I’m so sorry for falling off the radar again! A wise friend once told me that a “but” in an apology smells as bad as your own…but…school has started up again and I have been super busy trying to get ahead, in anticipation of the time consuming high mileage marathon training weeks ahead.
When I last wrote, I discussed my doubts and fears about being able to finish the marathon and my scheduled 18 mile long run after a failed half marathon race. Thanks to a week and a half of good training runs, I’m happy to report that my confidence level is improving, but I still fear, and am awed by the distance that lays ahead of me. I started a countdown to marathon day, which caused more anxiety than excitement, so I have since stopped looking at it. My goal in the next few weeks is to work on the mental aspect of my training. I need to train my brain to power through, to not give up when the going gets a little tough and to stop worrying about how fast everyone else is running. I need to keep reminding myself that this is for me, this is my goal…I am not doing this to keep up with anyone or to beat anyone…I’m doing this to prove to myself that I CAN do this…and I WILL do this…even if it takes me 6.5 hours to do it. Here is how my training runs have gone recently:
Tuesday, September 3rd (Easy Run – 4 Miles):
The first Tuesday of every month is my run club’s monthly meeting and I wasn’t missing this one for anything. This month, Cary Pinkowski, Executive Race Director for the Chicago Marathon, came to speak with us and answer any questions we might have about the race. Since this is my first marathon and first time even experiencing the awesomeness that is the Chicago Marathon (or so I’m told, and I tend to believe), I was excited to get a behind the scenes look and learn as much as I could about the race. Not wanting to fall behind in my training, I decided I would run to the meeting and then run home. Not exactly a true 4 mile training run, but I figured if I ran each half fast, it would make up for the rest time in between runs. My run to the meeting was great. I was surprised at how good I felt coming off of a horrible half marathon experience the day before. I was expecting to be sore or tired, but surprisingly, I felt great…I’m sure the cooler and drier air helped. The meeting was great and I left feeling both excited and incredibly nervous about “the big day”. It might seem crazy, but I’m more nervous about this race than I was about my wedding day! My run home was also good. Here are my stats for these runs:
Wednesday, September 4th (Mid-Week Long Run – 9 Miles):
This run went reasonably well, considering my lack of enthusiasm and severe longing to vegetate on the couch instead of run. By the time I got home from work, I was exhausted and the thought of running 9 miles seemed like the worst idea in the world. Guilt got me out the door and soon I was looking at the silver lining…at least I didn’t have to do this mid week long run on a treadmill! :) I felt sluggish for the first few miles of this run, but my legs started to wake up a bit into mile 3 and I finished the run feeling strong and accomplished. Of course, after a quick shower, I went to vegetate on the couch for the rest of the night! Here are my stats:
Friday, September 6th (Easy Run – 5 Miles):
After Tuesday and Wednesday’s confidence building runs, I ended up being really disappointed in this run. Right from the get go, I knew it was going to be mediocre at best. Everything felt off. My breathing was off and my legs were sore and felt like they were made of lead. After suffering through the first three miles without my legs waking up, I decided it was time to run/walk the remaining distance. Let’s just chalk this one up to a bad day and move on, shall we? Here are my stats:
Sunday, September 8th (Long Run – 18 Miles):
My alarm went off at 3am and I rolled out of bed to eat before heading out for my longest run EVER. While eating and staring blankly at the digital clock on the cable box in my living room, I contemplated the craziness of the situation. There were days, not so many years ago, that I would just be going to bed after a night out on the town, but now, I was waking up (after going to bed at 9pm the night before) to go run…for several hours, because I WANTED to. Perhaps my friends were right, maybe I am crazy!
Either way, knowing that this run would take a while, I wanted to get out early to get the bulk of the run in before the sun came up and things heated up. It was a nice and cool morning, super humid, but at least the temperature was lower. The first 9 miles of the run were great. I felt awesome and my legs were cooperating today, unlike a few days ago. The sun was starting to come up into mile 10 and I could feel it start to heat up. After my third CLIF shot, I was starting to feel a little twinge of a stomach cramp, but I trudged on. Things started to get a little harder around mile 11 and I had to give myself a little pep talk (“you can do this…don’t let your mind win…you’re not tired…quitting is not an option”). Thank goodness it was so early in the morning and nobody was out, I felt crazy enough without having others hear me talking to myself! I ate my fourth CLIF shot at mile 12 and immediately felt my stomach cramp up. I was fine on my walk breaks, but as soon as I started running again the cramps were back. I suffered through the next 3 miles and knew I had to eat another shot. I pulled it out of my Fuelbelt at mile 15 and barely choked it down. That’s it, no more Mocha CLIF shots for me. The thought of them makes me nauseous.
Anyway, the last 3 miles of the run were a battle between my mind and muscles. It was sheer determination that got me through. The bottom line is, I didn’t quit, I just ran REALLY slowly those last few miles. When my Garmin beeped at mile 18, I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry because I was so happy that I had completed the 18 miles and that I hadn’t given up. I wanted to cry because my body physically hurt so bad (my hips and quads were screaming). I wanted to cry because I was mentally exhausted. I wanted to cry because negative Nancy reared her ugly head yelling, “if 18 hurt that bad and was that hard, how in the HECK am I going to be able run another 8 miles”?! But I didn’t cry. I just flung my Fuelbelt off and
walked limped the quarter mile back to my house where I promptly took a hot shower and collapsed into a heap on the couch for the rest of the day. Looking back, I think I started out way to too fast for this type of mileage. I need to start off much slower than I’m used to so I don’t burn out on the back half. My strategy for the 20 miler and for marathon day is to stick with a much slower pace group for the first half of the race. If I’m feeling good at the half way point, I can consistently pick up the pace a little for each remaining mile. Here are my stats for my longest run yet (this includes traffic stops and “fueling” stops. I wanted to get a better idea of how I would do on simulated race timing):
Wednesday, September 11th (Easy Run – 5 Miles):
It was another hot day in Chicago (high of 93°F with a heat index well over 100°F), which meant I would be spending some quality time with my friend the treadmill again. The run went surprisingly quickly and I felt good for the last three miles. My legs were a little tired and sore for the first two miles, mainly my shins, but that could have been a result of the surface change. Either way, it worked itself out and the rest of the run felt good. Here are my stats:
Thursday, September 12th (Mid-Week Long Run – 9 Miles):
The weather was finally starting to cool off a bit, and the fact that I got a later start than usual helped quite a bit. There is just something about running at dusk and in the dark that makes it seem so much easier for me. I’m sure it has to do with the lack of sun beating down on me, helping to keep me cooler. Also, for some reason, running in the dark makes me feel like I’m running super fast (even if I’m really not). I have no idea why this is, but I’ll take it. Of course there are downsides to running in the dark too. Obviously, it isn’t the safest thing in the world for a woman to do, especially by herself; and if you’re a klutz like me, extra caution has to be taken to ensure those darn sidewalks don’t jump up and bite you. :) Anyway, this run was great. I felt good from start to finish and even managed to stomach another Mocha CLIF shot. Here are my stats:
Friday, September 13th (Easy Run – 5 Miles):
What an absolutely perfect evening for a run! The hot and humid weather had finally broken. By the time I got home from work, it was a beautiful 60 degree evening with a slight breeze. I knew I had to hit the grocery store in preparation for a mini road trip to cheer some friends on at The North Face Endurance Challenge at Kettle Moraine State Park in WI on Saturday, so I made a deal with my husband – I would run to the grocery store and meet him there so we could get our shopping done and he could give me a lift back home. Since I started running to my in-laws house earlier this year, I find that I end up feeling like a slug if I drive to any store (unless I’m doing some serious damage) or meeting in town, instead of running or riding my bike. Why waste gas when I can kill two birds with one stone – get to where I need to go and get some miles logged too! The run went well, surprisingly well, actually. This was the first 5 mile run I have completed outdoors, in what feels like months, that didn’t require at least a few short walk breaks. Everything just seemed to click and I was almost sad when the 5 miles was up. I felt like I could have gone on forever…another confidence boosting run. Score! Here are my stats:
Sunday (Long Run – 14 Miles):
Well, as much as I feel guilty for missing a “long” run, there was no way this run was going to happen. After spending a fun day with friends in WI, I thought my allergies were really kicking up. I had a tickle in the back of my throat all day, but I figured it was nothing that a Claritin couldn’t fix. Hours after I took said Claritin, my throat was killing me, the tickle was still there…and I had no voice. Yup…I managed to go and get myself sick again, and of course, it would have to be on arguably the most important week of my marathon training (boo, hiss)! I’m not really surprised though. I tend to get sick easily when my body is run down and the high(er) mileage I have been putting in these last few weeks surely has my body begging for mercy. Add crazy Chicago temperature swings to the mix (upper 90’s to mid 60’s in two days) and…BAM…I’m sidelined with a lovely head/chest cold. Hoping for a miraculous recovery, I opted to skip my 14 mile long run and rest Monday night.
Tuesday, September 17th (Easy Run – 5 Miles):
It is now Tuesday and I’m still congested, my voice is making only a slight comeback and my cough is enough to make someone cringe. Since most of my symptoms are above my neck (above the neck = run; below = no running), and not wanting to let a little cold derail my training, I decided I would do my 5 miler tonight, but keep it nice and easy, and reassess my training for the week depending on how I felt afterward. The run went surprisingly well. Again, everything just seemed to click. Even though I’m sick, I still managed to comfortably hold a nice pace, took no walk breaks and finished feeling really strong. I didn’t cough at all during my run, but as soon as I stopped…oh boy, I didn’t think I would ever stop. About 15 minutes after I used my inhaler the fit finally ended. I have a 10 miler on tap for tomorrow so we’ll see how I feel in the morning. Here are my stats for the run: