Sunday, September 13, 2015

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 14 Recap

Hey guys!  So I write to you today after having done my second to last long run before marathon taper starts, and therefore the conclusion to week 14 out of 18 of marathon training!  Can't believe we're heading into the last 4 weeks!

I started this week feeling really down because I was struggling a bit to feel better and recovered after my run on Monday morning of 18 miles.  I just got back from traveling for two weeks and two weeks off of any strength or cross training and I wanted to get back in the pool, lifting weights, maybe doing a bike ride, etc. but I just felt tired and hurt.  I knew that it was my body telling me to take a little break (although my mind was telling me I just had a break with 2 weeks off of additional workouts beyond running) and I was just running myself ragged.  The last thing I wanted was to get injured at this point in training so I was feeling a lot of frustration at myself for not being smarter going into that 18-mile run as well.

The schedule for this week said that my three midweek runs should be 5-9-5 and then a weekend long run stepping back of 14 miles.  I originally intended to run 5 miles on Tuesday morning, which I know sounds crazy after saying how much discomfort I felt, but I thought it might help.  I know a ton of people who do "recovery runs" and have done short runs the days after long runs in the past.  However, I was advised to really, really just take it easy and take the whole day off, which was advice I ended up taking.  I still got up early on Tuesday morning though and went into the gym and just stretched and used the foam roller for a while to hopefully loosen up the tightness in my legs.  My groin, hips, butt have been really tight lately and I've lost a bit of flexibility it seems so I am trying my hardest to stretch them out these next few weeks.  I told you guys this already though.

Wednesday morning I got up and ran again!  I went to the beltline and had a solo run there where I just let myself take my time and I actually felt really good on this run.  I averaged a 9:41 pace, which actually felt good since I was telling myself to take it easy.

The notable part about the run was that it was through the rain.  It was raining when I started and raining when I finished.  I saw that it was when I got up in the morning and literally asked myself "What would Coach Jess do?" and reflected back on the rainy runs I have had in the past.  Whether they have been during actual races, during training runs, or during freezing cold slush and craziness.  My friends in Atlanta thought I was nuts for running in the rain solo, but I sent them this old blog entry and thought about what a ridiculous and silly morning this was and my run in the rain felt blissful after that.

Not wanting to feel cocky again after the run, I spent some time at the gym abusing myself in a good way by foam rolling.  I've now spent a lot of time on this thing this week and it never gets any less painful!

I actually went back to the gym on Wednesday evening to do a light upper body workout, just to get back in the swing of things.  I am definitely feeling the extra pounds that I put on from the travel and am anxious to shed them, but also have been having a hard time to get back on track after being away.  You saw those tacos that I ate, right!?

It's funny because I did this exact thing when I trained for Paris too.  I managed my eating and weight so well leading up to the Paris Marathon, dropping pounds all throughout training and then putting on 5 or so right in the weeks leading up to the race.  It's not an excuse for me to do it again.  I really would like to go into the marathon in my best shape ever, but I'm not sure how I am going to manage it the next few weeks.

Thursday wasn't really any better on the food front.  But I did start the morning with a great 5-mile run with my friend Janet who has been running with me regular in the AMs for weeks now.  We had a great conversation and I took it easy again and ran at pace with her which was about 10:30 minute miles.  I am going to try and take my pace BACK a bit on these next few weeks which might sound counter intuitive, but I think it will help to have me go into the race feeling really good.  Plus, a lot of plans recommend running at slower than you want pace.  I don't fully understand it, but I am giving myself permission to ease back because that 18 miler scared me!

I  decided to split up my miles that day to help take it easy and also because I had tried to coordinate a group run thing in the evening.  It didn't end up working exactly as planned and I hit some traffic and was late getting where I needed to be and there was a complete utter torrential downpour that made the whole night just a mess.  I had planned to do 4 miles but ended up getting out of my car to run with 45 minutes before I needed to be at Meet Up that I had coordinated.  I told myself to run 2 miles and see how I felt.  My legs also just still felt SO tired for some reason and I did not want to be running these miles.  I felt like shit.  It was downpouring rain.  A car drove by me on the side of the road and drove through a massive puddle that splashed up and COMPLETELY soaked me.  All in my face and everything.  It was disgusting.  I felt awful and after 2.5 miles I just stopped.  I ran 7.5 of the 9 miles and called it a night.  I was just so done with running for the day.

It gave me a few minutes to clean myself up before meeting up with some other fellow Atlantians who are running Chicago Marathon!  We met for a drink and I ate a dinner of french fries and pita bread and hummus and talked about training, nutrition, what our travel plans were, and how excited we were.  It ended up being a really nice night that started out pretty crappy!

Because I felt so awful still on Thursdays evening run and wanted to be sure to get a lot of sleep, I skipped out on running 5 miles on Friday morning too.  I knew that I was doing a 5K on Saturday morning, which originally was supposed to be extra miles, but I decided to just swap that for my second 5-mile run of the week and take Friday as another rest day.  I didn't do anything in the morning and then in the evening went to the gym and did a light 35 minute swim allowing myself to think about other things for a bit.

I will write more about the 5K in another post, but that 5-mile run from the week morphed into a weekend run.  My days of running are all totally off track because of the shift while I was in Asia (losing days of the week due to time zones and long plane rides throws you off!) and having done my long run on a Monday.  So I finished my weekly miles on a Saturday, making the week a 5-7.5-3 week instead of a 5-9-5 week.  Losing those 4 miles and replacing them with lots of foam rolling, I am sure will be better in the long run but it is seriously a mental challenge for me to let go of them.  I struggled all week with the adjustments to my schedule and I have been trying my best to just feel good with where I am.  The 5K was a lot of fun and I had a great rest of the day on Saturday doing some relaxing and then joining friends for Atlanta's Lantern Festival that went along the beltline where I usually run in the mornings.  It was an awesome night and made me feel happy to be living in Atlanta!  It ended up being a later night than I thought, but still a responsible one because I had a 14-mile run in the morning that I was pretty nervous for.

This morning I was super nervous about my 14 mile run.  Since I was out late I decided to just sleep in and then go run whenever I woke up.  The weather has been a bit cooler in the mornings here lately and the temperature was supposed to be under 70 or around 70 until late morning so I felt good that the temperature wouldn't be a problem, which is one of the reasons that I usually run early.  It ended up being an amazing 65 degrees for my whole run and I chose to run a flat route at the Silver Comet Trail.  I recognized that I was probably a bit more dehydrated than I usually am for runs and wanted to give myself the ability to get lots of water.

I parked at the trail and broke the run into two 7-mile out and backs so that I could refill my water and Gatorade halfway through.  I was a little nervous to stop after 7 miles because I didn't want to get stiff but I stopped refilled water bottles and got right back into pace.  A number of times on the run I told myself to pull back on the pace and not push too hard.  I felt strong when I finished and like I could keep going.  My half marathon split was 2:04:45 and I finished the 14-mile run in a 9:30 average pace, which I felt very happy with.

Nutrition worked well for the race as I've been playing with salt tabs and Gu Chews, and my stomach held up well.  Throughout all my long runs I have been having the same breakfast in the morning of cereal with berries and almond milk.  It seems to sit really nicely with me but I imagine it might be weird for others.  And I finished this run with an iced coffee, even though we're getting into hot coffee season because I still have been craving them post run.

The week started at a really low point and I feel better about where I am now.  I still stretched and foam rolled today a bit and still hate ever moment of being on that foam roller.  I am hoping to do some swimming tomorrow morning and then go into my biggest week of training!!!  I am shifting around my runs to accommodate my schedule this week, but this week IS IT.  The biggest week of training with 40-miles doing a 5-10-5 for midweek runs and then a 20-miler as my weekend run.  After that, it is taper time!  I am nervous and excited and feeling confident going into this week and also a heavy dose of nerves.  I can't believe we're finally at this point in training!!  Week 15, here I come!

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