Chicago Marathon Training Week 16

Sunday, September 22: 20.03 miles in 4:05:25 for a 12:15 pace
All week, the forecast called for rain and/or thunderstorms on Sunday. Having been around the Chicago forecast block once or twice in the past, I figured that the meteorologists would ease up on their rain predictions as the week went on. Instead, it only got worse. As of Saturday night, it looked like there was an 80 to 100 percent chance of rain for the duration of the 20 miler. I don’t think I was overreacting by assuming we’d run the 20 miler in the rain.

When I woke up at 3:45 Sunday morning, (yay living in the suburbs 😐 ), my first order of business was to check the radar. There was some nasty weather over in Iowa, but it appeared to be moving northeast. Other than that, it appeared likely that we’d stay dry for the race. Regardless, I implemented Full Rain Protocol for the run. I packed a full change of clothes, down to my underwear and socks, and put them in a Ziploc bag, which I then put in a grocery bag, which I then put in my (not waterproof) gear check bag. I also packed my raincoat and an additional change of clothes for the car, just in case. I double bagged my phone and went to town with the Aquaphor, absolutely coating any area of skin where I’ve ever chafed on a run in the past and slathering my toes with the stuff to attempt to avoid blistering.

As a group leader, I needed to arrive to the 20 miler between 5:30 and 5:45, even though the run itself wasn’t scheduled to start until 6:30 (and in reality started a little later than that). I picked up my group leading supplies (bib, pace bib, pace stick), chilled in the car for a bit, hit up the portapotties, then found my runners and hung out with them until it was our turn to start running at 6:52 a.m.

It wasn’t raining, but it was super humid Sunday morning, and frankly I would’ve preferred rain to the swamp we ran through. The past two 20 milers have been very hot and sunny, but the humidity made this one just as challenging from a weather perspective, at least for me.

Per usual, I wasn’t all that concerned with holding a perfect 11:30 pace, though I did come through the first mile in exactly 11:30 *high fives self* I stuck with my runners for a bit, but one pulled ahead and two others fell behind, so by mile four or so, I was flying solo.

All of six miles into this 20 mile endeavor, I was really starting to lose it. Running felt hard and not fun, and to top everything off, the sun came out, which was the LAST thing I wanted on Sunday. Thankfully, I had never taken my sunscreen stick out of my hydration belt, so I told myself I could take a sunscreen-applying walk break at the next aid station (I had been running through all the aid stations up to that point).

As I was walking through the aid station around mile seven, my runner who had pulled ahead popped out of a portapotty, so I had a running buddy again. That helped me out immensely, and the next three miles flew by. He stopped to take a walk break around mile 10.5, though, and I was on my own for the remainder of the run.

I won’t lie, it wasn’t pretty. I mean, I’ve had worse 20 milers, both from a time and enthusiasm perspective. But I wasn’t in the best mood of my life by any means, and most of the time, I was running for the sake of finishing as quickly as possible, not running because I felt up to it. I desperately, desperately wanted to be DONE. My feet were absolutely killing me, and my pesky ankle was protesting more than I liked, too. I walked through all of the aid stations (and started dumping water on my head somewhere on the south side – I probably should’ve started doing that a lot earlier) but ran most of the rest of the run, aside from a walk break at mile 15 while I ate my Honey Stingers, and a walk break around 18.25 because I was #overit.

To put a cherry on the top of my misery sundae, I also wasn’t feeling super great in the stomach department. I tried to hydrate well on Saturday, but I 1) didn’t hydrate as much as I had hoped to and 2) didn’t anticipate that it would be so sticky on Sunday. I was quite thirsty throughout the run, but I wasn’t absorbing most of it. I could feel water sloshing around in my stomach, and it really frustrated me. I knew I needed to be getting more hydration in, but if my stomach refused to process it, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do.

I nearly cried at mile 19 and at the finish line, not because I was so overwhelmed with what I had accomplished, but because I was SO glad to be done. I hadn’t looked up any of my previous 20 miler times, so I didn’t know it at the time, but this was actually the fastest one I’ve had since 2016. It sure didn’t feel that way, but it’s nice to know that it was!

Monday, September 23: Rest

Tuesday, September 24: Strength training – legs (AM) + dance (PM)
I didn’t need to be to my volunteer day for work until 9 a.m., which gave me AMPLE time to work out in the morning. This being my first workout post-20 miler, my strength training plan called for light weights and low reps, and I was able to get through the whole thing in 13 minutes. Yes please.
Fortunately, all of the soreness I felt Monday had dissipated by Tuesday, so dance wasn’t the struggle I worried it might be. We learned a new combo and were given instructions to “not forget it before next week,” so there’s something for me to work on 😛

Wednesday, September 25: 6 miles in 1:10:19 for an 11:43 pace (AM) + strength training – upper body (PM)
I slept in later than I planned and was a bit frazzled getting out the door for six miles on Wednesday morning. The whole thing felt more difficult than I anticipated, which was a bummer, but I suppose that’s taper for you. I also underestimated how long six miles would feel, thinking that after 20 it should be over in a heartbeat. Not so! Once again, the struggles of taper.

I am loving my early taper strength training workouts. This one took 15 minutes! I’m used to my strength training taking more like 25-30 minutes, so this change has been most welcome. It also won’t last for all of taper, but once I get closer to the marathon, I’ll also start dropping my weights big time for my strength training workouts, so it’ll all even out. Hopefully.

Thursday, September 26: 6 miles in 1:10:03 (with six hill repeats) for an 11:40 pace (AM)
Check out that consistency! How long does it take me to run six miles? An hour and 10 minutes! My work schedule was a little messed up this week, and I didn’t have the flexibility to start my day late like I normally do on days I run. That meant getting up well before dawn (since dawn is fairly late these days) and heading out in the dark, which I do not like. I thought being nervous about running in the dark would make me go faster, but apparently that wasn’t the case. I ran about two miles before tackling my hill repeats. The uphill I ran faces east, so I got to watch the sun come up, which was kind of cool–seeing how much higher it got each time I went up the hill. The weather was amazing, with the first dew points in the 40s (!!) that I’ve seen all season. You’d think that would also help me run faster, but whatever. I guess that’s not really the point of maintenance runs during taper, is it?

Friday, September 27: Rest

Saturday, September 28: 12.22 miles in 2:17:49 for an 11:17 pace
Well, I guess you can’t hope to make it through all of marathon season without a rainy run. This reminded me more of April running than September running! I got to my group run Saturday morning to discover that one (1) of my runners had showed up, so it was less of a group run on Saturday and more of a duo run, but that’s all right. I’m just glad I had someone to run with, because Saturday’s weather was miserable, and it would’ve been that much worse if I had had to go it alone. We had a nice chat and clicked off our miles quicker than usual (i.e.: not at a 12:00+ pace), which was particularly nice after Sunday’s disheartening 20 miler. We had the wind at our back for the first six miles, but when we turned around, we had to head home into a headwind amidst aggressive sprinkling (it wasn’t really raining raining, per se, at least not compared to Friday – but it was definitely precipitating). I had worn my finisher’s jacket from the 2016 Chicago Marathon (which I had never run in prior to Saturday #YOLO), and though I got too warm within the first mile and had to tie it around my waist, I was VERY glad I had it for the return trip. I put it on half a mile after turning around and wore it for the remainder of the run.


Thursday Things

1. *sigh* I feel so out of sorts with marathon training this year, and it’s really wearing on me. Ninety percent (made up percentage – I haven’t done the actual math, but you get the idea) of my weekday runs feel fantastic. There were some tough ones in the first couple of weeks of June, and then two other real struggles since I moved to the suburbs. But other than that, my weekday runs have by and large been great, or if not great, at least satisfactory. I’ve been happy with how they go and how I feel, and they boost my confidence for the marathon.

But my long runs. Oh, my long runs. They’ve been the bane of my existence this training cycle, and I don’t know why. I can go bang out a seven mile run at a 10:20 pace on a Wednesday morning, but put me on the Lakefront Trail on a Saturday morning, and I’m struggling to run even one mile at an 11:30 pace, never mind multiple miles in a row. It’s been enormously frustrating, and zaps all the confidence I’ve built up during my weekday runs.

I don’t understand why I’m having so much trouble on my long runs, and it really frustrates me. Maybe it’s because of the move? Maybe spending so much time in the car prior to a run makes my legs incapable of running? Or getting up earlier in order to make it to the run in time? If that’s the case, there’s really nothing I can do about it, at least not at this point in training. I have a place to spend the night in the city the day before the marathon, so I won’t have a drive in (or train ride in) to deal with that morning. Hopefully that’ll make some sort of a difference.

I also just need to get over caring so much about this marathon that I swore up and down I wouldn’t care about. I’ve invested a ton of time and energy into training for this race, so it’s not surprising that I care–and I don’t think it’s bad that I care–but I need to remember that the whole point of running the race this year was to enjoy it. I don’t need to PR, or hit a certain time, or whatever. Things to work on during taper, I suppose.

2. Speaking of things I need to get over caring so much about, I’ve been taking this September step challenge at work way, way too seriously.

As of Wednesday afternoon, I had an 8,000-step hold on second place (though my rival in third hadn’t tracked her steps for Wednesday at all, so I could be living in blissful ignorance to the actual state of affairs. I’m like 40,000 steps behind the person in first, so I’ve given up my dreams of taking the gold.). I really, really thought the 20 miler on Sunday would get me ahead of her once and for all, but when I returned to the office on Monday, she still had a 3,500 step lead on me. This is what I get for only logging 4,000 steps on Saturday!

My company organizes day-long volunteering events throughout the year, and I participated in one on Tuesday with a handful of coworkers. While there, the step challenge came up. As it happens, three people in my volunteer group work in the same department as my step challenge rival and gave me the inside scoop! Turns out she walks the stairs at work (six flight) every hour, AND she runs at lunch! Ah ha! I suspected she ran regularly–I don’t know how anyone could possibly average over 20,000 steps per day when you work a desk job without running–but the stairs! That was a surprise. Genius!

I don’t know how much of a chance I have at maintaining my tenuous grip on second place, but I have been going out. of. my. way. to walk as much as possible to satisfy my ridiculous need for validation. Keep in mind, coming in second place won’t win me anything. Coming in first wouldn’t, either. Each person on my team needs to log 210,000 steps for us to even get wellness points (a useless currency), and as of yesterday, we were averaging 166,000 per person and were in close to last place (from a team perspective). I’m guessing there’s no chance we’ll even hit the minimum 210,000 threshold, never mind shoot into the top three teams (who get extra wellness points). So all of this walking I’m doing, my powerwalks at lunch, my gigantic laps around the office to get to the kitchen for water, my intentional inefficiencies so I have to make multiple trips from Point A to Point B in order to log more steps: none of it matters at all. I will get absolutely nothing, probably not even the smallest amount of recognition, for doing this. And yet this has become one of my top priorities for the month. Like I said, ridiculous.

3. SPEAKING of ridiculous. I had some time to kill on Tuesday and a $15 voucher to Fleet Feet burning a hole in my pocket. Since I won’t need shoes for awhile, I decided to stop into the Old Town store (the first time I’ve been there since they moved forever ago, incidentally) to check out the marathon gear. Having learned my lesson the hard way with last year’s marathon hats, I didn’t want to wait until the expo to try to get any.

Well. Not only was Fleet Feet completely out of hats, they were almost completely out of everything. As far as women’s clothes went, they had three or four half zips, a handful of t-shirts, maybe 10 sweatshirts, one tank top, and two visors. That was it. Gear went on sale one week ago. The employee who showed me where their clothes were said people showed up when the store opened last Thursday to get things.

What is this?!? Since when did buying Nike marathon gear become such an arms race?! Are they going to have to make a lottery for marathon gear, too, like they did for registration? It’s insane! When I got to the expo at like 1 p.m. on FRIDAY last year, Nike was already SOLD OUT of hats. And they weren’t even that interesting! They were just plain black running hats that said Bank of America Chicago Marathon on them!

So I bought a visor at Fleet Feet (and a pair of socks that I didn’t need but said Chicago 26.2 on them, so *shrugging emoji*) and plan to try my luck at Nike downtown on Saturday after my long run to see what they have in stock. I have a coupon for Nike as well (thank you, birthday month) that I’d like to use on marathon gear if at all possible. I’d buy stuff online to save myself the trouble, but as I suspected from Fleet Feet’s pictures of the gear, and had confirmed to me in store by what Fleet Feet had available, only has like half of the actual gear (which is also ridiculous, but whatever. I only have so much marathon gear outrage available 😛 ), so in-store it is. I suppose if that doesn’t work out, I’ll hope for the best at the expo, or just stick with my visor and call it a a day. THE DRAMA. Haha.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 15

Sunday, September 15: Strength training – legs + 60 minutes elliptical
My strength training up to this point in marathon season hasn’t aligned with the week it’s “supposed” to be on for a few reasons. I kept going through my strength training program (more or less) after the marathon last year and through half marathon training earlier this year, so instead of starting at the beginning when marathon training started, I just kept going with where I was. Additionally, my strength training program is 16 weeks of training, not 18, so even if I had started strength training week one on week one of marathon training, it would’ve stopped aligning by the end of training. In an effort to not overexert myself, however, I thought it’d be in my best interest to get back into alignment for peak week. Plus, I liked the peak week workouts better than the ones I was supposed to do this week, anyway 😛 I went through those, then hopped on the elliptical for an hour to round out the 90 minutes of exercise on my schedule for the day. While I’m still not crazy about the elliptical, I rarely hit 10,000 steps on Sundays, and that step competition at work is not going to win itself! I get steps for the elliptical but none for the bike, so I’m guessing most of my cross training for the rest of the month will be elliptical-based.

Monday, September 16: 10 miles in 1:55:10 for an 11:31 pace (AM) + strength training – upper body (PM)
Or perhaps I should say a 10 mile swim, based on the swampy conditions Monday morning. HOLY HUMIDITY, who put in an order for mid-summer?! Blech. Thankfully the actual temperature wasn’t too high, and the sun was well hidden behind a thick cloud cover. The first couple of miles of this run were a serious slog, but I hit my groove around mile 2.5 and felt surprisingly good for the remainder of my run. I took a nature-heavy route on Monday and really enjoyed it. It’s so nice to be among trees and birds. Plus, it makes me feel like I’m multitasking: I’m getting in my recommended physical activity for the day and my recommended nature exposure for the day. Win win!

I got to the gym at what’s normally a pretty busy time on a weekday afternoon, so I was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of space and not too many people joining me for my workout. Monday’s strength training called for high reps, so I scaled back my weights and found it a lot more manageable than when I try to use my usual weight for a high number of reps (duh). You’d think this would’ve occurred to me a lot earlier!

Tuesday, September 17: Dance
As expected, my teacher wasn’t there on Tuesday (his company had a huge show this past weekend, and he usually doesn’t make it to class when he’s days away from a big show), so we had a sub. I know her, but I had never taken a class with her before. It’s always so interesting to me how different everyone’s style of teaching is! She didn’t really know the choreography we learned last week, so we attempted to piece it together from our collective memory. We’ll see how that turns out when my teacher’s (presumably) back this week, ha.

Wednesday, September 18: 5.68 miles in 1:00:57 for a 10:44 pace + strength training – legs
My company gives you a free day of PTO for your birthday, and while some people choose to take that day on the nearest Monday or Friday to have a three-day weekend, I always choose to take it on my birthday itself, because I like my birthday and I don’t like working (not just at my current job: in general), so having the opportunity to take the day off without spending any of my PTO is ideal. It was also great because that meant I could run without feeling any pressure to wrap things up and get to work in a timely fashion! This was my last big Hal Higdon-style tempo run of training, and it was tough, per usual. It’s so hard to pace myself when I have so. many. five minute intervals to get through! I’m really happy with my peak pace though–it ranged from 9:32 to 9:18 (appropriate, given that it was 9/18), which is right where I’d like it to be.

After running, I went home, made myself a small batch of pancakes, then left my apartment for the gym. I thought I’d have the place to myself, since it was like 10:45 on a Wednesday, but there were two other people there! Fortunately none of them seemed to need the equipment I needed. The workout went well, but I was surprisingly sore from it on Thursday.

Thursday, September 19: 60 minutes elliptical
All about getting those steps in this month. I hopped on the elliptical for an hour after work to cross train and increase my step count for the day. I made a lot of progress on the book I’m currently reading. It took a super unexpected turn near the end of my 60 minutes, which made it hard to get off the elliptical! I wanted to keep reading!

Friday, September 20: Rest

Saturday, September 21: Rest

Friday Things

1. Welp, I’m officially panicking about the 20 miler on Sunday.

Sunday’s forecast is abysmal, to put it gently. Apparently the remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda are scheduled to arrive in the Chicago area Saturday evening into Sunday morning, bringing with them heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Per usual, I’m particularly concerned about the potential for thunderstorms, given the whole “running exposed on the Lakefront for approximately four hours” thing. I know from experience that the obvious threat of thunderstorms almost guaranteed to arrive during a run isn’t enough for CARA to cancel–I have three 18 milers and their corresponding tales of waiting out storms in underpasses and bathrooms to prove that. Unless it’s storming at 6:30 a.m., I’m quite certain they won’t cancel.

However, the 20 miler won’t be done by, you know, 7 a.m. It’s going to take literal hours to run. So what are they going to do if it starts storming mid-run? CARA has never seemed to have a mid-run thunderstorm contingency plan, so I have no reason to believe they’ll have one for the 20 miler–though if they do, it would be awfully helpful if they’d at least inform us pace leaders about it ahead of time.

I suppose at this point, it would be more efficient to link back to my thunderstorm-related complaints I had for the Chicago Marathon last year, because it boils down to the same thing this year with CARA: just communicate with us. I can’t, for the life of me, understand what harm it would do to show people you’re prepared for bad weather and that you have a plan in place to keep your participants safe should electricity shoot down from the sky. I absolutely understand keeping your security protocols under wraps, because announcing to the world what you plan to do in case of a security breach is a security breach in and of itself. But it’s not the like weather is sitting in a dark room somewhere, waiting anxiously to see if CARA reveals its plans so it can find the holes in them and exploit them.

2. Even if it doesn’t thunderstorm, I’m still concerned about the “heavy rain” situation.

At the end of the day, if it rains, it rains. There’s nothing I can do about it. It will be unpleasant. I’ll wear a garbage bag until it’s time to start running, put my phone in a Ziploc bag, slather my skin in Aquaphor, and hope for the best.

My concern, however, are concerns that I had in the first place, which are only exacerbated by the predicted heavy rain. For whatever reason, I’ve really struggled with blisters this year. I got blisters running my half marathon in April, and marathon training hasn’t been much better, particularly in the past few weeks. I have an especially brutal blister on one of my toes that seems to reignite after any run in even vaguely humid conditions, which doesn’t bode well for Sunday.

I started wearing my Injinjis more regularly, hoping that having some fabric between my toes would keep them from rubbing against each other and blistering. No such luck. I put Body Glide on my toes before my run on Wednesday and finished blister-free, but I also only ran about 5.6 miles.

So if anyone has any blister avoidance tips, I’m accepting them. My toes would appreciate your guidance.

3. *heavy dramatic sigh* Guys, I’m so upset that I haven’t had any random encounters with the Jonas Brothers while they’ve gallivanted around Chicago this week 😦 I doesn’t help, of course, that I don’t live in the city anymore, and they’ve primarily been in the city…but still. They were in the area on my birthday! Why didn’t they come visit me?! 😦 *more heavy dramatic sighing*

I obviously didn’t take it too personally, since I’ve bought myself a ticket to their show in Rosemont in a few months. Nike’s the one who should take it personally, since I’m channeling the majority of my birthday money into Jonas-related things rather than marathon swag this year. It helps that, per usual, I’m not all that into this year’s design (which means I will inevitably be super into it on Oct. 14, also per usual). I like the look of the tank top, but I bought that same tank top (the Nike Miler) last year and honestly don’t like the fit of it at all. It’s too loose and bounces around too much for my liking. Plus I hate that the arm holes are so big. If I wanted to show off my sports bra to the world, I wouldn’t wear a shirt. I’d really like a half-zip, but right now only has men’s half-zips available, so I don’t know if they’ll have any for women. I sure hope they do! I have more marathon swag than any one person could possibly need, but my only half-zip is from the 2013 marathon. It’d be cool to have one from my first Oct. 13 Chicago Marathon and one from my last (for now) Oct. 13 Chicago Marathon.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 13: Rest

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

Happiness Begins Tour: Grand Rapids Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AND THEN. The main event.


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


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


Joe looked in my direction.

Saw me.

Reached his free right hand across his body.

And grazed my fingers.

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


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




Chicago Marathon Training Week 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 6: Rest

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