Category Archives: Girls on the Run

Chicago Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday was a very, very good day.

If you want the quick-and-dirty version of how I fared in the Chicago Marathon, you can scan to the bottom. If you’re interested in the full race recap, read on! Spoiler: it’s full of happiness and run love—and a little bit of past and present tense confusion. Forgive me.

Those of you who’ve been following me know that I was nervous with a capital N about this race. To briefly recap those of you who haven’t had to listen to my whining for the past month, this is how I went into the race:

1 month ago, my ankle blew up in a horrible case of tendonitis, and I couldn’t walk without a limp let alone run at all. 2 doctors visits, lots of icing, and positive thinking later— I could sort-of, kind-of run again. This was a mere 2 weeks out from the race, and it wasn’t without irritation, but it was running. Another two weeks of a little running (12 miles being the furthest) and continuing to rest my angry ankle, and I decided I would try and bust out a marathon. Flights had been booked, plans had been made, yada yada yada yada (Seinfeld?), so I figured…let’s go for it.

Mind you…my last 20-mile run was on August 25, and that 12 mile run mentioned above was not easy.

{I am not sharing these facts for any sympathy votes or to throw myself a pity party…I just feel they’re essential to detailing both how I approached this race and how I felt about the end results. Take ’em or leave ’em.}

I lowered my expectations for this marathon. I planned a conservative pacing strategy, and I went into it knowing that a) I would probably be in pain at some point, b) I wouldn’t be very fast, and c) I could end up re-injured.

My best case scenario was finishing without too much ankle pain. I wasn’t looking for speed, I was merely looking for a finish line crossing.

And what did I get?

One of the most fun races of my life—and what I believe was the most well-executed running I’ve ever done.

Enough Tarantino, let’s go back to the beginning…

Saturday night, after some Chicago exploring, my feet were up, my compression socks were on, and BF was making me a perfect carb-heavy dinner. I wasn’t feeling the same nerves I’d been grappling with all week. I felt ready—a little anxious—but mainly content with that fact that all I could do was my best. Without any high goals or expectations, I knew all I could do was run smart and hope for the best—and as someone who is always so numbers-oriented, this was a pretty relieving approach.

Nevertheless, my sleeping was not ideal Saturday night, but that’s to be expected.

At my 5:00 am alarm, though, it was game time. A face wash, gear check, and banana later—we were on our way to the start line. The nice thing about Chicago was all the accessible public transportation—the trains made all the coming and going much simpler!

Let’s go run a marathon!

Girls on the Run did such a wonderful job with a pre-and-post race set up. We had a warm place to hang out, food, real bathrooms, easy gear storage, and PT masseuses! Fancy stuff. I felt very lucky/grateful.

I would appreciate this set up at every race from now on. Please and thank you.

7:00 am rolled around, and it was time to jet to the start line. There were so many people doing this race. Of course I knew this ahead of time, but you can never really know what a single event for 40,000 people looks like until you’re there. It was quite the production, and the Chicago Marathon volunteers/staff had the whole thing down to a science. Despite the crowds, it was largely controlled chaos and really just felt like a huge party. I tried my best to stay calm, soak it in, and appreciate the fact that I was part of such a spectacular event. The announcer told us that 114 different countries were represented amongst the participants, as well as ALL 50 states. Amazing.

Pre-corral entrance, a good luck send off.

The gun went off, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” played over the speakers, and we were running! It took me about 4 minutes post-gun time to actually cross the start line, but it didn’t matter—I was so hopped up on running-gratitude and adrenaline that I didn’t feel any urge to push or weave.

I also started this race without my music playing—which was both abnormal and intentional. I wanted to be able to enjoy the crowds which I’d heard so much about—and I figured that starting my music later on might give me a helpful jolt of energy when I’d need it. This would end up being a very, very good strategy.

We were off—cruising through the beautiful streets of Chicago. There are so many different buildings, businesses, and general attractions to see around that city, and it was easy to be distracted (in a good way) by it all.

And the people! Right off the bat, there were crowds at least 3-people-deep lining the course, all of whom were so encouraging, happy, and motivating. There were some hilarious posters as well—my favorites being, “You’re definitely NOT going to win” and “Remember, Liam Neeson is proud of you!”

The first 5 or so miles went all through down town, and I felt great. My plan going into it was to stick around an 8:40-8:45 min/mile for the first half, and then reassess depending on how I felt. However, due to a massive Garmin fail about 1.2 miles into the race—my pacing was based solely on my stopwatch function and some mental math skills.

Because of the clouds and the tall buildings, my satellite was more off than on, and when I did have a signal, my watch’s pacing was definitely not accurate. So, I was able to distract myself a lot with a good deal of addition, memorization, and division.

And in the end, I’m actually very thankful for the Garmin mishap. Not only was I distracted by my need to configure my own pacing, but I wasn’t obsessively checking my watch. I would say I ran 80% of the pace solely by feel, and in the end this would result in a great overall strategy. If I felt slow, I picked it up, if I felt fast, I pulled back. Back to basics—it was refreshing.

However, I did want to make sure I stuck to my slower-first-half plan, and so I was trying my hardest to get to each mile marker based on my self-calculated 8:40 pace plan. Looking back on the results, I think I did a fair job sticking to this. I felt great through the 10 mile mark, and it was around this point that I started to get wary about my ankle.

Teal hat on the left, photo courtesy of BF.

I knew that I could make it to the halfway point or so without too much worry about my ankle—but after that, it was pretty up in the air as to what would happen.

The pain I’d been experiencing beforehand with my injury would come on without warning, really quickly, and so there were a number of times from miles 10-15 where I was paying a lot of attention to how it was feeling. There wasn’t much sign of anything too threatening, though, and eventually I was able to stop thinking too much about it.

I couldn’t believe how quickly the halfway point came. It felt like I’d just started running—and feeling good at this point was really encouraging in terms of how I felt I would bode for the rest of the race.

I was constantly analyzing both my energy levels and my form—and I think this “checking in” was good for my pacing and my motivation. With both a lot of energy left and a completely pain-free ankle at the 13.1 mark…my fears of needing to drop out were slowly diminishing.

The miles continued to tick by—just the way you would hope they would in a race. The crowds also continued to be huge, loud, and just fantastic. I slapped hands with so many strangers, took oranges offered by various folks, and smiled at most everyone I saw. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face, and the further I ran, it seemed the better I felt.

Looking back, I think I felt the best from miles 13-19. My pace felt steady, my energy felt strong, and I couldn’t believe how good my legs felt given my huge lapse in training. I consciously didn’t let the fear of missed training keep me from enjoying the running and instead I credited the resting I’d allowed myself and the taper plan I followed. No questioning….just running.

I thought that at some point the course would enter a no-man’s-land of sorts, as most marathons tend to do. But there was never really any point of the run that felt deserted. There were always people spectating, and generally there was always something interesting to see. There were bands, DJs, huge video monitors, funny signs, and generally a good atmosphere throughout the course—and I never felt that there was a point where we were forced to look down and grind on.

And as an added bonus, I saw BF 3 different times! He was able to make it to miles 4, 11, 21, and the finish (I couldn’t see him at the end) and I loved being able to see him along the way. I also loved the Swedish fish he gave me at mile 11…

I didn’t ever consciously think to pick it up in terms of speed. However, after looking through my results it seems as if miles 15-21 ish were where I ran the fastest. My 35k (mile 21.7) clocked in at an 8:18 min/mile, which is much better than I could have expected, particularly considering I still felt good at this point.

Around the 22 mark, though, I was feeling the fatigue I knew would come. It was mainly just tired legs, nothing too brutal, and considering that I only had 4.2 miles to go, I wasn’t too daunted by it. An expected soreness really.

At this point, I was breaking the race down into small portions. At mile 23, I tried to think, “Okay, just a 5k to go,” and then at mile 24, “Just a little 2.2 miler—just like you did yesterday.” Admittedly, knowing that I could run 10 minute miles to the end and still tie my PR was definitely encouraging.

I was hurting at this point, but not horribly. It felt like the kind of pain you expect from a marathon, and it was primarily my legs and not my energy. Endurance wise, I still felt good, and it was more of a mental battle with my quads than anything else.

Chicago did a fantastic job with making the finishing miles just what you’d want them to be. There were signs for 1 mile to go, 800 m to go, 400 m, 300 m, and 200 m…all leading to the finale of an enormous finish line lined with stands of cheering crowds. Unreal amounts of cheering, cameras, and crowds…it was amazing.

Part of the final 400 meters or so was quite uphill (the only uphill during the whole race!) so that wasn’t too spectacular—but as soon as I rounded the corner and saw the huge “FINISH” ahead of me, I was elated.

I’d done it. No ankle pain, no dropping out, and no collapsing before the finish line.

And somehow, to cap it all off, I crossed the finish line at 3:42:10—a 2 minute PR.

I felt so incredibly redemptive from my Tacoma finish, and I felt so over-the-top in love with the marathon distance—again. It did feel great to stop, and as I slow-trudged down the recovery area along with all the other tired runners, I had a 26.2 mile-wide smile on my face—I couldn’t believe how well the race went.

Here are some of the more official results:

I was surprised to see that my speed progressed throughout the race. While I was trying my best to keep track using my stopwatch/mental math method—my brain became a little too fuzzy to keep up this kind of stats work. I’d say the last 10 miles were run solely on feel, and I’m really pleased with just how well that ended up working.

Here are some more numbers:

If you’re wondering, there were 1614 women in my age group and 16,767 women overall.

After slowly finding my way back to the high school, I met up with BF, thanked the Girls on the Run ladies, and got a good stretch done by one of their PT volunteers. Lesson learned: a good amount of walking + a quality stretch post-marathon yields far less sore legs.

Very happy girl.

I loved this race. I loved the course, I loved the crowds, and I loved the way I felt the whole time. It was the perfect combination of happy running and well-earned pain, which always results in the most satisfying kind of runs. The PR was truly just the icing on top of what was already such a memorable race, and I was mostly just thankful for finishing and finishing without an injury relapse. Afterwards, my ankle felt as good as when I woke up in the morning…and with the exception of some tight quads and IT bands, my legs feel pretty darn good today.

Coffee and chocolate donut holes…post marathon perfection.

I so appreciate all the support both before and after from all of you. Knowing there were people tracking my times made each timing strip crossing all the more encouraging, and I cannot thank everyone enough.

I loved Chicago, I loved this race, and I love that I’ve become reacquainted with the magic of the marathon.

Congratulations to EVERYONE who raced this weekend! I hope you all are resting well and soaking in the post-race glory. Thanks to everyone for the texts, tweets, tracks, emails, and phone calls—your support means so very much to me. Thanks to Eminem and the cast of Wicked for getting me through those last few miles. And a special thanks to both Girls on the Run and those who donated to my fundraising efforts—I would not have been able to run this race without you.

Alright, done with my Oscar speech. If you’ve made it this far—bless you.

And let it be known…Boston, next time, you are mine.

Did you race this weekend? Next weekend? Have you run Chicago? Results? Opinions? Pizza?

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My Brain on Marathon

These past few days there have been two things going through my head:

Holy shit, I’m running a marathon this weekend.

And

Holy shit, I need to blog about all my feelings.

Okay…there have been 5,000 other thoughts going on as well, but stick with me.

Somehow, I couldn’t seem to get these two very complimentary thoughts to mesh together in beautiful, therapeutic symmetry.

I mean come on—don’t all running bloggers blog 2x per day, every day, during the last two weeks of taper before a marathon?

We have so many nerves, ideas, and circumstances floating through our heads…and all we want to do is talk to other runners about them all.

So why haven’t I been spilling my guts out incessantly and instead just been flitting over the surface in regard to my upcoming 26.2 attempt?

Honestly, I don’t know.

I am thinking about the race nonstop. I already have pre-race butterflies in my stomach. I am in a constant back-and-forth battle between being excited and optimistic and being so nervous I want to hide under my desk.

Essentially, there are so many thoughts going through my little taper-brain that I’ve had a hard time coming up with anything coherent or sensible to write about. I know, I know…a lot of my blog posts are of the word-vomit variety already. However, when it’s been coming time to put my fingers to the keyboard to describe how I’m feeling about this race, my brain spirals into chaos—and I can barely sit still—let alone write a post.

With that said, I’m not here to offer up any constructive or solid “feelings” or “plans” or whatever it is you’re supposed to have the week before a marathon. I am here, however, to attempt to let loose some steam—and to hopefully give a little insight into how you truly never know what to expect in so very much of life.

It’s hard for me to differentiate my nerves between regular, expected pre-marathon jitters, and legitimate concerns about my current condition. Sometimes, I’m imagining it as just any other marathon—other times, I’m thinking of it as a death march on out-of-shape legs and a floppy, swollen ankle. I’m trying to land somewhere in the middle of these two outlooks—balancing the ordinary nervousness with the warranted exceptional circumstance I’ll be running the race in.

Of course, marathon brain is far from balanced and sensible, so despite my best efforts so just chill and play with the cards I’ve been dealt…it’s been a process to actually internalize that mindset.

Recently, it’s been going more like this:

“I’m going to have the best time! I might have some pain later on, but as long as I go easy, soak in the sights, and let the race adrenaline work its magic..I’ll be fine! I love running! I love marathons! This will be great!”

…two minutes later:

“I’m going to die. I’m going to be exhausted after one mile, my legs are going to cramp, and even if I make it pretty far, I’m going to have to bail and get off the course. Then I’m going to cry. Even if I make it, I’m going to be walking, puking, and/or crying until the finish line.”

Once again, I’m trying to rationalize that I’ll probably land somewhere in the middle.

I’m also trying to remind myself about just how mental running is. Because in my opinion, and in the opinions of many, many great runners out there who are far more qualified to make claims than me, running is primarily mental. Certainly, it takes endurance and strength to run a marathon—no doubt about it. But ultimately, the thing that keeps our feet moving and our will to finish alive is our attitude.

Now, I learned back in T-town that I definitely have a good deal of mental strength. This time around, I’m going to try and channel that mental strength into being present in the moment and savouring the fact that I am able to run a marathon. Let me also just clarify that while what happened in Tacoma is high on my fear list, I no longer want to rehash that race—and I now know that there is a difference between pushing it and pushing it too far.

With that said, I will not be trying to BQ, PR, or anything of that sort during this race. While those types of goals are often high on my list and they encourage me to keep moving, they are also the kind of goals that could disable me from finishing. Due to my current circumstance with my ankle and my training glitches, the only goals I have for this race are to a) finish and b) negative split. I don’t want to negative split to ensure a particular time; I just know that I am going to need reserved energy for the second half. My pacing intentions will be solely for the purpose of staying consistent and staying safe.

I am planning to run by feel, which is a good theme for how I’ve handled these past few weeks of “training.” All of my decisions about when to run, when to rest, and if I was going to do the race haven’t been based on a pre-determined schedule, but solely on how I feel. That’s how I’m planning to run this race. I have paces in mind that I know I will be able to hold for a long time, and although they are many, many seconds slower than I originally planned on running this race—they are what will help get me to the finish line.

So for right now, I trying to channel my energy into focusing on a few things.

The first is positive self talk. I am always such a huge proponent of mantras and self confidence when it comes to encouraging other people along, but I’m not so good at practicing what I preach. I do believe that positive thinking and visualization can make a world of difference in performance—and so excuse me while I act super cocky and conceited for the next 72 hours.

The second thing I’m trying to focus on is what my intention was behind doing this race in the first place. When I first registered, I knew I wanted to take this race less seriously than I had for many before. Marathon training had become less fun and too stressful, and this time around I wanted to enjoy the running for what it was instead of focus solely on numbers. Admittedly, I slipped away from this a bit when I started seeing my times get faster, but now that I’m kind of forced to run the race easier than planned—my original intention has come back into focus.

In addition to my goal of having fun with training for this race, I also wanted to focus on doing something more than just my own, petty “look at me and how much I run” approach. I chose to fund-raise and run on behalf of Girls on the Run because they are an organization that I believe advocates all the best things about running. Girls on the Run gets down to the grass roots of the pure joy, confidence, and enthusiasm that running can instill, and this was a message I wanted to both advocate to others and internalize for myself.

No matter what happens—I’ve raised a lot of money and promoted a group whose cause resonates with so many of the reasons I love to run. And for that, I’m proud and humbled to run on behalf of them.

I suppose there are actually a lot of advantages to running a marathon that isn’t a goal race. And despite my uber-competitive mind trying with all its might to both “be a hero” and finish with an impressive time—for now, she’s going to need to shut up. This is a really good opportunity for me to tune into the part of running that isn’t competitive—the part that isn’t tangible, or “qualifying,” or up to some standard.

I’m going to run because I love it, and no matter what happens—Sunday is just one more day I get to run. In the second biggest marathon in the world— no less. If nothing else, I want to finish how ever many miles I run knowing that I ran smart and I ran happy. Anything else (finishing, a decent time, etc.) will just be gravy.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for listening to me spill my very-full brain. These are the times I’m so happy I have a blog, both as a way for me to get out my thoughts and a way to communicate with runners who’ve experienced all the same things. Writing everything down has always helped relax me—and I’m already feeling more excited for Sunday.

I’ll have a post tomorrow with a few more specifics as to strategy, logistics, etc. I’ll also post a link to how you can follow me during the race! We’re getting closer and closer…and my window of complex carb consumption/hydrating/foam rolling is here.

Bring it on, baby.

Decision Time

Well folks, after much deliberation…I’ve made a final decision:

This Sunday, I will be running the Chicago Marathon.

I’ve thought a lot about this decision, I’ve asked a lot of people their advice, and I’ve done a lot of internet perusing to find “the right answer” as to what I should do.

And I realized a couple of things, but namely…there really isn’t a right answer in this scenario. Some people are willing to run on anything that isn’t a stress fracture, and some people stay away for just the sniffles. There were a number of different pros and cons for me to consider, both big and small. And in the end—despite all the opinions, the research, and the back-and-forth, I knew it had to be my decision—not anyone else’s.

And guess what? With a little help from rest, meds, and wishful thinking, I’m healthy enough to run the race—and I’m gonna try.

But let’s rewind a bit, and I’ll catch you up to speed as to where I currently stands in regard to this race:

1 month ago, I had to stop short on a 20 mile run from horrible ankle pain. I was limping for days, icing like crazy, and popping more pain killers than I ever have before. The doctor was nonchalant about it and told me it was just bad tendonitis, but I was still not thinking the worst. In the back of my head, my hopes of a stellar Chicago Marathon were getting shrouded away, seemingly all at once.

1 week after the initial injury struck, I tried running for the first time—to no avail. I couldn’t make it 1/4 mile without my ankle blowing up like a balloon. I limped very slowly the whole way home, holding back tears, and continued to lower my self-proclaimed likelihood of running the race.

A little over a week ago, I went back to the doctor. This time, I was prescribed some actual, real deal pain killers. He told me that if I felt up for it—he would give the green light to run the race. Once again, I tried to run…this time, I made it 6 miles. They weren’t pain free, but I got them out, and it seemed that my ankle was getting better.

Last week, I was able to do the aforementioned 6 mile run, an 8.5 mile run, and a 7.5 mile run. Each felt better than the one before, and my ankle pain was getting to be less and less each time I headed out. After two weeks of discouragement, Chicago was back on the table.

This past weekend was the weekend I proclaimed to be “decision time.” I knew I didn’t want to even make the trip if I wasn’t going to run the race, therefore I needed to make the call one way or the other ahead of time. I set out on my previously planned 12 mile run, deciding that if I made it relatively pain free—I was gonna race.

12 miles later, and…well shit, I’m running a marathon next weekend.

I ran the 12 miles with very little ankle irritation. In fact, there wasn’t even a glimmer of the injury for probably 75% of the run. This was indeed very encouraging…and although I know 26 miles is many more than 12, the rate at which my injury seems to be recovering makes me think that I will be able to spend most of the race relatively pain-free.

However, while my ankle may be mostly cooperative…taking two weeks off completely from running took it’s toll, and admittedly I am mostly worried now about the condition of my legs more than anything else.

I’m not gonna lie…those 12 miles were tough. My lungs felt good, my ankle even felt good, but my legs felt tired. This could have been just an average “bad run,” but I know I’m also feeling the rusty effects of not having run long in a while. I was concerned with just how tired I felt after 12 miles, and it made a marathon seem even more daunting than, well, a marathon already is.

But, the fact of the matter is that if I wasn’t going to run this race…it wasn’t going to be because of some tired legs. It was because of an injury…an injury which seems to be on its way out the door. I feel like I have to try, and while this might be the most difficult marathon I’ve ever attempted, I don’t want to go down without a fight.

Frankly, I’m really nervous for the race. I’m scared of not finishing. I’m scared for the pain. And perhaps more than anything, I don’t like the uncertainty. While of course I was anxious for my first two marathons, I was always very confident in my ability to finish. This setback has left me in a much less confident state in my running—and while I know I haven’t lost all of the training I built up, I’m definitely not in ideal marathon shape.

However, these fears and apprehension aren’t enough to keep me from the start line. I’m truthfully very excited and grateful that I will still get the chance to be in and at the race. This is one of the biggest races in the world, I’ve trained hard to get to it, I’ve raised a lot of money for a great cause, and I’ll be damned if I don’t get out there and try.

So get ready kids, this will be interesting.

 

Chicago Marathon Training Week #11 + Weekend

So, there wasn’t much running involved in my workouts last week…you already knew that. I didn’t post my training last week though out of bitter resentment, so here’s a look at how all the non-running training went:

M: 30 min stair stepper, 60 min swim

T: 2 hour spin class

W: 60 min stair stepper + BodyPump

T: 90 min swim

F: 60 min stair stepper + BodyPump

S: 2 hour swim! 5,000 meters

S: 20 min stair stepper + 6 m run!

Total: 6 miles running

Yea, so that number ^^ is very minuscule compared to where I should have been. But, considering my two week injury hiatus from running, I will gladly take any miles over none. And in spite of not being able to run, I was happy with how I managed to keep activity levels high. I am still in love with my BodyPump class, particularly the instructor, and I think it’s been doing really good things for both my strength and coordination.

In other news, after a beautiful rest day yesterday, I was able to run 8.4 miles today! It wasn’t very pretty, and it wasn’t very easy, but hot damn it happened. And guess what? My ankle felt better than it did during Sunday’s first run back! It was still a little cranky, but it seems that this persnickety tendonitis beast may be on its way out the door. It’s really encouraging that my ankle seems to be getting better while still running on it…and it’s making me feel inches closer to making the decision to race. Don’t worry, I’m still going to take it easy and play the super-taper game…but in the mean time it feels great to pound some pavement again.

On my run this morning, I thought a lot about what would happen if I do decide to race. Because when I don’t wear headphones, my entire life—all past, present, and future aspects of it—seems to engulf my brain.

I felt a whole number of things this morning, but mainly encouraged and anxious. I can feel the possibility of doing the Chicago Marathon getting higher, but simultaneously I’m getting scared for just what finishing, (read:surviving), the race will entail.

I need to come to terms with that fact that not only will I be slower than normal and will potentially walk some of the race—there is a good chance I will be in pain during a good amount of it. Pain on top of normal, typical marathon pains. It’s certainly not an ideal scenario—and it’s one that will require perhaps more mental preparation than any other race, should the opportunity come.

Time will tell people. However, I did hear last night that a friend in Chicago is willing to host BF and I for race eve…..and he lives ONE MILE from the start line. We were originally planning on staying out at the airport…a good half hour away. Universe coming together? We’ll see.

In other news, here’s a look at what was a fan-effing-tastic weekend. The weather in Seattle was perfection, and somehow BF and I managed to be way more social this weekend than we have been the entire year.

Spoiler: There was a lot of beer.

Mariner’s Game!

Double dating and baseball night—the Ms even decided to win!

Ferry ride post-game. DON’T WORRY I REPAINTED MY TOES FINALLY. I told you it was a productive weekend.

Seattle skyline via water transportation. Love.

The following morning…

What’s the best thing to come home to after a 2 hour swim? Your boyfriend making pancakes for you. You can’t really tell…but the one underneath is pink. That’s love.

One invite from another couple later…and we were at the Fremont Oktoberfest party ready to cash in our ten tasting tokens. (I only made it to 7…)

Oktoberfest! BF…that mug is just the perfect size for you…you dainty man you.

This was my last beer, I think…and one of 4 attempts at this photo. Low tolerance + high percentage alcohol beer= drunk Robyn.

Right now…I love fall. We are in the perfect phase where it’s not raining, it’s not too cold, and it’s not too hot. The leaves are crunchy and the air promises Halloween and cooler temps shortly. And by Halloween, I mean “I’m probably going to buy candy this weekend.” Loving it. In fact, I might break my pumpkin spice latte rule and not wait until October. CRAZY TALK…I rage.

I hope your weeks have started off splendidly!

 

Chicago Marathon Training Week #7

Cheerio chaps.

What? Weird. I’ve been in the sun all day…it’s messing with me. But do I care enough to create another greeting in my head? Not at all.

Let’s talk about some of last week’s training, shall we?

M: Spin class + ~20 minutes stairmill

T: 10.4 m run @ 8:00 avg. pace

W: 7 m tempo— 1 m warm up, 5 @ 7:30, 1 m cool down + BodyPump

T: 10.2 m run—easy, no watch or music

F: Rest

S: 20 m run @ 8:18 avg. pace

S: 8.5 m recovery run—no watch, really relaxed + lifting

Total: 56.1 miles

A new personal weekly mileage high! I was happy with all these runs individually, although I was definitely feeling the high mileage during yesterday’s run. I love the recovery runs, but they also remind you of just how much wear and tear the long runs can do to your legs.

And speaking of, I am pretty pumped with how well my first 20 miler of this training cycle went. I felt really relaxed and efficient, and although I was pretty set on maintaining an 8:30 pace, I let my legs do the decision making and between 8:00-8:10 is what felt best. In fact, had it not been for the 10:40 mile 18 that was entirely up a massive hill, my average would probably have been closer to 8:10. Super encouraging run…and I think the amount of energy and strength I felt at the end was the best part. With the exception of a water bottle refill and an opening of my Honey Stingers, I didn’t have to stop at all, which was especially encouraging after last week’s beast.

Long runs can go so many different ways, and I feel like personally..I can predict how well they’re gonna go beforehand. I really felt it going into this one…I had fueled really well, I had slept well, and my running mojo was ticking. Other times, I go simply on principal…even if  I feel wretched, and that’s often times when I feel like it’s a lot of work. Running is so mental, I’m reminded of it every time I go out.

So what’s next? Well, my plan thus far is to have another 20-21 this week, a pretty sizable cutback week after that, then two more 20-something bad boys before taper. I’m considering finishing with a 23 miler, instead of my usual 22, but we’ll see. I’d also like to peak at over 60 miles, but playing it by ear seems to be the best way to approach this high of mileage. I’m not going to be afraid to skip a run if I think it’s necessary, and at this point I know my risk of both injury and over-training it up, so I want to proceed with caution.

For the time being though, I’m really happy with these numbers, and I’m especially happy with how much I’m enjoying my runs. I’m thankful for my legs being receptive to this mileage, and I’m especially grateful that I’ve moved out of injury land. Yep, Saturday’s 20 miler was done sans IT band strap—meaning that every mile I ran last week was done au natural, and it seems that my nagging knee pain has decided to throw up the white flag.

Very, very grateful.

‘Tis all for today, but just to leave you with a quick statement involving the golf tournament I played in today…

I. HATE. GOLF.

I am really, really not kidding when I say that I’m the worst golfer there ever was…and I could barely take the 9 holes of humiliation…thank God we only did a half round. And thank God we were playing as a shuffle, meaning no one was subjected to the number of swings I would have had to take per holes. Screw golf.

I MISSED the ball not once, not twice, but THREE times during one of the tee offs…oh, and the CEO was right there to watch. I told him that I voted for flag football next time, and I beelined for the bar once we broke for lunch.

Truthfully, I really just hate being bad at things. So instead I’ll stick to chocolate cookie making, “Friends” watching, and finding samples at grocery stores.

Now those things…I’m pro.

How was your weekend?! Do you do 2, 3 or 4 20+ milersfor marathon training? What’s the highest weekly mileage you’ve ever had? Will you join my Golf Haterz team? I will provide t-shirts. 

Chicago Marathon Training Week #6

Hello friends, how’s everyone doing?

To start off, in terms of my decline in blogging, quite frankly I’ve been too busy all day, every day, to keep up on my normal frequency. I’m pretty positive no one is too distraught over this, I’d just thought I’d offer some explanation as to why I’ve been off the interwebs more so recently.

On the same note, I’ve been the best kind of busy. My days are flying by, I’m learning a lot, and although there’s a definite stress factor to my new job I’m really enjoying it.

But now, let’s talk about some running.

Here is how week #6 of Chicago Marathon training looked.

M: Rest

T: 10 m run @ 8:10ish

W: 7 m tempo run. 1 m warm up, then 5 starting at 7:45 and progressively going down, ending at 7:25, 1 m cool down. + BodyPump

T: 8 m easy run

F: 80 m swim

S: 15 m run for time—finished in 2:00

S: 2 hour spin, lifting

Total: 40 miles

I wanted this week to be a mini cutback week. I have one more cutback week scheduled before peak weeks/taper, and so I figured it would be good to get in an easier week before I start increasing to 50+.

I was debating my long run distance up until the night before. Technically, I should be ready for 20. I’ve done 16 and 18 twice, and 20 would be logical for this week. However, I’m realizing I started training a bit early, and since I want to peak at 22-23 and not do more than 4 20+ runs, I needed to do some rearranging. I also knew that I wanted to do some spinning on Sunday, which would not have been too awesome the day after a 20 miler.

So, instead, I decided to test out my new “Let’s run faster” theory with a shorter long run distance. The plan was to accomplish 2 things:

1) majority of miles @ marathon goal pace

2) practice running in some heat

The second goal wasn’t too hard to come by. I started the run around 9, later than normal, with the intention of running in the hotter weather. I know there is a decent likelihood of Chicago being hot on race day, as history has shown, and so I’m trying to help my mild Pacific Northwest climatized (go with that word) self get used to some more serious sweating. It wasn’t too bad (about 70 degrees) but relatively speaking I was feeling the heat. Good job, one goal achieved.

Now, the other goal was definitely achieved if you just look at the numbers involved. There were several miles in the sub 8 min zone, and I finished in 2 hours flat—averaging 8 minute miles. In fact, I ran a half marathon PR on this run.

However, those numbers are a little bit of a lie.

I stopped 4 or so times for a quick sip of water, and once to stretch. And quite honestly, I really didn’t feel awesome for the majority of the time. My legs were heavy, and they never really loosened up like they normally do. When I got home, there wasn’t much more I could do aside from lay horizontal on the floor and Tweet about my blister bff.

Seriously, that thing will not go away.

However, despite the stops, I’m happy with how it was run. While running, I was below where I wanted to be, and it felt good to push it during a long run as opposed to gingerly ticking the miles by. Sure, I love that style of long run running too, but sometimes it’s nice to not spend a ton of time on my feet.

Otherwise, training this week was good. Wednesdays are still my favorite workouts, and I’m really liking the relaxed runs on Thursdays. The swim on Friday was heavenly as well, especially since I hadn’t spent time in the pool for almost a month.

This week, I’m hoping to get to 55 miles—the highest mileage week I’ve ever had. It will cap with a 20 miler on Saturday, and with some luck, ice, and rolling—my legs won’t be too dead at the end of it all. I’m getting to a point where I’m really looking forward to my rest days—which is a good indication that I’m doing what I should be in my individual workouts.

In other news…

Did anyone watch the men’s marathon? If not…and you don’t want a spoiler…scroll down a bit, and ignore the next paragraph.

It was pretty shocking to see not one but TWO of the Americans drop out so early. I suppose it’s the nature of the sport, and the nature of the marathon…but man, really? I’m sure there was perfectly legitimate reasoning on both their parts, but I can’t even imagine how bad a DNF would feel at the Olympic marathon. It was an impressive finish though, and I was really happy for Meb with his 4th place victory. And I know watching the marathon is supposed to be inspiring and make everyone want to go out and run forever…but I really just felt tired watching them. I turned to BF and was like, “Tell me why I do this again?” because those guys looked so beat. Then again…I’m not averaging under 5 minute miles and running against the fastest dudes in the world.

Anyway, it was a lovely weekend in Seattle, and aside from the aforementioned sweaty activities, BF and I hung out downtown, relaxed, and went on a little water adventure yesterday. We went stand-up paddleboarding, which was super fun! I was pretty nervous about a number of things, namely cold water, falling, and sharks…but once we got comfortable all was good and we had a great time. One of us fell off more than the other…I’ll let you guess who it was.

An unrelated photo. But beautiful flowers from my man 🙂

I hope you all had lovely weekends! Happy Monday.

Mulan music, weekend things, and GOTR love

Why have I not used “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” as my pump up song for every race I’ve ever done EVER???

This is such a no brainer, and when it came on my Pandora station mid-shower yesterday, I decided that it will now be my pre-race anthem forever.

Sure, the title/lyrics of the song are a bit sexist—and by a bit I mean a lot—but in the end, Mulan proves that being a WOMAN is not only good enough—it’s better. So take that.

{Glee Cast radio was the station, in case you’re wondering how you too can hear such an epic song}

Ready for the most random post of your life?

Okay, good.

I just have too many things I want to talk about, but none of them are really worthy of a singular post. Is anything I write really worthy of publication though? Whatever, you’re here…right?

Cool. So, to start out, I want to give some snapshots of last weekend, as it was spent in my most favorite place on Earth with some of my most favorite people on Earth. And I say “some of” because Kate Winslet, Kara Goucher, and T. Swift all couldn’t make it. Next time, girls.

[An aside…I’m obsessed with Kara Goucher. I love Shalane and Desi too, but there’s something about Kara that I just adore. It’s probably the fact that her son Colt is the cutest thing in the world (and he’s probably already faster than me), and Kara’s a runner who isn’t afraid to show her vulnerability. You go KG. And on that note… Runner’s World, why the f didn’t you send me the cover with Kara on it this month? I didn’t want semi-creepy-looking-though-still-fast-as-shit Ryan Hall, which you decided to send me instead.]

Where were we? Oh yes…my weekend.

My brother Scott, my cousin Lily, BF, and myself

In a nutshell, I jammed as much as I could into the 36 hours I spent with my family at our summer house. Some highlights include:

A trail run with BF. We tackled 6.5 miles and some serious rolling hills of a gorgeous forest trail. It’s my favorite trail run in the world, mind you, which admittedly isn’t saying much—because I think I’ve run about 3 different trails in my life. Still, it’s spectacular and it’s actually the trail that inspired me to run outside more years ago. And I’m still tallying…but the mosquito bite count for this run alone is at about 2,500 right now.

No, you’re right, this is not a picture applicable to trail running.

Swimming with my Granddad. If there was a lifetime fitness award, it would go to my Granddad. He has been a consistent exerciser his entire life, and even now at the age of 79—he still manages to get out there. Since the only swimming he can do at our summer house is on the lake (aka, open water) I joined him to both try out my own open water abilities and play lifeguard.

Waving from the raft!

I also remembered that I’m terrified of swimming in open water and should probably practice that.

Beach sunset followed by ice cream. Do I really need to explain this one? Here are some photos to prove myself:

Oregon coast love ❤

16 mile long run followed by blueberry pancakes. Emphasis here on the blueberry pancakes…I credit them with my willingness to get the run over with. I’m convinced if you imagine delicious post-run food awaiting you the second you’re done, you’ll actually run faster.

This would, however, not work with imagining a Whey 1000 Maxx Green Soy TurboCharged 50mg protein smoothie. At least…not for me. No. Long run refueling needs to be solid, real food…and while I personally kind of suck at making pancakes, my Uncle Dave is a pro and it was his promise of hot cakes that got me through the hills on Sunday morning. And sorry, there is no photo available as I was too focused on expediting consumption instead of developing my food blogger resume.

This is how close people will get to you for post run photos. It’s okay Uncle Dave, your pancakes make up for it.

Oh yea, back to the whole long run highlight.

I tend to go on food digressions, in case that’s news to you.

Anyway, I ran long, which I was happy about, and it wasn’t too tedious, although the terrain was never really flat the entire time.

Talk about a hilly course. There really wasn’t an alternative though, and in the grand scheme of things—testing my flatlander legs out on some real elevation changes will benefit me in the long run…long run meaning Chicago, which is all flat. I can actually draw their elevation chart for you:

start_______________________________________________________finish

-Wakeboarding. On Friday I said that I needed to redeem myself for my massive face injury that occurred the last time I wakeboarded. And although I was a bit nervous at first, I eventually got into my groove and claimed my redemption over that little board.

Look ma, I still have both my cheeks!

Impressed with how much I was able to accomplish in 36 short hours? Yes me too…BUT when I need to capitalize on time, I make it happen. And the good news is I’ll be heading back this weekend for more lake fun, family fun, and pancake fun.

Although round two of a 6 hour car ride there and back isn’t exactly awesome…

Good thing I capture the on-goings of these road trips:

This is me, in the car. No I will not photograph my ice cream, but I will document the most boring moments of my life for you to see.

To finish up this random post, let me show you what was waiting for me when I returned home Sunday night.

I was giddy with excitement and totally unsuspecting that GOTR would send such wonderful goodies!! I’m actually not sure if the top they sent is supposed to be worn for the actual race, so that’s yet to be determined, but you can bet your britches that I’ll be using every last thing they sent.

What are britches? Are they pants? Underwear? Can someone tell me why I use outdated expressions that I don’t even understand?

A big THANK YOU to GOTR for showing me, and all other Solemates, so much love. It makes me feel even better about raising money for them.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, what a wonderful transition for me to probe you to donate!!!

If you want to learn about my fundraising efforts for Girls on the Run while training for the Chicago Marathon, check out my page here.

If you feel inspired to donate, I will love you forever, as will thousands of excited little girls all around the country.

So, if this were a school essay and it had come time to write a conclusion, I would now realize that this post was about 10,000 different things, and I was probably going to get a D on my essay.

But this isn’t school, it’s blogging—my blog to be exact—and in this world, I think the more haphazard, the better.

I also don’t know why I am continually justifying my lack of continuity today. I don’t care, you don’t care, I’m done.

Oh, and as for the CIM decision…not telling, YET.

Do you have a pre-race pump up song?

What’s your favorite post long run breakfast?

I love a huge bowl of oatmeal 

Is there an age that’s too old to have Glee and Disney music on your iPod?

If your answer is anything but, “NO! NEVER!” kindly get off my blog.