Chicago Marathon Training Week 6

Sunday, July 14: Strength training – legs
After two weeks of not lifting anything (other than moving boxes, and then my body off the couch to throw away used tissues), I finally got back into it on Sunday. This was my first lifting session at the gym in my new apartment complex, and I was pleasantly surprised by the equipment situation. I had browsed the gym several times to see what was available, but there’s a difference between looking around and thinking, “This will probably work,” and actually using the equipment. The only thing I needed that the gym didn’t have was a kettlebell for kettlebell swings, but I can do those with a dumbbell, so it’s all right. I was supposed to do additional cross training on Sunday, per the schedule, but I ended up getting together with some family Sunday afternoon and didn’t have time.

Monday, July 15: 6 miles in 1:08:11 for an 11:22 pace (AM) + strength training – upper body (PM)
WELL, WELL. Look who went for a morning run! The forecast called for temperatures in the low 90s Monday afternoon, so since I had the flexibility to run in the morning, I decided to go for it. Don’t tell anyone, but I loved it?! It was such a nice way to start my day, especially since the running around here is a a bit less fraught (i.e.: a bit less on sidewalks filled with commuters) than it is in the city. I would go so far as to say it was downright pleasant. Wild! This was the second time I’ve run in the area, and I was quite surprised on the first run to discover that one of my potential outbound routes is actually on a very gentle incline that reminds me of running the Strip in Vegas during Rock ‘n’ Roll. It’s not visible at all, but it definitely slows me down enough to make me wonder why running feels so hard and slow. Fortunately, that means my inbound is on a very gentle decline, which makes me feel like a million bucks. That probably had a lot to do with me being in such a good mood at the end of my run, ha.

It was so weird to strength train in the afternoon. My strength training workouts are short by design, since I usually do them in the morning and need to get to work, but I’m used to long afternoon workouts. It felt strange to get in and out of the gym so quickly! It was also abundantly clear that I took two weeks off, because this workout was way tougher than it should have been.

Tuesday, July 16: Dance
I worried I’d be behind after skipping last week due to my cough, and I was right 😦 I barely remembered the choreography we had learned two weeks ago, and then we moved on and started doing even harder choreography. Phew. I’m going to need to practice on my own time this session, which hasn’t happened in awhile. Tuesday’s choreography was no joke.

Wednesday, July 17: 6 miles (2 mi WU, 5x.5 mi (4:47, 4:51, 4:47, 4:43, 4:49) w/ .25 mi recovery) in 1:06:20 for a 11:03 pace (AM) + strength training – legs (PM)
I am SHOCKED at how this run turned out. This was my first go at 800s on straightaways rather than a track (“track” – the .25 mile loop around a park in the city), and I didn’t know how not having a clear visual of how much farther I had to run would impact me – never mind how elevation changes and intersections would impact me. Since my 800s a few weeks ago were all 5:00+, that’s definitely what I expected would happen on this run as well. When I saw that I came through the first one in 4:47, I figured it was because I ran the whole thing on a slight downhill and that I would absolutely crash and burn by the last repeat. Instead, these 800s were around 10 seconds faster/repeat than when I did this exact same workout last year. I definitely don’t feel like I’m in better shape than I was this time last year, so to have the numbers suggest otherwise was an enormous surprise.

I went to the gym Wednesday afternoon to get in my last strength training workout for the week. The gym only has a 3D Smith machine and no power racks. It was fine for squats on Sunday but felt a little weird for deadlifts on Wednesday, mostly because the bar was much higher than I’m used to. My bigger potential issue is with the free weight arrangement. Some of the weights at the heavier end of my range (which I use primarily for glute bridges) are positioned in such a way that it’s really hard for me to get them off the rack (one single arm, which is all I can reach to get to it, unsurprisingly being much weaker than both of my glutes/hamstrings combined). I think I might have to switch to using plates for glute bridges rather than dumbbells.

Thursday, July 18: 38 minutes yoga
This one:

I was supposed to do 45 minutes of cross training on Thursday but didn’t quite have time, so this had to do. It was a nice practice, though I didn’t have a yoga mat handy, and all the low lunges on my knees were uncomfortable after awhile. The carpet remaining in my old apartment (where I was Thursday) isn’t really meant for yoga!

Friday, July 19: Rest

Saturday, July 20: 8.08 miles in 1:32:24 for an 11:26 pace
To my great dismay, CARA did not cancel Saturday’s run. To my great surprise, the weather Saturday morning was much friendlier than I anticipated. It was definitely quite warm (79 degrees at 6 a.m.) and definitely quite humid, but it was mostly overcast and there was a strong breeze coming out of the south. The cloud cover and wind made an enormous difference and helped this run go a lot better than it could have. I had a very small crew on Saturday of one marathoner and two half marathoners (compared to the previous week’s four half marathoners and my usual four marathoners), but everyone seemed to hold up quite well. I made sure we took an extra water break, and my marathoner and I took a walk break during mile six. I’m surprised my average pace turned out to be 11:26, because I was aiming for 12:04s per CARA’s weather-adjusted recommendation, and my building-interference-free miles were 11:49, 12:03, 11:54, and 11:55. But Map Pedometer says we ran 8.08 miles, so I guess I’ll trust their measurements.


Chicago Marathon Training Week 5

Sunday, July 7: Rest
I had started coughing by Sunday courtesy of the thick mucus from my sinuses that thought my throat would be the ideal exit route. Since coughing counts as a below-the-neck symptom, that means all of my workout plans are on hold until it goes away. I also had a low-grade fever on Sunday, so it probably wouldn’t have been in my best interest to work out, anyway.

Monday, July 8: Rest
Still coughing. Still feeling lousy. Still resting. Still worrying about how sore I’m going to be when I feel good enough to strength train again, since it’s almost been two weeks since I last lifted >.<

Tuesday, July 9: Rest
See yesterday.

Wednesday, July 10: Rest
I finally felt like myself by Wednesday, but I was still coughing like crazy. I considered doing yoga in the afternoon, but decided to take one more full rest day to be on the safe side.

Thursday, July 11: 45 minutes elliptical
I decided to give exercise a shot on Thursday and went to the gym in my apartment complex for the first time with the intention of biking. Turns out there’s only one bike in the gym and someone else was already on it, so there went that plan. I jumped on the elliptical instead and did a light workout on it (I covered 2.11 miles in 45 minutes, and my heart rate was in the 120s for the majority of the workout). It felt…ok. It probably wouldn’t have been the worst idea to skip it, but all of these skipped workouts were really taking a mental toll on me. I know my marathon success does not ride on getting in every single run, and I also know that I’m not even trying to have all that much marathon success this year in the first place–I just want to finish–but I hate watching all these planned workouts come and go and not doing anything.

Friday, July 12: Rest

Saturday, July 13: 3.94 miles in 45:14 for an 11:29 pace
Given the whole suspected-bronchitis situation, I did not think running 10 miles on Saturday was 1) smart or 2) possible, so I emailed my site coordinator on Friday and asked what she’d like me to do. Fall half marathon training started on Saturday, so we decided that I’d run with any half marathoners that showed up (they had four miles on their schedule) and she’d take all of my full marathoners on their 10 miles. That sounded like a great plan to me! Half marathoners were supposed to go north, but as we headed out to the trail and I told my runners this, one of them commented that running north was miserable because the trail is flooded due to how high the lake is. Personally, I loathe that section of the lakefront, so when we got to the trail, I asked if they wanted to go north or south. They wanted to go south, so south we went. I would have gone north had they requested we do so, but I definitely didn’t shed any tears over them not wanting to. My GPS was all messed up and when I measured it out after the run, it looks like we were short by .06 miles 😦 But boy was my pacing spot on!

Chicago Marathon Training Week 4

Sunday, June 30: Rest
I was going to go to the gym one last time on Sunday, but ultimately decided it’d be better to skip the gym and use that time to make some more progress on packing instead. Plus, it was hot over the weekend, and since my (now former) gym was located in my (now former) office building, the air conditioning situation was usually pretty dire on the weekends. That’s great from an environmental standpoint, but not so great from a comfortable workout standpoint. I also didn’t feel super great when I woke up Sunday morning–I was surprisingly sore from the moving and packing I had done on Saturday–so that also contributed to my decision to skip the gym. Finally, I had the foresight when I put my training plan together to schedule a rest day for this particular Sunday anyway, due to the move, so I didn’t feel too bad about taking the rest day I planned to take in the first place, even if it did throw off my strength training for the week.

Monday, July 1: 5.67 miles (with three hill repeats) in 1:08:24 for a 12:04 pace
If I needed to find two words to describe this run–this run that was meant to be seven miles with four hill repeats–those two words would be “unmitigated disaster.” Or perhaps “utter debacle.” Or maybe “complete catastrophe.”

You get the point.

The weather was horrible Monday afternoon, and anyone who disagrees with me can [redacted]. It was very hot. It was very humid. It was very sunny. It was very still. It was about as bad as running weather can be, in my opinion. On top of that, I was on a deadline. I head an eye doctor appointment at 6 p.m., so I needed to get home, cool off, and shower by 5:45 at the absolute latest to get there on time. To accommodate that, I came into work early on Monday and left at 3:30–but only kind of. Had I left at 3:30, I might’ve been all right. But I turned my computer off at 3:30. I still had to change into my running clothes, sunscreen, and put everything away. By the time all of that happened, it was 3:50. That left me with 1:25 total to do seven miles in 90 degree, full sun, mid-afternoon weather AND wait through the usual 10 or so minutes of stop lights at intersections I deal with on run commutes, which meant I really had 1:15 to do the run. That’s a 10:42 pace, which would be perfectly attainable for me if it were, you know, 45 degrees outside.

Things started going poorly almost immediately. I was in an absolutely foul mood, and dealing with all the people on the Riverwalk didn’t help my attitude one bit. The Riverwalk often figured into my run commutes, and let me tell you, if you intend to do anything other than casually stroll along the Riverwalk any time between Memorial Day and Labor Day (including run commuting), you’re on a fool’s errand. It’s crowded by people with no sense of personal space, absolutely no awareness for what constitutes an appropriate amount of walkway to occupy, and total ignorance as to what to do if you see someone running directly at you (YOU. MOVE. OUT. OF. THE. WAY. It’s not that complicated!!!!!!!!) Running along the Riverwalk always aggravates me (except on those blessed days when it’s cold/gross/rainy outside, and the only other people on it are commuters who have a basic idea of how to be a pedestrian in Chicago), but it’s the most intersection-free way to get to the Lakefront Trail, so I’ve suffered through it for two years of run commuting. But I sure didn’t like it! (From a people perspective. I very much liked it from a scenery perspective, though I do miss the older, quieter, pre-renovation east side.)

Anyway, I finally got off the Riverwalk and trudged along the Lakefront Trail to Mt. Roosevelt, where I typically did my hill repeats because it’s 1) easy to access and 2) obviously the perfect place to do hill repeats when preparing for the Chicago Marathon, given that it is the hill I’m training for. By the time I got there, however, I was logging 12:30+ miles. Obviously things were not going well for me. On the downhill after my second repeat, I looked at my Fitbit and saw that it was 4:44, which was so incomprehensible I checked it two more times to make sure I read it correctly. 4:44?!?! I had two repeats and like 2.5 more miles to run, including stop lights and only 30 minutes to do it! It would be physically impossible to accomplish that (for me).

I really wanted to get in those four repeats, because I have no idea what the hill situation will be by my new apartment (though I assume it’ll be dire, since this is Illinois we’re talking about) and this could be my only good chance to do hill repeats all season. When I finished the third one, though, I knew I couldn’t possibly justify another one, so I started heading home. I was barely moving, absolutely baking in the sun, frustrated to the point of crying, and finally just quit. I saw a bus that would get me near my house coming up behind me, so I ran to its next stop and threw in the towel.

This run would’ve been disappointing and frustrating under the best of circumstances, but the fact that it was my last run commute made it that much more upsetting. I really, really enjoyed run commuting during the past two marathon seasons and certainly would’ve done it more often if the weather allowed. Run commuting is probably one of the biggest things I’ll miss about living in the city, especially because I don’t know when/if I’ll ever have the opportunity to do it again. To have my last one be so difficult and unfulfilling was a huge letdown.

Tuesday, July 2: Dance
This has been quite the session of dance so far. Though my class lasts an hour, my Fitbit usually logs around 45 minutes of activity per class, when you account for how low key the warmup is and all that. This past Tuesday, my Fitbit logged an hour and two minutes of activity! We start dancing when class starts and don’t stop until it ends now, apparently. But that’s fine with me! Bring on the choreography!

Wednesday, July 3: Moving
I didn’t do a formal workout on Wednesday because I feel like moving is enough of a workout in and of itself. It’s also a pretty time-consuming activity, so even if I had wanted to get in a workout, I wouldn’t have had time to do so.

Thursday, July 4: 5.33 miles in 1:00:27 for an 11:20 pace
I planned to run four miles on Thursday, but I was feeling really good when I hit four miles, so I kept going to 5.33 to make up for what I missed on Monday. This was my first run in the suburbs! Actually, now that I think about it, it was only the fourth time I’ve run in the suburbs at all, and the previous three were all during races. Anyway, I explored the area a bit and was genuinely, truly SHOCKED by how friendly people were. Cyclists calmly announced when they were approaching, runners and walkers coming in the other direction said good morning: it was crazy! Nearly all of my running life has been lived on the Lakefront Trail, so my expectation for runs is to be ignored most of the time and verbally harassed (generally by angsty cyclists) every now and again. This was very outside my normal experience!

Friday, July 5: Rest

Saturday, July 6: 9.1 miles in 1:49:06 for an 11:49 pace
I felt off when I woke up Friday morning and spent all day guzzling water in an attempt to deal with what felt like a dry throat (or, more specifically, a dry soft palate). When I woke up Saturday morning, I quickly determined that my “dry throat” was the beginnings of a cold. I felt like absolute crap when my alarm went off at 4 a.m. (and not just because my alarm was going off at 4 a.m.!) and really, really did not want to drive into the city for my long run. I don’t have a co-group leader, however, and our site coordinator was out of town, so if I didn’t show up, there wouldn’t be anyone to lead. So I drug myself into the city, my full sinuses making my face feel like it could explode at any moment and just generally feeling ick. On top of that, it was stupidly humid Saturday morning, so I knew this was not going to be the most impressive long run I’d ever had. I told my runners I had come down with a cold the day before and I would do my best to get them through nine miles, but I couldn’t make any promises that it would be at an 11:30 pace. They were all understanding, which I appreciated. I had two new runners on Saturday and felt bad that I wasn’t up to engaging with them, like, at all, but hopefully they’ll keep coming back and I can get to know them better when I feel a little less like death. Running did help me feel slightly better, which I thought it might–I’ve found as long as my symptoms are above the neck, running can help ease sinus pressure a bit–but “slightly better” certainly wasn’t “normal,” and eventually we were running so slow that the 12:00 pace group passed us. I’d feel worse about it if I thought I was holding my runners back, but since all but one of them fell off the group to stop and walk, I’m not really beating myself up over it.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 3

Sunday, June 23: 45 minutes cross training
My schedule called for 70 minutes of cross training, but I only had time for 45 minutes. I originally planned to go to the gym, but I didn’t have time for that either, so I just did a 45 minute NTC workout (Peaks and Valleys) that didn’t require any equipment at home. I hadn’t done an NTC workout since September 9, so it’s been awhile!

Monday, June 24: Strength training – legs (AM) + 5 miles in 57:20 for an 11:27 pace
I woke up surprisingly sore from Sunday’s NTC workout and was glad that Monday morning’s gym workout wasn’t too intense. I realized after I started it that I probably should’ve swapped next week’s strength training for this week’s, because I could more easily do this week’s with equipment I have at home. That’s going to be important next week, because my gym membership ends on June 30 ( 😦 ). Oh well. I think I might just repeat this week’s workout next week, albeit with much lighter weights since that’s all I have at home.

My main goal for Monday’s run was to finish all five miles without getting caught in a thunderstorm, and I’m happy to report I succeeded! The storms Monday afternoon stuck to the suburbs, so I managed to get in my entire run without issue. It was much warmer than it has been for most of the summer, so I intentionally took it slow. Recognizing that I’m not acclimated to the heat has made it a lot easier to handle slower running without panicking that something’s wrong with me.

Tuesday, June 25: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
June 25 is my Chicagoversary (my last Chicagoversary 😦 ), so I was just delighted when I looked up my current weights for all the exercises I had on my schedule for Tuesday and saw that I’m lifting 25 pounds on all of them! It seemed like a numerically appropriate way to celebrate the day 🙂

We started a new session of dance on Tuesday. I got to class and was both surprised and thrilled to see that one of my former regular classmates was there! She used to take class every session, but I don’t think she’s been in class since early 2016/late 2015. I saw her downtown once, but other than that, I haven’t really seen much of her since the last time she took class. I’m really excited that she’s back! Class itself went well, too 🙂

Wednesday, June 26: 5 miles (2 mi WU, 4x.5 mi (5:02, 5:05, 5:13, 5:15) w/ .25 mi recovery) in 56:50 for an 11:22 pace
It was HOT on Wednesday (my Garmin stats say it was 90 degrees O.O), so my only goal for these 800s was to survive. I’m not shooting for any time goals this year anyway (other than hopefully not logging my slowest marathon), so my 800s this year are more about getting an estimate for what I can expect in a finishing time rather than trying to work to improve my fitness to hit a certain finishing time. Plus, even if I’m not going for a time goal, it doesn’t hurt to do some speedwork to keep training interesting. This was the only round of 800s I’ll be doing in the city, which bummed me out big time. I love the park where I did them. The path around the park was exactly a quarter mile and is surrounded almost entirely by trees, which made it the perfect place to do these during the summer. Give me all the shade! Plus,there was almost always just the right amount of people there: not so many that it was crowded, but not so few that I felt uncomfortable. And a lot of those people would be there walking their dogs, which was an added bonus.

Thursday, June 27: Strength training – legs
I originally planned to do strength training and an additional 40 minute afternoon workout on Thursday, but I realized I wouldn’t have time to do an afternoon workout pretty early on in the week. I then decided I’d do strength training + biking to add up to 40 minutes in the morning and count that. Well, my strength training took 33 minutes, and since I got started later than I intended, I didn’t have an extra seven minutes to keep going, so strength training it was.

Friday, June 28: Rest

Saturday, June 29: 5.22 miles in 1:00:31 for an 11:36 pace
We had our first warm long run of the season on Saturday. I’d prefer to never have warm long runs, but if I had to pick a day for one, the five mile long run day would be my first choice. It was much warmer than it had been the previous two weeks, but not as humid as I feared (i.e.: I didn’t let out an involuntary “Ugh, blech,” when I left my apartment that morning, which is my gauge for the bearable-ness of the humidity). I’ve been trying to let my runners be my guides as far as pacing goes, so we took it a bit slower than an 11:30 pace. My reliable miles from my Garmin show an 11:35, a 12:04, and a 12:19. Oops. I’m not too upset about it, because no one seems to care all that much whether we run a consistent 11:30 pace or not. Everyone (thus far) seems primarily concerned with getting the miles in, especially on warmer days, and we did accomplish that!

Chicago Marathon Training Week 2



Sunday, June 16: Dance
We have dance graduation on Tuesday, so we had our usual extra practice Sunday afternoon. I, for one, was quite thankful for the rehearsal, not only because I needed the review time, but because I had grossly underestimated how cold it was when I left the house that morning. I wore my lightest jacket, thinking that would be sufficient for, you know, June 16. It was not, and I was FREEZING all day. It was nice to have an hour of dancing to warm myself back up!

Monday, June 17: Strength training – legs (AM) + 7 miles in 1:17:06 for an 11:01 pace (PM)
While I suppose it would’ve made sense to start my strength training on week one of my strength training plan, I decided instead to keep rolling with where I was when marathon training started last week. That meant the workout I did Monday morning was the one I originally did the day after the 20 miler. It’s about as light as they come, and even though there was no reason why I needed an easy workout, I welcomed the chance to take it easy for a change anyway.

I’m continuing to be all about this cooler weather. My run home on Monday felt great courtesy of the low temperatures and overcast conditions. Plus, it kept too many people from being out and about, which meant less tourist dodging. I really hoped that this run would help burn off some of my moving-related stress, but my mind kept jumping to the five gazillion things that need to get done in what feels like the next three seconds, so that wasn’t as effective as I had hoped.

Tuesday, June 16: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
I woke up not feeling the best I’ve ever felt. I went to bed with a headache I had hoped would be gone when I woke up, but it was still there, along with some neck soreness from Monday’s strength training (you wouldn’t think that a lower body strength training workout would lead to neck soreness, but when you insist on doing situps with your neck rather than your abs *looks at self significantly*, that’s the result). Also bothering me, of course, was my omnipresent stress and anxiety courtesy of the move. I lifted heavier than usual, which will probably cause additional soreness on Wednesday, but whatever. I need all the easy wins I can get right now.\

We ran through our dance routine several times during class, and then had graduation Tuesday night. I happened to run into a few other girls from my class on the way there Tuesday evening, and one of them asked if I was nervous. When I said I wasn’t really, another asked how many times I had done this before. I had recently added it up, and this was my 39th graduation. So no, I can’t say it’s a particularly big deal to me at this point anymore. That being said, this was one of the few times I made it through the performance without messing up at all, so that was very exciting!

Wednesday, June 19: 4.04 miles in 40:36 for a 10:03 pace
I did my first Hal Higdon-style tempo run of this training cycle on Wednesday. I hadn’t done one in quite some time (not since half marathon training), and I can’t say I missed them! Fortunately, our San Francisco weather was still going strong on Wednesday, so it was foggy and cool on this run. That took some of the pain out of it. I actually haven’t done any speedwork at all since the beginning of April (or maybe the end of March?) so, I’m not surprised this was tough. I am surprised I managed to get in four miles, though. Usually I average a bit slower than a 10:00 pace on these tempo runs!

Thursday, June 20: Strength training – legs (AM) + 37 minutes yoga (PM)
I had a harder time dragging myself out of bed on Thursday than some other days. I slept on my neck wrong and came thisclose to missing the CTA (shout out to the operator who took pity on me and waited), so all in all, not the best start I’ve ever had to a morning. My workout went fairly well, though it started with deadlifts, which I’ve come to dislike. I would probably like them more if I did them more often so they weren’t so hard!

I was going to bike at the gym for 40 minutes after work, but given my sky-high stress and anxiety levels as of late, I thought perhaps yoga would be a better option. I did this one:

I don’t feel like it really helped me at all, but you know, A for effort.

Friday, June 21: Rest

Saturday, June 22: 7.06 miles in 1:20:56 for an 11:27 pace
We once again had picture-perfect weather for our long run on Saturday. I had three runners in my group this week, though two of them were new, and neither of them has ever run a marathon. One of them has never run more than five miles! I have to say, I admire people who’ve done so little long distance running and decide to tackle a marathon. I had to run a 5K to be convinced I could run a 10K, a 10K to be convinced I could run a half marathon, and a half marathon to be convinced I could run a marathon.  I don’t know what everyone’s deal was on Saturday, but there were SO MANY extremely friendly people on the Lakefront Trail! We had two bikers give us ample, friendly warning that they were approaching from behind us, one biker who told us we were doing a great job, and one runner who said we were doing great, to say nothing of all the running groups we encountered who said hello. In all my runs on the Lakefront Trail, I’ve never experienced anything like it. If this is what happens when it’s in the low 60s, overcast, and not humid, I think that’s a pretty solid argument for keeping that kind of weather all summer long.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 1

Sunday, June 9: Rest
I had a lot to do at home on Sunday and knew that would be the case, so I scheduled a rest day to kick off marathon training, as one does 😛

Monday, June 10: Strength training – legs (AM) + 5 miles in 56:38 for an 11:19 pace
I’ve kept up with strength training more or less since the Chicago Marathon last year. I took three full weeks off strength training post-marathon, and have taken a handful of non-consecutive weeks off here and there since then, but for the most part, I’ve been at the gym three days a week picking heavy things up and putting them back down again. I feel like this will really give me a leg up in the strength training department this year, since I’m starting with roughly a year-long background rather than starting from scratch. Hopefully it’ll especially help in the soreness department!

I’m trying to get in as many run commutes as possible before I move, so I ran home from work Monday afternoon. I wasn’t a huge fan of my normal five mile run commute route, so I reworked it for this one and thought it went a lot better. I normally map out my run commutes ahead of time, since I don’t trust my Garmin to give me an accurate measurement with all the buildings in the city, but on the past few run commutes I’ve found that my Garmin is hitting my mile markers almost exactly where my pre-mapped route said I would hit them, which has been SO nice! I’m relying on my Garmin to measure my route more than my pre-mapping now. I think it’s accurate enough, which is fine with me. Anyway, the run itself was pretty lousy. I don’t know what’s going on with me lately, but running has been harder than I like it to be. I’ve been running consistently-ish, but ever since my Europe trip (almost two months ago now), I haven’t been following a super strict (or super long distance) running plan. I’m hoping that my endurance (and weather acclimation) will come back with time.

Tuesday, June 11: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
I had a relatively easy upper body workout on Tuesday morning, which was great, because I think I tweaked my left bicep on the first rep of my first exercise. Oops. It was sore for the rest of the morning but felt better by the afternoon.

After taking us through our usual warmup on Tuesday, my dance teacher asked us to rehearse together as a class for five minutes (without him) while he worked on the music mix. I ended up leading the class through the rehearsal, which was really fun! I could never be a full-blown dance teacher, because I can’t come up with choreography to save my life, but I do enjoy leading class when I get the chance (and have someone else’s choreography to teach/review 😛 )

Wednesday, June 12: Rest
My company had our annual “field day” event Wednesday afternoon, though due to the rain, it ended up being a “wherever we can find space in the office day” instead. It’s a lot of fun (though not very physical, hence calling this a rest day), but since it takes place at our suburban office it keeps me from having time to do a real workout.

Thursday, June 13: Strength training – legs (AM) + 5 miles in 54:09 for a 10:50 pace
Can’t say I expected to need to bundle up in sweatpants and a hoodie to get to the gym on June 13, but here we are. The Real Feel was around 43 when I woke up on Thursday! I had a solid workout and upped my weight on kettlebell swings for the first time…ever? The first time in a very long time, if nothing else, and that felt good.

What a difference 10 degrees makes! I followed the same route home that I took on Monday’s run commute, both of which took me past an electronic sign that displayed the temperature. When I ran past it on Monday, it said 77 degrees. When I ran past it on Thursday at almost the exact same time of day, it said 67 degrees. I felt one billion times better on this run than I felt on Monday’s run, which made me relax. I was worried something was physically wrong with me and that’s why my run on Monday was so hard, but based on how much better Thursday’s went, I really think it’s the weather. We’ve had a few one-off warmer days (though we haven’t had any truly hot ones yet), but the occasional 75 degree day followed by a string of days under 70 doesn’t really help you acclimate to the heat. IMPORTANT NOTE: THIS IS NOT A COMPLAINT ABOUT THE WEATHER. Haha. I will happily, happily, take sub-70 degree temperatures all summer, thanks. I am merely observing that having not had any significantly warm weather for any significant stretch of time makes it harder to run on days where it’s warmer than usual. But that’s a price I’m MORE than willing to pay if it means keeping my air conditioning off and being able to exist comfortably outside.

Friday, June 14: Rest

Saturday, June 15: 6.21 miles in 1:09:22 for an 11:11 pace
(I think this distance is wrong, but I’m having trouble finding a route creation tool online that has the fully separated Lakefront Trail, so we’re just going to go with what my Garmin says for now.)

First long run of marathon season woo! As I mentioned last week, I’m group leading this year. I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of attendance, but I ended up having four other people start with me! One tripped and fell less than half a mile into the run, which I felt bad about 😦 There wasn’t anything I could do to prevent it, of course, but still. So for the remaining 5.5ish miles, I had three other people running with me. I thought things went really well! I have a bit to work on in the pacing department (my non-building affected mile splits were 11:19, 11:24, 11:42, 11:43 – I’m aiming for an 11:30), but no one seemed to mind. I told them all at the get-go that if they ever felt like I was going too fast or too slow to speak up, so hopefully if there ever is a problem, people will feel comfortable enough to say so.


Marathon Season 2019

Here we are, dear readers: my last (for now) Chicago Marathon training cycle. After two years of threatening to quit and not actually following through, this time I mean it. Barring major, bad, unforeseen circumstances, I do not plan on running the Chicago Marathon (or any other fall marathon) in 2020.

I think this is a good time for my Chicago Marathon victory lap for a few reasons. Running the Chicago Marathon has largely defined my post-college life, but the chapter of post-college life I’ve lived since June of 2012–that chapter, in the Book of Bethany’s Life, being titled “Chicago”–will start to come to an end in a few weeks when I move to the suburbs. While I don’t expect that my life will change as immediately and dramatically as it did when I moved from Michigan to Chicago seven years ago–after all, it’s much easier to commute back into the city from the suburbs on a regular basis than it is to commute back to Michigan from Chicago on a regular basis–I know that things are going to change as a result of the move. Not having the marathon as the center of my life anymore will help facilitate that change, I think, as will continuing to have the marathon be the center of my life for the next 18 weeks. I hope that will make leaving the city more of a gentle transition.

Beyond that, as I said after the marathon last year, I am perfectly satisfied with what I accomplished during last year’s race. I was (and still am) very proud of my 4:42:49, and if I never run a faster marathon than that, I won’t feel like I’ve still got something left to accomplish.

With those things in mind, this felt like an optimal time to wrap up my Chicago Marathon-ing for the moment. I’m going into this year with zero goals other than to enjoy myself as much as one possibly can while dragging themselves out of bed before 6 a.m. multiple days per week (including Saturdays) in order to run for hours in hot, humid conditions and, ideally, not let my plantar fasciitis get noticeably worse.

This upcoming move will require several things to change from my past couple of years of training:

1. I will no longer be able to run commute, due to the distance between my new apartment and my office.
2. I anticipate that my entire schedule will be upended for at least five weeks during/after the move, because about a month after I move, my office is moving, too. Popular year for relocating, I guess!
3. I am quitting my current gym (because it’s located near my company’s city office location, and I’ll be switching to our suburban location after I move [the suburban location is the one that’s moving]), which will throw a small monkey wrench in my strength training. My new apartment and the new office both have gyms, so I’m not worried about having access to training–it will just be a matter of figuring out when I can train, based on my aforementioned upended schedule.

Obviously, life is going to be a bit bonkers for me until about mid-August (just in time for marathon training to become a bit bonkers! Woo!). I know this is going to require a LOT more flexibility in my training than I’m used to as I figure out my new commute, my new running routes, my new area, my new schedule, etc. To that end, I’ve actually written two marathon training plans for myself: my ideal plan, which is basically identical to last year’s training plan, and my if-needed plan.

My ideal plan has me running high(ish) mileage three days per week, following(ish) Hal Higdon’s Marathon 3 program for weekday runs and his Novice I program for weekend runs, per CARA’s training plan. This is what I did in 2017 and 2018 and I loved it–but I loved it because I discovered run commuting. I’m hoping to work remotely on days I run high mileage to solve the commuting-takes-time-and-so-does-running-10-miles-on-a-Monday issue that plagued me pre-run commuting. On the occasions that that’s not possible, however, I also have my if-needed plan. My if-needed plan has me running the same total mileage each week, but spreads those miles out across four days rather than three. With both plans, I also avoided assigning particular runs to particular days–instead of saying “10 miles on Monday,” for instance, I said, “10 miles for run of this week’s runs.” I know I struggled a lot with feeling guilty if I deviated from the plan in the past, even if that deviation was as minor as swapping Wednesday’s and Monday’s workouts, so I’m hoping this will solve that problem. All about that flexibility.

All about that flexibility…except on Saturdays. I signed up to group lead for CARA this year, which means no more taking CARA’s long runs as suggestions rather than requirements. Because I’ve committed to group leading, I won’t be fast finishing any long runs this year, nor will I be skipping them in favor of doing a race instead. I don’t plan to race at all during this training cycle, in fact. I’m both excited and nervous to group lead. It feels like a lot of pressure, but at this point, I don’t even know if I’ll have anyone to lead, so I’m going to try to not get too worked up about it until I have a better idea of how many/if any people are in my group.

My last order of marathon training business is this plantar fasciitis situation that, surprise surprise, has not magically resolved itself as I’ve continued to do the things that led to it in the first place. I don’t expect it to go away during marathon season (though I’d be fine with that!). Over the past few months, I’ve noticed the #1 thing that seems to help it is not running, which is a pretty risky way to train for a marathon. While I don’t expect it to go away while training, I’m hoping to keep it from getting worse by doing the following:

1. Switching shoes. The ones I ran in when I got plantar fasciitis are dead anyway, so I’ve moved on to Asics Gel-Nimbus 21s. I ran in the 20s all of last marathon season without issue, but then got plantar fasciitis in a third pair of 20s, so *shrugging emoji*. I started wearing them yesterday and plan to wear them for two weeks before making a final decision. If my PF gets worse, I’ll return them to Fleet Feet and start back at square one.

2. Getting back into my foot stretching/strengthening routine. I kept up with this while training for my half, then quit once I crossed the finish line and didn’t care anymore. Now that I care again, I’m going to try very hard to remember to stretch and strengthen the soles of my feet daily, and use that blue super calf stretcher thing after every run (this thing, which my podiatrist made me buy after my first bout with PF years ago).

3. Wear my night split to bed on days I run, and my arch sleeve to bed on days I don’t run. I really hate my night split, but I also really hate waking up with a foot that hurts. I haven’t really given the night split a fair shake (it’s uncomfortable, so I’ve never worn it more than once or twice in a week), so I’m going to make more of an effort to use it and see if that helps. I also have a compression sleeve I wore around my arch during the winter that’s less bulky (and thus more comfortable) than the splint, but doesn’t do as good of a job at keeping my foot from flexing.

4. Wear supportive footwear at all times. That means wearing my OOFOS when walking around the house, my SuperFeet flip flops on weekends, and my work-appropriate SuperFeet sandals I ordered the other day at the office/church – if I wear sandals at all, that is. Choice #1 will be tennis shoes when possible.

5. If I haven’t seen noted improvement by the time I move, start physical therapy. Honestly, I should’ve done this months ago. I just didn’t want to. I didn’t need one more commitment, and the pain usually wasn’t that bad anyway. Well, it’s been four months now, and I need to cut it out with the excuses. I’m going to wait until I move so I can go to a PT closer to my new place, since that’ll be more convenient than anything by my current house. But this is going to happen if I’m still in pain, darn it!

So that’s the plan for this year. Happy marathon season!