Chicago Marathon Training Week 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 10: Rest

Friday, August 11: Rest

Saturday, August 12: Rest

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

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

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

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

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

Chicago Marathon Training Week 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 4: Rest

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

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

Chicago Marathon Training Week 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicago Marathon Training Week 7

Sunday, July 16: 13.73 miles in 2:17:16 for a 9:59 pace + SF
Rock ‘n’ Roll by my watch’s (very incorrect) stats. 9:59 pace my butt. I wish!

Monday, July 17: 52 minutes XT (yoga)
My apartment’s internet died on Saturday afternoon (when the repair guy came on Tuesday, he discovered that a squirrel had chewed through the wires outside O.O Considering that I had only about a week left in the apartment and plenty of data left for the month of my phone, I was much more concerned about the well-being of the squirrel than my internet haha), so instead of streaming a yoga video like normal, I downloaded three different NTC yoga workouts (Run Ready Yoga, Essential Strength Yoga, and Lengthen & Flow Yoga), which, add up to 60 minutes of yoga. I needed to get to therapy, however, so I cut a couple of them a little short and ended up spending 52 minutes on yoga total – close enough to the 60 minutes I had written on my training plan. The practices were…ok. I was #notimpressed with Run Ready Yoga, particularly the way it gave cues, particularly the way it didn’t give cues on when to switch from one side to the other. Not helpful.

Tuesday, July 18: Dance
We finished (I hope. I pray) That’s What I Like, and if I never have to learn choreography to another Bruno Mars song again, it’ll be too soon. We then moved on to a what I initially thought was a new routine, during which my teacher kept talking about how this routine was so old, how he had made it in 2003, how some had said it was his best routine ever. I didn’t remember the choreography at all, but I remembered that speech, so I dug into my archives and lo and behold: I did that dance in the October-December 2013 session. This was a particularly helpful discovery considering that I won’t be in class this Tuesday, so now I can watch the video and teach the choreography to myself in my free time (lol good joke, Bethany).

Wednesday, July 19: 8 miles in 1:23:54 for a 10:28 pace
I was a little worried about this run would go, since the weather returned to typical July conditions on Wednesday, but fortunately, it wasn’t too bad. I run commuted these eight miles, and once again, I had a sub-10:00 first mile. Since this has now happened on two run commutes in a row, and since I am not someone who typically logs sub-10:00 miles in the middle of July without feeling any sort of discomfort, I’m beginning to wonder if my watch is measuring things incorrectly and telling me I’ve run a mile before I’ve actually run a mile. There was a bit of a breeze on Wednesday, which helped keep this fairly tolerable, though I was absolutely drenched with sweat when I got home. I was also pretty wiped out by this run, which has been an ongoing issue for me all marathon season. I always feel really tired after workouts these days–not like, unable to move exhaustion, but more “I would like to take a nap for the next 30-60 minutes, please,” tiredness. It always dissipates once I get in the shower and doesn’t usually come back later, but I don’t remember ever dealing with this before. On the other hand, I also don’t remember a marathon season where I’ve been SO bad about going to bed on time, which may have something to do with the tiredness situation.

Thursday, July 20: 5 miles (pace) in 49:31 for a 9:54 pace + SPF
SUPER HAPPY with this run. It was swampy outside, so I expected my “pace” (which, as I’ve explained before, is a comfortably hard pace for me, as my anticipated marathon pace is close to my easy run pace) to be fairly slow. I was hoping for somewhere in the 10:15 range, but the closest I ever got to that was a 10:10. My last mile was a 9:26! I have very, very serious doubts about my ability to do anything even remotely close to this for an additional 21.2 miles in October, but it still makes me really happy to be able to hold a 9:54 pace for five miles in lousy conditions.

Friday, July 21: Rest

Saturday, July 22: 7 miles in 1:14:25 for a 10:38 pace + SP
According to a “perfect” schedule, I should’ve run 12 miles on Saturday. However, since I missed the cutback week long run last week and did a half marathon instead, I swapped those two runs, meaning I only had seven miles on my schedule for Saturday. This meant, at best, I’d only do three miles with my CARA group before leaving them to finish my run on my own. It was raining when I woke up, and the radar made it look like it might storm at some point, too. CARA took a long time to definitively say whether or not long runs would take place that day, so I made an executive decision to not wait for the bus in the rain and then walk a mile to meet up with my group only to run three miles with them, and instead crawl back into bed for a solid 20 minutes before finally throwing myself out the door at 6:15 or so. Chicago Endurance Sports had cancelled their long runs, and most CARA groups (apparently) went north instead of south on Saturday morning, so the Lakefront Trail was practically empty, at least by usual summer Saturday morning standards. It felt like a sauna outside, and the “rain” didn’t amount to much of anything in the cooling department, so this wasn’t particularly pleasant. But I got it done, and honestly, it was kind of nice to run alone for a change. A few weeks ago I mentioned that running doesn’t make me feel better when I’m upset, and I still maintain that that’s true, but this past week especially, when moving had been stressing me out AND all of a sudden work got insane, I found running alone to be a very, very welcome break from the chaos that seemed to permeate every other corner of my life last week, including on Saturday. Plus, I have become…less enamored, shall we say, with my running group this year, particularly as I’ve noticed a distinct increase in cliquey-ness that I neither welcome nor want (like at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, for example, when one of the girls in my group who I had texted that morning to run together at the race didn’t bother to tell me when she got to Grant Park but did bother to tell two other girls in our group, who she then ran the entire race with and posted plenty of pictures on Facebook of the three of them after the race. Maybe it’s petty, but I’m still smarting a bit over that.), so I have, consequentially, felt less inclined to run with the group than I did in the past.

Preliminary corral assignments for the Chicago Marathon came out on Friday, which I, as always, have Opinions about, but those Opinions are too long for a blog post that’s already eclipsed the 1000-word mark, so you can look forward to that rant on Thursday. In the mean time, I’m very much looking forward to a promised cool down early this week. Four straight days of crushing humidity is four too many for me, and I can’t wait for some runs that don’t feel like they’re taking place in a tropical jungle.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 6

 

Sunday, July 9: 75 minutes XT (30 minutes bike + 45 minutes strength training)
Exact same thing as I did last week: easy 30 minutes on the bike followed by Motionally Stable in the NTC app. Not a whole lot to note about this workout other than that there were more people at the gym this Sunday compared to during the holiday weekend last Sunday, and I got through a LOT of Runners World on the bike 😛

Monday, July 10: 6 miles in 1:02:30 for a 10:25 pace + SPF
One stormy day down, one to go. I got lucky Monday afternoon and was able to run commute home, despite the forecast (and the fact that it looked less-than-promising outside when I left the office). Even more luckily, the impending rain chased nearly everyone inside, so I had clear paths on my way home. It was a nice change from last Monday’s tourist-dodging adventure! The humidity was CRUSHING, but I got through it. I also somehow dropped 9:4x first miles? I don’t know how that happened, because I certainly didn’t feel like I was running that fast, but my watch says I did a 9:48 and a 9:44, and if it wants to tell me that, I’m happy to believe it.

Tuesday, July 11: Dance
Two unsurprising things happened after missing the second week of the session due to the Fourth of July. Thing #1: some people who had showed up the first week did not show up this week (though to be fair, that usually happens regardless of whether or not a national holiday falls on the second week of the session). Thing #2: nearly everyone had completely forgotten what we had done two weeks ago. So, we spent a fair amount of time reviewing, and then added a little more to the end. And we got out on time!! Hooray!

Wednesday, July 12: 6 miles in 59:59 for a 10:00 pace
On Tuesday, I started seeing reports that Wednesday afternoon was going to have heat indices at or near 100 degrees. Having already once this year changed a planned seven miler into a 2.75-miler due to a heat index of 97, I made the executive decision to get up early on Wednesday morning and run my six miles before work. Now, it is worth noting that weekday morning running is my least favorite kind of running. I find it extremely stressful, since I don’t feel safe with so few people out and about at that time of day and I have the pressure of needing to get to work by a certain time, I don’t appreciate that it requires getting up earlier than I’d normally choose to get up on a work day, and it throws off my entire routine. But, since I really did not want to skip or shorten this run, I sucked it up and did it in the morning.

I don’t know where all my speed came from. I ran a 10:45 first mile, and from then on out it was almost exclusively 9:xx miles, with one 10:06 mile thrown in. I suspected my watch was measuring short, but I did an out-and-back, and it hit all my mile markers at the exact same spot each time (and hit them where I expected it to hit them), so I guess the pressure of needing to get through my run and to the office made me much faster than normal. I was drenched with sweat when I got home thanks to the humidity.

Also, speaking of the weather: I don’t think it ever got above 80 degrees on Wednesday, never mind to 90/feeling like 100. I gave up my planned run commute to get up early, get to work late, AND get home later than I would’ve if I had run commuted (since I got into work so late and had to stay late as a result). I was not pleased.

Thursday, July 13: 45 minutes XT (yoga)
This one, but for real this time:

I was not plagued by internet issues Thursday, so I got all the way through this practice. Towards the end, there was a pretty intense hip opener that my glutes really appreciated.

Friday, July 14: Rest

Saturday, July 14: Rest (due to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon the following day)

One-third of the way through marathon season! Saturday marked four straight weeks of never once missing a planned workout, which is certainly the best I’ve done in awhile (my printed schedule has all of my workouts from April 23 through October 14 on it, and prior to this four-week stretch, the best I had ever done was two straight weeks with no missed workouts). I don’t know how much longer that will last–the forecast for later this week does not look promising, so we’ll see what happens with the runs I have on ym schedule–but since I feel like the theme of my marathon training for the past five years has been, “I was supposed to do this, but decided to this instead,” it feels nice to be able to stick to a schedule for a change. Shoutout for the five hundredth time to M3 for being a plan that fits my life.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 5

Sunday, July 2: 75 minutes XT (30 minutes bike + 45 minutes strength training)
FINALLY. This is the type of workout I’ve intended to do on every Sunday of marathon training, but for various reasons I had never actually been able to make it happen until this week. I went to the gym after church and started my workout with an easy 30 minutes on the bike (6.2 miles, averaging 12.1 mph – I told you it was easy haha) and finished with Motionally Stable, a 45 minute strength training workout on the NTC app that I’ve done approximately eleventy billion times since they updated the app last year, since it is literally the only 45 minute strength training workout in the ENTIRE app worth doing (the only other time based 45 minute strength focused workout in the app spends 14:35 of those 45 minutes warming up and cooling down O.O Motionally Stable, by contrast, spends 9:55 warming up and cooling down, which seems a lot more reasonable, since that’s about five minutes to warm up and five minutes to cool down. I’ve had close to a full year to get used to the revamped NTC app, and I still hate its awful workout selection and wish they’d just give me all my old workouts back.) It was quickly apparent to me how long it’s been since I’ve strength trained based on how tired this workout made me. I’ve got to be better about making time for these Sunday workouts.

Monday, July 3: 8 miles in 1:23:49 for a 10:29 pace + SPF
Run commute #2! I am officially all aboard the run commuting train. I’m obsessed with how much time it saves me. I honestly think it’s the only thing that’s going to make these super long weekday runs manageable for me, at least from a happiness standpoint.

I expected my commute to go smoothly since I was one of I think 14 people working in the entire corporate community in Chicago on Monday, but the commuters I lost were MORE than made up for by people crowding the lakefront under the extremely mistaken impression that a 10 foot (or however wide the Lakefront Trail is) paved path meant they could and should take up that entire area by walking four abreast. The entire trail wasn’t a nightmare, but a lot of it was, and I feel very fortunate to have made it through the hubbub without incident. I ran past someone who was not so lucky–I don’t know what happened, but she appeared to have been mowed down by a bike not too long before I ran by, laying face down on the trail with one of her shoes nowhere to be seen, surrounded by four different police officers on bikes and two lifeguards from the nearby beach, with two more bike paramedics heading her way–which was a stark reminder of 1) why we need separate bike and pedestrian lanes on the trail and 2) why, even with, but particularly in the absence of, said separation, everyone–runners, cyclists, walkers, tourists on those awful multi-person bike contraption type things–needs to be aware of their surroundings and respectful of others using the trail.

I did run into one problem with this run commute, which was forgetting to bring any Honey Stinger chews to work with me. I popped into a CVS at lunch on a mission to find an acceptable substitute and ended up buying gummy Lifesavers. They worked perfectly well for me on my run, but all CVS had available was a seven ounce bag with 50 pieces of candy (I only needed about seven to get to the 100 or so calories I get by eating five Honey Stingers), so now I’m locked in a constant struggle between my desire to snack on the Lifesavers all day at work and my desire to, you know, not eat processed sugar all day. Haha.

Tuesday, July 4: Rest
Dance was cancelled for the holiday and my training plan calls for two rest days per week anyway (even though I usually only take one), so instead of coming up with some extra workout just for the sake of getting in an extra workout, I took the day off. Happy birthday, America.

Wednesday, July 5: 4.46 miles in 45:00 (tempo) for a 10:05 pace + SPF
At long last, I can tell you about the other kind of speed work this marathon training plan incorporates! I’ve always understood tempo runs to be the sort of run where you warm up for a mileish, run comfortably hard for several miles, then cool down for a mileish. Hal Higdon, however, wants you to do tempo runs differently on his M3 plan. He requests that you start out at a comfortable pace and gradually increase your speed until the halfway point of your run, where you should sustain roughly a 10K pace for five or so minutes, before gradually slowing down. This, I have found, is FAR and away the most challenging workout of the entire marathon training program. It’s physically difficult, because it requires precise pacing (don’t speed up too fast, don’t run too fast at the peak, don’t slow down too quickly), and it’s also mentally difficult because of the physical difficulty, especially on the back half.

I do these runs in five minute segments, increasing (or decreasing) my speed every five minutes (or at least that’s the plan – it doesn’t always work out that way!). While I thought I was doing all right for the first half, I definitely went a bit too hard on my peak, and struggled a lot on the second half of this run. It didn’t help that I had lead legs as soon as I started running. Those normally clear up after a mile or so of easy running, but there was no easy running to be had during this workout, so this was a tough (but satisfying, from a “I pushed myself hard” standpoint) run.

Thursday, July 6: 45 minutes XT (yoga)
This one:

While I am normally all about Yoga with Adriene, after how tired my legs felt on Wednesday, I really wanted to do something that would allow me to recover and give my legs a break (i.e.: no warriors, balancing poses, etc.). Yin yoga seemed like a solid option, so I found this video on YouTube and off I went. Some of the poses were really, really hard to hold for as long as I was supposed to hold them, and I ended up making a fair number of modifications (not having blocks also required some modifying). I did nearly fall asleep on several occasions, though, so clearly I got the rest I was looking for!

Friday, July 7: Rest

Saturday, July 8: 10.26 miles in 1:47:00 (really! I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen before during a marathon training long run, finishing on an :00!) for a 10:24 pace.
Another perfect Saturday morning.

10milersunrise

After a couple days of crushing humidity, I woke up to temperatures in the mid-60s Saturday morning and quite a strong breeze out of the north (you can’t really tell from this picture, but Lake Michigan was quite wavy Saturday morning). The first half of the run was a bit warmer than I expected, but as soon as we turned the wind provided some very nice cooling. We’re now getting into the distances that involve running in the Concrete Section of Hell (I need to come up with a catchier name for that) on the Lakefront Trail (*weeps uncontrollably*), which is the area between Castaways and Ohio Street Beach, so any time anything assists with keeping me more comfortable while I have to run through there on Saturday mornings–a gentle rain, wind, or even plain ol’ cloud cover–I’m most grateful.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with training this week. I have two six milers on my schedule, but the forecast also has three straight days of thunderstorms on its schedule. For six miles, I really only need about a 75 minute thunderstorm-free window (accounting for time spent waiting at stoplights), so hopefully I can get one of those on Monday and one on Wednesday–ideally when I plan to leave work, since I’d like to run commute both of those days if at all possible. I have a half marathon this coming weekend, so I’m not opposed to taking a little bit of a break this week, but I’d like to just take a little bit of a break, not a complete break! Fingers crossed.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 4

Sunday, June 25: Rest
I spent most of the day in Lake Geneva spectating the Bigfoot Triathlon, and while that did involve some walking, it certainly didn’t involve enough to constitute a workout. I knew I would be attending Bigfoot when I put together my training plan, though, so I had already scheduled this as a rest day, so it all worked out just fine.

Monday, June 26: 7 miles in 1:14:14 for a 10:36 pace + SPF
Inspired by Tracy, I run-commuted for the first time ever on Monday, and I loved it. Running home from work had never really crossed my mind until a month ago or so, but the more I thought about it, the more it sounded like an ingenious idea. It does require a bit of planning on the front end, but it was so worth it. I happened to look at my watch at the same time of day I normally leave for my weekday runs, and at that time, I was already 38 minutes–just over halfway–into my run. The worst part about weekday long runs, in my opinion, is how much of my very little free time they eat up. If I can save myself nearly 40 minutes of time by running home from work rather than commuting home by public transportation, putzing around the house, and then finally dragging myself out the door, it is MORE than worth the planning that run-commuting requires. Oh, and as for the run itself, it was mostly fine. My stomach felt weird when I started, probably because I ate my afternoon snack at the same time as usual, which gave my stomach almost an hour less than usual to digest it before running. I didn’t fuel at five miles, mostly because I was feeling too lazy to put in the effort to eat gummies (ridiculous, I know), and I definitely felt my lack of energy by mile 6.5. I know I need to fuel on seven milers, because I’ve played this, “Well, let’s just see if I can do it,” game on seven milers before and inevitably end up dragging during the last mile, but for some reason I continue to try to see if it’s possible for me to get through seven miles without midrun fuel. Conclusion: it’s not.

Tuesday, June 27: Dance + P
A new session of dance started on Tuesday (an abbreviated session, since we won’t have class on the Fourth next week) and, to my dismay, we are continuing our journey through Bruno Mars’ most recent hits, this time with That’s What I Like. It’s not that I necessarily dislike Bruno Mars, but after spending eleventy gajillion weeks on 24K Magic last session, I’m a bit Bruno Marsed out, to say the least. On top of that disappointment, my teacher kept us 10 minutes late, which really, really fills me with rage. I have a tight schedule on Tuesday nights, and that 10 minutes makes a HUGE difference, especially when you factor in the non-rush hour frequency of the CTA at that time of day, which can quickly make a 10 minute delay spiral into a 20 or 30 minute delay. It is so wildly simple to keep an eye on the clock and start winding things down on time, and the fact that, for the past six months, the stated end time of the class has seemed more like a suggestion than a rule is making me want to tear my hair out.

Wednesday, June 28: 4 miles (pace) in 37:40 for a 9:25 pace + SPF
I’m really happy I got this run in. There were threatening clouds on the horizon on my way home, and when I checked AccuWeather as I started to change from my work clothes into running clothes, it said that rain and thunderstorms would start in 10 minutes (to be fair, I don’t know why I continue to believe AccuWeather’s MinuteCast. I have found it to be consistently inaccurate in regards to 1) when precipitation will begin 2) when precipitation will end, and, occasionally, 3) if precipitation is actually happening right now in the moment. Frankly, I’ve found the function to be so wildly unreliable that it seems like a waste to have it at all. Why introduce technology to put you “a step ahead” of the competition if that technology always, always fails? Beyond that, weather is by its very nature dynamic, and its minutiae is almost always unpredictable, so why even bother trying to predict something so unpredictable?? Large, general forecasts make sense, because it is, I assume, fairly simple to predict the general conditions for a day (this temperature range, that kind of atmospheric condition) with relative accuracy (i.e.: how often do you see a forecast that calls for a high of 30 and snow storms and it turns out to be 60 and sunny all day?). But this attempt at pinpoint, down-to-the-minute accuracy always falls short in my experience with AccuWeather, and it seems like it would just be better to not have the functionality at all. /endrant). I decided to run laps around a 1.3-mile circuit rather than my usual four mile loop so I could get home easily if necessary, but (surprise, surprise), it never stormed on my run. It barely even rained. I obviously ran this SUBSTANTIALLY faster than I actually expect my marathon pace to be, but like I said a few weeks ago, I want these pace runs to feel like speedwork, so I’m quite happy with how this run went. My quads were BURNING by the end, which is just what I hoped for. Also, I would like to note that even though this run was more than a minute/mile faster and three miles shorter than my run on Monday, I only got home 10 minutes earlier than I got home on Monday: further evidence that running home from work is a HUGE time saver.

Thursday, June 29: 45 minutes XT (yoga)
This…didn’t go quite as planned. I started out doing this practice:

But then my internet crapped out halfway through. Since I’m still not on the greatest terms with my parents, I didn’t think streaming 20 minutes of video over our shared family plan data would be the best way to get into their good graces again. Fortunately, I had updated my NTC app the day before, and with the update came several new yoga practices. I figured downloading one of those workouts would use less data than streaming a workout, so I picked one (Essential Strength Yoga) and did it until I had been doing yoga for 45 full minutes. I didn’t finish that practice, either, but I at least have it as a backup now if I need it, and, since I didn’t finish this Yoga with Adriene practice, I can do it again the next time I need to cross train for 45 minutes without counting it as a repeat!

Friday, June 30: Rest

Saturday, July 1: 9 miles in 1:33:54 for a 10:25 pace + SPF
Blah. I did not enjoy this run. Three of our usual group leaders (two of which are the ones that typically literally lead us) were out of town on Saturday, leaving us in the…perhaps less capable hands of two other leaders, one of which never pauses her watch during a run, including at water stops, which obviously makes her interpretation of a “10:30” pace SIGNIFICANTLY different than everyone else’s interpretation of a 10:30 pace. As a result, we were mostly running a bit faster than usual, which felt even more than a bit faster than usual since it was hot and sunny. I struggled to keep up and my mood turned sour as a result. I was annoyed at the leader running too fast, I was annoyed at how cliquey the group in general seemed to be on Saturday, I was annoyed that I had to be out there at all…in general, just not a fun run in any way.

So here we are, one month into marathon training, and I’m already overwhelmed. Wonderful. While I knew the weekday mileage with my M3 + Novice 1 training plan would be a lot, I feel a lot more intimidated by it already than I expected. The four miler I ran on Wednesday was the shortest run I’ll have between now and the second week of taper. If I had followed Novice 1 as written, there would only be two weeks in the entire training cycle where I ever didn’t run four or fewer miles on a run. I know it’s still early in marathon season, and I haven’t acclimated to marathon training mileage yet (i.e.: I will not be referring to this week’s long run as “only” a 10 miler, but I’m quite sure when I have a 12 miler at the end of August, I will think of it as “only” 12 miles), so I hope that as time goes on, this won’t feel so burdensome, not so much from a physical standpoint, but from a free time standpoint. Right now, though, it does feel extremely time-consuming, which makes it difficult to do all the other things I need/want to do: getting ready to move, freelancing, just relaxing in general, etc. All part of the process, I suppose.