Chicago marathon!

I know, I know. It happened a week ago, but better late than never, right?

As I was running my race, I realized that 26.2 miles is really far, and that there was no way that I’d be able to remember or register everything that was happening during those miles in order to write about it. Having that thought is essentially the only thing I remember thinking during the entire race. Oh, that and the PAIN.

I’m only sort of kidding.

Actually, everything about the day of the marathon could not have gone better, which I am tremendously thankful for.

Dan and I got into town on Friday night, where our friends Lindsay and Kevin promptly took us out to eat at a great pasta place I can’t remember the name of. I didn’t even take any pictures of my food. Helpful, I know. I was being really lame, so we watched a horribly depressing episode of Taxicab Confessions then went to bed.

Saturday morning, we woke up and Kevin took us to Bang Bang Pie Shop where we enjoyed the most amazing biscuits, homemade jams and butters, and candied bacon ever. Breakfast stuck with me so long that I wasn’t hungry for lunch until almost 3…which is miraculous. After breakfast, I met up with some acquaintances/friends who were nice enough to let me third-wheel it all Saturday.

Katie and I met at the national ACES conference [nerd alert] in Cleveland back in 2006 [ouch]. We kept up over the years though social media and both started to get really into running around the same time. She and her longtime friend Mike try to run a race together every year, and Chicago was 2013’s selection. They found a nice apartment for us to stay at on Airbnb and were kind enough to let me tag along to the expo, go to lunch, chill at the apartment and indulge my crazy nail art hobby, go to dinner with their friends, stay with them Saturday night, and navigate to the race start Sunday morning. As Katie said after, it was nice to be friends in real life for once!

We made our way to the expo with Katie’s fiancé, Lance, leading the way. He worked in Chicago for several years and had a better sense of the city than the rest of us, that’s for sure! The expo was huge…it was so overwhelming that I was too busy navigating the crowds to bother really taking any pictures. It was really well organized, there was just so much…humanity. Not paying attention to where they were going or what they were doing. We got our numbers/shirts, and I made a brief stop by the DetermiNation tent to pick up my Charity Village credentials and make an extra race bib. Then we got out of there!

My DetermiNation bib.

My DetermiNation bib.

After the expo, we grabbed some Chipotle and went back to the apartment to chill out. We had a 7:45 dinner reservation for, you guessed it, more pasta, but we didn’t get our seats until I don’t even know when. By the time we ate and paid, it was well after 10 and we were fading fast. We headed back to the apartment and got our race day stuff together, agreed on a 5 a.m. wakeup time, and went to bed. Actually, I stayed up a bit longer to finish my race day nails, then finally got into bed around midnight. I slept OK; I fell asleep pretty quickly, but woke up a lot throughout the night. The upstairs neighbors were playing their music a bit loudly, then I heard gunshots, then fireworks, then it was time to wake up! Despite my fitful sleep, I hopped out of bed and was ready to roll pretty quickly.

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Obligatory nail art picture (grasping celebratory post-marathon wine).

My favorite part of the morning was probably the 5 minutes of standing in the kitchen with Katie and Mike, silently choking down various combos of peanut butter, bread, and bananas and drinking our coffee. Even though we didn’t say anything, it was really nice to share that moment with other people after months of doing the exact same thing all by myself every Saturday morning.

After breakfast, we walked to the L and made our way to the race start with no problems. Security was stricter than any other race I’ve done; I kind of felt like I was at the airport. Your race number had to be showing constantly, and they went through everyone’s gear check bag before admitting runners into Grant Park. We checked our gear and had just enough time to take a few pictures and wait in line for the bathroom before we went to our respective corrals.

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Me, Katie, and Mike right after entering Grant Park.

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Chicago skyline, right before entering Grant Park.

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Ready to rock and roll!

We lined up in our corrals with approximately 1 billion other people, and before we knew it, we were crossing the starting line.

I know it’s hard to believe, but I really don’t remember a whole lot about running the race. There were so many people everywhere that I was just trying to concentrate on not getting stomped on or elbowed or tripping over anyone. I was mostly successful. The crowd support was overwhelming. There were tons of spectators and they were cheering so loudly, it was like being in a wind tunnel. I just tried to stay calm and relaxed to avoid getting caught up on the moment and going out too fast.

Around 3 miles in, I realized I needed to hit the bathroom again. The lines were crazy long, so I decided to wait until the next stop, at around 5 miles. At that point, the lines were still really long,  but I figured that I would be uncomfortable for a large portion of the race, and I might as well be as comfortable as possible for the earlier, easier miles. I also figured it’d be better to get it over with early in the race so I wouldn’t have to stop and then try to regain momentum later. Unfortunately, my pit stop cost me somewhere between 8 and 10 minutes because the lines were pretty long. Not ideal, but I’m glad that I did it instead of risking feeling sick later in the race. Luckily, that’s the only time I had to stop.

From that point on, I put on the cruise control and kind of zoned out, making it a point to look around and check out my surroundings every few minutes. I didn’t bother checking my watch too often, as my Garmin paces were all over the place and wildly inaccurate. I tried to take a few Honey Stinger chews every 3 miles and mixed Gatorade and water at each of the water stops, which were spaced out about every 1.5 miles or something. I’d walk for 30ish seconds to drink and eat a few chews, then resume running. That was my strategy for the whole race, and it worked really well; I never got a stomach ache or bonked.

Dan, Lindsay, Kevin and the rest of the crew were all waiting for me at mile 16, so my primary goal was to make it to that point looking and feeling strong. I was due for some more chews around then, but I didn’t want them to see me walking, so I held off. I never did see them, though they saw me and yelled. Dan said I was totally ‘in the zone,’ which must have been true for me to miss them. I didn’t want them to see me walk, even just for a fuel break, so that propelled me through mile 17.5. Once I realized I had likely missed them, I just put my head down and powered through. I kept repeating the phrase “controlled fall” in my head and made it a point to check my posture and run as relaxed as possible. We hadn’t discussed it beforehand, but I knew that my mom and our friend Ann would be at the finish; I just had a feeling that I’d see them. I focused on getting to mile 20, then from that point on reveled in the fact that each additional step would be a personal distance record for me.

Around 22 miles in, I definitely started to hurt. I didn’t hit the infamous WALL, but my hips and low back were aching and my calves started feeling a little crampy. I had to step off the course twice for about 20 or 30 seconds each to stretch a little. People always praise the Chicago course for being so flat and fast, but that also means that the exact same muscles are taking a serious pounding for all 26.2 miles of the race. It was a huge relief to shake out a little.

At no point did I ever, ever feel like I wouldn’t be able to finish. My ankle also felt great the entire time. After months of training, and several weeks of fretting over my ability to happily complete the race after missing some significant training runs because of my ankle issues, I felt oddly calm the entire time I was running. Once I crossed the starting line and began running, my brain shut off and I just went on auto pilot.

I took a slightly longer walking break at mile 24, probably about 2 minutes, then made a deal with myself that I would run the remainder of the race, and run I did! I got some kind of second wind and I’m pretty sure my legs were just numb after hours of pounding. It was a little frustrating, because the course got pretty narrow in certain parts and a lot of people were walking. Weaving around them was too much energy at that point, and I didn’t trust myself to not trip or lose my balance. I feel like I could have gained some valuable time had I not gotten stuck, but oh well.

Once I got around 1,000 or 800 meters away from the finish, I heard “GO, SALLIE, GO!!!!!!” Sure enough, it was my mom, screaming at the finish just like I knew she’d be. For context, there are thousands of people at the finish line, cheering, ringing cow bells, blasting music, etc. My mom has a…signature cheering voice that is capable of piercing through pretty much any other noise. Not only did I hear her, but I was able to zero in and find her and Ann in the crowd. After that, it was game over. I was so ready to be done, I tore up the “hill” (I think it was a bridge or on-ramp or something. I was super thankful for my Tower Grove Park hills at that point) and cruised across the finish line. Official finish time: 5:01:26.

I threw my hands up and let out a triumphant yell as I crossed the finish line. I miiiight have shed a few tears of joy as I hobbled through the finish chute and got my medal.

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Wahoo!

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Me with my new hardware and a giant smile.

The walk from the finishing area back to the gear check and park exit was brutal. It was about a mile or something and required descending some stairs. After running all that way, I managed to walk to the beer table, grab a cold one, and hobble off to the side of the fenced in area. I collapsed and enjoyed about half of my beer (after calling mom to tell her not to worry, I just needed to sit for a minute).

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The sweet taste of success.

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Bling bling.

Mom and Ann took me back to their hotel, where I took the hottest, most glorious shower of my life and passed out for a few hours. After I was back among the living, Lindsay and Dan joined forces to make an amazing celebratory dinner of Italian pot roast, horseradish mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, and homemade bread. There might have been a little (a lot) of wine and champagne, too. I fell asleep with a full belly, happy heart, and major sense of accomplishment.

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Pizza and beers at Piece, aka Heaven on Earth.

Getting out of bed the next day was another story…but I managed to fight my way through it and eat all of the pizza and beer!

Overall, I feel great about this experience. Running in memory of Kim and in honor of my grandma was so tremendously rewarding. Thinking of them and of all the people who donated to the American Cancer Society in support of this run was a huge source of comfort and motivation during my training, especially when I was having doubts about my ankle. I wish I hadn’t lost that time in the bathroom, because a time of 4:XX would have felt pretty darn good, but I really can’t complain. I didn’t bonk, my body held up, I didn’t doubt myself, and I was able to raise money for a great cause. I can definitely see myself running another marathon in the future, but for now, I’m just going to bask in the glow of what I’ve accomplished thus far.

I did it!

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Overwhelmed.

In so many ways!

First of all, I am completely overwhelmed by and thankful for everyone’s generosity. My fundraising goal for the American Cancer Society was $1,000, and you all helped me surpass that by…a lot. Thank you so much for believing in me and this cause enough to put money toward it. It means so much to me, and has really motivated me throughout this tough training cycle.

I didn’t realize this for the longest time, but apparently there was a spot for people to write a little message to go along with their donation? The ACS website has been a little wonky, and I only just found the section of the site where I can view those messages. I couldn’t have stumbled upon them at a better time! Your words of encouragement and motivation really hit the spot as I’ve been mentally preparing for my race next week. I guess I never found them before because I didn’t need them yet. It was great to see what everyone had to say, all in one place, at the same time. It was a real shot in the arm and it made feel all of the feelings.

I’m also overwhelmed by the thought of the task at hand. I haven’t had a good run since my 20-miler…three weeks ago. So taper madness has officially settled in. I also managed to come down with a cold/the worst case of allergies ever, which isn’t doing my body any favors. I went to the doctor to figure out what’s going on, and all he could say is “you keep all of your anger in your nose,” and “I don’t like your lymph nodes.” The good news is that I don’t have a fever and there isn’t anything rattling around in my chest, so he gave me a Z pack to be on the safe side.

I’m also frustrated that the orthotics company doesn’t have my insoles ready yet. There was some kind of mix-up and they won’t be ready until, you guessed, Friday. Yeah. So, given that I won’t have time to really test them out, it looks like I’ll be running (God willing) 26.2 miles with my janky ankle and foot taped up. That’s how I did my 20-miler, and it held up OK, but the way it changes my stride can aggravate my IT band a little. I had some trouble with during my 20, but I was able to work it out with some intense stretching. I had a deep tissue PT session last week and another early next week.

While I’m at it, I’ll also admit that I’m a little apprehensive about running a race with soooooo many people. I did the Eugene half marathon a few years ago, and that seemed big. That was about 8,000 people. Chicago will be about 45,000. I mean. Wow. That’s a lot, a lot of people! I’ve heard nothing but great things about how well everything is organized, so I’m sure it will all be fine, but it’s always a little nerve-wracking to navigate a huge sea of people when you’re not familiar with an area and you’re not entirely awake (given that it will be the crack of dawn when we show up).

Finally, the thing I’m really fretting over: HOW WILL I PAINT MY NAILS FOR RACE DAY? I always paint my nails before a race, and I try to do something unique and flashy. So far, I’m at a loss…my outfit (assuming the weather does what it’s supposed to, which, YAY, it looks like it will be ideal) is royal blue and lime green. So if you have any suggestions, fire away!

Taper!

Weeks 14 and 15 are done! Now it’s time to taper.

Going into Saturday’s 20-miler, I was feeling pretty discouraged. I missed two important long runs while my ankle was being sorted out (16 and 18 miles), so my longest run prior to this weekend was only 15 miles. That means I added 33.33333% to the distance of my longest run at that point. Kind of scary.

Let’s start with week 14, shall we?

Week 14

Monday: Walked 2.25 miles. I was pretty sore after the half marathon that Saturday; the hills did a number on my hips.
Tuesday: 5 miles @ 9:29. I varied the pace on the treadmill for this one, doing 0.2-0.3-mile pick-ups (8:49-9:05) every so often. I’ve done so much slogging to get through all of my mileage; it felt good to pick up the pace a little. Forgot what that felt like.
Wednesday: 2.07 elliptical; 4.88 bike. Didn’t want to push my ankle too much, so I threw in some cross training. I hated it.
Thursday: 9 miles @ 10:01. Finally, a decent run. No walking, my ankle felt good, and the weather was pleasant. My right IT band/hip flexor was super tight, which I think is a function of old shoes and my stride being a bit different from the taping for my ankle. Something to keep an eye on.
Friday: Rest.
Saturday: 15 @ 10:43. Got a late start on this one. Had a friend in town, and we stayed up too late. Couple that with the great weather, and I wasn’t in a rush to get out the door. My right IT band started locking up around 10 miles in. I stopped to buy a Gatorade and had a rough time starting back up because of the tightness. Took it to task with the foam roller after my run, and that helped out.
Sunday: Rest.

Total: 38ish miles; 6 hours, 39 minutes.

Overall, I felt pretty good about week 14. Despite missing some big runs in the previous weeks, I was able to hop back into training with minimal consequences. I’m not sure what’s going on with my IT band; it’s been a while since I had an adjustment at the chiropractor, and that usually helps. It’s on the list for next pay day.

Week 15

This was supposed to be my “peak week,” but my mileage was way lower than it should have been. I was mega wiped out on Monday, but I really should have gone running. On Tuesday, we learned that one of Dan’s aunts had passed away after having surgical complications. That obviously put a damper on the day and the rest of the week, which was really emotionally exhausting. The funeral was Friday, and we just came home and collapsed. At any rate, I did get some good running done, just not the ideal amount.

Monday: 2.28 walk. Nothing to report.
Tuesday: Rest.
Wednesday: 3 miles @ 9:39 in the morning; 7 miles @ 9:42 in the evening. Doing a double was the only way I was going to get 10 miles done midweek. Even though I had to break it into 2, it felt good to get double digits on a week day.
Thursday: Rest. Long day at work preparing to be off for the funeral on Friday; I also had to take Dan into the office extra early, then we had a concert to go to that night, so there was zero time for running. I did, however, pack my running stuff and take it to work, hilariously thinking I’d have time to get a few miles in on my lunch break or something. Not.
Friday: Rest. Went to the funeral and burial in the morning and didn’t get home until the afternoon. We were both worn out and just took it easy for the rest of the day. It was super dreary and raining, so whatever.
Saturday: 20.5 miles @ 10:58. Got this one DONE! Took a semi-new route to change things up.

I ran by Big River Running to pick up some Honey Stingers, then did a lap around Francis Park, ran Chippewa to Kingshighway, then down Arsenal and around Tower Grove Park and the Botanical Gardens (a few times), then down Morgan Ford to get home. I only had a doughnut for breakfast, which wasn’t even close to enough food. I was feeling rough around 10/11 miles in, then I crossed paths with a guy who is always at Tower Grove Park selling Gus’ soft pretzels at the Center Cross intersection. This lovely, toothless man not only sold me an amazing soft pretzel for a dollar; he also told me a bizarre story about being propositioned by an elderly woman who wanted to take him home. Yeah,. It was…interesting, but I was too busy inhaling my pretzel to be truly disturbed by what he was saying until later.

Had I not gotten that pretzel, I don’t think I would’ve been able to finish this run. It was touch-and-go for miles 12-14/15, then my food kicked in and I finished the last 5 strong. Again, my right hip flexor was being weird for like the first 10 miles, then I stopped in the park and really, really stretched it out. That seemed to work and it didn’t bother me for the last half of the run. I felt great at the end and could have kept going. Given how shaky the past few weeks of training have been, this was a great confidence booster.

Sunday: Rest. Definitely sore when I woke up this morning, but not too terrible. I took a salt bath and will be spending some quality time with my foam roller tonight.

Total: 33 miles, 6 hours, 24 minutes.

It’s officially taper time! My long runs for this and next week are 12 and 8 miles, respectively, then it’s race time! After so many months of planning for, talking about, and training for this race, it will finally be here!

 

Double dose: Weeks 6 & 7 recap

Sorry for the lack of updates! The past two weeks have been really busy at work and in life, and the last thing I felt like doing every day was writing about running…or anything, really.

Week 6 was pretty uneventful; I ditched on my long run for the week (7 miles). Maybe not my finest hour, but it did feel good to get some extra rest. I’m at the the point where both my body and mind are starting to fatigue from the grind of training and figuring out how to get everything done each week. It helps to just take my plan one day at a time, but my long runs are getting long enough now where I have to plan a bit more so I can get them done, be a responsible adult, and still have a life on the weekends.

Week 6

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: 3.5 on the treadmill
  • Wednesday: 5 on the ‘mill
  • Thursday: Easy 3
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Rest (should’ve done 7 miles)
  • Sunday: Rest

Totals: 11.5 miles in 1 hour, 48 minutes. Nothing worth writing home about. It was really hot all that week, and that definitely contributed to my lack of motivation.

Week 7

  • Monday: 3.3 @ 9:05 on the treadmill + strength work
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 1.25 walk on my lunch break + 6.3 tough miles after work (outside, 10:09 pace).
    I was really excited for this 6 miles at the beginning of the day, because the weather was great! By the time it came time to do it, I was not in the mood and really struggled for motivation to put on my gear and get out the door. To make matters worse, I had steak and broccoli for lunch and it was just NOT a good meal to eat before a “longer” run. My stomach was upset from mile 4 on, and I had to take a few walking breaks, which I hate.
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 2 mile walk to dinner and back
  • Saturday 13.1 miles @ 10:27
    Woke up Saturday morning feeling tired and not terribly excited to run, given that we celebrated Dan’s birthday the night before. The one thing that got me out of bed to meet up with my group was the great weather. It was fantastic. I felt pretty good once we started running, and I locked in with a group of 5 or 6 other people to get this run done. I had banana and a piece of toast for breakfast, plus an almond milk latte on the way there, fruit bites at 5.75 miles and another pack of bites at 10 miles. In the future, I’ll probably do my nutrition at 5 and 8 miles instead. The last 3 miles of this route were super hilly, and my legs were feeling it. I ran without any break until the 10-mile point, then took a few walk breaks over the last 3.1 (I think maybe 3 walk breaks in total). This is the longest run I’ve ever done! From here on, each long run will be a distance PR for me. Exciting stuff!
  • Sunday: All of the rest.
    I thought I would be more sore after Saturday’s run, but I didn’t feel too bad! My shins are a little tender (from all of the hills), and my hips are a bit tight, but nothing major.

Totals: 25.95 miles, 5 hours, 6 minutes

It’s time to kick off Week 8. I’m already feeling a little stressed out about it, because I a lot of work to do, my monthly freelance assignment to tackle, and friend/family obligations for my birthday. It will definitely be a balancing act trying to get it all done.

Week 4 training recap

The first month is done! Hooray! This is the first week where my motivation was really floundering. I just felt super wiped out…sleeping 9+ hours a night, praying for a nap, generally feeling out of whack. Not to get all TMI, but a lot of that probably had to do with this. I also think I should have stuck to my training plan for week 3 and done my cutback “long” run of 5 miles instead of the 8 I opted for. I’ll definitely go with the lower mileage next cutback week, regardless of how I feel. Those easy weeks are in there for a reason!

I only ran 3 days this week. Thanks to exhaustion, lack of motivation, and the holidays, one of my 3-milers just didn’t happen. I did get some good walking in, though.

Monday
Plan: Rest
Actual: 3.1 @ 9:26
This felt miserable. I could’ve sworn I was running sub 9’s, my legs were so dead and my breathing was so labored. I was in an area where GPS reception can be spotty, so I’m kinda wondering if my distance is right. That’s how hard this effort felt. It’s more likely that my legs were still toast from Saturday’s hilly 8. Later that evening, Dan and I also walked to and from the grocery store (1.58 miles).

Tuesday
Plan: 3
Actual: 1.75 mile walk in 30 minutes.
Hopped on the treadmill during my lunch break and got this done. We didn’t have our track speed work because of the holiday. I know I should have gotten my other 3-miler done, but Monday’s outing had me feeling really defeated and I was so exhausted. Opted to take it easy instead.

Wednesday
Plan: 4
Actual: Rest.
Again, so tired. I did come home and mow the lawn…that counts for something, right?

Thursday
Plan: 3
Actual: Freedom 4-miler race!

Up bright and early to head downtown for this 7 a.m. race. I got there around 6:30 and found a decent parking spot, then proceeded to wander around looking for my track club’s tent and gear check. No luck! I couldn’t find them anywhere, and I didn’t have time to walk back to the car to put my stuff away, so I ended up wasting $5 on bag check at the event. That was annoying, but not the race’s fault. I looked for my club after the race, too, and never did manage to find them!

The weather was pretty nice for this one, in the low 70s. It was a little humid, but not too bad. They had the fire trucks down town and a good emcee making announcements. The course wasn’t too hilly, mostly gently rolling. Just enough to give you some momentum along the course. We got to run along the riverfront and by the Arch, which was really cool. There was also a group of military guys running the race in cadence, doing the call and answer chants. I would recommend this race to anyone who wants to get downtown early for a good spot to watch the parade. If 4 miles isn’t your thing, they have a 1-mile walk/fun run, too.

The beginning of the race was pretty crowded; the route was narrow and there were about 2,000 people doing the 4-miler from what the announcer said. My Garmin matched up with the mile markers until the last mile. My official time was 4 miles in 35:50 for 8:57 miles, but I had 4.1 miles in 35:50 for 8:44 miles. My effort felt like the latter to me.  Still slower than I would like; I was definitely struggling halfway through the second mile, then found a second wind and finished really strong. I was passing people the entire time, which felt good. I’m not sure where my speed has gone; I feel like for how much I’m running, my times should be a bit lower than they’ve been. I don’t know if it’s just progressive overload or if I simply need to adjust my expectations. I’ll have to experiment further to figure this out.

Got in around 1.5 miles of walking cool down to round that out.

Cool dog tag medal from the race!

American flag shorts. Jealous?

Friday
Plan: Rest
Actual: Rest.
Again, should’ve done that 3-miler, but it just wasn’t happening. Spent the morning getting Dan home to work because he couldn’t connect to the internet to log in Friday morning (we stayed at a friend’s), then it was too hot to run outside, then friends came over.

Saturday
Plan: 9
Actual:
Sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep and a giant breakfast at Uncle Bill’s pancake house, followed my visiting family and amazing BBQ.

Sunday
Plan: XT
Actual: 8.6 miles @ 10:48

This was supposed to be my 9-miler, but I forgot part of the route or miscalculated the distance or something. I got a late start (9 a.m.), and it was so hot and miserable by the time I got home that I didn’t feel like running around the block X number of times to get that last 0.4. I learned my lesson and won’t put off my long run like that again! Yuck.

Other than the heat, this wasn’t too bad. My legs felt pretty good. Because it was so hot, I let myself take a 3-minute walk break every 3 miles. That helped a lot, mentally and physically. My ankle was really swollen and sore when I was done (I have a PT appt. on Thursday that will hopefully help sort that out), but it did feel a lot better after lots of ice, elevation, and torture with the foam roller.

Total: 20.53 miles, 4 hours 25 minutes

I didn’t get any yoga or strength training in last week, so that’s the goal for this week. Here’s to week 5!

Week 2 training recap

Another week down! It feels good to mark the day and workouts off my plan as they go by. This week was a little crazier (somehow), and I didn’t manage to wake up and run before work at all. That meant more treadmill miles than I care for, but I did sneak in some morning yoga on Wednesday and get my long run done Saturday morning before the heat became too terribly oppressive. Goal for week 3: at least 3 morning runs. Weather permitting, of course. The forecast calls for severe storms on a few mornings, and lately the weather has been no joke! Crazy thunder and lightning, 30+ mph wind gusts, flash flooding…not fit or safe for outdoor activity.

Monday

Plan: 3

Actual: 4.25 @ 9:24 + strength. This was on the treadmill at an easy pace. I like getting a little extra in at the beginning of the week. It makes the prescribed runs for the rest of the week seem easier because they’re shorter.

Tuesday

Plan: 3

Actual: Big River speedwork. 4.75 total, including warmup, 10x400m @ 7:11 pace w/250m recovery, cooldown.

First speedwork since my ankle injury! The workout was 10-12 repeats at 5k pace. Speedwork culminates with a 5k time trial on the track in a few weeks, at which I hope to break 24 minutes. I felt pretty strong during the workout, but my stomach was starting to get grumpy toward the end. I copped out at 10, mostly because I didn’t want to hurt myself my first week back and I wanted to get in a good cooldown without going way over my assigned mileage for the day.

Wednesday

Plan: Rest/XT

Actual: 40 minutes yoga.

Woke up and did this before work. My legs were sore and dead from speedwork the night before, so I chose a flow that focused on the hips and hammies. Felt a lot better.

Thursday

Plan: 3

Actual: Rest.

Woke up with internet problems, so I had to take Dan to a friend’s so he could work, then pick him up so he wasn’t bugging them all day. I’d wanted to run after work, but time got away from me and it was way too hot.

Friday

Plan: Rest

Actual: 3.24 @ 9:23 + strength.

Did some deadlifts in addition to my normal strength stuff, and they really worked me over. Trying to incorporate more hamstring/glute moves into my routine to help with my hip issues. I’m definitely having less tightness and discomfort than I had been a few weeks ago.

Saturday

Plan: 7 miles @ 10:00

Actual: 7 @ 10:17

Stayed up too late on Friday night, but still managed to get up around 7:30 on Saturday. Got out the door by 8, and it was already 77 degrees with 70% humidity. I am NOT a hot weather runner at all, and I’m really not acclimated to the humidity yet. I knew it could be a potentially rough run, but I did myself a big favor by slowing down and just running by effort, not pace. I’m a sucker for taking walk breaks when it gets hot, but managed to slow down enough to not take any. I also went through about 24 ounces of water. I felt OK after finishing, but when I was done, I was really glad it was over!

Everyone has their own “long run” mark; the distance varies depending on what you’re training for. The 7-mile mark is when I consider my runs to be getting “long.” Running for 60+ minutes is my line in the sand. It felt good that I was able to do my first long run in such unpleasant weather conditions, so early in training when I’m still building up, and not feel like death. Had it not been so gross outside, 8 or 9 miles would’ve been on the table for sure. That’s encouraging.

Sunday

Plan: Rest

Actual: Rest

And man, did it feel good! My hammies were still sore from the long run, and my lower back and neck were mega stiff when I woke up. I took some time to relax and foam roll my aches and pains.

Total: 22 miles, 5 hours 6 minutes.

I usually get in a few walks on my lunch break at work, which I count in my weekly mileage but don’t bother writing about. You know, just in case you added up the totals and thought I was terrible at math.

Week 1 training recap

It’s my goal to give a summary of my weekly training throughout this process, if for no other reason than to keep tabs on it myself. And possibly to justify all of the food I’ve been eating.

The week went great! I felt energized, excited, and motivated to do all of my runs and add a little bit of strength a few days. I went beyond the minimum required mileage for the week, and my ankle is holding up nicely so far. I’m using a mash-up of a few plans that I’ve cobbled together, including one from the Chicago Area Runners Association (part of what’s included with my running for the American Cancer Society), Novice 1 and 2 from Hal Higdon’s website, and a Runner’s World plan a friend was nice enough to “lend” me (thanks, Alyson!). They’re all pretty similar, with some variations in intensity or distance on certain days.

I have a few goals for this race/training cycle, in order of importance/likelihood:

1. Finish without getting injured, sick, or burnt out.

2. Only walk at water stops.

3. Finish under 4:30.

4. Finish in 4:00.

I’m going to train for a 4-hour marathon, but I won’t be disappointed if I can’t make that happen. I don’t have as much experience with 10k+ distances as I probably should, but my McMillan calculations for shorter distances indicate that a 4-hour marathon is within my (slightly extended) reach. I want to incorporate a few longer races during this training cycle to get a better idea of what I’m capable of once I have some serious training weeks behind me.

Mondays are scheduled rest days on all of my plans, but I typically do long runs on Saturdays and rest on Sundays instead, then start my running week again on Monday. Just works for me.

Ok! Recap time.

Monday

Planned: 3 miles

Actual: 4.22 @ 9:28. I felt good, so I kept going. Finished up with some body weight work.

Tuesday

Plan: 3 miles

Actual: 3.5 miles @ 9:42. Dan and I had after-work commitments, so I woke up at 6 a.m. (super early for me!) and got this done.

Wednesday

Plan: Rest

Actual: Rest

Thursday

Plan: 3 miles

Actual: 6 @ 9:39. Never mind that this pace was faster than what I did in my 10k last weekend. Shhhh. I wanted to do my first “long” run earlier in the week because I didn’t want it looming over me for the entire weekend that I was spending with my BFF.

Friday

Plan: Rest

Actual: 3.8-mile walk + 1 hour of Pilates. My home girl Lacy hooked us up with a private lesson at her Pilates studio. It was excruciating and awesome. My butt is still sore.

Saturday

Plan: 6 miles

Actual: 3 @ 9:39 + body weight work. My legs were definitely feeling it; my calves were super tight from all of the toe-pointing during Pilates. I had to stop and stretch them out a few times.

Sunday

Plan: Rest

Actual: Rest

Total: 20.52 miles, 5 hours 42 minutes (not including some walks on my lunch break, cool downs, etc.)

All in all, I’m pleased with this first week. I hope my excitement and motivation carry me through the next 17!