Training is OVER! There were times when this training cycle felt like it was flying by, and times when it felt like it was dragging along. But that’s a thought for my race week post coming up later this week. For now, back to my peak week (week sixteen).
I actually peaked pretty low (for me) in mileage this time around but considering my shins remained happy, I think that was a good thing given these past few weeks. I had gone to the chiropractor the previous Monday and he worked his magic. Whatever he did that day, combined with my week off and consistent icing, really seemed to finally knock out my issues. I started off the week feeling good. By Wednesday, my shins felt a little cranky. Some ice and good stretching seemed to do the trick and I felt confident going into my final 20-miler.
I decided not to do 22-miles this training cycle. Mostly, I didn’t really feel like I needed it. I think 22 can be great for mental preparation, but I just didn’t feel I needed it this time around and I knew that the extra two miles wouldn’t do anything for my fitness. My training team had 16-miles that morning, so my teammate Sean and I met up early to get in four miles together before the group run. I told him I planned to run the first nine miles easy, then run 10 at goal marathon pace, and finish up with one easy mile. He agreed to stick with me as long as possible.
The weather was warmer than our previous 20-miler, in the low-60s to start and full sun by mid-run. The route was actually much more flat than our previous 20-miler. We were short on aid station volunteers, so the 16-mile course was a two-loop route. I don’t mind doing this from time to time and actually think it can make these longer runs feel shorter.
This run flew by! Before I knew it, we were chatting about what pace we were going to speed up to on the next mile and then I looked down at my watch and realized that we had sped up just talking about it. Because of this, I ended up up doing 11 at GMP, but that was fine. The rest of the run went really well and it was in the low 70s when I finished, but I felt good. There were definitely times during the run that I thought, “How the heck am I going to maintain this pace for 26.2 miles?” as well as the normal thought of, “Of course I can do this for 10, it’s slower than half marathon pace!” But I was able to push through those thoughts on this run and motivate myself to physically push through until the end which was huge for me that day.
I did an ice bath when I got home and took a little nap. I was scheduled to do a three-mile recovery run the next morning, but my body was just super tired. Instead, I opted to take the dogs for two-mile walk to loosen things up.
I actually ended up cancelling my Monday chiropractor appointment because my legs felt fine (for having run 20 miles) on Monday morning. It was such a weight off of my shoulders to feel I could go into race day without running in discomfort.
My first week of taper (week 17) was uneventful. It was hot most of the week, but cooled off to fall-like temperatures for my last long run. I have normally done a three-week taper, but this training schedule only called for two. Given my lack of intensity that resulted from my shin issues and my overall lower mileage, I think this ended up being a good thing.
By the end of the week, I had started my packing list and my CTA Ventura card had arrived! It was a little silly to get a commemorative Ventura card, but it was one less thing we’d have to do when we arrived in Chicago so I went ahead and ordered it.
Anyway, back to my last long run. Like I said, it was much more fall-like which was a very welcomed change. I had 12 miles and planned to do the middle six at GMP. I debated doing 10 at GMP, but I really wanted to make sure I was recovering.
At the beginning of my marathon-pace miles, it felt a little tough. Of course this sent waves of doubt through my mind, but once I got into a rhythm I was able to relax and the middle portion of this run flew by. As I finished up mile nine, I debated doing one or two more at GMP, mostly to get things over with, but I didn’t want to push it and knew that, physically, running one or two more fast miles wouldn’t help me. Those last three miles sure felt like a slog, even though I wasn’t even going that slow!
About half way through the last mile, I really needed to use the bathroom and started to panic a little. This has actually never happened to me on a run, and I had gone beforehand! I ended up stopping for a moment to regroup in hopes the feeling would pass. It did, and luckily when I got back to our meeting spot I was able to get to the bathroom! Yikes! I’ve been eating pasta the night before long runs since that’s what I’ll have the night before the race, but in my nonchalantness about running 12 miles, I had some leftover pizza that I think really messed with my stomach. Lesson learned, never again!
Saturday evening my husband had to work, so I had some sushi on the porch in the gorgeous weather and then snuggled up with my dogs for my tradition of watching Spirit of the Marathon. It was all the more exciting this year since I will actually be running the Chicago Marathon!
I have just two runs between now and race day. One of my biggest concerns for race day is the unreliability of GPS that comes with these city races. If you’re running Chicago (or even if you’re not) and don’t know, there is a tunnel in the beginning that will kill the GPS signal. Even once it comes back, my friends have said their watches were still a bit off. I don’t trust myself to manually hit the lap button! I’m not a slave to my watch, but going out too quickly and speeding up too early were concerns of mine. These past two long runs showed me that my body pretty naturally finds my goal pace which gave me a little bit of peace.
Like I mentioned earlier in the post, I will be posting later this week on overall training and race thoughts. For now, congrats to all of the runners training for Chicago for completing a long summer of training! I will see you on the road in the Windy City!