Chicago Marathon Training Week 4

Sunday, June 26: Strength training.
Did the Achilles/lower leg workout from Runner’s Connect. It continues to feel easier, aside from the single leg knee pointers (basically slow, controlled mini-squats), which always leave my legs shaking at the end.

Monday, June 27: 2.5 miles in 26:23 (1 mi. warmup, 3×400, .5 mi. cooldown) for an overall 10:32 pace.
I had a long commute on Monday and had very limited time between arriving home and when I needed to leave for my therapy appointment. I was supposed to do 8×400, but only had time for 3×400, so that’s what I did. It really frustrated me that I had to cut the workout so short. I know something is better than nothing, but it felt like a basically useless workout, since I spent less than six minutes doing hard running, and about six more minutes walking. All in all, a not-so-great experience.

Tuesday, June 28: Dance.
After a full class with a surprising demographic in our first week of this session, things returned more or less to normal last Tuesday. About half of the new people dropped out (or, at the very least, didn’t show up for class last week), which often happens, but rarely happens so quickly. We added on to what we had learned the week before, and I promptly forgot everything as soon as I left class Tuesday night. Whoops.

Wednesday, June 29: Climbing.
I have a feeling climbing won’t happen nearly as much this year as it did last year, which is too bad, because I did really enjoy having climbing as part of my marathon training last year. The gym where I climb doesn’t seem to have its Wednesday night deals anymore, however, which bumps climbing regularly a bit out of my budget. I had a day pass to my name still, though, so I went on Wednesday an d got in a few routes.

Thursday, June 30: 6.57 miles in 1:04:22 (1 mi. warmup, 2×2 miles with 4:00 rest, 1 mi. cooldown) for an overall 9:47 pace.
This was a weird tempo run. Fortunately, the weather was fairly cooperative, so I wasn’t totally miserable and/or unable to hit my prescribed paces for the most part – I think. My watch beeped my first mile noticeably earlier than usual, which made me suspicious about its measuring and, consequently, my paces. My last tempo mile was a HUGE struggle, as it tends to be when I do this workout.

Friday, July 1: Rest.

Saturday, July 2: 10 miles in 1:44:30 for a 10:26 pace.
We had a little visitor at the CARA site prior to the run, which made me happy.


I was so surprised that this duck did not seem to care in the slightest that 100 or so people were in the area. She just waddled around, pecking at the dirt for crumbs. It was so adorable.

Anyway, we had PERFECT weather for Saturday’s long run – low 60s, low humidity, and cloud cover. Yes please x3. I ran with a friend of a girl in our group, and she was super interested in chatting, so we talked for basically the entire run. CARA did nine miles on Saturday and I wanted to do 10, so I added on a mile afterwards.

My left hip area gave me a bit of trouble on this run around mile three, first directly on my side, then more towards my groin, then finally more in my butt. I don’t know what caused that, but I do know that last week, my left TFL area began to bother me, especially at work. This same thing happened last year, and once again, I think doing PT exercises at work is to blame. I completely fell off that bandwagon when I started my new job, and after a couple of runs where my knee complained, I realized I needed to get back into that habit. Just like last year, however, I think I’ve recruited the wrong muscles to do standing leg raises, relying on my quad muscles rather than my butt muscles, which should be doing that work. I’m hoping some serious foam rolling and a little more concentration will clear that up fairly quickly.

Thursday Things


1. Guesssssss what I’m doing this winter??



My brother texted me the day Broadway in Chicago announced that Hamilton would set up camp in Chicago to inform me that we would be attending the show. At that point (early December), I had never even heard of Hamilton, but figured my brother, being the Broadway aficionado that he is, knew what he was talking about. I, of course, did plenty of soundtrack listening and got all aboard the Hamilton train soon after that. (Fun fact: I had a roommate from August-April of this past year who was born and raised in New York. Lin-Manuel Miranda went to her high school [not at the same time – she’s only a couple of years older than I am], and when she was in school, he would occasionally substitute teach there. She legit knows him as Mr. Miranda. This also makes me I believe only two degrees of separation away from Lin-Manuel Miranda?!) Since my brother works at summer camp and doesn’t have access to a computer during the day/ever, I was deputized with attempting to get tickets for him, his friend, and myself. I planned to go full-out Lollapalooza on this, but quickly discovered that Ticketmaster, unlike Lolla, won’t allow you to have more than one tab open per browser without losing your place in line (Lolla operates on a lottery system, not a line system, so you can open as many browsers and tabs as you want because order doesn’t matter to them. Some men just want to watch the world burn, I tell ya.). So I opened a tab on each of the browsers I have on my laptop and one on my phone, and waited.

And then got through! I really did not at all expect to get tickets, so this was a FABULOUS surprise. We even have floor seats! (Though they’re pretty close to the back of the theater.) Now I just need to wait for about five months haha.

2. When I got home from my run last Wednesday, I noticed I had a bunch of app updates available, so I went through and downloaded all of them. One update affected the Nike+ Training Club app, which I started to use somewhat regularly starting in December of 2014 and got really into during marathon season last year and this past February. I noticed that the app’s icon had completely changed, and the update notes mentioned a “New design featuring 100+ great all-new workouts designed by Nike Athletes and Trainers,” which made me nervous, but I downloaded the app anyway.

Goodness gracious! It’s a whole new app! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such an enormous app overhaul before. All of the old workouts are gone (which, if I’m being honest, bummed me out big time. I had found probably half a dozen or so workouts that I really loved, and now I can never do them again, and that makes me sad😦 ), and the new workouts are WAY different than the old ones. The old workouts never required more than equipment you could expect to find in the free weights section of your average gym: dumbbells, medicine balls, an exercise mat, maybe a jump rope. The old workouts also definitely appeared geared towards women, with exclusively female models and narration.

Not any more! Workouts use male and female models, and you’ll need a lot more of the gym to complete most of the workouts now, including a rowing machine and a pull-up bar. Not all workouts require that equipment – in fact, the app now has a whole new category for no-equipment workouts.

I haven’t used the app yet (#marathontrainingproblems), so I can’t really compare the new version to the old version. But man, do I hope the update version impresses me as much as the old one, because I don’t know how on earth I’m going to do strength training in the future if it doesn’t.

3. On Monday, I attended a really cool event at the Nike store downtown, the LunarEpic Flyknit preview. I don’t know how close of tabs all of you keep on Nike’s shoe designs, but a few months ago, Nike released the LunarEpic Flyknit, and it looks…a bit different from your traditional running shoe.


Several features of this shoe make it unique, though at first blush, the most obvious difference comes from the way it fits your foot. The extended upper is meant to make your shoe fit your foot like a glove would fit your hand – you don’t pull a glove halfway up your hand, so it doesn’t make sense to have a shoe that doesn’t go all the way up your foot to your ankle, is Nike’s reasoning. The shoe has a much tighter fit than I’m used to, and part of that is due to the lacing. Any other running shoe (or laced shoe in general) that I’ve worn in the past has had laces strung through holes, and you pull those laces tighter to adjust the fit of the shoe. With these shoes, the laces actually go down the side of the shoe, leading to a snug fit from the get-go. And finally, there’s the sole. You can kind of see it in the picture, but Nike had a heat map at the event to show the sole in greater detail.


This kind of design aims to create a unique cushioning experience – a “moon-like” experience, if you will. I have not had a chance to actually run in these shoes yet, but I’m looking forward to taking them for a spin. Tonight, Nike+ Running Club will host a late-night run with 3.5, 5 and 7 mile options through the streets (yes, streets!) of the North Side/downtown, and while I can’t make it (#marathontrainingproblemsagain), if you’re interested in attending, you can RSVP for the free event here. (And while Nike did provide me with a free pair of shoes and a really fun event on Monday night, no one told me to say anything, or even asked me to blog about it, so all opinions are my own, etc.)


4. Bonus #4 based on an email I was really surprised to receive on Tuesday! Apparently, there will be a 5K held in conjunction with Chicago Marathon weekend this year. The first ever International Chicago 5K will take place on Oct. 8, the day before the marathon, which I think is such a cool way to get more people running that weekend, especially since a 5K is a bit more attainable than a marathon. I expected it to be insanely expensive, but it’s only $35, which I also found really surprising. So! There you have it. If you’re not running the marathon but want to run that weekend, you now have an option.

Who else got Hamilton tickets?!
Has anyone run in the LunarEpic Flyknit? I’m curious what other people think of them!

Chicago Marathon Training Week 3

Sunday, June 19: Elliptical + strength training.
I intended to bike at the gym Sunday afternoon, but the only ones available were recumbent bikes, so the elliptical it was. I did 30 easy minutes with a three minute cooldown, and then headed over to the free weights section to do 15 minutes of arm work. I haven’t done any arm-specific strength training since April (and, real talk: any strength training that involves my arms at all since Memorial Day), and I was beating myself up about it. I figured since I had time, I’d do the Arm Definer from the NTC app. As I feared, I’ve lost a LOT of upper body strength since April. While 10 pounds used to feel light, that was the most I could use on Sunday, which was super frustrating, and let’s not even get into the disasters that were my tricep pushups. Since this only takes 15 minutes, I’d like to try to do it at least once a week to maintain some sort of strength, even if I don’t build strength, but who knows whether or not that’ll actually happen. I also did the Achilles Lower Leg routine from RunnersConnect, which, unlike Arm Definer, has started to feel easier, not harder.

Monday, June 20: 4.6 miles (1 mi. warmup, 1 mi. at 7:55, 800 at 7:55, 600 at 7:15, 400 at 7:05, 1 mi. cooldown) in 45:52 for a 9:58 overall pace.
Hello darkness my old friend.



Relegated to the treadmill once again on Monday, because it was steamy outside and there was no way on God’s green earth I could even think about those kind of paces when it was 90 and humid. RunnersConnect offers temperature adjustment to your paces, but even then, I still couldn’t imagine doing speedwork under those conditions, so the treadmill it was. At least this way I could hit all my paces. Anyway, this workout was TOUGH. Holy smokes. I had to jump off the treadmill during the mile and the 600 to catch my breath for a few seconds because I was just dying. I’ve never loved recovery periods more. I was, however, quite proud of myself after completing this, so that felt nice.

Tuesday, June 21: Dance.
New session, new choreography! And new people. Only one of my usual dance friends signed up for this session, so it’s almost entirely new faces this time around – and different faces. In my nearly four years of taking dance, I’d guess that the oldest person we ever had in class was maybe 45. This session, however, there are two people who have definitely not been 45 for many, many years. It was really surprising to me to see people that much older than the usual crowd, especially since it’s a hip hop class. Don’t get me wrong: people in their 50s and 60s are more than welcome to listen to whatever kind of music they like, and take whatever kind of dance classes they like. But given the fast-paced, hard-hitting nature of hip hop, it wouldn’t be the first thing I’d expect someone older to take, just because I think it’d be a bit harder to do with the natural reduction you have in strength and agility as you get older. But man, you do you, and if you want to take a hip hop class in yours 60s, more power to you. If my body can handle hip hop when I’m in my 60s, maybe I’ll still be taking classes, too!

Wednesday, June 22: 4 miles in 42:41 for a 10:39 pace + strength training.
My company offers summer perk days, which means that we get to take one half day in June, July, and August without it coming out of our PTO. I had a dentist appointment on Wednesday morning, so I chose to use my June perk day then (to avoid using PTO for the dentist, and because I was quickly running out of time to use my June perk day, as they don’t roll over). I didn’t have to be to the dentist until 10:00, so I had plenty of time to run before that. This was the scene I woke up to Wednesday morning:



AccuWeather told me it was going to start raining in 40 minutes, so I jumped out of bed, put my contacts in, put on my shoes, and was out the door in 10 minutes (I had slept in my running clothes, as I tend to do when I plan morning workouts). I planned to stick to a mileish loop right by my house that offered me quick and easy access back to my place in case it started storming. I went out WAY too fast with a 9:55 mile and paid for it mightily in the next three miles, which were 10:55, 10:57, and 11:01. Ouch. It didn’t rain on me at all, though, and I was quite happy I got my four miles in.

When I got back inside, a sweaty, disgusting, exhausted mess, I took out my phone to see what had developed on the radar while I was out running. I told it to animate, which I hadn’t done when I woke up–slow Internet in my bedroom leads to spotty radar animation–and, even though I had expected the storm to be moving north, it turned out that it was actually moving southeast, thus missing the city entirely and making my early morning insanity completely unnecessary. Oh well. At least now I know how long it takes me to get out the door and run!

RunnersConnect told me to do the runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis, and general strength workouts as well on Wednesday, but I only had time for runner’s knee and plantar fasciitis. Those are areas I think are more important to focus on during marathon season rather than overall strength (if I have to pick, that is – ideally, I’d like to work on everything, of course), so even though it would’ve been nice to do everything, I’m glad I got in what I did.

Thursday, June 23: 5.5 miles (1 mi. warmup, 5×800 with 3 minutes rest, 1 mi. cooldown) in 54:34 for a 9:55 overall place. smokes. This workout pushed me to my absolute limit. I’ve only done 800s once in my life before, on Memorial Day, and they did NOT go well. That time, I was supposed to do 6×800 with 45 seconds of rest, and I only made it through three reps before throwing in the towel. I managed to get through all of my 800s on Thursday, but I did not come anywhere close to hitting my target paces per RunnersConnect. According to my plan, I was supposed to do these 800s at a 7:45-7:55 pace. Mine, however, were all at a 8:20-8:30 pace, and my legs, lungs, and heart were screaming for mercy at that clip. I felt like this was a really great workout for building physical and mental strength, but it was extremely challenging, and I noted as such on my training log inside RunnersConnect. As a result, the coaches are rewriting my training plan for the rest of the season.

Friday, June 24: Rest.

Saturday, June 25: 8.04 miles in 1:23:03 for a 10:19 pace.
CARA called for five miles; RunnersConnect (pre-rewritten plan) called for 11. I compromised with eight. It was HOT on Saturday. Probably not quite as bad as the first week of training, but definitely not as comfortable as last week, either. I ran with a girl new to our group and enjoyed chatting with her over our five miles, so that was fun.

I’m a little bummed out by Thursday’s workout and my resulting new schedule, if I’m being honest. I feel like I failed my training plan, which sucks. I’ve thought from the get-go that this training plan was beyond my current skill level, but I had come to accept that, mostly because I want to run beyond my current skill level. I’m okay with my marathon performance, but I wouldn’t say I’m particularly happy with my marathon performance, and I want to become a better marathoner. Doing the same thing I’ve done year after a year with improvement, but many of the same issues–not being able to hold a pace I want to maintain, in particular–does not seem like the best way to get faster, or at least to the level I want to get to. This is still different, of course, so we’ll see what happens. My schedule, if nothing else, is at least a little less overwhelming now, so hopefully I’ll be able to hang in there a little better moving forward.

Thursday Things

1. I am a begonia whisperer.

Last year, I filled my porch, which gets sun for half the day and shade for the other half of the day, with impatiens, who like those kind of conditions. They did really well there, right up until the point where they all caught blight and died😦 Blight is an airborne fungus, and though I kind of hoped it would have all died off out of my pots over the winter, I didn’t really trust that it had, so instead, this year I planted begonias in the pots where I had impatiens last year. And HO.LY. SMOKES. I have never met so much success in my short flower growing life. Here are my begonias (and pentas, including the one that died, RIP) on the day I planted them, May 21:


Here are my begonias on Friday, June 17:



Obviously, I expected my flowers to grow – that’s kind of the point. But never in a million years did I expect them to grow like this. I have done nothing to these plants but water them and deadhead them when flowers die. They haven’t had one speck of fertilizer yet, but they’re growing like weeds! (Which I mean as a good thing in this case.) I’m so excited about it and really hope they continue to thrive as the summer goes on. I only wish I had planted them in bigger pots, because at this point I think that’s the only thing that’s going keep them from going into the trees they seem to aspire to be.

2. A few weeks ago, I received a couple Falke sports bras to review. I was fairly unfamiliar with Falke to begin with, but I’m always down to try new gear, so I happily gave these a whirl.


I first tried out the Shape, which falls under Falke’s medium support category. While Falke recommends its maximum support bras for running, for those of you who are, ahem, on the smaller end of the endowment spectrum like I am, medium support worked just fine for me. The Shape has padded cups, which is my one requirement when it comes to sports bras for running, and I really liked its unique design with the one adjustable strap in the back.


The Cross Back I wore for dance. This one is essentially two thin bras in one, and while it still falls under the medium support category, I felt more comfortable using this in low-impact situations (like dance) than high-impact situations (like running) – which is technically what the medium support bras are recommended for, anyway.


I found this one to be a little difficult to navigate when it came to taking it off, though in my experience sports bras are always a little tricky to get off the first couple of times. Once again, I thought this was a really cool design, and I particularly liked that you can join the thin straps in the back to make the whole bra racerback-style:


or unhook them for a strappier look:


Yay choices!

If you, unlike me, live in Colorado or Utah, 1) I’m unspeakably jealous and 2) you can find Falke products at Gorsuch stores. For the rest of us shmucks who don’t have mountains in our backyards, Falke is available online at and

(As you most likely guessed, I received these bras for free, but the opinions are all my own, etc.)

3. Speaking of clothes: when I did the whole building my capsule wardrobe thing, I went shopping in March, which meant I could find some clothes appropriate for hot weather, but not a ton of clothes appropriate for hot weather. I quickly realized that I only had a couple of shirts I felt like I could wear to work during the summer, so a couple of weeks ago I went to Macy’s to solve that problem. While there, I found this shirt, hung on the hanger as you see it here:


I thought the neckline looked cool when I saw it hanging up, so I grabbed the shirt and went to try it on. When I pulled it off the hanger, I noticed the back of the shirt looked like this:


and thought for a moment, “Wait, that looks like a neckline, too. Am I putting this on right?” There was a tag on the back, though, so I figured I must be wearing it right. I was a little on the fence over whether or not I liked the neckline on the front–it seemed a little too trendy for me–but ultimately decided it was on sale, and I could probably get it to grow on me. As I was putting the shirt back on its hanger, however, I noticed this tag:


and promptly lost my mind.

A shirt that you can wear backwards AND forwards?!?! Who’s the genius who came up with such a clever idea?? That means you get two shirts for the price of one! So I tried it on “backwards,” and lo and behold, it looked totally normal. Yeah, there was a tag hanging against my chest, but it wasn’t itchy or anything, and you couldn’t see the stitching, so I figure it doesn’t really make a difference. I’m so excited about this, and only want clothes that can be worn frontwards and backwards from here on out, please and thanks.

Is this “clothes that can be worn frontwards and backwards” thing actually a thing? And if so, where can I find more instances of it? Because I seriously think this is the greatest fashion idea of all time.
Has anyone else ever had begonias grow like this? My mom and grandma, my usual gardening consultants, are both totally flabbergasted by my begonias’ growth. Neither of them has ever seen anything like this before.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 2

Sunday, June 12: dance.
We had an extra rehearsal on Sunday, since we had graduation two days later. The rehearsal was meant to last 90 minutes, but ended up clocking in just shy of an hour, since it took forever to find space. But we got in a good rehearsal nevertheless.

Monday, June 13: 5 miles in 50:20 for a 10:04 pace, with 4×20 sec strides at the end.
My schedule called for six easy miles, 4×20 sec strides, the runner’s knee strength training, the core strength training, AND the hip strength training workouts, to which I said, “LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.” Just the exercise aspects of that alone would take me 1:50 at best. On top of that, I would also need to 1) get ready for the gym 2) get to the gym 3) get to my actual workout in the gym 4) stretch 5) get home from the gym 6) shower 7) get dressed for work and 8) eat breakfast. If you can accomplish all of those things PLUS a workout in three hours, which is the amount of time I have between getting up to work out in the morning and when I need to head to work, congratulations. I’m very happy for you. I absolutely cannot accomplish that, and I’m not particularly interested in getting up at 3:45 a.m. to give myself the extra hour I would need to accomplish all of that. As I’ve said before, I’m not a professional athlete, and there is only so many sacrifices I will make for marathon training (or training in general). Going to bed at 7:45 to get up at 3:45 is not one of them.

Tuesday, June 14: Dance.
Graduation #234287348, or so it feels. We ran through our combo for close to an hour and then had our performance later that night. It went really well, I thought! Plus everyone had dropped out of class aside from my friends who’ve been taking it for years with me, and I appreciate the familiarity that comes from dancing with people you already know.

Wednesday, June 15: Rest.
I suppose if you want to be really generous, I did 10 half-effort squats on Wednesday, but that was the entire extent of my workout. I couldn’t get up early to go to the gym because I had gone to bed WAY too late the night before as a result of graduation. Wednesday afternoon, my company had its annual company-wide “Olympics” out at our suburban office. The events weren’t exactly physically challenging (see: the 10 half-effort squats I did), but it was still a fun afternoon. My company isn’t gigantic, but it is substantially larger than my old company (not that that takes much), so I really appreciate that they organize these sorts of things. Not only does it get all of us away from our desks for a couple of hours, which I think everyone could use every now and again, but it’s also a fantastic way to meet other people in the company you might not have met otherwise. As a relatively new hire, I’m all about jumping on any opportunity I have to get to know other people who work for my company.

Anyway. The Olympics were in the suburbs and didn’t end until 5:00, so you can imagine what kind of nightmare getting back to the office was at that time of day, never mind getting back home. I had absolutely zero time to do any workout at all, so I didn’t do one. Honestly, this REALLY bugged me. Like I said on Thursday, I know it’s not the end of the world to be missing workouts at this point, but I feel like it sets a bad precedent, and I have a hard time not feeling guilty about it, even though I know I don’t need to.

Thursday, June 16: 3.21 miles in 33:46 for a 10:31 pace.
This was a hill workout that I did on my best friend for the week, the treadmill, because Chicago. For this run, I did a one-mile warmup at a 10:00 pace (at a 1% incline, which is what I always run on when I’m on the treadmill), then did four sets of the following: 30 seconds at a 7:15 effort (6.8, 6% incline), 30 second jogging recovery (5.5, 0% incline), 75 seconds at a 7:55 effort (6.1, 6% incline), 45 second walking recovery (3.0, 0% incline). I also cooled down after that with another 10:00 mile. I got my treadmill speeds from this table I found on the Interwebs.

loved this workout. Everything about it made me happy. It took very little time, which is what I’m all about when it comes to marathon training, and I never did the same thing for more than 10 minutes, which staved off the usual boredom and clock-staring I fight every time I step on the ‘mill. I wish I could do this workout every week, because that’s how much I liked it.

Friday, June 17: Rest.

Saturday, June 18: 10 miles in 1:43:47 for a 10:23 pace.
CARA did seven miles on Saturday, but my RunnersConnect plan called for 10. Since I had already completely skipped one of the workouts they had given me for the week (the one on Wednesday) and was behind five miles on my target mileage for the week going into Saturday, so I opted to add on a few extra miles on Saturday to follow the RunnersConnect plan. The weather Saturday morning was fabulous, so I probably could’ve done my extra three after the seven with CARA, but I had plans to meet one of my old friends for coffee after my run, so I did them before instead. I went out like a bat out of hell, dropping a 9:55 mile, which was WAY too fast, but settled in pretty soon after that and got to my group just a few minutes before we headed out for seven more miles.

This run was also my first run with my new-to-me FitBit! Look how embarrassingly packed my left arm is with technology!


I’m ridiculous.

But yeah, as of Thursday, I’m officially the proud owner of a FitBit Charge HR. One of my friends got the FitBit I’m now wearing last September, but the band blistered and broke just below the display screen. My friend complained to FitBit, and they sent over a new one. The old one, however, worked just fine, and was more or less good as new after a couple dabs of superglue. This means my Polar Loop, faithful fitness tracker of mine for the past two years, has now been retired, and now I feel like part of the in crowd, which is obviously the most important thing😛

As you may or may not notice, I all but ignored all forms of strength training this week, less because I was feeling lazy, and more because I barely had time to get in the runs I did, never mind doing cross training on top of that. I do not at all like skipping all of my strength training, however, and really hope that this week I can work on finding time to incorporate it into my schedule. My mileage is lower this week, and my out-of-work life should be a little less hectic (although my work life looks to me more hectic, so who knows how much out-of-work life I’ll have this week, anyway), so hopefully that won’t be too tall of a challenge. Now, if only I could create some extra hours of free time so I could do yoga, too…

Thursday Things

1. A couple of months ago, I won a pair of tickets to see the Blue Man Group through the RedEye’s Free Stuff February. (I had really hoped for a 10-pack of SoulCycle classes, but one takes what one gets with these sorts of things😛 ). I finally cashed in my pair of tickets on Monday.


The show was so much fun! I had no idea what to expect, and really don’t know how to describe it, either. It was part rhythm, part music, part art, and part comedy all rolled into an hour and 45 minute show. It was also one of the most interactive shows I’ve ever been to outside of Disney World, and I really enjoyed the audience engagement aspect.

I was also quite surprised to be one of the audience members engaged in the show! Both sides of the stage have those scrolling LED signs hung up that, before the show, tell you to turn off your phone, that no photography is allowed during the show, etc. Once it’s time for the show to start, those signs stop telling you to turn off your phone and instead start saying things about audience members, with directions for other audience members to say things. I was very surprised when, once the screen started talking about audience members, the first name to come up was mine! (And it was my full name, not just my first name, so it was, in fact, me they were talking about.) The message started out by saying that there was a special person in the audience, and would Bethany please stand up? I figured this was because I had won my tickets, and for some reason they were going to acknowledge that. Nope. Instead, the sign then informed the audience that I was a bronze medalist in synchronized swimming in the 2012 Summer Olympics. The last I checked, I still don’t really know how to dive into water, so I’m fairly certain this is untrue, but I played along anyway. I’ve never been picked to be an engaged audience member in something like that before, so I was totally amused by this. I can only hope that someone in the audience believed the screen, because if they did, it will probably be the one and only time in my life I’m mistaken for an Olympian.

2. This week has turned out to be totally insane for me. Work hasn’t been that overwhelming, but life outside of work – yikes. This is not how I wanted to start marathon training, having to skip runs because the only possible way I could get them in would be by logging less than six hours of sleep, which is not going to happen. I suppose if this had to happen at some point, earlier in the season is better than later, but I’d really prefer to not have it happen at all.

3. I had planned on going to Pitchfork this year because one of my friends wanted to go, but she found out this week that she apparently has a family vacation at the same time and can’t come any more. Honestly, I wasn’t at all excited about the lineup on Saturday, the day we were going to go, so now I don’t think I’m going to go either. However. I have several friends doing Ironman 70.3 Racine, which is that same weekend, and I’ve been toying with the idea of going up on Sunday to spectate. Has anyone ever done this before? I’ve only spectated the Chicago Marathon, which has got to be one of the easiest races in the world to watch, given how accessible most of the course is by the CTA. The last I checked, they don’t have the L in Racine, so I don’t know how reasonable it is to hope to spectate a half Ironman–or, more specifically, the one in Racine in particular, since that’s the one my friends have registered to race. So if you have spectated Racine, or participated in Racine, I’d love your input.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 1

Sunday, June 5: Achilles/lower leg strength routine.
Conveniently, this was already scheduled on my RunnersConnect plan. The routine, obviously, focuses on basically everything from the knees down: calves, Achilles, plantar fascia, ankles. It didn’t bother my Achilles as much as I worried it would, which was a nice surprise.

Monday, June 6: 5 miles (1 mile warmup, 8×400 with 2 minute walking recovery, 1 mile cooldown) in 54:10 for a 10:50 pace.
I don’t feel like the overall pace thing is particularly relevant with this sort of workout, but I’ve always written out my run longs like this, so here we are. I was supposed to run my 400 repeats between 7:55 and 8:05, but I was ALL over the board: anywhere from 7:31 to 8:26. I’ve never really done workouts like this before, so figuring out how to pace something like this is a work in progress. I did really enjoy the workout, though, so that was nice.

Tuesday, June 7: Dance.
Since last marathon season, my dancing has changed a little bit. I’ve dropped breakdance entirely, and now only take one hip hop class per week. That’s what I did on Tuesday. This session ends tomorrow, so by this point a lot of people have dropped out of class, and it’s only my friends left. We don’t hate having new people around, of course, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy class when it’s just my friends and me. We added a little bit of locking to our current routine, and man, that stuff is NOT easy. We only have four counts of choreographed locking, but trying to remember which isolated portion of your arm to move in which way at what time is really tough!

Wednesday, June 8: 6 miles (1 mile warmup, 2×2 tempo miles with 4:00 recovery [8:47, 8:40, 8:25, 8:41 tempo miles], 1 mile cooldown) in 1:03:12 for a 9:35 pace.
The weather on Wednesday was FABULOUS. It was a cool and comfortable 68 degrees with no humidity to speak of when I headed out for my run, which made things one zillion times easier than they would have been if the weather had been rougher. My target pace for my tempo miles, according to my schedule, was 8:30-8:40, which never would’ve been attainable if it had been hotter or more humid. 8:40 was barely attainable in the first place, to be honest. By the end of each tempo set, I was SPENT. 8:30-8:40 is fairly close to my 8K-on-a-good-day race pace, which is a lot faster than I would normally expect to run a tempo run, but this workout was officially labeled “tempo intervals.” The point of this sort of workout is to keep you in your lactate threshold zone for more cumulative time over the course of the whole workout. With how tired I was after my second mile, there’s no way I could’ve maintained an 8:40ish pace for the remainder of my run. Four minutes of recovery, however, allowed me to do two more miles at about that same pace. Overall, I was really happy with how this run went.

Thursday, June 9: Runner’s Knee/Core/Plantar Fasciitis strength routines.
My schedule called for all of the above strength training plus three easy miles. I had plans after work, which meant I wouldn’t be able to run in the evening, and though I tried, I did not even come close to going to bed early enough to get up with time to run AND strength train on Thursday morning. I opted to just do the strength training instead, since I could save time and do that at home, whereas running would require going to the gym so I could use the treadmill. These strength routines took 45 minutes when all was said and done (20 minutes for core, 15 minutes for Runner’s Knee, 10 minutes for Plantar Fasciitis), so I certainly did a fair amount of exercise with this. I was also kindly reminded of how much core strength I don’t have, both while doing the workout and the following day, when I woke up to sore abs.

Friday, June 10: Hamstring routine.
Technically, this was a rest day, but RunnersConnect still schedules strength routines on rest days, so here we are. I’d put most of the exercises in these strength training plans as slightly more challenging than your standard physical therapy regimen, but substantially less challenging than “normal” strength training, so I didn’t mind doing this on Friday since I had the time to do it, and getting in my strength training makes me feel good about myself, considering how often I skip it haha.

Saturday, June 11: 6.08 miles in 1:02:28 for a 10:16 pace.
Summer group training begins again! Let’s pretend I commemorated this with a photo, which I meant to take, but then forgot to. So here, have a recycled photo instead:



RunnersConnect called for 10 miles, but CARA called for six. I planned to compromise on this by doing a mile before running with my group, doing six with them, stretching/hanging out with my friends, then running home instead of taking public transportation or a ride from one of my group leaders to get closeish to 10. On my way to the run, however, I realized that I had eaten and planned as if I were running six miles (by which I mean I had one piece of toast instead of two, as I have two pieces for runs seven miles or longer, and I had not brought any fuel with me, as I don’t fuel during a run unless I’m going seven miles or longer as well). So that killed all my big dreams about getting in 10 miles.

My six miles, however, were great! It was pretty warm, especially for 6:30 in the morning, but I felt strong throughout the run, which really surprised me. I was also surprised by how small our group was. We were missing some people due to Ragnar (which, man, I cannot begin to tell you how glad I was to not be doing Ragnar this year. Even if it had been 20 degrees cooler last weekend, knowing that Ragnar was happening and I was not participating just filled me with joy. That was such a miserable experience, and not something I ever need to repeat.), and I wouldn’t be surprised if the heat chased some people away, too, but wowza. It was a really small crowd for week one, that’s for sure.

As you probably know if you live around here and pay attention to the running scene at all, Fleet Feet and RAM are now in cahoots. While this has had implications for all of Fleet Feet’s former races (as in, they’re not Fleet Feet’s races any more, and now belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to RAM Racing), what I did not expect it to affect was the summer hydration along the Lakefront Trail. Fleet Feet has always organized this, but now it’s apparently RAM’s baby. RAM, clearly, as some sort of exclusivity deal with Nuun, which has been quite obvious at all the Fleet-Feet-now-RAM races I’ve run this year, where they only served Nuun on-course and during the race, rather than Gatorade. This deal, evidently, also extends to the hydration stations, which means the official Fleet Feet hydration stations no longer serve Gatorade, but only serve Nuun. I have two comments on this:

Comment #1: While Nuun and Gatorade may be more or less interchangeable in the electrolyte department, to my understanding, they are most certainly not interchangeable in the fueling department. Gatorade contains carbs (sugar). Nuun does not (at least not as far as I know. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). So while you can drink Gatorade and expect to refuel that way, you cannot drink Nuun and expect to refuel.

Comment #2: Exclusivity deal or no, the summer hydration stations are set up to coincide with summer training groups that target the Chicago Marathon. The Chicago Marathon serves Gatorade on the course. What is the NUMBER ONE rule of running? Say it with me now: nothing new on race day. And my goodness, if there is ANYTHING new you particularly don’t want to try on race day, it’s something going into your stomach. You want to wear a new hat, new shoes, new clothes? Fine. Whatever. You may chafe, but I have yet to hear of anyone who’s dropped out of a race because his or her chafing was so severe that he or she could no longer run. You know what’s a hell of a lot more miserable than chafing? Vomiting. Diarrhea. Stomach cramps. Any of the above, individually or combined, during a MARATHON. You’ve got to be a special kind of crazy to spend your entire season training with one product and then show up on race day completely confident that you can use an entirely different product and be sure nothing bad will happen. And again, it’s not like we’re talking about Gatorade vs. Powerade here. We’re talking about a carb-free, calorie-free product vs. flavored sugar water with electrolytes.

CARA realized that this was a really freaking terrible idea, and responded accordingly by setting up its own water stops for its runners this year, instead of sharing with Fleet Feet. Or at least, that was their intention. The execution…was not there. I mean, they had water and Gatorade. But not enough for all of the runners. As in, they had run out of water AND Gatorade by the time my group got to the first water stop. Now, granted, we’re back-of-the-pack-ers as far as CARA training goes–all of the 6:00 a.m. runners go before us, as well as all but like three groups of 6:30 a.m. runners–but still. This is hardly CARA’s first rodeo, and you’d think they’d have the wherewithal to correctly estimate how much Gatorade and water they need to take care of their runners, especially on a hot morning. I’m hoping that this will improve as the season continues.

Overall, I’m really happy with how this week went. I’m pleased with how I handled all of my runs, and was particularly excited to feel so strong during my long run on Saturday. I hope starting the season off on the right foot will set a good tone for the rest of the summer! And I’ll try to start taking pictures, too😉