This week was weird, man.
- Monday: In what can only be the most painful metaphor for my hunger level right now, my cat jumped up inside my empty Chipotle bag, got stuck, and rolled butt-first into my (thankfully empty) burrito bowl.
- Friday: A man sat next to me, and in a bus filled with professionals headed home during rush hour, proceeded to smoke crack from a pipe. People on the bus actually complained when other passengers demanded he be removed (because, um, second-hand crack kills?), because kicking him off would mean a slight delay in their commute. I’ve been riding public transportation in Chicago for close to 13 years (at times in some of the legitimately seedier parts of town at inadvisable times of night #college), and have (thankfully) avoided anything nearly as bad as openly smoking crack.
- Saturday: Amazon rose to stalker levels trying to deliver a book (Rebecca Traister’s “All The Single Ladies,” an exploration of the evolution of relationships and marriage through the lens of female empowerment and societal equality). While I was in the shower, they rang my door buzzer, called my cell twice, and rang the buzzer again. I then received an email, phone call and voicemail telling me my delivery had failed. After receiving no response from me, they then tried to deliver again at 8p and I was finally able to buzz them in. It was an incredibly invasive and weirdly focused effort, the likes of which I’ve never experienced with Amazon. All I could think of was that somewhere, in a feminist war room, a group of high-powered women was panicking at the thought of me not receiving this book as promised.
TRAINING WEEK 7: WATCH MY FEET WHA WHA WATCH MY FEET
Completed 4/5 workouts for a total of 25 miles for the week + 0 strength workouts.
- Workout #1: 8 x 400 @ 7:15-7:30 pace
[Actual: 11:45min UP// 1:47; 1:45; 1:49; 1:46; 1:46; 1:49; 1:40; 1:34// 4:30min CD]
If you looked at this and felt like, “Wow. Those intervals times are oddly specific. I wonder if she got wise and used a watch this time?” You would be correct and I owe you a cookie. After I literally almost flew off the back of a treadmill upteen times trying to utilize my phone’s stopwatch feature, I decided to join Laura Ingalls Wilder on the prairie with the most basic of concepts: an actual stopwatch. Well, ok, I used my GPS watch on “indoor mode,” which essentially turns it into a lap watch unless you have the foot pod; I don’t. Practically speaking, I started these intervals at the slower end (7:30/8mph), and worked the pace up as I progressed, eventually starting at 7:03/8.5mph and moving up from there). Unfortunately, I was on a treadmill without the graphic that shows you where on a virtual 400m “track” you are, which is typically a useful visual when trying to do recovery intervals of 200m…
Some of the intervals in the middle are a bit long, in all likelihood, because I accidentally did bad runner’s math (I had to calculate what 0.25+whatever distance the treadmill currently told me I was at, which.. hahahah yea). I can say that with certainty because I know that the speed at which I was setting the treadmill never got slower, but my intervals times (on a few) did. I finally wised up and started increasing/decreasing the belt speed (standing on the rails when it was speedier than I wanted) so my next interval could start on a 0 or 5, and my rest intervals were still about 2min long. If you’re confused by how overly-complicated this sounds, join the club. I’m excited to be able to take these workouts to an ACTUAL track…
- Workout #2: 5 @ goal race pace (currently 8:15 – 8:30)
[Actual – 1mi walk/job warm-up//8:47 (wind); 8:49 (wind); 8:27; 8:08; 7:57// 0.5mi cool down ]
This felt pretty good, despite some solid wind along the lake that left our faces feeling like icicles. When I’m running on the lake, I’m usually doing an out-and-back, and generally try and give myself a headwind for the first half when at all possible. I wanted to start conservatively, as I’m still not sure that my “totally guesstimated and not at all data-backed nor necessarily realistic” race pace makes sense, and I felt more confident trying to reel in faster paces in a progressive race pace strategy than a more even-paced one at this point. [Even-paced runs have worked well for me in past marathon training cycles (they really do help me learn how a specific pace feels, which is something I really need, mentally), but right now my mind needs to be reassured that I can hit paces.] I felt like I was locked in those last three miles, and kept muttering variations of “drop the hammer;” (Literally like 15 minutes of me thinking, “The hammer has been dropped. Droppin’ that hammer. Hammer time. Done dropped,” to myself like a crazy person).
- Long Run: 9 miles on the lakefront path.
[Actual: 9.5mi @ 9:21 avg pace + negative splitski!]
I’ve noticed that one of my biggest challenges with this training has been mental strength and confidence. The idea of nine miles scared me a bit; this was the longest I’ve run in a year, and the longest run of my training cycle yet. It was also a little chillier than I anticipated, which (for whatever reason) always makes getting out the door feel a little more challenging. I requested a pep talk, and then hit the road. Although I felt pretty tired in the first half, my body fell pretty quickly into a 9:30 pace. I tend to like starting my long runs almost painfully slow for the first 1-2mi to allow for my body to loosen up, but every time I tried to slow down, I found myself creeping back up. Oh, well? When I hit the turnaround, I started falling into slightly faster paces as my legs started to loosen up (9:27; 9:11; 9:25; 8:53). I got a serious case of runner’s brain in the final 2 miles and got confused as to where my exit from the path was located (legitimately not something I should be confused by). I forgot how bad my runners brain gets… it’s bad, guys. The confusion meant I accidentally tacked on an additional 1/2mi (8:40 pace). I was pretty giddy about my pacing; and, much like my last run, my brain immediately clicked to, “Oh, that wasn’t really far,” once I finished. I know from experience that a few more longer runs like these will pretty quickly shift my brain to a more confident place. These runs aren’t long for me, historically, but they’re long for me in the present state.
THE BIG PICTURE
Mental/Physical Update: This week felt really good, and I was pleased with how well my mind rebounded from last week. The weather is definitely playing a role, and when DST kicks in on Sunday, I’ll have more post-work daylight to work with (I try not to run on the path when it’s both dark AND cold/icy). The last few runs have me excited about my fitness; it feels like after weeks of middling in an “UghCanIReallyDoThis” mentality, I’ve jumped up a level. My confidence is growing, my speed is feeling more natural and attainable, and my mind has started visualizing the race.
Strength Routine: Shoulder pain is still an issue (I’m pretty sure it’s some kind of impingement – I’m a Google MD), and I’ve told myself I’ll give it another week or two of rest before I head into a doctor’s office. In the meantime, I’m recommitting to the strength moves that don’t involve weight on my shoulder (basically everything I was doing, minus any planks).
Moving Forward: Registration for the Chicago Marathon opens tomorrow, and while I put it on my calendar and toyed with the possibility, I just can’t pull the trigger yet. If I were to do a Fall marathon, I’d likely wait a few months and pick a smaller race that allows for a later registration. It feels good to start building my fitness back up, and I don’t want to commit to a longer race again until I feel like my body is really prepared to own it. While 2016 might be a year of racing shorter, I’m excited about the possibilities.