Chicago Marathon Training Week 2

Sunday, June 10: 13.18 miles in 2:29:18 for an 11:21 pace.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle by my Garmin. (Not too shabby on the tangents on this one! *brushes shoulder off*)

Monday, June 11: Rest
Traveling back to Chicago from Seattle.

Tuesday, June 12: Dance
We had already learned way more in this session of dance than usual, so I figured missing last week wouldn’t put me too far behind. Boy, was I wrong! When class started, my teacher asked, “Who remembers what we did last week?” then turned the music on to see what would happen. My jaw was basically on the ground when it ended. I couldn’t believe how much they did in one week! I had a LOT of catch-up to do, so this was definitely not one of those phone-it-in sort of classes.

Wednesday, June 13: Rest
Crushing it this week. I originally planned to run seven miles on Wednesday, but I only planned to do that because I have a really bad habit of forgetting to check my work calendar when planning what I expect will be out-of-office events (like running). Had I checked my work calendar, I would’ve seen that I had a work event out in the suburbs from 1:30-4:30, and obviously would not have time to work out as a result. Oh well.

Thursday, June 14: 4.36 miles in 40:36 for a 9:16 pace.
I finally recovered from The Stomach Bug that Would Not Quit on Thursday, and it felt nice to get in a good workout. This was my first Hal Higdon tempo run of marathon training (as a reminder, Hal Higdon tempo runs start slow, gradually build to 10K(ish) pace for 5-10 minutes in the middle of the run, then gradually slow to the end of the prescribed time. I do them in five minute intervals: 0-5 very slow, 5-10 a little faster, 10-15 a little faster than that, etc.), and I think it went well? I’m too impatient to wait around for my watch to find a GPS signal when I run home from work (all the buildings make it take, and now that I know you can edit your distance in Garmin Connect, I just take off running once I’m ready and let the GPS find me whenever it can be bothered to do so. I didn’t have a signal for the first five minutes of this run, so I’m not 100 percent sure that I ran this 100 percent perfectly, but it felt good, and the splits that were measured with GPS are all where I want them, so I’m calling this a successful run.

Friday, June 15: Rest

Saturday, June 16: 7.22 miles in 1:16:07 for a 10:32 pace
This (I assume) was closer to seven miles than 7.22 miles, because my watch got messed up by buildings at the beginning and end of the run. However, MapMyRun refuses to believe it’s possible to run where I ran, so I can’t use that to manually measure my actual distance. After spilling thousands of pixels complaining about my running group at the end of last season, I decided it was time for a change this year. I went to a different location for the run on Saturday, and it was quite different than what I’m used to. The group was much smaller (maybe eight or so people, compared to the 25-30 we’d usually get in my old group), and that automatically made for a much friendlier, less cliquey vibe. Hooray! I also dropped down to the 11:00 pace group, because real talk: my very, very best marathon ever was a hair slower than an 11:00 pace. Training at a 10:30 pace has obviously never helped me run a marathon at a 10:30 pace (or anything even close to a 10:30 pace), so now that I’m not anywhere near my old group anyway, I can drop down to a pace that makes more sense without feeling weird and disloyal about it. An 11:00 marathon will not get me the 4:45 I hope to run in October, but if your long runs are usually supposed to be slower than marathon pace anyway, 11:00 seems reasonable. Plus, this group starts 30 minutes earlier, so running 30 seconds/mile slower doesn’t mean I’m running significantly later into the morning, which was another thing that prevented me from running with the 11:00 pace group in years past. As for the run itself, it went really well. I enjoyed talking with the various people in my group, and the pace was downright easy (I’m sure it was much closer to 11:00 overall than my report shows – my Garmin said I ran an 8:18 first mile, due to the GPS woes, and I can assure you that was not the case). I also haven’t had a seven mile long run since February 24–all my long runs since then have been more than seven miles–which I’m sure also contributed to the ease of this run.


I’m a tiny bit bummed that I’ve already deviated from my schedule for the season by skipping Wednesday’s run, but fortunately having run that half marathon on Sunday more than made up for it mileage wise. I’m also glad I’ll be fully out of vacation mode this week and will hopefully be able to get more into the swing of things in the training department. Even though I’ve technically completed two weeks of marathon training, it doesn’t really feel like marathon season has begun, given how all over the place I’ve been the past two weeks (literally!). I’m looking forward to actually feeling like I’m participating in marathon season…now that it’s the first cutback week 😛


Chicago Marathon Training Week 1

Sunday, June 3: 13.26 miles in 2:23:06 for a 10:48 pace.
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego by my watch.

Monday, June 4: Rest

Tuesday, June 5: 3 miles in 31:19 for a 10:26 pace.
I was still in San Diego on Tuesday for work, so I ran along the water. I’m sure it would’ve been extremely pleasant had I been feeling good, but I had had a stomachache all afternoon. Sometimes running helps clear that up for me, but it certainly didn’t this time around. Shout out to the city of San Diego for having public restrooms along the water.

Wednesday, June 6: Rest

Thursday, June 7: Rest

Friday, June 8: Rest

Saturday, June 9: Rest

Please, try to not feel too intimidated by my remarkable training schedule on week one. Fortunately, nearly all of this was planned. I knew I wouldn’t have time to work out while I was gone, so I scheduled rest days for all of these days but Wednesday, anyway (I had Strength? on my calendar for Wednesday, so I’m not too upset about that turning into a rest day, either.) On top of that, I was under the weather nearly all of last week. The stomachache I had Tuesday afternoon turned out to be just a small preview of what was to come, and I haven’t been myself from a GI perspective since Wednesday afternoon (including now). I’m hoping to pop in to the doctor tomorrow to see if they have any thoughts on what’s going on. I feel fine, for the most part, so I think (hope) I’ll be able to work out normally this week, but we’ll see.

Marathon Season 2018

Another first week of June, another first week of marathon training.

For the sixth consecutive year, I’m embarking on the 18-week roller coaster that is marathon training. For the first time in those six years, however, this wasn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion. As you may recall, I’ve been on a marathon training journey that has left me increasingly jaded with the entire process: a feeling that reached a head during the last six weeks of training last year and culminated with me crossing the start line of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon 90 percent sure it’d be the last time I’d do that for quite some time, possibly ever.

Because nothing can ever go according to plan, the following five hours and four minutes went so well that they completely negated the previous six weeks of suffering, and I crossed the finish line knowing I would most certainly be back in 2018. Naturally.

When I wrote my novella on my many Feelings regarding training and the Chicago Marathon in general last fall, I mentioned that I was hesitant to register for the 2018 Chicago Marathon because I didn’t want to run the 2018 Chicago Marathon in that moment, but I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t want to run the 2018 Chicago Marathon once 2018 actually rolled around. If I had written this post two weeks ago, I would still be fairly lukewarm to the idea of running the 2018 Chicago Marathon. It took me ages to convince myself to sign up for CARA training, even though I had already signed up for the race, and when I know I grimaced when I submitted my payment (and not just because training isn’t free). I wasn’t excited about any of this.

But, as I mentioned a mere two paragraphs ago, nothing can ever go according to plan, and I have found myself in a position that almost certainly means my marathoning days are numbered. You’ll have to forgive my vagueblogging, but rest assured that my marathoning days aren’t numbered for a bad or scary or dangerous reason–just for an “other goals” reason. Anyway, it occurred to me while running last Thursday that I could only have one or two marathons left in this current large-scale cycle (that cycle being training prep February-May, marathon training June-October, marathon/free time recovery November-January, repeat). Right now, I think there’s a chance I’ll run more marathons in the distant future, but since I know 10 years ago I didn’t dream of every running a 5K, let alone multiple marathons, I don’t want to count on marathoning again in 10 years.

As a result of that, I suddenly feel a lot more pressure to accomplish my long term marathon goals, and fast. I have wanted to run a 4:45 marathon since my first training cycle. I’ve come close–4:52–but actually running a 4:45 is the biggest piece of unfinished business I have not only with the Chicago Marathon, but with marathoning in general. (I suppose you could say qualifying for Boston is another piece of unfinished business I have with marathoning, but let’s be real: I would need to take just under an hour and a half off my PR to squeak into Boston. I’ve never even run a 10K at that pace, never mind an additional 20 miles beyond that. There’s nothing wrong with setting big, scary, insane goals, and who knows? Maybe if I worked obscenely hard, I could take that much time off my marathon PR in a 18 weeks. I’m willing to work hard, but not as hard as a goal like that would require.) I feel like it’s now or never, so…I guess that means it’s now.

Fortunately, I already hoped to train harder this cycle than I have in the past. I’m following(ish) Hal Higdon’s M3 program again, since I really liked the higher mileage/lower frequency balance of the program last year. I think getting used to spending so much time on my feet made a huge difference in helping me have a good race last year, so I’m all about doing that again. Bring on the weekday 10 milers!

Because I continue to think I know what I’m doing in the marathon training department, I’ve added some additional speedwork/”real” training (by “real” I mean “something harder than an easy run”) into the M3 program beyond the tempo and pace runs it calls for (especially since my marathon “pace” usually turns out to be slower than any of my training runs, anyway). I plan to incorporate 800s and hills into my training this year, which will be the first time I’ve ever done either of those. I also plan to make my cross training days substantially more cardio-focused than they have been in the past. I still plan to cross train with yoga occasionally, but I’m reducing my frequency from once a week to once every other week. On non-yoga weeks, I plan to bike. I also plan to bike and either do a circuit workout or strength train every Sunday.

Speaking of strength training–and this is where I expect to have the most trouble sticking to my grandiose plans for this summer’s training–I want to strength train three times per week for the entire season beyond the Sunday strength training I have scheduled. I didn’t put this on my actual training plan, so technically it’s optional, but I don’t want to treat it as being too optional. I think additional strength training–nothing insane, just 20 minutes or so–could hopefully help me build fitness and make it more likely that I’ll have the race I hope to have in October. My real hope is to do this before work, which I know is where things are most likely to fall apart. My work day already starts stupid early. Am I really going to be able to convince myself to go to the gym for thrice-weekly two-a-days for three weeks? I doubt it, but I’m at least going to try.

So that’s the plan for this year. More hard training. More (any) strength training. More cardio. And, hopefully, a better chance at 4:45. Here’s hoping!

Bank of America Chicago Marathon Race Recap

Historically, I have spent the last two and a half or so miles of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon repeating one phrase to myself: “‘Round the corner, up the hill, ’round the corner, then you’re done.” This year, I found myself saying something different:

“I finally did it.”

After years of trying and failing to have a good marathon, I walked away from Sunday’s race beyond thrilled and beyond proud of how I ran. At long last, I caught my white whale: I conquered–really, truly–conquered the marathon.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

To say that I had a bad attitude going into Sunday would, I believe, easily qualify for my biggest understatement of the year, if not my life. I don’t think it’s been any enormous secret that I was extremely disappointed with my training cycle and felt utterly unprepared to run 26.2 miles on Sunday. I didn’t doubt that I would finish, but I also knew I didn’t have a prayer at finishing in under five hours, and to be frank, that pissed me off. I have never been happy running a 5:00+ marathon before, and I was quite confident I wouldn’t be happy running a 5:00+ marathon this year.


At the same time, I had this stubborn, smoldering flicker of hope deep, deep down inside me that kept whispering in my ear, “But what if this is your year? What if you really do run a 4:45 this time?” I hated that hopeful voice. I wanted to stomp on it, smother it, crush the life out of it. I knew, barring a major miracle, that I didn’t stand a chance at running a 4:45 this time around, and it infuriated me to no end that I couldn’t get that persistent liar to leave me alone.

The dissonance between what my head was saying (“This is going to be another slow one.”) and what my heart was saying (“But what if it’s not?”) created so much anxiety in me that I was a sentient lump of angst for most of last week that only got progressively angstier and angrier as time went on. I had not one but TWO marathon-related stress dreams (I haven’t had a race-related stress dream in over three years), and I spent a fair portion of Friday and Saturday feeling sick to my stomach with nervousness. The Chicago Marathon kept posting countdown photos and gifs on social media in the days leading up to the race, every time saying something along the lines of, “Are you ready?!” and each time I had to force myself to not be That Person and respond with a sullen, “No.”

Sunday dawned without a cloud in the sky, because apparently this is the only kind of weather we get on marathon day (seriously, according to the Chicago Marathon Media Guide’s Historical Weather Conditions entry, October in Chicago, on average, has seven clear days, 8.75 partly cloudy days, and 14.7 cloudy days. Even though the odds are MUCH better that we’d have a partly cloudy or cloudy day, somehow I have never [thus far] run a Chicago Marathon under anything but crystal clear skies.). I headed to Grant Park, swaddled in an old mylar blanket, my stomach rumbling with anxiousness. It took a little while to get into Grant Park, but once I made it through the bag check station, I put on some sunscreen (forgetting, I discovered after I got home, my chest, which is now a lovely shade of red), checked my gear, and got into the longest portapotty line of all time. I don’t know why I always assume the portapotty lines at the Chicago Marathon are going to be fine, because they never are, but it still drives me crazy every year.


(Shoutout to the CNA building [the red one] for adjusting its blinds so its windows said “26.2”)

I had originally been assigned to Corral K for this year’s race, but since I had NO desire to start that late in the day, I requested to be moved to Corral G and the race complied (really, that’s all it took. I just had to ask, and I was moved, no questions.). I originally thought about finding a 5:15 pace group to start the race with, but since 1) there were no 5:15 pace groups and 2) the slowest pace group in Corral G was for a 4:10 marathon (lol ok), I quickly realized that wasn’t going to be an option. I decided instead to start at the very back of Corral G to avoid getting swept up in any early race madness and plod along at an 11:30 pace (just a hair slower than a 5:00 pace) for 13 miles, then reevaluate. Ideally, I wanted to pick it up to an 11:15 pace for miles 13-19 and an 11:00 pace for the last part of the race. I didn’t know what kind of finish time that would get me, but I figured it would be under five hours. At the same time, though, I knew expecting myself to speed up that much on the second half of the race would be extremely difficult. I was a little nervous about going out at an 11:30, because even thought I thought it should be sustainable for 26.2 miles, I knew it was risky. If I needed to slow down, it was going to end up being a pretty dramatic slowdown, and I wasn’t interested in that at all.


I manually lapped my watch for the entire race (except mile 26. I never saw a mile 26 sign! I don’t know if it wasn’t there or if I just didn’t see it, but either way, my last lap on my Garmin stats is for 1.2 miles, not one mile.), and when I hit mile one, I was extremely pleased to see that I had somehow managed to run an exact 11:30 pace for that mile. Boom. All I needed to do was keep that up for another five hours, and I’d be golden.

My parents’ first viewing location of the day was at about mile 1.25, and they weren’t quite ready for me when I got there. I knew it was going to be a slow day, so I jogged in place while my dad fiddled with his phone to get the camera up, and then headed on my way. I was worried that the delay would cost me my 11:30 pace, before realizing that I could simply run faster for a little while to make up for lost time (duh, Bethany.). I came through mile two in 11:23. Mission accomplished. (My moving time for that mile was 11:22, so clearly I didn’t lose much time with my parents.)

I kept chugging along and could not believe how evenly I was running: 11:31, 11:33, 11:30. I have never prided myself on my ability to pace a run, particularly during a marathon, so this was blowing my mind. I was a little worried when I ran mile six in 11:46, so to make up time, I aimed for an 11:15 next mile so they’d even out to 11:30. The result: an 11:12. Who was I?!

Back downtown, I got passed by a 4:55 pace group that I assume came from Corral H (the only other 4:55 pace group was in Corral L, the last corral, and I can’t imagine they had caught up to me in 12 miles). Even though the group passed me, they didn’t really seem to be gaining on me, at least not by much. I didn’t know what a 4:55 pace boiled down to in terms of pace/mile, so I decided if I could still see them after I passed the halfway point, I’d catch them, see how fast they were running, and go from there. It turned out that they were running an 11:00 pace (I hit mile 14 in 11:04). I knew that’d be too tough for me to sustain for the entire second half, so I dropped off and continued running my own race.

The miles were ticking by, and all things considered, I was feeling fantastic. I started dumping water on my head at the Boystown aid station in an effort to keep cool, and when I got a sponge in Old Town, I stuffed it in my sports bra and hung onto it until I turned onto Columbus. At every aid station, I’d get a cup of water to drink (or two) and a cup of water to dump on my sponge. I’d squeeze the sponge over my head, then tuck it back into my bra until the next aid station. I also started eating pretzels at mile 15 (10 pretzels + 5 Honey Stinger chews at mile 15, 10 pretzels + 5 Honey Stinger chews at mile 20, 10 pretzels at mile 23.5) to get some salt back in my system. This seemed to do the trick. It was still hot, no doubt, especially in the sun, but making sure I was super proactive about staying cool and staying salted (and not running too hard) made an enormous difference. It did also lead to a little underarm chafing, but if that’s the price I have to pay to keep running and stay out of the med tent, so be it. I never had to walk other than the times I got crowded in at aid stations, which also made me quite happy.

I’ve been through this marathon song and dance enough times to know that just because you feel okay at mile 14, or 16, or 20, or even 22, most certainly does not mean you’ll continue to feel okay for the remainder of the race, and I’ll be honest: I was having a tough time letting myself believe that everything was going well. I was absolutely convinced that the wheels were going to fall off eventually. But I got through mile 14…and 16…and 20…and 22…and all of a sudden I was on 33rd St., saw my parents, and even though I knew I certainly wouldn’t PR, said with complete confidence, “This is the BEST RACE I’ve ever had!”

I know Michigan Ave. is always tough, so I really didn’t want to push my luck by dropping the hammer with 5K left to go. I kept up with my hydration/cooling system at the first two Michigan Ave. aid stations, but when I got through the second aid station a little bit past mile 24, I realized that this was really going to happen. I wasn’t going to break five hours, and I wasn’t going to PR, but I was, finally, after five years of trying, going to have a good marathon. I let my legs do whatever they wanted, and they wanted to go, so off we went. After a 12:05 mile 23 and a 12:05 mile 24, I hit mile 25 in 11:26–my third fastest mile of the race up to that point–and, though I don’t have an exact split since I didn’t see mile 26, my Garmin map says I crossed what appears to be mile 26 on the course map at 5:01:49 on my watch. I hit mile 25 at 4:50:46. That means I ran an 11:03 miles–my fastest mile of the entire day–for the last mile of the race. My last 2K split, between 40K and the finish? 10:36.

I was deliriously happy. I waved to a video camera stationed at the corner of Michigan and Roosevelt, and the lady standing next to the person filming commented on how good I looked (pleaseohpleaseohplease let that be official marathon people and let me end up in a promo video for next year’s race. I would be so thrilled if that happened! Haha.). I flashed a huge smile and a double thumbs up to the photographers at the top of Mt. Roosevelt (!! Gonna buy those race pictures for SURE.). I sobbed my way down Columbus and across the finish line.

After six tries, five years, 157.2 marathoned miles, I had finally, finally, finally run a good marathon. It took me 5:04:09 to do it (#3 out of six time-wise), but I don’t care at all. This finish was so much more satisfying than either of my sub-5:00 races. This was the one distance I had left to conquer, the one race I just couldn’t figure out, and I finally did it.

I crossed the start line on Sunday not knowing whether or not I’d ever run a marathon again. I crossed the finish line on Sunday knowing that I will definitely be back for more.



Chicago Marathon Training Week 18

Sunday, October 1: 60 minutes XT (biking)
Biked for an hour at the gym. I covered a whopping 10.6 miles in that hour, so obviously I was not exactly putting in a lot of effort here. I also spent all 60 minutes biking and zero minutes strength training, in case you were wondering whether or not I had given up the ghost on that pipe dream (I have).

Monday, October 2: 5.39 miles in 55:59 for a 10:24 pace
Five miles according to MapMyRun. I used this run to test out manual lapping without auto lapping on my watch, and it went MUCH better than last Thursday. My watch still beeps every time it has measured a mile, but it doesn’t record anything unless I manually lap it (I figured where I would hit each mile based on what MapMyRun said, and lapped my watch in that general area). The run itself was a bit more challenging than I expected or hoped it would be, which was a bummer. My legs felt heavy and tired, especially during the first half. I had a dentist appointment immediately after this run, which meant two things. One: instead of run commuting, I did a 2.5 mile out-and-back from my office and then back to my office. Unsurprisingly, the “back” portion, during the height of rush hour, was a bit…tense. I didn’t actually yell at anyone, though I did almost throw an elbow. But only almost! Two: I had to go directly to the dentist after retrieving my stuff from the office, so I didn’t have time to stretch, foam roll, or do my usual post-run PT exercises. I got in more of a cooldown walk than usual, though, so that’s something.

Tuesday, October 3: Dance
My teacher wasn’t there on Tuesday, so instead we had a sub from his dance crew. Unfortunately, the sub didn’t know the most recent routine we’ve worked on, and none of us remembered the parts we added on last week, so this was a fairly useless hour of dance. On the bright side, I felt completely comfortable marking everything instead of going all out at any point during class, given that my teacher wasn’t there, and I feel much better about dance the Tuesday before a marathon when I can put in 10% effort and not worry about hurting myself.

Wednesday, October 4: 30 minutes XT (yoga)
This one:

I thought about biking, but decided to do yoga instead, since I’m really trying to keep my energy expenditure low in the days leading up to the marathon. I chose this practice because it was the next Yoga Camp practice I hadn’t done that was 30 minutes long, but it ended up being exactly what I hoped for. There wasn’t a single vinyasa in the entire practice. The whole thing was just gentle, easy movement, and it was totally perfect for what I wanted that day.

Thursday, October 5: 2.01 miles in 20:28 for a 10:12 pace + SPF
Somehow my GPS said I needed to run farther to hit two miles than MapMyRun did, even though my GPS was all over the place for the first mile…?? Whatever. I wasn’t going to stop this run without my watch saying two miles, and I don’t think the extra tenth of a mile was going to make that big of a difference. CARA’s training plan didn’t actually call for a Thursday-before-the-race two miler this year like I remember doing it in the past, but this is one of my favorite runs of the entire training cycle, and I was not going to be denied my Thursday two miler! Haha. I had had a stressful day and ran way too fast, but oh well.

Friday, October 6: Rest

Saturday, October 7: Rest

In the immortal words of Porky Pig, that’s all, folks. Marathon training cycle #5 is in the books. Now all that’s left is to actually do the thing I’ve been training to do for the past 18 weeks. This marathon season definitely was not the one I anticipated when I sat down and wrote out my training plan at the beginning of this year, but what’s done is done, and we’ll see how it all works out on Sunday.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 17

Sunday, September 24: 13.23 miles in 2:29:31 for a 11:18 pace + PF
Chicago Half Marathon, by my watch.

Monday, September 25: 45 minutes XT
Ah, yet again, the best laid plans of mice and men. (I may as well adopt that line as my summary for this marathon season.) I had 40 minutes XT on my schedule for Monday and planned to either bike or do yoga, based on how I felt when I woke up that morning. I didn’t feel too sore, so I decided to bike at the gym after work. I packed up my gym bag, headed off to put in my eight hours, and when I got to the gym after I wrapped up my work day, discovered that I had left my gym bag at home. Good work, self. So I trudged back home, astounded by my ability to sabotage my workout so spectacularly, and did NTC’s Peaks and Valleys, a strength workout with a few moments of cardio thrown in, instead. During this, I discovered that my core strength is even worse than I expected, since I could hold a plank for a whopping 15 seconds before failing. Fabulous. On the bright side, this allowed me to log one NTC workout for September, which I didn’t think would happen, so yay for that.

Tuesday, September 26: Dance
A lot of people were missing from class on Tuesday, which surprised me but definitely didn’t bother me. Fewer people means more space to move. We reviewed what we learned last week and added on a little. I’m pretty sure we got thisclose to the part that I already know, so hopefully we’ll get there next week.

Wednesday, September 27: 6.44 miles in 1:02:42 for a 9:44 pace + SPF
I really ran six miles, not 6.44. I had a stressful day at work and was looking forward to an hour by myself to relax and decompress. My Garmin, unsurprisingly, had other ideas. After eight minutes of waiting while it failed to do IT’S MAIN JOB (find a GPS signal), I gave up and started running. It eventually found a signal, but by then had no idea what was going on and consistently showed me running at a 4:30 pace. Ok. I had had the foresight to actually make a note of where my mile markers would be when I mapped out my run ahead of time on MapMyRun, but when I tried to lap my watch when I hit the first mile, nothing happened, because for reasons far beyond my comprehension, the ability to manually lap your watch isn’t turned on by default. WHY. So I fumed for a few miles about how utterly deficient and useless I’ve found this watch to be, but fortunately by the time I hit mile four or so I had calmed down significantly. I’m glad I tried to do manual laps on this run, though: I know I’ll need to manually lap my watch during the Chicago Marathon, since downtown will inevitably ruin my watch’s tracking, and I really rely on manual tracking to have a clue as to how I’m doing. I would MUCH rather find out on a six miler that I needed to configure manual lapping than find that out at mile one of the marathon. Taking my angst out of the picture, this run went fairly well. It was quite nice to run when it was in the 70s as opposed to the 90s for a change.

Thursday, September 28: 4.1 miles in 40:10 for a 9:48 pace + SPF
Ugh, all of these stats are wrong. The distance is wrong, of course, because it always is (this was exactly four miles according to MapMyRun), but this time even the overall time is wrong because I lapped my watch at a stop light instead of pausing it and didn’t realize what I had done until the light turned green. Fail. It looks like I was stopped for 25 seconds, so that means I actually ran four miles in 39:45. All hail seasonable weather.

I used this run to try to figure out the lapping function on my watch, and while I now have it turned on, I don’t think using auto lap and manual lapping is going to get me the stats I want. Manually lapping my Polar watch would give me two different tables: one with the watch’s automatic laps and one with my manual laps. The output from my Garmin after letting auto lap run while manually lapping my watch is a little less clear.


The two splits in mile two were my own fault since I lapped my watch when I meant to pause it. But what’s weird to me is that my watch shows the first auto lap, and then only shows manual laps for the remainder of the run, but counts the first manual lap as starting after the first auto lap (rather than counting it from the start of the run). It also doesn’t show any of the auto laps after the first one, even though my watch kept beeping every time I hit an auto lap (one mile) by its count. o.O I have clearly been living in the Polar world too long and am not having an easy time adjusting to Garmin’s interface.

As for the run itself, I couldn’t believe how quickly this went by. I clearly was running a lot faster than usual, which I’m sure contributed to how fast the run felt, but I also haven’t done a four miler since June. It felt really weird to be done so quickly! My back had been bothering me all day at work–I think I was having some sort of spasm or cramp?–but it actually felt better while I was running than it felt sitting, and after a hot shower and some time with a heating pad at home, it felt back to normal.

Friday, September 29: Rest

Saturday, September 30: 8.19 miles in 1:25:58 for a 10:30 (!!) pace + SPF
Okay, so realistically, I probably didn’t actually run a 10:30 pace on my run, because I know my watch hit mile two too early, and I’m really pretty sure I only ran eight miles, not 8.19. But whatever. Let me have this one thing 😛 I had absolutely no desire to get up early and haul myself to my CARA group run for eight measly miles when I could sleep in and do those without issue on my own starting and ending at my house, so that’s what I did. The weather was FABULOUS and just what I’d love to have on race day…though who knows what we’ll get on race day (just a fun little tidbit here: as I write this post on Saturday afternoon, AccuWeather is calling for a high of 81 on Friday. Tom Skilling, WGN weather guru and fellow eclipse appreciator, is calling for a high of 71 on Friday. That is a TEN DEGREE difference, and what does that tell us? That long-range forecasting is a professional guessing game, and putting your faith in a forecast that far away is a fool’s errand. THIS IS WHY WE DO NOT FREAK OUT ABOUT THE FORECAST TWO WEEKS OUT, FOLKS.). I have come to loathe my hydration belt, since I feel like every time I’ve worn it, I’ve been extremely slow, so I decided to wear it on this run even though I most certainly did not need a hydration belt for eight miles. For once, it didn’t feel like it was weighing me down or throwing me off, so I think I just need to stop filling my flasks so full and I’ll be all right.

Here we are! Race week has arrived! It doesn’t feel real quite yet, to be honest. It didn’t even occur to me that this past week was one week out from race day until last Tuesday, and I still don’t think I’ve fully wrapped my mind around the fact that the race is THIS SUNDAY. I don’t really have any particular feelings about the race to discuss at the moment. I’m not anxious and I’m not restless. I just feel…normal. And a little bit in disbelief, I suppose. This happens every year, but I feel like marathon season flew by. I have absolutely no idea what to expect out of race day–I’m not even sure if I really have an actual, realistic goal beyond finishing–but I suppose we’ll find out the answer to that soon enough!

Chicago Marathon Training Week 16

Sunday, September 17: 19.89 miles in 4:07:17 for a 12:26 pace + S
WHOA BUDDY was this the toughest 20 miler I’ve ever done. At the end of last week’s training recap post, I mentioned that the forecast didn’t look promising for Sunday, and boy, was I ever correct on that. It was already 70 degrees when I woke up at 4:30 Sunday morning, which, considering that sunrise was nearly two hours away, did not bode well for the run.

There were rumors of rain, so I hoped we’d get lucky and at least have cloud cover for most of the 20 miler. Not so. While the sun was mercifully hidden behind the clouds for the first six miles, by mile seven the sun had come out and it did. not. let. up. The sun only got more intense as the day went on, as the sun is apt to do throughout the course of a morning, and the Lakefront Trail proved to be as miserable as ever with basically no shade to speak once we got south of downtown. On top of all of that, the 20 miler course was also different this year than it was the other times I’ve done CARA’s 20 miler, and that threw me for a loop (we went south to Fullerton and looped around Diversey Harbor, which in the past we haven’t done [I didn’t do the 20 miler last year since I was busy torturing myself with a marathon that day, so I don’t know if this change was new this year, or if it was different last year as well.]. We also didn’t do the lap around part of Grant Park, I assume because we made up that distance elsewhere.)

I had a pretty good feeling that I wouldn’t be doing a 3:37 at the 20 miler this year like I have ever other time I’ve run it, but I certainly didn’t expect to be an entire HALF HOUR slower than in years past. That was definitely a blow to the ol’ ego (which, in my opinion, has taken enough hits in the running department lately as it is), and I spent a substantial amount of this run questioning whether or not I’m going to keep doing marathons in the future, particularly given my string of long run disappointments as of late (though, as we all know, the middle of a rough run isn’t really the time or place to make that kind of decision). I started walking sometime after mile 14, and instead of doing my usual 4:1 run:walk plan, did more of a “run for awhile, then walk for 3-4 minutes” plan. I think I ended up running more this way than I would have had I followed my usual ratio, but I was literally running at a 13:00 pace, so I don’t know that it made much of a difference in those last few miles.

I don’t know a single person who had a good day on Sunday, which did make me feel a lot better about things–not in a, “If I’m going to have a bad day, EVERYONE had better have a bad day,” sense, but more in a, “Okay, if everyone did awful today, then I’m not an awful runner – it was just awful weather for running 20 miles,” sense. I’d be lying if I said this didn’t continue to shake my already fragile confidence, but I guess at least if the real feel is near 90 on race day, I’ll know what to expect out of myself (a 5:45 marathon. That’s what I’d expect out of myself if the weather is as bad on Oct. 8 as it was on Sunday.)

Monday, September 18: Rest
Birthday rest day! My favorite kind of birthday workout!

Tuesday, September 19: Dance
My teacher started the class on Tuesday by telling us to “get ready to sweat,” and he wasn’t kidding. We learned a new combo on Tuesday–one that I like SO much more than the one we’d been working on–and it’s pretty fast and high energy. I’ve actually learned part of this combo twice before in class, but what we did on Tuesday didn’t feel familiar, so I think it might come before what I learned years ago?

Wednesday, September 20: 8.21 miles in 1:34:51 for an 11:33 pace + SPF
UGH. This was pure misery. It was 91 degrees on this run, so I wasn’t surprised that it went poorly, especially considering that it hasn’t been 91 degrees in Chicago since August 16 (you know, when it’s supposed to be that hot outside), which was the first 90+ degree day since July 23. Point is, we haven’t had consistent 90 degree weather this year (which is FINE by me), so my heat acclimation is nonexistent, and these eight miles sucked. And just in case the heat wasn’t enough to make me hate my life, there was also a 14 mph wind coming out of the south that felt like it was directly out of the furnaces of hell, and only served to make me hotter rather than cool me off. I know the times for my first two miles of run commuting are always inaccurate, so ignoring those, the fastest mile I had on this run was an 11:29 >.< Miles five through seven were all 12:00+. I know the weather was a huge factor, but it’s still extremely discouraging to see such slow times. For what felt like the millionth run in a row, I spent a fair amount of this run seriously considering whether or not this endeavor is worth it. On the bright side, for the first time ever, my watch measured my running-amongst-buildings almost perfectly. It still had me starting a good block and a half away from where I actually started, but within two blocks, it found me where I was and didn’t go bonkers once for the whole rest of my run. High five, watch!

Thursday, September 21: 65 minutes XT (bike)
Back at it on the bike again this week. It was, once again, sinfully hot outside, and I was very glad that I could keep my workout indoors. I did the exact same rolling hills on level three workout I did last week, though this time I only got through 13.17 miles instead of 14.12. I’m not losing any sleep over it.

Friday, September 22: Rest

Saturday, September 23: Rest

Assuming I survived it, I should have a recap for you of what will, without a doubt, be the hottest Chicago Half Marathon I’ve ever run later this week. I’m really curious to see how the race will go. The weather will be every bit as terrible as it was at Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville in April, but there won’t be hills…but there also won’t be as much shade. Will that make for a better or worse outcome? What a fun experiment I can’t wait to undertake! /sarcasm Seriously, though, this armpit-of-summer weather needs to go directly back to whichever corner of hell it came out of and STAY THERE. As I write this on Friday, it looks like we might be in for some relief by Wednesday which, conveniently, is the next time I plan to run (after Sunday, that is). Here’s hoping.