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 15 Recap

Two weeks to go ‘til marathon time…
And I am officially BACK TO RUNNING!
Buhbye, ITBS, you biotch.

Sunday, September 22nd: rest

Monday: 5 miles 50 minute run/walk (10r:2w ratio)
Started with 5 minutes of walking to warm up + stretching. Then, it was time to try 10 straight minutes of running and see how it felt.

And it felt gooooood!

I ran for 10 minutes, followed by 2 minutes of walking, and repeated that two more times for a total of 36 minutes. I ended with a nice walk back home to cool down & lots of stretching.

Total of 51 minutes & 4.12 miles.

Tuesday: 60-minute cross train + PT appt.
I had a lot of stuff to finish for work & then had to pack before I headed to Chicago for the rest of the week. I traded off my bike ride I’d planned for after my PT appointment, so I could get the important things done.

Wednesday: 5 miles rest

I knew I wouldn’t be able to work out this day; I had to get up at 5am to get ready and catch a super early train to Chicago. I was in workshops and panels until 8:30pm (long day!) and then had to catch up on work emails after that. I’m pretty sure I walked at least a couple miles around the city though, so at least I got some movement in.

Thursday: 5 miles 30 minute run (10r:1w ratio)  
Well I was planning to get in a run…but after my conference was done for the day and I headed back to my sister’s place (my temporary home while I stayed in Chicago), I decided I needed some quality sister-time filled with food, wine and talking. So, that’s what I did.

Probably shouldn’t have skipped the run, but sister time always comes first! But, I think I walked a total of 4-5 miles all day, so at least there’s that. City livin’ sure gets you moving around.

Friday: rest
Another planned rest day, as I had to work in the morning until my conference stuff began, then had to travel back home after it was all over. I was so happy to get back home Friday night, but was so exhausted that I went straight to bed… by 9:30!

Saturday: 20 miles 10 miles (10r:2w)
Duuuudes. TEN MILES! Yeah.

I really wasn’t sure how this run would go. I was hoping it’d go well, since it’s been over a month since my last long run, and time is running short (pun not intended). I decided to keep with the 10 minutes running/2 minutes walking ratio, so I could really ramp up the mileage with less chance of aggravating my hips and knees. And it worked!

I enjoyed the first few miles and didn’t really think or worry about how things were feeling. Then I got to 4.5 miles and realized that was almost the furthest I’d run since I’d been injured. I got nervous for the next few miles, and then…

I looked at my watch and was at 7 miles. I still felt really good. My hip was feeling normal, my water belt was keepin’ my sweaty beast of a self hydrated, and I was popping Jelly Belly Sport Beans like a, uh, fat kid who’s running hungry? Because that’s probably what I looked like.

But, it was at that 7-mile point that I finally realized, and decided in my head, that I was going to do it. I would make it to 10 miles today.

The last few miles were exciting and continued to feel great. I had to hold myself back from picking up the pace. I got to 10 miles but was still over a mile from home. I got to almost 10.5 miles and decided—why would I push my luck?! So I stopped and finished the run up with a good bit of walking.

Proof of 10-miler awesomeness.

Proof of 10-miler awesomeness.

{Don’t mind my nasty un-manicured nails. Priorities, people.}

My average pace, with the walking mixed in, was around 11:45/mile. That’s about a minute slower than I originally wanted to pace the marathon, but at this point, I’m just happy I’ll be able to have any pace & can run it at all.

This week’s schedule:

  • Sunday: 30-mile bike ride (talk about cross training!)
  • Monday: rest
  • Tuesday: 40-minute run/walk
  • Wednesday: 3 miles yoga
  • Thursday: 40 minute run/walk
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 8 miles 13 mile run/walk

Second-to-last week of training, but it’s finally starting to look like a normal week. If I were starting to taper now, I’d be down to an 8-mile long run next week. But, I feel like I’ve been tapering for weeks already, so I’m going to go for 13 miles. That at least gets me halfway through the marathon, mentally…and I think my body, and mind, will be strong enough to get me through the other half, to the end.

“Taper time!” everyone seems to be exclaiming joyously. What are your tips for dealing with the taper, and what should a runner be doing differently (or additionally) during it? 

Chicago Marathon Training, Week 14 Recap

Fourteen weeks down, and only three more to go until the Chicago Marathon. I’ve been able to increase my running this week, so I’m stoked! But, with time ticking down, I’m starting to get nervous about how that 26.2 mile run will go…

Sunday, September 15th: rest
With lots of stretching.

Monday: 5 miles 35 minute run/walk (4r:2w ratio)
Like all my run/walks, I started my workout with 5 minutes of walking to warm up, and some stretching. Then, I did 5 rounds of 4-minutes running + 2-minutes walking. I felt good the whole time—yay! No uncomfortable feeling in my knees or hips like I had on Saturday. I cooled down with 15 minutes of walking to get some extra time on my feet.

Total of 49 minutes & 3.64 miles.

Tuesday: 60-minute cross train + PT appt.
Now that the sun is going down earlier every day, by the time I get home from PT at nights after work, I don’t have much time for biking before the sun sets. Even if I had wanted to bike on Tuesday, my PT doc put me through so many lunges that my legs felt like Jello! I didn’t get in any cardio, but she sure gave my muscles a good workout.

Wednesday: 8 miles 35 minute run/walk (6r:2w ratio) rest
I had set my alarm to run in the morning, because I was going to be busy volunteering at a 5K race in the afternoon…only to wake up to the crack of thunder and flashing of lightning. Ah, well! My legs were realllllly sore from PT on Tuesday, so I happily went back to sleep. I didn’t have time to run before or after the 5K that night, so I had an unplanned rest day.

Thursday: 60-minute cross train + PT appt + 35 minute run/walk (6r:2w ratio)
Since I couldn’t run on Wednesday, I told my PT doc that I wanted to try running after my appointment. I was still quite sore from Tuesday (apparently I should do lunges more often), so the PT staff gave my hip some ultrasound action, some stretching, and only a few exercises to work on strength.

I headed out for my run at dusk. I felt really great, and did 5 rounds of 6-minute run + 2-minute walk recovery.

With warm-up and cool-down walking, I went for a total of 40 minutes & 3.45 miles.

Friday: rest + PT appt
I think introducing the running back into my routine is tougher on my legs and muscles than I thought it’d be, since they haven’t been pounding pavement for a few weeks. On Friday, I felt pretty tight and sore (in a good way—not painfully) so the PT staff gave me a good stretch out. I felt much better afterwards, though there were a few spots that just felt like they wouldn’t loosen, no matter what.

Saturday: 35 minute run/walk (8r:2w ratio)
I originally thought I could jump to a 10:1 ratio, but my PT doc set me straight on Friday when I asked her about it. 😉 So I did an 8-minute run + 2-minute walk recovery instead, building back up, slow & steady. I did push the time a bit, and did 5 rounds of 8-minutes running + 2-minutes walking.

Combined with my warm-up and cool-down walking, I had a total of 55 minutes and 4.81 miles.

I felt great the whole run/walk, and was just so happy to get some mileage in and feel good doing it. My hopes are continuing to raise about the marathon, but I also realize that ~5 miles is still a far cry from 26 miles…

This week’s schedule:

  • Sunday: rest
  • Monday: 5 miles 40 minute run/walk (10r:2w ratio)
  • Tuesday: 60-minute cross train + PT appt
  • Wednesday: 5 miles rest
  • Thursday: 5 miles 30 minute run/walk (10r:1w ratio)
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 20 miles 10 miles (with some walking mixed in)

This week’s schedule is a little wacky, because I’m going to downtown Chicago Wednesday through Friday for a web design & development conference (woo – geeks unite!). I’m not sure when I’ll fit in some running around the city, but I’m planning on Thursday morning for now. I’ll start with 30 minutes, and if I feel good I might go up to 40 minutes.

Saturday, I’m hopeful to do a run/walk of 10 miles, but realistically I bet my PT will tell me that’s pushing it. But, I was hoping to do 10 miles this Saturday so I can jump up to 13 miles next Saturday…and the following weekend is the full marathon. If I can’t at least get to 13 miles before that, I think I might freak out!

What would you do if you were me—try for 10 miles, or be conservative and hold back still?

After taking so long off and just now introducing running back into my routine, I don’t want to dive in too quickly…but I think I need somewhat of an aggressive (but safe) approach if I want to complete the Chicago Marathon still. Eep.

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. 🙂