Saturday, September 28, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training: Week #7

Fun Start
Training week #7 got off to a fun start as I got to run with Declan. We were both doing our final long run in the Hanson Brooks training plan, which is 16 miles.  We met at the northern terminus of the Lakefront Trail on Sunday morning for a run that was to take us all the way to and around Navy Pier and back. It was a beautiful day for a lakefront run: Sunny and upper 40s to start.

Heading south
At the turnaround at Navy Pier
We were supposed to run about 7:45/mile but ended up running a pace more like 7:35. Time flew by as we chatted about pressing world issues. We knocked the run down in just over 2 hours.  Since we are pretty evenly paced, I hope to run with Declan for most if not all of the Chicago Marathon.
The 16 Miler on the map
Total Miles: 16.00 @ 7:35 

Tuesday: I went for a run on the Chicago River North Branch Trail and came across the set of the NBC tv show Crisis which stars Gillian Anderson and Dermot Mulroney:

On the set of "Crisis" note the trailers on the bridge

Six mile morning run along the North Branch of the Chicago River
Near Lincoln Ave. and the Chicago River on the River Trail
Followed by 2.5 miles later around Welles Park.

Track Work Thursday (a.m.):
This was such an effortless track session it almost made me reconsider my marathon goal pace:
My splits:
1.5 mile warm-up
3 miles at 6:52, .15 mile recovery
2 miles at 6:35, .20 mile recovery
1 mile at 6:25
1.75 mile cool-down

My feet were just gliding over the track for most of the workout. I was barely exerting a strong effort. During one of my recoveries, a guy who had previously tried to keep pace with me during one of my mile intervals, asked me if I was doing 7:30/miles. I told him more like 6:30s and I think I amazed him. I am trying not to get too excited about this workout as a lot can happen on marathon day, so I think I will stick to my 3:10 marathon goal for now.

2.2 mile recovery at lunch.

I matched my highest training mileage of this cycle and my taper starts in just a few days. I could pull the plug on my training now and feel confident that I could at least go for a 3:15 marathon. If I can sharpen correctly in the next two weeks, I should be able to get that sub 3:10 marathon, which would be a course PR.

Week #7 Total: 60 miles
Average Pace: 7:32
Other Training: 4 strength workouts and 1 yoga session

Seven weeks down, two to go!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training: Week #6

Rainy Start
Running in hot, humid weather is never fun, but on Sunday I finally caught a break and ran in the rain and it was fantastic. It was a tremendous feeling to be able to run and get the cooling effect from the rain. It reminded me of the conditions I ran my marathon PR in. On my way back from Oak Street Beach, I stopped off at Fleet Feet in Old Town to pick up my race packet for my 5k on Thursday. Also, on my way back my Garmin battery gave out at mile 10 and I decided that I needed to order a new GPS when I got home. It will take me longer than one hour to run a marathon, which is how long a charge it holds.

At my turnaround near Oak Street Beach in the rain
Total Miles: 13.58 @ 7:45 + 5 mile recovery later that afternoon

Tuesday: My profile was in the Chicago Tribune's marathon section:

Track Work Thursday:
Oktoberfest 5k.  This was my track work for the week. It isn't the typical six miles, but the effort was greater, and I ran faster, so I'll take it.
Near the finish of the Oktoberfest 5k (src)
3.14 miles @ 6:20/mile.

Friday: New Garmin 310xt arrived. I like that it can upolad data to my computer wirelessly, has a longer battery life and seems to acquire satellites much faster. Oh yeah, and it's slightly smaller.

Left: My old Garmin 305 with a white eraser for a button
Right: My new Garmin 310xt
This was likely my highest training mileage of this cycle as my taper starts in just 1.5 weeks and the marathon is 1.5 weeks after that. I am feeling really good right now. Just have to keep this going for a little bit longer!

Week #6 Total: 60.3 miles
Average Pace: 7:43
Other Training: 4 strength workouts and 1 yoga session

Six weeks down, three to go!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

St. Michael Oktoberfest 5k: Race Recap

This was the first race that the entire Wurst Running Club Ever participated in. Even Declan who is crushing his marathon workouts and took a pass on the 5k, showed up with his entire family to cheer us on.

Pre Race:
I left my house at 5:30pm and after a quick 20 minute drive, found a spot about 1/2 mile north of the start line along Stockton.  After I picked up my t-shirt, we all stood around and chatted for about 20 minutes then I checked my backpack. Then I did about a two minute warm-up in the soupy humid air and started getting hot so I decided to cut my warm-up short. I jumped in near the front of the pack in the start corral. After the U.S. national anthem, and a german themed costume contest, the gun sounded.

Before I go over how I did, here's a photo dump of the evening:
Anne giving the thumbs up!
Some of the WRCE gang pre-race in our "dirndls" (picture taken by a giant Red Eye box)

Mo at the finish line doing her patented
 "Mo Bot" as her fans go crazy (sorry about the blur, the finish line was in the dark)

The Red Eye Box near the finish. He took the WRCE group picture above.
 Man, he must have been hot and sweaty!
Mo showing off her cool "Run for Beer" headband
Erin and Anne near the finish (again it was dark)
Declan with the Wurst Running Sign Ever. Way to spell. "WURS"?
Declan and the happiest kid on earth!
Chillng post race with free Oktoberfest beer and food at Rocco Ranalli.
That's Eric and Jennifer on the right.

The Race:
I wanted to use this race as a marathon pace predictor for the Chicago Marathon, which is in three weeks. However, there were some factors that would potentially slow me down. First of all, it was going to be hot and muggy as the forecast was for 88 degrees at 6pm. On top of that Eric informed me that the paths were full of rain water and mud. On top of that, I had not tapered at all for this race. This was my second run of the day and I have been doing double runs every single day this week (hey, I'm training for a marathon). So, obviously these things would likely prevent me for going super fast.

Mile 1: Everyone in the front pack shot off fast. I glanced at my watch and we were going at a 5:45/mile pace the first 300 yards. Erin's husband took my picture and Erica, who was running just behind me sidled up to me and asked me what I thought my race pace was, and I said I didn't know, since I was training for a marathon. I then told her I guessed about a 6:05 pace. She said that would be a PR pace for her so she wished me luck, and I sped forward. I set my sights on just trying not to overdo it in mile one. We came upon quite a few large puddles and I had to swerve around them and other runners who were running just to the side of the water. Hey, at least the wind was to our backs. 6:18/mile.

Mile 2: This is where I started to get over-heated and my shirt was getting soaked. We swerved around a couple more puddles before the turnaround and then headed back south. The wind was in our faces now, but provided little relief. Some runners ahead of me went OVER Fullerton instead of under it. There wasn't anyone at the split in the path to direct them. I think they were mad.  6:21/mile.

Mile 3: At this point I was just trying to hang on. The heat, my tired legs, and my soaked dirndl shirt were all dragging me down. Luckily Declan and his family were there to provide cheers of support. A couple of random girls told me they liked my "halter top" shirt. 6:26/mile.
Pic that Declan's wife got of me just before the finish (source)

Mile 3.1 I could see the finish line clock up ahead as it was nearing 20:00, so I used up what little fumes I had left and sprinted passed the finish line just so I could finish sub-20.  5:31/mile.

Official Time: 19:54
Official Pace: 6:25
Overall Place: 16/501
Age Group Place: n/a (race does not have age groups)

As far as a pace predictor, a 19:54 5k translates to a 3:10:45 marathon.

I think that a 3:10:45 is attainable for me. That is, if the weather conditions are cool on race day and my marathon training continues on the trajectory it is on. Coincidentally, I ran a 3:10:40 at last year's Chicago Marathon. So that would be wild if I ran the same exact time as last year! Of course, there are lots of variables to factor in, but I do actually feel that I am at least as good as shape as I was at this time last year. I will make a final pace decision in the next couple of weeks, but this gives me a good indication of what fitness level I have now.

Conclusion:  A fun race, even if the conditions weren't ideal. Nice after party with free beer and food. I am happy with the progress I'm making with my marathon training and this race validated that I am at a good spot right now.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pint Night Run: Lincoln Square

Tuesday night the Wurst Running Club Ever gang got together for another Fleet Feet Pint Night fun run. Eric over at ThisHobbitRuns provides a great summary, so check out that link for the details.

I will just add a few pictures to his story. I was "running" late as usual and had made it nine tenths of the way to the store, when I saw WRCE members running down Lincoln Ave. I tried to whip out my camera and snap some pics, but they were whizzing by so fast that it was hard to do:
Declan and Maggie running so fast it's all blurry
Anne and Eric having fun at the start of the run
I ran and chatted with Anne until the turnaround. I got this pic when the leaders were stopped and we ran up to them at a traffic light at Lawrence:
Mo, Declan, Eric and Mo's BF
Declan photobombing Mo photobombing Maggie!
Soon enough we got to the turnaround at the river:
The gang at the turnaround at the Chicago River Trail
After we got the photo, Declan and I ran the last 1.5 miles together and pushed the pace. On the last section of Lincoln Ave (the Brauhaus side of the street) Declan and I went into an all out sprint. We narrowly avoided crashing into surprised pedestrians right before we reached the Fleet Feet store. My GPS registered a 4:03/mile pace for those 200 yards or so. It was completely awesome, that end of a race feeling when you have some juice left in the tank. Good prep for the Oktoberfest 5k Thursday night! Then it was off to The Grafton for a pint and some dinner.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Profile in the Chicago Tribune's Marathon Section

Last month I was injured and was 50/50 on whether I would tackle the task of running the Chicago Marathon. One reason I was considering running it was the fact that I was going to be interviewed by the Chicago Tribune for their 2013 Chicago Marathon section. I was mulling the pros and cons of a marathon attempt despite my ankle injury, and one of the pros went something like this: "How could I possibly be profiled in a major newspaper for a marathon that I wouldn't even be running?". I know, fantastic logic, but there you have it!

A few days later, I was interviewed by a Trib reporter. After the interview was over, my head was swimming with memories of marathons past. I think it was at that moment that I decided to throw caution to the wind and start a nine week crash course training for the marathon. I'm still hanging in there with less that four weeks to go.

Yesterday, my profile was posted in the Trib on-line. You can read the whole thing here.

Screen shot of my Chicago Tribune Profile

One of the highlights was that I was able to get in a mention of our newly formed running club "Wurst Running Club Ever" and our Pint Night runs at Fleet Feet. We are becoming famous. My seven year old nephew even knows about our club now after reading the article.  He even got the play on the word "wurst" right away. I guess great minds think alike!

So, there you have it, my 15 minutes of running fame. Hopefully, the next time my name is in the Tribune is when it's in the list of all marathon finishers on Monday, October 14th! 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training: Week #5

Nice Start
Unlike week #4 of my Chicago Marathon training, week #5 started out relatively smoothly. Sunday was my first Hansons Brooks 16 miler. I was a little apprehensive about this run because I feared a repeat of my crummy run a week prior. I thought that this run was destined to be better because at the very least, I remembered to apply my Nip Guards before I headed outside! My goal was to head to Navy Pier and back and try and run the whole thing (i.e. no run/walk).

In my first mile, running down Berteau Ave. towards the lake, I stumbled upon this door:
1815 W. Berteau
On closer inspection, there is not only a distiller in the building, but also a brewery! 
A future running blogger destination?
Who knew? I will have to investigate Spiteful Brewery and LTBD tours.

The humidity was getting to me, but I was determined to not fade on this run. I eventually made it to Navy Pier where I took a short walk break to drink some water. I also saw remnants of the Chicago Half Marathon expo (held the day before) in the Navy Pier garbage cans:

Chicago Half Marathon poster on Navy Pier
I turned around and snapped this one of the low clouds over the city:
You can see how muggy it was!
After drinking some fluids, I headed north again. Near North Avenue beach, I saw Declan flying by me heading south. He was also doing his Hanson's 16 miler. So, for a little fartlek work, I turned around and headed back south and ran with him for a few hundred yards.

Trying to keep up with speedy Declan
We chatted briefly, said see you later, and I turned around to head north again. Unfortunately, soon thereafter my Nip Guards fell off, and sure enough the bloody nipples returned once again. I think the glue was bad on them. I am going to open a fresh box to use in week #6!

Sunday total (including one walk break): 16 miles @ 8:13/mile

Track Work
Once again, I went to the track for some Hansons Brooks mile repeats on Thursday. You can read about it here.

One thing I can add to what I wrote is that I really felt it the next day in shin pain and in fatigue. In fact, a few days later and I am still recovering from that workout.

A solid, week where I upped my mileage and upped my track work all at once. Note to self: This is a dangerous combo which can lead to injury. Next week, I will just focus on mileage (except for my 5k time trial Thursday). I am feeling the strain on my legs now, and I am starting get feel the weight of my constant training in the form of fatigue. At this juncture, I just need to relax and do some decent training. Not shoot for the Olympic time trials! Oh yeah, and I learned I need to use "fresh" Nip Guards with good glue!

Week #4 Total: 53 miles
Average Pace: 7:54
Other Training: 4 strength workouts and 1 yoga session

Five weeks down, four to go!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chicago Marathon Track Workout #3

When I went to the track last week, I ran too fast. So, my goal today was to run a bit slower. Last week, I only ran four of the prescribed six mile repeats on the Hanson Marathon Plan. My goal today was to run five.

About to start the heavy lifting
The Workout: After a 1.75 mile warm-up run, I arrived at the track at about 8am.

According to the Hanson plan, I can run any combination of miles from one to three per repeat. I thought I would get the heavy lifting out of the way and run a three mile repeat at the beginning. Then the plan was to do a two mile repeat. After completing the three miler, and a recovery walk, I started my two mile repeat. At the end of the first mile of the two miler, I was gassed. I decided it would do more damage to try and force the second mile as my form was getting shaky and legs were straining, so I cut my 2 mile repeat to one mile. Then I did a recovery walk to get my legs and lungs to recover.

I crossed over the bridge next to the track on Argyle and did my last mile on the North Branch River Trail. After I was done, I got this photo from a familiar spot. Anyone recognize it?
At least I'm smiling at the end of my repeats
It's the turnaround spot for the Fleet Feet Pint Night run:
Same location a few weeks ago...
Anyway, here are my splits:

1.75 mile warm-up
3 miles at 6:43, .25 mile recovery
1 mile at 6:58, .25 mile recovery
1 mile at 6:57
1.75 mile cool-down

Analysis: I started too fast, running the three mile repeat about 20 seconds too fast, and paid the price during my last two miles. These runs should be done either at a steady, even pace or with the last interval faster than the first. So, I really need to dial it in and focus on starting slower and finishing faster. If I do this, I will get more benefit from my track workouts, as I will be fresher near the end and have better form. As much as I want my repeat pace to be slower, I have a problem of reigning the speed in early. Maybe I need a coach to yell at me to slow down, especially early on? Anyone want to yell at me at the track?

Next Week: I am going to skip my track workout next Thursday morning and run a time trial at the Oktoberfest 5k in the evening so I can figure out my marathon pace using the McMillan calculator.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training: Week #4

Rough Start
Week #4 of my Chicago Marathon training started out roughly. Sunday was my first run in the teens: Unfortunately, that didn't mean the temperatures, but the mileage, which was 14. Why did this run go so wrong? First of all it was hot 'n humid out and I got overheated at around mile eight and had to do lots of walking. Second, I forgot my Nip Guards and had bloody nipples for most of the run (I'm sure passerbys were grossed out)! Then to top off this craptastic run my Garmin deleted any trace of my splits after I turned off the watch. So, I was unable to analyze my run fail. On the bright-side, who wants to look at the results of such a run anyway? Also, on the bright side, I'm pretty sure that with this run I got the worst training run out of the way until the marathon. They should all be better than this one from here on out (knock on wood).

At the turnaround, not feelin' it!
Track Work
I went to the track for some Hansons Brooks mile repeats on Thursday. They are supposed to total six miles run at 10 seconds faster than marathon pace.
In the middle of doing my mile repeats at the track

1.5 mile warmup
2 miles at 6:52, .5 mile recovery
1 mile at 6:44, .25 mile recovery
1 mile at 6:39
1.5 mile cooldown

Analysis: I ran my mile repeats way too fast and ran only four of the six miles. However, my legs are not ready for six yet and I need to work on pacing. Better to work on these things now, rather than in October.

A solid, unspectacular week. Trying to not run 60 miles/week is my biggest struggle, but the general health of my legs is the big benefit of the lower mileage. Oh yeah, and I learned I need to remember Nip Guards on long runs!

Week #4 Total: 43 miles
Average Pace: 8:23
Other Training: 3 strength workouts and 2 yoga sessions

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #3

During my last Chicago Marathon progress report for Week #2 I had a big reveal: My Chicago Marathon "A goal" was to BQ and run a sub-3:25. What I had actually done was kinda pick a number "out of the air" and thus put some pressure on myself to hit that number. However, even though I did this, sometimes I feel that picking an arbitrary goal number is not always a good thing.

Marathons are almost exclusively training dependent and weather dependent*. If I don't train correctly, or if the weather on race day is too hot, my final time will suffer. Right now, I am working with a compressed training schedule, so there is a real risk of doing "too much, too soon", or at the other end of the spectrum doing "too little, too late". Also, what will a 3:25 mean for my recovery post-marathon? Maybe a "smooth" 3:35 will be a lot easier on my body and allow me to recover a week or two sooner than a "forced" 3:25. The faster I can recover, the sooner I can build a decent base for a full 18 week cycle for a spring marathon.

Anyway, with all of that said, for the moment I feel fantastic! Now that I am nearing 40 mile weeks, I seem to have hit my running sweet spot. After my extensive downtime in "Injury Jail", my legs and lungs finally feel like they are "home". My right ankle still makes occasional clicks, and my right foot feels like it may have very minor PF, but I will take the trade-off for the increased lung capacity and faster legs. Oh yeah, and the daily shot of post-run endorphins isn't that bad either!

I may be destined to keep a base of 35 miles/week for the rest of my life, just to keep this feeling going!

Week #3 Total: 35 miles
Avg Pace: 8:15/mile
Other Training: Three gym workouts and one yoga session

Last year at the Chicago Half Marathon

* They are also dependent on running your ideal marathon pace, but if you know your fitness (which is a direct result of training), you can figure out your pace.