Saturday, September 28, 2013

How crazy would it be if?

I was "offered" a (not free) spot in the New York marathon today via someone at my running group. What follows are the various thoughts that went through my head.

"Sure, I'm interested."
"Um, you haven't run one marathon yet. Do you really think you can do another one four weeks later?"
"I don't have to race New York, just finish it."
"You might not be living in the US for New York next year. It will be expensive trying to find a hotel, flights, etc now but it's still cheaper than flying half way around the world."
"You are beginning to hurt from Chicago training. Adding another marathon is insane."
"Remember, you're trying to run smarter here. Two marathons in a month might set you back a long way in running health."
"But I want to!!"

Being the good blogger that I am, I figured the smartest thing to do would be ask all of you what you think.

Additional information that's may be relevant in making this decision:

  • I need to decide by Monday.
  • Going into Chicago Marathon, I am not injured but I am feeling a bit beat up from the training.
  • NY won't be a cheap endeavour but it won't send me bankrupt. It would mean only one or two races total in 2014 though.
  • One of my running goals for 2014 is a half marathon PR and stretch goal is to go sub 2:00. Ideally I wanted to try this early 2014 as my fastest 2013 times were all pre-April.

On a scale of "Not necessarily smart but do-able" to "Are you out of your mind? No way!!", what do you think?

In the interest of full disclosure, I will probably end up ignoring any feedback that I don't want to hear. But at this point I'm not entirely sure what it is that I do want to hear.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #15

aka The week that didn't go so well

As I write this - under three weeks to go!!


Travelling wrote off the morning. I had intentions of getting in a run in the afternoon but my leg hurt, I was tired and basically I threw a tantrum. To compensate for my lack of activity I made sure to have ice cream after dinner.


This week is shaping up to be a winner. Nothing today either - early start, sore leg, inner-three-year-old saying "I don't wanna! I don't wanna". More ice cream (hey, three-year-olds like ice cream).


AM: 4 miles (6.4km) - 41:52

Took this run carefully, straying no further than one mile from the hotel. I didn't really relish the thought of having to walk miles back in the dark if my leg didn't want to play. Luckily it worked out OK.

Nothing exciting to report. I did encounter one spider's web and I'm sure I looked like a complete freak to people driving past while I was waving my arms about trying to get it off me.


Another early start and then travel back to Chicago that night left the day run-less.


AM: Strength session - 30:00
AM: 5 miles (8km) - 51:17

Got in a strength session followed by a run before work. Felt so good to be back in my regular routine (although, I'm travelling so much it really should just be part of my routine). The leg wasn't completely off but it wasn't right either. If I make sure to roll heaps, it definitely helps.


Quiet day. Following my training plan I rested in preparation for the Ready to Run 20 Miler on Sunday.


AM: CARA Ready to Run 20 miler (32km) - 3:40:45

My second 20 mile run in this training cycle (also my second 20 mile run ever) and my last "long" long run before the marathon. Hello taper!

I actually really enjoyed this run. I started off with my training group, then got separated somewhere along the way (because I can't keep a pace and shot off on my own). Then found them again after I took a restroom break (need to avoid doing that during the marathon). Finished out the run with one of the girls from my group, feeling strong and practicing a fast finish (actually sprinted to the finish line because I'm stupidly competitive (when I think that I'm ballpark same level) and just had to win).

Other than a couple of minutes after the run where I felt like I might pass out/throw up/die (I just needed to eat something), I pulled up pretty well.

One of the highlights of the day was the transportation back to downtown/start line. School buses! For this Australian girl, riding in a yellow school bus was embarrassingly exciting.

After I got home, had a shower and ate some lunch (hot soup and a grilled cheese sandwich never tasted so good!!) I took myself off for a massage. This confirmed exactly how tight my hips and left leg are (were? hopefully the massage reduced some of that). Unfortunately, by Sunday night it became apparent that I've inflamed my foot again. Luckily I have a good supply of ice packs in the freezer now, in anticipation of such events.

This Week's (less that ideal) Stats

  • Total miles: 29 (46.4 km)
  • Total running time: 5 hours 13 minutes 54 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 3
  • Total cross training workouts: 0
  • Total strength workouts: 1

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #14

One month out! The anticipation is really beginning to build now.


AM: 5.75 miles (9.2km) - 1:01:08
PM: Strength session - 30:00

After blathering on in my weekly recap last week about loving running and feeling so lucky to be able to do what I do, I dragged my tired self out the door this morning for a 6-ish mile run. Those Boomtown Rats had it right - I don't like Mondays. But I do like running and I remembered that about 2 miles in. This was a sluggish and slightly petulant run and came up a quarter mile short of my intended distance.

After work I snuck in a strength workout.


AM: 5.25 miles (8.4km) - 54:33

Too much strength work Monday night left me pretty tired this morning. Add in the summery temps and this was just hard work. Felt like I was dragging the whole way.


AM: 7 miles (11.2km) - 1:11:14
PM: Strength session - 30:00

Still tired. Still hot. But much better run today.

More strength stuff after work.


Rest Day! Seriously, Thursday is my most absolute favourite day of the week!!


AM: 8 miles (12.8km) - 1:14:02

I already did a happy dance about this here.

Fab running temps and humidity today! The run was effortless, even with the application of some effort to my run. There was a decent wind coming from the north which had the lake stirred up. I saw one guy get hammered by a wave over the path at Fullerton. Felt bad for him but was kind of glad I saw it happen as it made me push my way through there As Quick As Possible!


AM: 5.32 miles (8.5km) - 58:04
AM/PM: Cycling - 40:00
PM: Strength session - 30:00

Started off my day with my weekly long run. 14 miles on the cards.

Made it 4 miles south before deciding to cut things short and turn around for home. Only managed another mile or so (OCD tendencies are so not happy about that .32) before I decided enough was enough. Caught the bus back home. My left heel had been hurting a little Friday but I iced it and had high hopes for Saturday. After I woke up it felt OK and figured I'd be good to go. I walked for a mile to join my training group as a warm and was generally feeling OK. Two miles in I was feeling a fair amount of tightness in my left leg from hip to heel. Three miles in I knew this wasn't loosening up and the pain in my heel was coming back. Four miles in I figured it was safer to skip the full run than really hurt myself. Five miles and I was so uncomfortable that catching the bus just seemed like the best option.

I foam rolled, used the stick, a tennis ball and ice at home. This seemed to help some. Then I headed to a training session with a strength coach. I rode my bike there and back (it's clearly been a very long time since I rode my bike because it was Hard. Work.) to keep me off my feet. The session was really good and left feeling nicely shaky.

Thankfully I wasn't too shaky because I finished out my day with a seminar at Fleet Feet called Run Your Best. It was hosted by Newton Running and Runner's World and had Bart Yasso and Paula Newby-Fraser and speakers. There was also a running clinic where we practiced some techniques for improving speed and efficiency. Possibly not my best move doing more running but it was pretty low key and I had felt like I got a bit out of it. xaarlin was there too and we had a chat while practicing the 'superman' and other drills in the clinic. I also got some marathon pacing advice from Bart Yasso - planning my negative split for the marathon - so clearly I'm now pretty much set.


Was hoping I'd get in a few miles to top up yesterday's shortened run but my leg was still not up to it.

This Week's Stats

  • Total miles: 31.33 (50.1 km)
  • Total running time: 5 hours 19 minutes 01 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 5
  • Total cross training workouts: 1
  • Total strength workouts: 3

Friday, September 13, 2013

Loving it!

I'm feeling extra happy today and felt the need to share.

I woke up this morning and knew the wind was blowing out of the north - my building creaks in a particular way. And a wind from the north means cooler temps.

I love it! Temperatures somewhere in the 50s and low humidity. Ideal running weather (well, a little colder wouldn't hurt).

Today's run was effortless. And yet I ran an average pace one minute faster than usual. My entire eight miles were between 8:30 and 9:50, something previously unheard of. It would appear that the miles of training really are paying off.

I am a much better runner now than I was this time last year. I am a much better runner now than I was six months ago! I feel like I say this far too often and yet not often enough - I am so happy training for this marathon.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #13

Ah, lucky 13!


AM: 5 miles (8km) - 52:10

Headed out later than usual seeing as there was no work to go to. It's such a difference running in daylight, I'd forgotten what the northern path looked like!

This was a relaxing run, where I just listened to the sound of the waves on the lake.

And then I got bored so decided to kick up the pace for the last half mile, just to see what would happen...
8:59 mile split. I didn't know I could run a mile in a time that starts with an eight.


AM: 7 miles (11.2km) - 1:08:33

Still feeling good (the denial treatment method for my calf seems to be working well). The moonset/sunrise view was pretty awesome early on in my run. My phone just doesn't have the ability to capture how amazing it was - a crescent moon low on the horizon with a thin band of vibrant pink just between the lake and some low clouds.

After getting all excited about yesterday's 8:59 I played again today. This time I managed an 8:24. These faster miles are addictive.


AM: 8 miles (12.8km) - 1:22:44

I can't remember if I've said this on the blog before but I'm scared of really pushing myself or trying speed workouts (or something that might resemble a speed workout). Every time I have really injured myself, speed and/or hills have been involved. So, for my Chicago Marathon training it's been running for distance pretty much the whole way. I change up the pace but only within my comfort zone. Well, you know, except for those couple of experiments I did earlier in the week.

Today was no different. I just went out and enjoyed my morning time. I love being outside, listening to the sound of the lake and the city waking up. I love watching the sky gradually brightening as the sun rises. I don't love the bug attacks but they're part and parcel of the experience and I'll gladly take them for everything else.

It's so easy to take it all for granted. But I am so lucky to be living here in this city. To be able to get out and run every day. To have the expanse of lake on one side and the convenience of the city on the other. To have a community of like-minded people around me who understand what drives me to get up before sunrise every day, run for hours, persist through random pains (btw - my calf pain has gone! I'm cured!) and discuss the relative benefits of different training plans.

On the speed thing, once I'm done with the marathon and have taken a little time off, I'm going to train with speed in mind. 2014 will have a new half marathon PR. And it's going to be a good one.


Rest day!


AM: 5 miles (8km) - 50:29

Felt tired for the whole run. Just like everything was a little bit harder than normal. Mentally I was preoccupied thinking about my Saturday run. 20 miles - my longest run so far!


AM: 20 miles (32km) - 3:42:08

My first attempt (successful!) at this distance in my training program.

I know there is a school of thought that says doing this run is counter-productive. And especially for a slower runner like myself. But I am so glad to have done it.

For me (and, I suspect, I lot of other people) running is a mental game. Obviously, physical fitness and training is required, but it's my mind that controls a lot of my success. Running 20 miles has given me the confidence to be able to say "I will succeed at the marathon". I know I can run the distance. And I know I can run it, even if I'm not feeling great. I also know that there is still a lot that can happen in the six miles I will never run until race day. But I got through 20 miles on Saturday, on pace, while battling continuing fatigue (what's going on here?) and an uncooperative stomach (again, what's going on here - I thought we had this sorted out?).

Despite not feeling 100% for the run, I recovered well. I felt tired during the rest of the day but not completely wiped out, like I have been before.

I am no expert on this marathon business. I do know myself reasonably well, however. And I know I need to practice, practice, practice because my mind and exceptional talent in doubting myself will always do their best to convince me I can't.


Does watching shows on Netflix count as a workout? If so, I've worked hard today!

This week's stats
  • Total miles: 45 (72 km)
  • Total running time: 7 hours 46 minutes 04 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 5
  • Total cross training workouts: 0
  • Total strength workouts: 0
Goals for next week
  • Cross training and strength workouts
I dropped these because I felt like they were contributing to my calf pain. Hmm, calf pain has gone - maybe I was right? I'm going to add them back in but be super careful while I do it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #12

The week the I-word reared its ugly head.

Update: I've just realized the font in this post has gone screwy. I can't fix it, so apologies to anyone who is as OCD as me. It's bugging the absolute daylights out of me.


Nothing. Flew to Atlanta first thing and didn't leave the office until late.


AM: 5 miles (8km) - 54:31

I chose a different hotel to stay at this week. The choices are pretty limited as my office is out in the suburbs. This hotel is in a better area - more residential and  just nearby has an approximately 4 mile long road, with sidewalks and street lights. This works pretty well as my longest mid-week runs are 8 miles.

I took my first run out with a liberal amount of caution. I had driven the route (well, I was a passenger while one of my colleagues drove the route for me) the night before so I had a feel for what was what but it's a little unnerving being out early in the morning in a new and unknown area.

Two other runners crossed my path during the run and both gave enthusiastic hellos. Early morning runners are the best!

I finished up feeling pretty good and happy to have run without incident.


AM: 6 miles (9.6km) - 1:04:01

Same route as Tuesday. Headed out feeling a little more relaxed than the day before. But not that relaxed, as when a squirrel (I think it was a squirrel anyway) ran in front of me, I may have squealed just a little and my heart stopped for what felt like a minute. Having found a safer and more consistent route meant I could relax into the hills more and use them as part of my training (rather than the constant start-stop routine I'd been doing previously). I have lost of perspective of what constitutes "hilly" but I think this route might be just that. It certainly has more hills than my Chicago runs (I know, it's not that hard though). Here are the elevation profiles of my 6 mile run in Atlanta versus 6 miles in Chicago. It would look better if I could get the scales equal.
Hello Atlanta hills
Practically flat Chicago

AM: 0.1 miles - ow!

I started a run but called it quits with calf pain.

AM: Elliptical - 15:00
AM: Weights - 30:00

Took my workout inside but even the elliptical started aggravating my calf.


AM: 8 miles (12.8km) - 1:23:40

Feeling better today, so decided to give the planned 8 miles a go. All went well, my calf was quiet all run.


AM: 10 miles (16km) - 1:50:29

13 mile run fail. This was the run where I really began to question whether there was something seriously wrong with my calf. It never really hurt but I could feel it from mile 2. By mile 8 I knew it was time to call it quits. I am stubborn so made it an even 10.


Rest. Ice. Compression. Stretch.

This week's stats

  • Total miles: 29 (46.4km)
  • Total running time: 5 hours 12 minutes 40 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 4
  • Total cross training workouts: 1 (ish)
  • Total strength workouts: 1
Goals for next week
Exactly the same as last week.
  • Warm up and cool down
  • Running form
  • Getting up when the alarm goes off and not after I hit snooze three times

August summary

  • Total miles: 153 (244.8km)
  • Total running time: 27 hours 06 minutes 51 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 20