Chicago Marathon Training Week 12

Sunday, August 25: Strength training – legs + 50 minute bike
Sunday was not the best day of my life and got off to a very slow start (by which I mean I got up at 7:45 to go to church, spent the next hour crying because my stomach hurt and I was tired and I really, really, really, didn’t want to drive into the city, and then went back to bed for another two hours). I didn’t have a lot of momentum from the morning to push me to the gym, but I knew skipping wouldn’t make me feel any better, so off I went. I’m not wild about this week’s strength training lineup, so I tried to knock out Sunday’s workout as quickly as possible (i.e.: no playing on my phone during recovery periods) and then hopped on the bike for 50 minutes. I intended to read during that time, but naturally couldn’t drag myself off Twitter. And I wonder why it takes me so long to get through a book.

Monday, August 26: Strength training – upper body (AM) + 8 miles in 1:32:32 for an 11:34 pace (PM)
I went to bed Sunday night with the intention of getting up early to run Monday morning, but before my alarm even went off, I could hear rain coming down the gutters outside. Once my alarm did go off, I spent a solid 15 minutes stalking various radars trying to determine whether or not it would thunderstorm during the hour and a half I expected to need to complete my run. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t, but by the time I came to that conclusion, I had already wasted enough time that at that point, it wasn’t going to save me any time to run in the morning, so I figured I’d get 30 more minutes of sleep and go to the gym to strength train before work instead. Two of the four exercises I needed to do on Monday required equipment my apartment complex gym doesn’t have, so I had to get creative. Technically, I can finagle my way into lat pulldowns, but the area near the machine that comes the closest to being a lat pulldown machine was commandeered by a woman who’s almost always there in the mornings. She doesn’t give off the friendliest vibe (her propensity to sing along out loud to the R-rated songs apparently playing in her headphones adds to this impression), so rather than trying to work in with her, I opted to do bent-arm barbell pullovers instead, because the internet said those would also work my lats. The biggest benefit of this was that I used the EZ curl bar for the first time (ever – not just at this gym, but at any point) and realized that it will likely be a MUCH better way of doing hip raises moving forward than trying to deal with a 55 pound dumbbell. I can hip raise 55 pounds just fine, but getting the dumbbell of (and even more, back onto) the rack is a challenge. I think the EZ bar has the potential to be a good way to get around that.

Holy humidity, was it steamy for my run Monday afternoon! I was so sweaty that I may as well have just run in the rain in the morning. It would’ve led to the same outcome! I took a slightly different route than normal and got all bent out of shape over how slow I was running in the middle of the run, until I came home, looked at my Garmin stats, and realized the different part meant going uphill for almost a full mile. That explains the slowdown! I’m continually surprised by how subtly hilly it is near me. The elevation maps on my Garmin look a lot different than the ones I’d get running in the city!

Tuesday, August 27: Rest

Wednesday, August 28: Strength training – legs (AM) + 7.01 miles (2 mi WU, 7x.5 mi (4:39, 4:49, 4:46, 4:46, 4:53, 4:48, 4:43) w/ .25 mi recovery (skipped the last .25 recovery)) in 1:16:15 for a 10:52 pace (PM)
I planned to run Wednesday morning, but I was so tired when my alarm went off that I decided to push my workout to the afternoon instead. Per usual, I regretted that as soon as I walked out the door into delightfully chilly weather, which I wasted in the gym instead. Oh well. I did my strength training workout backwards because the loud lady was using the rack when I got there, so my deadlifts had to wait. I was able to eventually get everything in, though.

The wind picked up like CRAZY during the day, and I was concerned that it would really slow me down on my 800s Wednesday afternoon. My first 800 was downhill with the wind at my back, so unsurprisingly I didn’t hit that pace again during the run. Excluding that first rep, though, I’m really pleased with my consistency on these 800s, especially the back-to-back 4:46s. I’m also really pleased with how fast I’ve been doing my 800s in general. With no goals for the marathon this year, I’m doing 800s more out of curiosity’s sake (and because it’s nice to feel like I’m really working on a run every now and again) than to get an idea of what the marathon could hold for me in October. With only one 800s workout left (?!?!?! 😦 😦 😦 ), I’m averaging a 4:51 across all my 800s. If you take out the ones I did on the treadmill (where I had to keep up with the treadmill’s pace rather than setting it myself) and the ones from my first 800s workout this season (where I was running 5:xx for all of them), I’m averaging 4:47. It doesn’t really matter, but it’s nice to think that I might have the fitness to run somewhere in the neighborhood of a 4:47-4:51 marathon (if the weather cooperates – that pesky little x factor!). I’ve been feeling down on myself fitness-wise over the past week or so, and I like having tangible proof that I’m in better shape than I believed.

Thursday, August 29: 55 minutes yoga
This one:

Given that the name of this practice is, “Yoga for Strength & Tone,” I really had no right to be surprised by how active it was, but…I was surprised by how active it was. Ha. I don’t remember the last time I did yoga that was anything more than gentle stretching with maybe a sun salutation or two thrown in for good measure, so this was a bit of a change from what I’m used to. That being said, constantly moving made this practice go by a LOT faster than others, and I liked that a lot. I usually get bored 20-25 minutes into a slower yoga class on YouTube, so it was nice to not feel that way for a change.

Friday, August 30: Rest

Saturday, August 31: 12.13 miles in 2:20:33 for an 11:35 pace
At last, a wonderful long run! The weather was FABULOUS Saturday morning, which made running one billion times easier this weekend compared to last weekend. The fact that I had four fewer miles to run helped as well 😛 This was one of my best pacing efforts, which made me happy. Better late than never, I suppose. My biggest accomplishment of this long run, though, was getting the parking validation kerfuffle sorted out. Parking validation hadn’t been working for weeks, and though I contacted CARA about it the first time it happened, things hadn’t gotten better. I reached out again last week, and in my emails back and forth with CARA, discovered that the validations they gave us were only good for three hours. When you factor in the amount of time that passes between me pulling into the parking lot (thus starting the three hour clock) and actually starting the run, plus the time we spend out on the run that isn’t running time, plus the cool down time, I couldn’t get through all of that in under three hours when running 12 miles or longer. Now we have validations that are good for six hours, which should MORE than cover the amount of time we’ll be out there, even for the 18 miler.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 11

Sunday, August 18: Strength training – legs
I didn’t have time to do the full 85 minutes of cross training on my schedule for Sunday and I came thisclose to skipping strength training. Not wanting to drag my strength training out longer in the week than necessary, I drug myself to the gym late in the afternoon Sunday and got it done.

Monday, August 19: 10 miles in in 1:55:10 for an 11:31 pace (AM) + strength training – upper body (PM)
UGH I feel SO smug for running 10 miles before work. So freaking smug. I should probably be concerned by how much joy I get out of doing things that make me feel smug. Anyway, I got up way earlier than normal Monday morning because I really wanted to get this run done in the morning before it got too warm. It was already decently steamy when I headed out, but I kind of didn’t mind it?? I barely know myself anymore. I run in the morning, the humidity doesn’t destroy me: this is does not fit my personal brand! Tragic. I definitely felt like I was out forever (I mean, I was), but it wasn’t unbearable or overwhelming. In order to avoid five miles of an out-and-back, I ran a new route on Monday and really enjoyed mixing things up. It helped the run go by quicker and I enjoyed the new scenery. I also enjoyed all the birds I saw and/or heard on this run: goldfinches, cardinals, robins, house sparrows, barn swallows, chickadees, catbirds, and mourning doves. There were also a couple others I couldn’t ID. The notable increase in birds (particularly goldfinches and catbirds, which I rarely saw in the city) is definitely my favorite part of running in the ‘burbs.

I went to the gym after work and for the first time in months actually enjoyed lifting for a change. I really hope I’m getting out of my lifting slump, because that will make my thrice-weekly strength training sessions infinitely less miserable.

Tuesday, August 20: Rest
No dance this week, which meant an extra rest day for me! Woohoo!

Wednesday, August 21: 5.15 miles in 55:55 for a 10:52 pace (AM) + strength training – legs (PM)
I had a 55 minute tempo run on the calendar for Wednesday, and man, running 55 minutes after running an hour and 55 minutes on Monday was a real treat! I could sleep in (ish), do my run, and STILL start my workday at my normal time. (Sometimes when I run in the morning, I start up to an hour later than usual–and consequently work up to an hour later than usual.) After some bonkers humidity on Tuesday (the dewpoint was 74 when I went out for a brief walk at lunch), things were much more tolerable on Wednesday, which helped make this run, dare I say, pleasant? These longer tempo runs are tough, because I have a hard time judging just how much I should increase (or decrease) my speed each five minute interval to make sure I hit an appropriate peak in the middle. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that I totally nailed this workout when I reviewed my Garmin stats after the fact. I think this was one of the best jobs I’ve done on pacing, in fact. My “twin” intervals (i.e.: first and last, second and second to last, etc.) worked out like this:

.40 miles/.40 miles
.42 miles/.42 miles
.45 miles/.44 miles
.49 miles/.47 miles
.51 miles/.52 miles

Since the goal is to have them all be exactly the same distance (because covering the same distance in five minutes would mean I’m running the same pace), I think I pretty much crushed it. (My peak interval, for those of you dying to know, was .55 miles)

I decided to be a big girl on Wednesday and use the bench for lateral step-ups, since they were on my schedule and doing them on the treadmill the other week felt lame. I’ve been doing forward step-ups on the bench, so I figured I could handle it, especially if I don’t use any weight (so my hands are free to balance me). It worked out really well, so that’s great news. Now I can do them again and feel like I’m actually building muscle!

Thursday, August 22: 55 minutes elliptical
I wanted to bike, but the bike was taken when I got to the gym. I don’t hate the elliptical, but I do really prefer biking. For whatever reason, my feet always go numb when I’m on the elliptical (any elliptical, so it must be something about that motion), which is wildly unpleasant, and the two times I’ve used the elliptical in the gym at my apartment complex, it’s really irritated my calf. Calf pain of any sort sends me into an anxious spiral (I live in constant fear of getting a blood clot in my legs), so that really doesn’t do much for me from a mental health standpoint. The bike opened up about 15 minutes into my workout, and I really should’ve just gotten off the elliptical and spared myself some angst.

Friday, August 23: Rest

Saturday, August 24: 16 miles in 3:25:07 for a 12:49 pace
I don’t think you need me to tell you, based on my average pace for this run, that it did not go well. At all. I tried really hard to go to bed on time Friday night, and I more or less succeeded–if nothing else I went to bed a solid 30 minutes earlier than normal–but then I woke up anxious around 1 a.m. and had a really hard time sleeping after that. That, I’m sure, didn’t set me up for a ton of success. When my alarm went off at 4:10, my stomach hurt, though that’s not entirely abnormal for me. Breakfast usually solves the problem, but I still felt icky after my toast…and after my drive into the city…and as the run began. I quickly discovered that there was a strong wind coming out of the south, which meant we had to fight a headwind for eight miles of the run. My stomach hurt, my legs were tired, and my attitude, unsurprisingly, left a bit to be desired. I kept trying to push through it (mentally), but nine and a half miles in gave up, started walking, and phoned a friend to cry/whine for a bit. That helped me feel a little better mentally, but physically I was still in rough shape. When the 12:00s passed me, said they were run/walking, and asked if I’d like to join them, I was more than happy to take them up on their offer. I ended up hanging out with a 12:00 group leader for the rest of the run (/walk), and that made the miles go by a bit faster. I wish the run had gone (a lot) better, but it is what it is. I don’t often have good 16 milers, so this wasn’t out of left field. Hopefully the 18 and 20 will be better.


Chicago Marathon Training Week 10


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

Monday, August 12: 58 minutes yoga
This one:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 16: Rest

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

Chicago Marathon Training Week 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 9: Rest

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


Chicago Marathon Training Week 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 2: Rest

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

Chicago Marathon Training Week 7

Sunday, July 21: Strength training – legs + 38 minutes bike
I had an hour of cross training on my schedule for Sunday, so I went to the building’s gym in the afternoon to knock that out. My strength training this week was almost exactly the same as last Sunday’s, which was nice because that meant I didn’t have to orient myself to too much new equipment. It took me 22 minutes to get through my strength training, leaving 38 minutes on the clock to bike. This was my first time on (the only) bike in the building’s gym, and I do still need to orient myself to it. A level 3 rolling hills workout was appropriately challenging on the bike at my old gym, but it was not appropriately challenging on this bike – like, it wasn’t challenging at all. I didn’t notice any difference between the uphills and downhills. I’m going to need to bike on a much higher level in the future!

Monday, July 22: 5 miles in 51:35 for a 10:19 pace (AM) + strength training – upper body (PM)
Um, oops? The weather was beautiful Monday morning (high 60s! Low humidity!) and since I’m apparently a morning runner now, I decided to knock out this week’s five miler before work. This run was supposed to be at marathon pace, which, LOLOLOLOL. Running the marathon at a 10:19 pace (a 4:30:29 marathon) seems wildly unlikely, especially when you consider that my “time goal” for this year is sub-5:25, i.e.: faster than my first marathon. While I certainly wouldn’t mind running the marathon that fast, I would be floored if I did run the marathon that fast, especially considering the burn in m quads after five miles at this pace. This probably shaped up to be more of a tempo run than a pace run, but it felt really, really nice to 1) be able to be outside without feeling like I would melt and 2) to run well over a minute/mile faster than I ran at any point last week/this entire marathon season, so I just rolled with it.

I went to the gym after work on Monday to lift for a bit. Upper body work has felt so difficult lately, I assume 1) because I took two weeks off and 2) I only do upper body work once a week. Upper body strength isn’t my top priority at the moment, so I don’t see that changing any time soon, but hopefully some more consistency will make things a little less challenging.

Tuesday, July 23: Dance
Blah. The choreography we’re learning right now is really tough, which makes class really tough, which makes Tuesday evenings not much fun. I shouldn’t whine. I spend most sessions wishing my teacher would give us harder choreography because I want to be challenged. Of course, now that I’m being challenged, I wish class were easier! I’m impossible to please 😛 I guess I don’t actually wish class were easier. I wish I were a better dancer! But that’s what harder choreography will do, so I should start embracing the struggle (and need to practice outside of class), because it’ll pay off in the long run.

Wednesday, July 24: Strength training – legs (AM) + 50 minutes bike (PM)
I had an early meeting Wednesday morning that kept me from having time to do eight miles before work, so I went to the gym instead. I realized that my gym doesn’t have boxes or steps, which made my lateral step-ups more challenging than usual. I think I could use a bench for forward step-ups, but it felt WAY too high for my current comfort level with lateral step-ups. I ended up using the treadmill deck since no one was using it, but I don’t think that’s the most sustainable option. We shall see!

I dialed the resistance on the bike up to 10 today to see if that would get closer to the level of difficulty I’m used to from the bikes in my old gym. It was a bit more challenging on the toughest part of the hills, but still a LOT easier on anything other than that. I keep track of my stationary bike distances on a note on my phone, and as a reference point, my 50 minute bikes last year would usually cover 8-10 miles. I did 14.8 on Wednesday. While I would love to pretend this is a reflection of better fitness, my RPMs on Wednesday were consistently in the 80s, whereas at my old gym, they’d rarely be higher than 70. One of these days I’ll figure out an appropriate level for the bike!

Thursday, July 25: 8 miles (with five hill repeats) in 1:43:54 for a 12:59 pace
WHAT a disaster. Holy cow, was this run a a mess. Since I didn’t have time to do this run in the morning any day this week, I went out in the afternoon, which, as you may recall, was my normal running time from June 2012 until literally three weeks ago. I am no stranger to afternoon running and its unique challenges. But boy, you’d think I’d never laced up my running shoes later than 8 a.m. with how terribly this went. It was a lot warmer than in the morning, unsurprisingly, but it wasn’t, like, Paris-in-the-recent-heatwave warm. The Real Feel was 93, but the humidity was quite low, and a fair portion of my run was in the shade where it was much cooler. No matter, though. I started off at nearly a 12:00 pace and things only got worse from there. I had to take two walk breaks, another break to stop to refill my water bottle (?!!? I can usually make it through 13 miles without needing to refill my water bottle!), and by the end I was STILL shuffling at mile-22-of-the-marathon-post-bonk pace. My last mile, which did not involve any walk breaks, was a 13:29. Literally the only times I’ve ever run that slow are after hitting the wall during a marathon. I don’t have any idea what made this go so poorly, but I sincerely hope it doesn’t happen again.

Friday, July 26: Rest

Saturday, July 27: 12 miles in 2:20:31 for an 11:42 pace
After weeks of external circumstances getting in the way of me feeling like I had a “normal” long run (getting sick, getting over being sick, massive heat wave), things finally went the way I expected/wanted them to on Saturday. My half marathoners and marathoners ran together for the first time, putting me in charge of five runners! My site coordinator jumped in with my group to help me group lead, which I appreciated. I don’t mind doing it solo when I have one or two people to be in charge of, but five felt like a lot. The run went pretty well, and I’m happy with my pacing. The last three or so miles were tough, though. The reconfigured Lakefront Trail means we run the last three miles with zero shade right along the water, and it’s not fun at all. It’s blazing hot and relentlessly sunny and just all-around miserable. 0/10, would not recommend. I’d rather dodge aggressive cyclists.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 18: 38 minutes yoga
This one:

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

Friday, July 19: Rest

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