Chicago Marathon Training Week 13

Sunday, August 27: Rest
I guess I technically had time to work out after spectating the Chicago Triathlon, but I didn’t want to, so I didn’t. Considering that I’m trying to focus on quality workouts over quantity workouts right now in an effort to stay as far away from overtraining as possible, I’m not torn up about it.

Monday, August 28: 10.25 miles in 1:49:18 for a 10:39 pace + S
Blah. This run sucked. The forecast had called for a chance of thunderstorms all day, so I spent my last hour at work feverishly monitoring the radar. It did not look promising, and I didn’t know what to do. I knew I wouldn’t have time to run on Tuesday, and I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable running a 10 miler and 7 miler back to back on Wednesday and Thursday. I also knew that I could NOT tolerate 10 (or seven, for that matter) miles on a treadmill. I finally decided to chance it and headed outside to see how many miles I could do. I’m still running with my old watch during the week (until I’ve gotten in a few unobstructed GPS runs with my new watch, at which point I’ll switch over to that one in indoor mode for my run commutes). I got 2.34 miles in before I heard thunder, so I turned around. I thought about doing seven miles and then doing 10 on Wednesday instead, and considered running the 2.34 miles back to the office to get to roughly 4.6 and then going to the gym to finish the remaining 2.4 on the treadmill to get to 7. When I did get back to the office, though, it wasn’t raining or storming, so I decided to run the rest of the way home and still aim to get 10 like I originally planned to do. I did get to 10 (.25 by my watch to be safe), but it was NOT easy. I was absolutely dragging and in a horrible mood by the time I got home.

Tuesday, August 29: Rest
Day one of food poisoning. I planned to rest this day anyway, so no major skin off my nose.

Wednesday, August 30: Rest
Day two of food poisoning. I planned to run seven miles this day, but since doing a tiny load of laundry to clean up the clothes that bore witness to said food poisoning was enough to exhaust me, obviously I was not about to run .07 miles that day, never mind seven.

Thursday, August 31: Rest
Day three of food poisoning. I planned to do yoga on Thursday, and honestly probably could’ve when I got home from work. I thought I was going to be totally fine on Thursday until Thursday night, when all my illness came back with a roaring, raging vengeance, the likes of which I’ve never before experienced. To say Thursday was one of the worst nights of my life thus far would be putting it mildly. I’ve had worse nights from an emotional/mental standpoint, but I feel confident saying that I have never been physically worse than I was Thursday night.

Friday, September 1: Rest
Day four of food poisoning. After Thursday night’s debacle, I went to urgent care as soon as they opened Friday morning (my doctor, naturally, was on vacation all week). The nurse practitioner I saw there did not seem to think I was dying, even though was pretty convinced of that fact. I honestly went expecting to get admitted to the hospital. I have access to a tele-doc service through my health benefits at work and had called them Thursday night to see if I needed to go to the ER, and was told by them as well that I was probably fine. I suppose I should be thankful that no one seemed to be overly alarmed, and I am thankful for that if I’m being completely honest, but the whole experience also left me feeling super invalidated. I’ve had stomach bugs before, but never, ever this bad. The severity of my symptoms, along with the fact that no one I had contact with had contracted anything, had me convinced that was something much bigger than your average virus, and I was seriously concerned about what was happening. To not see that concern echoed back from medical professionals, even if it really didn’t need to be, made me feel belittled and unheard.

Saturday, September 2: Rest
I suppose it goes without saying, but obviously, after consuming approximately three calories over the course of four days (and eliminating most of them with such speed that I can’t imagine more than one and a half of them ever hit my system in the first place), I did not think it would be wise, appropriate, or even possible to attempt to run 18 miles on Saturday. Back on Tuesday, when I was young and naive and under the impression that stomach bugs knocked you out for 24 hours, left you queasy for the following 24, and were nothing but a distant memory by the third 24, I had doubts about my ability to do 18, but thought I could maybe attempt seven to make up for the ones I missed on Wednesday, or 10 if the seven went well. It became exceedingly clear to me Thursday night that I would not be doing any sort of running at all on Saturday, so I moped and felt sorry for myself instead, as I am apt to do when circumstances beyond my control keep me from a long run.

WHELP. This was, quite clearly, not the last build week before peak week that I envisioned, to say the least. I have a lot of feelings about this past week. Part of me is unconcerned. I know missing a week of training, even a build week, even a big build week, is not the end of the world. I know there are physical benefits to this week, of course, but I also know that a huge part of this week is mental: proving to yourself that you can run a lot of miles in a week and that you can cap it off with 18 at the end. I’ve proved that to myself four times before, so I don’t doubt my ability to do it (though we’ll see what kind of tune I’m singing in two weeks when the 20 miler rolls around). Part of me is TERRIFIED. I’ve only gotten sick during training once before, and it was with a cold, so I was able to stay moderately active–and, more importantly, was able to keep eating and drinking normally. I’ve never had a stomach bug while trying to train for a marathon, and while I’m not all that concerned about the physical gains I didn’t get this week, I am VERY concerned about the physical losses I endured this week. I don’t have a scale, so I don’t know numbers, but I’m confident that I lost a fair amount of water weight this week, as has always been the case in the past for me when it comes to stomach bugs. Even more, I’m VERY concerned about how little I ate last week. From Tuesday on, I subsisted on nibbles of easily digestible foods, only a very small number of which made a successful, normal journey from end to end. I’m concerned about what kind of impact this will have on my energy levels and ability to train this week for sure. Part of me is at a loss and doesn’t know where to go from here. I emailed Leah, the training manager for CARA, the day I got sick to solicit her advice on what to do with the 18 miler. She said if I was all the way better, I could try to do it, but needed to go in understanding that there was a very good chance I wouldn’t make it through all 18 miles and to be okay with that. She also said if I didn’t get the 18 in, that I could treat this as a cutback week (uh, yeah, I’d say so) and next week as a build week, doing maybe 16 or 17 on Saturday instead of the scheduled 14. But am I even going to be able to do that? As I write this on Friday evening, I still can’t fathom doing anything more than like a 10 minute run/walk. I don’t know how quickly my strength and energy (and, you know, health in general) will return, so I don’t have a CLUE what I’m going to do or be able to do in the upcoming week, and that concerns me. And finally, part of me is just pissed off. I have no idea where this bug came from. I’m pissed off that I don’t know what it is, I’m pissed off that I don’t know how I got it, and I’m pissed off that it’s taking me so. freaking. long. to get better. I didn’t think I’d be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel by now–I thought I’d be long out of the tunnel, throwing up two middle fingers at the tunnel, taunting to the tunnel for thinking it could conquer me. But instead, I’m still most definitely in it, without even the slightest pinprick of light in the distance, and that makes me RAGEY.

Though at least I definitely don’t think I’m flirting with overtraining after this week.

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Thursday Things

1. This half-assed post is brought to you by the case of food poisoning (or something similar) I came down with on Tuesday. My stomach hurt when I woke up, but that’s not entirely abnormal, and usually breakfast solves the problem. Well, it most certainly didn’t on Tuesday, and after two and a half hours at work I called it a day and drug myself home, where I spent the remainder of the day shuffling between the couch and bathroom. My temperature got up to 101.9, which is the highest I’ve seen it ever in my adult life, and my symptoms were also worse than I ever remember them being during a stomach bug. So, you’re getting what I pre-wrote on Monday (and this). Hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon, though it sure is hard to believe that when I’m in the throes of it.

2. There was an accident during the Chicago Triathlon, and the whole situation makes me so furious that I could punch someone.

You can read about the accident here (or here, or here, or any other local news site…it’s all pretty much the same), but basically, there are four northbound lanes and fourth southbound lanes on this portion of Lake Shore Drive. During the Chicago Triathlon, the inner two lanes are closed to vehicular traffic (separated by cones), and the outer two lanes are reserved for cars. Some idiot, apparently in far too much of a hurry to worry about any other human, decided she was too important to sit in traffic, pulled into a coned-off lane, and hit two participants in the process.

I knew four people racing on Sunday, so this was particularly close to home for me. One of the people I knew watched the whole thing happen about 100 feet in front of them and nearly got hit themselves. I actually didn’t even recognize them on the bike, because they had given up their tri jersey to serve as a pillow for the man who was hit. Fortunately none of my four racers were injured, but my blood is still absolutely boiling.

I’m outraged beyond WORDS at the driver for being so senselessly reckless. It’s incredible to me that no one died in this–a triathlete talking to his girlfriend or sister or best friend or whoever it was spectating him at the finish line also witnessed the accident, and told her that the man’s bike helmet was completely cracked–but they’re certainly going to have a very long and very expensive road to recovery. I’m also livid that the driver only got two citations. I rarely cheer for ambulance chasing lawyers, but since this accident has certainly gotten a decent amount of publicity, I hope an injury lawyer gets in touch with both of the athletes and gets the freaking book thrown at this woman. It upsets and terrifies me when cyclists get hit while biking on the road, but at LEAST that is almost always a result of drivers (usually drivers) and cyclists doing an exceedingly poor job of respecting the other person’s right to be on the road. This accident was more like someone pulling off Lake Shore and onto the Lakefront Trail, or getting out of the car lanes on Dearborn and into the bike-only lane–an entire lane, mind you, not just a painted stripe on the road–and driving there to “avoid traffic.” It is one hundred percent, inexcusably, unequivocally UNACCEPTABLE, and two tickets doesn’t even come CLOSE to justice as far as I’m concerned.

I also sincerely hope that this forces the City of Chicago to reconsider its “close down Lake Shore Drive entirely” threshold. I don’t remember where I heard this number, so I could be wrong, but if I remember correctly, you need 10,000 participants in an event to close Lake Shore Drive (if someone knows the actual number, if there is an actual number, please correct me). The Chicago Triathlon only (“only”) has 7,000 racers on Sunday, so they get half of the Drive closed, but not the whole thing. I certainly understand not closing Lake Shore Drive for a running event with 7,000 participants. The Lakefront Trail can accommodate those numbers (not comfortably, especially in areas where the Trail is thin, but it’s possible). Cyclists, taking up far more space and traveling at much higher speeds by virtue of being on a bike instead of two feet, can’t fit as easily onto the Trail in those high of numbers as runners, so I firmly believe that the city should allow the Triathlon to close Lake Shore down entirely on those grounds alone, even if it’s not the same area of Lake Shore closed right now. You could send the cyclists south, or split up the course so it goes both north and south, but not as far in each direction, or maybe you say for seven hours on Sunday morning, drivers can only travel north (or south) on Lake Shore Drive, and the other half of the road is closed to traffic entirely and turns into the bike course. You would think, with Rahm Emanuel, a former Chicago Triathlon participant himself, being the mayor of this town, that he could do something about this with DCASE to amend their permitting process, because I’m (not) sorry, but inconveniencing drivers super early on a SUNDAY morning, when traffic on Lake Shore, I would imagine, is at its absolute lightest, seems like a pretty small price to pay to make sure 7,000 people aren’t at risk of dying. (Though, as I’ve ranted about before, the car is king, all hail fossil fuel burning, climate destroying hunks of metal, blah blah blah).

At the absolute very LEAST, I sincerely hope Lifetime does more to make sure something like this can never happen again. If they can’t get the city to let them close Lake Shore Drive, fine, but then they had BETTER provide better protection to the athletes who paid them hundreds of dollars to participate in their race. Cones are quite clearly not sufficient, and ponying up to line the entire bike course with French barricades, once again, seems like a pretty small price to pay to keep your participants alive. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that 15 miles worth of French barricades, while expensive, are probably not lawsuit-from-the-family-of-a-dead-participant-accusing-you-of-not-providing-adequate-protection expensive. Don’t have money for 15 miles worth of French barricades? Then don’t put your cyclists on Lake Shore Drive for 15 miles.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 12

Sunday, August 20: 85 minutes XT
First Sunday workout in my new gym! I was very pleasantly surprised by the variety of equipment and number of locker room amenities (mouthwash! Lotion! Real hair dryers!), so I’m pretty excited about the new-to-me setup. Because of my knee situation, I want to make a point of doing PT every day from now until…well, I was going to say the marathon, but probably from now until after Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas, assuming I don’t nearly break my foot again (or otherwise injure myself) and have to drop out. Regardless, this means I now need to do PT on Sundays, so I decided to spend 40 minutes biking, go through a full PT routine, then fill the remaining time with an NTC workout. Two rounds of PT (clams, wall slides, single leg squats, side bridges, regular squats, and cones) took me just about half an hour, so I spent my remaining 15 minutes on NTC’s Best Foot Forward. Those 15 minute routines go by quickly when you’re used to 45 minute ones!

Monday, August 21: 55 minutes XT (yoga)
Due to my eclipse travels, I didn’t have time (or the desire) to run on Monday. Due to my experience with absolutely not wanting to do yoga on Thursday after therapy during week 11, I figured my best bet would be to do yoga at the hotel on Monday before leaving so I could take a rest day on Thursday. So that’s what I did! It was another NTC day for me, starting with Run Ready Yoga and finishing with Ultimate Strength Yoga. It was…almost 55 minutes. 52, technically, but that’s close enough for me. I was super proud of my crow poses during Ultimate Strength Yoga! Usually I can only hold those for a half second, but I was able to stay in crow for a full breath on Monday, which rarely happens.

Tuesday, August 22: 7.47 miles (lol ok) in 1:15:29 for a 10:06 pace + SPF
My watch put forth its worst showing yet on Tuesday, clocking me in at a 7:49 first mile and a max pace during that mile of 3:06. Right. For the record, a 3:06 pace translates to an 11.5 second 100-meter dash. My PR in the 100 in high school was 14.5 (I like to describe my track performance as “exceedingly mediocre” hahaha), so no, I did not run a 3:06 pace at any point during this run, nor did I run a 7:49, exactly-5K-PR-pace first mile. MapMyRun said I did 7.01 miles, which is a bit more realistic in my opinion. Aside from the watch issues, though, this run went fairly well. I regretted the tuna fish sandwich I had at lunch for the first 3.5ish miles, but my stomach settled down towards the end, and I actually felt really stronger and faster at the end of my run than at the beginning. That doesn’t happen too often!

Wednesday, August 23: 7.15 miles in 1:13:16 for a 10:14 pace
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to check out the Chicago Recovery Room in the South Loop. I’ll have a full post on that later (spoiler alert: I LOVED it). I needed to run seven miles that day, so I did four miles on my own to get to there, then ran three more miles with Keelan, an athletic trainer on staff there, and followed the whole thing with a recovery session, which was OUT OF THIS WORLD. NormaTec boots, an ice bath, the whole nine yards. If you’re training for anything, I cannot recommend the Chicago Recovery Room enough. My knee had started whining when I would start running after stop lights half a mile or so before I got to the Chicago Recovery Room, and when I walked out, three miles and lots of recovery tool utilization later, my knee felt 100% fine for the first time in weeks. If that’s not enough of a testament to how fantastic this place is, I don’t know what is.

Thursday, August 24: Rest
Hooray for dance’s annual two-week summer break! That means I get an extra rest day 🙂

Friday, August 25: Rest

Saturday, August 26: 14.09 miles in 2:27:27 for a 10:28 pace + SP
First of all, look at all the new toys I had on this run!

forerunner35

I went to Fleet Feet on Wednesday and spent all of my money. First up, my brand new watch! I bought a Garmin Forerunner 35, and from the one run I’ve taken it on so far, it’s been AWESOME. I set it up to beep and vibrate at every mile and I felt like its GPS measuring was more accurate than my old watch. I did find the way it notes that you’ve been running for more than an hour to be a little weird–if I had run for 1:02:03, for example, the “1” would be in superscript, so it looks more like 02:03–but I think I remember a similar initial confusion with my old Garmin? Now that I understand what’s going on, I’m sure it’ll be fine from here on out. I plan to take it on one or two more Lakefront Trail-only runs before trying it out on my run commute–it has a built-in accelerometer that’s supposed to learn your stride length and such so you can run indoors with out the GPS, and I’m thinking I may try running on indoor mode on my run commute to use the accelerometer to measure distance rather than GPS–but so far, I really like it!

nathanwaistbelt

I also bought a new hydration belt. Truth be told, I haven’t liked my FuelBelt since I started using it five years ago. It always leaked, and the flasks were really small. I’ve been meaning to upgrade for over a year, and I finally pulled the trigger on Wednesday and bought a Nathan TrailMix Plus Insulated 2 Hydration Belt. I definitely prefer insulted water bottles to regular water bottles, so that was a big selling point for me, and the flasks each hold 10 ounces of water. I did learn the hard way on Saturday that even though they can hold 10 ounces of water, I probably shouldn’t let them hold 10 ounces of water, because my belt was super heavy at the beginning of the run. But, it didn’t leak, and I wasn’t constantly filling the flasks up, so overall, I’m glad with my purchase.

As for the run itself, it went really well until the last mile, when I completely fell apart. I just could not keep up with the group anymore, so I slowed down and eventually even walked to catch my breath. My legs were all blotchy when I finished the run (according to Runner’s World, this isn’t particularly abnormal), and when I got home and was going my PT I got super nauseous and had to lie down for a bit. I had a bottle of Gatorade, which helped a lot, so I’m guessing I was just dehydrated?

I felt so much better as a runner and human this week compared to last week. I made a point of trying to get to bed on time, which I think helped a lot. This upcoming week is going to be another tough one from a mileage standpoint, but it’s the second to last build week of training (which is both exciting and concerning, haha). Not much more time until marathon day!

Thursday Things

1. Well, Monday was probably the coolest day of my life thus far. I took the day off work to venture south to the path of totality for the eclipse, and let me tell you, best use of PTO EVER. I hope you’re not tired of eclipse stories, because this whole post is going to be about just that.

2. While Carbondale was definitely the place to be for the eclipse, my eclipse-viewing group wasn’t especially interested in being in a gigantic crowd (and the consequential gigantic traffic jams) for the occasion. Even though we decided months ago to take the day off to see the eclipse, we didn’t nail down any specifics until last Friday, when the person heading up the trip looked at a map of the totality and picked St. Clair, MO as our viewing location, due to its apparent smallness and relative ease of accessibility. St. Clair, population 4,400 + change, was pretty darn excited that this major event was taking place in their little town, and went all out to celebrate. They had the most helpful website of all time dedicated entirely to all the festivities taking place for the eclipse, and all of the website’s excitement definitely rubbed off on me when I read through it on Friday. I could not wait for Monday.

In an attempt to avoid spending our entire lives in the car on Monday, we left on Sunday night, spent the night in Springfield, then finished our journey to St. Clair on Monday morning. Everyone predicted horrific traffic, so we expected horrific traffic, but ended up getting to St. Clair without any delays at all. We stopped at the local grocery store to pick up lunch (the store was going to be closed for 20 minutes in the afternoon during the totality – small towns, man. I love them.), and the cashiers were comparing how many customers they had already seen that day and warning us about the “traffic” in town, which amounted to your average stop light traffic in Chicago. We arrived at Evergreen Park 15 minutes or so before the eclipse began and settled in! The National Weather Service that morning had said there could be about 50% cloud cover in St. Clair, but there were blue skies above us, and it looked like we wouldn’t have to deal with any obstruction for the duration of the eclipse.

eclipse2017-4

The beginning of the eclipse really didn’t seem like much of anything. Every 10 minutes or so, I’d get up, look at the sun through my eclipse glasses, and then go back to my spot in the shade. It was HOT in St. Clair on Monday, and I had very little interest in spending any more time than necessary in the sun. After several tries, I finally perfected (well, “perfected.” “Figured out how to semi-effectively do it,” is more accurate) the art of taking pictures of the eclipse with my phone through my glasses. Totality began at 1:15 p.m., and probably around 12:50 or so, I started to notice that it seemed less bright outside. It certainly didn’t seem dark by any means, but it just seemed…not normal, kind of like when you walk inside after being out in the sun and the room just seems a little darker than normal while your pupils adjust, or like when you turn on the lights in a room and a bulb has burned out, so it seems slightly darker. It was so subtle that I don’t think I would’ve even really noticed it if I hadn’t known what was coming.

I kept making trips out to the full sun from my chair in the shade, and at some point after 1:00, realized that standing in the sun no longer felt hot. Considering that it was over 90 degrees when we arrived and the first thing I said upon getting out of the car was, “Why does this have to be in AUGUST?!” that was a pretty big change. I had been staying out of the sun both for heat purposes and for avoiding-sunburn-without-putting-on-sunscreen purposes, and wondered if the sun being so blocked by the moon meant that I could stand in the sun without getting burned as quickly as usual (I have no idea – I haven’t looked this up). Since the sun was tolerable, I stayed put while we got closer and closer to 1:15, moving only when the group next to mine commented on the shadows on the sidewalk:

eclipse2017shadows

Those crescents are all due to how far along the eclipse was at this point, similar to the pinhole viewer or what you would’ve seen if you had cast a shadow with a colander on Monday. By this point of the eclipse, the percentage of the sun covered was so great that you didn’t need something so small as a pinhole to cast this kind of shadow: the trees worked just fine for that purpose.

Right on time (obviously), the moon passed fully in front of the sun and we experienced totality. It, truly, was one of, if not the, most incredible things I’ve experienced in my life up to this point. The dimness I mentioned earlier got more intense, the streetlights turned on, and then suddenly it was like twilight in the middle of the afternoon.

eclipse2017sunset

I didn’t notice if nighttime bugs started chirping or daytime animals fell quiet, because everyone in Evergreen Park (including me) was making way too much noise to notice. It was just phenomenal. I really didn’t understand just what the darkness would be like until it happened, and it was mindblowing. I think what surprised me the most was that I could see planets!

eclipse2017-3

(Look in the middle of the picture, about one inch from the right. Tiny white speck behind the wispy clouds is a planet.)

My astronomical identification skills begin and end with Orion’s belt and the Big Dipper, so I really don’t know what planets I was seeing, but if you want to trust the guy a few feet away from my group, this was Venus (same white speck as above):

eclipse2017planet

And this was Mercury (tiny white speck about half an inch to the left of the sun, near where 9 or 10 would be on a clock):

eclipse2017-1

Honestly, I don’t really care what they were. I could see them at 1:16 p.m., and that was cool enough for me.

Speaking of which, to emphasize just how dark it got, here’s a picture I took at 1:14 p.m., one minute before totality:

eclipsedaylight

And here’s one I took at 1:16 p.m.:

eclipsetwilight

I brought my SLR to use during the totality (I didn’t get a solar filter to put on my lens, so I couldn’t use it during partiality), and oh man, WORTH IT. My pictures of the totality don’t really do justice to what I could see in real life, but my camera ended up functioning basically like a telescope, making it even easier to see the sun and moon themselves, even if I couldn’t get a picture that accurately represents what I saw.

eclipse2017-2

The totality ended at 1:18, and coming out of it was also nuts, like experiencing an immediate and total sunrise in the space of a less than a minute. Suddenly it was mid-afternoon again, and everyone began packing up their things to head out of town. Obviously I’m perfectly aware that the eclipse doesn’t have feelings, but I did feel bad for it that no one cared about the second half! Haha. We stuck around for another 30 minutes or so, but by that point it had started to get hot again, so we piled in the car and headed home.

3. Heading home. Ugh. While people trickled in for the start of the eclipse, everyone wanted to leave at the same time and traffic was bonkers. Google initially predicted that it would take about five hours and 15 minutes to get back to Chicago; it ended up taking seven hours and 15 minutes. 😐 Add on the two hours of driving between Springfield and St. Clair that morning, and that’s nine hours in the car for one day (though I did read an article in the Trib that quoted someone else who had gone to St. Clair, and it took them more like 12 hours to get home, so I guess I shouldn’t complain). Needless to say, my step count on Monday was a joke. But all of the traffic and lack of physical activity was one bajaziliion percent worth it. I am so, so glad I got to see it in its totality, and I’m already excited for April 8, 2024 to see it happen again.

4. Also, bonus fourth thing: can you IMAGINE how TERRIFYING an eclipse must’ve been back in the days before there were scientists who could tell you what second it was coming? Like, how scared would you be if you were just going about your day, maybe noticing that it seemed dimmer or cooler outside (like I said, I noticed the dimness because I knew it was coming, and the coolness was only an afterthought–not something I think I would’ve noticed if I had just been going about my daily life outside. It was more like, “Wait, standing in then sun 30 minutes ago was miserable, and now I’m comfortable. That’s now how this usually works.”), and then all of a sudden it looked like sunset for twoish minutes before going back to daylight? I think that would be so scary!

5. And, finally, a bonus fifth thing: I cannot get enough of the eclipse videos. It was apparently cloudy for part of totality in Carbondale, but this video should give you a pretty good idea of what it was like to experience it:

 

 

 

 

And if you can’t appreciate this clip of Tom Skilling, well, then I don’t know what to tell you.

 

 

 

And in St. Clair (though not Evergreen Park – totality starts around 3:30)

 

It’s the unity in the reactions that I find particularly cool about all of this, the way everyone responds with the same awe and wonder at this incredible phenomenon. It was such a human moment, this visceral reaction to seeing something happen that defies your understanding of how day and night work, and, as a species that generally seems more interested in defining ourselves by our differences rather than our similarities, I thought it was really, really special to see so many people all feel the same way about something.

Did you see the eclipse?

Chicago Marathon Training Week 11

Sunday, August 13: IM 70.3 Steelhead spectating
Like last year, spectating IM 70.3 Steelhead totally messed with my Fitbit, so I have no idea how active I actually was on Sunday. I know I was on my feet for the better part of the day, though, and I know I was exhausted when I got home, so I’m counting this as my “workout” for the day.

Monday, August 14: 10.25 miles in 1:47:56 for a 10:30 pace
I saw the sports doctor Monday afternoon, and after diagnosing me with runner’s knee, he told me I could continue training as normal, just no speed work for the time being. I conveniently failed to mention that “as normal” meant 10 miles a few hours after the appointment, but since he said I could run, I went for it. I was pleasantly surprised! My knee didn’t hurt at all like it had hurt the previous Monday or Wednesday, and I made it through all 10(ish) miles without incident. It was awfully hot, though, compared to the past two weeks. I realized as I was leaving work that I hadn’t mapped out 10 miles, which was a particular problem in this case because I wasn’t running home, but rather to the annual Broadway in Chicago preview show in Millennium Park. I figured I’d run at least 10 miles by my watch, but shoot for 10.25 if it worked out to make sure I got in 10 real miles. Even though I didn’t map the run ahead of time, it couldn’t have worked out better. I ended up hitting 10.25 miles right as I got to the intersection of Michigan and Madison, which was where I planned to stop to go to the show. Perfect!

Tuesday, August 15: Dance
The session ended on Tuesday, so we had graduation Tuesday night. After setting the entire routine last Tuesday with the three of us who showed up to class, someone else showed up this past Tuesday, which made me irrationally angry (more on that later). We adjusted the routine to accommodate her, and graduation went fairly well, except for when the music stopped about a third of the way through haha. That was a first! But that technically difficulty was resolved soon enough, and I actually think this was probably one of the better performances we’ve had in awhile. Knee felt fine throughout.

Wednesday, August 16: 5.43 miles in 55:00 for a 10:07 pace + SPF
First of all, LOLOLOLOLOLOL at my watch’s distance estimation. According to my watch, I dropped two sub-9:00 miles to start out this run, which I can tell you beyond any shadow of a doubt is not true. MapMyRun put this run at closer to five miles, possibly a hair over five miles, which I think is a lot more accurate.

Anyway, my schedule called for a 55 minute tempo run on Wednesday, which I didn’t particularly shed any tears over having to skip, per the doctor’s “no speed work for now” instructions I received on Monday. I wasn’t sure exactly how to adjust my run in light of that, though. The thing with these timed tempo runs is I don’t know how far I’m going to go, so I didn’t have a distance to target. I figured instead of worrying about distance, I’d focus on time instead, so I went for a 55 minute run. It was SO HUMID. Blech. I felt like I was breathing through a straw the whole time. It didn’t rain much on my run, but it did rain for the duration of my cooldown walk (which was actually very welcome, so no complaints here).

My knee held up just fine on the run itself, including on the downhills that gave me grief last Wednesday, but it was a different story once I got home. Getting down on my hands and knees to stretch hurt just like it did last Monday, and my knee continued to hurt on and off for the remainder of the night. That was a bit discouraging 😦

Thursday, August 17: Rest
*Hangs head in shame* I had therapy right after work on Thursday, but I still had every intention of doing yoga today, I really did. I even pulled up the only close-to-55-minutes Yoga with Adriene video before I left work so it’d be easy to find in my YouTube history. My knee continued hurting on and off all day without any obvious rhyme or reason, and when I mentioned this to my therapist, she didn’t tell me not to do yoga when I got home, but warned me that I would need to be particularly careful in poses like low lunge, Warrior I, Warrior II, and any other pose where my knee is bent and could possibly drift in, which, as I knew from my doctor’s appointment on Monday/every race photo of me ever, is an ongoing problem in my life. Given that my therapist is certified to teach yoga and therefore knows what she’s talking about, and that I didn’t get home until like 6:45 Thursday evening (which would’ve meant having dinner that night at 8:00 at best), I decided to bail on yoga entirely and just take a rest day.

Friday, August 18: Rest
Knee felt 100% better today

Saturday, August 19: 16.33 miles in 2:52:13 for a 10:32 pace + SPF
My knee wasn’t in the best shape, but on a scale of 1-10, I would put the pain I felt on Saturday at like a 1.5, so I did all 16 (+ change) miles. We were HAULING for reasons beyond my understand (my 7th mile was a 9:50 O.O NOT close to 10:30!!), so I gave up trying to run with the group and fell off the back at the turnaround. I was in a pretty grumpy mood for the first half of the run and felt a lot better once I was on my own, so I think it was just one of those days when I needed to be not surrounded be people. The Air and Water Show can do that to a person, I suppose! I actually ended up passing the group with a little less than two miles to go, because they stopped at a drinking fountain and I didn’t, and they didn’t catch up to me until we got to Cricket Hill. That made me feel good about my pace! Speaking of water: I use my FuelBelt for runs 14 miles or longer, so I planned to use my FuelBelt this past Saturday. When I went to fill it up Saturday morning before leaving, I was SHOCKED (and disgusted) to find that it still had water in it from the MARATHON. As in, almost a full year ago. Blech! Needless to say, I did not use my FuelBelt on Saturday and opted for my handheld water bottle instead.

Putting the knee situation aside, I haven’t been feeling great as a runner or a human in general for the past couple of weeks. In particular, I’ve noticed that I’ve been EXTREMELY irritable since last Tuesday (not the Tuesday of this recap, but the one before that), where the littlest things–the CTA making me late, forgetting something at home, a person showing up to dance after we had set the routine, entering my password incorrectly into my work computer–were just ENRAGING me. I’m not the most levelheaded person to ever exist, but I can usually take things more or less in stride. Incidentally, my resting heart rate (per my Fitbit, which, I will concede, is not necessarily the gold standard of heart rate measuring) SKYROCKETED last week as well, shooting up seven beats per minute over the course of six days, which is something that’s only happened two or three in the 14 months I’ve worn a Fitbit, and every time but once due to obvious illness. On top of all of that, I was sore after Monday’s run. Now, I will admit, I didn’t stretch or foam roll on Monday, but never once in six years of running have I ever been sore after a 10 miler, and I especially haven’t been sore after a 10 miler that I was perfectly capable of running (i.e.: if I had taken a month off and ran a 10 miler on no training, I’d expect post-run soreness. In the middle of marathon season, not so much.).

As I was pondering all of this in the middle of last week, particularly the irritability situation, I began to wonder if I’m flirting with overtraining. RunnersConnect lists 12 symptoms of overtraining, six of which (fatigue, increased anxiety/irritability, infections of the upper respiratory tract, elevated RHR, mild muscle soreness, injuries) I’ve noticed in myself over the past few weeks. The article I linked to interviews a doctor who says that overtraining is not necessarily linked to the amount of literal training you’re doing, but rather “the volume of training in relation to what’s going on in the rest of your life.”

If you’ve been closely following my blog for the past month or so, you can probably draw two conclusions from what I’ve written: 1) the amount of training I’m doing is not that ridiculous, by my standards or any other marathon trainer’s standards and 2) I have had a LOT of major life changes (new apartment, new job) happen in the past 30 days.

A piece of advice CARA often doles out at the beginning of marathon season is to do what we can to reduce the amount of non-running life stress we have in our lives while training (“This is not the time to get married or divorced.”) While the stress from my move has dissipated, I’ve found my new role at work to be substantially more stressful than my previous role, and I feel significant pressure from my boss to accomplish major things in a short time frame to prove the worthiness of my new position to the company (I don’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but my job is an entirely new job at my company.). I’m not only stressed at and about work, but on top of that, I’ve been extremely busy outside of work as well. I don’t remember the last time I had a quiet, lazy night at home, and the frenetic pace of my extracurricular life has most certainly cut into my ability to do usual adult tasks (staying on top of my budget, in particular), which adds additional stress as I watch the receipts pile up in on my computer and in my inbox, waiting for me to deal with them. I’ve felt like I’m constantly bouncing from one stressful situation to another and have consistently gone to bed 45 minutes to an hour later than I need to in an effort to get as much done as I can in a day.

So, do I think it’s a fair conclusion that my volume of training to everything else going on in my life ratio is a bit off balance right now? Abso-freaking-lutely. Am I giving myself the time to recover properly? Not even a little bit. Obviously, something is going to have to change, and it’s going to have to change very quickly if I expect to make it through the next seven weeks. I’m going to need to start saying no. I’m going to need to start prioritizing sleep and rest over just about everything else. I can’t keep putting my body through the ringer, physically and psychologically, day in and day out and not expect any repercussions from that. I don’t really know how I’m going to accomplish these things, but I need to focus on it, or it’s going to be a long, painful, possibly ineffective march to the start line.

 

Thursday Things

1. I, once again, knew multiple people racing at IRONMAN 70.3 Steelhead on Saturday, so another trip to Michigan was in order to cheer them on!

IM703steelhead2017

It was surprisingly cold for August, with temperatures only in the mid-50s when we arrived (at, like, 4:45 Sunday morning, aka 3:45 Chicago time. Oof.), but race day temperatures aren’t about me, the spectator, so even though I was cold, I was glad the athletes had favorable conditions. I was particularly glad to see that the lake had calmed down substantially overnight. When we were there for packet pick-up on Saturday, Lake Michigan was not happy, with fairly strong winds and 1-3 foot waves. Sunday morning, however, was a totally different story: no wind speak of and nothing but gentle rolling water. Even though I, obviously, didn’t have to swim either way, it makes me really nervous to see choppy waters during a triathlon, so I was glad to see it was much better for swimming!

The race went really well for everyone I was there to see (though not so well for the male pro I saw walking away from the end of the bike course, whose jersey was completely ripped off his shoulder, which appeared to be nothing but blood and road rash. YIKES.), so that was wonderful, and I enjoyed spectating. I really think anyone who participates in endurance sports should make a point of trying to spectate races every now and again, because you really appreciate the effort and work your spectators put in once you’re on the other side. It’s not easy to try to keep track of people (though the new-this-year IM Tracking app was AMAZING. 10/10, would recommend) and coordinate your movements so you beat them to various locations on the course. Spectating is tough work, and having done it twice now at Steelhead makes me very grateful for my family’s willingness to come watch me run marathons.

IMsteelhead2017-2

I do find spectating to be a bit dangerous if you have a proclivity for seeing other people like you doing something and thinking, “Maybe I could do that!” The more I spectate triathlons, the more I see people of all ages and sizes competing, and the more the gears start turning in my head. This is how I ended up getting into running in the first place, so clearly I’m a bit vulnerable to that sort of thought process. Of course, then I remember that I hate being underwater and don’t really enjoy being in water, period, that I haven’t been on a bike in well over 10 years and that I have even less desire to ever be on a Chicago road on a bike than I have to be in water, and that, even if I could somehow overcome my aversion to swimming and get back on a bike that isn’t stationary, I would still be looking at, at the absolute, very least, a solid $600 investment JUST to have the basic equipment (bike + helmet) needed to accomplish the “bike” portion of “swim bike run.” Add in all the other accessories I would certainly want/potentially need–a wetsuit, goggles, bike shorts, if not a full tri kit–and that’s usually enough to bring me back to, “On second thought, maybe I’ll just stick with this running thing instead.”

2. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ripetomato

You guys, I did it!!! I grew a ripe, edible (probably) tomato!!

After weeks of complaining about my stupid tomatoes and their refusal to turn red, I went outside last Thursday to tend to my garden and was THRILLED BEYOND MEASURE to see this:

ripeningtomates

I had checked on my tomatoes on Wednesday afternoon and there wasn’t even the slightest indication that any of them were about to start ripening, so seeing this much progress on Thursday was a HUGE (and very welcome!) surprise.

By Saturday morning, it had gotten a lot redder, though not quite to the point where I was ready to pick it. I got home from Steelhead super late on Sunday, so I didn’t bother to look at my garden that day, and even though I got home late on Monday as well, I wanted to make sure I got to my tomato before it started to get too ripe. As it turned out, some other creature beat me to the punch. There were holes on the other (unpictured) side of my tomato clearly indicating that someone had eaten through it, but honestly, I was so excited about having just one ripe tomato that I didn’t even care that I couldn’t use it. Haha. The second tomato that showed up on my plant back in July had started blushing on Monday, but had also been sampled by an uninvited creature by Tuesday, so into the trash it went as well. My plan moving forward is to start picking them once they begin to blush and let them finish ripening inside, far away from prying jaws. That, or quit my job and keep a constant vigil over my garden to make sure no one eats my tomatoes, but that seems…excessive 😛 Haha

At last count (Saturday morning), I had 42 tomatoes in various stages of growth. It took one month + two days for my first ones to ripen (almost exactly six weeks from blossom to picking), which means that if all continues to go well, I’m going to be DROWNING in tomatoes by this time next month. Perfectly all right by me!

3. While we’re on the topic of produce, I would like to take a moment to vent my EXTREME FRUSTRATION at Jewel Osco, which continues to prove its uselessness to me on a weekly basis. While I can still access Trader Joe’s from my new place, it is no longer as convenient to me as it was at my old apartment, and, consequently, I have become a reluctant Jewel Osco patron. I do appreciate Jewel’s variety and convenience, but I have absolutely lost my patience with their produce. A couple of weeks ago, I finally allowed myself to buy peaches, since I figured it was late enough in the summer that the peaches would be good. I never had the chance to find out, though, because less than 48 hours after I bought them, ALL of my peaches were growing mold. Even though I didn’t really think the peaches needed to be refrigerated and, consequently, left them out on the counter, I figured it was my own fault for leaving them in a relatively warm environment and promised I’d do better next time. “Next time” was this past Saturday, when I bought blueberries. I knew blueberries belonged in the fridge, so I put them there, then went on my merry way to Michigan for the remainder of the weekend. When I took the blueberries out of the fridge Tuesday morning to bring to work for lunch that day, once again: full of mold.

What. The. Heck.

I NEVER had this problem with Trader Joe’s produce. I understand that fruits and vegetables all have the potential to get moldy at some point, but “some point” should not be less than a week after I bought them! I’m SO frustrated! I’ve now thrown away like $15 on fruit I never got to eat, and I place the blame squarely on Jewel for this problem. After Tuesday’s incident, I remembered running into similar issues at my old old apartment–another place that was closer to a Jewel than a Trader Joe’s–and that I swore off Jewel Osco produce forever…or at least until five years later, when I forgot how lousy their produce was. I need to find a new place to get my fruits and vegetables, even if it is inconvenient, because I certainly prefer inconvenience to throwing away everything I bought!

Have you ever spectated a race?
Chicagoans: where should I go to buy produce? Other than Trader Joe’s, that is.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 10

Sunday, August 6: 80 minutes XT
Same ol’, same ol’. Biked for 35 minutes, then did Motionally Stable. I did increase my dumbbell weight from 10 lbs to 12 lbs on Motionally Stable, though (please, try to not be intimidated by my incredible strength), so there’s that. This may have been my last trip to may have been my last trip to my gym, though as of writing this, I’m not 100% sure. My gym doesn’t have any contracts and you can cancel your membership at any time, though it helps to remember your billing date so you don’t get charged for a month you don’t want. My billing date is the 15th, so cancelling my membership was low on my Things I Need to Do Before I Move list. When I called the gym to cancel my membership on Monday, I discovered that I’ll need to physically go into the gym to cancel my membership (the woman I spoke to on the phone said she’d email me the paperwork, but four hours later, she still hasn’t sent me anything). I’m not going to be able to get into the gym before the 15th since it’s no longer located on my way to anywhere, which means I may get charged for an extra month. If that’s the case, I’ll definitely keep going back. But since I already set up another gym membership elsewhere, I’d like to not carry two memberships at once if I can avoid it.

Monday, August 7: 9.35 miles in 1:36:43 for a 10:20 pace + SPF
When I mapped this route out on MapMyRun Monday morning, it told me I’d run 8.99 miles, but I figure when you account for inconsistencies in my mapping vs. my running (not turning around exactly where I said I would, having the first part of my run inexplicably unmappable (well, not inexplicably entirely–part of the route I take isn’t available on Google Maps, which is why it isn’t available on MapMyRun. Why it isn’t in Google Maps, however, is inexplicable. I submitted a map correction request to Google Maps on Monday because of how much it annoys me that part of my route isn’t on the map haha), I probably ran at least nine miles.

So, a couple things about this run. After the Bethany vs. Cyclist debacle a couple of weeks ago, I decided it would be in my best interest–in everyone’s best interest, really–to avoid that section of the Lakefront Trail at least until after Labor Day, when I expect the tourist population to plummet. The distance between my office and my house is fixed, obviously, which means if I need to add on mileage to that distance, I usually end up tacking on an out-and-back somewhere along my route. Rather than doing my out-and-back through touristpalooza, I decided to do it elsewhere along the trail this time. I definitely avoided people, that’s for sure! In fact, it was so deserted that I often felt uncomfortable, so I don’t know how viable of an out-and-back that route is, either. It sure seems like it’s going to be all or nothing in terms of other people on the trail for these out-and-backs, so I’m going to need to make a decision as to whether I’d rather put up with the “all” or “nothing.”

The -and-back portion of this run had me heading directly into the wind, which was a lot stronger than I expected (though I don’t know why – I could feel the wind at my back on the out- portion, so you’d think I would’ve realized I’d have to run into that for the -and-back). I started feeling some twinges in my left kneecap around this time, and that continued to bother me for the remaining four or so miles I had in this run, though only under certain conditions (running downhill, or for the first 10-20 steps after stopping at a light). My usual post-run stretching routine starts with downward dog followed by me attempting to wrangle myself into the best version of pigeon pose I can convince my body to do, and when I put my left knee down on the ground while trying to get my right shin somewhere in the neighborhood of the front of my body, I had a lot of tenderness on my kneecap – kind of like I had bruised it, except I haven’t had any falls or blows to the knee recently that would’ve resulted in a bruise. I didn’t notice any swelling or redness, just tenderness, but diagnosed myself with prepatellar bursitis anyway, as one does. The internet prescribed the usual RICE approach, so I iced my knee that night and decided to give it a couple more days of regular icing/ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and go from there.

Tuesday, August 8: Dance
Tuesday was the second-to-last class of the session, and only three people (including me) showed up. My teacher took this opportunity to set the whole routine for graduation this coming Tuesday, and for the first time in a long time, we’re actually doing a routine routine, not just a bunch of choreography strung together with no transitions. I’m excited!

Wednesday, August 9: 3.85 miles in 40:25 for a 10:30 pace
I spent a fair amount of Tuesday hemming and hawing over whether or not I should run on Wednesday, and ultimately decided I’d see how I felt on Wednesday during the day. If my knee didn’t bother me at all without any assistance from icing or ibuprofen, I’d let myself run under the condition that I stop if it began to bother me.

I felt fine all day on Wednesday, so I headed out to run home after work, and within a few steps already felt discomfort. Since my knee hurt on Monday when I would start running after stopping at a light, but would get better as I kept going, I decided to give it a mile and reevaluate from there. Once I got going, I did feel better, so I kept running past that first mile. I had on and off pain, but nothing particularly strong or consistent, so I continued on. After about two miles or so, I got to the hilly portion of my route (hilly, of course, being relative), and the more I ran downhill, the more the ache stayed “on” rather than “off.” By the time I got to the bottom of the biggest downhill I had run so far that day, I knew it was time to stop.

Side note: I spent a fair portion of this run (and the days leading it up to it) wondering whether or not I would intuitively know when the pain in my knee reached a level where I should no longer run. Even though I wasn’t happy to hit that level, I was quite pleased that I was able to discern that I hit that level.

I took the CTA the rest of the way home, and my knee hurt the whole time. I iced it as soon as I got home, which didn’t really do much to help it, took some ibuprofen, and roughly two hours after I stopped running, had absolutely no pain to speak of, not even a twinge. That was nice from a comfort standpoint, but also extremely frustrating. How could I go from having it hurt to walk to having no pain whatsoever in two hours?

Thursday, August 10: Rest

Friday, August 11: Rest

Saturday, August 12: Rest

Wednesday was my test day to see what would happen with my knee, and since “what happened” turned out to be “run-ending discomfort,” I decided to stop working out until I had had a chance to go into the doctor and see what he had to say about things (my appointment is today during lunch, so hopefully I’ll have some answers after that).

I’m trying to be okay with everything, but…I’m not. I’m freaking out over how many miles I missed this week (17, including a 15 mile long run. I’ve never once in five years of marathon training needed to skip that long of a long run). The whole point of this marathon season–of this year in running–was to intelligently and carefully build up my mileage to enable me to run more miles during marathon season to, hopefully, finally have a decent marathon this year. I know 17 miles doesn’t make or break a marathon training program, but it feels like a lot–and missing that long run in particular is absolutely killing me. Again, I know one long run doesn’t make or break marathon training, but when you only have four super long runs to begin with (15, 16, 18, 20), missing one of them feels like a dealbreaker. PLUS, this week I’m supposed to run 16, which feels like a gigantic jump from the 11 I ran two weeks ago, especially with a big fat goose egg in between.

On top of being anxious that I’ve completely effed up my training, I’m really, really anxious about this knee situation in general. I’ve been through injuries plenty of times in my running career, but I have never once had an injury that only and always hurt while running and didn’t hurt during my normal existence. When I had runner’s knee in 2014, for example, my knee actually rarely hurt when I was running at all. I couldn’t sit at my desk at work for more than an hour at a time, but running was fine. Having an injury that only hurts while running makes me extremely nervous, because the logical response to that is just to not run anymore. While my livelihood obviously does not depend on my finishing the Chicago Marathon in less than two months, this is, clearly, something very important to me, and the thought of having it taken away from me is devastating. And I know that bodies heal, PT helps, I’m not being patient enough, I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, blah blah blah, but I just…don’t believe that right now. All my other PT-inducing injuries have had obvious, preventable causes: namely, that my hips were too weak to support what I was trying to do (or, in the case of last year, that maybe two marathons in three weeks wasn’t a bright idea). I just cannot FATHOM that hip weakness is what’s going on here. I have been nothing but dedicated to strengthening that area of my body for the past 10 weeks–and besides that, the pain I feel in my knee is nothing like the pain I felt when I had runner’s knee the last time, so I really don’t think that’s the culprit.

I’m also pissed. off. I am so unbelievably tired of having shitty marathons. I’m tired of barely being able to break five hours. I’m tired of not even coming CLOSE to running as fast as the majority of my running group. I’m tired of falling apart sometime between mile 14 and 18 year after year after year. I’m tired of putting my blood, sweat, and tears into 18 weeks of training to never get the results I want. I’m tired of having this be the ONLY distance where I can’t say I’ve ever had a race that I’m really, truly, genuinely happy with. ALL I wanted out of this marathon season was a good marathon, and I adjusted my training to do everything I felt was within my power to make that happen without hurting myself. And here I am, 17 miles behind where I should be, a big fat red line through the 15 miler on my calendar indicating that I missed that workout, so, so angry that after an ideal first half of marathon season, everything seems to be falling apart.

Maybe I’ll look back on this whole rant after my doctor’s appointment this afternoon and think I’m being ridiculous, but right now, everything feels ruined, and I hate it.