Chicago Marathon Training Week 10


IrSunday, August 11: Strength training – lower body + 53 minutes bike
I had another 80 minutes of cross training on the schedule today, so once again I started out with some strength training and filled out the rest of my time with the bike. I finally bothered to look up the best way to do kettlebell swings with a dumbbell, and it was a thousand times easier now that I figured out a better way to do it (holding the weight plate rather than the bar between the two). I’m glad I can do them again! (I didn’t know this on Sunday, but the gym in my new office building also has kettlebells, so that might be an option moving forward as well).

Monday, August 12: 58 minutes yoga
This one:

Ironically, I was in a pretty good mood Monday afternoon and didn’t feel particularly stressed or anxious. I had been looking forward to some relaxing yoga for a while, though, so even though I didn’t particularly need this practice in that moment, it was still quite nice.

Tuesday, August 13: Dance
This session’s dance class had whittled down to three of us by last week, and in the middle of the afternoon, one of the girls texted the other two of us (the three of us have taken class together a bunch of times before) to let us know there had been some major drama at her office that day and she wasn’t going to be able to make class or graduation that night. Oh. So, it was just two of us for graduation. A similar thing actually happened I think five or six years ago (with the same classmate), so at least we knew what we were doing 😛

Wednesday, August 14: 6 miles in 1:03:42 for a 10:37 pace (AM) + strength training – upper body (PM)
I expected to be smacked in the face with humidity when I walked out the door to run Wednesday morning, so to be more tapped on the shoulder with it instead was a very nice surprise. This was a pace run, which would be a lot easier to do if I had any idea what kind of pace I want to run during the marathon, ha. I guess maybe 11:00ish? My “goal pace” is “finishing,” so I’m just kind of winging these pace runs. I (clearly) ended up averaging a 10:37, which would likely be a bit ambitious for the actual marathon, but who knows. I came very close to bailing early on this run due to some hip/leg pain that come on…maybe a mile and a half into the run? I had the same issue pop up on my nine miler a couple weeks ago, but it hasn’t happened any other time since. That time, I thought it was because I ran in the afternoon and had been sitting all day, but obviously that wasn’t the case this week. I’m wondering if maybe one of the moves in dance irritates my leg somehow and that’s why this has happened twice on Wednesdays now? It feels like an intense ache in my tensor fasciae latae (which has been a problem muscle for me in the past), but it creeps all the way down my IT band and is also accompanied by numbness in the same foot?? I don’t know. I’m hoping it’s a two-time thing and won’t come up again.

The gym was super packed in the afternoon. Usually there are one or two other people there, but on Wednesday, there were seven other people when I showed up! Unsurprisingly, it’s not that big of a gym, so I had to wrangle myself into a corner and hope I wasn’t going to end up in anyone’s way. Wednesday’s workout was high rep/low weight, so my arms were burning by the end.

Thursday, August 15: 9 miles (with six hill repeats) in 1:42:55 for an 11:26 pace (AM) + strength training – lower body (PM)
I woke up extra early Thursday morning to get my nine miles in before work. It still wasn’t early enough, so I’m going to have to remember that if I keep trying to do super long runs in the morning. My hip continued to bother me all day Wednesday, so I really wasn’t sure that I’d get all nine miles in anyway. All the residual soreness I felt was gone within a mile or so, though, and never came back, so I figured I may as well do my entire run. The fact that I was able to get through nine miles pain free furthers my suspicions that my pain yesterday and two weeks ago was dance related. Now that that routine is over, my fingers are crossed my hip issue is done, too. The weather was super perfect Thursday morning, which helped make this infinitely more enjoyable than the disaster that was my eight miler with five hill repeats a few weeks ago.

Thursday afternoon’s workout was another short and sweet one. I had no recollection of ever doing it before, which was weird to me. I’ve done all of these workouts at least twice, and most of them I remember in some capacity. Not this one, though! That’s all right – it made for a nice surprise 😛

Friday, August 16: Rest

Saturday, August 17: 15 miles in 2:57:22 for an 11:20 pace
For most of the summer, I’ve had four marathoners and two or three half marathoners in my little 11:30 pace group. My usual half marathoners were there Saturday morning, but I was stunned to suddenly find myself with SEVEN marathoners (with one of my usuals being absent). Where did all of these people come from?! Where had they been for the past TEN WEEKS?!! (Two of them had been at Montrose, one of them had been traveling for work, and the fourth one was apparently from San Antonio (like, lives there now, not originally from San Antonio), so I’m guessing he’s not signed up for CARA training and just showed up Saturday morning.) I was a little stressed about corralling all of these people through 15 miles, but  it ended up working out fine. My usual runners don’t like stopping at water stops (they grab water but drink it while walking), and I ended up not running with any of them pretty much at all. The San Antonio runner is actually training for New York, so he turned around after about five miles (my half marathoners were long gone at this point), so for the majority of the run I only had three runners with me. That’s more of what I’m used to! I really enjoyed chatting with my three new runners and I hope they come back! From a run perspective, I’m very happy with how this one went. It was one of my better pacing efforts and I felt good throughout the whole thing (the cloud cover definitely helped).

Chicago Marathon Training Week 9

Sunday, August 4: Strength training – legs + 54 minutes bike
Lifting was a bit harder than I anticipated on Sunday, but I got it done. I skipped the kettlebell swings I was supposed to finish with. I thought I could do kettlebell swings with a dumbbell (because there are no kettlebells at my gym), and while I technically can, it’s certainly a bit awkward. I didn’t feel like dealing with it on Sunday, and figured I still had a ton of cardio ahead of me anyway so I could probably manage to skip 25 kettlebell swings. I hopped on the bike after my strength training and tackled the random hill setting for just under an hour.

Monday, August 4: 7 miles in 1:19:32 for an 11:22 pace (AM) + strength training – upper body (PM)
I took my August half day Monday morning due to an appointment I had that day, which gave me ample time to do my run before work. It was also supposed to get up to 90 that afternoon, so I was more than happy to get my run done before the heat set in. It was a bit on the humid side compared to last week, so I was an absolute puddle by the time I got home. It also took me awhile to hit my pace, but I arranged my route so I’d finish on a downhill, which is always good for my ego 🙂

Monday’s strength training workout was short and sweet. It called for lat pulldowns, which opened my eyes to the fact that the new gym doesn’t really have a lat pulldown machine. It has one of those multi-function machines that you can kind of use for lat pulldowns, but following the diagram on the machine didn’t seem to be the best way to accomplish what I was trying to do. I felt like I was using my triceps much more than my lats, which kind of defeats the purpose. I’m going to have to see what other options I have the next time I need to do them.

Tuesday, August 6: Dance
One of my former classmates subbed for us on Tuesday, which was fun! Graduation is next week (this week by the time this post goes up), so we did a ton of review. I still don’t feel all that confident in my ability to remember the choreography this time around. Oof. However, the MOST devastating part of class was when the sub (who’s in my teacher’s company) told us to come to their show next month (it’s a really big deal – the company is part of a broader group, and all the groups will be here to do a performance. I know about the show because my teacher is always gone for it, but it’s never been in Chicago since I’ve been taking dance), and then told us it’s the NIGHT BEFORE THE 20 MILER. AT 8 P.M. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I so want to go!! I’ll admit that I’m very tempted to go even with the 20 miler the next day, because I’m really only in the marathon for the fun of it this time around, so the 20 miler is just another long run…but the show is downtown (like, downtown downtown, not just in the city somewhere), which would be a GIGANTIC hassle now that I live in the burbs. UGH UGH UGH UGH UGH.

Wednesday, August 7: 50 minutes bike
The office move made my schedule wonky this week, so I didn’t have time to run on Wednesday. I biked instead, and it was fairly uneventful. I’m starting to think level nine is the ideal one on the bike, though, for those of you anxiously waiting to see which level I settled on 😛

Thursday, August 8: 6 miles (1.5 mile WU, 6x.5 mi w/ .25 mi recovery) in 1:05:01 for a 10:50 pace (AM) + strength training – lower body (PM)
I was bound and determined to get my run in Thursday morning, for whatever reason, but when I woke up, it quickly became apparent that my dinner from the night before would make running outside risky, to say the least. I decided to take my run to the treadmill, where I’d have guaranteed, quick access to a bathroom at any time. (God bless this past winter’s half marathon training, where I was forced to figure out how to run on the treadmill without losing my mind, so that’s actually a viable option now.) Plus, running inside meant I didn’t have to put on sunscreen, which is always nice. I did a 1.5 mile warmup at 5.2 mph with a one percent incline, and then for my intervals did the half miles at 6.1 mph (one percent incline) and the recovery at 4.8 mph (no incline). It was fine, aside from the tummy troubles. After I finished my run, I realized that if I was down to do this run on the treadmill regardless, I should’ve just waited until the afternoon. My system almost certainly would’ve taken care of dinner by then, and if it were too hot to run outside, I would’ve ended up on the treadmill anyway. Oh well. Something to remember for next time, I guess.

I went back to the gym in the afternoon to strength train. It was a headache. I guess I just got too used to the equipment in the gym at work, so now everything at this gym doesn’t just seem different: it seems wrong and difficult. And it’s not helping me like strength training any more. It’s very frustrating, because I did really like strength training for the past year, but this gym situation is really killing my vibe. There’s apparently a gym in the new suburban office, so I’ll have to check that out to see if it meets my needs better. If so, I might start doing most of my strength training there instead.

Friday, August 9: Rest

Saturday, August 10: 10.56 miles in 2:04:13 for an 11:46 pace
Halfway through marathon training, and all of this getting up early, not getting enough sleep stuff finally caught up to me. I was dead tired when I got to the run and, uh, perhaps not the most engaging, enthusiastic group leader CARA has ever seen. I barely said a word until we were 1.75 miles into the run. One of my half marathoners struck up a conversation with me at that point, and it helped me be in a much better mood than I was when I started. It was overcast for almost the entire run for the first time all season, finally. That made things a bit more tolerable than usual. I’m sure we went too far, though I’m not sure we went a full half mile too far.


Chicago Marathon Training Week 8

Sunday, July 28: Strength training – legs + 42 minutes bike
I was pleasantly surprised Sunday afternoon to discover that the gym was a decent temperature for exercising. It was cooler last week, too, but I assumed that was because the outside temperature was cooler. It wasn’t cool at all Sunday afternoon, but the gym was pleasant, so there must’ve been some sort of air conditioning issue that resulted in it being so warm. Anyway, I did 70 total minutes of cross training on Sunday, starting with strength training and then moving onto the bike. This gym has a “real” leg press machine (i.e.: one where you’re essentially lying down and pushing up), as opposed to my old gym which had a more modified set-up (one where you’re setting and push away). It required a bit of adjusting when it came to my weight expectations! It also made my calves sore, so I suspect I was doing something wrong.

Monday, July 29: Strength training – upper body (AM) + 4.92 miles in 50:00 for a 10:10 pace (PM)
I wanted to run Monday morning, but it was rainy and humid, so I opted to go to the gym instead. I also got to sleep in an hour by doing so, which was nice! I really haven’t been feeling my upper body workouts lately and have started to wonder if the only reason I didn’t mind strength training for the past year was because I liked being around the people who were at the gym at the same time as me, ha. Hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of things sooner rather than later, even without my “friends.”

Feeling less-than-confident about the weather Monday afternoon, I took my run to the treadmill. (I know. Who am I?) Discovering over the winter that I can read on the treadmill made me less hesitant to run on it, and since an aggressive downpour ended about 10 minutes before my run, I decided I’d rather be safe than sorry. I also didn’t want to ruin my white running shoes, which is a bad reason for running on the treadmill, but whatever. My shoes are pretty, and I want them to stay pretty as long as possible. This was a tempo run, so I started at a 5.2 mph pace and 1.0 incline and worked my way up to a 6.5 mph pace and 1.0 incline before coming back down to 5.2/1.0. I held the 6.5 mph pace for 10 minutes, which I was proud of, especially considering that running at that speed made me bounce too much to read. I instead passed the time by thinking, “I can do anything for x minutes,” or “I can do anything for x minutes and 30 seconds,” at 30 second intervals, ha. Whatever it takes!

Tuesday, July 30: Dance
There were only three people in class on Tuesday, so we spent the whole hour reviewing the two combos we’ve learned this session. THANK GOODNESS. I’ve had such a hard time remembering the choreography, even when I make a point of practicing. I needed an hour of review and felt like it really helped. Now we just have to see if I still remember everything next Tuesday!

Wednesday, July 31: Strength training – legs (AM) + 9 miles in 1:45:13 for an 11:41 pace (PM)
I was tired and unmotivated when my alarm went off Wednesday morning, so instead of running like I planned, I slept in another hour and went to the gym to strength train instead. I regretted my decision the instant I walked out of my apartment into downright fall-like temperatures, but it was too late at that point to run nine miles. I was in a bad mood the whole time I was strength training, thinking I should be out running instead. The fact that I couldn’t maintain my balance during single leg deadlifts didn’t help my mood situation, either.

I had it in my head that I should probably allot 1:45 to do a nine mile run, so imagine my delight when that’s almost exactly how long it took! Good estimation work, self. While it almost certainly would’ve been more pleasant to run in 60 degree weather that morning, it was only 75 for this run. That helped it go a billion and a half times better than last week’s eight miler, which was reassuring – though I suppose the fact that it only took me two more minutes to run one more mile kind of gives that away 😛 It did feel really long, though. This run felt a lot longer than my weekend long runs have felt. I wonder if I’m just not used to running for that much time yet? Hopefully that will change soon, because my runs aren’t going to get substantially shorter for another, like, two months.

Thursday, August 1: 50 minutes bike
When I went to the gym in my former office building, another employee from my company was often there at the same time. We work on totally unrelated teams, so we didn’t interact much at first, but over time we started chatting and got to the point where I considered her to be my gym buddy. I still see her every now and again when I go into our downtown office, and when I was there on Tuesday, she happened to stop by my desk. She told me about a chat she had with one of the trainers at the gym that morning that got onto the topic of guest passes, and she let me know that you could get a day pass to the gym for $10, in case I ever wanted/needed to use the gym in the building. Her timing couldn’t have been better, as I had just found out the day before that I would need to be downtown on Thursday evening (so it would make sense to work in our downtown office during the day on Thursday) and was trying to figure how I would get a workout in. I thought about trying to find a yoga class, but I definitely couldn’t find any with a drop-in rate of $10 (plus I needed to be downtown because I was going to a show, so I didn’t have a ton of flexibility in my schedule to go to a class whenever it happened to be taking place), so I went back to the gym in the office building! It was so nice being on a bike whose levels I knew, and just being back in the gym in general. The gym at my apartment complex is perfectly sufficient, especially for an apartment complex gym–I’d say it’s quite good from that standpoint, actually, in terms of size and equipment–but as I touched on earlier in this post, I really do miss the office building gym a lot, and it made me really happy to be there again, even if it was for just 50 minutes 🙂

Friday, August 2: Rest

Saturday, August 3: 13 miles in 2:32:54 for an 11:46 pace
No half marathoners showed up on Saturday, so it was just me and my little marathon crew. The weather was ok-ish. No matter what the temperature, the sun is just so brutal on these Saturday morning runs. I hate how little shade there is on a good three mile stretch of our route – which is really six miles, since we have to run it both on the way out and on the way back. My group spread out as the run went on: one of my runners recently discovered the benefits of eating dinner and breakfast the day before a long run and has gotten a bit too quick for the rest of us, so he often pulls ahead midway through the run. Two of the others usually hang with us, but one runner in particular was especially struggling on Saturday, so I hung back with her while the others went on ahead. But we all got it done, so that’s what counts!

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.

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.


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!

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.