Chi Town Half Marathon Training Week 7

Sunday, February 24: Dance
We had our (semi) usual extra rehearsal before graduation on Sunday. I say semi-usual because it typically happens, but now that I think about it, I don’t actually remember the last time I went to one! I wasn’t able to go in December, and I don’t think we had one in October, so maybe it was August? Regardless, I had dance for about an hour, and that counted as my workout for the day.

Monday, February 25: Strength training – legs (AM) + 6 miles (tempo) in 56:52 for a 9:28 pace (PM)
I had a good but challenging workout Monday morning at the gym. Adjusting the leg press machine so it’s at an appropriate distance (sometimes I can’t get it to move, and end up using it when the distance between the seat and the plate is really a bit too long for me) makes the workout a lot tougher! I was pleasantly sore after the fact.

I had THE WORST day at work (okay, not THE WORST day, but certainly not a great day) and was more than ready to burn off some angst on my run Monday afternoon. I warmed up for a mile, did four miles at tempo (8:51, 8:52, 9:02, 8:43), then cooled down for a mile to log six total. I severely underestimated how cold it was outside and should’ve dressed warmer. I had to cut my post-run stretch/PT exercise/foam roll routine short because I was freezing and needed to get in a hot shower ASAP! I’m super happy with my tempo miles, though. I guess I would’ve liked a little more consistency rather than a 21 second spread between my fastest and slowest miles, but I’m glad I was able to knock out four consecutive miles at paces that would notch me my sub-2:00 half…assuming I could hold them for another 9.1 miles, that is!

Tuesday, February 26: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
I forgot how long Tuesday’s upper body workout was. I should’ve remembered, since it really stuck me with how much longer it took me to finish it than expected the first time around, but I didn’t 😦 I had to skip the third part of the workout (21-15-9 of wall balls + v-ups) because I had run out of time. Alas 😦

As I mentioned earlier in this post, we had graduation on Tuesday at dance, which meant we ran the routine into the ground during class. I kept making little mistakes on the choreography over the past few weeks, so I appreciated the opportunity to clean that all up before the performance. I still made mistakes during graduation, of course, but they didn’t look nearly as bad as I feared, so that’s good!

Wednesday, February 27: 5 miles (with 8×400 w/ 200 rest) in 48:27 for a 9:41 pace
I could’ve done this run outside, based on the sidewalks, but I really wanted to make sure I hit all my intervals. The treadmill seemed like the best option for that. I was surprised by how quickly this run went by. Maybe I’m getting used to the ‘mill?! Gross. Anyway, this workout went great. I think I’ve found my sweet spot for interval recovery, and that’s helping these interval runs go a lot better. I did my 400s mostly at a 12.0 km/h pace, which is about an 8:06 pace, with my recovery at 8.7 km/h (5.4 mph, 11:04). You can’t punch specific speeds into the treadmills at my gym (annoying), so the only way to get between speeds is to click all the way up or all the way down. However, the treadmill does remember the last pace you used, so you can jump instantly from your current pace to your previous pace if you so choose. I was running all my on intervals at a 12.0 pace, but for whatever reason, the treadmill INSISTED on marking my previous pace at 12.1, not 12.0. It’s a pretty minor difference (12.1 is 7.5 mph, which is 8:00 instead of 8:06), but I wanted to run my on intervals at just under 8:00/mile, not at 8:00/mile. Because of that, I manually adjusted my pace on my first six intervals, until I realized I was wasting about 60 of my 400 on meters just getting up to speed. That didn’t seem like a good use of my limited working periods, so I threw in the towel and did the last two at 12.1 instead of 12.0.

Thursday, February 28: Strength training – legs (AM) + 5 miles in 56:24 for an 11:16 pace (PM)
I had to cut my strength training workout short again, completely skipping the kettlebell swings and box jumps at the end. That certainly wasn’t my goal, but today’s workout was a long one (4×10 of everything), so it took me way longer than I anticipated to get through the bulk of my workout.

I did five easy miles after work, and managed to take them much easier than normal. I wasn’t particularly interested in going out for another run, and I wasn’t feeling 100 percent either, so it was pretty easy to not try on this run. I wore my warmest tights, but I still felt cold on this run. Stupid winter.

Friday, March 1: Rest

Saturday, March 2: 10 miles in 1:47:19 for a 10:44 pace
I’m starting to suspect my Garmin doesn’t like Saturday morning long runs. I was a whopping .25 miles into my run when it logged my first lap o.O. I didn’t have my watch set on manual lap, so I couldn’t have hit anything to make it lap at .25 miles instead of 1 mile, and it alerted me every time I hit a real mile, too, so I don’t know what was going on. For the rest of my run, I got two notifications per mile: one at the mile itself, and one at the mile.25, when my watch lapped itself. It was so bizarre. Anyway, aside from my ongoing technical difficulties, this was a pretty good run. I’m happy with my pace and effort. The wind situation was annoying: I had the wind at my back for the first quarter of the run, in my face for the second quarter, at my back for the third quarter, and then in my face for the last quarter. I’ve also discovered that it seems to be these long runs that give me the most foot problems. Last week and this week I started to feel discomfort about seven or so miles into my run, and my foot was tender for the rest of the day. That seems to only happen when I go long, since I’m not dealing with these issues during the rest of the week.
 

Thursday Things

1. I’ve learned something important about myself over the past few weeks: there is a zero percent chance I will make a career change into event planning.

Through a variety of circumstances (shifting roles at work, agreeing to responsibilities without fully realizing what they would entail, among others), I’ve found myself at the helm of not one, not two, but THREE different events. I have very quickly learned that I hate–HATE–everything involved in the event planning process. I hate the research required, I hate the endless phone calls and emails with prospective vendors, I hate the endless phone calls and emails with hired vendors, I hate being the middle man between the people paying and the people who need to be paid, I hate the feeling that the success or failure of the event rests entirely on my shoulders: I hate all of it.

This, honestly, has come as an enormous surprise to me, because prior to being in the thick of event planning, I thought it sounded like a really cool and fun way to spend your time. I enjoy project management–having a gigantic task that needs to be completed and breaking it down into little, consecutive steps with deadlines that add up to completing the entire task–so it seemed like event planning would be right up my alley. I’ve even assisted with events before! I’ve been involved with race organizing before and generally enjoyed that, so how much different could event planning be?

I suppose event planning really isn’t that different, but what I didn’t realize with my involvement in race organizing was just how minor my involvement actually was. There is a BIG difference between working packet pick-up or race day information tables and being the person who makes those things happen: the person who has to find the venue, who has to schedule times for it to happen, who has to make sure the venue checks off all the necessary boxes (location, ease of access, convenience, etc.), who has to organize all the things that will be in the packet to begin with, etc. I, fortunately, have not had to plan any events on the scale of a race, but even the tiny events I have had to organize have been TOO MUCH.

I also now genuinely admire people who do enjoy event planning and make a living out of it. You’re all heroes in my mind, because no sum of money could make me ever want to do this full time. Or part time. Or on an as-needed basis. Or at all.

(As an aside, it boggles my mind how bad some vendors are about responding to inquiries. Like, you realize I’m trying to throw hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars at you, right? I shouldn’t have to follow up via phone AND email multiple times to get an answer out of you as to whether or not you can provide your services for my event, especially when two of the events I’ve needed to plan have been during decidedly off-season times. If I were a vendor and someone reached out to me with interest in using my services during the off-season, I’d be falling over myself to get their business locked in as soon as possible.)

2. Another thing I’ve learned about myself recently: I do not have a future as webinar leader.

I led some training at work last week and earlier this week, all of which took place virtually. I’ve never had trouble with public speaking, so I figured this would all be fine. I don’t actively seek out opportunities to get in front of a bunch of people to give speeches, I suppose, but a situation arises that requires me to address a group, I generally don’t have any issues with it.

Until I had to lead these webinars! Holy cow! I’ve been a nervous wreck for all of them! I think it’s because there are so many more things that could go wrong with a webinar. What if my internet flakes out? What if my phone connection is static-y? What if people can’t see my screen? What if I click the wrong button and break everything?

And then, of course, there’s also the issue of the complete lack of feedback you get during a webinar. I have all the trainees muted while I’m going through my spiel so they can’t interrupt me, and we haven’t used video conferencing during any of the sessions, so I don’t get any audio OR visual feedback on how well my training’s going. Is anyone paying attention? Are they getting anything out of it? Do they think it’s funny that I used Parks and Rec characters for my examples? I have no idea! And it makes me so uncomfortable!

Too bad my annual review isn’t for another 11 months, because I’m going to have a LOT of things to tell my manager that I learned about myself and my working preferences this year!

3. Mark it down: February 26 was the first day I heard a cardinal singing in 2019. Spring, despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary, must be on its way!

cardinal

^ almost certainly not the cardinal I heard singing, but a cardinal nevertheless.

Last year I heard my first cardinal song on February 18, so it looks like the birds are more or less on the same schedule as last year! I’ve also seen some daffodils popping up in the first spot I noticed them last year, which is a bit more surprising. I’d think the weather would have more of an impact on them, but apparently not. Only 11 more days until we get to see the sun in the evening again! Probably a lot more than 11 more days until it’s warm enough to matter, though.

Chi Town Half Marathon Training Week 6

Sunday, February 17: 55 minutes cross training (bike)
My heel was GROUCHY Sunday, courtesy of my long run the day before, so I was happy to do something low impact for a change. I put in a lot more effort on this cross training session than I did the week before, so it felt like a lot less of a waste of time. My heel hurt the whole time, though, which was a bother.

Monday, February 18: Strength training – legs (AM) + 5 miles in 54:39 for a 10:56 pace (PM)
I finished my 16 week marathon training strength training schedule last Thursday, so I started back on Week 1 (of that schedule) Monday morning. This really has nothing to do with the strength training itself, but I think I finally figured out a way an efficient way to keeping track of where I am weights-wise. It saved me a lot of time to have all that information at my fingertips instead of digging through my old workouts to find it, so that was nice. The workout itself went well, too 🙂

I did five easy miles on the treadmill after work. As much as I prefer to run outside, I do appreciate that the treadmill keeps me honest in the pace department. It’s also taking me for.ev.er. to get through my current book, so I’m happy to have a little extra reading-while-exercising time.

Tuesday, February 19: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
This was the exact same upper body routine I did last week, and boy, it’s a doozy when I use appropriately heavy weights! Ha. That being said, last week in dance I noticed some pretty nice definition in my arms for the first time, uh, ever? So I guess the work is worth it 😛

We started putting everything together for graduation next week (this week–today–by the time this post goes up). It looks like the class has whittled down to the people who are going to stick it out all the way through, so we were able to get things set up a bit, which was nice.

Wednesday, February 20: 4.99 miles in 50:00 for a 10:01 pace
I did a Hal Higdon tempo run on Wednesday, and it went SO much better than my last one. I started at an 11:04 pace and increased my pace by roughly 30 seconds/mile (however close to 30 seconds the treadmill could accommodate) every 5:00, peaking at a 9:02 pace that I held for 10:00. I felt strong from start to finish, and my only disappointment with this run is that I couldn’t manage to squeak in an additional .01 miles before my 50 minutes were up to finish on a perfect 5.0 miles 😛

Thursday, February 21: 50 minutes cross training (strength training – legs + 21 minutes bike)
I had to be in the suburbs Thursday afternoon, and there was no way I was going to be able to go to the gym after that. I rolled my strength training into my scheduled cross training workout for the day to get up to 50 total minutes of cross training, even though I’d prefer my cross training to be 50 minutes of cardio cross training, with strength training on top of that. Whatever. This was better than nothing. The inside of my left arm started bothering me on Wednesday, and it was pretty painful today, too, especially when I extended my arm. I’m wondering if it’s some sort of tendonitis? (Well, really I’m wondering if it’s some sort of blood clot and/or tumor that’s going to kill me by the end of the month, but that’s my general assumption with any pain. Hooray health anxiety.)

Friday, February 22: Rest

Saturday, February 23: 9.01 miles in 1:35:26(ish) for a 10:36(ish) pace
My Garmin should count its lucky stars that it didn’t experience a slow and painful death by drowning in Lake Michigan after this run. I’ve had an on-and-off issue with my Garmin this winter where I am 100 percent convinced I have either started or stopped my watch–100 percent convinced because I hear it beep and feel it vibrate–only to discover, when attempting to do the opposite action the next time it’s necessitated (stopping it if it’s started, or starting if it it’s stopped) that what I thought happened had, indeed, not happened, screwing up my stats and making me want to pull my hair out. This happened twice on my run itself: my watch didn’t start when I started running, and my watch also didn’t stop when I thought I stopped it about three miles in when I stopped to pull my Buff off my head and rearrange my hat to accommodate my ponytail.

AND THEN, on top of all of those shenanigans (which, yes, could be remedied by turning on auto-stop, but I don’t trust my Garmin as far as I can throw it, so I’m skeptical about auto-stop’s likelihood of working, to say the least), my watch refused to sync my run to Garmin Connect–it was happy to sync my steps and heart rate data, but not the run itself. AND THEN when I went to manually add it to Garmin Connect, my watch only had my splits for miles 1-5. COOL. What a useless piece of junk.

Anyway, aside from my manifold technology woes, this run went relatively well. I felt like I was going way slower than I wanted to at the beginning, but I had decided before I left that I wanted to do my last three miles at race pace to see if I could handle it (and hopefully assuage some of my concerns that running a sub-2:00 half is completely beyond my ability). I don’t have my exact splits for those last three miles, but I did a 9:2x, and 8:5x, and an 8:5x. The 9:2x was too slow, but the 8:5xs are plenty fast enough to get me a sub-2:00 half, so that was encouraging.

 

Thursday Things

1. I was all ready to kick off this post complaining about how I seem to have come down with a case of plantar fasciitis, but now I’m not so sure anymore.

I started to get heel pain in my right foot last Tuesday, but I told myself it was nothing (mostly because I had had heel pain in my left foot on Monday, and it disappeared overnight). But then the pain was still there Wednesday, and by Thursday, walking in shoes without decent cushioning had become quite unpleasant. Things were particularly bad in the morning, and it mostly felt fine when I’d run. All classic PF symptoms, right?

My foot really hurt Sunday, so I slept in my night splint from a previous bout with PF. I felt a lot better on Monday, but I figured that was due to not running on Sunday. But then I still felt fine this past Tuesday, even though I ran five miles on Monday?? Who knows. I may or may not have plantar fasciitis, I guess. But I did have a ton of heel pain last week, so I figure better safe than sorry, and I may as well treat it as if it is plantar fasciitis to be on the safe side.

Regardless of whether or not its my plantar fascia causing my foot woes, it’s a frustrating situation. I’m just trying to have a good training cycle 😦 Why do so many things seem to be conspiring to keep that from happening? I suppose this one is my fault–I decided to run more frequently than normal, after all–but it’s not like running four days per week is some groundbreaking idea. Hopefully it can hold up through this for another…six and a half weeks. Good thing this week is a cutback week.

2. I saw this (shown below) on a BuzzFeed roundup of “tweets about books only ’90s and ’00s teens will understand,” and WHAAAAAAAT!

WHAAAAAAAT!

That tweet is nearly a year old, so I guess I’ve been living under a rock, but this was MINDBLOWING INFORMATION to me. Hope Hicks was Jenny Humphrey?!

The whole roundup really spoke to me, honestly. I was a voracious YA lit reader in my teens, and I could not get enough of anything in the Gossip Girl wheelhouse: Gossip Girl, The It Girl, The A-List: I gobbled those books up. If I wasn’t reading one of those books, I was reading Sarah Dessen novels. Those books got me my driver’s license, I swear. I needed to get my permit driving hours in, so I went to the library–a 20 minute drive each way–at least once a week (though I think it was every four days?). I also cleaned up in the library’s summer reading game, in case you were wondering *brushes shoulder off*

It’d be so nice to have nothing but time to read again! I’m currently working my way through The Goldfinch (which is amazing so far), and it’s taking for.ev.er. I started it three weeks ago, have been reading it for 13 hours, and I’m STILL not even two-thirds of the way through O.O This is easily one of the longest books I’ve read in awhile. It usually takes me more like six to eight hours to get through a Libby book. They’re also usually in the 600 page range on Libby, while this one is 1100+. Good thing it’s a great read!

3. Speaking of the 2000s.

A couple weeks ago in dance, my teacher played a song I recognized from a previous session during our warmup. I went back through my old videos and found it in our routine from January/February 2013: six years worth of sessions ago.

I lose track of how long I’ve been in dance and often have a hard time wrapping my head around how long I’ve been in class. It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been six years. I don’t know that six years even sounds that long?

So for whatever reason, I translated that amount of time into the 2000s: 2003 to 2009. When I realized the same amount of time passed between 2003 and 2009 and 2013 and 2019, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it. February 2003 was the second semester of seventh grade. February of 2009 was second semester of my freshman year of college. That sounds like such a long time! That FEELS like such a long time! It felt like a long time then, it it stills feel like a long time to remember it now. But somehow February 2013-February 2019 doesn’t feel like nearly as much time?

I guess it’s because not quite as much has changed between 2013 and 2019 as it did between 2003 and 2009? I mean, I suppose if I think about it, a lot has–I have different friends, I live in a different apartment, I have a different job–but a LOT more changed between 2003 and 2009. The general day-to-day of my life (get up, go to work, exercise, go to bed, rinse, repeat) hasn’t really changed at all since 2013, even if some of the details have. There’s a pretty big difference between being 12, in seventh grade, living with your parents and being 18, in college, living on your own. I assume that’s part of why the past six years have felt like a second, while the six years between 2003 and 2009 felt like a lifetime. But it was still weird to realize that!

 

 

Chi Town Half Marathon Training Week 5

Sunday, February 10: 50 minutes cross training (bike)
I should’ve skipped this workout. My cold had me feeling lousy on Sunday, and I had zero energy all morning/early afternoon. I biked a whopping 7.01 miles in 50 minutes, which is what I normally do in more like 35 minutes. Then I went home and napped for an hour.

Monday, February 11: Strength training – legs (AM) + 4.5 miles (tempo) in 45:31 for a 10:07 pace
I did not sleep well Sunday night into Monday, and told myself if I was too tired to get out of bed when my alarm went off, I’d bail on my workout. I wasn’t tired at all, though, so to the gym I went. I was supposed to do squats, but people kept using the rack and I thought maybe it wouldn’t hurt me to dial back the intensity a little on these workouts while I’m still trying to kick this cold, so I did leg presses instead. Everything else was as written.

Wholly done with the treadmill, I decided to take my chances outside on Monday afternoon for my 4.5 mile tempo run. The sidewalks weren’t perfect, but most of the snow/slush was confined to where I did my warmup and cooldown miles, so I was able to get in a solid 2.5 tempo miles fairly uninterrupted by dangerous sidewalks. I was not able to get through my entire run uninterrupted by precipitation. It started to freezing rain while I was just over 2.5 miles into the run and continued for the next mile. That was not pleasant, especially while I ran into the wind and had it pelting my face. The sidewalks stayed fairly manageable, though, and I got in some great tempo miles: 9:14, 8:53 (!!), and then who knows what for the remaining half mile. It made me feel really good to hit those paces without the assistance of the treadmill.

Tuesday, February 12: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
I got on the bus Tuesday morning, settled into my seat, and realized I had left my bag with my shoes at home. Fail. I spent most of the trip to the gym trying to figure out how I was going to get in my workout without any proper footwear (I only had my snow boots). No one is ever in the group exercise room, and it has weights appropriate for what my schedule called for, so I figured I could go in there in my socks and no one would know. WELL. I got to the gym, and there was another girl in the locker room when I arrived. I almost always have the locker room to myself on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so that was out of the norm. When I left the locker room to go to the group exercise room, wouldn’t you know it: the new girl was in there. Of course. I wasn’t about to go to the main strength area in just my socks, though, especially since I knew the usual personal training clients I see every Tuesday and Thursday morning would be there (it’s one thing to work out in your socks in front of a girl who quite possibly will never show up at the gym again. It’s another thing to do it in front of the people you see literally every Tuesday and Thursday.), so in I plodded, hoping if I acted like I owned the place, my lack of appropriate footwear would go unnoticed. I still got in my workout, which I guess is what really counts.

Everyone showed up late to dance on Tuesday (including my teacher), so for a minute I wondered if I’d have class at all! Once people arrived, though, we continued working on the choreography we learned last week and moved forward with it a bit. It’s really fast! But also really fun 🙂

Wednesday, February 13: 5 miles (with 7×400 w/ 200 rest) in 49:44 for a 9:57 pace
I had a good treadmill run! What?! After a loooong day at work, I was ready to pound out some intervals to bring my stress level down. I did a warmup mile at 5.6 mph (10:43 pace), then did my seven 400s at 11.7 km/h (7.2 mph, 8:20 pace) with an 8.7 km/h (5.4 mph, 11:04 pace) for my 200 recoveries. Last time, I tried to do my intervals at an 8:00 pace, and I only made it through four of my six before having to slow down. I think the 8:20 pace is a bit more realistic, though I wouldn’t mind bumping it up to 8:13 next time to see if I can handle that, too. I cooled down at 5.6 as well for another 1.39 miles to end on a five full miles for the day.

Thursday, February 14: Strength training – legs (AM) + 3 miles in 32:19 for a 10:46 pace
Not much to note about this strength training workout. I thought I had squats on my schedule, and was happy to see I had deadlifts instead. I generally prefer deadlifts to squats, so that was a nice way to start my day.

I got to run outside again on Thursday! You know it’s been a rough training cycle when just being able to run outside is enough to fire you up, haha. I really wanted to keep this in the 11:xx range for a couple of reasons: 1) I want to take my “extra” run of the week (i.e.: one without a specific workout purpose (tempo, hills, interval, long run)) very, very easy and 2) my heel started bothering me on Tuesday and had gotten progressively worse as the week wore on. This wasn’t quite as slow as I hoped for, but my heart rate did stay way down for the duration of the run, so I guess that counts as easy.

Friday, February 15: Super rest
In the interest of kicking this heel pain, I decided to take it as easy as possible on Friday. I worked from home (to avoid walking on my commute), skipped my lunchtime walk (to avoid more walking), and wore slippers around the house all day for some extra support/cushioning.

Saturday, February 16: 10 miles in 1:49:20 for a 10:56 pace
This was a pretty uneventful long run. I left way later in the morning than I intended to (though, story of my winter running. Knowing it’s never going to get too warm to run comfortably outside keeps me from having much motivation to get out the door in the winter.), but I didn’t have anything going on Saturday anyway, so it wasn’t the end of the world. I’m much happier with this run from a pace perspective than I was with last week’s long run, so that’s good.

Thursday Things

Florida trip recap edition! I had hoped to get this up last week, but I was super busy after I got home, so you get to hear all about my time in the magical land of livable conditions in February today.

1. I went to Florida during the first weekend in February with a few friends. One of them had a conference in Orlando, and we all decided that was as good of an excuse as any to escape the frozen wasteland that is Chicago for a couple days. It took us a bit longer to get to Orlando than any of us anticipated: some of us were on one flight while the rest of us were on another, and both of our flights were delayed by over two hours due to mechanical issues on the planes that were supposed to take us to Orlando. But our planes got us there safe and sound very late Friday night/very early Saturday morning, and after…definitely not eight hours of sleep, we made our way to Universal!

I had never been to Universal before, but all of us are Harry Potter fans, so stopping by both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure was a must. Another must: getting breakfast at Voodoo Donuts before going into Universal Studios. Not feeling up to going to Voodoo Donuts in Eugene was easily the second-biggest disappointment I had when I was there for five hours last summer–the first being missing NCAAs at Hayward Field–so I was not about to miss my chance again!

voodoodonutsbutterfingerdonut

Once we got to Universal Studios, we made a beeline for Diagon Alley and immediately got in line for Escape From Gringotts, the main ride in Diagon Alley. It was the right level of scary and I, a non-roller coaster person, really enjoyed it!

universalstudiosdiagonalley

We wandered Diagon Alley for a bit, then got on the Hogwarts Express to travel to Hogsmeade inside Islands of Adventure.

islandsofadventurehogsmeade

Getting on the ride inside Hogwarts, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, was once again our top priority, so we headed straight to the castle to get in line. I loved this ride, too! Again, just the right level of scary to be thrilling without ramping up my anxiety (ahem, Space Mountain). I also LOVED waiting in line. The inside of the castle is just like in the movie! They even have talking pictures. Really. It was AWESOME.

islandsofadventurehogwarts

We were all hungry after getting off the ride, so we went over to Jurassic Park for lunch, but not before stopping for an all-important Butterbeer.

butterbeer

We also got pumpkin juice, which, like the rides, surprised me by how much I liked it. It’s made with apple juice and definitely tasted more apple-y than pumpkin-y, which was fine with me.

We spent a fair amount of time walking around Islands of Adventure. Everyone else went on the Jurassic Park River Adventure ride, but I didn’t want to risk getting wet so I hung back. We returned to Diagon Alley after that to get ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s, where they had sticky toffee pudding ice cream. WHAT. Sticky toffee pudding is my favorite dessert, so I obviously got that flavor. We got kicked out of the park soon after finishing our ice cream since it closed at 6 p.m. that night for a music festival, so we got dinner on the CityWalk and then returned to our hotels to rest up for Disney the next day.

2. On Sunday, we started our Disney adventures at Magic Kingdom!

magickingdomcinderellascastle

I haven’t been to Disney World (or Florida at all, for that matter) since spring break 2001, so needless to say, it’s been awhile. I was really excited to go back and experience it at 28 vs. 10!

We started at Splash Mountain, which I’m pretty sure scared me more at this age than it did when I was 10, ha. We got breakfast at a cart afterwards, and naturally, I spent my entire meal staring at a White Ibis hanging out nearby:

magickingdomibis

UGH, what a beautiful bird! Its pale blue eyes are just stunning. Seeing ibises was easily one of the highlights of Disney for me. #onbrand

We went to the Hall of Presidents, rode Pirates of the Caribbean, and climbed through the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse before heading to Tomorrowland for lunch. We wandered that side of Magic Kingdom for awhile, killing time before our Space Mountain FastPass+ time rolled around. We went on “it’s a small world”:

netherlandsitsasmallworld

and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which was…maybe not worth the 45 minute wait, in my not-preschooler opinion. Ha. But then we went on Space Mountain which I swear I liked at 10, but scared me so much at 28 that I had a hard time breathing when I got off from all the anxiety that dumb roller coaster provoked, so there’s that. It all balances out, I suppose 😛

We finished our rides for the day with Under the Sea, and then half the group went shopping while the rest of us went to dinner at The Plaza. Those of us at dinner left the park a little after 6 p.m. to head back to the Ticket and Transportation Center, because we had tickets to Ferrytale Fireworks: A Sparkling Dessert Cruise.

magickingdomfireworks

I had read a couple reviews on Disney blogs that suggested the cruise wasn’t worth the price of admission, and meh. Maybe that’s true. The smoke from the fireworks kept us from seeing the projections on Cinderella’s Castle, and the desserts were definitely deficient in the chocolate department in my opinion. I thought it was a cool experience regardless, and I’m glad we did it.

ferrytalefireworksdessertcruise

I made sure to get my money’s worth of dessert, don’t you worry. This was plate #1 of…three? I think? Eventually I stopped filling my plate and just shoveling what I wanted into my mouth. Ha. What half marathon goals? 😛

3. The last day of the trip, we went to Epcot. I loved Epcot when I was a kid, even though it’s more “adult-y” (though, story of my life, haha. Pretty sure I was born 45 years old.), and I’ve wanted to go back for years and experience it as an actual adult. Ironically, my favorite part of going to Epcot in 2001 was visiting the countries, and this time, it was visiting the Disney characters. Apparently I’m reverse maturing.

epcotitaly

We started the day at Soarin’, then had (what turned out to be) a totally unnecessary breakfast before hitting up a bunch of character spots, where we met Vanellope and Ralph from Wreck-It Ralph, Joy and Sadness from Inside Out, and Mickey, Goofy, and Minnie. (We also later met Donald in Mexico, Mulan in China, and Tigger randomly in the United Kingdom.)

Real talk: I 100 percent get that it sounds silly to meet characters as a grown up. I know that there’s a normal person inside that costume–a normal person who’s almost certainly younger than I am–and you’d think that would kind of ruin the magic of it all. But man, it was so fun! The people who play the characters go above and beyond to make you feel special, even if you’re a grownup with no kids in tow. I was wearing my shirt from the Life Time 5K in 2016, and when Minnie saw it, she “asked” if I’m a runner (by mimicking running and then pointing to my shirt). When I told Sadness I was SO excited to meet her (…which I was), she traced a single tear down her cheek. When I told Donald it was nice to meet him, he pretended to kiss my hand, like I was, you know, a Disney princess. I MEAN, COME ON. I know it sounds so stupid, but they just make you feel like it’s a big deal that they’re meeting you rather than the other way around, and I don’t think it matters how old you are: it feels awfully nice to be treated like that.

We went to Epcot during the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, which included a thrice-nightly Disney on Broadway concert. Obviously I was interested in that, so we ended up making a reservation at Rose & Crown in the United Kingdom for lunch that came with reserved tickets to the 6:45 p.m. Disney on Broadway show. Unbeknownst to us, the reservation was for a three course prix fixe lunch, so we ended up getting way more food than anticipated (hence why breakfast was unnecessary). It was all super delicious, though, especially the sticky toffee pudding I got (in non-ice cream form) for dessert. Nomz.

We wandered through the countries all afternoon. I saw my first anhinga in Italy:

epcotanhinga

All about adding birds to my life list.

Then at 6:45, it was time for our Disney on Broadway show, featuring Gavin Lee and Heidi Blickenstaff!

disneyonbroadwaygavinleeheidiblickenstaff

Both were in various Disney shows on Broadway in the past: Lee was Bert from Mary Poppins (though more recently he was Squidward in SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, which is why I wanted go. When SpongeBob performed its song for being a Tony nominee for Best Musical last year, the song performed was basically a Squidward solo. I figured if this guy was good enough to get to do that–especially when there had been a lot of hype about Ethan Slater, who played SpongeBob–he must be worth seeing live) and Blickenstaff was Ursula in The Little Mermaid. I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed by the show, mostly because it only lasted 30 minutes, but it was a really great 30 minutes of entertainment. Lee and Blickenstaff were both insanely good, and it was quite the treat to see them live (and from the second row, no less!).

epcotdisneyonbroadway

We got dinner in France, popped by The Seas to visit Nemo and Marlin:

epcotclownfish

before settling in to watch IllumiNations:

epcotilluminations

It was quite the show, and a great end to a fantastic trip to Florida 🙂

epcotball

Chi Town Half Marathon Training Week 4

Sunday, February 3: Magic Kingdom
Intended to run eight miles before spending the day at Magic Kingdom, opted to sleep in instead. Again. Felt guilty about it, especially after how much standing around I did at Magic Kingdom (vs. walking around at Universal). I logged 14,766 steps for 6.25 miles and 13/13 active hours, so again, not a rest day, but also not what I wanted. And also not equivalent to an eight mile long run.

Monday, February 4: 3 miles in 31:35 for a 10:31 pace + Epcot
I finally got a Florida run in, though once again, three miles is not eight miles. This was meant to replace the two miler I originally planned to do on Thursday of this week, and I suppose it did replace it (I ran two miles after all – and then another one), but that one mile doesn’t make up for the seven others that went un-run. I probably should’ve just cut my losses, accepted that that eight miler was never going to happen, and not tried to make up for it by running an extra mile on Monday, but whatever. It’s done, and I need to get over it. There wasn’t convenient running by my hotel (I ran on every available sidewalk in the area and got to 2.85 miles, but at that point I figured I may as well go a little farther to get a full three), so running eight miles would’ve been a headache anyway. After my run, I went to Epcot where I walked way more than in Magic Kingdom, logging an additional 20,459 steps and 8.49 miles.

Tuesday, February 5: Dance
I returned to Chicago a little before noon on Tuesday (boo), so I had plenty of time to get to dance that evening. To my great surprise and even greater delight, we started learning new choreography! It’s not new to me–I did this routine in the March/April 2014 session–but that’s fine. I’m still excited to do more than two routines this time around!

Wednesday, February 6: Strength training – legs (AM) + 6 miles (with five hill repeats) in 1:02:11(ish) for a 10:21 pace
After a polar vortex/vacation-induced week off a strength training, I hit the gym Wednesday morning to get back into the swing of things. I really like that the workouts I’m going through now were written for me to do during taper in marathon season. I’m lifting much heavier than I did during taper, but the workouts are shorter. It’s nice to be able to get in and out of the gym quickly!

I ran outside! In Chicago! In February! It’s a midwinter miracle! I returned to Chicago on Tuesday to dry-as-a-bone sidewalks, and since the ice storm we were promised Tuesday night into Wednesday never materialized, I got to run outside for the first time (in Chicago) since January 18. Yikes. It was so glorious and felt amazing, though it did remind me how much longer everything takes when I run outside. I have to get home and change, which always takes longer than it should (I inevitably convince myself that I can watch “just two short videos” on YouTube or read “just one” Washington Post article, and 30 minutes later, I find myself still on the couch, having watched way more than two videos or read way more than one article, and not one bit closer to getting out for my run.), and there’s the whole waiting-at-intersections piece as well. Speaking of which: at one intersection I apparently didn’t stop my watch, so when I tried to restart it when the light turned green, I actually stopped it, and basically everything was a disaster for a minute and 20 seconds. I took that time off my total Garmin time, because I couldn’t figure out exactly how long I was at the light and how long it took me to run the next block (with my watch stopped), so I took the whole 1:20 where it looks like I’m not moving on Garmin off my time. It took me somewhere between 1:02:11 and 1:03:31 to do this run.

Thursday, February 7: Strength training – upper body (AM) + 3.88 miles in 40:00 for a 10:19 pace (PM)
In my ongoing effort to not phone it in during training, I once again upped my weights for this workout, and it was tough. But tough in a good way. I know I’m not going to get stronger if I don’t challenge myself, but it sure would be a lot less sweaty to not do that, ha.

This run was not good. It was a Hal Higdon-style tempo run, and I hoped to work up to minimally a 9:30 pace (ideally more of a 9:20/9:15 pace) for the middle peak. I did work up to a 9:30 pace, but five minutes into those 10 minutes of peak pace, I had to stop to the treadmill and take a break. This is the third treadmill run where that’s happened. I think part of the problem has been that the heat has been blasting in the gym lately, which certainly doesn’t help matters. But regardless, it does not make me happy that the last two speed workouts I’ve done on the treadmill have both been interrupted by my inability to hang onto the pace I want to run. It makes me feel really discouraged about the likelihood that I’ll break 2:00 (…in just under two months, so I’m admittedly being a bit dramatic with so much time left), and it made for a very frustrating run.

Friday, February 8: Strength training – legs
No rest day for me this week 😦 I wanted to get in my third strength training workout for the week, so I went back to the gym Friday morning. I woke up with some pain that made me anxious (what else is new?), so I took it a little easier on this workout than I normally would have. Knowing I had a long run on the schedule for Saturday also made me want to keep things easy-ish.

Saturday, February 9: 9 miles in 1:39:18 for an 11:02 pace
Blah. I started to feel a cold coming on when I got off the plane Tuesday morning, and my nose was running pretty bad by Friday. Since my symptoms were all above the neck, I didn’t feel justified in skipping my long run, and I knew skipping it would make a particular organ above my neck (i.e.: my brain) feel REALLY bad, since that would mean bailing on two consecutive long runs. So I bundled up and headed out. I’m happy with how all my non-Lakefront Trail miles of this long run went, but for whatever reason, all my miles that were primarily on the trail were 11:00+ (even though there really wasn’t any wind to speak of Saturday morning), and that bugged me.

I’m a third of the way through training, and I’ll be honest: I’m not even remotely happy with how training has gone up to this point. I have yet to log a week where I do every single workout as written. I’ve only outright skipped one workout–two, if you count the rest day that never happened during this past week of training–but everything else has been all effed up from the way I wanted it to work out. I’ve moved runs around, I’ve chopped miles off some runs and added them onto others, I’ve done nine of 15 planned runs (nine of 14 actual runs) on the treadmill. I know a lot of this is out of my control. It’s not my fault no one in my neighborhood can be bothered to shovel their sidewalks. It’s not my fault the polar vortex came to visit.

I know sub-2:00 is an ambitious goal, and I know that plenty of things could conspire against me to keep it from happening on race day. What I did not want to even run the risk of having happen was that I’d cross the finish line with 2:xx:xx on my watch and think, “This wouldn’t have happened if I had trained better.” And while, yes, I’m getting my miles in, I’m definitely not getting them in in the manner or at the speed that I wanted to get them in.

I know I still have plenty of time to improve. I’ll get over this cold eventually (right?). It’ll stop being cold eventually (right?). But I feel like thing after thing after thing has gotten in the way of me having an effective first month of training, and I’m not happy about it. My confidence is shot, and that’s obviously not helping matters, either. I’m feeling negative about this whole sub-2:00 goal right now, and I really hope things turn around in the next four weeks.