I did it…I RAN a MARATHON!

That’s right friends, after 6 months of panic attacks, 4 months of dedicated training, 456.49 miles logged over 82 hours and 46 minutes (and 7 seconds to be exact), 2 booze free block parties and a lot of early weekend mornings…I am a marathoner!  I cannot even begin to describe how awesome it is to be able to say that!

I’m a little (ok, a LOT) behind in my blogging, but better late than never, right?  Things have been quite busy around here since the race, but that’s a good thing, especially since I took a week off from running for recovery.  Taking time off from running makes me antsy.  I feel like a sloth, my sleep is thrown off and I’m generally crabbier and irritable.  Yes, I think I just might be addicted.  Luckily, between hosting an out of town guest (my Mom), catching up at work after a week off and catching up on my schoolwork I haven’t had time for much else, so I didn’t really have a chance to go through withdrawals too badly.  Sure, I missed the structure of training and I missed the “all is right in the world again” feeling I get during and after a good run, but there was just no way for me to get my fix last week.  I’m writing after a great 2 mile recovery run yesterday and I’m feeling inspired again.  So, without further ado, here is a review of my very first (but certainly not last) marathon!

Bank of America Chicago Marathon (10/13/2013) – aka The Best Day of My Life!

The day began like any other race day.  I woke up before the alarm went off with my usual race day nervous stomach, and in an attempt to get as much sleep as possible, I closed my eyes and tried to shut out as many thoughts as possible.  I must have been successful because the next hour and half flew by and before I knew it, the alarm began to sing it’s happy tune.  Not wanting to wake up the whole house, I immediately got out of bed and began preparing for the big day.  Having laid out my outfit and other race gear the night before, I finished getting ready with lots of time to spare.

I left the house at 5:15am so I could catch the 5:30am Green Line train to downtown Chicago, and thanks a series of red lights, I arrived to the station only a few minutes before the train arrived.  Once on the train I was able to relax a little – as much as a first time marathoner can before the big race.  I calmed my nerves by mentally going over my pacing, nutrition and hydration plan for the day.  The train had a few other runners on it, and I have to admit, eavesdropping on their conversations about their past Chicago Marathon experiences helped too.

By the time the train pulled into the Adams/Wabash stop I was more excited than nervous and as I reached the bottom of the stairs on the corner of Adams, I couldn’t help but feel the excitement in the air.  The city was still asleep, but it was very much awake with the buzzing and excitement of 40,000 runners.  After walking a few blocks I made my way through Gate #3 and into the Start/Finish line area.  As corny as it may sound, the combination of the excitement in the air and my nerves got the best of me and when the security agent who checked my bag said “you’re all set, have a great race”, I began to tear up.  All I could think was “Wow, I’m really going to do this.  They told me I would never run again and here I am.  I’m going to run a MARATHON today”.  For the next hour I sat on the sidewalk, watching the sun rise over the lake and then the city, listening to other runners excitedly talk about their months of training and plans for the race.  I helped a few fellow runners take photos and chatted with them about the weather, the course, and just about everything in between.  Here is a photo of me before I was brave enough to shed my warm-ups:

Freezing before the start.

Freezing before the start.

It was a cool morning but I knew that I would warm up as soon as I started running.  Knowing this didn’t make it any easier to take off my jacket and sweatpants and hand them over to gear check.  Concerned that I was placed in a much slower corral than I should have been in (due to my own stupidity when I registered), I wanted to be sure I was at the front of the corral.  To ensure my place at the front of the corral, I checked my gear about 45 minutes before start time and subsequently stood there freezing for the next hour and 7 minutes.  After about 30 minutes of goosebumps and constant shivering, I began to worry that I was wasting some much needed energy, but there wasn’t much I could do so I just put the thought out of my mind and tried to enjoy the start line experience.

Finally, 22 minutes after my wave started, I crossed the start line and began my journey to the finish.  As I said in my previous posts, my goal for the day was to run the whole race and just finish.  I was not concerned with meeting a time goal this time around, and more than anything, I wanted to savor the experience.  I heard that the crowd support at the Chicago Marathon was fantastic and I was looking forward to reading signs, high-fiving complete strangers and experiencing the on course entertainment.  Within the first mile I knew the rumors were true.  Every inch of the course was lined with spectators holding signs and cheering us on.

Running with the masses just after Mile 1!

Running with the masses just after Mile 1!

The first 9 miles of the race were great.  I kept to a slow and steady pace, taking in the sights as I ran under the BP Pedestrian Bridge, past the Chicago Theater, through Old Town, past the Lincoln Park Zoo, through Boys Town (my absolute FAVORITE part of the race…awesome entertainment and energy through that section!) and back through Lincoln Park and Old Town again.

Having fun at Mile 3!

Having fun at Mile 3!

My breathing was right on and my legs felt rested and strong.  I was cruising right along and really enjoying myself when I felt the first twinge of pain radiating from my big toe.  I knew exactly what was happening…my recurring giant blister was making its race day comeback.  I don’t understand how I can run miles and miles on my solo long runs and not have a problem, but when I’m participating in an organized event I always seem to end up with a large and very painful blister starting around mile 7.  I knew I should stop to get a band-aid from one of the medical tents, but it didn’t hurt that bad so I decided to just keep trudging along.

Meanwhile, my husband was running a marathon of his own.  He was a rockstar! By the time I got to mile 11, I saw Josh 3 times, and was looking forward to seeing him at least 2 more times before I finished.  He put together an awesome plan and seeing him gave me the oomph I needed to keep going strong.

Crusin' along at Mile 10.5

Crusin’ along at Mile 10.5

Mile by mile I made my way to toward the finish.  Somewhere just after the halfway point I stopped to walk through an aid station and when I began running again I noticed that my knees and ankles were starting to ache a bit, nothing serious though.

Still all smiles at Mile 14.5!

Still all smiles at Mile 14.5!

Moving right along, I saw my In-Laws and Mother cheering me on at mile 14.5, and I gave them high fives as I ran on by.  I was so glad to see Josh at mile 16.5, as he was holding two extra CLIF Shots for me since I couldn’t fit them all in my SPI belt and small water bottle pocket.

Wishing Josh had a new big toe for me instead of just CLIF Shots at Mile 16.5

Wishing Josh had a new big toe for me instead of just CLIF Shots at Mile 16.5

At this point, I really wished he had a new big toe for me instead of the CLIF Shots though!  I stopped for a quick shot transfer and a photo op and was on my way again.  This time, I noticed that my knees and ankles were getting really sore, but only when I started running again from a walking stride.

The next 4 miles are a complete blur.  I tried to “check-out” for a while and focused on my surroundings instead of the radiating pain coming from my big toe.  At mile 20 I remember feeling nervous about the next 6.2 miles but calmed myself by giving myself a once over, almost as if checking the system status of a car on a long road trip.  All systems were functioning well, and I knew I would make it to the finish with no problem.  My breathing was still nice and even and I still had plenty of energy.  I couldn’t feel the pain in my toe anymore, but my knees and ankles were still sore when starting back up from walking through aid stations, so I tried to run through them if I wasn’t planning on taking fluids since they were fine as long as I kept running.  I was amazed when I crossed mile 23.1 and realized that I still felt great and I only had a 5K left.  Easy peasy, I thought, I’ve got this in the bag!  I picked-up my pace a bit those last 3 miles, and determined to run the whole thing, focused on powering through the hill right before making the turn to the finish line.

Still going strong at Mile 25.5!

Still going strong at Mile 25.5!

As I made the turn for the final 400 meters of the race I ran into a friend and we ran to the finish together.  This is the same friend that helped me through my very first half marathon and inspired me to start running again in the first place, so it was almost poetic that out of 40,000 other runners I would run into her right at the finish of my first marathon.  As we sprinted (as fast a sprint as one can muster after running 26 miles) to the finish, I got a little emotional, but held the tears back and went for elation instead.  I raised my arms, yelled “woohoo” and crossed the finish line smiling ear to ear.  I did it!  I ran a marathon! 

Unofficial Results

Unofficial Results

We continued to walk through the finisher chute and I teared up again when a very kind lady placed my medal around my neck and said “congratulations, great job!”.  We then grabbed a banana and a beer as we walked toward gear check to gather our belongings.  I took about three bites of the banana and one swig of beer before tossing them both in the trash.  My stomach was not ready to handle anything just yet, it was too full of water, Gatorade and CLIF Shots.

The medal!

The medal!

I was never in such a hurry to take my shoes off and put on a pair of flip flops as I was after this race.  As soon as I got my bag from gear check I carefully slipped off my shoes and stared in awe at the size of the blister on my big toe.  Surprisingly, my feet were the only body parts that hurt immediately after the race, or maybe it was just the runner’s high and pride of finishing a marathon masking the aches and pains that would come later.

After finally locating my husband, we all boarded the L to head back home.  Walking was fine and I was surprised at how easily I was able to climb the stairs to the platform (sure, it wasn’t comfortable, but it wasn’t painful either).  Sitting on the train felt great and I began to feel a little tired.  By the time we reached the Oak Park stop I was ready for a nap.  We got off the train and as I took one step down the stairs I saw stars.  After what seemed like an eternity, I finally made my way to the bottom of the stairs and shuffled up the street to Gepetto’s Pizzeria where my run club was hosting a pizza party for runners and volunteers.  It was so fun to hear everyone’s story, and the pizza was pretty good too!  We left the pizza party about an hour later and headed home to relax.  The first thing I did was take a looooong shower and boy did it feel good!  I still felt pretty darn good, until I sat down for an hour and then tried to stand back up.  Every muscle from my lower back to my toes felt like it was tightening up and I started walking around like Frankenstein.  My hips were tight, my knees ached, my ankle was sore and swollen, and my toe was, well lets just say, angry.

Look at the angle of my ankle...no wonder it was swollen!

Look at the angle of my leg…no wonder my knees and ankles hurt!

While sitting down for dinner and looking at some of the pictures of me running, it dawned on me…the reason my knees and ankle were so swollen and sore was because I was constantly dodging and passing other runners (and sometimes walkers, especially at the end of the race).  I knew I was assigned to the wrong corral, but I certainly did not expect to be passing that many people.  According to  the unofficial results, 38,535 people started the race and I finished 29,553rd.  I was in corral “L” with only one corral behind me, corral “M”.  I would guesstimate corrals L and M held about about 2,000 runners total, since they looked pretty small.  This means that I passed approximately 6,900 people over the course of the race.  Even if my guesstimate is off by 2,000 people, that still a lot of people to pass!  No wonder my knees and ankles were sore and swollen!  Oh well, lesson learned for the next one!

Overall this was an absolutely amazing experience and I’m so glad I chose Chicago for my first marathon.  The crowd support is amazing, the course is scenic and flat (except for that evil and cruelly placed hill right before the finish), and if the weather is right, it’s hard to have a bad race.  If I could be guaranteed to have the weather we had on October 13th, I would do this race again in a heartbeat.  But alas, Chicago weather is so unpredictable, especially this time of year, I’m afraid to chance it.  I almost feel that because I had such an awesome experience, I would be tempting fate by running Chicago again.  I had such a perfect day and race, I’m afraid to ruin the memory.  Maybe I’ll see if I can get into New York next year.

Well friends, that’s it…”marathon” has now been checked off my bucket list.  I would like to take a moment to thank my family, friends, coworkers and all of my blog followers for your support and encouragement throughout this process.  You have given me the drive and have helped me succeed in reaching my goal.  You have gotten me out of bed at 3am to get my long run in before the heat of the day.  You have given me fueling, hydration and gear advice.  You have inspired me to run faster and even just to keep running when I wanted to quit.  You have all been an inspiration to me and I am forever grateful for your support, advice and encouraging words.

Now that the marathon is over, I will switch my focus to my next half marathon, which is scheduled for January 25th.  This time around, I’m going to try using a more advanced training plan and will work in strength training and yoga in the hopes of improving my speed and breaking my half marathon curse.  Training officially starts in a few weeks, but rest assured, I won’t be just sitting around in the meantime.  I have a few races coming up and I would really like to PR in a 5K and 10K before the end of the year.  On that note, I’m going to head to bed so I can get up early tomorrow and get a quick run in before work.  Tomorrow evening is girls night out with my run club friends, a sure to be good time!

Until next time, happy running!

Trusting the Taper

What an amazingly inspirational, confidence building and scary week it has been!  When I last wrote I was making a slow recovery from a lovely head cold and upper respiratory infection.  I’m happy to report that as I write this, the head congestion is completely gone, I have my voice back, and my cough has significantly improved.  I was really worried about being sick during this very important week of training and was nervous that if I wasn’t able to run (or made myself even sicker by running through the illness) I wouldn’t be fully prepared come race day.  Thankfully, I was able to complete most of my runs (more on that below).

As much as I have thought about quitting a zillion times during this training, running a marathon has been a lifelong goal of mine, and the thought of failing when I’m this close to realizing my goal makes me want to try even harder to ensure that I am successful.  Through successful runs, this week has given me the boost in confidence I was hoping for.  Yes, I’m still incredibly nervous about “the big day”, but I know I can do it.  I’m going into this with only one goal…to finish.  I don’t care how long it takes me, I just want to run the whole thing (only walking through aid stations) and I want to finish strong.  I don’t know if I will ever run another marathon (or if I’ll even want to), but I will save time goals for the future.  This race is to prove to myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to.

Training for and running a marathon is no easy task.  It takes incredible amounts of mental and physical toughness, dedication, and perseverance.  I never realized how little I knew about running, especially long distances, until I started training for this marathon.  I have learned so much over the last few months.  I have learned what it takes to train for and run long distances, including nutrition, hydration, gear, etc.  I have learned that my body can handle so much more than I ever thought it was capable of.  I have learned that, for me, successfully covering long distances is more of a mental challenge than it is physical.  I have learned the skills needed to quiet the negative Nancy in my head that yells and screams at me, telling me that I’m weak, that I can’t do this, that I should just give up.  This has been an experience of a lifetime and I am forever changed.  I am stronger because of this, both mentally and physically, and I cannot wait to cross that finish line in a just over two short weeks!

Here is how my training has gone this week:

Wednesday, September 18th (Easy Run – 5 Miles):

As I drove home from work, it began to rain.  I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to go for a 5 mile run in the rain, given I was still pretty congested and my cough hadn’t improved much, but after walking the dog, it looked like the sun was trying to peak out from behind the clouds and the rain had slowed to a drizzle so I decided to give it a shot.  The goal was to run the entire 5 miles without stopping for a walk break.  As soon as I geared up and walked out the front door, I heard a clap of thunder in the distance.  Looking up at the sky, I thought the storm was far enough North that I would be OK.  I walked to the end of the block and began running.  At the quarter mile mark it started to sprinkle and by the time I got to the half mile mark it was full fledged pouring.  Taking cover under a garage awning, I pulled out my phone and looked at the radar.  The storm that appeared to be so far North, was growing and moving Southeast pretty quickly.  After a quick call to my husband, I decided I should get home as fast as possible and finish my workout on the elliptical (evil machine, as I like to call it).  I have never run so fast in all my life.  The rain continued to come down in buckets and the lightening was getting closer and closer.  After what seemed to be an eternity, I reached my front steps, and just in time.  As soon as I reached the top step I saw a flash and then there was an immediate crack of thunder.  Phew…that was a close one!  My heart was in my throat and I was glad to be home safely.  It was a good thing I didn’t try to wait it out, the storm lasted for quite a while.  All told, I got a mile run in, and ended up doing 4 more miles on the elliptical.  I know the elliptical isn’t exactly the same as running, but it got my heart rate up and my legs moving.  Here are my stats for the 1 miler:

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Thursday, September 19th (Mid-Week Long Run – 10 Miles):

I planned to meet a run club friend for some much needed catch-up/girl time after work today, which meant that I had to get up early to get my run in before work.  When the alarm went off at 4:30am I seriously considered staying in bed, but after some hemming and hawing I was successful in guilting myself into getting up, since it was such an important week in my training and all.  After walking the dog, I loaded myself into the car and somehow made it out to Oak Brook through my sleepy “it’s too early” haze.  By the time I got to the office I was awake and ready to spend some quality time with my new bud, the treadmill.  The run went well and I felt really strong, just a little bored the first half of the run, since I couldn’t really hear the TV and I don’t like to read while I’m running (I’m really susceptible to motion sickness from reading while bouncing).  Anyway, I started the run at a nice and easy pace, gradually picking it up the last few miles.  Here are my stats:

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Sunday, September 22nd (Long Run – The Big 20!):

I have to admit, I was more than a bit nervous about being able to complete this run, given my bad 18 miler experience, but I really needed this run to be “good” in order to boost my confidence for race day.  At the advice of my runner friends, and looking for a little company to help me through my longest run, I decided I would join the Chicago Area Runner’s Association (CARA) in their annual 20 mile fully supported training run.  For the bargain basement price of $38 (for CARA members) you get a fully supported training run that includes pace group leaders, multiple aid stations (water/Gatorade and one with Power Gel), gear check, a finish area celebration complete with a free beer and a finisher’s technical tee.  This was hands down, the easiest and best decision I have made with regard to marathon training yet.

What an amazingly awesome day this was!  I awoke to an absolutely perfect morning.  Low humidity and temperatures forecast to be in the 50’s and 60’s had me excited to get this run under way.  I arrived on-site with plenty of time to park, get to the race site and check my bag.  I was able to quickly locate my pace group leaders (I went with 12 min/mile since this was a training run and I wanted to prove to myself that I could run the whole thing without using intervals, plus I was unsure of myself after my difficult 18 miler), and we began chatting about the upcoming run and the best way to stay warm while waiting for the start on race day (she suggested a garbage bag or Tyvek painters suit).  Before we knew it, it was time to get started.  We lined up, said hello to other group mates and we were off.  I quickly found a buddy to chat with and we hit it off right away.  We chatted about everything from running to family and before we knew it 6 miles had flown by.  The rest of the run was much the same, slow and steady, I chatted with group members and leaders alike to keep my mind busy and off the miles I had left to run.  We even got a good laugh when we came upon a small two-seater airplane that had performed an emergency landing on Lakeshore Drive earlier that morning (thankfully, nobody was injured!) and about a mile later we saw the Oscar Meyer Wiener vehicle.  It was like we were playing long run bingo.  Oh the things you see!

The bottom line is, I felt great for this entire run.  I never felt winded and my legs were strong the whole way.  I am proud to say that I was able to easily run this 20 miler in its entirety (except quick walks through the aid stations to down a gel or a cup of water) and it was awesome.  I even had enough energy to pick up the pace a bit on the back half of the run and finished by sprinting up a hill and across the finish line…a far cry from the agony and defeat I felt just two weeks earlier at the end of my 18 mile run.  Sure, after “running” for 20 miles and pounding the pavement for almost 4 hours, my legs were tired and sore, I just never felt like I couldn’t go a step farther.  A HUGE confidence booster!  Also, I’m sure it was due to the slower pace, but I only ate 4 gels during this run and never really felt like I was running out of gas, and I didn’t experience the stomach cramping this time either.  Super YAY!  The only “bad” thing about this run was the beating my feet took.  I didn’t realize the extent of the damage until I got home and took my shoes off.  Apparently my sock had slipped below my ankle on my left foot, which lead to some pretty ugly chaffing.  My right foot fared much worse though.  I got my usual blister on my big toe, only this time the blister formed under the callus leading to a beautiful blood blister (can you sense my sarcasm?).  Luckily, the calluses on the top of my second and third toes saved my toenails from too much damage, but they sure were sore for a few days!

Overall, this was a great experience and helped me to get a better idea of what I should do on race day.  I now have a plan for race day, and am really looking forward to experiencing the Chicago Marathon and everything it has to offer.  Here are my stats:

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Tuesday, September 24th (Easy Run – 5 Miles):

It was another early morning for me today.  Knowing I had a 6pm appointment and wouldn’t get home until late, I decided I would get up early to get my run in before getting ready for work.  Since this run was just an easy 5 miler (hard to believe that just a few months ago, 5 miles was just shy of a long run), I decided to hit the streets of Oak Park instead of heading to work and running on the treadmill.  Luckily, the dog got me up at 4am so I had plenty of time to eat something before heading out.  I tried a PowerBar Performance Energy Blend (Apply Mango Strawberry flavor) for the first time, and I’m in love.  It was delicious and sat well in my stomach, leaving me with a fulfilled but light feeling.  The run went REALLY well, surprisingly well actually.  After running 20 miles just a day and a half before, I thought my legs would be tired and sore for sure.  Surprisingly, they felt great and again, everything just seemed to click.  My breathing was right on and I even managed to run negative splits (and the whole thing without stopping!).  It’s amazing what a good long run can do for breaking down mental barriers!  Here are my stats:

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Wednesday, September 25th (Mid-Week Long Run – 8 Miles):

Another solid run in the books!  The weather was great again this week, which is helping me get through runs a lot easier these days.  The low humidity and cooler temperatures really seem to help keep my breathing in line.  I felt pretty good again for this run.  Not nearly as good as I did on Tuesday’s run, but overall pretty decent.  Because this was a longer run, I wanted to be sure that I didn’t go out too fast and run out of gas after a few miles so I kept the pace nice and even at around 10:30 min/mile for a good majority of the run, choosing to pick up the pace for the last three miles if I felt good.  Happily, despite running consistently (no more intervals!) at this pace, I still felt good for the last three miles and ran negative splits for those miles (10:14, 10:12 and 9:45).  My legs were a little on the tired side today though.  Here are my stats:

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Friday, September 27th (Easy Run – 4 Miles):

Tonight was another good run for me.  It was a bit warmer today (close to 80°F), but not humid which helped to keep my breathing in line.  I felt pretty good as I set out on this run, a little tired, but nothing I couldn’t handle.  About a mile into the run my legs decided that they were going to rebel and give me trouble.  My quads felt heavy and my shins were sore, causing negative Nancy to make an appearance.  Instead of focusing on my uncooperative legs, I pushed through and forced myself to focus on and enjoy my surroundings instead (the trees are starting to change!).  I was so focused on everything but my legs, I couldn’t tell you when they decided to wake up, but they did!  The last two miles or so of my run felt effortless and I finished with a smile.  Here are my stats:

9.27.13

So this week was the official start of my taper.  They say that it is important to “trust the taper” and your training program.  I’m beginning to get a little stir crazy and as my mileage decreases, and have already worked out my post marathon training plan in anticipation for my next half marathon in January.  I am also getting more and more nervous as the big day approaches.  I got my official participant guide in the mail on Wednesday and just about hyperventilated when I saw it.  downloadThis is becoming very real for me, and I am wavering between confidence and fear of failure as the day draws closer and closer.  Last night was girls night out (GNO) with my run club friends.  It’s always nice to spend time with these ladies, but having an opportunity to express my hopes, fears and share encouraging words with other runners and friends, who have been through this before, helped ease some of my fears a bit.  By the time I left the gathering last night, I felt ready to take this monster goal head on, knowing that I had all of those lovely ladies standing behind me, just as I stand behind them as they strive to reach their goals.  Thank you for all of your support OPRC girls…and to those running Chicago with me, best of luck, you will do great!!!

While running my 20 miler last weekend, I found myself thinking about the movie Spirit of the Marathon.  When I first watched the film many months ago, I found it to be incredibly inspiring.  Being the dork that I am, I found myself tearing up and literally screaming at the computer screen, cheering Deena Kastor to the finish.  I remember thinking that I would surely break down in tears at the finish line, my body crumbling into a heap.  As the day approaches, I wonder what the finish line has in store for me.  Will I break down in tears, or will I cross the finish line the same way I crossed the line of the 20 miler…calm, encouraged, and happy?  Whatever the day has in store for me, I am growing more and more excited.  That being said, I leave you with this great Chicago Marathon inspirational video I found while perusing YouTube today (look at all that spectator support…awesome!!!).

That will be me in a little over two weeks…eeek!!!  Until next time, happy running everyone!

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

A Tale of Two Races

Phew…what a weekend!  Have you ever had a weekend that was both relaxing and exhausting or fun and miserable?  Well, that was this weekend for me.  It all started with a nice 5 mile run on the treadmill and a trip to Joliet after work to get my hair done, which always makes me feel better.  That is until I got a text message from my husband saying that, thanks to a severe thunderstorm that rolled through, we were without power for the second time this summer.  Of course, it had to be one of the hotter days we’ve seen this summer.  Lucky for us, my in-laws live close by and were kind enough to offer us an air conditioned room for the night!   After checking the estimated restore time all night, I decided I would have to get up early to bring the pug to Camp Bow Wow (so she didn’t overheat) before heading out to have some fun at the Hell Run.  I was so relieved when I got a text from ComEd at 1am saying the power was expected to be restored by 4:30am…hooray, I get to sleep in on a Saturday for once!  I got home around 9am (yes, 8:30am is sleeping in for me these days) and had plenty of time to change into my team uniform, eat a little something and head out for the…

Hell Run (Hawthorne Race Course) = Fun!

As I was grabbing my bag to head out the door, I heard a clap of thunder.  Shoot.  I pulled up the radar hoping for a small cell and was happy to see that it was small and seemed to be moving quickly.  As soon as I hit the road, it started to sprinkle and by the time I got most of the way there, it was a torrential downpour.  I hated opening my car window to pay for parking when I arrived ($10, by the way), but then had to laugh at myself…really, I didn’t want to get wet from the rain, but I was going to be jumping into giant mud puddles in an hour?!  I can be really blond sometimes!  After parking my car, I met up with my friends and teammates so we could get our bibs and swag.  Unfortunately, due to lightening in the area, we were directed to take shelter in the Hawthorne grand stand building.  Thankfully, it was nice and warm inside so we didn’t freeze from being drenched head to toe.

Fast forward an hour and a half (apparently that small cell kept growing and growing)…we are still sitting and waiting for the event to be cleared to start.  The race volunteers and directors were all really great.  They provided an update every 15 minutes or so and were very apologetic.  Some participants were throwing a fit and demanding their money back…a lot got tired of waiting and just left.  Obviously, the race directors cannot control the weather, I will never understand why people demand their money back when they are the ones giving up on an event.  Anyway, instead of complaining or giving up, we decided to make the most of the situation by enjoying some conversation and time spent together.  I have to admit, I did get a little bored for a minute and felt compelled to entertain my friends with this scene:

Just call me Super Bather!

Just call me Super Bather!

Finally, after about 2 hours or more of waiting, the event was cleared to begin.  The lines for bib pick-up were surprisingly short and we were ready to go in no time.  Unfortunately, because the rain was so intense, the race directors and volunteers had to re-set-up the swag area and gear check on the pavement, since the infield was so wet and muddy (bonus mud!), so we played the waiting game for a little while longer.  After all of the volunteers were back in place and the course was cleared the race went off in two waves of mud filled fun.  Apparently the course sustained some damage during the severe thunderstorm the night before, but only one obstacle was rendered unsafe – the low crawl in a tunnel.  I wasn’t sad about not getting to do that one at all!  We had a great time and got pretty muddy (more pictures to come soon).  I was happy that I was able to complete all of the obstacles, despite the loss of gripping power in my right hand due to a broken pinky earlier this year that didn’t heal properly.

Though not the most challenging of the obstacle races, overall, this race was a fun one.  This was my second year doing this race and not much changed from the previous year.  Everything was pretty much the same, right down to the t-shirt, cape (fun!) and medal.  The obstacles consisted of several mud pits, barbed wire low crawls, wall climbs, a tire maze, and of course in typical obstacle race fashion, a fire leap at the end.   The obstacles were in the same exact locations as the previous year so I knew what to expect next, there were no surprises which took a little of the fun and excitement out of it for me.  The only obstacle that was missing from the previous year was “heavy metal” (scrap cars you climb over).  They appeared to have replaced “heavy metal” with an additional very lame fire obstacle.  There were flaming logs on top of metal drums spaced very far apart.  You could easily have walked right between them, so to make it more interesting, we weaved our way through them.

Like I said, this isn’t the most challenging of obstacle races, but if you are looking for fun more than a challenge, this race is for you.  I will likely do the race again next year, but I hope to see a bit of a change up in obstacles.  It would also be nice if the medals or at least the t-shirts were a different design next year.  I now have two sets of the exact same medal, t-shirt and cape…adding a year designation would be a nice touch.

HR

HRM

After a very long shower, I spent the rest of my Saturday enjoying conversation and delicious food at my neighbors annual pulled pork party.  Have I mentioned how lucky I am to live on a block with such awesome neighbors?!  Sunday I spent the day being lazy, lounging around the house and watching a marathon of Breaking Bad on Netflix, my husband’s new obsession.  I managed to get the laundry done in between episodes and mainly hid from the heat and humidity outside.  Of course, in preparation for my next race, I ventured out for my usual pre-race carbo-load meal of Wisconsin Mac & Cheese from Noodles & Co.  I went to bed pretty early, in anticipation of my next half-marathon, the…

Oak Brook Half-Marathon (aka the REAL Hell Run)

I woke up at 5am on Monday hopeful that I would have a good race.  The weather was forecast to be much cooler than it had been in the last two weeks, so I hoped that I could finally have a good half marathon.  I picked up my packet on Thursday after work (it was a breeze…I was in and out in 5 minutes and most of that time was spent talking to a run club member who was volunteering) and I had gathered my gear, bib, goo, etc. the night before so I was thankful for the extra few minutes of sleep that afforded me.  The race also offered day of packet pick-up, which was nice, but I feel so much more “prepared” for a race when I have everything ahead of time.  Anyway, I made my way out to Oak Brook, which was a breeze at 5:45am on a holiday.  I think it took me a grand total of 20 minutes, the majority of the time was spent getting through Oak Park to the Ike.  I work very close to the start of the race, which was part of the appeal.  Since I’m familiar with the area and have run on part of the course before, I thought I knew what to expect.  Oh boy was I wrong.  I’m telling you, half marathons are my kryptonite.  I have yet to have a “good” one, but that is more my problem, than a reflection of the race itself.  The race was very well organized and the course was beautiful, I just can’t seem to run a half marathon without feeling like total crap.  Instead of bashing this race because my failures, I will take a step back and review it objectively before getting into why I failed.  Here is the breakdown:

Price:

After learning about the race last year (I was training for a 10K then), I was on the fence about this race mainly because of the time of year and Chicago’s fickle weather.  Plus, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend $65 to run a half marathon (since they have historically been my worst races), but a run club friend sealed the deal for me when she passed along a discount code.  Imagine my surprise when I went to register and was able to use an additional CARA discount code!  All said and done, the race was very reasonable at $53.18 (with taxes and fees).

What I Got for the Money:

For a mere $53.18 I got a nice gender specific technical shirt, a bag full of goodies (that included a tennis ball, Chapstick and several flyers for future races), free parking, a well planned and executed chip timed race (B-Tag), a beautiful and challenging course, great on-course support (water, Gatorade and Energy Gels), super nice and energetic volunteers, a medal at the finish and a nice finish line festival.

OB

Packet Pick-Up:

As I said above, packet pick-up was a breeze for those who chose to pick-up ahead of time.  Day of packet pick-up was offered and the upon arriving to the race site 45 minutes prior to race start, there did not appear to be a line at all.

Course:

The course was absolutely beautiful and quite a challenge for those of us not used to running hills.  Having run part of this course before, I was aware that there would be a few rolling hills, but I was not prepared for the “mountains” that I met on Spring Road and in the Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve (miles 6 through 10).  I firmly believe that the combination of these hills and the rainforest like humidity that I met in the forest preserve were my downfall.  More on that later though.  The course was a good combination of street, paved bike path/sidewalk and crushed limestone.  There was also a good balance of sun and shade, which is always nice.  The scenery was mostly forest preserve complete with nice views of Salt Creek, but there was a nice mix of residential neighborhood and the McDonald’s Hamburger University campus to break it up a bit too.

Overall Opinion:

Overall, this was a great race.  It was well organized and had a lot to offer racers of every ability.  That being said, I will never, ever run this race again…even if I were given a free entry!  I know it seems silly to give a race a positive review and in the next breath say that I will never run it again, but you have to understand just how much of an epic failure this race was for me (again, totally my problem and not the race’s fault at all).

Growing up and running in upstate NY, I have run my fair share of hills (the type of hills even your car has trouble getting to the top of), but I’m not 16 anymore and I haven’t lived (or run) those hills in a VERY long time.  I’m weak and hills can make my already 1/2 or 1/4 full tank drop below “E”.  Add in rainforest like humidity (you know, the kind where you can actually see the moisture rolling off the roofs of the pavilions in the woods, or heck, even the breath of the runners in front of you) a forgotten inhaler and a calorie deficit (yeah, I thought I was a genius and was trying to lose weight by cutting 750-1000 calories a day – not smart when you’re training for a marathon…duh) and you have a recipe for disaster.  After suffering a minor humidity induced asthma attack somewhere around mile marker 7 or 8, I was more than ready to give up and take my very first DNF.  Thank goodness for my run club friend, Ann, who ran the race with me (I use “ran” loosely, as I had to walk a lot for the last half of the race).  Annie, you got me through this race, as painfully slow as it was.  I would not have finished without your encouragement.  Thank you so much for sticking with me!!!  For anyone unfortunate enough to be running near me, I sincerely apologize for the many F-bombs that I’m sure slipped out of my mouth in those hilly mountainous woods.

Here are my stats for the race, and a picture of the medal I so do not deserve:

Capture OBM

Here’s to hoping the marathon goes better.  After this disaster of a race, I’m not feeling too confident though.  I’m really nervous to see how my 18 and 20 mile runs go too.  I know I can’t quit this close to the finish line (and I won’t), but I’m feeling incredibly unprepared.  The thought that the big day is only 37 days away sends me into a panic attack.  Fingers crossed that my 18 miler goes well this weekend and I’m able to keep negative Nancy in my head at bay!

Dog Days of Summer

It is almost September, and after a week full of hot and humid summer days, I am more than ready for my favorite season (fall) to arrive. I absolutely despise the treadmill (I mean dreadmill), but have been forced to complete several training runs on one during the last week. Back in early July, after a particularly bad hot/humid weather training run (I should say run/walk…but mostly walk), I decided that even though I hate it with a passion, I would suck it up and do training runs on the treadmill when the weather was 90 degrees or more. This week there were three days above 90 degrees! Needless to say, I had to make nice with my nemesis this week, no matter how painful it was. Here is how my training week went:

Wednesday, August 21st (Mid-Week Long Run – 8 Miles):

The high today was 92ºF, the first scorcher of the week. I’m glad I was prepared and brought my gym bag to work with me. This was my third ever run on a treadmill and I was dreading the fact that I had to not only run on the darn thing, but I had to run 8 miles! Every minute on a treadmill seems like an eternity, and I wasn’t looking forward to spending well over an hour staring at the same blah 4 walled scenery. After a nice carb loaded lunch, I was feeling physically well prepared for the run, but just couldn’t get my head into the game. Also, in an effort to increase my endurance and speed, I tried a new vitamin supplement from GNC, the AMP Endurance Vitapak, for the first time today. The sales lady said that even though the box indicated it was “Mega Men Powered”, I would be fine taking it, since it didn’t contain testosterone (or anything male specific). Stupid me for trusting a sales person without doing my own research. I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. My muscles were all twitchy and I seriously felt like I could bench press a Mack truck. In addition to dreading 8 miles on a treadmill, I was a little nervous to get my heart rate up even more by running, but knew I had to buck up and just get it over with. I took the run slow and steady, and felt really good the entire time. My breathing was solid and my legs felt great. I only took a short nature break at the half way point (I drank a TON of water trying to flush those awful vitamins out of my system)…no walking or intervals this time!! 🙂 Here are my stats for the run (this time includes my .25 mile warm-up walk, ~2 min nature break, and .25 mile cool-down walk):

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Thursday, August 22nd (Easy Run – 4 Miles):

Luckily, the weather broke overnight on Wednesday and I awoke to a much cooler and pleasant day. After 8 miles on the treadmill yesterday, I was looking forward to getting outside so I could enjoy the changing scenery. My quads were a little sore today, I’m guessing as a result of 8 miles on a treadmill yesterday. Also, I’m sure I run differently on a treadmill than I do on the road since I didn’t change the elevation or speed, plus the surface is very different. Overall, I felt good for this run and was able to successfully push through the “oh my goodness, is it over yet, I just want to stop” moment(s). Since my sinus infection last week, I have been trying to focus more on feeling good and getting through my runs easily than pushing my limits for faster times. This run was no different and I feel OK about my time. Right now I need to focus on building the mileage, not speed. That will come after the marathon! Here are my stats for the run:

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Saturday, August 24th (Long Run – 16 Miles):

This run was hanging over my head like a dark cloud all week. Thanks to my sinus infection resulting in a week of pure laziness after a stepdown week, I had serious doubts that I would make it through this run at all, let alone feeling strong and confident at the end. After exchanging those horrible vitamins for the Women’s Ultra Mega Active Vitapak (the clerk was shocked that I was sold a product for men and indicated that the yohimbe bark [mainly marketed as an E-D suppliment!!!] was likely the cause of my tweaky [not twerky…lol] reaction) I made sure I carbed up and went to bed early. I made plans to meet my friends for yoga and coffee on Saturday morning at 8:30am. This meant that I had to get my 16 miles in SUPER early to ensure I made it to yoga on time. I was so nervous about this run that I didn’t even wait for the alarm to go off at 4am. Instead, my eyes flew open at 3:30am and I decided I should just get it over with already. I slipped out of bed, ate a cinnamon roll and was out the door a little before 4:30am. It was an absolutely beautiful morning – nice and cool. Not sure if I’d even be able to power through the whole run, I decided to start off slow and stick to my long run interval plan. Running in the dark was awesome. It was so quiet, and nice to not have the sun beating down on me. The first 8 miles flew by and I felt great. Before I knew it I was at mile 10 and I started to feel more confident. I brought 4 energy gels with me and stuck to my every three mile plan…until I started to fade a little around mile 12. I thought that if I took the gel then, I surely would have trouble getting through the last 4 miles, so I waited until mile marker 13 to take my last gel. The last 2 miles were pure torture. By then, the sun was out and it was starting to heat up a bit, plus I was just mentally “done” and wanted nothing more than to be physically done too. I was so unbelievably happy when my watch beeped at mile 16. I was so tired, yet so happy that I had just run 16 miles…the farthest I have ever run, to date!!! Here are my stats for the run:

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Yoga was amazing and really helped me to loosen up my sore and tired muscles. Of course, it’s always nice to be with friends too! 🙂 Going forward, I am going to try to get my long runs in super early to take advantage of the dark/cooler temps and also post run yoga. I’m convinced I would be walking around with a limp of some sort if I hadn’t gone to yoga!

Monday, August 26th (Easy Run – 4 Miles):

Like I said, I think post run yoga was a life saver for me this week. I was only a little sore on Sunday, but was feeling great when I woke up on Monday. Sunday brought the first day of another little Chicago heatwave (actually, most of the Midwest was affected) and when I left for work on Monday (at 7am) it was already 80ºF! Guess what that means…yup, another treadmill training run! Awesome. The only thing that made this training run even remotely “fun” was the fact that my sweet husband joined me to work out in the gym at my office building. The run went well and again, I felt strong. My breathing was in line (actually, it almost felt too easy) and my legs felt solid with no residual tightness or exhaustion from Saturday’s long run. Maybe the treadmill isn’t so bad after all. Here are my stats for the run (this includes my .25 mile warm-up walk – I accidentally hit the emergency stop button during my cool-down walk…oops!):

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Tuesday, August 27th (Mid-Week Long-Run – 8 Miles):

Today was by far the hottest day of the week and there was no way I was going to run outside. By the time I finished with work, the temperature was still 95ºF with a heat index of 99ºF! As much as I wasn’t looking forward to another 8 miles on the treadmill, I was glad I had the option to even use one on day’s like this. I don’t have a treadmill at home, so I count my blessings that my office building has a gym for us to use. If it weren’t for this gym, I would either be suffering through (due to other commitments this week I couldn’t just push it back) or skipping my workout completely. This time, the workout seemed to go much faster. Maybe I’m getting used to it, maybe it’s because I’m in a climate controlled environment, or maybe it’s because I have been feeling so good when running on the treadmill. I don’t know. All I know is this 8 miler felt great. My breathing was nice and even, my legs felt awesome and I didn’t even have to eat an energy gel. Oh yeah, and I didn’t stop running at all…not even for a millisecond! This really has me looking forward to the cooler and crisper fall air that should be arriving fairly soon. I’m keeping my fingers, toes, legs, arms, eyes (and any other cross-able body part) crossed for a beautiful 50º or 60º marathon day. A slight breeze would be an extra treat too! Regardless, here are my stats for the run (aw yeah, a sub-11 minute mile long run!):

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Unfortunately, my training week was cut short when I was randomly hit with vertigo yesterday. I opted to take the night off, instead of running dizzy and risking hurting myself. Tonight is the monthly girls night out with my run club friends and tomorrow I am finally getting my hair done (loooong overdue), so I will be getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturday to run the 5 miles I was supposed to run yesterday, before heading to Hawthorne Race Track for the Hell Run! Sunday will be a rest day in preparation for my next half marathon on Monday (fingers crossed the current forecast [high of 74ºF] is accurate). Stay tuned for those race recaps…they are sure to be fun! Until then, happy running my friends!

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