Chicago Marathon Training – Month 1

I’ve been training for the Chicago Marathon for a month now. So far, I’m hitting my training schedule.

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I actually can’t believe I’ve already hit 18 miles. I still have 14 miles to run the rest of this week – and 10 on Saturday (since I’m not running on Sunday), but I should be able to hit them without a problem. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed about the mileage I did this month – and the consistency of my pace.

18 miles - Done! It wouldn't have been so bad if the heat index wasn't at 95 degrees the last 5-6 miles. It's going to make me stronger, right? #chimarathon #teamrmhc #crazy

Latest Garmin Selfie. That Garmin is just so photogenic.

I have a few rambling thoughts that I’m going to put into somewhat coherent bullets.

**Base training was worth it – adding an extra run each week and longer distances hasn’t been too bad. The longest I ran during base training was 12 miles (once), but for the 3 months I was in base-training mode it was mostly 7 to 8 milers, hitting 20-25 miles a week. I actually felt more aches and pains during this base training than I have since I’ve upped my mileage. Go figure.

**It’s f*cking hot. Ok, so that’s a given because a) it’s the summer and b) I live in Florida, but I don’t think I realized HOW hot it would be. I did this training 3 years ago and mostly avoided the sun because I had people to met at 4:30 in the morning. This time I’m running it on my own (I’m open to running with other though!) and it’s hard to leave the house. I actually get up pretty early (like 4 or 5) but then procrastinate.

**3/1 Long runs are hard (but probably worth it). For my long runs I’ve been running the first 3/4 of the run at a pace between 10-10:15 minute/mile — and then the last 1/4 at race pace – 9:30 (or a little slower if the heat index is 100 degrees). I feel like it serves two purposes – teaches me to reserve my energy AND gets me to run faster on tired feet/legs.

**Running 4 days a week isn’t bad. When training for Savannah, I ran 3 days a week – but ALL of those runs were intense. I did a long run, a tempo run, and speedwork. I did not enjoy a single run. This time around, the runs are less intense, but I’m hitting my tempo run and hitting my mileage. I’m also just enjoying the miles. Some might call them junk miles, but I consider it time on my feet and a great way to get rid of stress.

**Ducks are really the cutest birds ever. Every morning I see ducks, ducks, and more ducks. I would be lying if I said they didn’t make my day. There was one day where I witness the world’s longest duck crossing. Sadly, a car came and broke it up (no ducks were injured – turns out, ducks are pretty smart about cars) – and a few of the ducks left behind were so angry/confused. I’m considering starting duck blog I love these damn ducks so much (not really).

Just out for a jog. #seeonmyrun #ducksofinstagram #hopetheyarentoffendedisaidjog #wooendorphins

Today's run was meh, but at least I felt like the duck posse was cheering me on. #seeonmyrun

**Ice baths hurt a lot less when you’re already sitting IN the bath and then you get “iced.” Yes, it’s taken me 36 years to learn this trick.

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Don’t get me wrong, ice baths are still pure torture, but they are a good kind of torture because I can walk (even run!) the next without issue.

**The best part of running in the middle of the summer in Florida (which is kind of like an oxymoron, right?) is the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets.

So pretty. So f*cking hot. #seeonmyrun #wooendorphins #pardonmyfrench

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Happy Friday! What a peaceful sunrise... balancing out the crappy humidity. #seeonmyrun #wooendorphins #teamrmhc #whyamimarathontraininginthemiddleofthesummer

It never gets old.

**Falling still sucks. I fell during my 2nd long run (at mile 2.75). I managed to shake it off and keep going, but it really sucked and I felt the after effects for a few weeks (the bruising on left hip was pretty bad – as was the scrape on the inner pad of my right hand – I have NO idea how that happened).

Long run #2 and I had a meet up with the pavemen at mile 2.75. I'm banged up pretty bad, but at least I didn't have to get stitches! #chimarathon #teamrmhc #klutz

I also now really paranoid about sidewalks, so I try to run on the road as much as possible. Turns out that not a bad idea because I run faster and more efficiently on the road. Who knew?

**Bring on the carbs! Actually, my appetite is super weird. Long run days I crave food, but get full really fast. Rest and bootcamp days I eat the most. Is this normal?

**Since I’ve hit 14 miles on my long run, I’ve worn my Nathan Endurance vest on my long runs. I feel like I have a love – hate relationship with this thing.

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This is my trying not to die while foolishly taking a selfie because I’m an idiot face.

I love the ease and accessibility of my fuel/water – and I’ve finally gotten to the point where it actually feels comfortable to wear it – but I hate, hate, HATE the straps touching me while I run. Now I could wrap them up all neatly, but that is SO unrealistic and not going to happen. Instead I spend half of my trying to fix them so I don’t feel them. It is just me?

**I have the best cheerleaders waiting for me at home. Every single time I get home from a run I get cheers and applause. And also sometimes I get this…

Better than a medal any day.

**I need more pop-culturey running shirts.

Just got back from a 5-miler with Castiel. I hope he didn't get any bugs in his mouth like I did. (Thanks @eatwatchrun for the awesome birthday present!) #spn #extraprotein #wooendorphins

Running with Castiel is the best. Thanks to Paula for this fantastic birthday gift.

And that’s pretty much it for the first month.

14 disgustingly humid miles done (I wish that gigantic rain cloud would have just rained!). I met a turtles, gave dirty looks to more than 10 bikers riding on the sidewalk, and didn't fall. #chimarathon #teamrmhc #wooendorphins

TL;DR — I ran a lot, I feel once, I saw a lot of sunrises, sunsets, and ducks, the heat really sucks — but it’s ALLLLLL worth it. Hopefully. Also, 1 month done… 2 more

Favorite pop-culture tee/tank? I might have to get an “I Am Groot” shirt next… more about that in my next post.

Things I’m Loving Lately – Marathon Training Kickoff Edition

Yep, that’s right. Marathon training is officially underway. Not that I’m really doing anything wildly different this week. This week I’m running 23-25 miles, which has become my norm. Next week, however I’ll start (gradually) upping the miles. I guess I’m ready?

Not only is marathon training back, but so is the ridiculous heat, humidity, and daily thunderstorms. For a few months I was actually managing to do my long runs at night after the kids were in bed (and I kind of liked it), but with thunderstorms rolling in anywhere between 4-9pm, I decided I need to commit to morning running again.

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Why is sooooo hard to get up??

There are a few perks to marathon training. Mainly, it’s a good excuse to buy new things. It helps that it was just my birthday so I can say things like “I’m buying these for myself, for my birthday.” Even though everyone knows that I would probably buy them anyways. It’s just fun to have an excuse.

So here a few recent buys that I have been worth buying (none of these links are affiliated, click away)…

1. Amphipod Hydraform Handheld In-Touch (20oz)

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So, this isn’t new. I bought it back in February and it was love at first run. I have never really been one to run with a water bottle, but it now goes with me on every run. Even the 3 milers. It’s very light and cozy in my hand and it holds my phone (I’m actually able to use my phone without taking it out as well). When it’s super dark outside I reverse my phone and use it as a flashlight. Basically, it’s great. I haven’t decided if I’ll use it on longer runs or on race day, but I will use it on runs up to about 13 miles.

2. Nike Breeze Tanks

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I finally found the PERFECT shirt for running in Florida! I probably could run with just my sports bra on, but I like having something to absorb my sweat (it dries fast) and protect me from those stupid gnats that are everywhere (if only I could find something that kept them from flying into my mouth). The material is so lightweight and bonus, it’s long.

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If the shirts weren’t $35, I would probably have one in every color. Instead, I’m slowly adding them to my collection.

3. Salted Carmel Gu

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Don’t get me wrong, Gu is still disgusting and makes me gag, but this is the most tolerable flavor I’ve ever eaten. Maybe it’s the salt? I just realized it’s a winter flavor, and salted watermelon is their summer flavor. I can’t decide if that sounds gross or not.

4. Elta MD Sports Sunscreen

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My dermatologist probably makes a fortune off of selling this stuff, but I have to give him credit because it’s pretty great. It doesn’t make my skin breakout (and I have SUPER sensitive skin), it doesn’t smell too disgusting, it’s not sticky, and it doesn’t sting if it you’re a moron (like me) and it accidentally gets in your eyes. I also now use this on all of my kids – including Mr. Sensitive Baby Skin himself.

Oh, and I make my ginger husband use it so he doesn’t burst into flames the minute he walks out of the house.

5. Ridiculously Bright Colored Clothes

I’m all about the neon.

I'm obnoxious. #wooendorphins

I’m obnoxious and I know it.

6. Fitness Blender workouts

I’ve been wanting to add an extra strength/HIIT workout to my schedule — but I don’t have time (nor do I want to wake up early) to go to the gym, so I’ve been doing these Fitness Blender workouts from home. Here’s one that kicked my ass and only took 20 minutes….

I love that they visually include the countdown clock and have a pretty broad variety of workouts (which also list the calorie burn range). Maybe I’m the last person on Earth to discover these workouts, but if I’m not, check them out!

7. This book.

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Ok, so it has nothing to do with marathon training, except it’s been keeping me up because I can’t put it down. If you want to read something and think, “Wow, she’s batshit crazy and we need to be best friends.” Then this book is for you.

8. Cute kids and a supportive husband

So, I’m pretty lucky (and nobody even paid me to say that). My husband may not understand my crazy hobbies, but he’s my biggest fan and cheerleader. I could not fathom training for these marathons (or writing this blog) without his support.

He seems really excited about this for some reason.

And as always, the cute kids help too. Especially, when they pretend to like each other.

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WHICH IS ALWAYS (ha).

Anything running (or non-running really) that you’re loving lately?

Marathon Training WITHOUT Speedwork

I haven’t 100 % fully committed to a marathon plan yet – but there’s one element of my plan that’s been decided: NO SPEEDWORK.

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But how do you expect to shave 15+ minutes off your PR, Michelle?  (my imaginary internet friends are asking)

Good question!

First let me defend my choice… While I really dislike speedwork, it’s not about love or hate… it’s all about my ankles. The peroneal tendonitis in my right ankle to be specific. I can either run higher mileage – or I can do speedwork, but I can’t do both.

I DO think you have to run fast in order to get faster, but I also think I’m capable of running a 4:15 marathon without it.

So what DO I plan to do?  (the imaginary internet friends are still skeptical)

*I’ll be running higher mileage than my first marathon, for starters. For Savannah, I peaked at 30-35 miles. That’s really not THAT high. Actually it’s pretty low, although it’s also not horrible for only running 3 times a week. For Chicago, I’m hoping to peak at 50-55 miles and run at least 4 times a week – with one of my mid-week runs between 7-10 miles.

*I’m planning on incorporating Hal Higdeon’s 3/1 Runs into my long runs —  where the last quarter of a run (so 4 out of 16, 5 out of 20) I will be running at a faster pace (although not necessarily race pace). I tested this out with my 12-miler this weekend. I ran the last 3 miles at a faster pace and I was surprised I could do it. Apparently I just need to apply myself (nope.. never hear that one before).

*And then of course, I plan on running some runs at marathon pace… if I can tolerate running a 9:30 pace in ridiculous humidity.

*I also plan on running the majority of my runs OUTSIDE. I spent a lot of time on the treadmill during marathon training last time – and I can’t say I enjoyed it or that it was really THAT helpful.

*I’m going to continue to do strength training. While I’d like to do two strength training workouts a week – I will be happy with one. Squats, Kettlebell Swings, and Deadlifts have been ESPECIALLY helpful this past year while I’ve transitioned from postpartum blob into a badassmotherrunner (that’s sarcasm, but I’m serious about the strength workouts) – and I’m not giving those up.

*And finally… I’m going to live every week like it’s shark week. Duh.

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I will probably be getting up earlier than ever. I predict I will be hungry 24/7. I already know I’m going to be tired — but when I cross the finish line at Chicago (regardless of a PR or not – but definitely a PR) I know it’s going to be worth it!

And if it DOESN’T work? At least now I’ll know — and the next time I train I’ll focus on speedwork — but not mileage. You never know until you try, right?

Have you trained without speedwork?

Do you have imaginary friends?

What’s your favorite {upbeat} song right now? I need some new music.

Pre-Planning Planning

I’m not always Type A, but when I decide to commit to something, I go all in.

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Maybe “all in” isn’t the term I’m looking for… more like obsessed? It’s like I can’t stop my brain from trying to plan for the future. What’s funny is that I’m really not all that obsessive about small details. So I don’t stress about things like what day an event is, how I’m going to there, or what time I need to be there (this drives my husband insane), but I do like to have a general perspective on what’s going on during the week, month, year, etc. I’m a big picture person and I like to set goals and accomplish them. Sometimes.

And by perspective I mean – spend hours and hours doing research. Obsessive, research. And I love every minute of it.

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Truthfully, I love doing research, especially comparative research. It’s partially why I love my career – and also why I love Google so much. I will Google the crap out of anything. Sidenote: Need something Googled? Let me know.

The best part? My love for research carries over into running.

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In fact, even though training for Chicago doesn’t start until June/July  – I am totally geeking out over here researching training plans.

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Kinda like Jimmy Fallon and this lamb goat. Well, not really — I just really wanted to share this gif. Edited: Kara informed that it’s actually a GOAT. Derp.

I don’t know what my time goal is going to be (OK, I’m lying – my goal is sub 4:15 – but I would be happy with a sub-4:30 because… PR), and I don’t know what kind of speed work I want to incorporate. I SO know that I want to try a 4-day running schedule (like time I did 3 days) – with at least one day of cross training, if not two.

So these are some of the training schedule I’m currently looking into:

I’m actually NOT opposed to hiring a coach – because isn’t it GREAT to have someone hold you accountable???

I am also mentally trying to easy my way into “training season.” I think my biggest challenge is going to be waking up EARLY on a Sunday without a running group. I also want to do at least one longer run during the week (7-9 miles), so I’m going to try to figure out which morning works best.

So, as you can see, I am pre-planning planning.

What makes you nerd out??? Any marathon plans or maybe a coach you can recommend??

Marathon Talk

When I crossed the finish-line in Savannah 2 years ago (wow, has it really been that long?), I wasn’t DYING to run another marathon. I was disappointed in my marathon experience (mostly miles 20-24) and knew that I would run another one someday, just not right that second. Or year.

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I also knew, for various reasons, that I wanted that second marathon to be Chicago.

Chicago

Not only is this lady from Chicago, but I’ve never been. Plus, I’ve heard the crowd support is like no other… and I definitely THRIVE on crowd support. Bonus — the whole family will be there. Yes, I want to drag all FIVE of us to Chicago. My kids need to see The Bean, right?

A glimpse of things to come. #trouble

Traveling with me when I’m almost 18 months old seems like an excellent idea. Bwhahahaha.

So, the plan was pitched. Chicago in 2014. This gave me time to get pregnant (check!) and have a baby (check check!). And maybe get some sleep (ummm… sure).

And then yesterday the race organizers made an announcement. The Chicago Marathon was going to be a lottery.

DANG.

And not just that… there is guaranteed entry for those who qualify (3:45 for women, 3:15 for men — which, in case you’re new here, that is not me) and those who have run the race 5 times in the past 10 years (also, not me). Nothing was said about how many lottery spots there would be (probably because they don’t know at this point). All I could think was — this going to be another NY marathon. AKA a race I will never get into, although not from a lack of trying.

Paula and I briefly discussed the likelihood that we would BOTH be chosen to run it — and realistically I think those chances are small. And also, I’m not that lucky.

However, I am determined. We aren’t going to let some lottery system determine what we can and can’t race together! Paula still might apply to run it — but I’m skipping that whole lottery business. Yeah, my heart is set. I’m running it for charity.

Charities

I haven’t decided which one quite yet, although there are a few at the top of my list. (Have you run for any of these charities? Let me know!)I actually feel a little relief with this decision and excitement. And while $1000 is a lot of money to raise, I think I can do it.

However, that’s not the end of the story. In “I might be crazy news” I also want to run a local(ish) marathon. I’m currently leaning towards either the Jacksonville Bank Marathon or Space Coast. Space Coast is the closest, but it’s notoriously warm in November because… well, it’s Florida.I guess Celebration could be on that list too — depending on how next weekend’s race goes.

Point is, I have big plans to run TWO marathons in the next 12 months. And while I’m not ready to talk goals and time — one of these marathons is going to be a PR. I also know that also one of these marathons is going include a picture just like this….

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Maybe with even cuter throw-away sweatshirts.

So basically… I’m really excited about running for charity, running two marathons, and really just running. Lots of running. And also writing the word “marathong.” That never gets old.