Chicago Marathon Training, Week 16 Recap

Only SIX DAYS ‘til the Chicago Marathon!

Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it’s so close. These last four months have really flown by. I can’t even fathom that in less than one week, I will have completed the marathon. It’s been a long, unpredictable, exhausting but exhilarating journey. I can’t wait to cross that finish line.

Last week’s training went pretty well, so I’m glad we’re ending things on a good note before the big day arrives. 🙂

Sunday, September 29th: 27-mile Bike Ride
I biked with a couple friends on a nearby trail called the Des Plaines River Trail. This trail is so wonderful! I couldn’t really take many pictures while biking, but the scenery is diverse and beautiful: There are fields of wildflowers, wooded areas, wide-open fields, marshland, you name it. It’s great for a run, bike or walk; in fact, there were tons of other happy people out exercising while we were there. If you live near this trail, I recommend you give it a visit!

The weather was perfect for our ride, the sun was shining, and I had some great company to chat with. We stopped at our turn-around point for some homemade pumpkin bread (YUM), water, and snapped a few pictures:

Refueling with water & snacks.

Refueling with water & snacks.

Biking ladies on the Des Plaines River Trail

Biking ladies on the Des Plaines River Trail

This is the longest I’ve ever biked, and it took about 2.5 hours to ride at a moderate pace. My legs were definitely wobbly at the end, and even a little sore the next day! It was a fun way to spend my Sunday.

Monday: rest
I had my last PT appointment early Monday morning. They gave me a take-home program to keep my hips strong, and lots of well-wishes for the marathon. Those people are the best!

Tuesday: 4.22 mile run/walk • 10:54/mile
Went running with two friends of mine from the running club. Everything felt good during the run, and I felt very strong. I even had to slow myself down a couple times, as all my runs are supposed to be relatively “easy” while I make my comeback.

Wednesday: rest
I did lots of PT, foam rolling and some extra stretching.

Thursday: 4 mile run/walk • 11:42/mile
I met up with my buddy Liz for a run along the lakefront. It is so nice to make plans to run with people again, and know that I will actually be able to run! We took it nice and easy while we chatted. The weather was kinda funky, and it was super foggy out, but cool looking:

Foggy lakeside running.

Foggy lakeside running.

Overall, I felt strong and it was good to have some company. I finished the run sweaty & feeling positive!

Friday: rest

Saturday: 12.68 mile run/walk • 11:24/mile
Yahoo! I wanted to run 13 miles so I would feel more mentally prepared for the marathon next week. I got close enough and decided lopping off 4 more minutes of running wouldn’t make or break anything.

It was a pretty decent last long run, but I already wrote all about it, so you know that. 🙂

This week’s (+1) schedule:

  • Sunday: rest
  • Monday: rest
  • Tuesday: 3 miles
  • Wednesday: 2 miles
  • Thursday: rest
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 2 miles
  • Sunday: MARATHON!

This is it! Taper week is officially here. I hear all about people going crazy during taper week because there’s not much running and all. Maybe I’m weird, or a lame runner, but I’m excited for a little R&R time! I have plenty of other stuff going on, like our engagement photo session (yay!), painting my office, cleaning up & prepping for my mom and sister to visit… It will be nice to have more time to get all that done.

Any last-minute marathon tips? What’s your favorite carbo-loading meal?

Chicago Marathon Training, Week 13 Recap

Week 13 of the Chicago Marathon training has come and gone. There are only 4 weeks to go ‘til the big day, and I’m just happy I was able to run at all this week! Here’s the breakdown…

Sunday, September 8th: 60 minutes cross-train
Went on a bike ride.

Monday: rest • 15 min. bike ride
Matt said he wanted to bike, so I was all for it. Unfortunately, there were swarms of tiny flies all around our neighborhood. They were all over our shirts and shorts, pinging off our faces, and we couldn’t talk because every time we opened our mouths they somehow managed to find their way in. So gross. Obviously we decided to cut this ride short!

Tuesday: 5 miles • PT
Had a PT appointment, so did all my exercises and stretches for that. Got the green light to try some run/walking, if I didn’t have any pain before I started, so I decided Wednesday would be the day…

Wednesday: 5 miles • 50 min. bike ride + 24 min. run/walk
I had two friends who were going biking so I met up with them before attempting my run/walk. I figured it would help me warm up + loosen my legs, plus I wanted some extra cardio time since I knew I wouldn’t try to run/walk very far. The bike ride felt good, then I foam rolled my IT band and stretched really well. You can read my whole post about my run/walk success, but I ran 2 minutes/walked 1 minute for a total of 24 minutes, with no pain. YAY! Major spirit lifter.

Thursday: 5 miles PT
I was so stoked to go to the PT office and let them know about my run/walk success. They suggested I only run/walk every other day for now, so I did all my PT exercises and stretches and called it a day.

Friday: rest + PT
I had another PT appointment, this time with the doc I had originally wanted to see (she owns the clinic and is a runner herself). She suggested again that I try a run/walk method for the marathon, then gave me advice on how to build up my run/walk routine to eventually get back to running a mile at a time (you’ll see that plan in this week’s upcoming schedule at the bottom).

Since Wednesday’s 2:1 run/walk went well, she told me I could try a 4:2 run/walk on Saturday, but not to increase the time (25 minutes) unless I just added a 5-minute walk warm-up and 5-minute walk cool-down. Sold.

The PT doc massaged my IT band for a decent amount of time at the appointment, and it was a little achy all night afterwards. (This slight achiness or tenderness has continued through the weekend, so I hope it was just the massage breaking up the knots and stuff?)

Saturday: 19 miles • 3.48 miles (~2 running)
Last week I had said I’d hoped I could run 13 miles on this day, and obviously that wasn’t going to happen. I listened to my PT and started with the 5-minute walk to warm up, did some stretching, and then started my 4 minutes of running followed by 2 minutes of walking.

I think the toughest part was actually stopping to walk after the 4-minute running periods were up, especially when I was feeling really good. It was just so exhilarating to finally get moving again! It was also tough once when, after a run interval, I stopped to do my 2-minute walk and a passing runner tried to encourage me, “Don’t stop, you’re looking strong!” Thanks for the compliment & encouragement, runner, but it’s doctor’s orders!

On the plus side, the walk breaks did give nice opportunities for some pretty photo ops:

This sunrise is the best part of early morning runs!

This sunrise is the best part of early morning runs!

I ended up tacking on an extra 4:2 set, so my total run/walk time was 30 minutes instead of 25. Heh. Who’s surprised by the stubborn runner? I did feel pretty good most of the time, but at the end, the outside of my knee started to feel uncomfortable. It didn’t hurt, but it didn’t feel right, either. Then I had about a 10-minute walk back to my car, so I had a total of almost 45 minutes on my feet, and probably about 2 miles of running.

This week’s schedule:
I plan to continue the run/walks, hoping to slowly up the time I can go without pain… (The crossed out items are what would be on my running schedule if I were healthy.)

  • Sunday: rest
  • Monday: 5 miles 35 minute run/walk (4:2 ratio +10 min walk warm-up/cool-down)
  • Tuesday: 60-minute cross train + PT appt
  • Wednesday: 8 miles 35 minute run/walk (6:2 ratio, if Monday brings no pain +10 min walk warm-up/cool-down)
  • Thursday: 5 miles PT appt + 60 min. bike ride
  • Friday: rest + PT appt
  • Saturday: 12 miles 35 minute run/walk (10:1 ratio, if Wednesday brings no pain +10 min walk warm-up/cool-down)

With only four weeks to go until the Chicago Marathon, I know at this point I won’t be able to run the whole thing… But I’m hopeful that I can at least run a mile at a time, perhaps take a minute walk break between each mile, and still finish. It will just be a loooong marathon!

What do you think of run/walking? Is it something you normally do, or would try? How’s your training going?

I have to admit, stopping to walk in the middle of my running at first felt SOOO slow. I didn’t have the patience for it. But after a couple times, I realized that the short walk breaks make running MUCH easier! I would definitely recommend new runners, or people who’ve been out of training for a while, try run/walking. It’s much less torturous. 🙂

Chicago Marathon Training, Week 7 Recap

After last week’s marginal training, I came back with a vengeance. I got in all my workouts in some form, despite tired/sore legs some days. I even managed to do 2 days of PT for the knee, and some ab work throughout the week too. Feelin’ good about it!

Sunday, July 28th: 9 mile long run • 10:49/mile
This recap got its own special blog post. Went pretty well!

Monday: 4 miles bike ride • 35 minutes
After my 9-miler on Sunday (especially because my knee was acting up), I thought it might be a good idea to give my knees a rest from pounding pavement. I went on a bike ride with Matt instead. It was fun, and my sore legs needed some movement to stretch them out.

Tuesday: 60 minutes cross train • bike ride
I went biking with a group of lovely ladies all around town for an hour, despite some sprinkles off & on. It felt like a fairly hard ride (my legs must have been tired from Sunday still?).

Wednesday: 4 miles 3.29 miles • 9:47/mile
There’s running in the rain…and then there’s running in a MONSOON. During this run, I was keeping a speedy pace (for me) and feeling great, when suddenly I noticed a massive amount of dark clouds barreling in my direction… I stopped to snap this picture:

Storm coming during a run. That doesn't look good!

Hmm, that doesn’t look good…

And two minutes later, the storm was unleashed upon me. Normally I would run in the rain, but it was coming down so hard, I could barely keep my eyes open, and my contact was floating around in my eye! I booked it home a mile in the torrential rain. So, if you saw a wet rat traipsing about in a neon yellow tank top Wednesday afternoon—not to worry, that was just me.

Thursday: 7 miles • 11:14/mile
This was an enjoyable, jumbled run. I met up with my marathon training buddy, Liz, and we did a mix of bike trail, road & grassy trail miles. I heart trail running. The first several miles on pavement were at a good clip; but the trail miles really slowed us down (which was just fine!). Also, FYI: A small ice cream cone after a tiring 7-miler tastes SUPERB.

Friday: Rest
My legs were ready for some rest. Proud that I accomplished some great workouts all week, as well as ate quite healthy. (Did I just write above that I had an ice cream cone?) I lost a pound this week, too. Boom.

Saturday: 14.3 miles • 10:55/mile
I DID IT! My longest run ever.

Until next week, when I run 15. Ha. Oh my…

The pace is off for this run; my Garmin started when I did, but only tracked time instead of distance, for some reason? The first .3 miles weren’t calculated in. Adding in the stop to try to fix the darn watch, it said my first mile was 15 minutes! I feel good knowing that I would have been happy with a 10:55 pace, but I did even better…even if I don’t know exactly what it is.

This run was kind of up-and-down, which showed me how important it is not to get too into your head when running this far. I felt great the first few miles, even said so out loud to Liz, but during mile 4, my hips and legs started to feel very achy. I was kind of nervous how they’d fare for the following 10 miles, but I pushed it out of my mind and just focused on putting one foot in front of the other, and got lost in the random music playlist I had put together. (Note: Good music can make such a difference!)

We had been stopping quite a few times to stretch out achy limbs, adjust water belts, take bathroom/water breaks, etc. It’s always tough for me to get in the groove again after stopping mid-run, so as soon as I refrained from that, it seemed to help me feel less achy. From now on, I’m going to stop during my long runs as little as possible, only if I need to stretch something out or refill a water bottle, and see if that makes a difference!

When we finished, I was pretty excited—I mean, 14 miles is just long! But despite the long distance and running for about two and a half hours, I can’t say I ever really got “bored” during the run. Plus, it was so fun to be greeted by my running club members with applause and congratulations on my longest run PR. Even though many of them have run marathons and can run a pace WAY faster than me, they all understand that feeling of pushing yourself to new heights, and setting & reaching goals. It is so great to have that kind of support group. If you aren’t in a running club, join one!!

Now here’s a gross picture of me & my post-long-run celebratory mimosa:

Post-long-run celebratory mimosa!

My hip flexors and quads are a bit sore today (Sunday), but the rest of my body feels pretty good. Best part: No pain in the knees. I better keep those PT exercises up this week.

This week’s schedule:
• Sunday: 60 minutes cross train
• Monday: rest/PT
• Tuesday: 4 miles
• Wednesday: 7 miles
• Thursday: 4 miles/PT
• Friday: rest
• Saturday: 15 miles

How were your workouts this week?