick of my entire life having to revolve around my workout schedule, even when I’m not going for any real goals at the marathon this year, because the idea of “casually” training for the marathon (i.e.: running when it’s convenient, cross training never, taking more rest days than workout days) is way too far outside my comfort zone.

On the other hand, I’ve realized we’re 12 weeks into this, which means we only have six more weeks to go, which means it’s all almost over and that makes be both sad and antsy. I don’t have any races on my calendar after the marathon this year, so what is my schedule supposed to look like?? How am I supposed to know what to do with my workout life when I’m not actively training for a race?! I’m sure I’ve said it before, but it’s the structure of marathon training I like more than anything. How am I supposed to have structure when I’m not working towards a goal?! *panics*

In the mean time, I’m getting antsy for the marathon to release what this year’s Nike gear  looks like. I think it usually comes out sometime in early September (before my birthday, at least) and I want to see it nowwwwwww. Knowing how much I like the marathon gear will help me know how much of a Jonas Brothers merch budget I have for the concert 😀 Give me ALL OF THE BRANDED SWAG!! Haha.

3. omg. Guys. Disney+. I’ve never felt much of a need to add any streaming services to my monthly budget, but Disney+ apparently is going to be the exception. Lizzie McGuire reboot?! ALL DISNEY CHANNEL SHOWS AND MOVIES?? A High School Musical-themed mockumentary? If you need me at any point during the winter, you can find me parked in front of my TV, reliving the 2000s. Between this and the Jonas Brothers reunion, this really has been a banner year for me aughts nostalgia.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 11

Sunday, August 18: Strength training – legs
I didn’t have time to do the full 85 minutes of cross training on my schedule for Sunday and I came thisclose to skipping strength training. Not wanting to drag my strength training out longer in the week than necessary, I drug myself to the gym late in the afternoon Sunday and got it done.

Monday, August 19: 10 miles in in 1:55:10 for an 11:31 pace (AM) + strength training – upper body (PM)
UGH I feel SO smug for running 10 miles before work. So freaking smug. I should probably be concerned by how much joy I get out of doing things that make me feel smug. Anyway, I got up way earlier than normal Monday morning because I really wanted to get this run done in the morning before it got too warm. It was already decently steamy when I headed out, but I kind of didn’t mind it?? I barely know myself anymore. I run in the morning, the humidity doesn’t destroy me: this is does not fit my personal brand! Tragic. I definitely felt like I was out forever (I mean, I was), but it wasn’t unbearable or overwhelming. In order to avoid five miles of an out-and-back, I ran a new route on Monday and really enjoyed mixing things up. It helped the run go by quicker and I enjoyed the new scenery. I also enjoyed all the birds I saw and/or heard on this run: goldfinches, cardinals, robins, house sparrows, barn swallows, chickadees, catbirds, and mourning doves. There were also a couple others I couldn’t ID. The notable increase in birds (particularly goldfinches and catbirds, which I rarely saw in the city) is definitely my favorite part of running in the ‘burbs.

I went to the gym after work and for the first time in months actually enjoyed lifting for a change. I really hope I’m getting out of my lifting slump, because that will make my thrice-weekly strength training sessions infinitely less miserable.

Tuesday, August 20: Rest
No dance this week, which meant an extra rest day for me! Woohoo!

Wednesday, August 21: 5.15 miles in 55:55 for a 10:52 pace (AM) + strength training – legs (PM)
I had a 55 minute tempo run on the calendar for Wednesday, and man, running 55 minutes after running an hour and 55 minutes on Monday was a real treat! I could sleep in (ish), do my run, and STILL start my workday at my normal time. (Sometimes when I run in the morning, I start up to an hour later than usual–and consequently work up to an hour later than usual.) After some bonkers humidity on Tuesday (the dewpoint was 74 when I went out for a brief walk at lunch), things were much more tolerable on Wednesday, which helped make this run, dare I say, pleasant? These longer tempo runs are tough, because I have a hard time judging just how much I should increase (or decrease) my speed each five minute interval to make sure I hit an appropriate peak in the middle. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that I totally nailed this workout when I reviewed my Garmin stats after the fact. I think this was one of the best jobs I’ve done on pacing, in fact. My “twin” intervals (i.e.: first and last, second and second to last, etc.) worked out like this:

.40 miles/.40 miles
.42 miles/.42 miles
.45 miles/.44 miles
.49 miles/.47 miles
.51 miles/.52 miles

Since the goal is to have them all be exactly the same distance (because covering the same distance in five minutes would mean I’m running the same pace), I think I pretty much crushed it. (My peak interval, for those of you dying to know, was .55 miles)

I decided to be a big girl on Wednesday and use the bench for lateral step-ups, since they were on my schedule and doing them on the treadmill the other week felt lame. I’ve been doing forward step-ups on the bench, so I figured I could handle it, especially if I don’t use any weight (so my hands are free to balance me). It worked out really well, so that’s great news. Now I can do them again and feel like I’m actually building muscle!

Thursday, August 22: 55 minutes elliptical
I wanted to bike, but the bike was taken when I got to the gym. I don’t hate the elliptical, but I do really prefer biking. For whatever reason, my feet always go numb when I’m on the elliptical (any elliptical, so it must be something about that motion), which is wildly unpleasant, and the two times I’ve used the elliptical in the gym at my apartment complex, it’s really irritated my calf. Calf pain of any sort sends me into an anxious spiral (I live in constant fear of getting a blood clot in my legs), so that really doesn’t do much for me from a mental health standpoint. The bike opened up about 15 minutes into my workout, and I really should’ve just gotten off the elliptical and spared myself some angst.

Friday, August 23: Rest

Saturday, August 24: 16 miles in 3:25:07 for a 12:49 pace
I don’t think you need me to tell you, based on my average pace for this run, that it did not go well. At all. I tried really hard to go to bed on time Friday night, and I more or less succeeded–if nothing else I went to bed a solid 30 minutes earlier than normal–but then I woke up anxious around 1 a.m. and had a really hard time sleeping after that. That, I’m sure, didn’t set me up for a ton of success. When my alarm went off at 4:10, my stomach hurt, though that’s not entirely abnormal for me. Breakfast usually solves the problem, but I still felt icky after my toast…and after my drive into the city…and as the run began. I quickly discovered that there was a strong wind coming out of the south, which meant we had to fight a headwind for eight miles of the run. My stomach hurt, my legs were tired, and my attitude, unsurprisingly, left a bit to be desired. I kept trying to push through it (mentally), but nine and a half miles in gave up, started walking, and phoned a friend to cry/whine for a bit. That helped me feel a little better mentally, but physically I was still in rough shape. When the 12:00s passed me, said they were run/walking, and asked if I’d like to join them, I was more than happy to take them up on their offer. I ended up hanging out with a 12:00 group leader for the rest of the run (/walk), and that made the miles go by a bit faster. I wish the run had gone (a lot) better, but it is what it is. I don’t often have good 16 milers, so this wasn’t out of left field. Hopefully the 18 and 20 will be better.