Chicago Marathon Training Week 7

Sunday, July 21: Strength training – legs + 38 minutes bike
I had an hour of cross training on my schedule for Sunday, so I went to the building’s gym in the afternoon to knock that out. My strength training this week was almost exactly the same as last Sunday’s, which was nice because that meant I didn’t have to orient myself to too much new equipment. It took me 22 minutes to get through my strength training, leaving 38 minutes on the clock to bike. This was my first time on (the only) bike in the building’s gym, and I do still need to orient myself to it. A level 3 rolling hills workout was appropriately challenging on the bike at my old gym, but it was not appropriately challenging on this bike – like, it wasn’t challenging at all. I didn’t notice any difference between the uphills and downhills. I’m going to need to bike on a much higher level in the future!

Monday, July 22: 5 miles in 51:35 for a 10:19 pace (AM) + strength training – upper body (PM)
Um, oops? The weather was beautiful Monday morning (high 60s! Low humidity!) and since I’m apparently a morning runner now, I decided to knock out this week’s five miler before work. This run was supposed to be at marathon pace, which, LOLOLOLOL. Running the marathon at a 10:19 pace (a 4:30:29 marathon) seems wildly unlikely, especially when you consider that my “time goal” for this year is sub-5:25, i.e.: faster than my first marathon. While I certainly wouldn’t mind running the marathon that fast, I would be floored if I did run the marathon that fast, especially considering the burn in m quads after five miles at this pace. This probably shaped up to be more of a tempo run than a pace run, but it felt really, really nice to 1) be able to be outside without feeling like I would melt and 2) to run well over a minute/mile faster than I ran at any point last week/this entire marathon season, so I just rolled with it.

I went to the gym after work on Monday to lift for a bit. Upper body work has felt so difficult lately, I assume 1) because I took two weeks off and 2) I only do upper body work once a week. Upper body strength isn’t my top priority at the moment, so I don’t see that changing any time soon, but hopefully some more consistency will make things a little less challenging.

Tuesday, July 23: Dance
Blah. The choreography we’re learning right now is really tough, which makes class really tough, which makes Tuesday evenings not much fun. I shouldn’t whine. I spend most sessions wishing my teacher would give us harder choreography because I want to be challenged. Of course, now that I’m being challenged, I wish class were easier! I’m impossible to please 😛 I guess I don’t actually wish class were easier. I wish I were a better dancer! But that’s what harder choreography will do, so I should start embracing the struggle (and need to practice outside of class), because it’ll pay off in the long run.

Wednesday, July 24: Strength training – legs (AM) + 50 minutes bike (PM)
I had an early meeting Wednesday morning that kept me from having time to do eight miles before work, so I went to the gym instead. I realized that my gym doesn’t have boxes or steps, which made my lateral step-ups more challenging than usual. I think I could use a bench for forward step-ups, but it felt WAY too high for my current comfort level with lateral step-ups. I ended up using the treadmill deck since no one was using it, but I don’t think that’s the most sustainable option. We shall see!

I dialed the resistance on the bike up to 10 today to see if that would get closer to the level of difficulty I’m used to from the bikes in my old gym. It was a bit more challenging on the toughest part of the hills, but still a LOT easier on anything other than that. I keep track of my stationary bike distances on a note on my phone, and as a reference point, my 50 minute bikes last year would usually cover 8-10 miles. I did 14.8 on Wednesday. While I would love to pretend this is a reflection of better fitness, my RPMs on Wednesday were consistently in the 80s, whereas at my old gym, they’d rarely be higher than 70. One of these days I’ll figure out an appropriate level for the bike!

Thursday, July 25: 8 miles (with five hill repeats) in 1:43:54 for a 12:59 pace
WHAT a disaster. Holy cow, was this run a a mess. Since I didn’t have time to do this run in the morning any day this week, I went out in the afternoon, which, as you may recall, was my normal running time from June 2012 until literally three weeks ago. I am no stranger to afternoon running and its unique challenges. But boy, you’d think I’d never laced up my running shoes later than 8 a.m. with how terribly this went. It was a lot warmer than in the morning, unsurprisingly, but it wasn’t, like, Paris-in-the-recent-heatwave warm. The Real Feel was 93, but the humidity was quite low, and a fair portion of my run was in the shade where it was much cooler. No matter, though. I started off at nearly a 12:00 pace and things only got worse from there. I had to take two walk breaks, another break to stop to refill my water bottle (?!!? I can usually make it through 13 miles without needing to refill my water bottle!), and by the end I was STILL shuffling at mile-22-of-the-marathon-post-bonk pace. My last mile, which did not involve any walk breaks, was a 13:29. Literally the only times I’ve ever run that slow are after hitting the wall during a marathon. I don’t have any idea what made this go so poorly, but I sincerely hope it doesn’t happen again.

Friday, July 26: Rest

Saturday, July 27: 12 miles in 2:20:31 for an 11:42 pace
After weeks of external circumstances getting in the way of me feeling like I had a “normal” long run (getting sick, getting over being sick, massive heat wave), things finally went the way I expected/wanted them to on Saturday. My half marathoners and marathoners ran together for the first time, putting me in charge of five runners! My site coordinator jumped in with my group to help me group lead, which I appreciated. I don’t mind doing it solo when I have one or two people to be in charge of, but five felt like a lot. The run went pretty well, and I’m happy with my pacing. The last three or so miles were tough, though. The reconfigured Lakefront Trail means we run the last three miles with zero shade right along the water, and it’s not fun at all. It’s blazing hot and relentlessly sunny and just all-around miserable. 0/10, would not recommend. I’d rather dodge aggressive cyclists.

Thursday Things

1. I went to see Six last week and I loved it!

One of my friends went with her in-laws a few weeks ago and raved about it. Knowing my love of Hamilton, she suggested we go, so last Thursday we waded through the beginning of the Excessive Heat Warning to Navy Pier to catch the show. Six is in the vein of Hamilton in the sense that both shows are musicals that recount historic people/events using modern music (hence why my friend’s knowledge of my love for Hamilton would make her think I’d enjoy Six), but the structure of the two shows is quite different. Six is more like a concert, while Hamilton is more like a play. Regardless, they’re both enjoyable shows!

Six is about the six wives of Henry VIII, who I knew basically nothing about until going to the show. In fact, I don’t think I even knew that Henry VIII had six wives–I knew he had multiple, but I didn’t know off the top of my head exactly how many there were. During the show, each wife tells her story through a solo, the premise being that they’re competing to see who had it worse (but is that how the show ends?! Buy a ticket to find out!). It only ran 80 minutes (with no intermission), so it wasn’t too much of a time commitment, either, which was really nice for a Thursday evening show.

My friend and I got to the show right before it started, so I didn’t have time to peruse the program until I got home that night. I was stunned to discover that Jane Seymour was played by Abby Mueller of the Mueller siblings! Outside of Karen Olivo as Angelica in Hamilton, she’s definitely the biggest Broadway name I’ve seen live (well, and the entire cast of Dear Evan Hansen, but that’s different because I saw them on Broadway. I’m talking about Broadway names in Chicago shows.), so that was quite exciting to realize!

2. If you follow bird news in Chicago (oh, not everyone does that?), or possibly just general news, you might be aware that a Great Lakes Piping Plover pair decided to nest at Montrose this year. Considering that there are only about 70 known Great Lakes Piping Plover pairs, period, the fact that one of the pairs decided to nest at Montrose is A Big Deal. It became an even bigger deal recently, when the pair’s second clutch of eggs hatched, bringing three new plover chicks into the world!

Not wanting to miss what could be one of my only chances to see Great Lakes Piping Plovers at all (in the area, at least), never mind plover chicks, I went to Montrose after church on Sunday to see if I could get a glimpse of them. I wandered around Montrose for awhile trying to figure out where they were and then eventually saw a group of older people with gigantic camera lenses and thought, “Ah! My people!” So I, amateur, non-retiree birder that I am, went over to join them.

The plovers are pretty far from the birder encampment, and my lone, came-with-the-camera-package lens couldn’t possibly compare to what the real birders had, so I wasn’t able to get any pictures. In fact, I couldn’t even see them until one of the ladies there lended me her binoculars, because I’m such a birding n00b that I don’t even have binoculars. I’m an embarrassment.

Anyway, none of the chicks were up and about when I was there, but I did see Rose! (Rose is the female in the pair. Her mate has been dubbed Monty. Get it? Monty and Rose – Montrose. Heh.) That’s enough to add her to my life list, which is very exciting. I would’ve liked to see one of the chicks, because they are unspeakably adorable, but I’ll take what I can get.

3. Thin plastic grocery bags have been banned in the city of Chicago since August of 2015, and as of February 2017, all store-provided bags, regardless of their material, came with a 7 cents/bag tax. Since that tax went into effect, I can only remember two times where I ever got a bag at any store, grocery or otherwise. Carrying reusable bags with me just became a way of life, and I honestly forgot that thin plastic bags in particular even exist.

Until I moved to the suburbs! BOY was it a jarring experience to walk into Jewel out here for the first time and see people leaving with carts full of thin plastic bags. I was literally repulsed by it – like full on, nose-crinkling, “What are these people DOING?!?!?!?!” repulsed by it. When I didn’t have enough reusable bags by the bagger’s judgment at my first trip, he put some of my groceries in plastic bags, and I fumed about it for the next hour. I was outraged. HOW DARE HE (especially since I told him to just put things in the cart, and “NO PLASTIC BAGS.”). It’s absolutely wild to me that no one uses reusable bags! At all! When I was at Jewel this past Saturday, I saw one other person with reusable bags in their cart. ONE! It’s insane!

It also reinforces my theory that rewarding people for changing their behavior is less effective at making them change than punishing them for continuing with their current habits. Getting 10 cents off at Whole Foods for bringing my own bag wasn’t enough to get me to always remember to bring my own bag when I’d shop there. Getting charged seven cents per bag was definitely enough to get me to put a reusable bag in my backpack and leave it there. And now that’s my habit! Avoidable taxes, especially in a state where it feels like we get taxed for everything short of breathing, are an excellent way of changing behavior, in my personal experience.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 6

Sunday, July 14: Strength training – legs
After two weeks of not lifting anything (other than moving boxes, and then my body off the couch to throw away used tissues), I finally got back into it on Sunday. This was my first lifting session at the gym in my new apartment complex, and I was pleasantly surprised by the equipment situation. I had browsed the gym several times to see what was available, but there’s a difference between looking around and thinking, “This will probably work,” and actually using the equipment. The only thing I needed that the gym didn’t have was a kettlebell for kettlebell swings, but I can do those with a dumbbell, so it’s all right. I was supposed to do additional cross training on Sunday, per the schedule, but I ended up getting together with some family Sunday afternoon and didn’t have time.

Monday, July 15: 6 miles in 1:08:11 for an 11:22 pace (AM) + strength training – upper body (PM)
WELL, WELL. Look who went for a morning run! The forecast called for temperatures in the low 90s Monday afternoon, so since I had the flexibility to run in the morning, I decided to go for it. Don’t tell anyone, but I loved it?! It was such a nice way to start my day, especially since the running around here is a a bit less fraught (i.e.: a bit less on sidewalks filled with commuters) than it is in the city. I would go so far as to say it was downright pleasant. Wild! This was the second time I’ve run in the area, and I was quite surprised on the first run to discover that one of my potential outbound routes is actually on a very gentle incline that reminds me of running the Strip in Vegas during Rock ‘n’ Roll. It’s not visible at all, but it definitely slows me down enough to make me wonder why running feels so hard and slow. Fortunately, that means my inbound is on a very gentle decline, which makes me feel like a million bucks. That probably had a lot to do with me being in such a good mood at the end of my run, ha.

It was so weird to strength train in the afternoon. My strength training workouts are short by design, since I usually do them in the morning and need to get to work, but I’m used to long afternoon workouts. It felt strange to get in and out of the gym so quickly! It was also abundantly clear that I took two weeks off, because this workout was way tougher than it should have been.

Tuesday, July 16: Dance
I worried I’d be behind after skipping last week due to my cough, and I was right 😦 I barely remembered the choreography we had learned two weeks ago, and then we moved on and started doing even harder choreography. Phew. I’m going to need to practice on my own time this session, which hasn’t happened in awhile. Tuesday’s choreography was no joke.

Wednesday, July 17: 6 miles (2 mi WU, 5x.5 mi (4:47, 4:51, 4:47, 4:43, 4:49) w/ .25 mi recovery) in 1:06:20 for a 11:03 pace (AM) + strength training – legs (PM)
I am SHOCKED at how this run turned out. This was my first go at 800s on straightaways rather than a track (“track” – the .25 mile loop around a park in the city), and I didn’t know how not having a clear visual of how much farther I had to run would impact me – never mind how elevation changes and intersections would impact me. Since my 800s a few weeks ago were all 5:00+, that’s definitely what I expected would happen on this run as well. When I saw that I came through the first one in 4:47, I figured it was because I ran the whole thing on a slight downhill and that I would absolutely crash and burn by the last repeat. Instead, these 800s were around 10 seconds faster/repeat than when I did this exact same workout last year. I definitely don’t feel like I’m in better shape than I was this time last year, so to have the numbers suggest otherwise was an enormous surprise.

I went to the gym Wednesday afternoon to get in my last strength training workout for the week. The gym only has a 3D Smith machine and no power racks. It was fine for squats on Sunday but felt a little weird for deadlifts on Wednesday, mostly because the bar was much higher than I’m used to. My bigger potential issue is with the free weight arrangement. Some of the weights at the heavier end of my range (which I use primarily for glute bridges) are positioned in such a way that it’s really hard for me to get them off the rack (one single arm, which is all I can reach to get to it, unsurprisingly being much weaker than both of my glutes/hamstrings combined). I think I might have to switch to using plates for glute bridges rather than dumbbells.

Thursday, July 18: 38 minutes yoga
This one:

I was supposed to do 45 minutes of cross training on Thursday but didn’t quite have time, so this had to do. It was a nice practice, though I didn’t have a yoga mat handy, and all the low lunges on my knees were uncomfortable after awhile. The carpet remaining in my old apartment (where I was Thursday) isn’t really meant for yoga!

Friday, July 19: Rest

Saturday, July 20: 8.08 miles in 1:32:24 for an 11:26 pace
To my great dismay, CARA did not cancel Saturday’s run. To my great surprise, the weather Saturday morning was much friendlier than I anticipated. It was definitely quite warm (79 degrees at 6 a.m.) and definitely quite humid, but it was mostly overcast and there was a strong breeze coming out of the south. The cloud cover and wind made an enormous difference and helped this run go a lot better than it could have. I had a very small crew on Saturday of one marathoner and two half marathoners (compared to the previous week’s four half marathoners and my usual four marathoners), but everyone seemed to hold up quite well. I made sure we took an extra water break, and my marathoner and I took a walk break during mile six. I’m surprised my average pace turned out to be 11:26, because I was aiming for 12:04s per CARA’s weather-adjusted recommendation, and my building-interference-free miles were 11:49, 12:03, 11:54, and 11:55. But Map Pedometer says we ran 8.08 miles, so I guess I’ll trust their measurements.

 

Thursday Things

1. I went to a wedding this past weekend, and the couple picked quite the venue!

fieldmuseumwedding-2

The wedding was at the Field Museum, and o.m.g. It was AMAZING. Obviously the ceremony itself was stunning. If you’ve ever been to the Field Museum, you know how incredible the Stanley Field Hall (the main part of the museum when you enter) is. Soaring ceilings, sculptures, arches, columns, a titanosaur: it’s impressive regardless of whether or not it’s been decorated for a wedding.

fieldmuseumwedding-1

But what I especially loved (aside from seeing the couple, celebrating their union, and all the things you do at a wedding regardless of the venue) was that we had the ENTIRE museum, aside from special exhibits, to ourselves, and were free to roam through them as we pleased (as long as we didn’t bring food or drinks into them). Don’t want to socialize during cocktail hour? Go look at some gemstones! Tired of dancing? Go visit the dinosaurs! There were only about 150 people at the wedding, which, given the size of the museum, basically amounted to having the place to ourselves. Once again, if you’ve ever been to the Field Museum, you know that normally it’s quite crowded (not to mention $$ to get into). Seeing the exhibits without hordes of other visitors was insane! I mean, look at this picture I took of SUE:

SUE

There are no humans in it! At all! That is not how things ever go at the Field Museum! 10/10, would recommend making friends with a couple with a wedding booked at the Field Museum.

2. It took exactly two commutes in my car to come to the conclusion that driving to and from work is the absolute worst, and anyone who thinks otherwise can only possibly think so because they haven’t had access to reliable, thorough public transportation.

Last Thursday was the first time I ever drove to work for a “real” job (i.e.: not a summer job), and I would like to formally retract any complaint I ever lodged against the CTA over the past seven years. Sure, the CTA has its issues, and when you’re waiting in subzero temperatures for a train to show up, or open up Transit Stop to see that the next bus won’t arrive for another 25 minutes, or have to try to get around on a Sunday when the train line you normally use is closed for the weekend AGAIN, it’s easy to see the appeal of driving vs. relying on an underfunded transportation authority to get you where you need to go. But here’s the thing about public transportation: once you get on it, you can check out. I mean, yes, you should have a basic awareness of what’s going on around you from a safety standpoint, but if you want to play on your phone, read a book, or just watch the world go by outside your window for the duration of your trip, you’re free to do so.

Not so with driving! My normal habit on Friday afternoons was to pull up Facebook as soon as I left the office (I try to stay off Facebook and Twitter on weekdays) and scroll through it mindlessly my whole commute home, and it occurred to me last Friday that that would not be an option, as I had to drive my car. There would be no checking out, no daydreaming, no blankly watching the world pass me by. I’d have to stay mentally engaged for another 35-40 minutes while I navigated heavy machinery past other heavy machinery at high rates of speed–and of course, I had to do that on the way to work as well. Instead of having to be “on” for eight hours (plus a 30 minute lunch), I now had to be “on” for closer to 10 hours.

What a scam! Who’s bright idea was this?! As far as I’m concerned, the autonomy/independence you gain from driving your own vehicle does not even come CLOSE to outweighing the luxury of going immediately into weekend mode the second you walk out of the office on Friday. I, a definite introvert, would rather be on a train with a bunch of strangers I can ignore in favor of my phone/book/the scenery than alone in my car but constantly thinking about what I have to do next to get to my destination safely. I’m now convinced the only reason cars caught on (and stayed caught on) is because public transportation outside urban centers (and sometimes, in urban centers) in the United States is so poor that most people don’t realize what they’re missing.

3. I’m so bummed out about the weather 😦 I have to be in the city tonight, so I thought I was going to be able to sneak in one more run commute between work and my event this evening, but then it had to go and be 90 million degrees with a heat index of 1903823494239834, so no run commute for me 😦 I’ll be attempting to do yoga in my old apartment instead (“attempting” because my landlord has ripped up most of the carpet now that we’re 99% moved out, so most of the place is just wood floors, and not the nice kind – the “need to wear shoes at all times inside, staples sticking out of it,” kind. But there’s a little area that still has carpet, and I think I could do yoga there.

That being said, I wish CARA would cancel our long run on Saturday. I really doubt it’ll happen–the fact that they sent out an email yesterday specifically saying they won’t cancel doesn’t do much to raise my hopes–but I’m still crossing all my fingers and toes just in case. I don’t understand how running through an Excessive Heat Warning is better than calling it off, especially on a cutback week, especially so early in marathon season, especially since as a group leader, I don’t have the option of not showing up if I feel like it’s not safe to run (spoiler alert: if it’s going to be as hot as they’re saying it’s going to be, I’m not going to feel like it’s safe to run). Of course, who knows what the temperature will actually be on Saturday, so maybe all my righteous indignation is for nothing. That would be a first 😛

Chicago Marathon Training Week 5

Sunday, July 7: Rest
I had started coughing by Sunday courtesy of the thick mucus from my sinuses that thought my throat would be the ideal exit route. Since coughing counts as a below-the-neck symptom, that means all of my workout plans are on hold until it goes away. I also had a low-grade fever on Sunday, so it probably wouldn’t have been in my best interest to work out, anyway.

Monday, July 8: Rest
Still coughing. Still feeling lousy. Still resting. Still worrying about how sore I’m going to be when I feel good enough to strength train again, since it’s almost been two weeks since I last lifted >.<

Tuesday, July 9: Rest
See yesterday.

Wednesday, July 10: Rest
I finally felt like myself by Wednesday, but I was still coughing like crazy. I considered doing yoga in the afternoon, but decided to take one more full rest day to be on the safe side.

Thursday, July 11: 45 minutes elliptical
I decided to give exercise a shot on Thursday and went to the gym in my apartment complex for the first time with the intention of biking. Turns out there’s only one bike in the gym and someone else was already on it, so there went that plan. I jumped on the elliptical instead and did a light workout on it (I covered 2.11 miles in 45 minutes, and my heart rate was in the 120s for the majority of the workout). It felt…ok. It probably wouldn’t have been the worst idea to skip it, but all of these skipped workouts were really taking a mental toll on me. I know my marathon success does not ride on getting in every single run, and I also know that I’m not even trying to have all that much marathon success this year in the first place–I just want to finish–but I hate watching all these planned workouts come and go and not doing anything.

Friday, July 12: Rest

Saturday, July 13: 3.94 miles in 45:14 for an 11:29 pace
Given the whole suspected-bronchitis situation, I did not think running 10 miles on Saturday was 1) smart or 2) possible, so I emailed my site coordinator on Friday and asked what she’d like me to do. Fall half marathon training started on Saturday, so we decided that I’d run with any half marathoners that showed up (they had four miles on their schedule) and she’d take all of my full marathoners on their 10 miles. That sounded like a great plan to me! Half marathoners were supposed to go north, but as we headed out to the trail and I told my runners this, one of them commented that running north was miserable because the trail is flooded due to how high the lake is. Personally, I loathe that section of the lakefront, so when we got to the trail, I asked if they wanted to go north or south. They wanted to go south, so south we went. I would have gone north had they requested we do so, but I definitely didn’t shed any tears over them not wanting to. My GPS was all messed up and when I measured it out after the run, it looks like we were short by .06 miles 😦 But boy was my pacing spot on!

Thursday Things

1. As you may have gathered if you read my training recap earlier this week, I’m officially a suburbanite.

I moved last Wednesday, and the move itself went well. I hired The Professionals, the same movers I’ve used for the past two moves, and they were just as fantastic this time around as they were in 2014 and 2017. I’ve always been impressed with their efficiency, but in the past, I was only moving a single bedroom a little down the road. This time, I was moving an entire two-bedroom apartment to the suburbs. The entire process, from the time they parked at my apartment in the city to the time they left my apartment in the suburbs, took two and a half hours. Two and a half hours! That’s it! I still can’t believe it. If you ever need movers in the city, I can’t recommend them enough. I don’t like spending money, but I’ve never regretted a single cent I’ve spent on movers.

The whole process was a lot less traumatic than I anticipated, which was nice. I was sure leaving the city would break my heart into a million pieces, but I didn’t cry at all. Of course, I’ve been itching to get out of my current apartment since last winter (like January 2018 last winter) and was so thoroughly over packing that I guess it’s maybe not all that surprising that moving felt more like a relief than a loss.

2. Life post-move, however, has just been one thing after the other.

It started Wednesday night/early Thursday morning, when I was startled awake by scratching and squeaking that seemed to be coming from the wall by my bed. Whatever it was sounded way too big to be a mouse, so I spent the rest of the night with visions of rats and/or opossums gnawing their way through my walls. The next day being July 4, the management office wasn’t open, and animals didn’t make the list of after-hours emergencies according to the after-hours maintenance phone number’s message, so there was nothing to be done until Friday. I did spend some time looking out the window Thursday evening, though, and discovered 1) that the creatures were not in the walls, but rather scratching against the walls from the outside and 2) that said creatures were not rats or opossums, but a family of skunks. Delightful.

The building contacted a pest control company that has now set catch-and-release traps for the skunks outside their burrow (which, upon further inspection, was pretty obvious from the mound of dirt they had dug up). I was really concerned the building would hire someone that would kill the skunks, so I was relieved to find out they only plan to catch them and move them somewhere more appropriate. I don’t have anything against them–the babies especially are super cute!–but it’s probably not best for the structure to have them scratching at it every night (and it’s definitely not best for my sleep quality). Plus, they are a bit on the stinky side, and I would prefer that my room doesn’t smell like Pepe Le Pew.

As I also mentioned in my training recap on Monday, I started to come down with a cold on Friday, and it has been brutal. Coughing, congestion, sinus pressure, sneezing, headaches, runny nose, low grade fever, malaise: the whole nine yards. Maybe I don’t get colds often enough to remember how long they normally last, but this one has felt particularly long-lived. Given my mucus-y cough (you’re welcome), I’m pretty sure it devolved into a case of bronchitis, similar to what I dealt with during week 11 of marathon season 2014. (My training recap next week, spoiler alert, will look pretty similar to that one, though with more rest and less yoga.)

I can’t say I’m surprised, given my through-the-roof stress level and non-existent sleep schedule over the past month (I normally average about 7:0x minutes of sleep per week; in the month before the move, I was averaging more like 6:2x or 6:3x, and hadn’t had eight hours since the night of May 31 into June 1. Yikes.). I do wish my immune system would take care of it, though.

And then, just to top EVERYTHING off, I worked from home on Monday and, when preparing my breakfast, was struck by how soft the English muffin I took out of the fridge felt. A few hours later, I went back for yogurt, and was struck by how creamy it felt, and not in a good way. I stuck a thermometer in the fridge and got a reading of 58 degrees, which is, you know, a bit higher than the at-or-below 40 degrees the FDA recommends.

So I, clearly the simplest tenant to manage of all time, submitted yet another request to maintenance, who came by in short order and, upon opening the frost-filled freezer, let out an audible, “Oof.” Turns out the vents from the freezer to the fridge were blocked, which kept the fan from working, which led to major ice buildup in the freezer and April-esque temperatures in the fridge. He got everything back in working order before lunch, which I very much appreciated, but sheesh. Can’t a girl just settle into her new apartment in peace?!

3. Despite my various woes, I do have to say that I really like my new apartment. I liked the character of my old place, but my new place is a lot more comfortable for several reasons. I have central air, a dishwasher, and in-unit laundry, none of which I had in my previous apartment. I have an en-suite bathroom, which I’ve never had in my life. But the biggest comfort-adder, by a long shot, is this:

electricstove

AN ELECTRIC STOVE!!!!!! *all the praise hand emojis*

I have loathed gas stoves since the moment I started having to live with them. You would think I’d adapt to them over the course of seven years, but nope. I hated them more and more as time went on, and it eventually got to the point where I flat out stopped using them. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in living situations since 2014 where I’ve rarely had to cook, and when I did need to cook, was able to finagle my way into meals using electric appliances and/or food that didn’t need to be cooked.

Gas stoves were an enormous source of stress and anxiety for me in all three of my Chicago apartments. I never lived with one prior to moving to Chicago, and in fact never even knew anyone who had one prior to living in Chicago. The idea of piping highly combustible gas into my living space and then intentionally lighting it on fire seemed to defy all logic to me (still seems to defy all logic to me), especially when there was a perfectly viable alternative in electric stoves. Sure, gas stoves may provide finer temperature control, but I’m not aiming to win Iron Chef over here. I just want to be able to feed myself without constantly worrying about gas leaks, carbon monoxide poisoning, or something quickly and easily catching fire from an open flame. While none of those things were likely to happen, the knowledge that they could happen was enough to literally keep me up at night, and I have spent the past seven years longing to live in peace with my kitchen appliances. I’m so, so happy to be able to 1) cook at all and 2) cook without crushing anxiety for the first time since I moved to Chicago.

(For the record, I think induction stoves are the actual best stove option, because you get precise temperature control with next to no risk of anything catching fire and/or burning yourself. My dream home will have an induction stove, a geothermal heat pump for both heating and cooling, along with hot water add-ons to the heat pump, solar panels all over the roof, a backyard that’s about 85% native plants, 14% fruit/vegetable/herb garden with composting, and 1% grass (to get to the garden), a small front yard with a garden entirely of native plants (and as little grass as I can get away with, because the idea that a good lawn makes you a good person is one more social construct that’s contributing the death of the only known planet that supports human life), a garage with enough electric capacity to support a family of exclusively electric cars, and absolutely zero gas lines connected to the house. Oh, and a smug sense of superiority about the size of my carbon footprint, of course 😉 ).

Chicago Marathon Training Week 4

Sunday, June 30: Rest
I was going to go to the gym one last time on Sunday, but ultimately decided it’d be better to skip the gym and use that time to make some more progress on packing instead. Plus, it was hot over the weekend, and since my (now former) gym was located in my (now former) office building, the air conditioning situation was usually pretty dire on the weekends. That’s great from an environmental standpoint, but not so great from a comfortable workout standpoint. I also didn’t feel super great when I woke up Sunday morning–I was surprisingly sore from the moving and packing I had done on Saturday–so that also contributed to my decision to skip the gym. Finally, I had the foresight when I put my training plan together to schedule a rest day for this particular Sunday anyway, due to the move, so I didn’t feel too bad about taking the rest day I planned to take in the first place, even if it did throw off my strength training for the week.

Monday, July 1: 5.67 miles (with three hill repeats) in 1:08:24 for a 12:04 pace
If I needed to find two words to describe this run–this run that was meant to be seven miles with four hill repeats–those two words would be “unmitigated disaster.” Or perhaps “utter debacle.” Or maybe “complete catastrophe.”

You get the point.

The weather was horrible Monday afternoon, and anyone who disagrees with me can [redacted]. It was very hot. It was very humid. It was very sunny. It was very still. It was about as bad as running weather can be, in my opinion. On top of that, I was on a deadline. I head an eye doctor appointment at 6 p.m., so I needed to get home, cool off, and shower by 5:45 at the absolute latest to get there on time. To accommodate that, I came into work early on Monday and left at 3:30–but only kind of. Had I left at 3:30, I might’ve been all right. But I turned my computer off at 3:30. I still had to change into my running clothes, sunscreen, and put everything away. By the time all of that happened, it was 3:50. That left me with 1:25 total to do seven miles in 90 degree, full sun, mid-afternoon weather AND wait through the usual 10 or so minutes of stop lights at intersections I deal with on run commutes, which meant I really had 1:15 to do the run. That’s a 10:42 pace, which would be perfectly attainable for me if it were, you know, 45 degrees outside.

Things started going poorly almost immediately. I was in an absolutely foul mood, and dealing with all the people on the Riverwalk didn’t help my attitude one bit. The Riverwalk often figured into my run commutes, and let me tell you, if you intend to do anything other than casually stroll along the Riverwalk any time between Memorial Day and Labor Day (including run commuting), you’re on a fool’s errand. It’s crowded by people with no sense of personal space, absolutely no awareness for what constitutes an appropriate amount of walkway to occupy, and total ignorance as to what to do if you see someone running directly at you (YOU. MOVE. OUT. OF. THE. WAY. It’s not that complicated!!!!!!!!) Running along the Riverwalk always aggravates me (except on those blessed days when it’s cold/gross/rainy outside, and the only other people on it are commuters who have a basic idea of how to be a pedestrian in Chicago), but it’s the most intersection-free way to get to the Lakefront Trail, so I’ve suffered through it for two years of run commuting. But I sure didn’t like it! (From a people perspective. I very much liked it from a scenery perspective, though I do miss the older, quieter, pre-renovation east side.)

Anyway, I finally got off the Riverwalk and trudged along the Lakefront Trail to Mt. Roosevelt, where I typically did my hill repeats because it’s 1) easy to access and 2) obviously the perfect place to do hill repeats when preparing for the Chicago Marathon, given that it is the hill I’m training for. By the time I got there, however, I was logging 12:30+ miles. Obviously things were not going well for me. On the downhill after my second repeat, I looked at my Fitbit and saw that it was 4:44, which was so incomprehensible I checked it two more times to make sure I read it correctly. 4:44?!?! I had two repeats and like 2.5 more miles to run, including stop lights and only 30 minutes to do it! It would be physically impossible to accomplish that (for me).

I really wanted to get in those four repeats, because I have no idea what the hill situation will be by my new apartment (though I assume it’ll be dire, since this is Illinois we’re talking about) and this could be my only good chance to do hill repeats all season. When I finished the third one, though, I knew I couldn’t possibly justify another one, so I started heading home. I was barely moving, absolutely baking in the sun, frustrated to the point of crying, and finally just quit. I saw a bus that would get me near my house coming up behind me, so I ran to its next stop and threw in the towel.

This run would’ve been disappointing and frustrating under the best of circumstances, but the fact that it was my last run commute made it that much more upsetting. I really, really enjoyed run commuting during the past two marathon seasons and certainly would’ve done it more often if the weather allowed. Run commuting is probably one of the biggest things I’ll miss about living in the city, especially because I don’t know when/if I’ll ever have the opportunity to do it again. To have my last one be so difficult and unfulfilling was a huge letdown.

Tuesday, July 2: Dance
This has been quite the session of dance so far. Though my class lasts an hour, my Fitbit usually logs around 45 minutes of activity per class, when you account for how low key the warmup is and all that. This past Tuesday, my Fitbit logged an hour and two minutes of activity! We start dancing when class starts and don’t stop until it ends now, apparently. But that’s fine with me! Bring on the choreography!

Wednesday, July 3: Moving
I didn’t do a formal workout on Wednesday because I feel like moving is enough of a workout in and of itself. It’s also a pretty time-consuming activity, so even if I had wanted to get in a workout, I wouldn’t have had time to do so.

Thursday, July 4: 5.33 miles in 1:00:27 for an 11:20 pace
I planned to run four miles on Thursday, but I was feeling really good when I hit four miles, so I kept going to 5.33 to make up for what I missed on Monday. This was my first run in the suburbs! Actually, now that I think about it, it was only the fourth time I’ve run in the suburbs at all, and the previous three were all during races. Anyway, I explored the area a bit and was genuinely, truly SHOCKED by how friendly people were. Cyclists calmly announced when they were approaching, runners and walkers coming in the other direction said good morning: it was crazy! Nearly all of my running life has been lived on the Lakefront Trail, so my expectation for runs is to be ignored most of the time and verbally harassed (generally by angsty cyclists) every now and again. This was very outside my normal experience!

Friday, July 5: Rest

Saturday, July 6: 9.1 miles in 1:49:06 for an 11:49 pace
I felt off when I woke up Friday morning and spent all day guzzling water in an attempt to deal with what felt like a dry throat (or, more specifically, a dry soft palate). When I woke up Saturday morning, I quickly determined that my “dry throat” was the beginnings of a cold. I felt like absolute crap when my alarm went off at 4 a.m. (and not just because my alarm was going off at 4 a.m.!) and really, really did not want to drive into the city for my long run. I don’t have a co-group leader, however, and our site coordinator was out of town, so if I didn’t show up, there wouldn’t be anyone to lead. So I drug myself into the city, my full sinuses making my face feel like it could explode at any moment and just generally feeling ick. On top of that, it was stupidly humid Saturday morning, so I knew this was not going to be the most impressive long run I’d ever had. I told my runners I had come down with a cold the day before and I would do my best to get them through nine miles, but I couldn’t make any promises that it would be at an 11:30 pace. They were all understanding, which I appreciated. I had two new runners on Saturday and felt bad that I wasn’t up to engaging with them, like, at all, but hopefully they’ll keep coming back and I can get to know them better when I feel a little less like death. Running did help me feel slightly better, which I thought it might–I’ve found as long as my symptoms are above the neck, running can help ease sinus pressure a bit–but “slightly better” certainly wasn’t “normal,” and eventually we were running so slow that the 12:00 pace group passed us. I’d feel worse about it if I thought I was holding my runners back, but since all but one of them fell off the group to stop and walk, I’m not really beating myself up over it.