Two Blood Tests, 6 Months Apart with InsideTracker

In August of last year, I was obviously at a low point. I was in a boot while what felt like the entire city of Chicago was barreling toward peak week in preparation for the marathon in October. I was confined to 6 weeks in a boot and begrudgingly found new ways of cross-training through my injury. My doctor gave me these initial steps to take when we confirmed that I had a stress fracture in a metatarsal in my left foot:

  1. MRI Monday, August 17th – confirmed stress fracture, possible neuroma in between 2-3 metatarsals
  2. Began wearing Aircast Tuesday, August 18th
  3. Bone density scan conducted Wednesday August 19th – confirmed healthy
  4. Began taking 600 mg calcium 2 x a day, 2000 IUs vitamin D 1 x a day on Thursday, August 19
  5. Blood test (Vit D & Ultimate Panel from InsideTracker) scheduled Wednesday, August 26th

I researched InsideTracker a bit before after seeing Julia Webb’s post on her experience. So when they saw my updates on Twitter about my stress fracture and reached out offering a free test, I couldn’t say no (especially because I was so down in the dumps then and wanted to figure out why this darn injury happened).

For anyone that isn’t familiar with the service, InsideTracker provides blood test analytics personalized for you, based on your lifestyle and nutrition factors. I’ve had blood tests in the past but it always seems to fall short — so much of a blood test and its entire process depends on your relationship with your primary doctor and the recommendations he or she may be able to give you based on the results. I’ve independently taken blood tests in the middle of training cycles just to make sure I’m doing everything I can to stay healthy. But I always felt like I needed help to figure out what steps I could take to optimize markers that were either too high or too low. And the recommendations for a runner can often be very different, as compared to an athlete in another sport or a person that doesn’t exercise regularly. (For example, runners often need to pay specific attention to their iron/ferritin levels –and the recommendations for a ‘normal person’ don’t cut it for long distance runners.)

Enter InsideTracker. 

  • Purchase a test.
  • Schedule a blood draw at a local Quest Diagnostics (so quick and easy to do online).
  • Wait 3-5 days for your results to pop up in your InsideTracker account.
  • Implement the recommendations they give you!

….So freaking simple.

Here’s an example of what you will see on your personal dashboard after your results have been received.

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I like the InnerAge component. Based on results for the test I had done in August 2015, I had 6 factors that needed work and 3 that were at risk. The main markers my doctor was interested in and that were specific to my stress fracture were calcium and vitamin D.

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You’ll notice that there are two readings for Vitamin D. I took a second blood test a few weeks ago, so the tests were just over 6 months apart. My Vitamin D is considered to be high both times. My doctor was comfortable with my result in August, so we were able to rule out this deficiency as a factor of my injury. This winter, I consistently supplemented with vitamin D but it appears I was probably overdoing it. Just as InsideTracker recommends, I’ll be reducing the frequency of this supplement (even more so now that my chances of seeing the sun in the morning and evening is higher!)

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My calcium result surprised me. I had only begun to take 600 mg of calcium 2 x a day the week prior to this August blood test. The second test I had done this month did not include Calcium as a biomarker, so I’ll be curious to see where this is at when I do another full panel.

There’s a lot to be said for a service that makes the most important part of the blood testing process extremely simple. I’ve chosen two main goals for optimizing my results: I want to sleep better and boost my energy throughout the day. Based on these goals and the markers that need work, InsideTracker tells me that I should eat more lentils and chia seeds, supplement with garlic and berberine to lower my cholesterol, consume more nuts and drink green tea. These are all things that I feel like I can do. It’s easy to complicate the ways we choose to take care of ourselves. It’s nice to have a solution that dumbs it down for you as an athlete.

And the best news is that they have a new panel that’s designed specifically for endurance athletes: the High Performance Panel. My latest test, this month, was this panel. It includes markers specific to rest, recovery, strength, power and endurance — basically, anything that could help you determine how to improve your running. Out of these markers, I can personally work on optimizing:
  • cortisol
  • vitamin D
  • vit B12
  • Ferritin
  • hs-CRP

I find these factors interesting and I also wonder if the timing of this blood test impacted my blood test results. On Sunday, March 13th, I ran 20 miles. And my blood test was the next afternoon. I’m wondering if specific endurance and inflammation factors would have had different results if I had waited a few days. Something to look into!

The High Performance Panel is half the cost of the Ultimate Panel and specific to markers that endurance athletes should care about. I’m excited about it because the lower price point will allow me to test more often – instead of when I feel like training isn’t going well or when I feel fatigued or low energy.

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If you’re interested in giving InsideTracker a shot, you can use “HPJENNY” when you checkout for the chance to win a free Ultimate panel as a follow-up (It’s worth $499 — and included 30 total biomarkers!) 
– JP
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Update on Chicago Marathon 2015 Training: T Minus 12 Weeks!

After the blunder at Bayshore, I took a full week to sulk and run whenever I felt like it. My uncle suddenly passed away the same week. I slowed down, shed some tears, and ran less than 10 miles that week. I felt like moving, but not moving. Processing both the race and Uncle Jim’s passing was tough.

The next week, I hit reset. With 18 weeks to Chicago, I felt like I was ready to get back to it. I don’t think I’ve ever had this big of a base leading into a marathon training cycle before.

OH! BEFORE I FORGET… July 20th was the horrible summer day last year when I tripped and fell straight on my right knee cap a half mile into a 15-miler. This and this will give you an idea what recovery from bursitis was like. I still can’t believe that happened or how long it took to get back to normal (or that I hobbled to/from/through a photo shoot with Competitor and Saucony the very next day). So, be mindful of tricky patches of trail/sidewalk and pick up those feet, people!

Week of 6/1: 36 miles, 5 runs, long run 11.76 mi [1 mile time trial: 5:35]

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Week of 6/8: 40 miles, 5 runs, long run 12.8 mi [10 x 400, 4 mi steady state]

Week of 6/15: 43 miles, 5 runs, long run 14.7 mi [16 x 200, 4 mi steady state] + a fun run on the West Side with Jocelyn while I was in town for work

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Week of 6/22: 40 miles, 4 runs, long run 15.0 mi [10 x 30 sec strides, 4 x 1 mi cruise] + Saturday flight to San Juan for vacation

Week of 6/29: 39 miles, 4 runs, long run 15.0 mi [10 x 2 min at 5k pace, 8 mi with fast finish 3 mi sub 7 min/mi] – 5 nights in San Juan and 3 nights in Holland, MI with my family for the holiday

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Week of 7/6: 46 miles, 5 runs, long run 17.0 mi [4 mi steady state]

Week of 7/13: 45 miles, 6 runs (1 double day), long run 15.25 mi [5 x 1k]

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And that brings us to this week! I can’t believe I’ve been in ‘training mode’ for 7 weeks already. I’m making a few changes to my training this time around.

I’m extending my mid-week recovery runs to 8-10 miles. In the past, I’ve just run 5-6 miles easy in between hard workouts but I feel ready to bump that up a little bit. Getting a solid 1 hour – 1 hour 20 minutes on my feet on a Wednesday for the past few weeks was tough. At first, it felt like running through sand (and I started with 8 mi). I’m starting to get into shape again and yesterday’s 75 min run on the lakefront felt actually really good! I’ve also been wearing my heart rate monitor more on recovery runs to be sure I don’t run them too fast (goal bpm: 150-155).

Another change I’m making is seeking out others to do speed workouts with. I’ve been to a few workouts with Syndicate and I’m really excited about what can happen in the next 11ish weeks if we continue to push each other. I think the danger in training with others is pushing *too hard*, so I’m reminding myself that running my own pace on a certain day is just what I should be doing. This Tuesday, I ran a 2 x (800, 600, 400, 200) workout that left me feeling surprised and confident for the first time in months. I saw times on my watch that I’ve never seen before. Soooooo that’s exciting!

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I’m also being more consistent with how I recover – including recovery shakes and ice baths. If you saw how I ate during my first marathon training cycle, you’d probably barf. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing ….OR why I was so hungrrrrrrryyyyy all the damn time. I was also really good at ‘being too tired to cook’. I’d come home from a hot, long run and crash on the couch for like 3-4 hours before I considered eating a full meal. It’s a wonder how I got through that cycle or race, really. Taking the time to plan what I’m eating for dinner 3-4 nights a week instead of sitting around and wondering what I should order from GrubHub or Seamless at 7:45 pm is a good switch, I think. (Runner’s World Cookbook is where it’s at, guys. Most of the recipes don’t require bizarre ingredients or more than 30 minutes to prepare and cook.) As much as I’ve been cooking lately, I also have a confession. I’ve been ordering delicious dinners from Sprig probably 1-2 x a week. Can’t argue with the price point, quality of the food, or the speedy delivery. It’s saved me from extreme runger approximately 7x already so I’m sold.

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Dare I say I enjoy ice baths now? Don’t get be wrong. Those first 2-3 minutes are pure torture, but once you can’t feel your appendages everything’s gravy. I’m making my weekly trip to CVS on Fridays for two bags of ice and I’m sure the cashier thinks I have a decent sized party with a full cooler every Friday. I won’t argue.

Summer temps and humidity have finally arrived in Chicago. The whole city complained about how cold the summer was (myself included) and then we couldn’t stop talking about how gross and muggy it was outside. During a normal summer, we’d all be acclimated by mid-July so it’s a weird feeling to be fighting through it so much now. A slight lakefront breeze always helps.

So, that’s where I’m at! I’ll probably update every few weeks. I really like looking back on recaps once I get closer to a goal race, so read if ya want. 🙂

– J

2014 Monumental Marathon: RACE RECAP 3:11:07

I spent 12 weeks of training worrying, obsessing, and wondering whether or not I’d be able to run a PR in Indy last Saturday. I’m exceptionally good at thinking about these things. I do it so often that it’s a surprise to me when I am able to turn off my brain.

That happened on race day. I didn’t think. I just RAN.

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My sister asked me last night to tell her all about the race, about every single mile. And I couldn’t. I don’t have a lot to say about each mile of Monumental because I didn’t obsess over the details, I didn’t question my pace, I didn’t get ahead of myself, and I didn’t calculate my finish time early on. I had a conservative plan going into it, but ended up running closer to feel than by pace than I ever have before.

I ran a 3 min, 30 second PR with a time of 3:11:07. IT WAS THE BEST DAY EVAHHHHHH! 

The big headline: I ran my 5th marathon, with a 3 + min PR, peed my shorts for the 2nd time in a marathon (it was awesome) and totally surprised myself on Saturday. 

TerryOrlick

I’m so happy I showed up with a “ok, let’s just see what happens!” kind of attitude because it took the pressure of a PR out of my mind. Manny and I drove down to Indy on Friday morning after dropping Barklee off. I hydrated like crazy before and during the drive and we had to take 2 pit stops in the 3 hr drive. Somehow I managed to get 50 oz of water in before 11 AM. I also came dangerously close to finishing an entire large bag of pretzels on the drive. Hey, salt content, people! The drive down was cold, wet, and windy. We even saw snow come down during one of our pit stops. I was nervous about the race day forecast, but kept telling myself that I could deal with the cold – there was no rain in the forecast, thank goodness!

We drove straight to the expo at the Convention Center to meet Scott and Meghan. (Note: I first met Scott at Twin Cities 2012 and he’s raced every marathon I’ve raced since: Boston 2013, Boston 2014, and now Monumental 2014! Let’s keep this streak alive, dude! #TRWU for the win!) The expo is no-fuss, so we were in and out within 15-20 minutes. And the only reason we were there that long was because of an orange sticker on my bib that read “Seeding Group 3. My bib number was #519 so that didn’t sound right. Scott didn’t even have a seeding sticker on his bib so we walked over to Solutions to ask them about it. I asked them what my sticker meant and the woman said “you entered a time when you registered that said you’d run a 3:30 marathon”, to which I replied, “Oh no, that’s definitely wrong.” She was willing to help but she said “That’s ok. You can just move back if that’s not right”. {uhhhhhhh….}. I responded, “No, I’ll be running a much faster time than that tomorrow.” So she gave me a different seeding sticker. In hindsight, I may have sounded like a brat but there was no way I was going to let a silly sticker have an affect on my race (mentally, mostly). We made a plan to meet up in the morning & left the expo.

Manny and I met my brother for a beer and some lunch at Upland that afternoon. I had a beer because a) you shouldn’t change your routine, even on race weekend and 2) it was my brother’s birthday. It was delicious and oh so worth it. After relaxing for a bit, we stopped at Target for some throw-away items and oatmeal for my pre-race breakfast. I had a small headache and started to feel pretty tired from the drive so we went home to watch a movie and eat dinner. Pro tip: find a movie that will hold 100% of your attention the night before a race. I watched Divergent and didn’t really think about the race at all!

I went to bed at 10:30 after laying out my things. The forecast didn’t change much during the day on Friday, so I decided to wear shorts, compression socks, a long sleeve shirt, a hat, and gloves. After tossing and turning for 30 minutes or so, I fell asleep. And then it was 5 AM and it was go time! I slept well and felt really rested. I slept a LOT in the weeks leading up to the race, especially after peak week knocked me on my butt – I know that extra sleep helped prepare me for the race.

Side note: I didn’t even get a pre-race shakeout in on Friday! I thought I’d be able to fit in 2-3 miles after the drive down (because running before the drive would be pointless), but it was cold and windy and gross out. By the time I had an opportunity to run on a treadmill, it was already 4 pm – pretty pointless to shake out that late. Instead of stressing out about fitting it in, I just rested. I’m glad I did! I ran Mon, Tues, and Wed but Thurs and Fri were total rest days.

So, snuggle up with your favorite beverage and get comfortable, folks! This recap turned out to be 275% longer than I originally thought! 

I thought I’d be able to squeak by with a small PR. My plan was to run 1:36-37 through the half and then see if I could negative split. I divide the marathon into 5-mile segments, so I thought I’d run 7:35/mile pace in the first section and target 7:30, 7:25, 7:20, etc for each section after that. This plan would get me to 3:13 and change – if it all went according to plan. We found parking just south of the convention center and start line by 6:45 am. I’m so happy they had the Convention Center open so I could stay warm and do some dynamic stretches before walking 1 block to the start. Gotta love that about small races! Scott, Meghan, and Jeff met up with me and Manny and we chatted for a few minutes while we got ready. The nerves kicked in about 15 min from the start. I said goodbye to Man 5 min from the start, took off my throwaway clothes, and got ready!

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(Likely the closest Jeff will ever come to smiling in a picture.)

It was 30 degrees with a strong headwind from the north, which meant that we’d deal with the majority of the wind in the first half. I wasn’t that worried about the wind considering that’s my normal in Chi, but I knew I should try to tuck in to a pack and draft a bit off some big dudes if I could find them. From the start, it wasn’t crowded (again, small races ftw!). I’m used to jostling and dodging a bit in the first few miles of most races, so this was a welcome relief.

Miles 1-5 

Mile1-5

So, that 7:35 initial pace I mentioned? Yeah, that never materialized. I was definitely excited to be racing in the first mile and tried to focusing on letting my legs warm up. My quads were the most exposed part of my body; they didn’t really warm up until toward Mile 4 or 5. I felt comfortable running closer to 7:20. By mile 3, I realized that I was running a wee bit too fast and that I needed to let the 3:10 pace group pass me. They did at Mile 3.5 and I put my head down and focused on my own race. The pace group would be within my view until about Mile 8. I took my first Gu at Mile 5. Mmmmmm….root beer flavor!

Miles 6-10

Mile6-10

The plan targeted 7:30s here, but every single time I looked down at my watch, I realized how comfortable 7:20-7:25s felt. The half marathon splits from the full course at Mile 7. I looked ahead where they had a sign directing the marathoners to the right side of the course and remember thinking, “welp, I’m going to be all alone now!”. It seemed like 1 runner for every 10 in the half were moving to the right. I knew the wind would be a factor in these miles and that I should find a small group to draft off of but it never materialized. It was likely strung out a bit between the 3:10 and 3:15 pace group. Every time I felt like I found a big dude to draft off of, I felt like they were just going slightly faster or slower than I wanted to. It would be pointless to spend energy surging to catch a small group of runners and I wanted to run my own race. Around Mile 8, a small group formed. These two women were talking pace strategy and I could tell that the leading woman was pacing the other. She looked incredibly fit (and *freezing*, judging by her decision to wear just a sports bra & capris in 30 degrees) and they told me to tuck in behind them. It was nice to have something to focus on for a few miles; I kept my eye on the pacer’s heels and dodged sketchy potholes when I could (ahem…no falling on my knee this time around!). They were running even 7:20-25 so right where I wanted to be. And the men in our group seemed to be the ones trailing so that was also also a confidence boost. You could tell they were letting the women do the hard work. The wind seemed more manageable for these miles, but we still had a few gusts that felt strong. I ended up running with them through Mile 15-16. (Fun fact, I looked one of the women up and it turns out she also lives in Chicago!) I took my 2nd Gu and waved to Lindsey Hein (AKA spectator extraordinaire!) near Mile 10.

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Photo credit: Lindsey H.

Miles 11-15

Mile11-15

I just kept moving through the half. My mom, sister, and Manny were planning on spectating at 13.1 and I started to worry when I didn’t see them there (There was no way I’d miss them.) I looked at the clock as we ran across the timing mat at 13.1. I was right on pace-  It read 1:36:30. I remember thinking, “Just keep this rhythm going”. Every time I started to tense my shoulders or hands, I’d take a deep breath and relax. My form felt really strong. I saw my mom and my sister here at Mile 14 — no Manny! They were loud and obnoxious on a quiet part of the course, which was exactly what I needed. The only thing I said to them was, “where is Manny?!?!” Turns out he got stuck behind traffic related to the 5k after the start. Derp!

At this point,  I started to get annoyed by the two women – the pacer and her friend. They were talking a lot (too much!) and they were completely obsessing about the pace. The one racing told the pacer, “Ok, next mile I just need 2 seconds back.” Yeah, 2 seconds won’t make a difference. I knew I was having a good day and I didn’t want to get stuck depending on them for 7:20-7:25s so I left them around Mile 15. There’s a slight uphill there, the only noticeable one on the entire course. It was shorter than I thought it would be. Short, quick steps up the hill and onward! I took my next (3rd) Gu just after 15.5 along with a few swigs of water. (I’m really proud of how easily I got each Gu down, along with water every 5 miles.)

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Out of 26 race pics, this is the only one that looks somewhat attractive. You’re welcome.

Miles 16-20

Miles16-20

My legs TURNED ON in this section. The sun was out so I started to feel more warmed up and we had an ever so slight tail wind (although it really wasn’t that noticeable). People were starting to string out even more and I felt like I would be running by myself for the rest of the race– and that’s pretty much what happened. At 18, near the IMA, I saw my mom, my sister, and (surprise!) Manny. It was so nice to see them one more time before the miles really became lonely. I gave Manny a side-5 and a thumbs up to all three of them – my legs were rolling and I knew the next time I would see them would be at the finish line.

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Happy after running through the IMA 🙂

Mile 18 was fast for two completely unrelated reasons:

1) It’s a long downhill section.

2) I purposely peed my shorts and IT WAS COMPLETELY EXHILARATING. Don’t worry, folks. I’ve done this before. Been there, done that. And this time was just as hilarious as the first time. There was no way I was stopping just to go to the bathroom. And once you make that decision to pee your shorts, there’s no going back. I was gliding on this downhill section, the sun came out from behind some clouds, I looked down and practically snorted at myself. It was heavenly. I can only imagine the view that that dude running behind me had. It was glorious, until it was cold. Even then, it was worth it. I remember thinking “oh no, what if my calfs cramp because of all the pee in my socks?!”. Thankfully, that didn’t happen (and I finished the race with zero blisters!).

If you’d like proof that I was thoroughly hydrated and my pee was essentially water, here you go:

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See that? White compression socks are STILL WHITE, post-pee at the finish. And yes, I’m keeping those socks.

Despite the obvious adrenaline rush, I started to feel like the last 10k would get really interesting once I passed Mile 20, where I took my 4th and final Gu (mmmm Caramel Macchiato- just as delicious as Espresso Love). I wanted to stay close to 7:10s and hopefully dip under in the last section of the race.

Miles 21-26.2

Miles21-Finish

At 21, I couldn’t believe how empty the course was. During race week, I watched the time lapse video of the course several times and realized this section would be tough without spectators. I wasn’t running with others at this point. This one dude and I went back and forth a few times between Miles 17-20 but he likely saw me pee my shorts at Mile 18.5 and decided not to get near my kind of crazy. There.was.no.one.near.me. Just me and the road. This section is a parkway and close enough to the finish that spectators are few and far between. Once you make the turn onto Meridian at Mile 23, the energy starts to pick up a bit again. The run-walkers in the half marathon were clustered in groups on the left side of the street. Marathoners were running on the right but I honestly only remember seeing 3 or 4 others. I stopped after 23 to take a few more swigs of water before continuing on because I knew it would be my last one (I never really felt thirsty the entire race – proper pre-race hydration and regular sips of water the entire time helped, of course). I really had to pull myself together in Mile 23.

ENTER: 100% pain face.

I didn’t know my face could do that, but I’m willing to bet I looked like this for the better part of the last 3 miles. (These are in the finish chute.)

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By the time I reached Mile 24, I was entirely ready to be finished. I didn’t have much, if any, kick left. I wanted to dip closer to 7:00 min/mile but that wasn’t really happening. I was just trying to keep it together. I stopped to walk for 5-10 seconds and immediately thought, “no, Jenny. That’s not happening.” (Low point- so close!) With 2.5 miles to go, I started to calculate my finish time. That’s always a dangerous game to play, but, after some tough math with a brain that didn’t really want to function, I knew that I’d PR even if I just had to keep up with 8:00 minute miles. I still had 7 min miles in my legs; I just had to keep telling myself that.

I WAS GOING TO PR. PR! Peeeeeeeee (your shorts) -RRRRRRRRRR! 

Ok, hold it together. It’s happening. Just keep the legs going. Come onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, Jenny.

We made a right hand turn, I looked off to my left, and realized the finish line was in sight. This dude on my left yelled, “YOU’VE JUST GOT TWO TURNS LEFT. TWO TURNS LEFT UNTIL YOU FINISH!”. I was like shit, I can’t make it two turns! I literally had 0.2 miles left and I felt like I was going to fall over. I made the first left and tried to focus on the second.

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Pic credit: Lindsey H.

I made the final turn and somehow there was a tiny kick left in my legs. I don’t even remember seeing people run near me but knew they were there. It’s amazing I didn’t run into anyone through the finish chute. I heard the announcer say  “and we’ve got Jenny Poore from Chicagoooooooo coming through!”.

As usual, cue the water works, folks! I crossed the finish line, stopped my watched, and looked down. It read 3:11:07. 

THREE ELEVEN OH SEVEN! Like, what?! That couldn’t be right! My pie-in-the-sky goal was 3:13. That’s the time that I thought I was capable of on Saturday.

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I put my hands on my knees, fought to stand with shaking legs, and volunteers asked me if I was okay. I said yes and started to cry. It was all worth it. I didn’t know how badly I wanted to PR until I did. And I didn’t know how fit I was until I raced. All that worrying, all that agonizing about the short training cycle and silly knee issues from a ridiculous fall in July. I made it. I fucking made it.

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Unreal.

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I couldn’t even manage a smile for the post-finish line photo. Water.works.

5 days later and I still don’t think it’s quite sunk in. All I know is that I’ve got the fire back. I want that sub 3:10 now — you know, because I’m addicted to running and racing and what the finish line feels like when you conquer that distance. I’ve run 3:17, 3:14, and now 3:11 in the marathon. I can’t help but think, “why not just keep the pattern going and run sub 3:08 next year?”.

My favorite two photos of the day are these two. I’ll never get sick of the “I can’t believe I just did that” feeling and happy hugs at the finish line.

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IT WAS THE BEST DAY.

-J

Monumental Marathon: Training Weeks 3 & 4 of 12

Playing major catch up over here, folks! It’s been hectic the past few weeks to say the least. The week of August 25th, I spent packing up my apartment and preparing for a move that weekend (no Labor Day relaxation for me). As if moving wasn’t stressful enough already, I had a trip to DC for work that’s been part of a big year-long project Monday- Thursday of the following week. I literally unpacked my apartment for 4 hours before heading to the airport and didn’t have a chance to even sleep in my new apartment until Thursday night. It’s like I don’t even live there….yet. 🙂

Pro tip: If you ever try to squeeze moving, work travel, and marathon training into a condensed time frame, you will need way more coffee than you ever thought you would need in a lifetime. Also, you will be hungry and tired for approximately 2 weeks. But hey, that’s just normal marathon training right?

So, here’s my attempt to recap two weeks of training!

Week 3 – August 25th Training Recap:

Week3

Monday: [Easy 6, 8:01 avg] Just an easy 6 around the neighborhood. Nice and cool-ish evening after the rain came through today.

Tuesday: [Speedwork 8.3 miles, 7:24 average] 1 mi, 4 x 400, 1 mi

This was a big reminder that I’m not in shape yet. Annnnd I’m in that phase where I’m trying to run paces I feel like I should be able to run, but I’m definitely not there yet. These paces are misleading due to stops to tell myself to “woah nellllyyyyyy”. (reverse pep talk? Is that what you would call self-talk to slow down?)

~3 mi up (bathroom stop)
1mi- 6:19 (wayyyy too fast)
4 x 400 with 2 min RI – 1:29, 1:33, 1:27, 1:30
1 mi- 6:25 (again too fast, but convinced myself to cruise a bit)
~1 mi down

Wednesday: [Easy 9 mi, 7:56 avg] 

Gorgeous, peaceful morning out there on the lakefront. I stopped a few times just to take pics (carried my phone so I could track bus home). It was especially calm and quiet because I ran without music. The legs are starting to notice higher mileage weeks.

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Thursday: [Steady state 9.44 mi, 7:27 avg]

Wahooo! Either my legs are coming back or the low temp & humidity really helped me tonight (hopefully both?!). Last week I struggled with a short tempo run and tonight, a steady state felt relatively easy. It actually turned into an impromptu progressive tempo because I was feeling so good – and I clearly celebrated in those last two miles. 🙂

2.4 up
Steady splits: 7:11, 7:05, 7:04, 7:00, 6:46, 6:46
1 down

Friday: “REST” 

Rest is relative. Packing and everything that goes along with it is exhausting. I’m so glad we started packing on Monday and gradually put everything into boxes.

Saturday: [15 mi long, 7:53 avg]

This just felt like a slog. My legs didn’t really bounce back after Thursday’s workout (and especially Wednesday’s hip strength session). I stopped a few times today just to stretch my hip flexors out – each time, it helped. It was unexpectedly hot today too. Probably should have hydrated more last night. Just a mentally and physically hard week I guess- but solid mileage! Gu at Mile 6 and 11 – plenty of water stops.

I was incredibly stressed and tired the rest of the day. The little odds and ends always take the most time when you’re packing. I thought we’d be done packing have time to relax by 7 or 8 pm but I was still packing at 10 pm. Still, packing beers helped. 🙂

Sunday: MOVING

The movers were on time and everything was loaded into the new place by 11:30 AM. It’s a long story, but we didn’t have a place to stay that night so Corey and Brad were very kind to host us. After a super hectic week, it was so nice to spend time with friends playing Would You Rather, drinking beer, and eating a delicious dinner.

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Unplanned dress coordination.

Week 4 – September 1 Training Recap:

Week4

Monday: 4 hours unpacking + flight to DC.

Monday-Thursday: work + flight home Thursday evening

Friday: work + near nervous breakdown + family arrives!

Saturday-Sunday: fun in Chicago + Chi Half Marathon as workout

(next Monday: flight out to DC for the week again)

This week was really tough. I had to shift around a few runs and do a double to get some easy miles in. I tried to get as much sleep as possible and still fit in plenty of training. I was super stressed out trying to manage some of the logistics after moving apartments – probably more difficult to do that long-distance than it would have been at home.

Monday: REST 

Tuesday: [Easy 6, 8:09 average]

I had about an hour between finishing the work day and meeting my sister for dinner. It’s HOT here this week – heat index was over 100 degrees today – so I ran on the treadmill for the first time in months. It’s a crappy hotel treadmill but it was likely better than running outside. I didn’t run from Saturday until today, so any kind of movement made me happy.

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Look what my sister showed up with! First time seeing it in person!

Wednesday: [4 easy miles in AM + 10 easy on Rock Creek Parkway in PM]

4 mi easy (around 9 min/mi pace?) Led some clients on a monument tour this morning. I’ve led a few runs with this client before and haven’t had that great of a turnout. I had 5 people come this morning! I’m sure it didn’t have anything to do with me and more to do with how close the hotel is to the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. We ran up the steps to Lincoln in a giant herd of folks at November Project. 🙂 (crossing my fingers and toes that I can do a workout tonight)

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10 mi on Rock Creek Parkway: 7:32 avg. All hope is not lost on this week’s training! As much as I really did not want to go running tonight, I’m so glad I did. I’ve never run the Rock Creek Parkway before, but it’s absolutely gorgeous. I sort of knew where I was going and planned an out-and-back route to be safe. I had about an hour of sunlight left so that helped me churn out these 10 (I got back to my hotel at 9 miles once the sun set and went to the hotel gym for the last one – anything to get those miles in!) I had a fartlek planned with 10k pace surges but that was thrown out the window when I realized how hilly the parkway is. Basically just ran by effort up and down the hills and tried to keep an even pace. Will definitely run through there again.

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Big hill = moment to stop and take in the view

I’ve never done doubles as part of my training. Running 14 mi in one day wasn’t the easiest way to get the miles in but I enjoyed getting out there for the sunrise AND sunset today.

rock creek

Thursday: [Easy 5.4, 7:46 avg]

I was most definitely tired today, but when I woke up and checked the weather for Chicago for this evening, I figured I should get out there for an easy run before I fly home. It wasn’t even 70 degrees but still fairly humid. I did loopty loops around the mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol. Lots of runners out there this morning! I really love running in DC. I’d always heard that Washington D.C. is a runner’s city but I didn’t really believe it until this week. It’s nice to have different options – the Rock Creek Parkway is a completely different run than the National Mall. As much as I love the Chicago Lakefront, it would be nice to have more options.

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Friday: REST 

I had planned to run today but I was a) super tired and b) super f*&^%ing stressed out from unpacking and setting up the apartment. I probably wasted a good 15-18 hours of my life talking to Comcast within 4 days and I nearly reached my breaking point on Friday morning. It’s not worth sharing here, but I’m sure 90% of Comcast customers have similar stories to mine. The good news? I finally talked to someone that could help me and our service was restored by 1 pm.

I had family visiting this weekend so I wanted to make sure the apartment was at least a bit like home before they arrived. We went to Piece for dinner and drank entirely too much beer at the Emporium Arcade Bar that night.

Saturday: OFF 

Shakeout was planned before Sunday’s half but spending time with the fam won out.

Sunday: [18 mi total- 13 mi steady state (close to GMP) at Chicago Half + 5 w/up & c/down] 

Manny signed up for the Chicago Half months ago and I realized this fit into my training plan really well. My schedule had 13-14 at GMP to GMP + 20 sec and I did a total of 5 mi as warmup and cool down. First 18 miler of this super short training cycle! I didn’t get my tempo workout in this week, so I guess this steady state replaced it! I felt pretty flat the entire 13 but that’s to be expected with no shakeout yesterday and poor sleep all week. My goal was to start out closer to 7:30 but I got caught up in the race atmosphere and ran 7:10-7:20 for the first few miles (definitely felt that later on!) I took my time at water stops (1 min) and made sure to pour water over my head in the later miles when it started to get hot. I’ve run this course once before as a training run and remember it being more fun- seemed boring to me this year. Still, it’s a well run race. Met up with Lynton K. and Pete afterward for a “delicious” Mich Ultra. After 4 shakeout miles, it actually did taste good but I’m convinced anything would at that point.

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A 12-week training cycle isn’t ideal but I think I’m making progress.

Phew! Tough cookies the past two weeks. I’m a bit disappointed that my training didn’t have as much quality as planned, but I was probably a bit naive to think that I would be able to fit it all in this week and still have plenty of energy for that small thing we call work. I really enjoyed running in DC and knew that I would be able to stick to more of a routine the following week. I have to keep reminding myself that 4 weeks ago, I wasn’t even sure if I could train for a fall marathon. I’m so happy that the bursitis subsided and I’m beginning to feel like myself again. I figure this cycle is just one big experiment anyway. 4 weeks ago, running an easy 13 miles felt like a 19 or 20 miler. I knocked out 18 with a solid workout on Sunday – progress! #realitycheck

Spoiler alert: my legs started to come back this week!

– J