Thursday Things

1. After wondering a couple of weeks ago if I should try eBooks from the Chicago Public Library, I’m happy to announce that it took approximately two minutes for me to go from unfamiliar with how the process worked to FULLY OBSESSED WITH IT.

I downloaded Libby, the companion app to Overdrive (one of the eContent vendors for CPL) and it has changed my life–which I know sounds dramatic, but it’s true. All I want to do now is read. I’ve gone from using my phone as a way of feverishly checking social media to a way of actually doing something useful with my time. I thought I’d have a hard time reading on my phone–too easy to get distracted by all the other apps–but so far, I haven’t found that to be the case at all. If anything, Libby is distracting from my other apps!

Currently, I’m in the midst of feverishly, finally, working my way through The Devil in the White City. The Devil in the White City has been on my reading list for years, but I never wanted to go through the wait of putting it on hold at the library. When I saw on Libby that it would be “available soon,” I thought that meant “eventually in the distant future.” Boy, was I wrong about that. My hold came through much quicker than I anticipated, which meant I had to blow through the book I had checked out initially (I Sailed with Magellan) in order to get around to The Devil in the White City. Whether or not I’ll finish it before it’s due in nine days is definitely up in the air, but if I don’t, it won’t be for lack of trying! It also helps that the book is super engaging, and I have to tear myself away from it every time I need to stop reading.

So, moral of the story: Libby is amazing and I HIGHLY recommend it if you are a CPL cardholder (or if your local public library uses Overdrive/Libby).

2. While we’re on the topic of Bethany’s App Recommendations (the reason you all come here, I’m sure), a month and a half ago I started using Daylio, another app I highly recommend.

Over the past year or so, I’ve noticed that when I’m in a mood that I would put under the general umbrella of “bad,” particularly if I’m feeling depressed, anxious, or annoyed, I have a tendency to make the assumption that since I’m feeling bad in that moment, I have always felt bad and will always continue to feel bad. That’s obviously not true, and while logically I knew it wasn’t true, that didn’t keep me from that line of thinking. It occurred to me that perhaps it would help to keep a closer eye on my moods, ideally in a convenient format, so I would have some concrete evidence that life is not always bad.

Enter Daylio. All I have to do is open the app, tap the icon in the center, and rate my current mood on a scale of “rad” to “awful.” (I also created several subcategories for “bad,” because if that’s not on brand, I don’t know what is 😛 But I felt it was important for me to distinguish between the various moods I’d consider bad, because feeling annoyed is very different than feeling anxious, for example). I decided for consistency’s sake, I’d try to log my mood after (or around) every meal. I worried that if I only logged my mood when I remembered, my data would be skewed. I hoped that planning to log it after each meal would give me a more accurate picture of my mood over time.

daylio

I will admit I have not been quite as great about remembering to log my mood three times per day as I hoped I’d be, but for the most part I stay on track. And it has been quite helpful! I really like that it averages the three moods I log each day and assigns that average to the day on the whole. It gives me a nice visual that while there might be bad moments in a lot of days, overall, my life isn’t even close to as miserable as I tend to think it is when I’m especially down or anxious.

3. BOY is it nice to have some comfortable weather for a change! I know it’s probably not going to last much beyond tomorrow, but that’s not stopping me from being happy about it while it’s here. We turned the air conditioning off in my apartment on Tuesday for the first time in…I don’t even know. Well over a month, I would imagine. Even when it hasn’t been crushingly hot, it’s been too humid to turn the air off. It feels so nice to get fresh air into the apartment and have some air flow that isn’t generated entirely by fans for a change. Of course, it looks like summer will return with a vengeance over the weekend (just in time for the pre-peak week, naturally *eye roll emoji*), but hey, at least it’s nice right now!

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Chicago Marathon Training Week 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 17: Rest

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

 

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

 

 

Thursday Things

1. I left out some important information from my weekly training recap: I saw an INDIGO BUNTING on my run on Saturday!

Somewhere around mile 10, I saw a bird flitting around in nearby wildflowers. When I saw the distinctive blue of an Indigo Bunting, I gasped, immediately stopped, and crossed the trail to try to get a picture. He was not cooperative, but I promise it was an Indigo Bunting! It was the first Indigo Bunting I’ve ever seen in the city of Chicago (and one of only a handful I’ve seen ever), so this certainly made my run.

Speaking of birds (it’s getting closer to migration season, so prepare yourselves for an increase in bird content), look who else I recently saw:

blackcrownednightheron

A Black-crowned Night-Heron on the Riverwalk! Incidentally, I spotted my first ever Black-crowned Night-Heron in the city (and at all) three years ago. I knew what it was right away this time, though! Of course, it’s much easier to identify birds when they’re adults.

2. OMG. YOU GUYS. THE MARATHON COURSE IS DIFFERENT THIS YEAR.

So, funny story. While doing my investigative journalism on Rock ‘n’ Roll’s mile markers, I discovered how easy it is to look up a course’s USATF certification. It occurred to me last week that since it’s so easy to look up course certifications, I could dig through the list of certified courses in Chicago, which would, of course, include the Bank of America Chicago Marathon’s course. If I did this, I would perhaps be able to find the 2018 course before the race officially announced it. And I did! I looked over it, saw that the shape of the course looked the same as I’m used to, sighed deeply with disappointment, and then noticed something new on the south end of the course: we would run past Michigan to Indiana on 35th Street! Yes, this was only a half block change, but it was a change nevertheless! I considered breaking this barely-news in this post, in fact, until the marathon beat me to the punch and announced that there were course changes in a participant email that went out on Monday. The NERVE.

I pulled up the course, and sure enough, there was the jaunt on Indiana. I backtracked across the course and paused when I saw a jog down Canalport. “I don’t remember doing that before,” I thought to myself. I continued backtracking, and found it odd that the course map specifically noted the location of Loomis. Who cares where Loomis is? And then I saw the Mile 18 marker, and that’s when I really lost it. “That’s not where mile 18 is!!” I exclaimed to my empty apartment. “The MARATHON got their own course wrong!!”

I kept looking over the course and realized a bunch of the mile markers were wrong. I couldn’t believe it! How could they mess that up?!

And then I got to the north part of the course, and realized that the marathon wasn’t wrong: I was wrong. They had changed WAY more of the course than realized! AHHHHH!!!!

I have been whining about the lack of course changes to the Chicago Marathon course for.ev.er, so to see that they altered the course thrilled me, even if it’s not quite as dramatic as I had envisioned. My ultimate dream was to run the course backwards, or have a course that still started and ended in Grant Park but otherwise was completely different, perhaps along these lines:

madeupcourse

I will concede that I’m not sure I’d like this course, because SIX MILES on Halsted – oof. Look, I’m not saying that I can come up with a better alternate course. I’m just saying it’d be nice to have an alternate course, especially since I think the current course only does a C+ job of showing off the city. Lincoln Park and Lakeview are interesting, but are they six miles worth of interesting? You spend more time in those two neighborhoods than any other on the whole course, and I don’t think that’s the best way to showcase Chicago (though perhaps it’s the best way of showcasing the part of Chicago the city would like you to see…).

Anyway, let’s analyze the actual changes to this year’s course.

Change #1: This year, we will run past Addison all the way up to Sheridan, which we will take to Broadway. This gives us almost an extra half mile on Broadway.

Change #2: No more Hubbard/Orleans. Instead, we will run straight down Wells all the way to Wacker, run on Wacker (!) over to Franklin, and then continue down to Monroe. Why we’re still going to Monroe instead of down to Adams is beyond me, because the Sears Tower construction doesn’t disrupt street access on Adams, construction on the bridge over the river at Adams–why they altered the course in 2016 in the first place–has long since ended, and making us do the whole Monroe/Jefferson thing adds a turn to the course, but whatever. That being said, by my count the old course had 39 total turns (defining a turn as an angle equal to or less than 90 degrees) while the new course has 35 total turns, which is an overall improvement.

Change #3: We take Damen to Jackson and stay on Jackson all the way to Halsted, rather than taking Damen to Van Buren to Ogden to Jackson. I was not a fan of the stretch on Ogden, so I 100 percent support this change.

Change #4: NO!! MORE!! ASHLAND!!!!! This is the biggest and most significant change to the course in my opinion. Rather than running the full mile of Taylor from Halsted to Ashland, we will turn on Loomis and take that to 18th Street instead. This is so huge! For one thing, running on Loomis will be a wildly different experience than running on Ashland, particularly from a scenery/activity standpoint. For another thing, this means we miss two blocks worth of Taylor Street and two blocks worth of 18th Street, which I personally think is a downside rather than an enhancement, but was also unavoidable. I had a conversation with a Lifetime employee at the Illinois Half Marathon expo in April, and he told me that the city would no longer allow the Chicago Triathlon course to run alongside cars–I’m sure a result of last year’s crash. I’m also sure that this applies to the Chicago Marathon too, and since Ashland was the one part of the course that was open to traffic, I’m also also sure that’s why we’re now on Loomis. While I’m disappointed to run a little less on Taylor Street and 18th Street, I HATED that stretch on Ashland. It was  the worst part of the course in my opinion–even worse than the stretch along the highway after Chinatown–and I always felt it was unsafe. I will not miss it one little bit.

Change #5: The turn on Canalport I mentioned earlier. Rather than running down Halsted all the way to Archer, we will skip Archer entirely (which is also fine with me, as that was another part of the course I disliked) and instead take Canalport to Cermak.

Change #6: The aforementioned jaunt over to Indiana, which we will take up to 31st before merging on to Michigan and continuing as normal.

I am SO excited about these changes. With the exception of the loss of a half mile total of Taylor and 18th, I think all of these changes are VAST improvements. Every part of the course I didn’t like is gone. I am going to hit all the mile markers from eight to 18 earlier than I’m used to, which I think has the possibility to be a total gamechanger. I had this course memorized forwards and backwards and could tell you where just about every mile marker was from an intersection standpoint. To hit mile 13, for example, at Franklin and Lake rather than Monroeish like I’m used to is going to be HUGE. Well done, Chicago Marathon.

3. I was downtown on Saturday and the mood struck to visit Millennium Park. Since that rarely happens, I figured I should take advantage and stroll over.

thebean

I always find it weird to be in Millennium Park. It’s a space that’s so associated with the city, but it’s also a space where I spend SO little time, and I don’t think I’m the only Chicagoan in that boat. I don’t know anyone who goes to Millennium Park to just, like, hang out (or at least not to the Bean part. I know plenty of people who go to the lawn part for concerts, movies, etc.). But you’d think that’d be the point, it being a public park and all! Though I guess that being said, it’s also not in a place that’s convenient to a lot of people (compared to other parks in neighborhoods, that is) but is convenient to the other standard tourist things to do in the city (the museums, Michigan Ave., Navy Pier), so that probably has something to do with it.

Thoughts on the changed Chicago Marathon course??

Chicago Marathon Training Week 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 10: Rest

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

 

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

 

Thursday Things

1. Look at this crazy duck I saw over the weekend!

duck

I was in downtown Naperville on Saturday and saw this bird along the Riverwalk. Isn’t it nuts?! I scoured the internet (i.e.: did one Google search) to try to figure out why it looked like that. I think it might be a domestic Mallard? I didn’t realize people domesticated Mallards, but apparently that’s a thing, and I guess sometimes people breed them to have white feathers…or something like that. I didn’t really understand the article, so I don’t know what I’m talking about 😛 But regardless, it was quite the unexpected sight!

2. Has anyone ever used the Chicago Public Library’s eBook borrowing? Ever since I started working at my current company (…two and a half years ago), I’ve had a pretty dramatic decrease in the amount of reading I do, because with my new job came a new commute, and that new commute usually required a lot more standing on trains than the commute to my first job in Chicago required. I’ve found it’s much easier to hold my phone than it is to wrangle an actual book when I’m standing on a train, and that has naturally led to a lot more Twitter and Facebook and a lot less reading. I know that you can get an app on your phone to get eBooks from the Chicago Public Library, though, so I’m interested in trying that out. If you have used eBooks from CPL (or if you get eBooks from your local library), I’d love to hear about your experience!

3. And now, a rant.

I am well aware that the majority of people are not long distance runners. I understand that to people who are not long distance runners, the distances I run on a regular basis are incomprehensible. I recognize that people who have never gone through marathon training will likely never understand how I could ever consider a 10 mile run, never mind a six mile run, to be 1) attainable and 2) easy. It does not bother me that people who are not long distance runners might have no desire to run long distances themselves, now or in the future.

HOWEVER.

It does drive me up a freaking godforsaken wall that a person with whom I have routine contact feels the need to constantly–constantly–express how flabbergasted they are by my marathon training. That every. single. time. they ask me how many miles I am running today, ran yesterday, or plan to run later in the week, they insist on responding to my answer with, “*insert number here* MILES?!?!?! I don’t know how you do it!!!!!!” It also drives me up a freaking godforsaken wall that when I provide an answer to a question about long distance running–for example, that if I go out for an 18 mile long run, the point is to not slow down between mile one and mile 18, in response to being asked how much a person slows down over the course of that distance–this person wholeheartedly refuses to believe the answer I provide–in this example, that it is impossible that a person would not slow down during an 18 mile run, that they would almost certainly start out at an 8:00 pace for the first mile and drop down to a 10:00 pace (“basically walking,” according to their assessment of paces) by the second mile)–followed by an assertion that if they were ever to try to run more than one mile, they would most certainly slow down by mile two and/or die.

Look, I get it. (Kind of. I do not get the need to editorialize on other people’s pastimes, since I’m certainly not offering up any commentary on my opinions of their pastimes.) Even though I’ve been running for seven years now, I clearly remember when I was in middle and high school, when I firmly believed my body could not cover more than two miles at a time and that a 5K was 100 percent beyond my ability. I clearly remember being unable to comprehend how a friend could run 13.1 miles when she announced that as her summer plan during college. When you’re not running long distances, the distances that other people, especially people who seem normal (i.e.: not professional runners) can cover is mind-boggling.

But just because it’s mind-boggling doesn’t mean you need to commentate on it time and time and time again!! I have plenty of other people with whom I have regular contact who are able to ask me about my running (“When’s your next race?” “How’s marathon training going?”) without informing me that what I’m doing must surely be impossible or that they “don’t know how [I] do it.”. I am perfectly happy to talk about my running or training with people who are genuinely curious, or at least have the tact to pretend that they’re genuinely curious. Talking about it with people who seem to be baiting me for the purpose of expressing affronted incredulity drives me NUTS.

Have you ever borrowed eBooks from the library?
How do you (kindly) deal with unsolicited feedback about your hobbies?
My approach thus far has been “answer all questions in an exasperated tone and hope they get the hint,” but it has so far proved to be an ineffective method.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

aug1800s

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

aug1hrdata

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

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

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

Friday, August 3: Rest

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

 

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

Thursday Things

1. I went to the allergist last week to see if I could get some answers in regards to why my arm exploded after I got a tetanus booster in January (well, not exploded, but overreacted), and it was a shockingly wonderful experience!

I was excited to get to the bottom of what happened to my arm, and possibly some other allergic-ish reactions I’ve had as well. The nurse did the whole intake rigamarole–weight, blood pressure, etc.–and then a resident came in an interviewed me for thirty minutes about why I was there, my symptoms, my family history, anything else that could possibly be relevant to the discussion. It was AMAZING. I felt like he didn’t leave a single stone unturned, and it was so nice to feel like a doctor was actually listening to me rather than working to get me out of the office as quickly as possible because I’m an active 27 year old with no medical history who couldn’t possibly have anything wrong with her.

When the actual allergist came in, she told me that she suspects I had an allergic reaction to whatever they used to clean my skin prior to the injection rather than the injection itself, based on the pattern of redness and my description of my symptoms. Given the way I broke out in an instant rash after using a bath bomb in April, the way I break out in a rash if I touch anything washed with Tide Coldwater Clean, and the way I break out in hives when I shower at my parents house, the idea that I have sensitive skin was not particularly earth shattering to me.

The allergist ordered a titer test for me to check on my tetanus, diphtheria, and Hib immunity levels so that if I get pregnant before I’m due for my next tetanus shot, I can have titers taken again, compare my future immunity levels to my July 2018 immunity levels, and use that information to determine whether or not I actually need a Tdap booster. (Pregnant women are supposed to get a Tdap booster during every pregnancy so they don’t come down with one of those illnesses when they have an infant on hand. It’s more cost effective to give everyone a booster than take titers on everyone, which is why all pregnant women are supposed to get one. It is a little odd to me that the allergist didn’t order a pertussis titer, because to my understanding it’s pertussis that’s the big concern with babies, but I’ll allow myself to believe she knew what she was doing.) I can also get future Tdap/tetanus boosters at the allergist’s office if I so choose using the challenge method, where they give you part of the dose one day, see how you react, and give you the rest of the dose a couple days later. She also told me that I can come back any time to get tested to see if I still have the penicillin allergy I was diagnosed with as a child, which was good to know. All in all, a fabulous experience!

2. Getting my titers taken, however, was a bit more frustrating. The lab was swamped, so it took forever to get in, and once I did get in, I had to raise a stink about how I had to be lying down during a blood draw. I do this every time anyone needs to poke me with a needle, and every time, regardless of where I am, I’m made to feel like I’m putting everyone out of their way and ruining their entire lives.

Look, I wish I could sit in the nice padded chair like a big girl, too. I wish I could convince my brain that the half second of minor pain that comes with a blood draw or injection is not a reason to shut the whole thing down. But I’ve fainted three separate times when needles were involved, Phlebotomist Who Has Known Me for Less Than One Full Minute, and I know the best way to make sure I don’t faint is to have me horizontal before the fact so my blood can’t pool in my legs to begin with, keeping me from fainting in the first place. It’s a whole lot easier for everyone, including you, if I stay conscious throughout the entire ordeal, so instead of interrogating me about whether or not I’ve fainted under these exact circumstances before, why don’t you just LISTEN to me when I tell you I’m going to need to lie down and need to continue lying down for at least 15 minutes after you’re done? It’s not like I’m asking you for a whole lot here. “Maintaining consciousness” seems like a pretty small request.

I have every intention of continuing to insist on lying down when shots or blood draws are involved, but it is really frustrating to have to be so demanding about it every. single. time. Is it so hard to show a little understanding?

3. My apartment had a bit of a bathroom drama this past weekend. Our tub had been draining slowly for a week or so, and our attempts to remove the tangle of hair and dirt that were clogging the pipes only made matters worse (to the point where neither the tub nor the sink would drain well. Awesome.), so we placed a call to our landlord who knew exactly which trap was associated with both the tub’s and sink’s drainage and said he’d come by Monday to take care of it.

WELL! When I came home Monday, not only had he taken care of whatever was blocking the pipes, but he also cleaned the tub and sink so well that they looked nicer than they’ve ever looked while I’ve lived there! They were downright sparkling, and I was so touched! That was so above and beyond the call of landlord duty, and I really appreciated the gesture. (Plus, this means I don’t have to clean the bathroom later this week, which I fully anticipated needing to do.)

I’ve lived in three apartments in Chicago with landlords who had varying levels of interest in the place where I lived, and let me tell you, living in an apartment in a building that’s been in my landlord’s family for who knows how long–he was literally born in the building–makes a WORLD of difference. My first place was owned by a management company, and they couldn’t have cared less about me or my apartment. My second place was a condo owned by a dude, and he kind of cared about the condo, but it was clear that he had become less enamored with the idea of investing in real estate over the 10 years he owned the place and was more interested in ridding himself of his landlording side gig (and the condo) than he was in the condo itself. My current landlord has a vested interest in keeping the property in as good of shape as he can, and it really shows. It’s so refreshing to live somewhere where the landlord cares!