Chicago Marathon Training Week 14

Sunday, September 2: 30 minutes cross training (circuit)
I was with family for most of Labor Day weekend and didn’t have access to a gym, nor did I have a spare 85 minutes on Sunday to do the workout I originally hoped to do. NTC’s Zero to 100 in a living room had to get to the job done. Even though it’s one of my favorites, I haven’t done that workout since January, so it was nice to go through it again.

Monday, September 3: 6.4 miles in 1:10:21 for an 11:00 pace
Another day of Labor Day weekend, another shortened workout. I thought I might try to get up early on Monday to do my eight miles before the heat got too bad, but sleeping in and spending time with family ended up taking priority over my run (which, grand scheme/big picture, is probably for the best). I got back to my apartment around noon on Monday and, after some unpacking from the weekend, decided to take my chances and head out for eight miles around 12:45. I knew storms were developing on the radar, so instead of doing an out-and-back like I would’ve normally done on Monday, I decided to do laps around a three-ish mile loop near my house instead. I got through the first lap without incident, but noticed ominous clouds gathering over the horizon as I started the second lap. When I was as far from home as I could be on this loop (of course), my phone buzzed, letting me know a Special Weather Statement had gone into effect. More often than not, AccuWeather sends me notifications about Special Weather Statements related to storms that are no where near me and not moving in my direction. I stopped to check this one, and sure enough, it was about strong thunderstorms in the area of Bolingbrook and Naperville. I was five-odd miles into my run, so I figured I’d do my best to get in another three. I started to hear more consistent rumbles of thunder, so I then thought I’d head home and run laps around my block until I got to eight miles. On the way home, though, I saw a bolt of lightning. It seemed increasingly unsafe to stay outside, so I called it a day when I got back to my apartment, even though I was 1.6 miles short of what I intended to run on Monday. I’m annoyed that I had to cut my run short–this was the first run all season I had to shorten–but if it had been a normal Monday and I had gone to work, I wouldn’t have gotten my run in at all, given the timing of the second round of storms that came through Monday afternoon, so I guess I’ll take what I can get.

Tuesday, September 4: Strength training – legs (AM) + dance (PM)
I skipped the gym on Monday, so my normal strength training schedule got pushed back a day. I’ve gotten so used to my usual gym routine that it was really weird to do legs on a Tuesday! Tuesday’s workout felt really effective and was a nice way to start the day.

I got my own first day of school with dance resuming on Tuesday. It’s already shaping up to be an interesting session. Only five people showed up on Tuesday (compared to the usual 10 or so), three of which are regulars, one of which is me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a class with only two new people. It’ll be interesting to see what the dropout rate looks like this time around! The combo we learned was completely new to me, so that was fun.

Wednesday, September 5: Strength training – upper body (AM) + 8 miles (2 mi WU, 8x.5 mi (4:40, 4:37, 4:37, 4:43, 4:50, 4:46, 4:53, 4:39) w/ .25 mi recovery) in 1:26:52 for a 10:52 pace
I had a tough-in-a-good-way workout Wednesday morning. My arms were already sore by the time I left the gym. It was a bit disorienting to be there on a Wednesday! I’ve never been on Wednesday morning before.

I had my last 800s workout of this marathon season Wednesday afternoon. I’m not entirely sure why I scheduled it for this week and not peak week (possibly because of the eight miles thing?), but I’m sure there was a reason for it when I put my schedule together months ago, so off I went. It was a balmy 91 degrees when I left the office, making Wednesday the toughest conditions I’ve had for 800s (though it was 77 by the time I got home, so there’s that). A boys cross country team from a local high school was at the park where I do my 800s when I arrived, so I got to run “with” them–and by “with” them I mean “tried my best to stay out of their way because they were all a million times faster than I am, even during speedwork.” Their coach apologized at one point for them not paying attention to their surroundings and occasionally crossing my path, but it really didn’t bother me. They got there first, after all. Plus, I could use the things he was telling his runners (“Swing your arms! Run tall! Kick your legs!”) as free coaching for myself 😛 As for my workout, I’m honestly not very happy with how it went :/ This was by far the least consistent I’ve been on my 800s (16 second spread), and even though my last one was one of my best, I was also pushing myself to give it everything I had, which isn’t really the point. The point is to be consistent across all eight 800s, and I’m not at all happy with my consistency–or rather, lack thereof. I also walked two and a half of my recovery laps instead of jogging them: another thing I didn’t want to do. Out of the five 800s workouts I did this season, I’m least happy with this one. Boo.

I averaged a 4:43 800 during this workout, and my overall 800 average for the season is 4:45 (heyyyyy). My fastest 800 was a 4:36, and my slowest was a 4:59. We’ll find out how much any of this 800s lore holds up in a month (with the caveat that I did not ever reach a full Yasso 800, nor were any of my “800s” actually perfect 800s (they were half miles, meaning they were actually 804.672s) so it’s possibly not fair to use my data to try to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of Yasso 800s). I’d be perfectly happy with a marathon finish time anywhere between 4:36 and 4:59 (well, maybe not perfectly happy with a 4:59, but happy enough), so here’s hoping.

Thursday, September 6: Strength training – legs (AM) + 60 minutes yoga (PM)
Dragging myself out of bed Thursday morning felt like an impossible feat, so unsurprisingly, going to the gym wasn’t exactly firing me up. The gym was SUPER packed when I got there. I couldn’t even do my deadlifts with a barbell because all the barbells were being used. First world problems.

I did this yoga Thursday afternoon:

I wanted to do something restorative-ish that wasn’t purely yin yoga, and this fit the bill. It was a good practice and kept me moving enough that I didn’t fall asleep, which…was not the case the last time I did yoga. Haha.

Friday, September 7: Rest

Saturday, September 8: 14 miles in 2:38:49 for an 11:21 pace
I don’t have a particularly specific measurement for Saturday’s run, because gmap-pedometer, which had been a highly useful tool all season, suddenly decided on Sunday night that it won’t allow me to say that I ran on the RUNNING portions of the Lakefront Trail, so I couldn’t measure my run from Saturday the way I normally do. So we’re just going to say it was exactly 14 miles, because that’s what it was supposed to be. But seriously, what the heck, Gmap??

Anyway, this run was INSANELY windy. The wind was coming from the east north east, so we had the delightful privilege of running more or less into the wind the entire run. Woo. 😐 It wasn’t winter bad (i.e.: it was possible to make forward movement), but it was a lot worse than I’m used to during summer training. The waves on Lake Michigan were bonkers! We got sprayed from the waves so many time during this run. The wind definitely made pacing hard, and I felt like I worked a lot harder to finish 14 miles than I would’ve liked to have felt.

 

So. Less than a month until race day. That makes things feel a lot more real, and I’ve got to be honest: I’m nervous. My self-doubt has been growing lately, which only compounds the situation. I’m nervous that I won’t be able to run a 4:45, and I’m nervous that since I’m doubting myself, my mind is going to hold me back more than my body. I know that having the right attitude and mentality going into a marathon makes an enormous difference when it comes to your race day experience. I hoped to read Deena Kastor’s new book about that topic prior to the Chicago Marathon, but it’s currently on a six week hold through Libby, so I doubt I’ll get my hands on it before race day (though if anyone has recommendations for other similar books, I’m all ears).

Part of what feeds into this nervousness is my training. Every other marathon season, I’ve trained somewhere in the neighborhood of a 10:30-10:50 pace on nearly all of my runs (and subsequently gone on to run anywhere between an 11:08- and 12:23-paced marathon). The idea of training slower to go faster on race day is totally foreign to me in the world of marathon training. I should note that that idea is not totally foreign to me in the world of every-other-distance racing: all of my best other-distance races have been faster than my average training run. But it just feels different, you know? I’ve been around the marathon block too many times to continue mistaking it for just a longer other-distance race. I really think marathoning is in a totally different category than running half marathons, 10 milers, 10Ks, 5Ks, etc. They are so long. Yes, you can fall apart in the later miles of any race, but I truly don’t think it compares. There’s a big difference between hitting the wall two-thirds of the way through a half marathon and having to drag yourself through the remaining three and a half miles and hitting the wall two-thirds of the way through a marathon and having to drag yourself through the remaining nine miles.

I think that’s what’s really getting to me: I haven’t come remotely close to running any substantial distance at my marathon pace. I’ve done it for the last five miles of a 16 miler, sure, but that’s only five miles at GMP. I can’t drop five miles at GMP during the marathon itself and expect to hit my goal time. I am extremely confident that, barring an unfortunate and unforeseen circumstance, I could cruise through the entire marathon at an 11:30 pace no problem. But at a 10:52 pace? I haven’t even run 10 miles at that pace during marathon season, never mind 26.2. What is supposed to lead me to believe I can do that for an entire marathon? I don’t have the advantage of bright-eye naivete I once had at this distance. I have five marathons worth of experience that show me that the last eight to 10 miles or so of a marathon can be really, really hard. I only have one marathon worth of experience where the opposite was true. Last year’s marathon was an absolute dream, but I started it off really, really slow, and finished in 5:04 (plus change). I want to run it NINETEEN MINUTES faster this year. That’s 44 seconds/mile faster across the entire race.

I know that you can surprise yourself on race day (I have plenty of times), and I know that a lot–A. LOT.–goes into to determining your success on race day. Training obviously plays a part of it, and from a volume and cross training standpoint, I trust that the schedule I’ve followed so far this year can get the job done. (From a pace standpoint, not so much.). But the weather makes a difference, your nutrition makes a difference, what you do in the week leading up to the race makes a difference (which is why I have naturally scheduled two evening events for the week of race day. That can’t possibly come back to bite me in the butt. *rolls eyes*), your mentality makes a difference (*significant look* Ahem, self). I also know that while race day is less than a month away, it’s just barely less than a month away, so I still have time to work on my mental game (because as we all know, getting less anxious and more zen is a walk in the park during taper 😛 ). This crisis of confidence stuff is no fun, and I would really like to put it to bed sooner rather than later.

On to peak week.

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Thursday Things

1. I spent some time in Lincoln Park (the actual park, not the general neighborhood) over Labor Day weekend, and man, what a lovely part of the city!

skylinelincolnpark

I’ve lived here for over six years, and this past weekend was only the second time ever–ever!–that I visited the South Pond. It was the first time I’ve been there during the summer, and my goodness, it was so nice. I suppose I was aware of the fact that the South Pond exists, but having never really been, it wasn’t at all aware of how beautiful it is, especially with all the wildflowers in bloom.

lincolnparksouthpondwaterfall

I saw a bunch of turtles and fish in the pond, but the biggest (literally) and most exciting surprise was when I was standing on one of the parts of the boardwalk that goes out over the water and a BEAVER swam out from under the boardwalk!

beaverlincolnparksouthpond

I had never seen a beaver in real life before, and I can’t say I ever expected to see one in Lincoln Park of all places!

I did not see any Black Crowned Night Herons: a situation I found very surprising in light of the fact that I’ve now encountered three Black Crowned Night Herons along the Riverwalk this summer. One of the educational signs along the boardwalk said that the boardwalk and island in the middle of the pond had been designed specifically with Black Crowned Night Herons and their migration patterns in mind. It also said they were endangered in Illinois. I wonder if that’s still true? I’ve seen three in the past month, plus I saw a juvenile a few years back (in Lincoln Park, incidentally, not all that far from the South Pond). I’ve seen a lot more Black Crowned Night Herons than, say, bluebirds (of which I’ve seen exactly zero in the city, ever), which makes it hard to believe they’re endangered, but I suppose Lincoln Park and the Chicago River are a pretty small slice of Illinois overall, so maybe my perception is warped.

2. I also went to the Lincoln Park Zoo to visit the birds who live there. Though I regularly attend ZooLights, I only remember two other occasions where I’ve visited the zoo for the purpose of seeing animals, so this was also a rare occurrence for me.

lincolnparkzoo

I enjoyed seeing all the birds (related: the sky is blue. Grass is green. *insert other obvious statement here* haha), but the Sunbittern really took the cake.

sunbittern

It ran across the walkway, flew up to the railing, and then put on an excellent demonstration of its frontal display. It stood on the railing like that for close to a minute, then flew up to a perch more tucked away from the people and continued frontal displaying. It was quite the sight!

All of this time in Lincoln Park, just like the time I spent in Millennium Park a few weekends ago, really made me think about how rarely I take advantage of what Chicago has to offer. I never go to Lincoln Park, or Millennium Park. I barely ever go to any of the museums in the city. I think part of that is just the nature of living somewhere vs. visiting somewhere: it’s much easier to hit up a city’s attractions when you’re visiting and your only obligation is to hit up a city’s attractions. Like I mentioned last week, I don’t exactly have a surplus of free time to spend hours at a park or museum. My birthday is in a couple of weeks, which means I’ll have the day off (my company allows you to take your birthday off without using your PTO – it’s its own separate category of time off). A fair number of museums are free for Illinois residents that day, so I think I might spend my time off exploring them.

3. Some idiot left the door to my fridge’s freezer open all day on Tuesday (that idiot being me, though I’m tempted to blame it on the house fly that had been buzzing around my kitchen all weekend). Sigh. I’m not actually sure how it happened. I know I closed the freezer door after getting my ice pack for my lunch Tuesday morning, but I must’ve closed it with too much enthusiasm or something, causing it to bounce back open…? I don’t know. All I know is that it was definitely open that evening, and that all of the food in it was definitely no longer frozen. The most devastating loss, by far, was the ice cream. It wasn’t even close to being empty! Alas. They say experience is the best teacher, and let me tell you, I have now been thoroughly educated on the importance of making sure the freezer is in fact closed before I leave the house.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 13

Sunday, August 26: 85 minutes cross training (20 minutes stability + 65 minutes bike)
In a wonderful turn of events, I was not tired on Sunday, which made this workout infinitely less miserable than I expected. I did NTC’s Runner Stability workout to start things off, then hopped on the bike for a little over an hour.

Monday, August 27: Strength training – legs (AM) + 60 minutes bike (PM)
I had a great strength training workout at the gym Monday morning. The workout felt super quick but also super effective, which is just how I like them. The bulk of Monday morning’s workout involved squats, and I’ve been surprised to discover how much I enjoy them, at least relatively speaking. They’re just the right amount of challenging–enough to make me feel like I’m working, but not too much to make me worry that I’m going to hurt myself. Win win.

I decided to reschedule Monday’s run due to the weather and do the indoor bike workout I planned for Thursday instead. I might have been able to run Monday afternoon, but it seemed silly to put myself through 10 miles outside in the middle of a heat advisory when I could wait until things were forecasted to cool off on Wednesday and Thursday. If the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday had been equally bad, I probably would’ve gone outside for the slowest 10 miles ever on Monday, but since it wasn’t, to the bike I went. I had a way more effective workout on the bike than I had on Sunday, so that was nice.

Tuesday, August 28: Strength training – upper body
In an unexpected turn of events, I was more sweaty when I got to the gym than I was when I finished at the gym, courtesy of Tuesday morning’s absolutely crushing humidity. That’s not to suggest that Tuesday’s workout was a breeze, however. This was similar to a workout I did several weeks ago that involved 20 reps of every exercise. It’s definitely a burner!

Wednesday, August 29: 7 miles in 1:14:40 for a 10:40 pace
All hail overcast skies, low dew points, and temperatures in the 70s! The accommodating conditions made this pace run much more attainable than it would’ve been at other times during the summer. I was a little quick, as this was a goal pace run and my goal pace for the marathon is–all together now!–10:52. That being said, this run was also a bit more challenging from a cardiovascular standpoint than most of my other runs this summer–I felt like I was actually working, compared to my 11:30 long runs where I feel like I’m cruising along at no effort–so it’s probably a good thing that this isn’t my goal pace for the marathon, if seven miles at that pace was enough to get my heart pumping harder than what I experience on my comfortable-pace runs. I definitely don’t think I could’ve done another 19.2 miles at that pace. I’m also not sure I could’ve done another 19.2 miles at a 10:52 pace, but we won’t worry about that too much right now 😛 The good news is I feel like I’m getting a slightly better grasp on what marathon pace effort feels like, so that’s nice.

Thursday, August 30: Strength training – legs (AM) + 10 miles (with seven hill repeats) in 1:51:42 for an 11:10 pace
Thursday morning’s workout was a super sweaty one. After getting through the strength-focused part of the workout, my strength/cardio combo finisher for the day was kettlebell swings and burpees: 21 reps of each, 15 reps of each, 9 reps of each. If you ever find yourself thinking that you are invincible in the fitness department since you can run long distances, I highly recommend attempting to do 21 burpees (after 21 kettlebell swings and a leg workout). It will humble you very quickly 🙂

I intended to do Thursday’s 10 miler on Monday, but given the choice between doing a 10 miler (with hills, no less) in 90+ degree heat and humidity or 70+ degree heat and low humidity, I think you’ll understand why I switched this run to Thursday. It was glorious in the weather department, but the first four miles in particular were a bit of a challenge. I run on back-to-back days maybe a handful of times per year, and my legs aren’t used to that much work in that little time. (Though I suppose it’s probably good from a marathon training running-on-tired-legs perspective.) I normally do my hill repeats about three miles into my run, but I decided to putter around a bit before I got to the hill and was instead five miles into my run by the time I started my repeats. Five miles (plus seven miles the day before, if you’re being generous) is hardly the 26 miles I’ll have put on my legs by the time I get to Mt. Roosevelt during the marathon, but I figure the more tired my legs are for repeats, the better I’ll mimic how Mt. Roosevelt will feel. The repeats went fine, and the end of my run went even better. I was downright comfortable (from a temperature perspective. From a muscle perspective, not so much.) when I finished! More of that, please.

Friday, August 31: Rest

Saturday, September 1: 18.12 miles in 3:23:23 for an 11:13 pace
The curse of the 18 miler continues! For the third 18 miler in a row, my run was interrupted by thunderstorms. It really is uncanny. The only times I’ve ever had it thunderstorm on a long run have been times I’m running 18 miles: in 2015, when I ran 18 miles in 2016 (while the rest of the group ran 16), and now this year. I never did 18 miles last year, because I was sick the week CARA ran 18 miles, and when I tried to do 18 miles on my own the following weekend, I crashed and burned HARD. Apparently in 2016, I requested the cancellation of all future 18 milers, and I would like to reiterate that request after this past Saturday.

Anyway, back to this year’s debacle of an 18 miler. Knowing there was a chance for storms on Saturday, I checked the radar as soon as I woke up and saw this:

18milerradar

I was absolutely, 100 percent convinced CARA would cancel the run. I mean, honestly, how could they not? Nothing about that radar implied that we’d be able to get Saturday’s run in before the storms. The shortest distance anyone had to run on Saturday was 18 miles. The fastest pace group CARA supports is a 7:30 (though it’s unlikely that anyone running in the 7:30 pace group would be doing beginner mileage, but for argument’s sake, let’s believe that there are 7:30 runners doing beginner mileage). If they ran at a perfect 7:30 pace and did not stop, it’d take them 2:15 to finish. The earliest groups start at 6 a.m. (though no one starts running when the run “starts,” at least in my experience. Announcements start at 6 a.m.). So, assuming the fastest group left on time, never stopped, and ran the shortest distance available for the week–AND was running on the lakefront, not in any of the western suburbs–the absolute earliest anyone would finish would be 8:15. That screenshot, as you can tell by the progress bar towards the bottom, shows the radar at 4:20. You don’t have to be a meteorologist to take a look at that image, know that it’s moving west, and guess that it is probably not going to take four hours to get from where it is in the picture to Lake Michigan.

But regardless, CARA decided to still have Saturday’s runs. While even I, at my turtle 11:30 pace, was able to get in just about 10 miles before I saw the first flash of lightning that morning–which admittedly is a decent amount of running–I still maintain that CARA never should’ve had an official run Saturday morning. Cancelling the run officially won’t necessarily stop people from showing up, but it would’ve given people an out. Yes, we’re all adults and can make our own decisions, but let’s be honest: how many people training for a marathon, who’ve made it this far into training, are going to willingly bail on the second longest run of the season when the training run hasn’t been cancelled? I KNEW it was going to storm. I KNEW I wouldn’t get 18 miles in without having to hide in a bathroom somewhere. I HATE being outside in thunderstorms. Even with all of that, I still showed up Saturday morning. I think the irresponsibility of having the run is compounded by the fact that, at least in the city, groups don’t usually run one-mile loops around the parking lot where they start to get in their miles. It’s very common to do an out-and-back, which, on a week like this, means that you could very well be up to NINE MILES away from where you started, along Lake Shore Drive (i.e.: not in the city, where you can easily duck into the nearest Starbucks and wait it out), with no easy means of getting back to the starting point other than on foot. I’m glad I got my 18 miles in on Saturday, but I still don’t think this run ever should’ve happened.

As for the run itself, things were fine for the first part. Since we knew storms were coming, we went out at a pretty decent clip in an effort to try to get as many miles in before we had to stop. I originally planned on fast finishing the last seven miles of the run, but I felt uncomfortable forging on ahead on my own, so I stuck with the group until we saw enough lightning that my group leader suggested we get to the next bath house as quickly as possible. I took off at a 10:00 pace, and met the rest of the group when they got there. We hung out at the bath house for a bit, tried to take off, only to see more lightning. I was maybe 200 feet from the bath house before I decided I was not willing to go on, and returned to the bath house. The rest of the group joined me shortly after, and after some phone consulting, decided we could try to make it to the next sheltered area. Once again, soon after getting out from under the bathhouse, lightning flashed over the lake. I had no interest in taking my sweet time getting to the next shelter, so I high tailed it to the building, logging a 9:03 mile. How’s that for a fast finish? 😛 There were times where I was running my 5K PR pace in my enthusiasm to get a roof over my head ASAP. I waited there for about 15 minutes, and once I was thoroughly convinced the lightning was gone, finished the last threeish miles of my run. The last five miles of my run did all end up being 10:45 or faster, so I ultimately did fast finish my run, even if it wasn’t under the circumstances I originally envisioned. And I never got hit by lightning, so that was nice. But let me tell you, it is going to take a LOT to convince me to do another 18 miler ever again! Haha.

 

I’m happy with how this week shaped up, particularly in light of how hot things started out. I will admit that I’m a bit nervous about the weather during this upcoming week as well (spoiler for next week: I’m already behind on mileage, thanks to Monday afternoon’s ceaseless parade of thunderstorms that kept me from the eight miles I had planned for the day), but hopefully everything will work out. Only this week to go before peak week!

Thursday Things

1. I realize I just complained about this (complained about it twice, actually) in my weekly training recap on Monday, but that’s not going to stop me from complaining about it again: I am so. tired. (literally) of the sleeping problems that have plagued me for the past month.

I’ve never been particularly great at going to bed at x time and waking up at y time without waking up sometime in the middle, but the past month or so has been WAY beyond what I’m used to. I would guess in an average week, I probably wake up during the middle of the night maybe four days out of seven. I don’t know why I wake up, but I usually fall back asleep within fiveish minutes. This past month, by contrast, has been a (metaphorical) nightmare. I’ll wake up sometime in the middle of the night, again for reasons I don’t know, but instead of falling back asleep, I’ll lay there for an hour, hour and a half, two hours, sometimes for the rest of the night, getting angrier and angrier and never falling back asleep. To say that this has been a major source of frustration for me would be an ENORMOUS understatement.

I’m sure this would be frustrating regardless of my morning circumstances, but it’s particularly frustrating because it’s not like I can just sleep in an extra two hours to make up for the sleep I miss between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. I still have to drag myself out of bed to go to work, or to do my Saturday morning long run, or to go to church. I can kind of handle it on weekends, because at least I have the option to nap on Saturday and Sunday, but on weekdays it’s just brutal. I have a short fuse at work all day and spend most of my eight hours resenting the fact that I have to be there, which is not exactly great for fostering a good attitude about my job (a job I do, generally, enjoy).

I don’t know why this has started to be such a problem lately. I’ve had one-night encounters with insomnia on a handful of occasions since I started college 10 years ago, but I’m almost positive I’ve eclipsed my count from the previous 10 years in the past month alone. It’s gone from being a once-in-a-blue-moon sort of situation to a two-to-three-nights-per-week sort of situation and I am OVER IT. I’m especially over it because I don’t understand why it’s happening. I haven’t changed my diet, daily habits, or getting ready for bed routine. I got new sheets right around when this started happening, so maybe that’s part of the problem? It doesn’t seem like sheets should have THAT dramatic of an impact on my ability to sleep. This is hardly the first time in my life I’ve switched sheets, after all, and I’ve never battled insomnia as a result of new bedding in the past. Whatever it is, I hope it goes away soon.

2. On a related note, I am so ready for the upcoming three day weekend. I’ve been desperate for some time off, particularly time off that doesn’t require me taking PTO (because that obviously happens all the time, where I’m just given free days off of work with no consequence whatsoever. /sarcasm), and I’ve been looking forward to Labor Day for months. Of course, I still have way too much to do this weekend, but at least I’ll have one more day to do it.

My therapist asked me on Tuesday if she thought I had enough time to relax each day, and I, without even having to think about it, said, “No, not at all.” Obviously marathon season, particularly this time of marathon season, makes that worse–having to devote between one and three+ hours to just to the action of exercise every day, never mind all of the exercise-adjacent things that come along with that (stretching, foam rolling, showering, etc.) doesn’t do much to increase one’s available free time. But even when it’s not marathon season and I’m just doing closer to the normal, AHA-recommended 30 minutes per day five days per week sort of thing, my available time to relax per day is still a joke. I’m lucky to have two free hours per weeknight on those days, and right now, during the bulk of marathon season? Forget it. I’m happy to get 30 free minutes per weeknight. And that “free time” is less “sit on the couch and do nothing” time so much as it is “make/eat dinner, do dinner dishes, get everything in order for tomorrow, and THEN sit on the couch and do nothing” time. Having no free time on weeknights obviously means everything that needs to get done–cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.–gets shoved to the weekends, along with any socializing at all, so there goes my available free time to relax on weekends to. And I don’t see any way around this, other than to quit my job or quit exercising, neither of which is a particularly viable option.

I realize my situation is not at all unique, and, honestly, not even all that new for me. I’ve been in this boat since I graduated from college. And I realize that however limited I think my free time is is NOTHING compared to what anyone raising a family deals with. I guess the grind is just wearing on me more than usual these days, and I feel like whining about it.

3. And to conclude today’s post, I present to you OneRepublic’s newest music video, in which my brother plays the most minor of roles:

Around the 2:00 mark where you see the whole crowd? He’s in that crowd. Somewhere. Even he doesn’t seem to know exactly where, but he’s in it. He was in New York last month, and I saw OneRepublic put out a call on Facebook for extras in their music video that would be filming in New York the next day. I sent it on to him, he emailed the address in the Facebook post, and voila. He got to be in a music video. I told him if he got his SAG card from this that I expected to be the first person he thanked if he were to win an award someday, but I’m guessing, “One of hundreds of people with their arms in the air for approximately four seconds of a music video,” probably doesn’t cut it 😛

Chicago Marathon Training Week 12

Sunday, August 19: Rest
I went to a wedding in the suburbs on Saturday and spent the night out there. While I certainly had time to go to the gym when I got back to the city on Sunday, what I did not have was a desire to go to the gym, especially since so much of my weekend free time went to the wedding (which is not a complaint, just a statement. The couple are two of my favorite people, and I had been looking forward to their wedding for weeks.) In anticipation of this, I actually did the workout I had scheduled for this Sunday the Sunday before. I had originally planned a rest day for the Sunday of Week 11 because I thought I’d be out of town, or if I wasn’t out of town, that I’d have dance rehearsal. I turned out to be in town and not have dance that Sunday, so I did my August 19 workout on August 12 and took my August 12 rest day on August 19 instead.

Monday, August 20: Strength training – legs (AM) + 7 miles in 1:16:03 for a 10:52 pace
I was pleasantly surprised to find the squat rack empty Monday morning. I had barbell squats on my workout plan for the day and worried I’d have to be brave and work in with someone else to get them done. Hooray for not having to talk to strangers! Haha. Monday was the first time I used additional weight on the barbell during my squats. It was comfortably hard from a weight perspective, but the plates for the barbell at the squat rack really mess with my head. They are TINY–even the 25 lb plates, which I didn’t use, are only about six or eight inches in diameter, compared to the plates for the deadlift barbell, which are all closer to 14 inches in diameter regardless of their weight–so it looks a lot lighter than it is.

I don’t know what my deal was on Monday afternoon’s run. I went way faster than I intended or realized, which was particularly surprising given that the weather wasn’t all that friendly. It was quite windy by the lake, it rained for 10 minutes or so, and then it got humid and sunny. I guess I’ll take it.

Tuesday, August 21: Strength training – upper body
Wonder of wonders, the trainer didn’t steal all of the dumbbells for his clients on Tuesday! And I was even emotionally prepared for it! Although it wouldn’t have mattered that much anyway. I was struggling to lift anything heavy on Tuesday and ended up having to use lighter weights than I had hoped to use in order to maintain my form.

No dance this week – this is week one of our summer two week break. Yay for free time on Tuesday afternoons!

Wednesday, August 22: 7.25 miles (2 mi WU, 7x.5 mi (4:44, 4:51, 4:50, 4:44, 4:49, 4:51, 4:43) w/ .25 mi recovery) in 1:17:52 for a 10:44 pace
I am unnecessarily disappointed with this workout. The weather was PHENOMENAL on Wednesday–easily some of the best weather I’ve run in all season–and with a reduced fitness workload this week due to cutback week, I was fairly confident I was going to destroy these 800s, especially in light of how I did three weeks earlier in far more humid conditions. Turning in six of seven 800s at a slower pace than all but one of my 800s from three weeks ago was definitely a bummer. I’m happy with the effort I put in, I’m happy that I was fairly consistent in my times, and I’m happy that I felt good during the workout. I just wish I had been able to be a bit quicker. I was faster on all of these than I was on any of my 800s in Week 6, though, so that’s at least a little encouraging. Currently averaging 4:47 across all my 800s (though I continue to not be sure that you’re supposed to take the average of all your 800s to predict your marathon time. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to, though 😛 )

Thursday, August 23: Strength training – legs (AM) + 55 minutes yoga (PM)
I’ve been doing this super fun new thing during the summer where I wake up in the middle of the night for unexplained reasons and can’t fall back asleep no matter how hard I try. It’s the best and definitely not annoying or frustrating or setting me up for a bad mood at work at all. Thursday morning was one of those days, where I got to wake up at 3:30 and never fall back asleep! Yay! So you can imagine how TOTALLY PUMPED I was to go to the gym Thursday morning!

😐

I accidentally PRed my deadlift on Thursday because I forgot that I was using dumbbells for my lightest deadlift weight and then moving onto the barbell as I increased the weight. I guess that was the advantage of being sleep deprived. I only PRed it by five pounds, but a PR is a PR, I suppose–and, more important, I discovered that the 2.5 lb plates fit on the barbell I use for deadlifts, which I didn’t realize was the case. So there’s that.

My back had been bothering me a bit since Tuesday, so I did this yoga Thursday afternoon:

It was delightful, especially the part where I accidentally asleep towards the end. Oops.

Friday, August 24: Rest

Saturday, August 25: 13.96 miles in 2:38:37 for an 11:22 pace
We’re just going to go ahead and call that 14 miles, for the record. I was SO. TIRED. on Saturday’s run. I didn’t go to bed on time (story of my life) and didn’t sleep well on top of that, so my alarm went off WAY too early as far as I was concerned. There were even storms for a brief moment on Saturday, but tragically they passed by the time my run started, so no extra sleep for me 😦 All things considered, the run went well. I woke up a little as the run went on, but not even half as much as I expected to. At one point I threatened to curl up next to a water stop to take a nap and wait for my group to come back on the return trip, when I would join them for the rest of the run 😛 I didn’t hydrate close to enough on Friday and expected this run to be a struggle, but I expected it to be a struggle more in the general sense, not in the I’m-so-exhausted-I-could-fall-asleep-mid-run sense. At least the weather hadn’t gotten too hot or sunny yet.

 

My tiredness on Saturday has been the story of this marathon season. I know I mentioned it in the early weeks of training, but I still haven’t gotten much better about getting to sleep, or, just as importantly, staying asleep. I’d like to think at least part of this is the weather’s fault. The air conditioning and my ceiling fan are both necessary to keep my room at a remotely comfortable temperature for sleeping, but also both make a holy racket that makes sleeping difficult. My hip soreness has made it difficult to find a position to sleep in on occasion, which exacerbates the situation. And then, of course, there’s the matter of my schedule, which necessitates that I drag myself out of bed before sunrise more mornings than not. Try as I might to go to bed early enough to make up for this, it’s not particularly easy, especially with these longer weekday runs that have a tendency to keep me busy until at least 7 p.m. I think my lack of rest, even during cutback week, is part of why I’m finding it harder to recover and dealing with some hip-related frustration. I know that this is just a season of marathon training, and that things will improve substantially in a little under a month when taper gets serious. But boy is it draining in the mean time.

Thursday Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

daylio

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

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

Chicago Marathon Training Week 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 17: Rest

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

 

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