Oops…I did it again!

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:

9.3.13

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:

9.4.13

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:

9.6.13

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):

9.8.13

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:

9.11.13

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:

9.12.13

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:

9.13.13

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:

9.17.13

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Halfway There

Well friends, I have made it to the half way point of my training schedule!  As the mileage keeps increasing, I am getting more and more nervous and excited for “the big day”, but I am also becoming more confident that I will be able to complete the distance. 

Unfortunately, this week was a rough week for me and I stumbled a bit yesterday, allowing an opportunity for Negative Nancy to come out of her corner yelling and screaming that “I’m crazy, I can’t do this…I’m so slow, I should just give up…I’m crafty, not athletic – I should just stick to running (jogging) for fitness and stay away from races”.  Thank goodness for my awesome husband, he was able to talk some sense into me and make me realize that it’s not about how fast and how far others go, it’s about bettering MYSELF and achieving the goals I set for myself.  Occasionally I need to step back and focus more on the progress I have made in the last two years and stop comparing myself and my abilities to others.  The bottom line is this…like a Greyhound, I was born to be a sprinter not an endurance runner.  I have never been “fast” when it comes to running long distances (my old high school 5K PR is 27:46…just 10 seconds faster than my current 5K PR) and I have overcome bad habits and a serious injury to get where I am today.  The fact that I have gone from not running at all to tackling a marathon (something only 0.5% of the US population has done [Source]) in only two years is something to be proud of.  I also have a passion for running, I really do love it.  Through running I have been able to shake off a bad day, make awesome new friends, live a healthier life and give back to the communities I am a part of.  Just because others are faster than me or can run farther without needing a walk break doesn’t mean I should quit.  In fact, I have so many more reasons to keep going than I do for quitting…so staying the course is what I will do, for as long as I can, for as fast as I can, and for as far as I can!

Now…here is how my training went this week:

Thursday – 8/1/13 (Easy Run – 6 Miles):

We are nearing the end of the CARA Beginning Running program and I couldn’t be prouder of my 5K running buddy.  She is gaining confidence in her abilities and is happy to push the envelope with every run.  After last week’s 5.5 mile run, I was hoping I didn’t push her too far too fast and that she would recover quickly.  I was happy to hear that she wasn’t sore at all and was willing to try a 6 mile run tonight!  The 5.5 miles we ran last week was the farthest she has ever run, so she was a little unsure of herself and her ability to run 6 miles, but was able to complete the run easily.  We kept to a nice and easy pace and finished the run strong.  It was pretty hot and humid, but carrying a water bottle helped us to stay hydrated and the slower pace helped me to get through without expending all of my energy and bonking after mile 4.  The stats for our run are sandwiched between my bike ride to and from The Foot below:

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Friday – 8/2/13 (Rest):

In an attempt to prepare for my scheduled long run the following day, I took full advantage of my rest day today and made sure I carbed up!  For lunch, I ordered a pizza to share with some coworkers and even indulged in an ice cream sandwich for my late afternoon snack.  After work, I had the pleasure of visiting with my favorite furry babies (my in-law’s kittens) and on the way home I stopped for my favorite carbo loading meal – Noodles & Co. Wisconsin Mac & Cheese with Rice Krispie Treat for dessert.  Overall, it was a day full of rest, indulgence and calories, but I didn’t feel too guilty knowing what was in store for me the next day!

Saturday – 8/3/13 (Long Run – 13 Miles):

Ah, the dreaded long run.  Lately, I have been feeling anxious before my long runs, but after last week’s failed Saturday attempt I was especially anxious.  When the alarm went off at 4:45am I groaned and seriously considered just going back to sleep, but knew that I wouldn’t have the luxury of a fallback run on Sunday because we already had plans.  I rolled out of bed, ate my CLIF bar and promptly passed out on the couch.  When I finally woke up at 6:30am, I panicked, got dressed, gathered my gear and was out the door in record time. 

The run itself went well.  I finally received my box of energy gels so I made sure I was armed with 4 gels this time, along with 2 bottles of Gatorade and my handheld full of regular water.  I felt great through the first 10 miles of the run, stopping to eat my gels at mile markers 3, 6 and 9.  By mile 11 I felt fine, but was just mentally spent and just wanted to get the rest of the run over with, so I ate another gel and moved forward.  Because I have been doing my long runs under my interval plan, I set up a workout on my Garmin, figuring 23 reps would be enough.  Wrong!  My Garmin started singing me a happy song indicating that my workout was complete at 12.89 miles, but I wasn’t so happy…I still had a bit to go!  I reset my watch and decided to give it another quarter mile, just to see what my half marathon time (and subsequently full marathon time) would be if I ran a race like this.  Under 2:30:00 for the half…another goal achieved!  I’m hoping to be able to just finish the marathon, but I have a “goal” time of 5:30:00 in mind, which I should be able to achieve if I keep training at this pace.  I’m keeping my expectations low to avoid disappointment in case I hit “the wall” hard, suffer a mental roadblock, the weather is hot/humid, or some other variable derails my race.  Anyway, I was happy with this run and didn’t feel nearly as sore afterward as I did last week.  Here are my stats (the calories burned is off because I had my Garmin set to cycling and had to manually change it to running after uploading the data…I burned WAY more than that!):

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Sunday – 8/4/13 (60 Mins of Cross-training):

Yeah, I did absolutely NO cross-training today (unless a brief panicked swim to catch my camera before it floated downstream counts), but I did have a lot of fun!  Today I went on a really fun Living Social Adventure, the BYOB River Tubing and Taco Bar, with my husband, brother-in-law and a few friends from work.  What a blast!!  We did this adventure last year too, but that is a really long and funny story for another time (there was a torrential downpour and a redneck wedding – horses included), but this year was a thousand times better.  The weather was perfect and the company was even better!  I can’t wait for next summer to do it again…without Living Social and the internal eye rolling it induces though.  The only plus to doing this through Living Social is that transportation to/from is included, which makes the BYOB part a little more enjoyable (unless someone on your bus decides that drinking champagne in the sun and then eating tacos is a good idea…yeah, not so much).  Oh, and next year I will wear sunscreen (ouchie)!

Monday – 8/5/13 (Rest Day):

According to my training plan, Monday’s are supposed to be a rest day so I wasn’t too upset when I realized I had an appointment after work, meaning I wouldn’t have time to run when I got home.  The only downside to not running today was that I was guaranteed to miss yet another week of speed work at the track with my run club.  😦  At least I’m not going to miss my actual training runs, I guess!

Tuesday – 8/6/13 (Easy Run – 3 Miles):

Oh boy, I don’t know if it was due to Saturday’s long run, the beer and junk food on Sunday or the extended “rest” I had by not running on Monday, but this run was absolutely horrible.  My legs were tight, tired, sore and it felt like I had two cement blocks strapped to my feet.  It took everything I had in me to get through this run.  I tried stopping a few times to stretch out my legs but nothing helped.  I ached from my toes to my hips, and oddly enough, my shoulders were sore too.  The time wasn’t too terribly bad (I’ve run a lot slower), but the effort it took to go this slow made me feel like an absolute failure.  I think my disappointment in this run was a huge factor in my Negative Nancy episode on Wednesday.  Here are my stats:

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Wednesday – 8/7/13 (Mid Week Long Run – 7 Miles):

After Tuesday’s failure of a run and my Negative Nancy episode Wednesday morning, I was looking for ANY excuse to skip my training run and give up on training all together.  When the rain clouds rolled in during my lunch hour, I secretly prayed they would turn to thunderstorms by the time I got home from work.  No such luck…they burned off by mid-afternoon and I turned my attention to the heat and humidity for excuses.  The high for the day was in the 90’s and the heat index was 96 at 4pm…surely it was too hot to run.  I mean, if I did, it was sure to end up like the epic failure of a run during the heatwave a few weeks ago, right?!  Luckily, my husband saved the day again.  His encouragement, along with the encouragement of a co-worker armed me with the confidence I needed to face this run, no matter how slow I might go.  I started the run feeling pretty good, but knew I was in trouble when I wanted to quit as I rounded the corner to Washington Boulevard at the 2 mile marker.  I ate an energy gel at mile 3.5 and knew I had to push through, and push through I did.  It may have been slow, and it may have been ugly, but I did it.  Here are my stats:

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Tonight is the last night of the CARA Beginning Running program and I have a 10K coming up this weekend.  Stay tuned for some recaps and more training tales in the days to come.  Have a great week, everyone!

Chug, chug, chugging along!

Holy smokes…I can’t believe I’m already into week 8 of marathon training!  It feels like just yesterday I was nervously awaiting the start of my training program.  Looking back over the last 7 weeks, I have learned some very important lessons (as long as I follow through and don’t make the mistakes again) and have made some decent progress toward reaching my goal of finishing my very first full marathon.  I’m really looking forward to the next 11 weeks of training, but I know the hardest part is yet to come.  I’m still working on pushing through the negative thoughts and the tough summer heat, but with every completed run my motivation increases and the Negative Nancy in my head retreats to her time out corner.

When I started this process, I wasn’t expecting to experience some of the changes my body has been going through – some good, some not so good – but through research and reading I’m learning more about what to expect and how to “fix” any issues that may arise.  I’ve been reading a lot of articles from Runner’s World and Active.com and have been reading the Runner’s World “Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training” as well as Nancy Clark’s “Food Guide for Marathoners”.  All have given me a good idea of how to train, eat, hydrate and work through any mental barriers that may arise.  Talking to other marathon finishers has been a great help too.  The most important fact that I have learned is that everybody and every BODY is different.  What works for one, may not work for all.  It is important to use this time as a learning opportunity, to test out what works and what doesn’t work for me.  Just like the last 7, this week has provided may learning opportunities or me.  Here is how it went:

Thursday– 7/25/13 (Easy Run – 5.5 Miles):

Another lovely day in Chicago!  The weather was a little bit warmer today than it was on Wednesday, but the humidity was still pretty low, making for great running weather.  As you know, Thursday’s are the day I meet and train with my Beginning Running buddy.  After an incredibly boring day at work (both of my bosses were out of the office), I rushed home in an attempt to get home, grab my bike and get to The Foot before our 6:30pm meet up time.  Of course, the pug had to take her sweet time doing her business (we must smell EVERY blade of grass to find the PERFECT spot, you know) so I was felling a bit rushed.  Luckily, I got the bike out the basement door without injuring myself (not an easy task) and was on my way in no time.  I made it to The Foot and found a “parking” spot for my bike with 5 minutes to spare.  After a great Q&A with a nutritionist, we stretched quickly and headed out.  We were scheduled to do 4 miles today, but since my buddy and only one participant in the 10K and Run/Walk programs showed, we decided to tag along with the 10K pacer and participant.  So, instead of 4 miles, we ended up doing 5.5 miles!  I was so proud of my 5K buddy, she had never run that far before, but was able to easily complete the run.  Heck with a 5K, this girl is ready for a 10K!  She seemed pretty happy about the run too…both the distance she covered, and the speed.  She is doing really, really well – I’m glad she is enjoying herself and is discovering what she is capable of.  Here are the stats for our run, sandwiched between my ride to/from the store:

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Friday – 7/26/13 (Rest Day):

Friday’s are a rest day, and I took full advantage of this rest day.  I was able to take advantage of summer hours and left work a little early, which gave me some time to run a few errands before heading home.  After a quick ride around Oak Park/River Forest in Betty (my husband’s shiny new black Mustang), we enjoyed a nice relaxing evening watching movies.  I went to bed early, knowing I would be getting up early to get my long run in so I could spend the day preparing for guests we were having over Saturday evening.

Saturday – 7/27/13 (The Long Run That Didn’t Happen):

The alarm went off at 4:45am and I groaned as I rolled out of bed.  My stomach was feeling a little upset but I chalked it up to nerves about running the 12 miles I had scheduled for that day.  Things were only getting worse as I attempted to choke down my CLIF bar.  I know I say that I choke down those CLIF bars a lot, but this time I really mean it.  After letting my stomach settle for a half hour or so, I geared up and headed out the door.  I still wasn’t feeling that great when I started out, but just after the one mile marker, I stopped in my tracks (there may even have been a screeching sound…lol) and began contemplating how I could get home…QUICKLY.  I was supposed to do a trail run with my run club today, but canceled last minute because my new hydration belt hadn’t arrived yet and there is only well water on the trail (well water and I don’t get along well, I break out in hives, I think it’s the Sulfur), so at this moment I was really glad I didn’t go!  After a very uncomfortable walk home I decided to go back to bed for a while.  Feeling much better, I got up again around 8am and decided to hit the local farmers market before meeting a friend for a cup of coffee.  Feeling like I needed to get at least some exercise in for the day, I decided I would ride my bike.

The farmers market was awesome…there were so many fresh fruits, veggies, plants and flowers!  I ended up with a gigantic bag of fresh green beans (for $2.50!!!) and a jar of Jalapeno pickled asparagus for my hubby.  I really wanted to get a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers too, but I was sure they wouldn’t hold up well in my backpack.

I left the farmers market and made my way through Oak Park/River Forest to meet my friend, taking the long route to kill some time.  I finally made it to Starbucks and had a nice time chatting with my friend(s) over coffee (iced Green Tea for me) and pastries.  I think I could have done without the pastry though, since my ride home was less than comfortable…I have never wanted a TUMS so badly in all of my life!  After I got home and ate that magical TUMS, I rested on the couch for a little bit before tackling the house cleaning and guest preparations.  Unfortunately, our guests had to cancel at the last minute, but we still enjoyed a nice evening with our neighbors and a fire in the backyard.  Again, I went to bed early knowing I would have to get up early and try my long run again.  Here are the stats for my bike ride(s):

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Sunday – 7/29/13 (12 Mile Long Run – For Real This Time):

After the previous failed attempt at this long run, I just wanted to stay in bed when the alarm went off at 5am today.  Though I felt much better physically, than I did the day before, I wasn’t mentally in the game.  After eating my CLIF bar and taking my sweet time getting ready, I finally got out the door around 6:45am.  The first half of the run was good.  My legs were a little tired and sore from riding my bike the day before (I don’t usually ride my bike so my muscles aren’t used to it), but I was able to push through.  I stopped at mile 4 to refuel with a gel and kept trudging along.  Too little too late, I think.  As I discovered during last weeks long run, my energy level falls off a steep cliff somewhere around mile 4 to 4.5, meaning that I should eat a gel closer to mile 3 or 3.5 – unfortunately, I only had two gels (another online order that hasn’t come in yet) so I had to space them out a little further for this run.  I was still hanging in there when I stopped to refill my water bottle that had been empty for a while near mile 7.  I was running out of juice again but forced myself to keep going for another mile before stopping to eat again at mile 8.  I have no idea what happened, but my Garmin decided it was tired too and it reset itself while I ate.  Luckily, I planned to do an out and back run, so I knew retracing my route would get me to the mileage I needed.  The rest of the run was slow going, I was really running out of gas into mile 10 and started to feel dizzy and exhausted.  The last few miles were pure torture, but I made it through – not giving up!  Unfortunately, I forgot to factor in the detour I made so I could refill my water bottle and ended up running about three quarters of a mile more than I needed!  By the time I got home, my hips and legs were toast.  I chugged a glass of Gatorade and hopped in the shower looking forward to meeting up with another friend and then grabbing some breakfast with my husband.  Oh boy was it slow going for a while after that run.  I fell asleep in the car a few times on the way to breakfast and felt like a 90 year old in desperate need of a hip replacement every time I went to stand up.  My protein and caffeine filled breakfast seemed to help a bit, as I was moving around a little better by early evening.  I wrapped up the day with a really nice steak dinner on the deck with my husband and brother-in-law.  The glass of wine I had ALMOST made me forget about how much that run hurt.  🙂  Here are my stats:

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Monday – 7/29/13 (Easy Run – 3 Miles):

Guess what finally came in the mail today?!  That’s right…my new Amphipod RunLite Hydration belt!  I was so excited when the mailman came, it was like Christmas morning.  I excitedly opened the package and immediately tried it on.  I was impressed with how comfortable it was and the convenience all of the little compartments provided.  In addition to the four 8 oz. bottles, the belt came with a pouch which is perfect size for my phone and keys and an additional expandable pouch (similar to my SPIBelt) which will be perfect for energy gels.

Naturally, I HAD to rush home to take it out for a test run.  I was a little afraid that 4 bottles of water would add a ton of weight and I would have to fight the bounce my entire run, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Yes, the water filled bottles added a noticeable amount of weight (I wish they could come up with some space age weightless hydration supplement) and there was some bounce and ride up, but it was not nearly as bad as my single bottle Nathan belt.  I figured out that placing the bottles closer to my sides helped to reduce the bounce, but the ride up was still really annoying.  What is the key to keeping these hydration belts on your hips?  Overall, I’m very pleased with this belt and am looking forward to the next club trail run.  In the meantime, I plan to wear it at least once a week on shorter runs to get used to it.  My stats for last night’s run are below.  I’m not sure if the “slower” time was due to tired legs after the 12 miler on Sunday, or if it was the added weight from the hydration belt, but my legs definitely felt “heavier” today.

6.29.13

Tuesday – 7/30/13 (Rest Day):

I had no choice but to take a rest day today.  I have to say, I wasn’t really sad about it either, because instead of running 6 miles, I got to watch a Cubs game from an awesome seat at Wrigley Field!  🙂  My husband was lucky enough to score tickets to the game from his office so we enjoyed a nice evening of baseball and junk food.  I felt just a little guilty eating a slice of pizza, nachos and two beers.  By the time we left I was so full it wasn’t even funny!  Unfortunately, the Cubs lost, but we still had a great time.

Wednesday – 7/31/13 (Mid-Week Long Run – 6 Miles):

After Tuesday’s late night, I struggled through the day today but made it through thanks to my little friend, caffeine.  By the time I got home from work, all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and watch some TV.  But alas, the training must go on!  Since I skipped my scheduled training run on Tuesday for the Cubs game I had to make it up, which meant no Wednesday night speed work…again.  That’s three weeks in a row now…ugh, I’m never going to get faster if I keep slacking on the speed work.  Darn Tuesday night commitments!  I’m thinking about substituting my weekend cross training day with speed work on the weeks I can’t make it on Wednesday nights.

Anyway, this run was pretty awful.  Not only was I exhausted from lack of sleep and a crazy busy day at work, but like an idiot I decided it was OK to consume several sugary pieces of candy late in the afternoon.  I’m not sure if it was the sugar crash or my junk food choices the night before, but I definitely felt sluggish and my stomach ached something fierce for the first few miles.  I wasn’t sure I would make it through 2 miles, let alone 6, but I pushed through and finished the run.  I am not too pleased with my pace for this run, considering I did the same run last week at a sub 10 minute pace, but as I’ve said before, we all have bad days and clearly yesterday was a bad day, full of bad nutrition choices.  Lesson learned…I will be keeping my hands out of that candy bowl from now on!  Here are my stats for the run:

6.31.13

Coming out of hibernation…

Oh hi, remember me?!  No, marathon training hasn’t killed me, but the summer heat just might (more on that later)!  Seriously though, I have been super duper busy these last few (almost three…oops!) weeks and haven’t been able to find much free time for myself, let alone time to sit in front of a computer and attempt to be witty.  🙂

So what have I been up to?  Oh, you know, just fighting the lovely Chicago traffic five days a week (1 hour each way), working my tail off at the office, finishing up those darn roman shades for my kitchen, and of course, running!  The good news is, the roman shades are done and have been installed.  I’m not particularly proud of them, but for my first sewing project since Home-Ec class in middle school, I’d say they came out alright.  What do you think?

roman shades

Please excuse my running bag sitting on the counter!

OK – let’s get down to business.  Here is a recap of how my training has been going:

Sunday (7/7/13) – Long Run (9 Miles):

In an effort to get my longs runs in before the heat of the day, I have been getting up at 5am to eat before heading out at 6am.  It was really hard to get up because I was up late, hanging out with our neighbors around the fire pit in our backyard.  When the alarm went off I groaned and crawled out of bed, choked down a CLIF Bar, took a few sips of my diet coke and promptly dozed off on the couch while I waited for my food to digest.  Luckily, I never got into a deep sleep and was able to force myself out the door a little after 6am.  The first three miles of the run felt great.  I didn’t feel too winded and my legs felt strong.  The sun was out but my route was pretty shaded up to this point.  I started to heat up a bit when I lost most of my shade into mile 4 and I felt my energy take a leap off a tall cliff.  At mile 4.5 I stopped to walk as I ate my energy gel and drink some water.  Tired of the same old scenery, I decided to try a new route today and crossed over into River Forest for the last half of my run, knowing I would be able to find more shade on it’s densely tree lined streets.  Feeling low energy, I began to think about new strategies for completing the run.  I remembered how easy it was to run with my Beginning Running buddy our first week together and decided to give our interval plan a shot.  I completed the last half of the run by alternating .50 mile running at a “faster” pace and walking 1 minute.  I was so happy when my watch beeped at 9 miles, not because I was exhausted (the intervals definitely helped me finish strong), but because I forgot to Body Glide up and that same spot in my armpit felt like someone was stabbing me every time I swung my arm.  I promise, I will NEVER forget Body Glide again before a long run!  Here are my stats for the run (slow to some standards, but within my long run training pace of 10:34-11:46).

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Monday (7/8/13) – Rest Day:

After 9 miles on Sunday, my legs were a bit tired and I was longing for a rest day.  Typically, Monday’s are a rest day in the Hal Higdon Novice 1 training plan I am using, but because I’m trying to work in some speed work on Wednesday’s to improve my 5K times, I have shifted my normal Tuesday night workout to Monday, Wednesday night to Tuesday and then fall back on schedule for my Thursday night and Saturday or Sunday long run.  Luckily, I had an appointment after work and I didn’t get home until late so there wasn’t much time to get in a run before it got too dark/late.  I attempted to get in a quick three miler, but was unmotivated, tired and sore so I called it quits after one mile and went home to relax on the couch with my hubby.  I must have been pretty tired because 10 minutes later, I was catching flies on the couch.  Here are the stats for that run:

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Tuesday (7/9/13) – 3 Miler:

Summer has really kicked into high gear in Chicago and this day was no exception.  Even though it was hot and steamy (~82 degrees with 74% humidity), I knew I had to get out there and complete my training run, especially after Monday’s failed attempt.  The run went reasonably well for the first two miles, but I crashed and burned on mile three.  I don’t think nutrition or hydration was the reason for my crash, I really think it had everything to do with the heat and humidity.  On hot and humid day’s like this I really struggle to not overheat when I’m running.  Walking is fine, but I often feel dizzy, sick to my stomach or like my face/head is going to explode when I’m running.  At this point, I’m really not sure how to overcome this, other than doing my training runs on the dreaded treadmill if it’s too hot/humid out.  How do you train when the mercury soars and the humidity is suffocating?

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Wednesday (7/10/13) – Speed Work:

Holy moly was speed work hard this day!  I was thankful that the temperature and humidity had eased a bit and there was a nice breeze to help cool things off a bit.  After riding my bike to the track, I jogged a mile to stay warm and continued to jog as the rest of the group did their drills.  I’m still terrified that any lateral drills will bring back that horrible leg pain I was working through a few weeks ago.  All told, my warm-up consisted of a 2 mile bike ride and 1.5 miles of jogging.  After the warm-up, stretching and 4 stiders, my legs felt loose and strong…I was ready to conquer the workout!  The plan was to do 12 x 400’s at 5K pace with a 100 meter jog rest in between and a longer rest after a set of 4.  Remembering that I tend to go out way too fast, I kept my first set right around an 8:47/mile pace (2:05 ish for each 400).  They say consistency is key, and I was right on all the way through the second set.  I was really starting to struggle in the last two of the second set though, so I decided to sit out the first 400 of the third set.  The extra break did me a world of good though and with a little encouragement from “Coach” I successfully ran three more 400’s at 2:00 or under!  It felt good to know that I could do it and I’m looking forward to getting stronger and stronger…hopefully I will see 1:30’s or 1:40’s by the end of the program!  After the workout I cooled down with another 3/4 mile jog and a quick barefoot lap on the turf.  It was slow going riding my bike home since my legs were feeling pretty worn out, but I tried to push it so I could make it home before it got too dark (I didn’t have lights for my bike yet).  I made it home with plenty of daylight to spare though!

Thursday (7/11/13) – Another 3 Miler:

Thursday is the day I help pace for the CARA Beginning Running program.  This was our first day back after a two week hiatus due to a nasty thunderstorm and the 4th of July holiday, so I was excited to get back into the swing of things.  Today, my 5K buddy and I were scheduled to run 3 consecutive miles without any rest breaks.  I didn’t have any doubt that my buddy could do it though.  Like I have said before, she is a much better runner than she realizes and she definitely have the lung capacity to get her through easily.  After a bit of dynamic stretching, we started out on our route and before we knew it the three miles was up!  The weather was really nice, a little on the humid side, but not too hot for a change.  Here are our stats for the run:

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Saturday (7/13/13) – Long (ish) Run and Post Run Yoga:

After a rest day on Friday, I was feeling prepared and excited to meet my run club friend for a quick run before she introduced me to my new favorite post run activity…yoga!  We met at 7am, which would normally be early enough to beat the heat of the day, but the humidity was up and I decided to wear running capri’s because, well, nobody wants to see me doing yoga in anything but pants…take my word for it.  Not thinking ahead and BRINGING a pair of capri’s to change into was my downfall.  The first mile or so was fine, we even got to laugh when a random car drove by blasting NKOTB’s “Hangin’ Tough” (seriously though, it was crazy loud and his windows were wide open), but by mile three I was dying.  You know that feeling you get when you’re wearing a wet bikini or swim shorts outside of the water on a hot day – damp, sticky and just gross – yeah, that was me.  I never wanted to shower so badly in all of my life.  I made it through the bulk of the run, grateful for every stoplight break, but had to take a walk break for a bit around the five mile marker – I was just too hot and my breathing was all off.  We finished the run strong though and made our way to yoga class.

Yoga was AMAZING…it felt so good to stretch my tired/sore muscles after an almost 6 mile run.  I really didn’t want the class to end.  I’m totally hooked and can’t wait to go back.  I’m even thinking about getting up even earlier on Saturday’s to get my scheduled long runs in and head over to yoga to stretch it out afterward.  Here are my stats for the pre yoga run:

7.13.13

Sunday (7/14/13) – Long Run – For Real This Time (10 Miles)!

My schedule says that I was supposed to get 10 miles in for my long run on Saturday, but after overheating before yoga and doing all that work stretching at yoga, I just wanted to shower and didn’t want to get all tensed up and sweaty trying to get in another 4.5 quick miles.  Not wanting to cut my long run short, I decided I would get up early on Sunday to get a full 10 continuous miles in…no breaks.  To my disappointment, the weather was just as hot and humid as Saturday.  Obviously, I didn’t make the capri mistake again, but I still struggled through this run.  This time around, I stuck to my new long run interval routine of running .5 mile, walking for 1 minute and so on.  It was so hot and humid I seemed to be going through water quickly and stopped to refill my hand-held bottle three times.  I drank EVERY last drop of those four (12 oz.) bottles.  I have to say that though the intervals made the run a lot easier, they got to be very monotonous and I found myself getting discouraged by the number of intervals left on my Garmin screen, allowing the Negative Nancy in my mind to push the “I just want to give up” button.  I’m happy to report that I did not give up, but I have to confess, I took full advantage of the water refill stops!  Here are my stats for the run:

7.14.13

Monday (7/15/13) – Easy 3 Miler:

After my 10 miler the day before I was really wanting a rest day, but I promised some run club buds that I would do (at least part) of the club Monday night run.  My hammies were sore and it was so HOT out (this was the start of our little heat wave last week…I think it was in the upper 80’s this day), but I’m glad I convinced myself to go.  I had a nice quick run and some good conversations with my friends.  I felt pretty good, but was never so happy to see my street coming up.  I was drenched in sweat and really wanted a swig of Gatorade.  After I ditched off from the group, I walked the half block to my house, made myself a nice cold glass of Gatorade and dizzily sat down to drink it.  After a few minutes I had my husband take me back to The Foot so I could pick-up my car.  I felt really silly and almost like I cheated!  Anyway, here are my stats for that run:

7.15.13

Tuesday (7/16/13) – Midweek Long Run (5 Miles):

This day was absolutely, positively the WORST running day of my life.  My Beginning Running buddy wasn’t going to be able to make it to our usual Thursday night run (which turned out to be canceled anyway due to the extreme heat), but we agreed to meet so I could help her get in her scheduled 3.5 miles.  I left work and should have known this run would end up in failure due to the extreme heat and humidity.  We agreed to meet at 6:30pm and since I had to get 5 miles in for my training I decided I would run to our meet up location (about 1.5 miles) and would then run home.  Because traffic was pretty heavy, I had to put a hustle on my run to our meet up location, which wasn’t easy in the heat/humidity.  By the time I got to the OPRF track (our meet up location), I thought I was going to die of heat stroke and wasn’t surprised when I looked up at the billboard that indicated it was STILL 91 degrees at 6:30pm!  After a quick break so I could catch my breath, we were off, choosing to try out a new route.  After about a mile we stopped for a traffic light and I started to feel queasy and light headed.  I was so embarrassed that I was the “teacher” and I had to walk…some role model I am!  We walked for a block or two and tried it again.  Another mile down and guess what, I had to walk again…my face felt like it was going to pop it was so hot.  This time we walked quite a bit further (about a half mile) before the sun retreated behind the clouds and the air seemed to cool off quite a bit.  We finished the run strong and I walked home with my tail between my legs, wishing I had brought some cash with me so I could stop and get an ice slushie to cool me off!  After my walk of shame I gulped down some ice cold water, took a cold shower and started to second guess myself and my ability to even finish a marathon.  Determined to finish, I decided that, as much as I hate them, I would do my training runs on a treadmill if the weather was above 90 degrees or excessively humid again.  Here are my stats for this horrible, horrible run that I will now repress any memory of:

7.16.13

Thursday (7/18/13) – 3 Miler:

I thought Tuesday was hot until Thursday rolled around with it’s 96 degrees and oppressive humidity.  I walked into the underground parking garage at work and it was like walking into a wall.  I was glad I planned ahead and brought my workout gear so I could run on the treadmill in the building’s gym.  I also decided to try out those new Brooks sneaks I told you about awhile ago.  Yes, they have stayed in my closet that long…I told you, I felt like I was cheating on my old trusty Saucony’s!  Anyway, I changed into my workout gear and hated the shoes immediately…they felt too small, like if I ran any more than 3 miles in them I would lose my big toenail for sure.  Having no other shoe options with me, I decided to give them a shot.  I turned on the news, positioned the oscillating fan for optimal cooling and began my run.  I was pleasantly surprised, the run was really easy and I felt really good.  I ran 3 miles at sub 10-minute pace and didn’t even feel winded.  Weird.  I’ve been struggling so much while running outside lately, I have to wonder if it really is just the heat and humidity slowing me down.  I have only run on a treadmill once before and I hated every seems-like-an-eternity minute of it, but that could be because I was used to running in the cold winter temps (I was running inside because it was in the negatives with wind chill that day and I didn’t feel like getting frostbite!) and the inside temperature was obviously much warmer.  I haven’t really made any adjustments to my food consumption, and the only change has been of the meteorological variety…could it be that I’m really that sensitive to the weather?  If so, how to I overcome that obstacle?!  It’s not like I can train solely on a treadmill in a climate controlled environment, or run a marathon on a treadmill for that matter (OMG…I would want to gouge my eyes out from the boredom!).  One thing is for sure, I’m really looking forward to the Fall!

Sunday (7/21/13) – Long Run (7 Miles):

It was another warm and muggy morning, but much cooler than it has been for this long run.  Since it was a step down week, I only had to log a 7 miler for my long run, but after a late night celebrating a friend’s birthday downtown, I found it hard to get out of bed and out the door by my goal time of 6am.  Instead, I took my time waking up and eating and headed out at 7:30am.  I stuck to my long run interval plan for this run and felt pretty good throughout the whole 7 miles.  I have been starting to pay attention to my energy levels on long runs in an attempt to nail down the perfect “refuel” timing to head off any bonk that might occur.  After talking with my run club bud, Jess, last weekend, I realized that my stores might deplete faster than the “normal” person since I seem to run out of gas somewhere between 4 and 4.5 miles.  To head this off, I decided that I would eat my gel at mile 3.5 and see how it went from there.  Holy amazing…it worked!  I felt great the entire run and didn’t see the “Average Pace” time on my Garmin sliding up like I usually do.  I was finally able to keep a nice, steady pace throughout the entire run.  Also, I think this is the first long run that I have ever done where I didn’t totally bonk out and suffer through the back half crawling along at a snails pace.  My only mistake is that I didn’t plan out my route very well, changing direction on a whim instead, leading me to finish the run about a mile and a half away from my house.  Ooops!  At least I got a nice cool down walk in!  Here are my stats for the run:

7.21.13

Monday (7/22/13) – 3 Miler:

Monday was another hot day (89 degrees), but much less humid, which was nice.  Since I didn’t bring my workout clothes with me, I contemplated doing 3 miles on the elliptical machine I have at home.  After some convincing from my husband I sucked it up, changed out of my work clothes and complained my way out the door.  Since I hated that pair of Brooks so much, I tried to return them over the weekend, but I was only allowed to exchange them for another pair of shoes.  The only color Saucony Guide 6’s they had in stock was black…no thanks, it’s hot enough…so I let them talk me into a different pair of Brooks.  This time I ended up with a full size larger than my street size (8.5 vs. 7.5) and the Glycerin’s instead of the Adrenaline’s.  I thought I might as well get the test run over with so I decided to test them on this run.  I absolutely hated them the first mile…surprise, surprise – they felt too big!  I’m really starting to feel like Goldilocks now.  By the end of mile 2 I was getting used to them, but by mile 3 I just wanted to be done with the run and in an air-conditioned room somewhere.  The run went relatively well, considering the heat and new shoe learning curve, I was happy to see a more “normal” pace.  I plan to give the Glycerin’s another shot on Thursday this week.  Here are my stats for the run:

7.22.13

Wednesday (7/24/13) – Midweek Long Run (6 Miles):

FINALLY!  The hot weather has broken…today was an absolutely GORGEOUS day!  Low humidity and much, much cooler temps (high of only 76 today!) made for a lovely sunroof open, windows down drive to work this morning.  I was anxious to get out of work and get my midweek long run in today, but after a slice of Chocolate Moose Cake from Gibsons (because I have absolutely no willpower) I wasn’t so sure how the run was going to go.  My stomach was rebelling before I even started to run so I was afraid the jostling would only make it worse.  By the time I got home, the brick in my stomach started to subside and just to be safe, I took my sweet time gearing up and planning out my route (so I wouldn’t end up a mile or more away from home at the end of the run again!).  After a short warm up walk I was ready to go…and go I did!  The weather was amazing and I found it easy to breath even though I was maintaining a sub-10 minute pace.  Thinking that the pace was too good to be true or last for the whole run, I decided I would continue to push as long as I could.  To my surprise, I finished the run feeling fast, strong and as though I had a lot of energy to spare.  This further proves my theory that weather severely affects my running speeds and leaves me hopeful for a nice crisp Fall day on October 13th (the big day).  Here are my stats for tonight’s run (I actually ran a 10K to see if I could beat my 10K PR race time from last year…blew it out of the water by 4 minutes!):

7.24.13