For those few who follow my blog, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted a training recap for the past two weeks. The reason for that is that I will not be running Chicago as previously planned. I had intended to have this post up sooner because I made the decision last Sunday. However, I wanted to wait until after I met with the PT that my coach recommended. (I would also recommend him but he’s already so popular that getting an appointment can be a challenge.)

This is my first real DNS. (There was a 5k many years ago that I bailed on because I wanted to sleep in. I don’t recognize that girl either. I also deferred on the Harbison 50k and didn’t run it that next year but I don’t really count that.) I am 100% at peace with that decision. Here’s what lead to that.

It all has to do with my right leg. That should be no surprise. I actually can’t remember the last time the leg felt completely normal. When I would feel weird twinges/other sensation, I backed off from my daily hamstring strengthening exercises something I started doing after meeting with a different PT before Twin Cities last year. I stretched. I foam rolled. I kept trucking right along with the training plan as prescribed.

I should have known something was off long before I did. Other people noticed before I did. At the beach someone asked me if I was limping. I didn’t think I was. I kept trucking. Meanwhile, the problem kept growing.

Then I got knocked for a loop by the stomach bug and a clutzy fall on an easy run. (My left foot missed the sidewalk which caused me to land hard on the right. I took Tuesday off that week but kept trucking albeit with diminishing BQ hopes. The rest of the runs never felt good. Saturday’s run was horrible. I knew then that I had done something to the hamstring with how tight and sore it was.

Before I get to the “diagnosis” I want to talk about the mental aspect. I felt really low last weekend. There’s no sugar coating it. Injury sucks, especially when you don’t know what’s wrong, as I didn’t for much longer than I wanted.

What surprised me was how disconnected I felt from the Chicago Marathon. It’s hard to describe but I don’t think I ever really got excited about running this marathon. It was just another step in the journey to Boston. I think I had reached the point where I was ready to be done with the hard workouts and take a break. I also got distracted from researching and prepping for teh race by other projects.

Thus the decision to cancel the trip came fairly easily. The pros were as follows. We had free hotel reservation cancellation. That’s $600 saved. We used points on the airline tickets so we were out only $6. Also, the tickets were nonrefundable but Southwest will let us use those funds within the next year on another flight so the points weren’t lost either. I can start rehab and recovery two weeks sooner and not have to climb out of the hole that “just jogging” the marathon would have dug. I’ll avoid the miserable experience that was Marine Corps two years ago. (I “just ran” that one.) I can run Chicago at a later date when I’m able to give it my all and enjoy the experience.

The only con that I can think of is the fact that I will lose the money that I spent on the entry. I entered based on time qualifications. Only those who gained entry via the lottery could defer.

So here’s the diagnosis: distal hamstring/tendon strain cause by incomplete hip extension motion and gluteal weakness. Basically, my hips and glutes are week and my hamstring had to pick up the slack. This makes so much more sense than the diagnosis of “weak hamstrings” that I got last year. The frustrating thing about this is the fact that I’ve known for a while that I need to work on my hip and core strength but did I? Nope. Lesson learned.

Here’s how I feel about the whole thing now. I’m actually excited. I’m excited about being able to get a fresh start. I’m excited about doing it the right way from the get go. For the first time in a while, I’m excited about training again and going for that BQ I know will be mine.


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Chicago Marathon Week 11 Training Recap

The friendly neighborhood stomach bug took advantage of my slightly decreased immune system in a body ready to taper and took over Tuesday and Wednesday. Thus, this week of training looked nothing like what was intended.

Monday easy run
My legs did not want to get up and run. I kept it nice and easy. I made it through but that’s about it. (It was shortly after this run that I started to feel sick.)

Tuesday tempo run sick

Wednesday recovery run sick

Thursday stationary bike + NTC Ab Burner
As much as I wished that I was back to 100% after the stomach bug, I was not. I took it easy on this ride and it shows with the distance (about a mile or so less than normal). I kept it short and skipped the ab work.

Friday short intervals
I’m not quite sure what to make of this run. I almost considered lowering the number of intervals but managed to lower the pace to a more manageable but still tough one (from the prescribed 6:32ish to about 7:00). I don’t know if I struggled because I had been sick or because I’ve lost some short speed or both. Either way, I managed to get it done.

Saturday long run
Can I go back to whenever I picked up the stupid stomach virus and tell myself to wash my hands? This run was ugly, a strugglefest. On top of fatigue from being sick (I think) I struggled mentally with running in the dark. I have a huge block with that. I knew while completing the first half of the run that I would have to modify it or I would not make it through. I thought seriously several times about quitting/cutting it short. Instead I came up with a modification that helped me get through. The distance between my parking spot to the first signal on my route is about 5 minutes and/or half a mile. I decided to break the second half into 7 out-and-backs on this section including the “moderately-hard” intervals. Every time I thought about cutting it short I reminded myself how much I’d hate that I did after the fact. I made it through and to work on time.

Sunday rest
I took full advantage of this. The muscles of my upper right leg have been rather tight (hamstrings and quads mainly) so I stretched out and foam rolled.

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Chicago Marathon Week 10 Training Recap

I am so ready for the taper. I love the miles but I need to work on my mental strength. Also, fall-like temperatures were much appreciated on the final run of the week. More Please

Monday recovery run
When you think to yourself “I’ll get one more run out of these shoes before retiring them” … don’t. My feet pretty much hated me through this whole run. I was also a bit sluggish thanks to Sunday’s long run (I don’t usually run the day after a long run but that’s what travel does) and the ridiculous humidity (I got out between rain storms). I was a little bummed during the run but afterwards knowing that it was mainly the fault of the shoes I thought I might be able to get Tuesday’s speedwork done as described.

Tuesday tempo/tempo intervals
This run went much better than I expected. With the humidity as “lovely” as it has been, I knew that I would need to modify this somehow. To start with, my feet thanked me for running in shoes with plenty of miles left. Then, instead of holding the full 40 minute tempo and trying to hit (and alternate) specific paces, I changed it to tempo intervals of about 10 minutes. Those intervals were hard but I managed to hit right in the middle of the two paces the plan originally called for, 7:55-8:05. The rain also held off until the last 7 minutes or so of the run when it just opened up. I definitely felt like I gave it my all.

Wednesday recovery run
I was pleasantly surprised with how good I felt through this run, the best out of the four runs I’ve had on the island. I might have run it a bit too fast but since it felt easy I went with it.

Thursday bike ride
I rode to Barnes and Nobles and back so this wasn’t a dedicated workout per say. I did enjoy getting several miles in though.

Friday long intervals
This run was crazy tough. I’ve said before that I love running on the island and I stand by that statement, with one qualification–in every season except for summer. The humidity is absolutely ridiculous. I knew that it might be tough to hit the 7:33 pace for the long intervals and I was right. The first of the four intervals had me struggling to catch my breath. That’s a new feeling for me. I knew I would have to modify these intervals. I decided to just run them as fast as I could whatever that meant for my pace. Turns out, not too bad actually.
Averages for the splits:
1st interval – 7:30 (and feeling like death after)
2nd interval – 7:42 (still feeling a bit depressed about my chances of being able to complete the run)
3rd interval – 7:35 (I guess being on the “homestretch” gave me some unexpected motivation
4th interval – 7:50 (that motivation didn’t last long)
I had my Garmin screen on the lap page and thus when I finished and saw that I had run almost 9 miles, I couldn’t believe it. I guess that’s what focusing on the pain will get you. :)
Given the ridiculous humidity and the way my legs felt going into this run, I am more than pleased with how close to the prescribed pace that I got.

Saturday rest – travel

Sunday long run
The best way to describe this run would be to say that I never really got into this run mentally. It was a mental battle per say, just incredibly difficult to engage. I also took more breaks than I would have liked. Some of them were necessary. (Maybe the colder weather makes me need to go more?) Two were frustrating-out of order toilets at Williams Hardware and a never ending stream of cars at one of the crossings. One was just mental, to get myself psyched up for the faster portion and the last was to fill my water bottle because I started to feel thirsty and that’s a sign that I didn’t do so well on my hydration through the run. (I need to brainstorm what I’m going to do to supplement my OrangeMud for the marathon because one bottle isn’t enough and I’m terrible at drinking from those little cups.) I got it done though.

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Chicago Marathon Week 9 Training Recap

Getting into the meat of marathon training now and looking forward to all the miles I get to run on the island this week. (I just wish that I could run next week’s long run down here too.)

Monday easy run
This run went better than I expected. I thought my legs would be pretty sluggish given Saturday’s 20 miler. However, I felt strong and more than capable of completing the run. My calves were a bit tight before starting the run so I’ll be stretching for sure.

Tuesday tempo intervals
This run was tough. All the soreness I expected Monday from Saturday’s run showed up for this one. It was a slog but I got it done.

Wednesday recovery run
This was definitely a bit of a slog. My legs didn’t have much in them so I didn’t push hard, as to be expected from a recovery run. The run wasn’t too bad otherwise.

Thursday stationary bike + NTC Ab Burner
This ride went by quickly. Nothing extraordinary. I had to cut out the ab work though since I had to be in to work 30 minutes earlier than normal for a training session.

Friday long intervals
Mentally the long intervals were really tough. Physically, they were tough but doable. I felt strong through the whole run.

Saturday rest/travel
I ended up walking close to 4 miles in the afternoon to and from our beach house…twice. That probably wasn’t the smartest idea but it’s not every day you get to be at the beach.

Sunday long run with moderately hard intervals near end
When I saw that the temperature was 75 and the humidity was 94% I knew that right away I needed to temper my pace expectations. I also remembered that I slacked a bit on hydration Saturday what with travel to the beach in the morning and beach bumming it the entire afternoon). This was a tough run but because I started with proper expectations I was able to finish without feeling like death warmed over. There were a few points during the run that were low points where I wondered if I was going to be able to finish but those were usually right before I took in another gel. (I probably should have eaten a little before the run.) For the most part, my stride felt strong and my fitness level about where it should be at this point in training. While I would have liked to get another mile in, I’ll take this run as a win since I was able to properly adjust my paces for the weather.

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Chicago Marathon Week 8 Training Recap

What would a marathon training cycle be without at least one neurotic freak out about possible injury? Marathon training definitely brings out the crazy in runners. At the beginning of the week I was concerned about a sensation I may or may not have felt in my right knee so of course I obsessed about it far longer than I should have. Thankfully, it was nothing and training is rolling right along.

Monday easy run
My legs definitely felt Saturday’s long run. I didn’t expect much out of them but ended up with a fairly decent run. My right knee felt a bit off but that might be because my calves are still fairly tight. Stretching and foam rolling for sure.

Tuesday tempo run
One thing that being neurotic about every odd sensation will do is make you focus on maintaining proper form. I think that knee thing from Monday was definitely because sore muscles from Saturday. My stride felt good throughout.

Wednesday recovery run
I focused on form again and felt good for the most part. I think I ran a bit too fast for some of it but oh well.

Thursday stationary bike + NTC Ab Burner
stationary bike: I ended up riding a little slower than I thought I was going. That being said, it was still a good ride, nice and easy.
NTC Ab Burner: I didn’t push as hard this time. Instead I focused on form and getting it done. Strength training is definitely not my favorite.

Friday interval run
This run went exactly to plan. The intervals were tough but that’s to be expected when they’re run at 90% effort. I enjoyed the run.

Saturday long run
This was one of my best long runs ever. (With the exception of one 16 miler last cycle, this run was also my fastest average pace for a marathon training cycle long run.) I had five 10 minute intervals in the middle of the run at a moderately hard pace. This made the run interesting. I think I may have run the first couple of these a bit faster than I should because I definitely felt it by the time I got to the end of the fourth and all of the fifth. That last one was really tough. I’m also very impressed with my times considering how ridiculously humid it got after the first hour mark. I refilled my 20 oz water bottle twice and drank it all. (60 oz.) The last 30 minutes of the run were supposed to be easy. I gave myself full permission to slow down as much as I needed too. I kept looking at my Garmin though and being absolutely baffled at the 8:50-9:15 pace. I felt like I was running closer to a 10 minute pace. I’ll take that. The last few minutes seemed to last forever and I was so happy to be done. This was a good run.

Sunday rest
I had no problem doing this.

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Chicago Marathon Week 7 Training Recap

This week was a cut back week of sort. The mileage still increased but I did not do any dedicated speedwork sessions. I like that kind of cut back week.

Monday easy run with short hill intervals
It took me a while to get moving this morning even before the run. Besides that I felt pretty good on this run. My pace for the first half was slower than I wanted but I tried to pick it up. For whatever reason it is ridiculously difficult for me to accurately judge my pace when it’s dark. I need to work on that. For the last two miles, while the sun was finally coming up. My stride felt awesome and a slightly faster pace felt easier than my pace of the first four miles. Go figure.

Tuesday recovery/easy run
Since I opened at work Tuesday instead of Wednesday I had to switch those runs. I loved this run. I felt strong, like I could keep going for a while.

Wednesday easy run (longer)
My pace on this run was at the bottom of the range that I hope for with easy runs. However, given the horrible humidity I’ll take it. I’m still working on becoming a better judge of my pace in the dark. That will also help.

Thursday stationary bike and NTC Ab Burner
stationary bike: This ride was good although tempered by hunger and thirst. I don’t normally bring water with me on cross training days but I might start doing that now.
NTC Ab Burner: I was hungry and thirsty enough that I knew I couldn’t give strength training any decent effort so I opted to skip it this time and get home to get some breakfast.

Friday easy run
I really enjoyed this run. Waking up and getting out the door was hard but once I got started on the run I felt great. (Not counting the time I accidentally swiped a spider web taking the whole thing with me for a few steps.) My pace was exactly where I wanted it to be and most importantly that pace felt easy.

Saturday long run
This went way better than I expected. I guess I set the bar fairly low when it comes to long runs. I felt strong throughout. The pace felt unexpectedly easy. I did make a rookie mistake when it came to my Garmin. I meant to charge it Friday night and totally forgot. So, around mile nine I got a low battery alert. I then spent the next mile scrambling to figure out what I was going to do. I ended up saving the run that I had so far on the Garmin and then switching to run keeper so that I could still have the watch face of the Garmin to figure out when I needed to turn around as well as when I needed to start and stop the five-minute moderately hard intervals at the end. That worked out fairly well. Those intervals though, were tough but I love them. I had no idea that I was going to get close to 18 miles!

Sunday rest
My calves definitely felt the longer distance so I rocked the calf sleeves and enjoyed the off day.

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Chicago Marathon Week 6 Training Recap

Back over 40 miles again! I loved all my training runs and am looking forward to finally getting to run on the Swamp Rabbit Trail next Saturday. (Oh, and not having to get up before 5 on a Saturday morning.)

Monday easy run
This run went surprisingly well. At first I felt a bit sluggish but I warmed up quickly and felt strong throughout.

Tuesday tempo run
It took a while to get into this run mentally. After that the run went by fairly quickly. My stride felt good but I was counting down the minutes until the tempo portion was finished.

Wednesday recovery run
It took me a very long time to warm up on this run. My legs felt the work of the past few days but not more so than usual. I was more tired than normal this morning so that definitely played a factor. What those two things combined for was perfect negative splits.

Thursday stationary bike + NTC Ab Burner
stationary bike: This was another good ride that went by quickly.
NTC Ab Burner: Even though I really dislike strength training, it’s pretty cool to see improvements. I can definitely tell that I’m stronger than when I started doing this routine a few weeks ago. I pushed as hard as I could and could definitely feel it on the last round. (There are three rounds in the NTC workout we do.)

Friday interval run
When I started this run I seriously wondered if I would be able to complete the intervals as prescribed. Thankfully the warm up served its purpose. I almost lost track of how many intervals I had completed but other than that I felt good throughout. These intervals were tough but not too much so.

Saturday long run
I was not expecting to have this good of a long run. I felt good throughout the entire run. My splits with a couple exceptions were almost exactly the same the entire time. Mile seven was a little slower than I wanted but that’s because it was like a restart. I ran 30 minutes out and back, dropped off my headlamp, and met mom to run with her for the rest of the time. At the end of the run I picked up my pace just a little because I wanted to get to 14.5. Mom said that my stride looked exactly the same, but it didn’t look like I was putting any effort into picking up my speed. That’s encouraging.

Sunday rest
This was much enjoyed.

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