Chicago marathon training: week 16

img_0535Greetings from the end of an incredible first weekend of fall–my absolute favorite season! I know it’s cliche, but I’ve always loved the cooler weather, yummy treats, and gorgeous New England foliage. I’m a shoulder season gal through and through, but I’ll take fall over spring any day. The weather this weekend could not have been more perfect for a couple of outdoor adventures: our first time doing “real” rock climbing (which we LOVED–longer post later!) and my annual apple picking outing with my high school gals. More over on the insta, as always.

Oh yeah, and the official Chicago Marathon countdown = 12 days!img_0508

This was actually one of my best weeks of training so far, despite the accumulated exhaustion that I am definitely feeling. I hit a total of 39.9 miles (HA) and ran my fastest long run to date, aside from races. Track on Tuesday was a challenging set of 12-16 x 400 at 5k pace with a couple of mile paces thrown in, and I knew I was pooped after 12. So I pushed myself to do one more and then headed home. I definitely am trying to be extra tuned into what my body is telling me to ward off any potential last minute tweaks or injuries. I also squeezed in a 90 minute hot yoga class on Friday, which my hips desperately needed.

I hit the road solo on Sunday morning after an much-needed 9 hours of sleep and had planned to run 2 warm up miles, 10 at my marathon goal pace or MGP of 8:00/mile, and then 2 slower miles to cool down. I actually ended up feeling really strong and running most of my miles in the 7:40-7:50 range–despite the fact that heartbreak hill falls smack in the middle of my running route! More than anything, I think at this point this run just showed my that I AM fit enough and trained enough to hit my 3:30 goal. Mental training is just as important as physical training, if not more so.

img_0504I also just want to throw it out there for anyone who is curious–I am following a specific training plan very closely, so even though this may seem like a lot of miles this close to the race, it’s all done completely intentionally. I think a lot of us fall into the trap of picking and choosing our favorite pieces from different training plans and piecing them together (more on this topic in this week’s Run to the Top podcast, which I adore). This cycle, I have been really strict about following my coach’s plan to the letter, with the only deviations being dependent on how my body is feeling. If you have a good coach who knows their stuff, listen to them!

Full recap of the week below🙂

Week 16:

  • Monday: 4.4 miles @ 8:11 average pace
  • Tuesday: Track! 400 x 13, 6 total miles (speedwork at 6:33)
  • Wednesday: 5 easy miles
  • Thursday: 4 sweaty evening miles at 8:04 average
  • Friday: 6 easy miles plus 6 x strides, 90 minute yoga
  • Saturday: Rock climbing/OFF
  • Sunday: 14 miles at MGP (plus a little bit), 7:51 average

Linking up with The Weekly Wrap, hosted by HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin!

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 15

fullsizerender-6Ladies and gents, THE LAST LONG RUN IS DONE. Which mean–IT’S TAPER TIME!!! Ok, sorry for shouting, but I am SO excited to be heading into the last stage of training with just 19 days to go until the race. I’m definitely feeling a zillion times more prepared than I did last year at this point, so it’s extra gratifying to be dialing things down a little bit.

To back up, I started this week out pretty exhausted. I ran both the day before and the day after my half marathon, powered through a 13 hour workday on Monday, did a hard track workout Tuesday, and then absolutely crashed Tuesday afternoon. img_0314I think it was a combination of physical and mental exhaustion, but either way, I ended up leaving work early and taking a nap before reviving myself for class.

I have a fair amount on my plate right now (school, work, running, and wedding planning, to name a few) and this was a good reminder to give my body what it’s asking for. Which meant taking Wednesday off from running and hitting up a solid 90 minute yoga class.

Thursday morning I got my legs moving again to bump my mileage back up. I got a new GPS watch for my birthday and was definitely on the struggle bus trying to get it to work during this run–I apparently had it set to kilometers instead of miles. img_0339Oops! Now all is well and I can’t wait to play around with all of the features, the most important of which is that I don’t have to wait around for my old school Garmin Forerunner 10 to spend 5 minutes searching for satellites every morning. Huzzah.

Friday I got up far earlier than I am comfortable with (UGH) to do my marathon practice long run. Basically, I tried to mirror marathon day as much as possible in terms of what I ate, wore, carried, etc. I had my gluten-free plain bagel with peanut butter and banana and then packed up my gels and hand-held water bottle before meeting the girls for our 20 miler.

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Warning: do not try to pose cute “no miler” pics at mile 18😉

We had a fun, chatty run with some solid splits, and even managed a little surge at the end (last 4 miles were at 7:46, 7:50, 7:38, and 7:40). I definitely was hurting by the end of this run which is a little bit scary, since on race day I’ll still have 6.2 miles to go, but I know the atmosphere and the fact that I’ll be fully rested/tapered will make a huge difference. My tummy felt settled, I managed to stay pretty hydrated, and I didn’t have any major chafing/blister issues, so all systems are ready to roll!

After the run I quickly jetted to the office (zomg guys working after a long run is rough) and then to a fun family dinner before J and I hit the road on Saturday to head up to Burlington, VT for a music festival which turned out to be SUCH a blast! We saw Guster (my all-time favorite band), Grace Potter, Old Crow Medicine Show, and so many other awesome performances. Plus, I got to run and do yoga on Lake Champlain and also eat all of the amazing things. Burlington is a super fun town for a weekend away, although prepare yourself for 3.5 hours in the car each way. Compression socks FTW. Also, I highly recommend this podcast series on the Manson murders if you have a long car ride coming up–it’s fascinating.

Week 15:

  • Tuesday: Track! Lotsa 200’s at mile pace–speedwork at 5:45 average
  • Wednesday: 90 minute yoga and a much needed extra rest day
  • Thursday: 5.5 miles
  • Friday: Final 20 miler, 8:00 average pace
  • Saturday: OFF
  • Sunday: 3.3 mile shakeout, 60 minute yoga
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    One more gratuitous sunrise photo!

    Linking up with The Weekly Wrap, hosted by HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin!

Chicago Marathon Training: Weeks 13 and 14

img_0312Whelp, another couple of weeks and another missed weekly recap–oh well! We had a couple of jam-packed weeks which included 2 weekends in Maine, my 29th birthday, the first week of fall classes, an absolutely nutty time at work, a half marathon, and a friend’s wedding. PHEW.

Rewinding to last week, I knew we were heading up to Maine for the first half of the holiday weekend so I met the girls Thursday morning for our 3 hour long run. The idea of this run was to run around a minute slower per mile than MGP (marathon goal pace) but to run for 3 full hours. We ended up covering about 21 miles at an 8:45 average pace. It was actually pretty challenging to purposely take the run slow, but I felt strong by the finish so mission accomplished. Grateful as always to have found such great long run buddies! I ran some fun workout-type runs in Maine and rounded out the week at 43.6 miles total, which is my highest weekly mileage to date.

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On Thursdays, we wear purple.

Week 14 was a cutback week before I hit my longest run this coming weekend, so I registered for a small half marathon in Maine with my OG running buddy, Bry–we ran a half for her birthday so we decided to do one for mine too. Full recap to come soon, but despite some crazy weather we had a great time. Spoiler alert below in the full recap–not bad for a hilly course and less than ideal conditions.

img_0282Other updates: I managed to squeeze a massage into my schedule and it was SO necessary! It really relieved some of the hip tightness I had felt creeping back in, and it felt amazing for my shoulders which had gotten crazy tight with the work and school stress. I also finally invested in a new pair of shoes. I decided to stick with my Asics and the news ones are feelin’ excellent so far.

I’m definitely getting to the point in training that I’m just a little bit tired of constantly thinking about my running schedule, especially now that I’m back in classes and things have picked up at work, but I feel strong and ready heading into the last month of training. Time to start crossing all of my fingers and toes for good conditions!! Full recap below.

Week 13:

  • Wednesday: 4 easy miles
  • Thursday: 21 mile slow n’ steady long run at 8:46 average pace
  • Friday: OFF
  • Saturday: 3 big hills, 2 tempos (7:37 and 7:08), strides
  • Sunday: 3 miles

Week 14:

  • Monday: 4 negative split miles at an 8:08 average, 90 minute yoga
  • Tuesday: Rainy track day! 6.5 miles total, workout details here
  • Wednesday: 4 easy miles
  • Thursday: OFF
  • Friday: 5.5 miles with some tempos mixed in, 8:04 average
  • Saturday: 3 mile shakeout
  • Sunday: 13.1 mile RACE! 1:41:47 finish, 7:45 average
  • Monday: 4 recovery miles at a 9:05 average

Chicago marathon training: week 12

IMG_0054Hello hello. Slightly belated greetings from the end of another 40 mile week–woot woot!! Despite a shorter long run this week, I was able to top out 40.5 miles total. I actually felt really strong on my 14 mile long run despite the longer mid-week miles, so I really hope to keep this up until I start cutting back for the taper in just a few short weeks. Also, hurrah for cooler morning weather! We definitely still had a few steamy mornings this past week, but things are looking grand on the running weather front🙂

After an absolutely nutty month of travel and life events and such, this weekend I took a much-needed breather and got in some chill couch time along with a solid solo long run. I love running with friends but sometimes I really appreciate going solo too, especially for the slightly shorter runs. It’s still crazy to me that I think of 14 miles as a shorter run! We also had J’s nephew in town for his 11th birthday and his first Red Sox game, which was really fun. Mama runners, I give you all of the props–having a kiddo around takes some serious energy.IMG_0038

By way of a shoe update, I’m pretty sure I’m sticking with the Asics GT 2000 4‘s for Chicago. Now that I’ve discovered Trail Toes for my blisters (thank you times 100000 to HoHo Runs for this incredible recommendation), I realized I otherwise really love these shoes. I have extremely narrow feet so my shoe choice is somewhat limited to the few companies that make running sneaks in widths, and this version of the Asics shoe is actually cut even more narrow than usual.

I got a second chance to try out a treadmill class at HHRC Cambridge on Thursday–I’ll always prefer an outdoor workout, but it’s a great way to get hills/speed done in a cooler environment with fun coaching and music. This is actually my second stab at indoor treadmill classes, so keep an eye out for a post about them in the near future. Last but not least, I switched up to a faster pace group for this morning’s track workout and man, it was killer! It was interesting to really push myself to my max speed and effort–I definitely ended our 400s completely out of breath. It’s cool to see what I’m capable of, although I may take it a little bit easier heading into pre-marathon month. Full recap below:

IMG_0012Week 12:

  • Tuesday: 6 mile tempo run, 7:54 average
  • Wednesday: 4 easy miles
  • Thursday: 6.4 miles total with treadmill hills at HHRC
  • Friday: 3.9 recovery miles at 8:56
  • Saturday: 14 miles at 8:22
  • Sunday: 90 minute yoga and an easy hike with J
  • Monday: 4 easy miles, 6 strides
  • Tuesday: Track! 5.2 total miles, speedwork at 5:40 (OOF)

Thursday I’m back at it with the gals for a slow and steady 3 hour timed run, and then I’m officially registered for the Lake Auburn Half Marathon on 9/11. Happy almost Labor Day, friends–enjoy those last few moments of summer!!

Linking up with The Weekly Wrap, hosted by HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin and with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the run!

My favorite running clothes

Hi all! My dear friend from college asked me to put together a post about my favorite running clothes, so of course I had to do it. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m a major creature of habit when it comes to my exercise clothes. When I find something I love, I’ll wear it forever (case in point: the purple tank top/white visor combo below). Here’s a candid, unsponsored overview of a few of my favorites… Deby, this one’s for you!

IMG_0013Tops: As a curvy gal, I love the fit of Athleta’s tank tops. They tend to be the only ones that are fitted but not skintight, and they come in a great variety of cuts and colors. Also, for my short ladies, it can be super tricky to find tanks in an appropriate length!! Hip length usually = a cute mini-dress. Athleta to the rescue! Just be sure to size down–I wear an XXS here vs. a 4/6 at Lulu. Unfortunately my number one favorite tank I can’t seem to find this season, but the Surge Tank seems to be the closest thing–super lightweight for hot days. I also love the Chi Tank–a slightly heavier fabric but it works for running or yoga. I swear this only fits me correctly in the varied stripe version. It also happens to be on sale–go for it!

IMG_9761Shorts: I’ve written in the past about my love for slightly longer shorts, but this summer as my body composition has shifted a bit (thank you speedwork) I’ve started opting for shorter and more fitted pairs. I don’t totally love supporting Lululemon, but for long runs you can’t beat their Speed Track shorts. They have the perfect mid-length inseam and enough pockets to store your phone, keys, headphones, credit cards, and Gu without batting an eyelash.

Bras: Every time a bustier runner mentions bra issues, all I say over and over again is Moving Comfort, Moving Comfort, Moving Comfort. These bras are INCREDIBLE–I never ever wear anything but the Rebound Racer! I love that this lightweight bra has relatively narrowly spaced straps that don’t cut up under my arms (short people problems), no weird foam cup padding, and super adjustable straps. This baby has nearly eliminated any chafing issues for me!

IMG_9747Socks: Apologies for this whole post turning into a rant about short people probz, but being a smaller sized human comes with having very very tiny feet. This means I need socks that come in a full range of sizes (one size fits all is a hoax!) I also like a good amount of padding in my socks since I’m pretty blister-prone, and a nice cotton-y feel. Enter Bombas! These babies do the trick, and they have tons of fun colors to boot. If you’re looking for a good compression sock, I love Pro Compression’s Marathon socks, although they’re a little thin so I mostly use them for recovery. I’ve been lusting after the Marathon Elites which have more padding to actually run in, but at $55 I’m hesitant. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve tried ’em!

Headwear: It may not be the coolest-looking thing, but if you’re training in the summer, do yourself a favor and get a visor!! I have this super basic one from Target and it is a life saver.

What are your favorite running clothing items?

Linking up with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the run!

Chicago marathon training: week 11

sunriseGuess who just ran her first 40+ mile week?? This gal!! I’m super pleased with how things went this week overall–I definitely met both my goals to run with friends and to increase my overall weekly mileage.

This week kicked off as toasty as ever, and I’m glad I front-loaded the miles because my run buddies requested a Friday morning long run for our 18 miler. I was pretty hesitant about pushing that hard on a workday, but it was a quiet week and I decided to bite the bullet–always better to run with company for the longer hauls. We met up for a gorgeous sunrise and then hit it for a steady and strong run. These girls are so super encouraging, even when one of us is having a tough time–I’m so grateful to have them! The bonus is that we’re all running Chicago, so we have a lot of similar things to keep in mind. I love love love this post about how to wake up for morning workouts–if you don’t follow Ali’s blog, you totally should. She’s awesome. #fangirlstatus

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Long run ladies!

I am also sooo sad that the Olympics are over! I get super deep into track (and gymnastics) nerd-dom for these couple of weeks and am always sorry to see them go. Tuesday we did a workout inspired by the indomitable Allyson Felix and then of course had to do a quick dive to the finish at the end of track🙂 Check us out below–gold medals for all of those winners for sure.

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Beach sunsets forever, pls.

The rest of the week flew by with lots and lots of catch-up sessions both with local friends and folks from out of town. It was so wonderful to see a couple of ladies who just make my soul sing. Special big ups to my friend M who gave me this incredibly helpful book. SO many good tips, if you’re also in the midst of wedding planning mania. J and I wrapped things up this weekend with some solid beach time at our friends’ house. I’m not generally a beach person but it felt great to chill out and spend some time with his old grad school crew.

Other things this week–Heartbreak Hill Running Company opened a new store in Cambridge, and as a member of the Heartbreakers team I got to try out a sneak preview class at their treadmill studio! It was a super fun change and a great way to sneak in extra hills and speedwork–definitely give it a whirl once they’re fully open to the public.

SpeedRun_8_16_16__MG_6850 (1)Week 11:

  • Monday: 7 miles at 8:30 pace
  • Tuesday: Track, obvs. 5.3 miles total with the speedwork @ 6:02 average (details here)
  • Wednesday: 4 hot’n’sweaty recovery miles at an 8:57 average
  • Thursday: 4 easy miles at 8:44 pace
  • Friday: Longest long run yet! 18 miles at an 8:19 average
  • Saturday: 90 minute yoga
  • Sunday: 4 miles with 6 long strides for an 8:09 average
  • Monday: 6 miles total including a treadmill class!

My big goal for the coming week is going to be to finally buy a new pair of kicks–my current pair have definitely hit their mileage limit and it’s time to break in a pair for the big race. Still deciding if I want to get refitted or stick with my Asics–updates to come soon!

Linking up with The Weekly Wrap, hosted by HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin!

Chicago marathon training: week 10

IMG_9946OH HAI! My recap is super duper not on schedule this week, but my head is still a little bit in the clouds with all of the wedding-y stuff so I’m going to keep blaming it on that for the time being. Either way, I’ve mostly been keeping up with my mileage despite the fact that Boston has been a freaking sauna for the last few weeks, so that’s a plus. I may shake up my schedule to post these weekly recaps on Sundays from here on out, mostly because it’s fun to revisit my long runs on my rest day. Also, Strava counts my weekly mileage totals from Monday-Sunday so that’s helpful.

These last couple of long runs were tough for different reasons. My 16.5 was supposed to be 17-18, but after a couple of nights of just not getting nearly enough sleep (dang engagement excitement and Opening Ceremonies shenanigans) I hit a major wall and didn’t have it in me to keep going. Thankfully I planned to do this run with some girls from track who are also running Chicago, so I definitely was able to feed off of their energy to keep the paces up.

IMG_9947This past weekend J and I were up at the cabin, where it was super duper humid but thankfully in the low 60s for my run on Saturday. As always, I struggled a bit with the lack of basically any flat terrain given the fact that I knew I had a fast finish long run on tap (aka each of the last 7 miles was supposed to be faster than the previous one). My splits weren’t quite as clean as I wanted them to be, mainly because I accidentally negatively split the entire run instead of just the end, but I’ll take it. J and I basically spent the rest of the weekend talking about wedding things and eating (#sorrynotsorry for all of the food pics, instafriends) and drinking mimosas. Not bad for a rainy-ish weekend!

Week 10:

  • Friday: 3 easy miles with J (SO EXCITED BUT ALSO DIDN’T SLEEP OOPS)
  • Saturday: 16.5 miles with the speedy track ladies at an 8:23 average
  • Sunday: 11 mile hike
  • Monday: 60 minute yoga/OFFIMG_9923
  • Tuesday: Track attack! 400s, 300s, 200s, and 100s–speedwork at 6:12 (details here)
  • Wednesday: 5.5 miles at 8:36 pace
  • Thursday: 6.5 miles with 10 minutes of 30 sec on/off intervals
  • Friday: 60 minute yoga and 3 easy miles with J
  • Saturday: 13 FAST finish miles for an 8:13 average
  • Sunday: OFF

Gripe of the week: since training started, I’ve had some gnarly recurring blisters on my right toes. Pretty much all toes have been afflicted at this point, but there’s one sucker on my big toe that’s so icky J and I have been referring to it as my “toe tumor” (he is SO thrilled to be marrying a lady with such attractive feet). I’m not sure if this is a shoe thing or a sock thing–I’m sure it indicates something funky with my gait but I figure it’s worth looking into gear/getting refitted for new kicks and seeing if that helps. It’s probably getting to time to replace my sneaks anyway (and get my marathon pair!) so I’ll keep y’all posted on that. Any blister avoidance tips are more than welcome.

Less than two months til MARATHON DAY!!!

Leah

Linking up with The Weekly Wrap, hosted by HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin!