Chicago Marathon Training Week 11

Sunday, August 12: 85 minutes cross training (30 minute circuit + 55 minute bike)
Something seemed to be going on at the gym on Sunday. The weekday crew staffed the front desk, the locker room was FULL of other women who seemed to be preparing (or perhaps finishing up with?) something important, based on the smell of hairspray and hot straighteners that hit me like a wall the second I opened the door and the literal suitcases of clothes on the floor, and most shockingly (and excitingly), the air conditioning was on!! I think the air is always “on” to some extent on the weekends, but it usually feels like it’s close to 80 degrees in the gym on Sundays, so to have it feel closer to a normal room temperature was a real treat! I did the same NTC circuit I’ve done the past couple of times I’ve done circuit workouts on Sundays, then hopped on the bike for almost an hour. My leg didn’t bother me at all, which really surprised me since I had done a lot of sitting that morning, between getting to/from church and being at church. I’m not complaining!

Monday, August 13: Strength training – legs (AM) + 10 miles in 1:54:39 for an 11:28 pace (PM)
I did ALL OF THE LEG PRESSES Monday morning at the gym. In total, I did 138 leg presses, which is somehow even more than I did last Monday, but 90 of those leg presses were single leg presses (45/leg), so overall, each leg was only (“only”) responsible for 93 leg presses. But still. This was the first time I’ve ever done single leg presses, and I was surprised by how little weight I had to use for it to feel challenging.

It was a balmy 88 degrees for my first weekday 10 miler of the season, so, once again, I did not make any particular efforts to challenge myself on this run. I felt fine (sweaty, but fine) until right around mile seven, when I started to get an ache in my hip–in the area of my iliacus, specifically. I’ve never had pain in that area before, and having pain develop during a run certainly didn’t make me feel good about the situation. I continued running, attempting to discern if I thought the pain felt muscular or skeletal (not that I really know what skeletal pain feels like, I suppose). When I got home, moving in certain directions made the ache feel like I was stretching it, which made me think it was more likely to be muscular. It continued to ache all night, sometimes more strongly when I’d take the first couple of steps after sitting (though not always), so I iced it in hopes that that would help.

Tuesday, August 14: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
I did not sleep well Monday night into Tuesday morning due to my achy hip and my inability to find a comfortable position for sleeping that didn’t aggravate the pain. Getting out of bed took some convincing Tuesday morning, and I was in A Mood at the gym – A Mood that was only made worse when I got there and discovered that the personal trainer had hijacked ALL of the dumbbells in the 15-25 lb range for his clients that morning. Hmph. It turned out that I mostly needed 10s for my workout on Tuesday anyway, but it was still SO annoying. Like, you work at this gym, dude. You should have an acute awareness of how limited we are in the equipment department. It’s bad gym behavior to hog equipment, period, but it’s even worse in my opinion when an employee of the gym is hogging the equipment. I ended up sequestering myself in the group fitness room where I could seethe in solitude. And exercise, I guess.

This session of dance wrapped up on Tuesday, so we had rehearsal followed by graduation. Graduation went MUCH better than I anticipated based on how class had gone this session. I still can’t get over how young some of the people in my class were, though. Parents came to graduation. I have never, in one session short of six full years of dance sessions, seen anyone’s parents come to graduation. It’s usually their spouses and children who come. There were no fewer than twelve friends associated with the three youngest girls there to show their support. Who has that many friends that are friends with each other?? Only high schoolers and college students, that’s who. I’m pretty sure the youngest girl in class is literally half my age (or if not literally half my age, very close to it), which is a pretty extreme departure from the usual crowd of 25-35 year olds who make up the class. A session to remember, that’s for sure.

Wednesday, August 15: 5.38 miles in 55:59 for a 10:24 pace
Oh, Wednesday’s run. First of all, my Mood from Tuesday had not dissipated by Wednesday, so I was grouchy basically from the get-go on Wednesday. Then at lunch, I realized in my haste to leave my house on time that morning (which definitely contributed to my grouchiness, being so rushed and flustered) I had left my water bottle at home (a miserable coincidence, since as I was leaving in my rushed/flustered/haste state, I thought, “I’m definitely forgetting something for my run commute.” Fail.). Not having a water bottle would be a nuisance under the best of circumstances, because I really prefer to have water readily available whenever I want it on a run, but on a run commute day it is a particular problem. My water bottle has a zippered pouch, and that pouch is where I store all my run commuting essentials: phone, keys, ID, etc. I had a 55 minute tempo run on my schedule and no interest in taking 30 minutes to commute home, 15 minutes to get ready, and THEN heading out for a 55 minute run. Due to forecasted rain, I had brought my Phone Poncho (aka a Ziploc sandwich bag) to work in case it was raining but not storming when it came time to run commute. I didn’t like it, but I figured I could use that to carry everything if I was going to insist on run commuting. So into the bag went my essentials, and into my sports bra went the bag with my essentials (because I 1) did not want to advertise to the entire world everything I was carrying on my person and 2) I worried that sweaty hands + a plastic bag would = high risk of dropping said bag). And no, running with a beat up plastic baggie stuffed with your phone, keys, ID, etc., is not comfortable, in case you were wondering.

So I set out on my run commute. It’s in the mid-80s with a stifling 76 degree dewpoint for a Real Feel in the 90s. I’m doing my least favorite workout. I’m in a crummy mood. And THEN, just to really top things off, a BUG flew directly into my mouth, not bothering to pass go, not collecting $200, and nestled itself into the back of my throat…THE. ONE. TIME. I. DON’T. HAVE. WATER. *explodes with rage* Swallowing is bug isn’t high on my list of things I enjoy during a run, but I can tolerate it from a grossness standpoint. What I couldn’t tolerate was how it was irritating the back of my throat when I had absolutely no way of getting it out of there. I ended up having a coughing fit for the ages, one so intense I legitimately gagged from how hard I was coughing, all because of a stupid bug with the WORST timing. I felt better (physically) after said coughing fit, and gargled some water when I encountered the first drinking fountain of my run to further soothe my throat. But I was still fightin’ mad.

As for the run itself, I think I did a decent job of gradually speeding up, peaking my speed at the middle of the run, and then gradually slowing down to the end. It’s hard to tell when I do these as part of a run commute, due to building/GPS woes. But I know everything was as it should be from a pace standpoint once I was no longer around buildings, so I’ll assume I did fine when I was around buildings, too.

Thursday, August 16: Strength training – legs (AM) + 55 minutes bike (PM)
I mentioned my hip soreness from Monday to Erin, so she altered Thursday’s workout to accommodate the situation. My “workout” ended up involving a little lifting and a lot of foam rolling, so it was much lower intensity than I’m used to. That was fine with me, though, because even though my hip was feeling decently better by Thursday, I was still–you guessed it–in A Mood Thursday morning and didn’t really want to be at the gym in the first place. At least this time the trainer only hogged weights I didn’t want to use.

I returned to the gym Thursday afternoon for 55 minutes on the bike. It was fairly uneventful, but gave me plenty of time to make progress on my book! I’m officially obsessed with the ability to download eBooks from the library onto my phone.

Friday, August 17: Rest

Saturday, August 18: 16.02 miles in 2:59:37 for an 11:13 pace
We had zero group leaders for the 11:30s on Saturday, but fortunately one of the women I met when I ran with the 11:30s a couple of weeks ago was there, so I didn’t have to do this run completely on my own. She and I did a good job of maintaining an 11:30 pace on our own. It was definitely on the humid side on Saturday, but we hung in there all the way down south. Things got a bit more challenging when we returned north, as there was a bit of a stiff breeze coming out of the north that was particularly vicious when running on parts of the trail that swing out closer to the lake, leaving us without trees, buildings, or any other sort of geography to buffer the wind. I struggled a bit on the return stretch, but had told my running buddy from the get-go that I wanted to fast finish  the last five miles of the run, so when we got to mile 11 she sent me on my way, much to my dismay. My fast finish miles went lot better than I anticipated, especially based on the wind situation. I don’t have super great data, because I forgot to start my watch after a water stop near the turnaround, but the miles I know were full fast miles were a 10:40, a 10:44, and a 10:52, so no complaints in that department.

 

It’s cutback week and I, for one, could not be more excited. I personally find the 15 and 16 miler weeks to be the most grinding of marathon season, partially because they’re back to back (whereas you get an extra cutback between 18 and 20), and I’m VERY excited to dial it back this week and recover. My hip has been touch and go since Monday, but I’ve refrained from seeking any sort of medical attention because right now, I can’t really even describe exactly what’s happening. The ache isn’t consistent enough in severity, location, or time of appearance for me to feel like it needs to be dealt with, and hopefully a lighter workload this week will help it get back to normal.

 

 

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Chicago Marathon Training Week 10

Sunday, August 5: 80 minutes cross training (20 minutes stability + 60 minutes bike)
As I was on my way from church to the gym on Sunday, I realized I had brought everything I needed with me except shoes. Oops. I had no desire to delay my workout by the additional hour it would take to get home and back to the gym, so I opted to do my workout in the most stable footwear of all time: my flimsy $12 sandals I tend to wear to church. At least they have a back strap…? I didn’t plan on doing all that intense of a workout in the first place, and having barely any shoes on my feet did nothing to change that. I did the NTC Runner Stability workout, which is a lot of hip, core, and balance work (and obviously designed for runners), and then hopped on the bike for an hour.

Monday, August 6: Strength training – legs (AM) + 9 miles (with six hill repeats) in 1:43:05 for an 11:27 pace
Monday morning’s strength training workout was bonkers. It started out with 120 leg presses and 120 jump lunges (broken up into sets, thankfully) and if it sounds like that was a lot of work, you are correct! And that was only the first third of the workout! I spent most of the last third wondering how much my legs would be able to function on Tuesday.

The forecast leading up to Monday had me concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get my run in, but none of the severe storms predicted for the afternoon materialized. It was a bit on the warm and humid side, so I took it slow and didn’t worry too much about my pace. My hill repeats went well and were a nice way to break up a fairly long weekday run. Disaster came thisclose to striking with about .2 miles remaining in my run, when my toe caught on an uneven manhole cover and I went hurtling towards the ground. I have NO idea how I managed to catch myself, because in that split second I was falling, I was 100 percent sure I had way too much momentum to stop and had visions of scraped knees and bruises in my head. I somehow didn’t hit the ground and continued on my not-so-merry-anymore way, a bit shook up but VERY glad I made it through the briefest of ordeals unscathed.

Tuesday, August 7: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
I had a good workout Tuesday morning, albeit a slightly more challenging one than I anticipated. While my gym has one of just about everything in the dumbbell and kettlebell department, it only has one of just about everything, which means on days like Tuesday, when a personal training client is using all of the 20 pound weights, my options are to lift lighter than I’d like to or lift heavier than I’d like to. Because I wanted the 20 pound weights for rows, an exercise I know well, I opted for heavier, but it was still a little irksome.

We started getting this session’s choreography in order for graduation at dance on Tuesday. As I expected, we won’t do anything beyond the two songs we learned, but we added some transitions and such to the overall routine, so I guess that’s something. I also got floor burn 😦 I don’t think I’ve had a floor burn since my basketball days, but I can report that it’s just as painful in 2018 as it was in 2003! In case anyone was wondering 😛

Wednesday, August 8: 6 miles in 1:02:49 for a 10:28 pace
I had a mid-afternoon appointment on Wednesday, so I took my August half day Wednesday afternoon and run commuted home around noon. I cannot get over how much more pleasant run commuting is at noon rather than during the evening rush hour! Too bad I can’t get away with working 40 hours a week and leaving at noon every day 😛 This was a pace run, and since my goal marathon pace is 10:52, I was definitely a bit too quick. I find pace runs to be a bit of a challenge, not necessarily so much from a pace itself standpoint (though I admittedly got off easy on Wednesday with very cooperative weather) but from a figuring-out-what-my-marathon-pace-should-feel-like standpoint. I can’t rely on my watch to give me accurate feedback when I’m around buildings (which doesn’t just apply to run commutes, but also applies to a fair portion of the marathon course itself), so I’m trying to work on understanding what a marathon effort feels like with these pace runs. You would think with six marathons under my belt I’d have a pretty good idea of what that effort feels like, but since my effort on five out of six of those has been “easy for the first 14-18 miles, trying very hard not to die for the remaining 12-8 miles,” I don’t feel like I have a good grasp on what marathon effort is supposed to feel like.

Thursday, August 9: Strength training – legs (PM) + 55 minutes yoga (PM)
My strength training on Thursday was pretty standard lower body work. One of the exercises for the day was lateral lunges, and when doing the first set, I noticed that my left knee felt odd. I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as pain, and if it had been a sensation I felt while running, it wouldn’t have been enough to make me stop, so I kept going and wasn’t bothered during the second or third sets of the lunges. After getting to work, though, the knee situation was a different story. It was SO STIFF when I’d get up from sitting for more than 30 minutes or so. I’ve had runner’s knee before, and this was definitely not the same sort of pain (if for no other reason than that it was stiffness, not pain). Walking helped substantially–I felt the best I had felt all day after I returned from my 1.25-mile lunchtime walk.

Based on the knee situation and the fact that I just really, really wanted to relax, I took it super easy in the yoga department on Thursday and did this practice:

which was technically 58 minutes, but whatever. Close enough to 55 for me. It was extremely slow, extremely breath focused, and extremely what I needed.

Friday, August 10: Rest

Saturday, August 11: 15.18 miles in 2:49:03 for an 11:08 pace
After several weeks of running with the “11:00s” who were running at an 11:30 pace, I finally accepted that I really should be doing my long runs at an 11:30 pace and started with that group in the first place – and by “that group” I mean “me,” because I was the lone person interested in starting at an 11:30 pace this week. Why does this keep happening to me?! Does no one like me?!?! *sobs* (I’m totally kidding. I don’t think anything of it, other than that it’s nice that CARA will still provide a group leader for just me.) Anyway, it only took one water stop for us to pick up another runner, and a few others joined as the morning wore on. We were definitely taking things quite easy, even walking a little every now and again, and I was feeling super comfortable. I seriously considered sticking with the 11:30s for the whole run since it felt so comfortable, but since I had mentioned on this very blog just one week ago that I intended to at least attempt to fast finish my 15, 16, 18, and 20 mile runs I figured I should give fast finishing a shot, and told the 11:00 pacer at a water stop around mile 7 something that I planned to run with her for the last five miles in front of everyone in the 11:30 group to give me even more accountability to do so. The 11:30 group leader ended up sending me off with the 10:30s around mile 8ish to try to meet up with the 11:00 group leader. I never found her and didn’t really manage to hang with the 10:30s, so I was on my own for those last miles. It worked out really great, though. My intention was to do the last five at goal marathon pace (10:52, in case I haven’t beat that into your heads enough by this point), and my splits were 10:52 (!!), 10:45, 10:49, 10:57, and…something. My GPS got messed up at the end, so my watch says it was a 9:28, but I have serious doubts about that. Regardless, I’m super happy with the splits I know are accurate. I’m happy I was able to do them, period, after running 10 miles at an 11:30ish pace, and I’m happy that I was able to keep them in the 10:52 range, particularly in light of my whole “trying to figure out what marathon pace feels like” goal.

 

My knee still feels a little funky as of writing this on Saturday, though it felt totally fine while I was running an 11:30 pace on my run on Saturday and 97 percent fine while running at GMP. Because, naturally, running 15 miles doesn’t bother me, but sitting at work does. Clearly I should quit my job and become a professional runner 😛 Now that we are in the depths of marathon training, I’m trying to be even more intentional about taking care of myself and recovering, so hopefully that intention will fix my knee woes by sheer power of will (because that’s definitely how hat works) and I’ll be good as new next week! And, if I’m not, at least I know who to reach out to for insight/assistance.

 

Chicago Marathon Training Week 9

Sunday, July 29: 80 minutes cross training (30 minute circuit workout + 50 minute bike)
I went to the gym Sunday afternoon and settled in for the longest cross training session. I know I shouldn’t start complaining about these already – it’s only going to get worse (i.e.: longer) before it gets better. I was in A Mood at the gym (tired, hungry, headache-y, cranky), which meant I was not at all in the mood to do this workout. Skipping it only would’ve made things worse, because then I would’ve been tired, hungry, headache-y, cranky, AND mad at myself for skipping a workout just because I didn’t want to do it, so I got it in. Fortunately, things went by quicker than I anticipated.

Monday, July 30: Strength training – legs (AM) + 6 miles in 1:08:42 for an 11:27 pace
Today was apparently core day for me. I did stability ball rollouts for the first time since my senior year of college (or possibly PT, but all of those sessions blurred together over time) and leg raises which were INSANELY HARD. Holy cow. I had to do 21 reps at one point and stopped to rest twice during those 21 because I was dying. It’s a good thing today was core day, because I clearly could use some work in that department.

Due to the shower woes at home, I decided to skip my run commute on Monday and do an out-and-back from work instead. That way I could shower there in case my landlord hadn’t been by to fix our shower draining issues yet. My run felt surprisingly hard to start, especially considering how slow I was moving. I felt better after a couple of miles, though, so maybe it was just a matter of warming up. The biggest downside of doing an out-and-back instead of a run commute was that I had to tackle crowds twice, rather than powering through them for the first mile or so. It will never cease to amaze me how many people lack a rudimentary understanding of how to exist on a public walkway. Your entire party does not need to walk side by side down a narrow path. Rules of the road dictate that you should stay to the right, but if you refuse to stay to the right, then at the very LEAST you should stay to the left. THE. MIDDLE. IS. NOT. A. SIDE. And finally, if you, person in the aforementioned party that erroneously believes you must all walk next to each other rather than in front of or behind each other, see a runner approaching, it would make a lot of sense for you to move out of the runner’s way.

I’m counting down the days until Labor Day, because after that, my run commutes will only involve other-commuter dodging, rather than tourist dodging.

Tuesday, July 31: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
I had an exciting moment during Tuesday’s strength training session. I’ve done reverse flys who knows how many times since I became acquainted with strength training eight or so years ago, but they’ve always been really hard for me, and I’ve never been able to do them well with anything heavier than five pound dumbbells in each hand. WELL. On Tuesday, reverse flys showed up on my strength training schedule for the first time this marathon season, and since I already had the 10 pound dumbbells out, I figured I’d try to do them with 10 pounds instead of my usual five and see what happens. I was able to do it!! I was so surprised! There have been times in the past two months when I’ve wondered if all this strength training was actually doing anything other than making me sore at all times, so to have tangible evidence that I am getting stronger was wonderful.

My fears that we would not learn anything else in this session of dance were confirmed on Tuesday, the last available to chance to start learning something new. SUPER DUPER EXCITED to spend the next two weeks reviewing the same things over and over and over and over again *eyeroll emoji* It’s just really frustrating to have to play to the lowest common denominator in these classes when the lowest common denominator is made up of people who clearly have limited interest in attempting to get better. If you can’t be bothered to put a modicum of effort into the class, why are you even there?!?! Spend your money and your time elsewhere! Go to a drop in class! You don’t have to sign up for an eight week class with a performance at the end!

Wednesday, August 1: 6.5 miles (2 mi WU, 6x.5mi (4:41, 4:36, 4:36, 4:36, 4:42, 4:45) w/.25 mi recovery) in 1:08:37 for a 10:33 pace
*praise hands emoji* This is my third time doing 800s this marathon season and I. LOVE. THIS. WORKOUT. I look forward to weeks with 800s, and after a particularly annoying day at work, I was banking on this workout to put my grumpy self away before I got home for the evening. I checked the news after lunch and saw a line of thunderstorms forming out near Rockford that seemed like it would get into the city right when I planned to leave for my run, but miraculously the line broke into two pieces and avoided me entirely–the sidewalk wasn’t even wet when I left the office–so I was able to get in my run and was very grateful for that.

It was fairly warm on Wednesday and I expected my first 800 to be somewhere in the high 4:5x range. I was both surprised and concerned when I lapped my watch after the first 800 and saw that I had come through in 4:41: my fastest 800 all year. Since the point of this workout is to keep all of the 800 reps at the same speed, I quickly realized that Wednesday’s workout was going to be less of a test of my current fitness and more of a workout workout. I hoped I could hang on and do another 4:41ish, so when I lapped my watch after the second 800 and saw a 4:36, my eyes about fell out of my head. WHAT WAS HAPPENING.

If I thought one 4:36 was shocking, it was nothing compared to the shock I felt when I did both my third AND fourth reps in 4:36 as well. And not only did I run three consecutive 4:36s: I ran them at the exact same pace down to the tenth of a second.

aug1800s

WHO AM I?!?! 1) Where was this speed coming from, and 2) where was this consistency coming from?! The wheels fell off a bit on reps five and six, and I am a bit bummed out by my 4:45 final 800, mostly because that means I had a nine second spread between my slowest 800 and my fastest 800, and in a perfect world, I’d like to keep that spread closer to three or four seconds at the most (in a perfect perfect world, I’d like to keep that spread to zero seconds). That being said, reviewing my heart rate data from the run gave me a better understanding of why the last couple were slower. I clearly wasn’t recovering as much on my .25 mile recovery lap, at least from a heart rate standpoint, as the workout went on, which I think helps explain why the burn of the 800s would set in a lot earlier on the last two reps than it did early on.

aug1hrdata

Regardless, this was the fastest 800s workout I’ve had yet, and that was very encouraging. Runs like Monday’s have made me wonder if I’m actually gaining any fitness from all the work I’ve put in so far this season, but runs like this show me that I have. That doesn’t necessarily make my three times/week two a days easier, but at least it makes them feel like they’re helping. I’m sure I’m overanalyzing the data, but across all my 800s so far this year, I’m averaging a 4:46. If that turns out to be what I’m able to do on marathon day, I would be so thrilled.

Thursday, August 2: Strength training – legs (AM) + 50 minutes bike (PM)
After a miserable night of “sleep” that saw me awake from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. courtesy of an inability to get comfortable from both a sleeping position and temperature standpoint, I was dragging Thursday morning and would not have minded bailing on my workout. I knew I wouldn’t have time for that and biking after work, though, and I really want to save my workout bails for times when I actually need them, not when I just want them (“need” meaning due to weather, injury, illness, or something along those lines). I know you don’t have to do every workout in a training program, it’s just a guide, blah blah blah, but one of my goals in any training program, marathon or otherwise, is to do as many workouts prescribed as possible. So if that’s the goal, I’m not going to jeopardize my success with that goal because I don’t want to do something. Anyway, despite my lethargy, I got in a good strength training session. Erin gave me some deadlift tips to help protect my back, and that made a big difference.

I returned to the gym after work for some biking. I actually tried on Thursday and felt like I got in a good workout, rather than 50 minutes of spinning my legs out, so that was nice. I did turn me into a puddle of sweat, but I suppose that’s a silly thing to get worked up about in the exercise department 😛

Friday, August 3: Rest

Saturday, August 4: 11.07 miles in 2:06:05 for an 11:23 pace
I briefly tried to kid myself into believing I could run 11 miles at an 11:00 pace on Saturday, but with the heat, humidity, sun, and utter lack of of interest in pushing myself at all on a long run, that lasted less than one mile. I met up with the 11:30 pace group after our first water stop on Saturday, and it was much more my speed (literally!). The pace felt a lot more comfortable and will probably be where I stick for the rest of the summer (particularly since I would like to try fast finishing all of my remaining long long runs (15, 16, 18, 20)). I enjoyed the company and effort, and all in all felt like this was another good long run.

 

Well, here we are: halfway through marathon season. I’m pretty sure I always feel this way, but it won’t stop me from saying it again: I feel like the first half of marathon season FLEW by. I cannot believe it’s already August. I cannot believe I only have nine weeks of training left. Of course, I also feel like the first half of marathon training is just the prep work for the second half of marathon season, when the real work begins. The super long long runs, the super long week day runs, the marathon-training-is-the-entirety-of-my-free-time part of marathon training. I had such a crummy second half of marathon season last year that I have to admit I’m a little apprehensive going into the second half of marathon training this year. Nearly everything went wrong in the second half of training last year, from knee pain to a stomach bug to a heat wave at the end of September (WHY). The chances of all of those things happening again this year seem slim, so hopefully I’ll have a better second half of marathon season in 2018. Fingers crossed!

Chicago Marathon Training Week 8

Sunday, July 22: 13.1 miles in 2:19:13 for a 10:38 pace
Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago by my Garmin (sort of). My Garmin logged 13.95 miles, but that was due to the tall building-induced GPS hysteria more than a terrible effort at running the race’s tangents. I’m calling it 13.1 miles because that’s what it was supposed to be, so I’m going to assume I ran close enough to 13.1 miles to log it as such (even though I’m sure in reality I did more like 13.2, 13.3, maybe even 13.4).

Monday, July 23: Strength training – legs (AM) + 50 minutes yoga (PM)
After my grip-strength related complaints last week, Erin recommended that I switch over to using a barbell, which, duh, Bethany. I’ve avoided using a barbell…basically forever because it seemed too scary, it was always occupied, *insert whatever excuse is convenient here*. Well, on Monday it wasn’t occupied, and Erin has specifically told me to try to use the barbell, so I did. And it went great! It made me feel badass, which I of course enjoyed 🙂 I was supposed to use them for lunges, too, but someone else needed the barbell when I got to the lunge portion of my workout, so I let him have it since I knew I could do lunges with dumbbells.

I originally planned to bike in the afternoon, but I was stressed and sore, so I opted for this yoga instead:

It was WILDLY different than my usual YouTube yoga finds, both from a practice perspective and from a commentary perspective. It worked for me on Monday, though, and I did feel a lot calmer after I finished, so no complaints.

Tuesday, July 24: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
I made my first attempt at negative chin-ups on Tuesday. It…could have gone better. Haha. Obviously I expected them to be difficult, but when I decided to try an easier version that consisted of just hanging on the bar in a chin-up position, that was really hard, too! How come the stuff I used to do at recess is so impossible now?!

Dance took a turn for the serious on Tuesday (serious as in “let’s focus and get this done,” not serious as in “something bad or dramatic has happened”), and thank goodness. I know it’s not fair for me to get bent out of shape over dance being amateur hour when the class is specifically advertised as being for beginners with no experience, but it does frustrate me that people who can only manage to show up sporadically or who clearly refuse to even consider the possibility of practicing outside of class hold the rest of us back. It has apparently worn on my teacher’s patience, too, because Tuesday included lectures about the importance of reviewing parts of choreography you struggle to remember (you know things have gotten serious when he starts giving lectures), and, most significantly, him breaking us up into small groups. Breaking a large class into small groups isn’t entirely uncommon from my (limited) experience, but it NEVER happens in my Tuesday class. Making three or four people dance on their own in front of everyone else flies in the face of my teacher’s usual approach to class–that approach being, never call out an individual who is messing up, but instead address the entire class about the problem (“Point with your left arm, not your right arm. LEFT arm. LEFT ARM.”). Small groups don’t give you the opportunity to hide. Everyone’s going to see if you mess up, so you better figure out the choreography fast if you don’t want to make a mistake while everyone is watching. I think this helped us make a lot of progress on Tuesday, though I do worry it’s too little too late: with how slow people have been to grasp the choreography this session, I don’t have high hopes that we’ll start something new next week with only three classes remaining until graduation.

Wednesday, July 25: 9 miles in 1:43:54 for an 11:33 pace
I was a little surprised by my slow pace on Wednesday, until I looked at the weather on my Garmin report and found out it was 86 degrees when I went for my run on Wednesday. That’ll do it! I was also so sore on Wednesday from Monday and Tuesday’s strength training workouts, and I’m sure that didn’t help matters either. But slow miles are better than no miles!

Thursday, July 26: 4.81 miles in 50:46 for a 10:33 pace (AM) + strength training – legs (PM)
I took my July half day Thursday morning to go to the allergist to try to get the bottom of why my arm exploded after my tetanus shot in January. Because of the appointment, it made more sense to run in the morning and go to the gym in the afternoon. I really don’t enjoy running on weekday mornings–running when I know I have to be done by a certain time stresses me out–so I was glad that if I had to run in the morning, at least that run happened to fall on tempo run day. Since my tempo runs start so slow, it makes it much easier to warm up. I’m really happy with how this tempo run went. It was tough, just like they all are, but I executed the gradual speed-up followed by a gradual slowing perfectly (paces for my intervals: 11:42, 11:22, 10:47, 9:48, 9:28, 9:02, 9:46, 11:21, 11:23, 11:47) and that makes me very happy 🙂

It was so weird to strength train in the afternoon! Definitely not what I’m used to. I did deadlifts with a barbell for the first time ever on Thursday, and quickly realized I’m going to need to be a lot more conscious about my form when I’m trying to deadlift more than, you know, 30 pounds. The goal of strength training is to make me a better runner, not an injured runner, so I know I’ll need to work on that as time goes on.

Friday, July 27: Rest

Saturday, July 28: 13.47 miles in 2:33:18 for an 11:23 pace
What a delightful long run! The weather was SO nice compared to some runs this summer (temperatures were in the 60s *praise hands emoji*), my Garmin was accurate the entire time (?!?!), and even though I technically ran with the 11:00 pace group, we clearly did not run an 11:00 pace. Assuming my heart rate data is accurate, this is the lowest my heart rate has averaged on a run…like ever (probably not ever ever, but in recent memory: I averaged 156 bpm, when usually on a run, even a run I think is easy, I almost always average 166 bpm), which forces me to concede that yes, I probably should be running with the 11:30 pace group, not the 11:00 pace group. But whatever. If the 11:00 pace group leader runs close to an 11:30 pace, then I can run with the 11s and still run at an appropriate pace! 😛 Anyway, this run felt great from start to finish. I even saw a goldfinch while we were out, which was such a nice surprise! I barely ever see goldfinches in the city (though I saw another one right outside my apartment when I got home – crazy! I hadn’t seen a single goldfinch in the city since March 23, according to eBird, and then I saw two within two and a half hours!). I’ve never done two significantly long runs within six days of each other, and I was really pleased with how good I felt.

 

I logged 40.4 miles this week, which is officially the most miles I’ve ever logged in a calendar week (I know). Granted, that’s mostly because the 20 miler and Chicago Half Marathon are each on Sundays, which throws off my peak week milage (I usually run like 16 miles during the calendar week that counts as peak week since the 20 miler is on the Sunday of the next calendar week, haha). It’s an arbitrary thing–I’ve probably run 40 miles over the course of seven days before, just not seven days that started on Sunday and ended on Saturday–but I’m still really proud to have done it. I know 40 miles per week is NOTHING compared to what most marathoners log, but as a tried and true 25-35 miles per week sort of runner, crossing that threshold felt like A Big Deal. I rewarded myself with a donut from the bakery down the road from my apartment for my hard work 🙂 On to cutback week!

Chicago Marathon Training Week 7

Sunday, July 15: 22 minutes cross training (bike)
Least impressive cross training session ever. I arrived at the gym to discover that apparently the building doesn’t think it’s necessary to keep the room at a comfortable temperature on the weekends. It was at least 80 degrees in the gym with no airflow to speak of, which obviously didn’t make for a particularly pleasant workout environment. I was also pressed for time and only had 22 minutes to work out (as opposed to the 60 I hoped to get in). Blah. Not the way I hoped to start the week.

Monday, July 16: Strength training – legs (AM) + 8 miles (with five hill repeats) in 1:32:59 for an 11:37 pace (PM)
This strength training session was a bit frustrating. Just about everything required me to hold dumbbells or kettlebells as a way of adding weight, which normally I don’t mind at all. I prefer dumbbells/kettlebells to other weights, in fact. Holding weights requires your forearms, though, and mine were not having it. I felt like my legs weren’t challenged by the weight at all, but I could only make it through five reps of anything before needing to take a break thanks to my forearms. Once again, not the way I hoped to start the week.

I took it nice and easy on my run on Monday due to the high humidity. Last Monday’s run and its consequences (GI problems, taking a long time to get my heart rate down) shook me up a bit, so I’m trying to be more conservative in the pace department to keep something similar from happening again. Effort is more important than pace, and survival is more important than effort. I figure anything is better than nothing when it comes to marathon training during the summer, and if that means running a lot slower than I’d like, so be it. I was a bit concerned my run would get stormed out, but the skies were clear when I left work. I did five hill repeats halfway-ish through my run and was once again surprised by how well they went. Here’s hoping this whole hills-aren’t-hard thing continues to mile 26 of the marathon!

Tuesday, July 17: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
I worried Tuesday morning’s strength training would be a disaster, because my arms were so sore after Monday’s grip-heavy workout. To my great delight, everything went well! I’m still pushing myself to use heavier weights than usual, and it makes me feel so great when I can get through all my sets and reps with weight I’ve never used before.

Dance was less crowded but still so hot on Tuesday. We need to find some way to get airflow in that room during class,  because it’s going to be a miserable summer otherwise. We added on a little to what we learned last week, including an eight count of the dougie. My teacher referred to it as a “dance that doesn’t exist anymore” when he introduced it, which, fair, but then when he said it was called the dougie, the number of blank stares from my fellow classmates was alarming. I know one of the girls in class this session is from Germany, so I’ll forgive her for missing a hot second of U.S. pop culture from eight years ago. But the other three are definitely born-and-raised Americans. I knew they were young–one has worn a “Seniors 2017” shirt to class twice now, so I assume she’s 19 at best, and I’m convinced the girl who always shows up and leaves with her is her younger sister–but I didn’t realize they were that young: so young that they had never even HEARD of the dougie. That being said, Miss Seniors 2017 was probably all of 11 when Teach Me How to Dougie was a thing, and her younger sister was, you know, likely younger than that, so I guess it makes sense, but YIKES. I think this is the first time in my life that I’ve been in a group of people where half of them didn’t catch a pop culture reference, and it was not a feeling I enjoyed.

Wednesday, July 18: 5 miles in 55:55 for an 11:11 pace
How ’bout those numbers! This was a goal pace run, and while 11:11 isn’t quite my goal pace (that would get me a 4:53, meaning 11:11 specifically is probably my anti-goal pace, given that would have me finish one minute off my PR. I’d much rather finish five, 10, 15, 30 minutes off my PR than one minute – though ideally I’d like to break my PR), I felt like I ran at a consistent, sustainable effort for the duration of the run. It was a really nice day to be out running, and it felt good to not be crushed by the humidity for a change.

Thursday, July 19: Strength training – legs (AM) + 50 minutes yoga (PM)
A fairly uneventful morning of strength training at the gym on Thursday. This was one of the few times where I felt like I got all of my weights right, which made me happy. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I really want to take this strength training seriously, so I’m making a concentrated effort to challenge myself rather than just phoning it in and saying that I did it.

In the afternoon, I did this yoga practice:

I couldn’t find a Yoga with Adriene 50 minute practice I hadn’t done already, and since I didn’t feel like repeating one I’ve done, I picked the first one that popped up when I searched “50 minute yoga.” I always feel like I’m taking a gamble when I deviate from Yoga with Adriene, because I like what she does and don’t have a huge desire to expand my yoga horizons, so I was pleasantly surprised by this practice. It was right at my level, and it felt so nice to stretch and take it easy on the workout front for a change.

Friday, July 20: Rest

Saturday, July 21: Rest

The end of this week was just what I needed in the workout department. Even though I had a cutback week last week, by Thursday of this week I was tired, constantly hungry, and desperate for a break. I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago, mostly because it takes place in mid-July which is a HUGE gamble on the weather front, but I love that doing Rock ‘n’ Roll means I get to sleep in on a Saturday for a change and have a good excuse to back off my workouts for a couple of days in the name of race prep.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 6

Sunday, July 8: 75 minutes cross training (30 minute circuit + 45 minute bike)
No basement floods at the gym this weekend, so I was able to get in my Sunday workout. I wasn’t feeling overly ambitious, so I did a pretty simple 30 minute NTC circuit workout and followed that up with 45 minutes on the bike. I’ve been biking a lot easier lately, which may not entirely defeat the purpose of biking to cross train, but probably doesn’t yield the same benefits that, you know, trying would yield. Things to work on.

Monday, July 9: Strength training – legs (AM) + 6 miles in 1:12:49 for a 12:08 (lol) pace
Monday’s strength training workout was a quick but sweaty one. It was SO warm in the gym! Not exactly what I normally seek out in an indoor workout. Just doing single leg deadlifts was enough to make me drip with sweat. Now that I’ve done three full weeks of consistent strength training, I’m trying to push myself a tiny bit more and step up the weight I’m using. Doesn’t make things much easier, obviously, but hopefully it’ll make me stronger!

Back to reality on this run. It was a balmy 90+ degrees when I headed out for my afternoon six miler on Monday, and boy did I feel it. The humidity wasn’t bad at all compared to last week, so I incorrectly assumed this run would be fine. As my pace shows, I was definitely wrong. I actually forgot my Garmin and had to rely on my Fitbit to track this run, but that turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise. My Fitbit didn’t show my pace, so I wasn’t able to beat myself up over how slow I was running. I was REALLY feeling it by the last mile, though honestly almost all of this run was a shuffle rather than a run. My body diverted a substantial portion of blood away from my GI tract in an effort to keep me moving/alive, and I will allow you to draw your own conclusions about the outcome of that fun physiological phenomenon. I probably should’ve taken this run inside, shortened the distance, or moved it to another day of the week.

Tuesday, July 10: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
OMG THIS STRENGTH TRAINING. It was no. joke. Erin had me to an AMRAP of 20x*insert various upper body exercise here*, and I severely misjudged how difficult it would be. I’m used to doing 15 reps of anything at the most, so 20 was a lot, and I was already exhausted after one exercise. Hooray upper body work. I got through two rounds of everything, though, and only had to rest approximately forty billion years between each pushup 😛

OMG DANCE. Last week was apparently a fluke in the attendance department (not that that’s all that surprising, given that it was July 3), and nearly everyone from the first week was back this week. That meant the room was way overcrowded–overcrowded to the point where my teacher, who rarely offers up commentary on anything, noted that there were too many people in the room–and also that it was SO HOT. Twelve adults dancing in room that is maybe 200 square feet makes for some very steamy conditions. I was sweating by the time we got through the first half of our warmup, and it only went downhill from there. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever gotten so sweaty during any other dance class in five and a half years of doing this. We kept running the combos we’ve learned over and over and over and over. On the plus side, the song to the combo we learned last week was featured in So You Think You Can Dance on Monday, so reviewing it on Tuesday gave me the opportunity to pretend I was on So You Think You Can Dance, which, embarrassingly, made me work a lot harder than I would have otherwise.

Wednesday, July 11: 5.9 miles (2 mi WU, 5x.5 mi (4:55, 4:59, 4:56, 4:56, 4:50) w/.25 mi recovery) in 1:04:48 for a 10:59 pace
This six miler brought to you by my inability to do math. My Garmin is never accurate when I run commute, so I looked at my watch when I finished my last .25 mile recovery lap, saw it was at 5.65 miles exactly, and thought, “.65 + .25 = .8” Turns out that’s not actually the case! Haha. Oh well. I’m still counting it as a six miler.

Anyway, this run was amazing! I am oddly in love with 800s?? That is truly something I didn’t expect to come out of marathon training. I think I like it because it’s challenging without feeling like it’ll kill me (comfortably hard, as they say), and because it gives me the chance to get away from the usual madness that is trying to run commute on the Lakefront Trail during the summer. My 800 splits were roughly 10 seconds slower than the last time I did this workout, but I also ran one more 800 and it was 11 degrees warmer, so I’m not losing any sleep over it. I’m very happy with my consistency with my splits once again (my third and fourth 800s were 4:56.2 and 4:56.3 – I mean, come on *pats self on back forever*), although I am kind of annoyed that my last one was so much faster than all the others. Of all the things to be annoyed about 😛 I felt SO GOOD on that last rep, and was honestly really bummed out that my workout was over. I wanted to keep going! WHO AM I?!?!

Thursday, July 12: Strength training – legs (AM) + 45 minutes elliptical (PM)
This was a quick strength training session with no plyometrics to finish things off, and that alone made it feel easier than I’m used to. The highlight of the workout, though, was doing leg presses with 100 and 110 lbs. I’ve never done any strength training with anything over 60 lbs (at least that I remember), so I was super proud of myself for surpassing that.

I neither wanted nor intended to cross train on the elliptical Thursday afternoon, but when I arrived at the gym to see one of the two stationary bikes already occupied, I didn’t have much of a choice. I suppose I did, technically, but the bikes are all of maybe eight inches apart, and since literally every other piece of cardio equipment was empty, it just felt too awkward to cozy up next to a stranger when I had plenty of other options. I haven’t been on an elliptical since 2016, so I suppose I was due. I discovered it’s much harder to read on an elliptical than it is on a bike, so here’s hoping no one else has the gall to want to bike on the same Thursday afternoon I want to bike moving forward 😛

Friday, July 13: Rest

Saturday, July 14: 8.14 miles in 1:33:24 for an 11:28 pace
This was one of the most pleasant runs I’ve ever had, long or otherwise, marathon season or not. The radar looked iffy when I woke up, but CARA didn’t say that the run was cancelled by the time I needed to leave, so off I went. I was the only 11:00 pace runner who showed up on Saturday (#dedicated) and no 11:30 pacer, so my usual 11:00 pacer got bumped down to the 11:30s, and one of the 10:30 pacers got bumped down to me. Hooray for personal training! Haha. I thought it was very nice of them to do that, especially since it was just me, and I clearly could’ve run with the 11:30s. But it was cool to have my own pacer, and I enjoyed our conversations. It rained for the entirety of the run, but it was the most perfect running rain ever – not too heavy, not too light, not too cold, not too windy. It made the whole run very comfortable (though I suppose the 11:28 pace we ran probably helped in that department as well) and definitely turned out to be one of my all time favorite runs.

 

As I’m writing this Sunday afternoon, I’m feeling a bit under the weather–kind of sinus pressure-y headache-y. One of my coworkers was out for part of last week with sinus crap, and I’m hoping whatever I’m feeling today is just some weird sleep deprivation-induced funk (yeah – still not doing great in the sleep department 😦 ) and not the start of something un-fun like an infection. I am very excited for the forecast for the coming week, given that at the moment it’s fairly positive. I’ve seen plenty of long range forecasts change, but it’d be nice if this one held true and I only had to suffer through one extremely hot run this week!

 

 

Chicago Marathon Training Week 5

Sunday, July 1: Rest
I had every intention of doing the 75 minutes of cross training my schedule called for: downloaded a workout that morning, brought all my gym clothes to church so I could go immediately after, etc. Then I checked my phone right before I left church to find a text alerting me to the fact that there had been a basement flood in my gym’s building, and the entire building was closed for the day. Since I had neither the means nor the desire to do 75 minutes of cross training outside or anywhere else, Sunday became an accidental rest day. I did think about doing something at home–a short NTC workout, perhaps–but I had so much work to do Sunday afternoon and evening that I ran out of time to do anything that wasn’t directly related to my mile-long to do list.

Monday, July 2: Strength training – legs (AM) + 8 miles in 1:24:37 for a 10:35 pace
The gym was open on Monday, so off I went to get in my first strength training workout of the week. It felt better than last week’s strength training sessions, which was nice, but holy cow, are single leg hamstring curls on a stability ball HARD. I would not be surprised if I feel those on Tuesday.

As for the run: blah. By all accounts, it should’ve been a good run. The weather was nicer than it had been over the weekend, and I apparently ran a much better pace than I realized. But about three and a half miles in, I got catcalled, and not, like, a passing, “Hey baby,” by one creep as I ran by or whatever–not that that’s any more welcome–but an ongoing commentary on how “she’s lit” and “look at that butt” and “THOSE BUTTOCKS” as I ran through a loitering bunch of assholes on the Lakefront Trail–and not some backwards, oddball, dead corner of the Lakefront Trail, but right in the middle of all the action (including all the tourist action). It just…ugh. It’s so unnecessary, so unhelpful, so unproductive. I assume catcallers do what they do to feel powerful, but I cannot imagine an instance where anyone subject to catcalling was walked away from the situation thinking, “Wow, what a strong, levelheaded, intelligent individual. This experience improved my opinion of that person’s demographic and has helped me overcome the racist, classist, ageist, and/or sexist stereotypes I associated with that demographic. This has been a productive encounter, and I hope it happens again so I can continue to grow as a person.” It’s such a waste of everyone’s time and mental and emotional energy. The whole situation just made me angry and ruined what should have otherwise been a perfectly pleasant run.

Tuesday, July 3: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
Tuesday’s strength training session was one of the easier and shorter ones I’ve had in a while, which was a welcome change of pace. I was a big girl and switched to heavier weights when the ones I initially choose were too light, which I don’t normally do *pats self on back*

Unsurprisingly, barely anyone showed up to dance on Tuesday (five people total compared to 11 the previous week). I worried that meant we would spend the entire class going over what we had done the previous week, but nope! We moved on to a way more challenging and fast paced combo that I’m sure we’ll spend the next handful of classes reviewing. Thanks goodness – I was so lost on Tuesday and could use all the review I can get!

Wednesday, July 4: 4.09 miles in 45:01 for an 11:00 pace
Despite having the day off and no plans until around noon, I drug myself out of bed at 6:45 (which, fine, was technically sleeping in even if it doesn’t feel like it) to do a 45 minute tempo run before it got obscenely hot. In my hurry to get out the door, I forgot to set up my watch for intervals like I normally do on tempo runs, so I had to check my watch what felt like every 30 seconds to see if it was time to speed up or slow down. I have no idea how well I executed each five minute segment, since even though I forgot to turn on intervals, I did remember to turn off manual lap, so I couldn’t get my splits. Oh well. Miles one and four were slower than miles two and three, so I assume I did good enough on pacing. Another runner wished me a good morning while I was out running, which was exciting! Two positive interactions with other runners in two weeks!

Thursday, July 5: Strength training – legs (AM) + 45 minutes yoga (PM)
Given the multiple times I was jarred awake by people setting off fireworks throughout the night and the fact that I had had Wednesday off, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to wake up Thursday morning to get to the gym before work. Thursday’s workout was pretty straightforward, but the 50 jump lunges at the end…oof.

For cross training this week, I did this yoga:

And it was delightful. I’ve been stressed for approximately eleventy thousand reasons over the past couple of weeks (she said, as if that weren’t her normal state of being) and obviously have been pushing myself a bit in the workout department, so it felt nice to take things easy for a change.

Friday, July 6: Rest

Saturday, July 7: 10 miles in 1:47:07 for a 10:43 pace
OMG THE WEATHER! It was a delightfully comfortable 64 degrees for this run, which was SUCH an improvement from last week, when it was 79 (both according to Garmin). It felt one billion times better than last Saturday’s long run. We did go a bit quicker than I wanted on this run, but I felt fine the whole time. A woman who normally runs with the 10:30s ran with us this week, and she and I had such a nice chat for almost the entire run! I can’t remember the last time I had a running buddy that was so easy to talk to for so long, and I really enjoyed it. Another interesting thing to note: I ran .88 more miles on this week’s long run compared to last week’s long run, but it only took me five additional seconds. If that doesn’t sum up how much nicer the weather was on Saturday, I don’t know what does!

 

I didn’t come remotely close to my goal of getting more sleep this week, and I continued to let the marathon runger beast have its way with my meals and snacks rather than even attempting to eat appropriate amounts of food. I’ve been shocked by how much training has impacted my hunger levels this year. In the past, I would use long runs to justify indulgent meals (post-long run breakfasts in particular) but that was always more of a, “Well, I ran 18 miles this morning, so I can have as many chocolate chip pancakes as I want,” sort of situation rather my current situation, which is more along the lines of, “I THOUGHT ABOUT RUNNING, AND NOW I AM MERE SECONDS AWAY FROM DYING OF STARVATION.” It’s surprising to me that I’m experiencing that now when I made it through five years of this before without having that issue, and when my average weekly mileage (right now) isn’t that much higher than it was while I trained for my half marathons earlier this year (across the past five weeks, I’ve averaged 19.6 mpw. From February through the beginning of June, I averaged 17.5 mpw). This coming week is a cutback week, so I’m hoping to use that reduction in training to kickstart healthier eating and sleeping habits. Of course, goodness knows how many times I’ve said that going into any other week of marathon training, so we’ll see what actually happens 😛