Boston Marathon 2013 Training: Week 12 of 14

BM2013 Week 12 Training


After last weekend’s half marathon, this week was full of easy runs and my final 20-miler (which wasn’t necessarily easy but it made me feel prepared for race day). My legs weren’t sore but my body was just fatigued. Oddly, the most uncomfortable part was between my shoulder blades. I think I spent a lot of energy just bracing for the wind and navigating that silly course. This week was the first week in awhile with the majority of my runs in the morning. I’ve been dividing my work day with easy runs too often and felt good about running them and moving on this week.

I ran 43 miles this week + 1 core routine + 1 strength routine:




Easy 4 miles, 8:37 average.


Easy 6, 8:30 average. Nothin’ to see here, folks!


9.25 miles, 7:30 total average pace.

First true workout of the week was a relatively short progressive tempo. I was anxious to get the legs moving after two easy runs (on the treadmill, no less). Apparently they were ready because my tempo splits were right on. Ran 2 mi w/up, 4 mi progressive tempo between 7:15-6:50, and 3 mi cooldown. Tempo splits: 7:09, 7:01, 6:57, 6:48.


Easy 4, 8:24 average pace. Finished with core and form drills. I was a bad runner this week and did not spend nearly enough time foam rolling, stretching, or strength training. I usually like to get started on core work and form drills early in the week so my legs aren’t working too hard during the long run but that just didn’t happen this week. Now that I’m tapering, the foam roller is going to be my best friend. Noted.


Final 20-miler of the cycle COMPLETE! And officially in taper mode now (AKA Taper Tantrum mode. GIMME ALL THE FOOD, PEOPLE!)  This run was fueled by margaritas and tacos from Big Star. Apparently that stuff’s good fuel because this run was amazing. I was anxious to get it done early because I had plans to go to the Chicago Beer Festival all afternoon. Proper recovery, no? (Nah. You’re probably right.)

I ran on the south end of the lakeshore path for the first time in what felt like months. I’ve missed running south—you can only run north so many times before you begin to feel like you could run it on autopilot with your eyes closed (although that’s something I’ve never tried). The path was FULL of people especially during the last half of my run. It was 33 degrees when I started and around 38 degrees when I finished but I was really happy with my decision to wear shorts and a warm long sleeve. I ditched the gloves 2 miles into the run (hid them so I could pick them up on the way back) and kept my ears warm with a headband.

I think the short form drill routine I did on Friday made my legs heavy for the first half. Struggled to turn them ON but halfway through something clicked and they found more of a rhythm. I took a Gu at miles 10 and 15 and felt really energetic in the last three miles (after seeing Xaarlin running with L and the pup!)

March 30 2013 20 mile splits

Highlights o’ The Week:

  • Added to my running playlist: Love on Top by Beyonce. I know. Typical.
  • On Monday night, a bunch of runnerds went to Jake Melnick’s to talk ….running and celebrate Tim’s birthday. He turned 21 (heh…)  so he’s officially legal now. He celebrated by double-fisting cookie skillets and devouring the majority of one of them. Ed showed up with an awesome bag of goodies as a present. He gave Tim all of the bars, powders, vitamins, and snacks we all tend to accumulate as runners. We’re fairly certain about half of the stuff was expired but Tim enjoyed the present nonetheless.
  • Coffee. Coffee is always a highlight.
  • Sleep. Sleeeeep. And more sleep.
  • And beer. Can’t forget beer.

Pictures o’ The Week:

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This arrived. Let the jitters begin!

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New obsession. Is it wrong that the first thought I had after my first sip was how delicious a Kombucha Cocktail would be?

Kristy’s kombucha photos forced me to buy one.

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Inspiration was delivered this week. I’m going to devour these books this coming week.

Can’t believe I haven’t picked up Pre yet. Anyone else read Lean In?  Sheryl Sandberg was in town this week and the Trib put up her full talk online if you’re interested.

2013-03-30 09.01.20

View of downtown from the south shore during my 20-miler. Doesn’t it look like a balmy summer morning? Warmth is cominngggggg, I can feel it!

2013-03-30 10.13.40

I’m ready.

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Post-20 miler beer fest. Recovery!


Finish Photo: Versions 1, 2, & 3

I’m still smiling about yesterday. It was a great day. And I’m so happy that I can go into Boston with a shiny new PR. Between Twitter, Dailymile, Instagram, and my race recap yesterday, I was overwhelmed and blown away by how supportive you crazy people out there in the world can be. I’ve said it many times before and I will say it again: social media + running = amazingness.

Yesterday afternoon, Xaarlin sent me some finish pics that she was able to snap after she finished her “10k” (in quotes because the race organizers botched the course and had to offer refunds. Derp!) I’m usually not crazy about race pics. I mean… Is anyone ever truly pleased by their facial expressions, weird flabby cheeks (ahem…double chin. see below), or the race outfit they thought they’d look like a superstar in? Ok, maybe sometimes.

I’m actually happy with this pic! Thanks for sending it, friend!

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And then….it happened. The Photoshop Queen of the Universe (Ahem…Hillary AKA Ralphie) got her hands on the photo.

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See? I told you! Photoshop QUEEN! Can’t see that bystander at all. 

And then….she sent the version that’s suitable “for my mantle”. The fancy one that makes me look like a pro.

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Again, you can’t see that bystander AT ALL!

This is clearly meant for my mantle because….

 A) Duh.

B) The Chi Town Half always draws an elite field*. You heard it here first.

C) Meb and I helped push each other to the finish. We worked together for 13.1 miles.

*Although, he must have been confused about the location because his bib clearly says “San Jose”. But he left before I could ask him about that.

This also reminds me of the time that I felt compelled to submit a photo to Ugly Race Pics after the Batavia Half last fall. They can’t all be pretty, people!



Race Recap: Chi Town Half 2013

130324 Chi Town Half Results


Finally made it past the 1:36:00 barrier that I’ve been fighting for over a year!

1:36:08 Carmel 2012 (*previous PR)

1:36:16 Bayshore 2012

1:36:21 Batavia 2012

Going into the race, I knew that the goal was to avoid racing it all out. I have three weeks until Boston and putting all of my energy into this half wasn’t the point. Just a good fitness test to see where I’m at before my goal race. I think the half is a fun distance to race (much more so than the 10k!). I was lazy Friday night and spent most of Saturday relaxing. Plus, I got a race day mani & pedi— bright red nails make you run faster, right?! They must because they seemed to work for me today. Thumbs up, nails. I wasn’t really nervous about racing. But the jitters started right when I woke up this morning when I realized it was race morning (Somehow it sneaked up on me? Not sure how that’s possible.)

Photo Mar 23, 7 20 41 PM (1)


I was able to get a solid 7 hours of sleep last night and felt refreshed when I woke up. Sipped my coffee, ate my granola, and drove over to the start. I assumed that the Nature Museum off of Fullerton would be open for gear check and to stay warm before and after the race (like it was for the Wacky 10k and the Bastille Day 5k) but I guess the Chi Town Half doesn’t offer that. I’m glad I overdressed with a hoodie and a puffy winter coat to stay warm because it was really cold.

Met up with Britt, Xaarlin, and Hillary for a quick warm-up before heading to the start line. I was hoping to get an easy 2 miles in but we were short on time and ran 1.6 miles, just enough to loosen up.

Dude, the course? MUCH crazier than it looks on paper—-> chi_town_half_map. Those random looptiloops, curly-qs, turns, and switchbacks were more frequent than I thought they would be for some reason. I felt like once I got into a rhythm there would be a random ‘hill’, bridge, or turn that I wasn’t prepared for. Plus, the signage would pretty minimal. The 10k started at the same time and I only saw two different signs that clearly marked the two courses—all the rest were just arrows, but didn’t mark which race the turn was for. I didn’t know this until I finished but apparently the race director had to STOP the 10k runners and redirect them, which made the the 10k course a 5-mile race. I’d be really mad if I had been running the 10k today or if they had messed up the half course. Xaarlin made a good point later on when she said that the people at the back of the 10k pack were probably fine because the director fixed it before they reached that point of the course.

The Miles:

I started out right on pace. Goal was to run Mile 1 in 7:15 and then stay consistent between 7:00-7:10 for the remainder of the race. This is a different strategy for me. In almost all of my previous half marathons, I start out pretty steady and then gradually speed up each mile through the finish. It was more mentally tough than anything else to run the same pace for 12+ miles (felt a lot like a long tempo run).

I knew I went out too fast by the time I got to Mile 4. I didn’t taper for the race and I knew I needed to stay conservative in the first few miles so that the last half of the race would be relatively comfortable. Couldn’t slow myself down enough to really take advantage of that strategy haha.

Took water at Mile 4.5. Dry throat. Ahhh much better.

At this point, I was deciding between staying conservative or chasing these 3 speedy girls. We likely all had the same goal because we ran together for a large portion of the course (shifted a bit with water stops and surges). I tried to hang with them as much as I could but it was tough to find that rhythm with all of the turns. It was fun to work together, though.

Took Gatorade (by accident!) at Mile 6.5. Gross. Gatorade.

Ok, halfway. Just gotta keep the legs moving and use the wind to your advantage once you reach the turnaround. The girls were still ahead and I hoped I’d catch 1-2 or two of them by the end.

Took a Gu at Mile 8.5.  i.e. way too late to really make a difference.

Totally forgot to take my Gu and I was nervous that the few sips of Gatorade I took at Mile 6.5 would make me stomach hurt, combined with the Gu. Luckily that wasn’t a problem but I had to wait 1.5 miles for the next water stop.

Had to wait until Mile 10 for the next water station. Blech.

The toughest miles of the entire race were Miles 7-10 when the headwind really picked up. The wind was fairly consistent through the race, but the ENE direction made a big difference on the north sections of the course. The wind would be fine for a second and then we’d come around a bend or up a small hill and the wind would hit us. Just tried to keep my legs moving and avoid looking at the time on my watch. I knew that if I just kept my legs moving I’d PR—just didn’t know how much I’d be able to push at the end.

Once we turned back south at Mile 9, I knew it would be a bit easier. And it seemed to be. Mentally it’s so much easier to know that you have 4 miles straight to the finish, with fewer turns. I fell into pace with this one dude (who was holding his phone in his hand. how do people do that??) at Mile 11 and kept reminding myself I only had 2 miles to the finish. One of the girls that I had been chasing for the last half of the race had fallen back. I knew she was hurting, so I gave her a high-5 and told her she could do it. (Cheeseball moment: I love doing this towards the finish in races. You know you’re both struggling. You both need a pick-me-up. Helps both of you out and you know you aren’t in it alone.) She kept up with me for about a mile and fell back a bit more. Hurumph. Back by my lonesome.

Mile 12 . 1 mile to go. I can do it.

130324 Chi Town Half Splits

I had more of a finishing kick than I thought I would have! I felt like I was running a 7:00 min/mile pace in the finishing chute haha! When I crossed the finish line, the time read 1:33:58 and I knew that I had just PR’d by about 2 minutes. What the hell?! Struggling through my previous 3 half marathons with a consistent 1:36 was tough. At the Batavia Half last fall, I wondered why I couldn’t just break 1:36 and call it a day. I guess that’s what a little patience and hard work can do. My 10th half marathon (for real. When did that happen?!) and I’ve only got speedier times ahead of me. That feels amazing.

The girl that I had given the High-5 came up to me at the finish and said “thanks for the encouragement”. I told her I’d been chasing her the entire way and she helped me a lot. Then I asked her if she ran a PR…..and she said it was her FIRST HALF! I may or may not have let an expletive or two fly from my mouth when she said that. Amazing.

Photo Mar 24, 10 56 14 AM (1)

This week was the first week I’ve run 6 days in a really long time. I’m so happy that I was able to run a PR on legs that definitely were not fresh. Now I’m definitely looking forward to Boston (like I wasn’t before?). It’s so nice to know that my hard work is paying off & I can keep challenging myself. I guess I’m going to have to set my sights on an even speedier half come fall? 🙂 We shall see!

Photo Mar 24, 12 07 11 PM

We recovered from the race with boozy milkshakes. I’m thinking this is a new tradition for races in Lincoln Park!

Hillary, Britt, Xaarlin, Me, & Chanthana (chief cowbell-er)

Photo Mar 24, 11 09 07 AM (1)

White Russian Boozy Milkshake + several cups of coffee. = EXTREME RECOVERY

(Not to mention the challah french toast)


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Boston Marathon 2013 Training: Week 11 of 14 & Chi Town Half Thoughts

Getting closer and closer to toeing the line in Hopkinton. This is when the jitters and excitement usually start. Just one more 20-miler and it’s taper time. OH.MY. GOODNESS. GRACIOUS. What?! When did THAT happen?!

This week was less intense than Week 10 because I am running the ChiTown Half as a training run on Sunday. When I looked at my schedule and saw 4 easy runs and 1 longish run, I was actually pretty excited. I really like running half marathons and it was nice to know that I could relax and refresh most of the week before running a no-pressure race that would give me a good idea of where my fitness is before Boston. I’ll post a full race recap from the half later this weekend but here’s how my week went and how I’m feeling about the race.

BM2013 Week 11 Training


Photoshop SKILLZ.

I ran 34 miles + 3 core routines + 1 strength workout. (Expect to finish the week with 49-50 miles including Sunday’s race.)


AM: 6 mile recovery run; 8:40 average. I took rest to a whole new level after Saturday’s 20-miler and didn’t foam roll or stretch much the rest of the weekend. Whoopsies! (Chanthana called me a BAD RUNNER! Derp.) It felt good to just move the legs and not worry about how fast or slow I was going on Monday morning.

PM: 1 hour massage. This is a new routine for me. I’ve never been the kind of person to treat myself to a regular massage but I’ve realized that it’s one of the best things I can do while training. Those little aches and pains usually disappear after 1 hr of relaxation. I was looking forward to this all day.

The best moment of the day came when I was talking to Jude (yes, his name is Jude) before the massage. Here’s how the conversation went:

Jude: Are there any areas that you want to specifically work on today?

Me: Not really. My legs are just fatigued in general after last week’s training.

Jude: What did you do last week?

Me: I ran 50 miles.

Jude: (look of shock) How many??

Me: 50. I’m um….I’m running the Boston Marathon. (This should be in your notes, Jude!)

Jude: …..Oh, so you’re a pro….

Me: (look of absolute shock) HA! Ummmm no, not quite.

Jude: Oh, but you have to qualify for that marathon though, right?

Me: Yeah, yeah….you do.

Jude: So, you’re a serious runner.

Me: I guess!

I know plenty of runners that consistently run higher mileage than I do. And I would actually say I’m on the lower end of that spectrum especially for marathoners. But Jude definitely made my day when he assumed that I was a very “serious” runner. Confidence boost!


I planned on getting 11 miles out of the way early in the morning. But then I checked WeatherBug and saw that it was 16 degrees outside and it felt like SIX!? What is with this weather, people! This time last year it was 70+ degrees in Chicago. And while that is extremely abnormal, I’m using it as a precedent for this year’s cold craziness. I delayed the run until the afternoon so that I could run in a balmy 25 degrees with 25 mph crosswind on the lakefront. You know…tropical, right?

11 miles, 7:56 average pace. (Faster final 3: 7:25, 7:22, 7:15). Had to put up with a consistent 20 mph wind out of the west the entire time (surprisingly easier to deal with than that wind from the north during last weekend’s 20…good sign that I’m getting stronger perhaps?) Finished up the day with a short core routine too. Woot woot!


4 miles, 8:37 average. Normally a rest day for me but Coach told me I could run an easy 3-5 if I felt like it. And I did so I went to the gym after work for an easy 4 miles.

I used the 30 minutes that I needed to let my smoky black bean soup (seriously yummy recipe from Runner’s World! See below) to simmer to get in my normal core routine x 2. I’ve struggled to do core immediately after my runs and find it’s easier to do at home at night in front of the TV. I was a “good runner” and even stretched and foam-rolled for 30 minutes that night.


8 miles, 8:24 average. Another easy run on the schedule. Feels weird to have so many easy runs on the schedule  but I’m taking full advantage of them and feel like I’m staying loose.


5 miles, 8:21 average. Just another quick easy morning on the treadmill at the gym. I could (and probably should) have run outside more this week but when I have the choice between one layer and 3 layers of clothing, I usually opt for just one. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Seriously, warm temps can’t come soon enough.

I forced myself to do another core routine and some form drills following my short run too. Easier to get that kind of stuff done on lighter days.

Saturday: REST! 

Sunday: RACE DAY! Full race report to come following the race! 

The goal for this half is to run at slightly faster than GMP (goal marathon pace). When I first saw this on my schedule, I was like “piece of cake”! But then I realized exactly what that pace is. If I run the goal pace, I’ll actually PR this weekend. That’s kind of crazy. I have to keep reminding myself that I ran my half PR in Carmel in April 2012. I’ve progressed a lot since then and I know that I’ve become a faster runner. It seems like I’ve gone through this each year. I’ll focus on my half for awhile, run a PR (somehow), focus on the full, and run a PR (holy heck). So that by the time I start a new racing season, my average pace for the half and full are super close.

Case in point: 

  • My half PR is 1:36:08, which is 7:20 per mile average.
  • My full PR is 3:17:47, which is 7:33 per mile average.

That means that either I’m capable of running a much faster half or I’m just a freak of nature and can run 26.2 miles almost as fast as I do 13.1 miles for all eternity.

Cue the course map!:


Ok, so not the greatest course. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever run a half with so many hairpin turns and curly-cues. It will be an interesting one for sure. I’m just hoping congestion isn’t a problem in the early miles. My motivation for running a fast, competitive race is SPIKED MILKSHAKES! Not kidding. Hillary, Xaar, Britt, and I are going to dominate post-race brunch. [Although I may change my mind about the milkshake on Sunday if my face is frozen off from the wintry mix we’re expecting that morning.] PLUS, Chanthana is going to be out there ringin’ her cowbell to cheer us on. She’s going to earn her spiked milkshake too.

Highlights o’ The Week:

  • Added to my running playlist: Around the Bend by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
  • Spent Thursday evening at Fleet Feet for their Taste Madness event. The highlight was the tasty beer and the good conversation with other runners in normal “civilian clothing”. Now I have a handy little tasting glass to use at Dark Lord Day! (Beer beer beeeeeer….)
  • This was the first week in a LONG time that I consistently made meals at home. (Ok, except for the Chipotle tacos that were ravenously consumed before the Taste Madness event!) Meal planning is definitely not something I do nor do I have much interest in doing but buying groceries that actually form MEALS as opposed to random-snacky-things-that-taste-gross together is progress. Plus, I’m savin’ my nickels and dimes. [Side note: the Smoky Black Bean Soup from a past issue of Runner’s World is delicious. However, I doubled the amount of chipotle peppers and suffered through one spicy bowl before calling it quits. Lesson learned!]

Pictures o’ The Week:

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Cute little mutt

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Despite the chilly temps this week, the sun actually showed itself during my 11-miler on Tuesday!

What is that big ball of fire in the sky?!!?!?

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Sadly, this explains my battle each and every morning. Doubt I’ll ever be a consistent predawn runner

2013-03-22 17.30.26

Smoothies when it’s 30 degrees out? Why not.

Race Weather March 23

Race Weather Forecast. Just in time for another snow storm to hit Chicago (can you tell I’m bitter?)


What You Can Accomplish “Alone”

I came across this video awhile ago but BuzzFeed just included it today in 25 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Down. [Note: I’m not feeling down. In fact, I’m having a great week and feeling super productive both at work and in running. But the article made me think, and has some really great tips for pick-me-ups when you need ’em. My favorite is #25. :)]

Since starting my new job just over a year ago, I’ve spent a lot of time alone. I work alone at home. I work “alone” at coffee shops. It’s amazing what you can accomplish without distractions from coworkers (because I don’t have any, unless you count my boss.) Even though I’m not interacting with a ton of people on a daily basis, I still feel like I’m connected to a community both professionally and personally. Oh, the wonders of technology, right?

I’ve always enjoyed my time to myself. I’m one of those people that doesn’t mind going to a movie solo (although I haven’t done that in awhile). I always say that I just want to spend one afternoon in a comfy coffee shop with nothing but a good book to read. I have this idea that if I can just get away from my phone or computer long enough to read for 2-3 hours, I will feel instantly refreshed. [Anyone else feel this way?] Sadly, it doesn’t happen often but it’s still a constant dream of mine.

I think I enjoy being (mostly) a solo runner because I enjoy being alone. I like to work through things in my head while I pound glide over the pavement. I feel like I can enjoy my time with others when I’ve had the time *and space* to be by myself first, if only for a brief moment over a cup of coffee in the morning.

And while you may not all be solo runners or people that like to spend time ‘alone’, I have a feeling that some of you out there might appreciate this video:

One of my favorite lines is:

‘cuz when you’re happy in your head

then solitude is blessed

and alone is okay.

[Also, It made me think about the book, Quiet by Susan Cain too. I’d recommend it if you haven’t picked it up yet (not just for “introverts”!)]


Are you a solo runner? Do you try to spend time by yourself every once in awhile? When was the last time you spend the day by yourself?


Boston Marathon Training: Week 10 of 14

BM2013 Week 10 of 14 Training

What a week! I ran my first 20-miler of the cycle this morning and I am exhausted just looking back on this week. This week was the first week in awhile that truly became excited to run Boston. I finally kicked that darn head cold and my energy level was incredibly high this week, which made for some killer workouts. There were a lot of smiles. Those goofy smiles that you try to hide when someone catches you with one. And despite dealing with some strong wind during my long run, I was able to hold the target pace nicely. Feeling strong and confident…..and sleepy. 🙂

I ran 50.8 miles this week + 2 core routines + 2 strength workouts.

Monday: Easy 6: 8:35 average pace on the treadmill at the gym. I was especially motivated to run today because Boston Bib #s were released.

Also did another Jillian Michaels 6 week 6 pack workout. Jillian and I are becoming close friends.

Tuesday: 10 mile steady state; 7:23 average pace (Splits: 7:40, 7:27, 7:25, 7:26, 7:25, 7:24, 7:28, 7:23, 7:19, 7:08)

This was one of those runs that made me smile like a BIG GOOF at the end. I looked down at my watch and just giggled for a second. Yep, I was that girl on the lakefront. The plan was to stay between 7:40-7:20 but my legs felt so good at the end that I just let them go. I thought this was going to be tougher than it was, which means I’m right where I need to be.

Wednesday: REST. Ahhh sweet rest. Had a friend over for dinner, drinks, and a chick flick tonight (doesn’t happen often.) I thought about doing some strength or core stuff but quickly nixed that idea and ended up lounging on the couch instead. I’m happy with that decision.

Thursday: 5 x 1 mi repeats (9.8 miles total; 7:37 average pace) Splits: 6:25, 6:24, 6:24, 6:25, 6:28.

These are literally the fastest mile repeats I have ever run in my entire life. The last time I ran mile repeats was July 2012 and I ran 6:40 average. This was definitely not comfortable and in no way easy but I kept telling myself I’d be proud of myself if I just kept the legs moving. That afternoon, I was thinking about what happens in the moment before you decide to quit. Feeling so good about how strong my turnover is these days!

Friday: Easy 5 shakeout; 8:37 average pace.

Easy peasy on the treadmill. + core work and form drills

Saturday: 20.03 miles in 2:38, 7:51 average pace.

BA DA BING BA DA BOOM! For some reason I woke up feeling a little less motivated to run this one than my 18 last weekend. My legs didn’t feel that fresh despite foam rolling and stretching for a bit last night. I was especially worried about hitting the pace because I knew the wind out of the north would make half of the miles tough (and I was right).  Miles 2-8 and 11-14 were against the wind. I was looking forward to the final 6 miles the entire time because I knew the wind would give me a push. Pushed through 25-30 mph wind gusts heading north along with some snow/rain/sleet = tough but accomplished run!

Week 10 BM2013 Long Run 20 miles

Highlighted splits are against the wind. Not too shabby in retrospect

After a 50-mile week with some intense workouts, I’m really ready to just sit on the couch this afternoon and relax in front of the TV (if for no other reason than to avoid the St. Paddy’s Day drunkies out there!).

Highlights o’ The Week:

  • Added to my running playlist: Sun by Two Door Cinema Club
  • Getting my Boston Bib # and realized I’m in the first wave was definitely a highlight. :Pinch me:
  • I finally made a stop at Protein Bar this week to try their take on the Shamrock Shake, which they call the FitMint. Seriously yummy! I need to start my workday with it more often.

Pictures o’ The Week:

2013-03-10 15.13.11

Picked up the pooch after our short road trip last Sunday. RAWR!

2013-03-12 14.43.58

Super happy after Tuesday’s steady state workout. Lakefront=my happy place.

2013-03-12 20.08.32

True Chicago. Goose Island and Al’s Beef.

2013-03-13 09.57.35

Gingersnap Trainwreck from Star Lounge. Delish!

2013-03-13 16.14.36

It’s not exactly the nicest medal but this was a surprise in the mail this week.

1st time I’ve ever placed as an overall finisher


The Moment Before You Quit


The Moment You're Ready to Quit

I’m writing this on a runner’s high. I have a big week of training and some big workouts out on the schedule. And so far? I seem to be crushing it. I’m sure this week seems like such a triumph because I was extremely low energy the past two weeks while I tried to kick the head cold that stayed for far longer than it was welcome. This week by comparison, I’m feeling like superwoman. It’s a great feeling.

There were several times during my workout today when I felt like quitting. Like I could just stop my watch, jog a bit, get my breath back, and mosey on home. “It would be so easy”, I thought.

There’s that moment when you’re pushing through a speed workout when you feel your muscles “drop”, when they almost let go. It’s almost like your transmission sputters for a second and you realize that your body could stop at any minute if only your mind decided that’s what it wanted (or should) do. It’s that moment when you think that you have your cruise control set, you take your foot off the pedal, and you’re shocked to find that you are decelerating instead of accelerating.

And then? You make a decision. As a runner, you decide whether or not the feeling of quitting is going to trump the feeling of finishing strong, no matter how hard it might hurt. And if you’re like most runners, you probably know that deciding to continue almost always pays off in the end. You finish the workout wondering why you ever even considered giving it up and throwing in the towel on your dreams.

But that’s the challenge, isn’t it? We make a choice in this singular moment. The moment between succeeding and quitting.

We choose pain over comfort.

We choose struggle over the “easy” way.

We choose to be a little more crazy and a little less defeatist.

We choose to prove to ourselves that the “what if” can actually come true.

We choose to push when we really don’t want to.

Because the alternative seems crazy when you really sit down and think about it.

It’s a bit of mental jiu-jitsu we play with ourselves. (I played this game a lot with myself in a matter of 5 miles today.) The funny part about running is that you’re never just going to have one of these moments. It’s called long distance running for a reason, people. Just because I chose pain over comfort once in today’s workout didn’t mean that I was done making decisions. I had to make the same decision about 10 more times before the workout was finished.

[I just verbally vomited a ton of platitudes all over this blog post. And I’m not going to delete them.]

I ran the fastest mile repeats I’ve ever run in my entire life today. That’s not a small feat. I will struggle to outdo myself the next time this workout is on my schedule, just like the time before that. Proving to myself that I can run faster and longer over time is a battle with no one else but myself. It’s a battle with that moment between allowing my muscles to disengage and to keep pushing forward. The small bit of irony in all of this is that 1 minute after that repeat, you feel like you could conquer yet another one. “Sure, bring it on!” you tell yourself. And so, you do.

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Boston Marathon 2013 Training: Week 9 of 14

After last week’s snot fest, the mileage this week was much higher. I spent most of last week feeling sorry for myself. Like most runners, I was frustrated because my head cold was preventing me from running and pushing myself in each workout as much as I wanted. It’s really easy for me to get down on myself sometimes. Ultimately, I need to learn to be more patient and trust that I’ll feel better soon.

I tried to be patient with myself this week and let the miles come to me. I honestly can’t believe how good closing out the week with today’s 18-miler felt. All good signs that I’m working hard and will have a great race at Boston. I’m starting to get excited to race again…and that’s ALWAYS a good thing.

I know that if I want to run a PR at Boston, I will. All I have to do is keep telling myself that I will. 

I ran 46.5 miles this week + 3 core routines + 2 strength routines.

BM2013 Week 9 Training

Monday: 8 miles, 8:32 average pace. Treadmill. It felt good to get a solid 8 in on a Monday, especially after how mopey I was feeling on Sunday post-race. Once I saw the race results and Coach gave me a reality check, I was ready to take on the week and realize that I am, in fact, getting in good shape. Sore throat and congestion still hanging around but not really affecting my easy runs.

+ 30 mintes form drills & core routine

Tuesday: 35 minute core routine. Ok, I have to admit something. This workout was from Jillian Michael’s 6 Week 6 Pack DVD. Yes, I have become THAT girl. I felt a large amount of shame when I put it into my Amazon cart, but, to be fair, the workout is intense and Jillian is just as tough on a DVD as she is on Biggest Loser (she even gives the two girls that do the workout with her a hard time—and they actually have 6-packs, so….there’s that.)

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Stop judging me, people. I’m gonna be RIPPED.
On another note—this cover is total airbrushed. Is there NO HOPE, Jillian?!

Wednesday: 7.15 miles; 8:23 average pace with 2 x 1/2 mile hills at 3% incline. Hills don’t exist around here (and no, Cricket Hill doesn’t count.) Just like anyone that trains in flat land for Boston, I’m beginning to get a little nervous about them. I try to keep my cadence high and my feet moving when I move uphill and it’s never been a problem for me on other hilly courses (like Batavia or Twin Cities, somewhat). Hoping that’s the case at Boston too! Side note: I have a flexible work schedule which means that I usually don’t get up super early to get my runs in. But this morning I actually got to the gym at 7:15 and felt great, knowing that I didn’t have to worry about fitting it into my day. I should do that more often.

PM: Spent 40 minutes stretching, foam rolling, and using The Stick. Yet another thing I should do more often.

Thursday: 2 x 2.25 mile tempo, 7:26 average pace; 9 miles. First “real” workout this week. It was *tough* and uncomfortable but that’s the point of tempos, right?! Ran 2 mile warm-up, 2 x 2.5 tempo at 6:50-7:00 min/mile (2:30 jog recovery between), and 1.75 mile cooldown.

Went out to the lakefront for the first time in awhile. My legs could not find a rhythm at all–either wanted to go faster or slower than tempo pace. The head cold symptoms are pretty much gone, but I’m still having trouble breathing comfortably in the cold. Mucus just won’t leave and the post-nasal drip is getting annoying. Besides that, I guess I felt good and I’m glad that I can still hold on to a 6:50-6:55 pace even when I’m not feeling 100%.

PM: SLEEPFEST. You know you’re a runner in training when you’re super excited to go to bed before 9 PM. (Coach says “an athlete in training is a sleeping animal.”) All I could think about today was how much I wanted my bed and what time I’d likely fall asleep. I took an hour nap before dinner, ate dinner, and went back to bed. AND SLEPT FOR 10.5 HOURS. It’s like I don’t even know myself anymore! I used to be a huge night owl and thought that going to bed at 11 PM was “early”. These days, I’d much rather skip some TV shows and crawl into bed instead.

At some point, all of these fluids, vitamins, and sleep have to ward off this cold for good.

Friday: Easy 4 miles. Legs not sore at all from yesterday’s tempo and the sun was shining all day! PLUS, it was *almost* 40 degrees here. It’s the little things, ya know?

Saturday: 18 miles 7:50 average pace. I’M ON CLOUD 9 ABOUT THIS ONE! I seriously don’t know how this could have gone any better than it did. Speechless.

Week 9 Long Run 18 Miles

Sunday: (not so) sleepfest. Helping my mom move into her new lake house in Michigan. I should probably consider this strength/cross-training, huh?

Highlights o’ The Week:

  •  Added to my running playlist: Closer by Tegan and Sara
  • This week involved a whole lot less Mucinex and cold meds. (my stomach was VERY happy about that). A huge mug of Cinnamon Hearts from David’s tea before bed on Thursday was a nice, hot treat.
  • Basically….sleep was the ultimate highlight of this week.
  • Also, sunshine. (or whatever that giant ball of light in the sky is!) I walked the pup on Friday during lunch and I can’t get enough of her speedwalking.

Pictures o’ The Week:

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My mom was in town on Sunday afternoon. Barklee LOVES her (and yes, she posed for the camera)

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There was another dog in my life this week. This is my boss’ dog, Mr. Chips. He looks like Barklee but 7 times bigger (not kidding).

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I was dreaming about this Hazelnut Macchiato during my entire run on Wednesday. It was so worth it.

Marketing at its best: this “new” drink from Starbucks is just a carmel macchiato with hazelnut syrup. Woop!

+ I think it’s my cure for S.A.D.

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The Man and I went to Grass Fed for dinner this week. If you want a no-nonsense place that serves amazing steak, you know where to go.

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The lakefront was absolutely stunning on Thursday morning for my tempo. Best place to stop and think.


Boston Marathon 2013 Training: Week 8 of 14 & 10k Race Recap

BM2013 Week 8 Training

This week really was Snot Central. I’m feeling pretty mopey about it right now but that’s nothing that a big mug of coffee and some rungry therapy can’t take care of easily this afternoon. Monday through Thursday was pretty miserable in terms of how I felt. I don’t get sick often but I tend to be a big baby when I do. A full work schedule was tough and focusing on my computer screen was probably the toughest challenge of the week.

On the other hand, I think it was actually pretty lucky that I was sick this week because I had easy runs on the schedule to prepare for Sunday’s 10k Race. Dealing with a head cold during a stepback week is something I can handle. I just wish I didn’t have to. But again, as Coach says, “better this week than the week of Boston”. He speaks the truth.

This week I ran just over 34 miles, which is the lowest I’ve run all cycle but not far off from the mileage Coach scheduled for me.

I ran 34 miles this week + 3 core routines + 1 strength routine:

Monday: 6 miles at 8:39 pace. This was a struggle especially because the cold hit me on Sunday.

Tuesday: unplanned rest

Wednesday: Easy progressive 7 miles at 8:17 average pace. Started at 8:27 and finished at 8:00. Felt good to sweat out the cold and breathing didn’t seem to be much of an issue that day.  (+ core and foam drills)

Thursday: 8 miles, 8:23 average pace. Actually felt really good today. I woke up feeling like a human again and didn’t have nearly as much nasal congestion as I did any of the other days this week. (+ core routine)

Friday: Easy 5, 8:16 average pace.  (+ core routine)

Saturday: rest

Sunday: WACKY 10K Race. 43:xx unofficial time (official results aren’t posted yet. derp!) 2 mile warm-up was actually nice and easy. I didn’t have much trouble breathing and it was so nice to run in the sunshine.

For my first 10k race, I’d say I did pretty well but this didn’t go as planned. The plan was to start at 6:40-6:50 and gradually get faster (or adjust to deal with conditions). I realized during my warm-up that it likely wouldn’t happen because the first (and last) 3/4 mile was a complete SHEET of ice (not kidding). This portion runs on the inner path and is made of packed sand—so they couldn’t plow and I’m sure salting really didn’t do much because the ice had accumulated throughout this week’s crazy weather.People were slipping and sliding all over the place at the start and I was in “no man’s land” from mile 1.5 to the finish.

My legs felt fresh but I had a lot of trouble breathing. The lingering chest congestion from my head cold this past week made it really difficult. Anything under 42:00 was ambitious, when you consider how I was feeling and the course conditions. I think I’ve only stopped to walk during one race before (shameful) but today I had to stop several times to take care of mucus. Blech. Still, a good workout–just a long tempo workout in the books. It was a perfect day for a race with sunny skies and light wind. I only wore two long sleeve layers and skipped wearing an outer shell jacket.. –Just wasn’t in the cards today. A bloody mary and huge breakfast burrito afterward made me feel better.

You can’t really tell how icy the finish was in the video but it might give you an idea. Surprised my form looks so good considering how I was feeling. I think I was just angry at the conditions by that point haha.

10k Race Chicago Finish

I’m going to take this week in stride (heh…get it?) and write it off as a recovery week. All of my runs were easy runs just as planned even if I didn’t hit the exact mileage. I know it was worth the extra rest and recovery so I can dominate the next 6 weeks.

OK UPDATE. I NEED TO QUIT MY WHINING. I’ve never finished top 10 overall or top 10 female at any race. Official race results:

Wacky 10k 2013 Results

Highlights o’ the Week

  • Added to my running playlist: Breezeblocks by Alt-J (I highly recommend this entire album. I listen to it a lot when I’m relaxing at home.) 
  • The Man is back on a normal work schedule now, which means he’s not working nights again for a long time! HUGE piece of happiness this week.
  • I found my favorite chocolate milk at Whole Foods. Trader’s Point Creamery is from my hometown; it was nice to find a little slice of home here in Chicago especially after being sick this week.
  • I have a new favorite pair of running tights. I rarely wear Zoot gear but The Clymb had a great deal two weeks ago and I jumped on it. Ladies, if you’re looking for a non-bulky tight that will keep you super warm, give these a try: Zoot THERMOMegaHeat Tights. They are so comfy that I spent the evening lounging around in them when they arrived.

Pictures o’ the Week

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This is the look the pup gives me when I don’t pet her enough. Drama queen!

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This sunset, brought to you by the Whole Foods parking lot. Transported me back to the summer on our rooftop

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I present to you this weekend’s race shirt. I mean, the race is called the WACKY 10K—the shirt is appropriately designed, don’t you think?

I can only imagine the looks I’ll get on the lakefront or at the gym.

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Late start times during the winter is something I could get used to. Ahhh coffeeeee!

What do you do to snap yourself out of a funk? What’s your best cold remedy?

– J