Thursday Things

1. I, once again, knew multiple people racing at IRONMAN 70.3 Steelhead on Saturday, so another trip to Michigan was in order to cheer them on!

IM703steelhead2017

It was surprisingly cold for August, with temperatures only in the mid-50s when we arrived (at, like, 4:45 Sunday morning, aka 3:45 Chicago time. Oof.), but race day temperatures aren’t about me, the spectator, so even though I was cold, I was glad the athletes had favorable conditions. I was particularly glad to see that the lake had calmed down substantially overnight. When we were there for packet pick-up on Saturday, Lake Michigan was not happy, with fairly strong winds and 1-3 foot waves. Sunday morning, however, was a totally different story: no wind speak of and nothing but gentle rolling water. Even though I, obviously, didn’t have to swim either way, it makes me really nervous to see choppy waters during a triathlon, so I was glad to see it was much better for swimming!

The race went really well for everyone I was there to see (though not so well for the male pro I saw walking away from the end of the bike course, whose jersey was completely ripped off his shoulder, which appeared to be nothing but blood and road rash. YIKES.), so that was wonderful, and I enjoyed spectating. I really think anyone who participates in endurance sports should make a point of trying to spectate races every now and again, because you really appreciate the effort and work your spectators put in once you’re on the other side. It’s not easy to try to keep track of people (though the new-this-year IM Tracking app was AMAZING. 10/10, would recommend) and coordinate your movements so you beat them to various locations on the course. Spectating is tough work, and having done it twice now at Steelhead makes me very grateful for my family’s willingness to come watch me run marathons.

IMsteelhead2017-2

I do find spectating to be a bit dangerous if you have a proclivity for seeing other people like you doing something and thinking, “Maybe I could do that!” The more I spectate triathlons, the more I see people of all ages and sizes competing, and the more the gears start turning in my head. This is how I ended up getting into running in the first place, so clearly I’m a bit vulnerable to that sort of thought process. Of course, then I remember that I hate being underwater and don’t really enjoy being in water, period, that I haven’t been on a bike in well over 10 years and that I have even less desire to ever be on a Chicago road on a bike than I have to be in water, and that, even if I could somehow overcome my aversion to swimming and get back on a bike that isn’t stationary, I would still be looking at, at the absolute, very least, a solid $600 investment JUST to have the basic equipment (bike + helmet) needed to accomplish the “bike” portion of “swim bike run.” Add in all the other accessories I would certainly want/potentially need–a wetsuit, goggles, bike shorts, if not a full tri kit–and that’s usually enough to bring me back to, “On second thought, maybe I’ll just stick with this running thing instead.”

2. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ripetomato

You guys, I did it!!! I grew a ripe, edible (probably) tomato!!

After weeks of complaining about my stupid tomatoes and their refusal to turn red, I went outside last Thursday to tend to my garden and was THRILLED BEYOND MEASURE to see this:

ripeningtomates

I had checked on my tomatoes on Wednesday afternoon and there wasn’t even the slightest indication that any of them were about to start ripening, so seeing this much progress on Thursday was a HUGE (and very welcome!) surprise.

By Saturday morning, it had gotten a lot redder, though not quite to the point where I was ready to pick it. I got home from Steelhead super late on Sunday, so I didn’t bother to look at my garden that day, and even though I got home late on Monday as well, I wanted to make sure I got to my tomato before it started to get too ripe. As it turned out, some other creature beat me to the punch. There were holes on the other (unpictured) side of my tomato clearly indicating that someone had eaten through it, but honestly, I was so excited about having just one ripe tomato that I didn’t even care that I couldn’t use it. Haha. The second tomato that showed up on my plant back in July had started blushing on Monday, but had also been sampled by an uninvited creature by Tuesday, so into the trash it went as well. My plan moving forward is to start picking them once they begin to blush and let them finish ripening inside, far away from prying jaws. That, or quit my job and keep a constant vigil over my garden to make sure no one eats my tomatoes, but that seems…excessive 😛 Haha

At last count (Saturday morning), I had 42 tomatoes in various stages of growth. It took one month + two days for my first ones to ripen (almost exactly six weeks from blossom to picking), which means that if all continues to go well, I’m going to be DROWNING in tomatoes by this time next month. Perfectly all right by me!

3. While we’re on the topic of produce, I would like to take a moment to vent my EXTREME FRUSTRATION at Jewel Osco, which continues to prove its uselessness to me on a weekly basis. While I can still access Trader Joe’s from my new place, it is no longer as convenient to me as it was at my old apartment, and, consequently, I have become a reluctant Jewel Osco patron. I do appreciate Jewel’s variety and convenience, but I have absolutely lost my patience with their produce. A couple of weeks ago, I finally allowed myself to buy peaches, since I figured it was late enough in the summer that the peaches would be good. I never had the chance to find out, though, because less than 48 hours after I bought them, ALL of my peaches were growing mold. Even though I didn’t really think the peaches needed to be refrigerated and, consequently, left them out on the counter, I figured it was my own fault for leaving them in a relatively warm environment and promised I’d do better next time. “Next time” was this past Saturday, when I bought blueberries. I knew blueberries belonged in the fridge, so I put them there, then went on my merry way to Michigan for the remainder of the weekend. When I took the blueberries out of the fridge Tuesday morning to bring to work for lunch that day, once again: full of mold.

What. The. Heck.

I NEVER had this problem with Trader Joe’s produce. I understand that fruits and vegetables all have the potential to get moldy at some point, but “some point” should not be less than a week after I bought them! I’m SO frustrated! I’ve now thrown away like $15 on fruit I never got to eat, and I place the blame squarely on Jewel for this problem. After Tuesday’s incident, I remembered running into similar issues at my old old apartment–another place that was closer to a Jewel than a Trader Joe’s–and that I swore off Jewel Osco produce forever…or at least until five years later, when I forgot how lousy their produce was. I need to find a new place to get my fruits and vegetables, even if it is inconvenient, because I certainly prefer inconvenience to throwing away everything I bought!

Have you ever spectated a race?
Chicagoans: where should I go to buy produce? Other than Trader Joe’s, that is.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 10

Sunday, August 6: 80 minutes XT
Same ol’, same ol’. Biked for 35 minutes, then did Motionally Stable. I did increase my dumbbell weight from 10 lbs to 12 lbs on Motionally Stable, though (please, try to not be intimidated by my incredible strength), so there’s that. This may have been my last trip to may have been my last trip to my gym, though as of writing this, I’m not 100% sure. My gym doesn’t have any contracts and you can cancel your membership at any time, though it helps to remember your billing date so you don’t get charged for a month you don’t want. My billing date is the 15th, so cancelling my membership was low on my Things I Need to Do Before I Move list. When I called the gym to cancel my membership on Monday, I discovered that I’ll need to physically go into the gym to cancel my membership (the woman I spoke to on the phone said she’d email me the paperwork, but four hours later, she still hasn’t sent me anything). I’m not going to be able to get into the gym before the 15th since it’s no longer located on my way to anywhere, which means I may get charged for an extra month. If that’s the case, I’ll definitely keep going back. But since I already set up another gym membership elsewhere, I’d like to not carry two memberships at once if I can avoid it.

Monday, August 7: 9.35 miles in 1:36:43 for a 10:20 pace + SPF
When I mapped this route out on MapMyRun Monday morning, it told me I’d run 8.99 miles, but I figure when you account for inconsistencies in my mapping vs. my running (not turning around exactly where I said I would, having the first part of my run inexplicably unmappable (well, not inexplicably entirely–part of the route I take isn’t available on Google Maps, which is why it isn’t available on MapMyRun. Why it isn’t in Google Maps, however, is inexplicable. I submitted a map correction request to Google Maps on Monday because of how much it annoys me that part of my route isn’t on the map haha), I probably ran at least nine miles.

So, a couple things about this run. After the Bethany vs. Cyclist debacle a couple of weeks ago, I decided it would be in my best interest–in everyone’s best interest, really–to avoid that section of the Lakefront Trail at least until after Labor Day, when I expect the tourist population to plummet. The distance between my office and my house is fixed, obviously, which means if I need to add on mileage to that distance, I usually end up tacking on an out-and-back somewhere along my route. Rather than doing my out-and-back through touristpalooza, I decided to do it elsewhere along the trail this time. I definitely avoided people, that’s for sure! In fact, it was so deserted that I often felt uncomfortable, so I don’t know how viable of an out-and-back that route is, either. It sure seems like it’s going to be all or nothing in terms of other people on the trail for these out-and-backs, so I’m going to need to make a decision as to whether I’d rather put up with the “all” or “nothing.”

The -and-back portion of this run had me heading directly into the wind, which was a lot stronger than I expected (though I don’t know why – I could feel the wind at my back on the out- portion, so you’d think I would’ve realized I’d have to run into that for the -and-back). I started feeling some twinges in my left kneecap around this time, and that continued to bother me for the remaining four or so miles I had in this run, though only under certain conditions (running downhill, or for the first 10-20 steps after stopping at a light). My usual post-run stretching routine starts with downward dog followed by me attempting to wrangle myself into the best version of pigeon pose I can convince my body to do, and when I put my left knee down on the ground while trying to get my right shin somewhere in the neighborhood of the front of my body, I had a lot of tenderness on my kneecap – kind of like I had bruised it, except I haven’t had any falls or blows to the knee recently that would’ve resulted in a bruise. I didn’t notice any swelling or redness, just tenderness, but diagnosed myself with prepatellar bursitis anyway, as one does. The internet prescribed the usual RICE approach, so I iced my knee that night and decided to give it a couple more days of regular icing/ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and go from there.

Tuesday, August 8: Dance
Tuesday was the second-to-last class of the session, and only three people (including me) showed up. My teacher took this opportunity to set the whole routine for graduation this coming Tuesday, and for the first time in a long time, we’re actually doing a routine routine, not just a bunch of choreography strung together with no transitions. I’m excited!

Wednesday, August 9: 3.85 miles in 40:25 for a 10:30 pace
I spent a fair amount of Tuesday hemming and hawing over whether or not I should run on Wednesday, and ultimately decided I’d see how I felt on Wednesday during the day. If my knee didn’t bother me at all without any assistance from icing or ibuprofen, I’d let myself run under the condition that I stop if it began to bother me.

I felt fine all day on Wednesday, so I headed out to run home after work, and within a few steps already felt discomfort. Since my knee hurt on Monday when I would start running after stopping at a light, but would get better as I kept going, I decided to give it a mile and reevaluate from there. Once I got going, I did feel better, so I kept running past that first mile. I had on and off pain, but nothing particularly strong or consistent, so I continued on. After about two miles or so, I got to the hilly portion of my route (hilly, of course, being relative), and the more I ran downhill, the more the ache stayed “on” rather than “off.” By the time I got to the bottom of the biggest downhill I had run so far that day, I knew it was time to stop.

Side note: I spent a fair portion of this run (and the days leading it up to it) wondering whether or not I would intuitively know when the pain in my knee reached a level where I should no longer run. Even though I wasn’t happy to hit that level, I was quite pleased that I was able to discern that I hit that level.

I took the CTA the rest of the way home, and my knee hurt the whole time. I iced it as soon as I got home, which didn’t really do much to help it, took some ibuprofen, and roughly two hours after I stopped running, had absolutely no pain to speak of, not even a twinge. That was nice from a comfort standpoint, but also extremely frustrating. How could I go from having it hurt to walk to having no pain whatsoever in two hours?

Thursday, August 10: Rest

Friday, August 11: Rest

Saturday, August 12: Rest

Wednesday was my test day to see what would happen with my knee, and since “what happened” turned out to be “run-ending discomfort,” I decided to stop working out until I had had a chance to go into the doctor and see what he had to say about things (my appointment is today during lunch, so hopefully I’ll have some answers after that).

I’m trying to be okay with everything, but…I’m not. I’m freaking out over how many miles I missed this week (17, including a 15 mile long run. I’ve never once in five years of marathon training needed to skip that long of a long run). The whole point of this marathon season–of this year in running–was to intelligently and carefully build up my mileage to enable me to run more miles during marathon season to, hopefully, finally have a decent marathon this year. I know 17 miles doesn’t make or break a marathon training program, but it feels like a lot–and missing that long run in particular is absolutely killing me. Again, I know one long run doesn’t make or break marathon training, but when you only have four super long runs to begin with (15, 16, 18, 20), missing one of them feels like a dealbreaker. PLUS, this week I’m supposed to run 16, which feels like a gigantic jump from the 11 I ran two weeks ago, especially with a big fat goose egg in between.

On top of being anxious that I’ve completely effed up my training, I’m really, really anxious about this knee situation in general. I’ve been through injuries plenty of times in my running career, but I have never once had an injury that only and always hurt while running and didn’t hurt during my normal existence. When I had runner’s knee in 2014, for example, my knee actually rarely hurt when I was running at all. I couldn’t sit at my desk at work for more than an hour at a time, but running was fine. Having an injury that only hurts while running makes me extremely nervous, because the logical response to that is just to not run anymore. While my livelihood obviously does not depend on my finishing the Chicago Marathon in less than two months, this is, clearly, something very important to me, and the thought of having it taken away from me is devastating. And I know that bodies heal, PT helps, I’m not being patient enough, I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, blah blah blah, but I just…don’t believe that right now. All my other PT-inducing injuries have had obvious, preventable causes: namely, that my hips were too weak to support what I was trying to do (or, in the case of last year, that maybe two marathons in three weeks wasn’t a bright idea). I just cannot FATHOM that hip weakness is what’s going on here. I have been nothing but dedicated to strengthening that area of my body for the past 10 weeks–and besides that, the pain I feel in my knee is nothing like the pain I felt when I had runner’s knee the last time, so I really don’t think that’s the culprit.

I’m also pissed. off. I am so unbelievably tired of having shitty marathons. I’m tired of barely being able to break five hours. I’m tired of not even coming CLOSE to running as fast as the majority of my running group. I’m tired of falling apart sometime between mile 14 and 18 year after year after year. I’m tired of putting my blood, sweat, and tears into 18 weeks of training to never get the results I want. I’m tired of having this be the ONLY distance where I can’t say I’ve ever had a race that I’m really, truly, genuinely happy with. ALL I wanted out of this marathon season was a good marathon, and I adjusted my training to do everything I felt was within my power to make that happen without hurting myself. And here I am, 17 miles behind where I should be, a big fat red line through the 15 miler on my calendar indicating that I missed that workout, so, so angry that after an ideal first half of marathon season, everything seems to be falling apart.

Maybe I’ll look back on this whole rant after my doctor’s appointment this afternoon and think I’m being ridiculous, but right now, everything feels ruined, and I hate it.

Thursday Things

1. Last Friday, my company hosted its annual Employee Appreciation Day, where we get (most of) the day off work to go to an off-site event where management tells us how great we are. A little self-congratulatory, perhaps, but if self-congratulation gets me out of the office at 10:30, free food and drinks, and the ability to go home as early as I desire after the requisite speech-making, I’m all for it. Plus, who doesn’t like to be appreciated?

This year’s event was at River Roast, which is, unsurprisingly, along the Chicago River. The details of Employee Appreciation Day are always kept very hush-hush until the end of the requisite speech-making, so I didn’t really know what to expect. When I got to River Roast, though, I noticed a water taxi stop right outside the restaurant, and thought, “Oh man, what if they take us on the river?”

rivercruise1

Hooray!

To my great surprise and utter delight, everyone had the chance to take a 30-minute river cruise! I was a little concerned it’d be cold, given that it barely topped 60 degrees on Friday (*praise hands emoji*), but it actually wasn’t too bad. There was no guide to give us architectural highlights, so I did my best to fill in some details for my captive audience coworkers sitting next to me when they wondered aloud what we were passing. One of them told me I should be a guide on the architecture river tours when I retire, and man, let me tell you, DREAM JOB (or volunteer position – I don’t know if the guides get paid). Only 39 more years until retirement! Haha.

rivercruise2

2. After Employee Appreciation Day, I came home to discover an unexpected and unwelcome change in my garden. The bathtub, which previously sat in a corner next to the fence, had been moved a few feet over to underneath my flowers, which were raised up to about six feet above the ground to accommodate my monstrosity of a tomato plant.

Now, I knew some change was coming, because when I was out in the courtyard checking on my plants one morning last week, my landlord happened to appear and mentioned that he was going to move my plants. He didn’t give specific details and I didn’t press him for a more thorough explanation of what “move my plants” meant, but I assumed he was going to take the pots I had slightly off the ground and put them somewhere else. This complete rearrangement, needless to say, was not what I had in mind.

Part of the fence behind where my tomato bathtub used to live is bowed in, so I imagine my landlord intends to repair that, hence the new location for the bathtub. I can’t say I’m particularly thrilled with it, particularly since part of the plant is now under the gigantic 2×4 upon which my flowers rest, thus never receiving sunlight, but it’s not my courtyard–it’s not even my bathtub–so I don’t feel like it’s my place to tell my landlord what I think he should do with his property. (I would feel like it was my place to make those sorts of demands if it were related to malfunctioning things inside the house, but a relocated garden isn’t exactly on par with a broken stove, you know?) He broke a few branches off in the process of moving it, which definitely annoyed me, but I had begun to wonder if pruning my plant would help it direct its energy to ripening my tomatoes instead, so I wasn’t too distraught over this.

What did distress me, however, is that he pulled up the rest of my wildflowers AND my oregano!! 😡

oregano

RIP.

I just…why. Why. WHY?! Why do all of my poor herbs keep being brutally murdered at the hands of my overzealous landlord?? CLEARLY not labeling my plants was my fatal (literally!) error in all of this, and trust me, if I plant in that bathtub again next season, I will buy custom neon signs that say, “THIS IS OREGANO! IT IS MEANT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION AND I PUT IT HERE ON PURPOSE! DO! NOT! PULL! IT! OUT! OF! MY! GARDEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Granted, half of my excitement over my prolific oregano came from my grand plans to make homemade tomato sauce using the basil, oregano, and tomatoes from my garden, but since my tomatoes stubbornly refuse to ripen, I suppose THAT was an unrealistic plan, too. 😡 This stupid hobby, man. I need to start finding ways to pass my time whose success does not so heavily rely on things beyond my control.

My basil, at least for now, remains unharmed.

3. I seem to be quite incapable of getting off the injury anxiety train this marathon season, and I’m not a fan.

I had a doctor’s appointment for my right knee scheduled for Monday, but I cancelled it because my knee felt fine all of last week, and I didn’t want a doctor’s appointment to delay the run I had scheduled that day (in typical, runner-in-training fashion). When I went for a run on Monday, I had pain in my left knee that sent me into a downward spiral of hand-wringing and Googling: always a bad combination. I convinced myself I had prepatellar bursitis, but that just opened the door to more questions: how did I end up with a condition most people get from being nuns or tile installers, where they spend a fair amount of time kneeling? Can I still run? Should I still run? Do I need to go to the doctor? Do I have time to go to the doctor? Does the doctor have time to see me? How am I going to fit physical therapy into my schedule? What if my bursitis is somehow septic (your prepatellar bursa can become inflamed because of overuse (i.e.: long-term kneeling) or an acute injury like falling or getting kicked, which is aseptic bursitis, or, it also has the distinction of being one of the few bursae that can become inflamed due to infection) and I end up having to take antibiotics again?

I don’t know what my deal is this year. I was fine in 2013 until I actually did get hurt, and then spent the next month being worried at all times. I was in physical therapy for the duration of the 2014 season, so I didn’t worry quite as much about new injuries, since I knew I’d be seeing my PT later that week. I spent all of 2015 leading up to peak week (or was it the week before peak week) worrying that I was suffering from various lower leg ailments but never to the point where I thought I actually needed medical attention. And then last year, I was completely fine the whole time, at least until I crossed the finish line of Chicago, when I was distinctly not fine, but who cared at that point anyway?

I don’t understand why I’m so, so worried about my training getting derailed this year. I’d chalk it up to the pressure of not being able to defer my entry to next year, but I wasn’t able to defer last year and I made it through with nary a injury-induced panic attack. I guess lately I feel like my baseline anxiety has been higher overall–like if my usual, day-to-day level of anxiousness is 2/10 on a scale of 0 (calm) to 10 (panic attack) I feel like these days I’m at more of a 5/10 or 6/10 baseline–so I imagine that probably predisposes me to some getting more anxious about other things, like running injures. I still wish I could just relax, though :/

Have you ever taken a boat ride on the Chicago River?
Who wants to start a pool as to when my tomatoes will finally turn red?
Right now my money is on “never,” but I suppose that’s because I’m turning into a tomato pessimist haha 😛

 

Chicago Marathon Training Week 9

Sunday, July 31: 80 minutes XT
I didn’t have time to go to the gym Sunday morning, but I did have time to work out at home, so that’s what I did. I don’t have cardio equipment at home, unsurprisingly, so this was purely a strength training workout instead of half cardio/half strength like sometimes. I did these four different workouts from FitnessBlender to get me to 80 minutes, though I’ll admit that I probably didn’t try as hard on some of them as I was supposed to. I definitely wasn’t lifting heavy enough to reach fatigue on the upper body video like it instructed.

Monday, July 31: 6.25 miles in 1:05:58 for a 10:32 pace + SPF
It was a lot warmer than I expected it to be on Monday! I’m going to say that’s why this run was so much slower than I expected it to be 😉 Now that I know my GPS is unreliable for the first part of my run commutes, I’ve been trying to map out my runs on Google ahead of time to get a distance estimate. I realized that MapMyRun is probably a lot better for these sorts of purposes after I got home, because that will tell me where the actual mile markers are, which Google doesn’t do. Anyway, I didn’t yell at any cyclists on this run, and I only got annoyed at one or two tourists, so all in all, this was much better than last week’s run commute 😛

(Also, I should note that I’m recording the distance and pace my watch tells me I ran, even though I know it’s inaccurate, because it’s the only data I have.)

Tuesday, August 1: Dance
I don’t know if everyone dropped out last week or this week, but our class of eight was down to four holdouts on Tuesday, including my friend whose been taking class as long as I have and me. Two weeks ago, we started learning a routine to Cry Me a River that I knew I remembered doing at some point, so I dug through my video archives and discovered I had done that combination during the October-December 2013 session (so basically a lifetime ago, at this point). I watched the video several times between two weeks ago and Tuesday so I wouldn’t be too far behind when I went back to class, and I was able to pick it up again pretty quickly. Muscle memory, I tell ya. It really is remarkable!

Wednesday, August 2: 6 miles in 1:00:49 for a 10:07 pace (lol I wish) + SPF
Alas, once again, the best laid plans of mice and men. For starters, I was super anxious about getting this run in. The forecast called for afternoon storms, and I was very concerned that they would derail my workout. I watched the radar like a hawk for an hour before I left, finally deciding that the storms I saw were far enough away that I could probably beat them home on foot. After realizing on Monday that I could circumvent my run commuting GPS woes by measuring out my run on MapMyRun before leaving, I planned a six mile route and went on my merry way. To my utter dismay, one of the sidewalks I planned to take was completely closed, and the only available detour was to go in a wide loop in the opposite direction to get around it. This, threw off my measured route, so all my planning was for naught. Of course, this is the exact sort of problem at GPS watch is meant to prevent, but when your GPS watch can’t get a steady signal, it becomes fairly useless. I’m strongly considering the Garmin FR35 as my next running watch, and I’m wondering if I should pony up for a foot pod to supplement the time when my watch can’t find a GPS signal.

Anyway, the run was fine overall, aside from the detour, and it didn’t even start raining until two hours after I had gotten home, so, per usual, I worried over nothing.

Thursday, August 3: 50 minutes XT (yoga)
This one:

This was my first repeat Yoga with Adriene video, but it was the only 50 minute option I could find, so a repeat it was! This really wasn’t the most challenging yoga practice I’ve ever done in my life, but WHOA BUDDY did the ab work (all, like, two minutes of it, haha) leave me sore!

Friday, August 4: Rest

Saturday, August 5: 11.4 miles in 1:28:24 for a 10:22 pace + SPF
Friday turned out to be basically the most perfect running weather day of all time (cloudy and in the 50s! My kind of summer weather!), and I was a little bummed that we got that weather on Friday, not Saturday. Well, Saturday’s weather turned out to be fairly similar, just with sun instead of clouds. It felt AWESOME to run in cool, comfortable weather. I ran with an old running buddy for the first time in several weeks, and I was worried that I’d run out of gas because I was talking too much, but I made it through the run just fine. We had a picnic afterwards, which was a nice way to celebrate cutback week.

Halfway there! It feels like that should mean the rest of marathon training will be a breeze, but unfortunately, just like in the marathon itself, the real work doesn’t begin until right about now. My mileage is about to start to get pretty high–I have one run between now and taper that should take less than an hour, out of the 18 runs I plan to do in that time–and these next two weeks are my very least favorite weeks of the whole season, with the 15 and 16 milers on deck (for some reason, I’ve always found these to be much worse than the 18 and 20 milers). But I’ve gotten through them four times before, even when it wasn’t easy, so at least it’s familiar territory.

Thursday Things

1. I’m losing patience with my tomatoes.

tomatoplant

This monstrosity of a plant (do all tomato plants grow this big??) seems to have no problem growing wider and taller by the day, nor does it seem to have any problem producing blossoms, nor does it seem to have any problems turning those blossoms into tomatoes (I was up to 18 at my last count, but my last count was on Sunday, so I imagine I have more now). What it does seem to have problems with, however, is turning those tomatoes red.

greentomatoes

Admittedly, I’m probably not giving my plant a fair chance. The container clearly said 50 days to maturity when I bought it, and it will be 50 days since I planted on Sunday, so I guess hoping to be feasting on homegrown tomatoes right now is a bit premature. But what’s driving me up a wall is that my first tomatoes seemed to have stop growing in size–which, I assumed, meant they were ready to start ripening–but have not made even the slightest indication that they want to turn red, and I don’t know what to do to convince them that they should. Am I not feeding them enough? Is the weather wrong? Do I need to be pruning the plant? Has my luck simply run out?

I think my frustration is ultimately rooted in the classic expectation vs. reality dissonance. From the moment I put that plant in the ground, it started growing prolifically. It shot up like a weed, gave me blossoms in 17 days, and turned those first blossoms into tomatoes eight days later. I have now been waiting 22 days since the first tomatoes appeared for the tiniest bit of evidence that they will eventually turn red with nothing to show for it, which, compared to my previous 17 and then eight-day waiting periods, feels like a lifetime.

Google tells me it takes 20-30 days from blossoming for tomatoes to reach their full size (check), and then another 20-30 days after reaching full size for them to ripen. I haven’t noticed any additional size growth from my first tomatoes since July 20, which realistically means I probably can’t hope for ripening until Aug. 9 at the very earliest.

I also discovered a small aphid infestation last week, which was not a huge surprise (the leaf where I found them was full of holes), but also not something I wanted to see. I sprayed the plant with water, which seemed to solve the problem for the moment, though if some ladybugs want to show up and assist me in my aphid-destroying quest, I wouldn’t complain.

aphids

2. I moved last Tuesday, as my training recap on Monday implied, and all things considered, I thought it went pretty well.

movingboxes

Some miscommunication with my movers (they called to tell me they’d arrive at 7:40; I only heard the “40” and thought that meant “minutes from when I’m making this phone call, which is 8:10.”) led to a serious emotional breakdown when they arrived 30 minutes earlier than I was anticipating while I ran around my old apartment screaming obscenities and sobbing that, “I’m not ready!!!” over and over and over again while I threw a few remaining unpacked items into garbage bags, vacuumed my rug, and generally flailed around chaotically. I did calm down (only marginally) eventually, at which point the movers were invited in to start hauling away my things. It took them less than two hours to complete everything, and then I got to the real work of unpacking.

I don’t know what it was about unpacking during this move compared to other moves, but I felt like the whole process went WAY smoother than I’m used to. I had more space to spread out, which probably helped me not feel as overwhelmed as usual. I’m sure getting rid of so much stuff before I moved so that most of my remaining belongings were things I actually wanted helped as well. I still have some decorating odds and ends to take care of, but for the most part, the move is done. I finally started to feel normal again this past Tuesday, and while I’m sure the adjustment period isn’t completely over yet, I’m glad that I feel like I’m settling in.

3. And because I apparently think “go big or go home” should be applied to major life changes, I got a new job on Monday! I’m still with the same company and in the same (basically non-existent) department, but I’m now in a new role. Saying I got promoted feels like a bit of an overstatement, though I do have more ~power~ now, so maybe that’s the right term. The position is an entirely new one to the company–one that my old boss suggested we needed when he left, and one that I enthusiastically recommended to my new boss after my previous boss left. We have a system that I and several other people routinely need to use, but there was no one overseeing that system, which made it difficult to get things done because there was no point person. I found myself both constantly wondering who to ask to increase my permissions in the system (which became necessary after my first coworker left at the beginning of May) and constantly wondering who would take the lead on system-wide initiatives. Having enjoyed working in the system, I indicated interest to my new boss and, after nearly two months, finally officially became the system lead on Monday.

This is definitely a turn in my career path that I never anticipated, but I’m really excited for it. My previous role at the company, frankly, was completely unnecessary, and left me spending most of my time at work twiddling my thumbs until I could leave. I felt like my mind was rotting away, and I was counting down the days until my 401k became fully vested and I could get out. I’ve been functioning in this new role for a good two months or so at this point, even though my title didn’t change until Monday, and it’s been a night and day difference. I finally feel like it matters that I come to work, I’m finally appropriately challenged, and even though what I’m doing has nothing to do with my English degree whatsoever, I finally feel like I’ve found the ideal way to spending my working hours. Obviously I can’t predict what will happen over the next year and a half, but for the first time in a very long time, I can see myself staying with my company for many, many years. I knew I wasn’t happy in my old role, but it’s been remarkable to see just how big of a difference a change in leadership and responsibility has made in my overall work satisfaction. Hooray!

When are my tomatoes going to start turning red???
Who’s going to Lollapalooza this year? Obviously unrelated to my blog post, but since it’s the weekend, I figured I’d ask anyway. This is the first time in five years I won’t be there, and I’m kind of bummed…except I’m not bummed that I didn’t spend a ton of money to see bands I don’t want to see, so I guess it all evens out.

Goals for 2017: July Check-In

Goal #1: Publish at least one freelance piece
I can now cross the “at least” part off of this list as well. The same editor who asked me to write a piece in June reached out to me at the very beginning of July to see if I could do do another piece. It was a bit of a whirlwind, but I got it done! It got published this month as well, so it definitely officially counts as a July accomplishment. I still haven’t put one iota of effort into getting anything into a publication other than the one with the editor I know, but maybe that will happen next month…or after marathon season…or, you know, eventually (read: never). My life has changed so dramatically and unexpectedly from the beginning of this year with half of my department quitting back in May that I really don’t have the free time I expected to have to devote to freelancing.

Goal #2: Get rid of 50 things
I’m in the neighborhood of 572 items at this point. I have a few other things that I got rid of while I was unpacking, but I haven’t written any of them down yet, so I’m saying they don’t count. Plus this way I’ll be able to (somewhat accurately) say I got rid of more stuff in August 😛 After that point, I’d be surprised if this number keeps climbing at its recent rate. I have to say, though, unpacking was SO much easier this time around than compared to previous moves. Part of it was probably having more space to spread out while unpacking, but I think knowing that, for the most part, the only items I had were ones I had already decided I wanted made life a lot simpler.

Goal #3: Finish Dutch on Duolingo
I finished Dutch in June, so now I’m just reviewing. It’s surprised me to see how much I remember from concepts I haven’t had to study in quite some time! I still don’t feel like I could speak Dutch in any capacity to a person who actually speaks the language, and I don’t really feel like I can read Dutch that well, either (a ringing endorsement for Duolingo, haha), but I guess I at least have a stronger grip on the language than I had before I started Duolingo, so that’s something.

Goal #4: Stay healthy and out of PT
Well, I’m not in PT at the moment, so that’s positive. I think I’d put myself in the “somewhat healthy” category after last week, but like I said in my training recap post, I don’t know if I’m actually on the road to getting injured or just projecting stress over a situation I could only kind of control (moving) onto a situation I feel I can control more (injury prevention by means of strength training, stretching, foam rolling, and resting). I guess this week will show which one it was! In terms of specifics:

– Strength train once per week, minimally, during running season: Check! (Mostly.) I didn’t strength train during the week of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but I also didn’t have it on my schedule to strength train that week, so I’m not losing sleep over it.
– Stretch after every run: I skipped stretching twice, but did stretch after the other 12 runs I did in July, so I consider that a success.
– Foam roll after every run, even if that means with a Moji rather than a full-blown foam roller: I skipped foam rolling twice this month as well, but, once again, that would mean I did foam roll 12 times.
– Do at least three PT exercises twice per week: According to my training log, there was one week where I only did PT exercises once, but I don’t think that’s particularly accurate. I write down when I do PT exercises after runs, but I usually try to do some PT before dance, and I do PT exercises during the day at work fairly regularly as well, so I’m guessing I did better at this than my training log suggests.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 8

Sunday, July 23: 80 minutes XT
Biked for 35 minutes, then did Motionally Stable from NTC for 45 minutes. I’ve definitely got the rhythm of Motionally Stable down at this point, which is nice, because it makes the workout feel like it goes by a lot faster when I know what’s coming and how many sets I need to do of everything. I haven’t been able to increase my weights on it at all, but since my end goal of strength training during marathon season is more about injury prevention than actually getting noticeably stronger, I’m not (too) upset about it.

I was upset later Sunday evening when my knee hurt, though :/ This is the second Sunday in a row that I’ve noticed some PFPS-esque (runner’s knee) pain in the same knee that gave me unending amounts of grief in 2014. I noticed some pain when I walked home from the train after the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, and I noticed it this Sunday after sitting in my desk chair for awhile in the afternoon. I’m really trying to be good about doing PT exercises to keep my butt and hips strong to prevent my knee from getting cranky, and feeling any sort of pain certainly motivates me to do more of that. Hopefully it won’t happen again.

Monday, July 24: 9.25(ish – see below) miles in 1:36:51 for a 10:27 (but probably not really – see below) pace + SPF
After noting last week how the first mile on my run commutes always seems to be much faster than I anticipated, Hanna noted that I should check my GPS stats to look for weird spikes or dips in my pace. This turned out to be a very helpful suggestion! All it took was one look at a run commute GPS map to see that my watch has been going haywire in the first mile or so of my run. So now I’m in a bit of a pickle. The whole point of run commuting is to be able to leave my office and head straight home, but I suspect I have been shortchanging myself on all of my run commutes 😦 I attempted to measure out a mile on Google before leaving for this run, and found that my watch thought I had hit a mile almost a full quarter mile before Google said I’d hit a mile. I’m thinking I may just always run x.25 miles on run commutes from here on out, in that case, though I also plan to continue keeping an eye on when my watch tells me I’m a mile into my run in case it doesn’t always say I’m there .25 miles too early.

Anyway, this run was basically a disaster. I don’t know why, but I had a lot less patience for people getting in my way on Monday than I sometimes do, and I may or may not have sworn at a cyclist on the Lakefront Trail…like, to his face swore at him. Oops. I was running up behind some people taking up too much space and walking too slowly on a crowded part of the trail, so I intended to pass them on the left, but since I was in a crowded area, I looked over my shoulder first to make sure I wasn’t going to get hit by a cyclist. I saw a cyclist approaching, so I waited, but then instead of passing me, he slowed down, too, and wouldn’t go around me. At this point, he was right on my tail and I was right on the tail of the aforementioned people taking up too much space, so I (not very nicely) yelled at him to, “GO! YOU’RE FASTER THAN ME! GOD!” He did not go, despite being faster than me, so I went around the people and fumed. He soon caught up to me (see: faster than me), yelled at me for yelling at him, which prompted me to yell back at him, calling him things that, if repeated too many times, would earn my blog an R rating at the movies, which prompted him to continue yelling at me, even after he passed me, which prompted me to flip him off when he turned around to look at me a few seconds later. All in all, an expert display in maturity, grace, and forgiveness on both of our parts, clearly. I really try to not do this, since I think there’s more than enough animosity between cyclists and runners on the trail to go around as it is, and obviously this sort of behavior doesn’t do anything to raise one group’s opinion of the other. Hopefully I’ve now gotten it out of my system for the rest of marathon season. It also probably would not be the worst idea to come up with an alternate run commute route that doesn’t force me to spend a good portion of my run on highly congested areas of the Lakefront Trail.

Oh, and to top all of this off, my knee hurt on and off throughout the entire run (which probably didn’t help in the patience department). I spent a fair amount of time at the end of my run trying to decide how long I should let this continue before scheduling a doctor’s appointment.

Tuesday, July 25: Moving
No workout for me on Tuesday since I moved that day, though I don’t think moving really counts as a rest day. My knee, once again, hurt on and off throughout the day, so I called the sports doctor and got myself on the calendar for the next available appointment (which is not this week, but next week). I figure if it takes nearly two weeks to get in, I’d rather be on the schedule and cancel then wait it out and have a lot of trouble trying to get in if I really need an appointment further down the road.

Wednesday, July 26: 5.03 miles (tempo) in 50:01 for a 9:56 pace + SPF
I took the day off work on Wednesday to recover from the stress of moving, so I was able to do this run in the morning. Thank goodness, since it got super hot and humid as the day went on! It occurred to me after my last tempo run that I really was not taking advantage of my watch’s interval timer like I should be, so I set it up for five minute intervals and headed out. I was absolutely dying by the end of the run, so my last interval was more of a shuffle than a run, but I did a great job of slowing accelerating and…uh, progressively decelerating (to say that I decelerated “slowly” would be a bit of an overstatement haha), so I’m really happy about that!

Thursday, July 27: Rest
So, I don’t remember exactly what happened, but at some point Thursday morning, my left hip flexor started to ache in the exact same spot and the exact same way as it ached when I strained it during marathon season in 2013. I *think* the pain started after doing squats that morning (during marathon season, I make a habit of doing PT exercises throughout the day, especially when I’m at work, as a way of keeping my glute muscles strong [and, hopefully, the rest of my legs uninjured] and as a way of working said glute muscles, which spend most of the day parked in a chair atrophying [<– pretty sure that muscle doesn’t actually happen that quickly, but you get the idea]), but I went almost immediately from doing those exercises to a meeting with my boss, which got interrupted halfway through by a fire drill (and the resulting traipse down five flight of stairs and up that same flight again after a gentle reminder from the property manager of my office building about the importance of listening to announcements during emergencies, because if they’re telling you to use a particular staircase, there’s probably a reason for it!), so I’m not really sure if the pain started during the squats or after the stair climbing, because it all kind of blends together. Regardless, the ache in my hip felt all too familiar, and since I would very much like to avoid PT this marathon season, I decided to take a rest day and ice my hip rather than risk furthering a potential injury.

Friday, July 28: Rest
To my great surprise and equally great relief, I was able to get into a physical therapy clinic on Friday afternoon for an injury screen. I was concerned that I’d make the wrong decision regarding my run on Saturday–either I’d skip it when I could’ve gone for it, or I’d do it when I should’ve skipped it–so I was in the market for some professional advice on what to do, and a professional opinion on what was going on with my hip. The PT I saw noted that my left hip has some pretty significant internal rotation–twice as dramatic as the internal rotation on my right hip, which is already significant–and that that like contributed to my discomfort, which he thought might actually be in my adductors rather than my iliopsoas (hip flexor). He told me I could continue running as long as it didn’t get worse, but if it didn’t get better in two weeks that I should go to the doctor to get a script for PT, and that I should baby it in the meantime with stretching and a heating pad. This was, to my great delight, the first time I have EVER gone to a physical therapist and had them do the test where you lie on your side, raise your top leg up in the air, and then try to keep the PT from pushing your leg down to the table and NOT failed spectacularly. My regular leg lifts and side lunges are working! That, of course, doesn’t make me feel better about my knee acting up, but I’m glad to see I, at long last, have some strength in my glute meds!

Saturday, July 29: 13.15 miles in 2:15:30 for a 10:17 pace + SPF
My hip felt much better Saturday morning, so off I went on my weekly long run. The weather was just about perfect, with a bit of wind that made the full sun a lot more bearable than sometimes. My knee wasn’t in great shape, though, which was a bummer. It was a nice surprise to run this “half marathon” faster than the actual half marathon I ran two weeks ago at Rock ‘n’ Roll and to be able to keep up a decent pace the whole time.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had injury paranoia, so it was a bit of a surprise to have so much this week. I don’t really know what prompted it, though if I had to guess, the stress of moving probably was a contributing factor. I’m keeping my doctor’s appointment for the moment just in case, but we’ll see how this week shakes out. I’d love to not have to go in, so hopefully this was all a situation of misplaced anxieties that, now that the move is over, will go away.