Chi Town Training: Week 9

TRAINING WEEK 9: March Madness

Completed 4/5 workouts for a total of 24 miles for the week + 1 strength workout.

Much like many peoples’ NCAA brackets (mine included), this week was a weird one with some disappointments that should have been wins, and some surprise successes. I tried to return to my strength routine this week, but did my lunges post-intervals and they were tired sloppy. Next time, I will save them for a better day. I got even fancier with my watch and remembered that I had an “interval” function available to me. That was pretty much a game changer. I celebrated my best friend’s impending bundle of joy (and saw lots of lovely faces I hadn’t seen in a very long time), and reveled in lady time (and wine) at a few friend dinners this week.

Lastly, the guy and I had purchased a “Penguin Experience” at the Shedd Aquarium for our Valentine’s Day gift to each other, which we scheduled for the morning of the baby shower (tip: members often get 50% off emails for these, so it can be super affordable if you time it right). Olivia, the Magellan penguin from South America, was very friendly, and we learned a ton. Did you know penguins don’t drink water? They swallow fish whole and get their water that way. Because they don’t sweat, they have cavities in their heads that catch all the salt they ingest, and they regularly sneeze to release the salt from their bodies. They also projectile poop every 10 minutes or so, which is both gross and fascinating to watch. We got to pet her, but only with two fingers because they don’t trust the public not to manhandle their animals. Her wing felt like leather, but her body was soft and silky. And that is really everything you didn’t realize you didn’t know about the world’s only acceptable birds.


Petting Olivia!


  • Workout #1: 9 x 400 @ 7:15-7:30 pace (1:5X)
    This was the first track workout I’ve done outside all cycle and it TrackTuesday3.15felt amazing. We have a new, beautiful track a few miles from my place, but it was a bit farther than I wanted to run for my warm-up, so I took these to the lake, where an expansive, cement shoreline is tucked away from the actual running path. My secret spot is about 750m long, so each length is just about perfect for 400m intervals + rest. My Garmin has an interval option (Forerunner 210 over here), and I was excited to utilize that functionality. It beeps when you need to start and stop for every interval and rest period, and shows your interval #, so the whole “thinking” part of the workout is left to my watch. I ended up running these far faster than planned, but I felt really good, and feel like I’ve been consistently faster than goal pace on these. It was weird to have to think about pacing versus letting the treadmill do the dirty work, and there were a few times I noticed I was zoning out and accidentally relaxing (lap 16, especially), resulting in a slower pace than I wanted. I usually didn’t see how long each split was in the moment (still have to figure that out), so I was just assuming that these were essentially on track based on the instant lap pace I checked a few times per interval. My final 400 was intentionally all out, and it was fun to see a 6:00 pace pop up. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many sub-7s when I uploaded everything.
  • Workout #2: 6 race pace miles (8:15-8:30)
    [Actual – 1mi WU// ~8:50; ~8:40; ~8:30//3 miles on a spin bike]
    Hi, so I died on this run. Make no mistake, I expertly set myself up for failure on this one. I set my alarm for an early treadmill session, only to sleep poorly and decide I would do this later in the day, AFTER a baby shower and meeting a penguin (separate events, unfortunately). I ate very little (some toast for breakfast, and a few bites of things at the showeR), had a champagne cocktail and no water, and then was all like “I’m gonna work out hard!” I got 3 miles in before I called it — I felt like my core was exhausted and I could barely keep myself upright? It was an odd feeling, but not one that lends itself to having a strong workout. Because part of the goal of these race pace miles on Saturday is to tire my legs out for Sunday’s long run effort, I put that one in the “losing strategy” column and pushed hard on the spin bike for about 10 minutes to round out my “mileage” and tire my legs out a bit more.
  • Long Run: 10 easy
    [Actual: 10 windy lakefront miles @ ~9:40]
    The weather felt mild for the first 3 miles of this – I was happy and feeling good. Then we turned around an ran four miles into a wind tunnel. That totally grated on my brain the way it feels when someone lightly scratches the same place on your skin for a while until you want to burn the world down. My guy, recognizing my frustration and increasing level of “nopes” was a champ and stuck with me well past his intended peel off point.
    We finally got to a section shielded by the wind, and an older man on a cruiser bike wearing cargo shorts and headphones cut me off on the path without as much as a simple “passing” warning, seemingly buzzing us to let us know we were in the wrong place (the public path)? I yelled “HEY!” because what he did was really dangerous and shitty, and without turning his head, pointed next to him at the muddy, mucky dirt shoulder of the path as he peddled on, indicating where he thought our place was. Feeling very ladylike, I screamed out a “F*** YOU.” I like to think he went home and cried about it. Anyway, it energized me a bit, and I finished up my run literally running circles around the neighborhood because my mind was in a place where it was willing to work, but only in close proximity to home. I was proud of myself for pushing to finish a workout I was ready to give up on for the last 4 miles. At home, I asked my boyfriend to please bring me a pickle to eat while I was in the shower; he did (without batting an eye. #squadgoals), and now that’s how I will be showering forevermore.


Mental/Physical Update: This wasn’t a rainbow week, but I like to think that those weeks toughen me up for race day. I continue to feel energized by my track workouts, and the long runs are slowly building endurance (and generally confidence). My shoulder is still wonky. Raising it over my head can be painful at times, and scratching the middle of back is generally inadvisable/impossible. It’ll feel better until I forget that there’s an issue, try to scratch my back, and set myself back. I’ve started visualizing the race a bit more – how I might feel, what I might be capable of, where I want to eat brunch afterwards. You know, the important stuff.It feels weird to see this half marathon as my goal race; my only other two half marathons were run as a part of my marathon training, and were never viewed as more than a bigger-than-usual workout. (I mean, yes. I got nervous and I always knew it was a race, but it wasn’t the Goal. For some reason, that feels different and weird to me.)

Moving Forward: I need to figure out my fueling strategy soon-ish, while I still have a few long runs on the calendar. I’m intrigued by UCAN, but my go-to for years has been tangerine PowerGels (I like the consistency over Gu). I have a busy few weeks ahead of me outside of running, so my goal is to do my best to plan ahead and get my training logged within the cracks of life, versus fitting my life into the cracks of running. I’ve spent my running years more in the latter camp because it’s easier to let everything else fall by the wayside than it is to feel busy (which is a feeling that can be challenging for me). These days, I’m working on being a more well-rounded runner who gets her shit done and still has a social life, because that’s way more fun.

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