Monday, September 21, 2015

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 15 PEAK WEEK Recap

Peak week has passed and it is officially taper time, you guys!! And what a week it has been!!

Last week kicked off my largest week of training for Chicago Marathon and the last week of building mileage before I taper down for 3 weeks before the race. I've been anticipating this week all of training and can't tell you how many times I've stared at a calendar and mapped out the days of the week, trying to juggle around when I would get in all of my runs.

Some people like to look back and reflect based on where they are a year ago to the day, and with social media making that extra easy nowadays it's not uncommon to see posts all over Facebook reflecting back. And although I readily admit I like looking at my own every day (more on that later), I also have been finding myself reminiscing lately based off of training. A "where was I last time I ran XX distance..." Type of nostalgia if you will. Perhaps because I am using the exact same training plan I used for Paris. And perhaps because I'm just a total sap. Perhaps because I just like to reflect and compare, and this time around there is so much growth I can see. But, I've been definitely been doing a lot of it lately and wow are there differences.

And also some similarities.

In all my marathon trainings, I like to make things just a liiiiittttle more complicated by adding in international travel and completely hectic schedules. I've had some pretty memorable runs around the world the past few years and my runs leading up to the Paris Marathon are definitely highly ranked up there. And because I have this blog, I've been really enjoying going back and putting myself in the mindset I had a year and a half ago when this was a completely new thing to me and I had no idea if I could really run 26.2 and be a marathoner.

My peak week of training in 2014 for the Paris Marathon I spent in Barcelona, Spain, while at a conference for work.

I ran my 14 mile run the day after arriving in Barcelona and literally ran into a parade taking place. My morning runs I did before then spending the day on a trade show floor. My ten mile run I remember left me exhausted and I ended up sitting in the back room of our booth amongst the luggage for a portion of it. I feel like I talked to EVERYONE I encountered about the fact it was peak week and I was so nervous about it. My 20-miler I did again in Barcelona, then lay on the bed for a long time before hobbling around Park Guell.

Over the past week I ran 40 miles.  This was peak week in training for Chicago Marathon.  Yet I feel that barely anyone knows.

On Tuesday of last week I ran five miles with my friend Janet and we finished the run with an awesome photo shoot celebrating the kick off to peak week. I love, love, love my morning runs with friends in Atlanta.  They are such a great way to kick off the day.

On Wednesday, we were back at it and I planned a route for all levels, doing a 6 mile loop and then finishing at the Beltline where one friend dropped off, Janet did 2 more to get 8 miles, and I finished off at 10 miles.  I felt good through it and finished with my last 2 miles at a really great pace under 9 minute miles!  It felt good running, but immediately afterwards I felt stiff and my left knee felt like it was a bit swollen or inflamed.

I started to get really nervousy and panicky and much of Wednesday was filled with a lot of anxiety about what was going on with my knee.  I went home and iced it and foam rolled more, as I have been trying to a lot more for the past week, but my knee was something new.  Every time I take a step, my knee feels like it clicks/pops a bit and I don't know what that means.  I know it can't be good but I also don't know what to do about it because it doesn't hurt. So I don't want to stop running?  I really obsessed over this a lot over the next few days.  What didn't help was that I flew up to Boston on Wednesday evening so didn't even have time to fully just relax.

It was funny to me that I went the whole day on Wednesday having run 10 miles in the morning and not having it be a huge deal.  Yes, my knee bothered me and that was a huge deal, but otherwise, I just went about my day. Nobody in my meetings knew that I did this.  I didn't feel the need to tell everyone about it.  It was just something that I did.

Thursday was a rest day for me, so that was good, and I also went to a running store and grabbed a foam roller, some KT tape, and anything else I thought might help me.

Friday morning I had another 5 mile run, which I did in Boston along the Charles River, with a great pace of about 9:15 minute miles and feeling pretty good.  My knee was definitely inflamed again at the end of the run, but I foam rolled, iced and stretched a lot before going about my day.

And from that point on, I didn't really think about the marathon again that weekend.  I was in Boston to celebrate my best friend Meaggie's wedding and the weekend was filled with fun, laughter-filled activities that left me with the marathon as the last thing on my mind.  I will recap the wedding later because it was an amazing event and want to be sure to save all the memories, but first let me take a selfie get through peak week recap.

The marathon came crashing back to my mind on Sunday morning as I packed up and moved on from the wedding weekend bubble and drove out to Albany, New York (my old stomping grounds!!) and prepared to run my 20-miler on Monday morning.  I had worked my schedule to have the morning off and do my run then since the weekend would be busy with the wedding.  On the way out to New York I stopped at the grocery store to buy the food and things I needed to eat in the morning to be prepared and once I got to my friends where I am staying, prepped everything I would need.

The morning started chillier than I initially expected with a temperature of around 45 degrees!  It was frosty out and I could see my breathe so I ran in a long sleeve shirt.  I chose to do my run on the Hudson Mohawk Trail, which is where I have run so many times in the past with my friends on our regular Monday, Wednesday, Friday AM runs.

I went out 5 miles in one direction, returned back to my car to refill water and Gatorade and also go to the bathroom, and then went 5 miles out in the other direction, before returning to my car.  I finished the run at an average about 9:58 minute/miles, which is a bit slower than I have been running lately, but I also finished it with a lot more pain than I have been experiencing lately.

Towards the end of this run, the pain I was experiencing during the last few miles of my 18 mile run returned.  My butt and hip started to hurt a lot around 13 miles.  I knew my pace wasn't as good as other runs because my half marathon time was 2:09:09. I finished those last miles with a lot of hurt.  I got a little nervous when I was at mile 15 knowing I was still so far from my car and wondering if I could make it back with the pain.

I kept trying different ways to land and shift my gait that might try and make it feel better. I tried playing around with difference paces.  I tried ignoring it to see if it would go away. But it hurt a lot through the whole run. It was my mind that carried me those last 5 miles.

I'm not sure what the pain is or how to make it stop.  I could Google everything under the sun but I'm not sure what they'll tell me that I don't probably already know. Water, rest, foam rolling, stretching, Advil, more of all those things.  I don't know. It throbs a bit and is tender and it is not the best feeling.  However, it is an amazing feeling knowing that I got through the biggest week of training.  That I ran my 2nd ever 20-miler during training.  That I managed to make it through all the long runs of this training cycle with better times than I have ever run before, even with today's slightly slower pace.  That I now am TAPERING and have a few weeks to relax, get healthy, and rest up for Chicago Marathon.

I'm scared of the reoccurring pains I've had this training cycle.  My hip pain is also distracting me from the fact that my knee is still bothering me. For a while during the run it felt a bit out of sorts but ended up feeling okay throughout, although it still does click/pop with every step that I take.  I don't know if the pains are a result of oncoming arthritis associated with my psoriasis, or the stress of the run, or just weaknesses in my body as I am recalling pain in both my hip and knee during other training cycles.  And I feel frustrated because beyond this pain I feel SO good. I have no otherwise muscle soreness. No tiredness. No stomach problems. No headaches. No achiness elsewhere. I feel GOOD. Except my knee pops when I walk (with no pain) and now my right butt/hip is throbbing and sore.

I'm finishing the big mileage feeling proud, scared, nervous, excited, and ready for a break.  I am ready for these lingering pains to go away.  And I'm ready to crush Chicago Marathon.

So much more to come, but for now, I am signing off.  I started this post going in one direction and feel like I am finishing it in another but it's been a busy week and a busy day and I ran TWENTY FREAKING MILES TODAY so I am going to go to bed.


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