Chicago Marathon Training: Weeks 8 & 9

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I’m really behind again – but for a good reason! I’ve been having a lot of fun and enjoying my last few weeks of summer vacation. This post will recap both week 8 and 9. I’m also nearly through week 10. Oops! Week 8 was a glorious cutback week and week 9 was spent in beautiful, amazing Oregon visiting family. So much to catch up on, including two races! Here are all the details.

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The black is what I had planned, the purple is what I actually did.

WEEK 8

  • Monday: Yoga. I have really been enjoying doing yoga on my rest days. I just do it at home, and I’ve been liking this Youtube channel called Yoga with Adriene. She has a Yoga for Runner’s playlist, but I especially like this 30 minute practice that hits all my tight spots!
  • Tuesday: Easy Run – 4.3 miles @ 8:48. Tuesdays are usually a speedwork day for me, but since this was a cutback week and I had a 10 mile race on Sunday I had to just do easy runs all week. However, I still met up with the Moms Run This Town ladies for Track Tuesday. Once we said hello and chatted for a bit I headed out to a nearby neighborhood to get my miles in. Everyone in the group dedicated their miles to one of our member’s sister, who passed away and would have been turning 43. I ran 4.3 miles for her❤

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  • Wednesday: Easy Run – 6 miles @ 8:19. So much for keeping all my runs easy this week! My “easy” 6 mile run turned into a hard, hot, humid, hilly, too fast run with my friend Steve who as always, slowed way down for me. If I didn’t have him pushing me and keeping my mind off the weather I would have probably cut it short and slowed way down. Running buddies are the best!!! But really… is it fall yet?

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  • Thursday: Easy Run – 3 miles @ 8:59 + Upper Fix. On this day I did a quick early morning run before my mommy duties resumed. I don’t love back-to-back runs (legs felt soooo heavy) but my youngest was with his dad overnight and the oldest is at the beach. I have to make the most of the time I have to myself, even if that means two runs less than 12 hours apart. It does make me want to do a Ragnar race though. Good thing one is already in the works for 2017! Later on in the day I did upper fix while the baby was napping.

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  • Friday: Easy Run – 4 miles @ 8:37 + Lower Fix. I think my waffles had something magical in them this morning because I felt really good on this run! Kyler and I ran our favorite loop which is mostly by the water. It’s weird how different it feels to push a single stroller and without 35 pounds of threenager! I was only planning to run 3 miles but he fell asleep and I felt good so I went 1 more then walked some. 4 miles at an average pace of 8:37 and each mile was faster than the last. Later on I did Lower Fix for strength training.

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  • Saturday: Rest. I normally run on both weekend days, but I took a rest day because I had a 10 mile race on Sunday. Later on in the day I realized any chance of a PR was going to be non-existent, so taking a rest day wasn’t really necessary, but oh well! The forecast showed that it was going to be very hot when it started at 7:15 (80s-90s) so I changed my race plan. Rather than kill myself in the brutal heat and humidity I decided to take it easier and stick with my friends.
  • Sunday: Hartwood 10 Miler @ 10:13. A full recap of this race is coming, but it was SO HOT! I loaded up on sunscreen and body glide, put on my shorts and sports bra and bared my mommy body and runners tan to the world. This was super out of my comfort zone but luckily I had an awesome group of friends who joined the Sports Bra Squad with me and we decided to all run together and just have fun. We ran, we walked, we stuck together, we sweat buckets, and we had so much fun! This was definitely not the day to “race” for me, but I’m glad I made the best of it and made some awesome memories instead. I ran the entire race with 2 friends and we finished at an average pace of around 10:13/mile. And then we celebrated! My 4th Hartwood 10 Miler is in the books.

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Week 8 Totals

  • Run: 27.3 (4 miles w/ double stroller)
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Upper Fix, Lower Fix, Yoga

WEEK 9

  • Monday: Easy Run – 5 miles @ 11:39. A few hours after running the Hartwood 10 Miler on Sunday I hopped on a plane to Bend, Oregon. I went to visit my sister who recently moved out here, along with other family members. I absolutely LOVE Oregon. It’s my favorite place to run because it’s beautiful with cooler temperatures and low humidity. It just makes me so happy! After arriving late on Sunday night I let myself sleep in a bit on Monday. Once I finally got up my sister and I did a 5 mile walk/run. We had a little trail, a little road and gorgeous scenery. While we were out we even ran into Lauren Fleshman who lives here! She is a recently retired elite runner, creator of Picky Bars and my beloved Believe training journal! She slowed down to say hi as she passed us, and my sister and I totally geeked out. We love her!

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  • Tuesday: Speedwork – 2 mile WU, 1 minute on/1 minute off (2 miles), 2 mile CD (6 total @ 8:21 average). On Tuesday morning I started the day with a 6 mile run right after sunrise (at 6:47 AM, Garmin was still on east coast time). The track in Bend was closed for repairs so I did modified “speedwork” instead. After warming up for 2 miles I did 1 minute hard/1 minute easy for two miles, then cooled down for two more. Elevation of 4000 feet and hills made it feel harder than it should have been, but the scenery and the cool weather helped a ton! My “fast” minutes were run at around 6:35-6:45 pace, so I was happy with that!  A little later my sister and I went on a hike around a beautiful lake with a gorgeous view of some mountains.

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  • Wednesday: Easy Run – 4 miles @ 8:27 + 2 hours of standup paddle boarding. I wanted to show how much humidity plays a part in summer running in Virginia. It was 75° in Oregon when I ran without a single cloud in the sky, but no humidity. As you can see in the picture, my clothes were totally dry after 4 miles and I only broke a little sweat. It’s so strange! In Virginia where it’s been 75-100% humidity everyday lately my clothes are soaked within a mile! Breathing felt a bit easier on this day, but I did feel tired more quickly since we were at higher altitude. At the end of my run I saw two ospreys in a big nest by my aunt’s house! Later that afternoon I went out for two hours of standup paddle boarding with my sister. It was my first time, and it was so much fun! I felt unstable and shaky for the first 30 minutes or so (I have really bad balance thanks to years of ear infections growing up), but started feeling more comfortable after that. We went against the current first which was hard but an awesome challenge. Before we turned around to head back we hopped off to swim. Such an amazing experience with my sister. I definitely felt the effects of that workout later. So many beautiful sights and fun things to do in Oregon! I love it.

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  • Thursday: Twilight 5K – 3.1 miles @ 7:15 + 2 WU miles @ 8:35 + Yoga. I went into this race with no expectations and didn’t take it very seriously. I even drank a beer before! But I ended up doing better than I thought I would, and won 2nd place in my age group. Not a PR but I’ll take it! Maybe I should drink before all of my races? I always do better when I have no expectations. This felt hard because it was in the evening and 85 degrees. The air up here is so dry that it hurt my throat when I was breathing heavily. But I somehow pulled out tempo pace which is what I wanted. Woo hoo!! I was happy! Earlier in the day I did my favorite 30 minute yoga video that I linked above.

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  • Friday: Easy Run – 3 miles @ 9:03. Just a nice little morning run on a new-to-me trail by my aunt’s house. It was interrupted at the halfway point by a FaceTime call from my boys, which made me super happy!

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  • Saturday: Long Run – 18 miles @ 8:35. I was nervous for this long run. 18 miles is a long way to go in an environment that my body wasn’t entirely used to yet. But it ended up being amazing and I couldn’t believe how comfortable it felt. My pace stayed steady at around 8:30-8:35/mile and I didn’t need to make any stops. I felt strong both physically and mentally for the entire run, and I also just felt so happy and lucky to be able to run like this. I love it so much!

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  • Sunday: Rest. I had a full day of travel starting with leaving for the airport at 4:45 AM and arrived back at home at 7:30 PM. Needless to say, I knew this would be a rest day, especially because the next day I went back to work full-time. Ahh!!

Week 9 Totals

  • Run: 41.1 miles, all in beautiful Oregon!
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Yoga, Paddleboarding, Hiking

My successes during these weeks were getting all my runs in, both in the heat and terrible humidity in Virginia during week 8 and while on vacation during week 9. The last few weeks have been amazing for my confidence and I’m enjoying riding that high right now! My challenges during these weeks were just acclimating my body to all the different types of weather/environmental changes that were happening and trying to run through it all. This challenge has actually been harder to manage right now during week 10, but I’ll talk about that more in that training update post.

My thought of the week is one that I love not only for running but for life. I have a lot of fear in all areas of my life that tries to creep up on me and take over. I’m working on pushing that away and trying to focus on the positive. Not easy when there is a lot of unknown ahead of me, but this quote really helps me stay hopeful and optimistic for whatever lies ahead in my future! Maybe even a BQ🙂

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Previous Chicago Marathon Training updates

PS. I try to post daily updates on my runs on my blog’s Facebook page, so follow me there if you want updates in “real” time🙂

My Best (and Worst) Race Experiences

I ran my very first 5K in 2006. Since then, I have run a total of 80 (!) races, from the 1 mile “fun run” distance to the marathon. I’ve participated in some really great races that have been amazing experiences, and some that had… quite a bit of room for improvement, to put it nicely🙂 Some of these races have been small, local races and some have been huge, big-name events – but regardless of size, in my opinion, a quality race experience comes down to good planning and organization as well as a feeling of community and support. When I think about my best and most memorable race experiences, many come to mind, but I wanted to focus on two for this post.

I ran the Purple Stride 5K in May 2014. It is difficult for me to write or talk about this race without getting emotional because it was extremely special to me. My friends and family participated in this race in memory of my mom, on the 10 year anniversary of her death. The entire event in Wilmington, Delaware including our team, Strides for Staci, raised over $100,000 for pancreatic cancer research. It was an amazing day and a perfect way to celebrate my mom’s life.

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This race wasn’t about finishing times (although my sister did get a new PR!). It was about community, support, remembrance, and hope for the future. Highlights included running the entire race with my sister, getting to see people I didn’t get to see very often since moving away to Virginia, laughing and sharing stories with the friends and family I grew up with, seeing purple everywhere (my mom’s favorite color), a beautiful course that was mostly by the water, and a fun celebration/after party. Looking back at the photos of this race and seeing everyone’s big smiles makes me feel so happy. This was an event that I will never forget.

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My other most memorable race was the Myrtle Beach Marathon this past March. I have participated in both the half marathon (in 2013 and 2015) and full marathon (1 DNF in 2014 and one completed full in 2016- linked above), and I really appreciated the race organizer’s attention to details when it comes to this race. The course is well-planned and the amount of runners is perfect, not too many that it is overcrowded but not too little so you don’t feel alone. There are spectators and entertainment throughout. It starts right on time. It offers pace groups to keep you on track. It has an awesome after-party and great swag (shirts, blankets, medals, and more!). It’s just an overall awesome race that I have loved being a part of over the years.

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This past year’s race was extra special to me for many reasons. Every single detail came together and I ran the strongest race of my life, both physically and mentally. Even at only 9 months postpartum after baby #2, I beat all of my goals by a landslide and scored myself a 13 MINUTE PR! But beyond my finish time, this was more than “just” a race to me. I didn’t say it outright at the time, but I ran this marathon a little over a week after I found out some extremely shocking news that tore my family and marriage apart. I almost didn’t run the race at all, but decided to go for it at the last minute. I was angry, heartbroken, overwhelmed and confused, and this race reminded me that I am strong and can do hard things. I needed that in order to move forward into my new life as a single mom of two young boys. I think about this race all the time when I need a boost of confidence in myself. All of these things made it one of my most memorable races by far.

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Other memorable race experiences:  The New York City Marathon (2010) – I ran with the charity Team for Kids, which was amazing!, The Air Force Marathon (2011), Hartwood 10 Miler (2013-2016), Lower Potomac River Marathon (2014)

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The New York City Marathon Finish Line

I try to find the good in things most of the time, but with that being said, there is one race experience that still stands out in my mind as the “worst,” even 5 years later! I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K in National Harbor, Maryland back in December 2011. My full recap is linked above, but thinking back to that race still gives me anxiety and makes me feel cold! LOL. Aspects of this race that I didn’t enjoy were that it was way too crowded for the roads the race took place on, it was not well organized and logistics were poor (it started an hour and twenty minutes late in freezing temperatures because of this), and more that you can read about in my full recap. However, I have heard from others that over the years this race series has worked to improve some of these things, so that’s always a positive thing!

Hot Chocolate 15K – I was not happy!

I’ve been an RRCA certified running coach since 2014, and one of the additional certifications the RRCA offers is a race director certification program. One of my long-term goals is to obtain this certification and put on a local race of my own! How awesome would that be? I’ve used Eventbrite to register for many races, including January’s Charleston Half Marathon which benefitted the Youth Endowment for the Arts. Their service to promote and sell tickets helps support local event creation and would be an awesome tool to use if I ever wanted to create my own running event.

Here is what would be important to me in my planning in order to provide people with a great race experience and have it stand out!

  • Easy logistics (parking, packet pick-up, registration, etc.).
  • Starts on time.
  • More than enough bathrooms!!! <- important!
  • Well planned course manned with enough volunteers, water, fuel if necessary, etc.
  • An appropriate amount of participants, not too little and not too many.
  • Entertainment, including good spectator support and music along the course and before and after the race as well.
  • Fun and family friendly post-race experience.
  • Stroller-friendly if possible. As a mom who runs with a double stroller regularly it’s hard to find stroller-friendly races these days. I think it’s due to liability issues and the types of courses the races take place on, but I know this would be a HUGE plus for many people!
  • A pacing/running buddy option, where people can connect with others who may want to run the same pace or have similar goals. I’d also like for people to be able to register as a team to show support for each other or for a specific group/cause.
  • Tied to a good cause. I like to know I’m running for something bigger than myself to support something in my local community that is important to me. It feels good to know that your registration fee is going towards something good.

What factors make or break a race experience for you? What is your best/most memorable race? How about the worst? What would you make sure to prioritize if you were putting on your own race?

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 7

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OH how I needed this week! Week 7 of Chicago Marathon Training was amazing, confidence boosting, and just overall awesome. Here are all the details!

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  • Monday: Rest. I had hoped to get in some yoga but it didn’t happen. Instead I met my friend at an amazing park right by the water and we let our kids play, then went for a 1.5 mile walk on the trails! It was a beautiful morning!

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  • Tuesday: Speedwork – Ladder Intervals: 400 (1:35), 800 (3:17), 1200 (5:05), 800 (3:21), 400 (1:37) + 2.5 miles @ 8:40 (7 total). What a day! I had to go into work for a few hours, so I sent the kids to daycare and did a quick track workout first. I got there way later than I wanted to because the threenager was acting crazy. Once I started I realized that I was too under fueled to do my full workout, since I had eaten early thinking I’d start earlier. Plus I ran out of time and had to shower and head to work for a meeting. I still did ladder intervals, but I only went up to 1200m rather than 1600m, and then went back down. I was able to hit my first three splits within my goal ranges but faded fast after that due to the lack of fuel and the bright sun coming out. I was disappointed that I couldn’t complete the full workout, so after work I headed out for 2.5 more to make up the mileage. 7 total for the day. You can see in my face how I felt about the constant 90 degree, 100% humidity summer weather we’ve been having here in Virginia. So over it! I went home and had a beer after that🙂

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  • Wednesday: Easy Run – 3 miles @ 9:01 + Yoga. The boys stayed overnight with their dad the night before, which meant I could get out for a run before sunrise! Yes! It felt especially good after a solid night of sleep too. I also managed to get my yoga in that I missed on Monday later on while the boys were napping.

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  • Thursday: Long Run – 17 miles @ 8:35. When life gives you lemons… use them to fuel you! I didn’t expect to have to do my long run on a random Thursday morning, but I made it happen due to some issues that came up at the last minute. No excuses necessary, and I’m proud to say I KILLED IT. This pace felt easy, even on hills.  My last two miles were my fastest at 8:04 and 8:07! It was also a beautifully cooler morning with less humidity than there has been lately. I was so proud after this run!

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  • Friday: Easy Run – 2 miles @ 9:29 + Upper Fix. On this day I just did a quick and easy two mile treadmill run after the boys went to bed, followed by Upper Fix (super exciting Friday night!). I’m so happy I’ve been able to strength train consistently twice a week for 7 weeks now, and I’m really feeling and seeing the benefits of that!

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  • Saturday: Easy Run – 3 miles @ 9:30 (with double stroller) + Lower Fix. I headed out on Saturday morning with the boys in the stroller hoping to run into my friends who were out doing their 14 mile long run. I ended up catching them at the end and chasing them down a big hill. I love that I can go out for a run and see friendly faces. It makes me so happy! Afterwards I played with the boys at the playground, then did Lower Fix when they napped. Whew! Sweaty day!

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  • Sunday: Tempo Run – 1 easy, 5 @ 7:24 average pace, 1 easy. Because of the scheduling issues with my long run my plan got all messed up this week. I ended up needing to do my tempo run on Sunday morning, and I am so thankful to my friend Dina for babysitting for me so that I could get it done. Those who know me know that I’m stubborn and have a hard time asking for and accepting help. The last 8 months have taught me that it is so necessary and important. This tempo run was amazing. I felt super strong AND got progressively faster with each mile. It felt exactly like it should – about a 6/7 on a scale of 1-10. Perfectly challenging. Running is pretty much the only aspect of my life that I feel confident about right now and I’m so thankful that I have it, along with my Moms Run This Town friends. The group is about so much more than running. It’s about friendship and support and helping each other through life. I truly love being a part of it!

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Week 7 Totals

  • Run: 39 miles (3 miles w/ double stroller)
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Upper Fix, Lower Fix, yoga, walking, stretching, foam rolling

My successes this week were definitely my long run and my tempo run.  This has been a great week for my marathon confidence. It took a while for me to realize because of the brutal heat and humidity, but I think this tough summer training is definitely paying off! My body and overall tightness are also feeling a lot better thanks to lots of stretching, rolling, and TLC. Just need to stay on top of it now!

My challenges this week were just all of the scheduling issues. Between switching the kids back and forth and plans that the kids’ dad had, I had to be flexible and creative with how I fit things in this week. Lots of switching around, asking for help from daycare and friends, and working out while the kids slept. I’m proud that I made my full week of training happen without any excuses!

My thought of the week is actually a video. During some of my runs this week I really tried to focus on some of the tips I learned from Run, Selfie, Repeat‘s interview with a sports psychologist. I worked on trying to stay present in the moment and keep my focus positive and on feeling strong, choosing not to “suffer” through it. I tried my best to relax and get out of my own way mentally. It really is amazing what kind of impact the mental side of running has on our physical abilities.

Week 8 is going to be a cutback week, which I am very ready and excited for. It is going to end with one of my favorite local races – the Hartwood 10 Miler. This is the 4th year in a row that I’m running. Last year I ran without a watch since I was 3 months postpartum, but this year I’m hoping to break the PR I set there in 2014. We will see!

Previous Chicago Marathon Training updates

PS. I try to post daily updates on my runs on my blog’s Facebook page, so follow me there if you want updates in “real” time🙂

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 6

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Week 6 of training, check! It was another difficult week thanks to more crazy summer weather, but I made it through with some modifications. Here are all the details!

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The black is what I had planned, the purple is what I actually did.

  • Monday: Rest. I had hoped to get in some yoga but it just didn’t happen.
  • Tuesday: Speedwork – 3 x 800 (3:17, 3:18, 3:19) + 2 x 400 (1:34, 1:37) + Yoga. After last week’s awesome track workout, this one was a little disappointing. This heat wave just won’t quit! But after a LONG day full of threenager drama I wasn’t going to let high temps keep me from Track Tuesday. I knew that I’d most likely have to adjust what was on my training plan since the temperature felt like triple digits, but I wanted to give it a shot. Originally I had 6 x 800 @ 3:17 planned. I warmed up for 1.5 miles and was soaked with sweat immediately. I decided I’d do as many 800s as I could then switch to 400s. I managed three of those @ 3:17, 3:18 & 3:19, but after the second one I started needing to take a break to rest along with my 400 meter recovery lap. After that I did two more 400s @ 1:34 and 1:37 and decided I was done with the fast intervals after that. I felt like I was suffocating in my shirt and like my face was going to explode. I took off my shirt halfway through and it helped a TON. I am not someone who ever runs in just a sports bra thanks to what I call my “mommy body,” especially not in front of a big crowd of people. But it was necessary, and I decided to embrace and and become part of Run, Selfie, Repeat‘s Sports Bra Squad! I finished my run with another 1.5 easy miles. The time on my Garmin doesn’t include the multiple breaks I took throughout the run, but I’m proud of myself for my efforts. I also squeezed in the yoga that I missed on Monday, and it felt awesome!

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  • Wednesday: Easy Run – 4 miles @ 8:55 + Upper Fix + 2 mile walk. I LOVE when I literally “run” into friends! My friend Heather was exactly who I needed to see after running up a huge hill in my neighborhood. It put a huge smile on my face that was very much needed! The beautiful sunset and sky did too. I was thankful to be able to get in a night run (which I really love!) since the boys were with their dad overnight. 4 easy miles + Upper Fix for strength + 2 mile walk with the boys in the morning, done!

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  • Thursday: Tempo Run – 1 easy, 4 @ 7:42 average pace, 2 easy. I’m going to go ahead and call this run a win because I managed to pull out one more tempo mile than last week in tough conditions, and on tired legs from my late run the night before. I ended up running 1 mile easy, 4 within my tempo pace range, and finished with 2 more easy miles. Originally I was going for 5 tempo miles, but I was okay with modifying this one because of the heat and ridiculous humidity (see sweat dripping in photo below). 7 miles total and got to see the sunrise! So happy I finally got to run in the 5 AM hour again on a weekday.  I missed it so much!

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  • Friday: Easy Run – 2 miles @ 9:30 + Lower Fix. I needed a little recovery run after yesterday’s tempo so I hopped on the treadmill in the morning while the little boy napped and the big boy played. Then I probably negated the benefits of the “recovery” run by doing Lower Fix. Ouch!

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  • Saturday: Long Run – 16 miles @ 8:46. What a great morning! I ran 10 early morning miles with two friends and then 6 more solo. These amazing women have already earned their BQs and I loved running with them, hearing their stories and sharing training advice. Plus, my friend Melissa (who I’m going to Chicago with!) has pretty amazing running photography skills! This was one of those runs where I felt great and like I could have kept going, even despite the hills (almost 800 feet of elevation gain!), heat and humidity.

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  • Sunday: Recovery Run – 3 miles @ 9:05. The boys were with their dad for the weekend, so I was able to enjoy a solid night of sleep and wake up without an alarm. Winning! Once I got myself up I headed out for 3 easy recovery miles.

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Week 6 Totals

  • Run: 38 miles (0 miles w/ double stroller – had the kids less this week because of the custody schedule)
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Upper Fix, Lower Fix, yoga, walking, stretching, foam rolling

My successes this week were doing the best I possibly could given the weather conditions, and listening to my body. I haven’t always been the best at that. I used to stick to whatever my plan said no matter what, even if it meant pushing too hard or hurting myself. Lots of experience has taught me how to modify and adapt when needed without feeling bad about it.

My challenges this week were my tight legs again. I’m really trying my best to stay on top of it by stretching, foam rolling, etc. It is definitely happening more in my right leg than my left. I may need to get it looked into further soon if it starts impacting my running. My goals for the upcoming week are to once again, give myself some grace when it comes to the weather and scheduling (since this will be my “on” week with the kids). I also plan to continue with my meal planning, strength and flexibility routines that I’ve been trying to be consistent with since the beginning of my training. Very proud of that!

My thought of the week. This is the truth! I love my tribe of supportive, positive and inspirational people.

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Week 7 looks like another hot one, so will see how it goes. I just need to trust the process and believe that running in these conditions will only make me stronger for my fall races!

Previous Chicago Marathon Training updates

PS. I try to post daily updates on my runs on my blog’s Facebook page, so follow me there if you want updates in “real” time🙂

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 5

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Week 5 of training is in the books. There was some good, some great, some bad, and some ugly! A well-rounded week of training🙂 Here are all the details!

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The black is what I had planned, the purple is what I actually did.

  • Monday: Rest + Yoga. Gotta love Mondays!
  • Tuesday: Speedwork – 3 x 1600 (6:44, 6:42, 6:44)  I was on top of the world after this amazing track workout. This was my happy (and very sweaty) face after running my fastest 3 x 1 mile workout ever! I was pretty tight and sore to start even despite my rest day and yoga the previous day, so I extended my warmup a bit and ran 1.5 miles rather than just 1. This really helped loosen me up and I felt much better afterwards. I ran mile splits of 6:44, 6:42, 6:44 with half mile recovery between each plus a half mile cooldown at the end. Excuse my language but WTF, I have no idea how I’m pulling these paces out lately but it’s happening! My fastest mile splits to date, and even at 6:00 PM during the brutal heat and humidity of summertime. As always, I was so thankful for the ladies in my Moms Run This Town group, for their endless cheers and encouragement on our Track Tuesdays!

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  • Wednesday: Easy Run (with double stroller) – 3 miles @ 9:04 + Upper Fix. The stroller brigade took over the town today! I love running with these strong ladies, seeing them all push so much weight and having fun with their kiddos! I ran 3 easy miles with my friend who I haven’t been able to run with in a while. We were both pregnant at the same time so it was fun to get our little ones together to play again too. I am loving my Wednesday morning stroller runs with these ladies.

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  • Thursday: Tempo Run – 1 easy, 3 @ 7:35, 2 easy. On this day I had a tempo run on the schedule. I was hoping to repeat the workout I did a few weeks ago: 1 mile easy, 5 @ tempo, 1 easy. I was feeling motivated and ready to take on the challenge. However, my body had other plans. By the time I dropped the kids off at daycare and got outside it was a little past 8 AM. The temperatures and humidity were supposedly lower than earlier that week, but it didn’t feel like it to me and I struggled. I chose a flat route over shade and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. I hung on to my tempo pace for 3 miles and then made the decision to stop there rather than go for 5 tempo miles. My heart rate was just getting too high, I was overheating, and it felt like too much stress on my body. I finished by running 2 easy miles, and I couldn’t help feeling a little angry. Most of my days lately are okay, some are even good. But I still have times where I fall back into anger. I kept thinking about this time last year, when I had the freedom to go out before sunrise to knock out my hard workouts. It was so much easier and I felt a lot stronger when I was able to get my runs done early in the morning. This year I don’t have that as a single mom and it bothers me, because it feels like yet another sacrifice I am making when running is the only thing I do for myself. After letting myself be angry for a few minutes I decided I needed to get over it and be proud of the 3 tempo miles I did run. I saw a turtle on the side of the road which made me happy (LOL) then I finished by walking down to the river to sit and relax. Pity party over. I know I’ll get it next time.

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  • Friday: Easy Run – 2 miles (with double stroller) @ 9:25 + Lower Fix. On Friday I went to a local park with my boys to do some exploring and a little run. We walked (and little Kevin helped push the stroller) 1.5 miles around a little trail on an island, looking at the plants and the animals and the water. Afterwards I finally convinced Kevin to get back in the stroller so that I could run 2 easy miles. We went home after a few threenager meltdowns and one epic wrestling match to get him into the carseat (is this stage over yet?!) and it was a fight to get him to take a nap. Once both boys were asleep I did Lower Fix for some strength training, showered, and took a nap too! Whew! It was quite a day.

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  • Saturday: Easy Run – 3 miles (with double stroller) @ 9:32. Both boys were up before 6:00 AM. I knew it was going to be a hot day with a heat advisory, so after breakfast we went outside for a run and some playground time before the heat got to be too much. I did 3 easy miles with the stroller on a local running path, and was able to read motivational messages that our Moms Run This Town chapter leader wrote along the way for those of us who were running today. She wrote 10 miles worth of messages, which I thought was so amazing! Little Kev was begging to get out and run so I let him out for the last half mile before we walked over to the playground. We also ran into some friends who were finishing their 11 miles. I was glad we got out when we did because the rest of the day had a heat index of over 100 degrees!

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  • Sunday: Long Run – 15 miles @ 9:00. Ouch! This one hurt a bit for a few reasons! I met some friends for my long run at 6 AM. It was humid and warm from the start and we were dripping with sweat within a few minutes. My friend Andria and I ran the length of the Fredericksburg Battlefield (9 miles) and then went down to another nearby trail for a few more. Right before mile 11 I got stung by something that felt like it hit me at 100 mph. I finished the run with my left side very tingly and swollen. I took a picture of it right after (as you can see below) but it continued to swell and got MUCH bigger than that later on. My hand did too, and I had to move my watch to the other arm. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant because I haven’t been stung by anything in like 20 years. I like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance (hello, 10 marathons and two drug-free births!) but this stupid sting hurt like hell! I couldn’t believe it! I took some Benadryl when I went home and eventually the swelling went down, but I think there might be part of a stinger left in there still because even today (Monday) it’s turned into a huge welt and really itchy. On a positive note, I ran all 15 miles with only Tailwind for the first time and I loved it! I used a raspberry caffeinated sample that I got from a friend and felt entirely fueled and hydrated the entire time. I did bring my chews with me but didn’t need them at all. I just ordered the sample pack of the other flavors to try (including non-caffeinated) before I buy a bigger bag of one of them. My time for this run did include some walking breaks, but I stopped my watch a couple times to deal with the sting/swelling. I am proud of myself for getting my miles in however I could despite the tough conditions! At the end I looked like I had been swimming in a pool. As you can see in the bottom left picture, I was soaked. Yuck. A shower and cold post-run smoothie never felt so good!

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Week 5 Totals

  • Run: 35 miles (8 miles w/ double stroller)
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Upper Fix, Lower Fix, Yoga, lots of stretching and foam rolling. Woo hoo!

My successes this week were that I really got my nutrition in check. For a while I didn’t have the energy or motivation to eat much at all, let alone eat well. I would just pick off the kids plates and eat what they didn’t finish, or just eat something quick and easy. This week I got back to my meal planning/prep and it felt so good. Here’s a sneak peek of some of the delicious food I made, but I will be writing a separate food post soon with all the yummy recipes!

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My challenges this week were definitely the weather. The heat and humidity were so unbelievable at times. Summer running is tricky because it can be hard to see yourself progressing under such difficult conditions. I just have to trust and believe that this summer training is doing it’s job to make me stronger and that it will all pay off this fall! My goals for the upcoming week are to continue to do the best I can despite this crazy heat wave that is hitting most of the country.

My thought of the week. This could not be more true. I’m so thankful for running and how it helps to balance all the other things happening in my life. It definitely helps me remember what it feels like to be”me” in a time when everything else is unknown and changing.

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Ready for week 6! This is going by so fast!

Previous Chicago Marathon Training updates

PS. I try to post daily updates on my runs on my blog’s Facebook page, so follow me there if you want updates in “real” time🙂

Firecracker 5K

I’m really excited to write a recap of this race, even though it happened almost 3 weeks ago! On the 4th of July I ran the Firecracker 5K in my hometown in Pennsylvania, while there visiting family and friends for the long holiday weekend.

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I was nervous to run this race because I have been focusing on longer distances for over a year now. After having Kyler, I started training for the Richmond Half in November where I got a 5 minute PR, then the Myrtle Beach Marathon in March where I got a 13 minute PR. Then I took it easier for a while before getting back into marathon training again. It had been two years since I really pushed myself in a short and fast race. In fact, my previous 5K PR was set at another 4th of July race in 2014, shortly before getting pregnant again. I ran a 21:55, super fast for me, and I thought it would be a LONG time since I was able to break that – if ever!

One issue I have always had with short races (or all races, really) is going out too fast. I’ve been working hard on fixing this with progression runs, and fast finishes on some easy and long runs. This has helped train me both physically and mentally to start slower and finish fast and strong. I have found that it’s easier to do this during training though, and takes a TON of patience and discipline to do this during an actual race with adrenaline pumping!

I knew I needed to maintain a pace faster than 7:04 to get a new PR, but I wasn’t really sure if that was possible. After a pep talk from a running buddy and a trip to the port-a-potty I finally felt ready to run. My plan was to start at a 7:00 pace and try to drop it each mile. However, I knew the route well and I knew there was going to be a couple of good sized hills on the out-and-back course. I was up for the challenge!

As I waiting at the start line I got the best surprise – I saw my dad and his girlfriend on the sidelines! I had mentioned the race to him, and while he always supports my running he has only come out to a few races. I was so excited to see him and it really helped to settle my nerves.

After an amazing singing of the National Anthem we were off! I made sure to smile for my favorite race  photographer, my dad🙂

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I settled nicely into a comfortable 7:00 pace. It didn’t feel like I was working hard at all and I was so tempted to push it, but tried my best to be patient. I like to imagine myself banking the energy for later in the race when I know I’ll need it. When you are used to training for longer distances, a 5K can seem deceivingly short and easy. It is NOT easy! The short and fast races hurt, but they hurt more if you go too fast at the beginning. I tried to remind myself of that during the first mile. There was also a hill here, which slowed me down some too. I told myself I had plenty of time left and not to worry about the pace quite yet. I ended up with an exact split of 7:00 for my first mile.

  • Mile 1 – 7:00 

During the second mile we ran downhill, then slightly uphill, then turned around to run slightly downhill, then uphill again. Whew! I started to increase my effort here and push more on the uphills, then let gravity help me back down. I passed the retirement home where I worked for 6 years in high school and on college breaks, as well as lots of spectators, including some that I recognized. That helped take my mind off of the hills and my faster pace.

  • Mile 2 – 6:56

After seeing my mile 2 split, I knew I would PR if I could just maintain that pace. I ran up the last part of the big uphill and then made my way back down. The rest of the course was downhill or flat, which helped a ton, but it was getting warm and was very humid and I was feeling it! Once I crested the hill I started to increase my effort level more. I really wanted to finish strong, but that last mile in a 5K is TOUGH! It feels like it lasts forever! I kept pushing and telling myself it would be over soon. My mile 3 split popped up and I was shocked – 6:44 was my fastest mile ever in a race, and I did it at the end of a 5K!

  • Mile 3 – 6:44

As  I neared the finish line I saw my dad again. I also saw the time on the clock which was just over 21 minutes. I was so shocked and couldn’t believe I actually ran that fast!

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  • Final .10 – 6:16 pace
  • Finish Time – 21:14 (6:50/mile)

I was so proud of myself for the smart race I ran. It boosted my confidence a ton and showed me that those fast finish workouts and all my training is paying off, even in shorter distances. I couldn’t believe that I beat my PR from two years before by 40 seconds!

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One of things I love about races in the Philadelphia region is that they usually have amazing post-race refreshments like soft pretzels and water ice. OMG. I was in heaven.

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When I was growing up here I was pretty much the most non-athletic person ever, so it felt really good to come home and run my fastest 5K ever on streets that hold so many memories for me. I ended up being the 6th woman overall but 4th in my age group. There were some super fast ladies running!

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The rest of my holiday was spent relaxing by the pool, eating delicious food and drinking yummy drinks with some of my best friends in the entire world. It was definitely a day that made my mind, body, and soul happy🙂

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 4

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I promised myself I would keep up with my marathon training posts so here I am! I’m very proud🙂 Week 4 of training was a good one because it was a glorious cutback week! After going hard for three weeks it was very needed and I took full advantage of it. All of my runs were “easy” with no speedwork/harder efforts, I got to run with friends three times, and my long run was only 8 miles. Here are all the details!

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The black is what I planned, the purple is what I actually did.

  • Monday: Rest + Yoga. Mondays have become my rest days once again and I love it. I want to also make it a yoga day, since I’ve been doing my long runs on Sundays lately. On this day I had a blast at the pool with my littlest boy (bigger boy was at the beach for the week with his grandparents), baked a ton of chocolate chip zucchini bread, worked on some training plans, and did a 30 minute yoga for runners practice that left me feeling relaxed and loose. It was the perfect Monday!

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  • Tuesday: Easy Run – 4 miles @ 9:11.  I was very thankful that it was a cutback week for me on this day, because I didn’t feel well at all and couldn’t have handled a real track workout. I had been out in the sun for two days straight and I guess I didn’t realize how dehydrated I was. I ran a few miles and met up with the ladies for Track Tuesday but my head was pounding so I went home to hydrate and rest up. I think some of it was also related to allergies, since they’ve been really bad this week too. But I definitely learned my lesson! I LOVED the huge turnout we had at the track though. Such a motivating and inspiring group of ladies!

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  • Wednesday: Easy Run (with single stroller) – 3 miles @ 8:59. I woke up feeling much better, so I met up with my Moms Run This Town friends for an easy run plus some playground time. Since my oldest was out of town I was able to run with my old friend, the single BOB stroller! Loved getting to spend one on one time with my littlest and push less weight🙂 It did feel a little strange pushing it though since the handlebar isn’t as wide and I kept stepping on the wheels for some reason!

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  • Thursday: Easy Run – 5 miles @ 8:58 + Upper Fix. Not an ideal day to get a late start on running, but that’s what happens when I stay out too late wine tasting with friends! I managed to squeeze this run in before the heat advisory started at noon but it was still tough because it felt like 90+ degrees. My time doesn’t include the breaks I took after mile 3 and 4 to rest in the shade and let my body cool down some. I don’t mess around with heat like this… I will take breaks when I need to! Later on I did Upper Fix for some strength training.

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  • Friday: Rest + Chiropractor Visit. I took today as a rest day because I was spending the day at the pool and going to the chiropractor. I have been feeling some tightness/pulling on my right side again just like last time I was marathon training. The chiropractor confirmed that my right SI joint was out of alignment again and fixed it up for me. I think this is going to be something persistent I just have to deal with and stay on top of proactively. I felt much better afterwards!

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  • Saturday: Easy Run – 4 miles @ 8:45 + Lower Fix. Who gets up early to run followed by a big party complete with all of our favorite indulgences? A big group of BAMRs (bad ass mother runners), that’s who! 🙂 This morning my local MRTT group held a “Pick Your Poison” fun run. We all got together to run whatever distance we needed to and brought something yummy to share. We had everything from donuts to mimosas to chips and salsa to deviled eggs to muffins… basically everyone brought their ‘poison,’ something they love to treat themselves to after a run. It was awesome and so much fun. I was doing my long run the following day and got in late the night before after going out with friends (again… so much fun friend time lately and I LOVE IT!), so I kept my run short and sweet at 4 miles. Later on in the day I did Lower Fix for some strength training. Days like this one really make me smile and feel thankful for the people in my life that I have met through this crazy hobby and passion of mine!

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  • Sunday: Long Run – 8 miles @ 8:26. I took my time getting out to run this morning! Since it was a cutback week and my kids were with their dad, I let myself wake up without an alarm this morning. The kids usually get me up around 5 AM so it felt really good! I ran 8 miles on one of my favorite paths and was surprised at how comfortable the pace felt. I am definitely feeling stronger these days. I’m also not someone who ever listens to music anymore when I run, but something about this new Katy Perry song just speaks to me and motivates me so much! I played it at the end of my run for a little extra boost and I loved it. If you haven’t seen the Summer Olympics video that goes along with it, you have to check it out! So inspiring!

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Week 4 Totals

  • Run: 24 miles (only 3 with stroller since this is my “off” week with the kids where I have them less often).
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Upper Fix, Lower Fix, Yoga, lots of stretching and foam rolling. Yeah! Proud of myself for that!

My successes this week were fully allowing myself to take it easy and enjoy my cutback week. In training, I design my plans to push hard for 2-3 weeks and then cutback hard for a week. This works for me and gives me a chance to recover from hard training both mentally and physically. I am also very proud that I was able to get in 2 days of strength, 1 day of yoga, and foam rolling almost every day. In addition to that I made sure to get enough sleep (even napped a few days!), and stuck to my meal plans/nutrition. My challenges were the tightness in my leg that made me nervous, but I’m glad I was able to see the chiropractor and have a plan to stay on top of it.

My thought of the week: I keep going back to Katy Perry’s new song and the Summer Olympics video that goes along with it. Wow. It is so motivating and inspirational. I got a little emotional watching it too. I think this is going to be my marathon training anthem from now on. I cannot wait for the games to begin in Rio!

I am ready to get back into training – week 5, here I come!

Previous Chicago Marathon Training updates

PS. I try to post daily updates on my runs on my blog’s Facebook page, so follow me there if you want updates in “real” time🙂