Week 15 - Chicago Marathon Training

Well, I'm not sure there could be a worse start to marathon training than the last two weeks I've had. Last week I did 25 miles, and this week I made it to 29. Seriously? Yes. WTF?

My first run back on Tuesday was legit. I did 8 miles, felt great, went a little bit too fast, but still kept it at an easy pace. The next day, I was supposed to do a 12 mile progression run. When I woke up that morning, my ankles were killing me when I got out of bed. It felt like I sprained them. I've struggled with weakness in my ankles since training for the LA Marathon in February, but this was weird. It hurt to stand when I got out of bed. I adjusted my paces for the 12 miler, only expecting to get down to a 7:30 at the end instead of 7:00 pace. Within the first 2 miles, my ankles felt a bit better and warmed up, but then I cramped up at mile 4 and stopped to stretch my side. I was clearly dehydrated and it only got worse as the run went on. I decided it wasn't my day and that I would just do a 5.5 mile easy run. I'd push my 12 to the following day.

Fullerton Loop Trail

My ankles were still sore and I was supposed to have my physical therapy consultation on Thursday, so I thought I'd have a chance to get feedback and advice on how to fix the issue for some piece of mind before I ran that evening. Unfortunately, the physical therapist that was supposed to see me was sick that day, so I had to reschedule. I went out for the same run. 12 miles. I turned back at mile 1.5 and ran back on the grass on the bluff.

At this point, I was mortified. I had only gotten in 16 miles when I was supposed to be at 25, and I was feeling worse every day. The next day was supposed to be a 7 mile aerobic run. I woke up to do it in the morning so that I'd have more time to recover for my long run on Saturday. I was able to do 6 miles, but had to stop twice. I began to feel the way I did when I was training for Big Sur and I was anemic. I wanted to cry on every run and stopped every few miles because I felt like I couldn't breath. I was able to breath fine now, but it felt like my body was going to break instead.

I woke up with intention on Saturday morning. Intention to go out and at least do 10 easy miles, but hopefully 13. I made it less than half a mile before I turned around and walked home. Embarrassed, but not on the brink of tears like when I was training for Big Sur. It felt like I was doing something really wrong to my body rather than my body betraying me. I also hated running in this moment. I came home and did a kettle bell workout so I could break a sweat.

My only hope was my trail run on Sunday. It was hot and I tried really hard to get up early, but I haven't slept more than 7 hours since I got back from my trip, so its been a struggle to get up every day. I made it to the trail at 7:30 and wasn't really sure how to make my way around the entire loop (12 miles all the way around - Fullerton Loop Trail). There's lots of side trails and optional paths with one larger outer loop. It connects through neighborhoods at certain points, so its easy to get lost. I ended up making my way for a total of 8.5 miles. I was beat up at the end too. It was much easier and more pleasant to run on the softer trails than the concrete I'm used to, but the pain in my ankles wasn't completely gone. I ran into a nice man, Yaya, who also happened to be a run coach. It was clear he was well known on this trail as multiple people stopped to say hello to him while we were chatting. I told him about my ankle pain and he suggested it may be the start of shin splints. He gave me some menthol pads to wear on my ankle when I run again and stressed the importance of stretching. I'm terrible at making time for stretching and now it's biting me in the butt.

I'm feeling lost and uncertain of how to move forward. I've been rethinking my game plan. I know I can still make my way up to 70 miles, but not in the same fashion as my original plan. My schedule for next week is toned down quite a bit. Most paces are easy, but I've scheduled 2 speed workouts. My first goal is to get in the miles so my legs can get used to it. The second is to nail each workout.

Week 15 Schedule:

I'm going to focus on stretching and recovery, strengthening my ankles and my entire body, in addition to the miles.  I'm also going to focus on food. I ate so terribly when I was in Delaware and it carried over into last week when I had no time to meal prep. I want to avoid any issues with anemia again and am not sure if maybe my body is having a hard time recovering and feeling good because of what I'm eating. My friend, Jessica Craig, is a certified nutritionist and has been running for years. She gave me a list of recovery foods to use over the next few weeks. I'm going to document everything I eat and when so she can determine where I'm going wrong or how I can improve. I'll be sharing what works for me and what doesn't in the coming weeks.

I hope your training went well this past week!

J

San Diego Rock N Roll Half Marathon Race Recap + Kate is Cancer Free

After going through 2 marathon training cycles with no improvement in time, I'm so happy my hard work paid off in San Diego at the half marathon distance. I went into this race knowing I wanted to give it my all, and I did just that. 

San Diego Rock N' Roll

I signed up for this race a long time ago because Peter talked me into it. I was pretty convinced I wouldn't be racing a half marathon for myself until after Boston 2017, but he got me to do this one. It ended up being a great coincidence that some of my sister Kate's friends would be racing in support of both her and their other friend Matty P and their battles against the same type of Hodgkins Lymphoma. My dad also got in on the fun and signed up shortly after coming back from Zion and the amnesia that makes you forget how difficult your last race was, so you sign up for another one.

San Diego Rock N' Roll

The even bigger coincidence was that Kate would be doing her final round of chemo the Thursday before the race, so she would be coming to San Diego with us, but would likely be sleeping in the hotel room because the chemo would knock her on her ass. BUT! They did a scan after her last chemo treatment and her doctor confirmed she is officially cancer free, so she could forgo this last round of chemo! Yes. Yes. Yes. MY SISTER IS CANCER FREE. I cannot even explain how trying this time has been on my family, especially my parents. I am unable to explain how much the support and good thoughts that everyone in this community has sent our way during this time have meant. I will forever be grateful because it made us strong as a family, and it made Kate stronger to fight this battle. Now, she is cancer free, and running for her this one last time meant kicking ass the way she kicked cancer. I can't thank her enough for the motivation she has provided to me and that I could finally make her proud at this race.

San Diego Rock N' Roll

My parents and Kate picked up Ricky and I on Saturday morning. We got a little bit of a late start and didn't leave until 10 after stopping at Dunkin Donuts (duh). The traffic wasn't too bad, but it did take us longer than usual. We checked into our hotel just before 1 pm. We were staying in a newer hotel that was next to the Amtrak station. It was conveniently 2 blocks south of Peter's hotel. He walked over to meet us and then we walked down to the expo at the convention center.

The Crew walking to the expo!

The Crew walking to the expo!

We met up with Kim and ran into Robert, our GRVL leader. The expo was huge. This was my first ever Rock N' Roll race and they didn't disappoint with the expo. There were tons of vendors and free goodies to grab. There were also a lot of people because the Rock N' Roll races are HUGE. Big races aren't really my thing, but if you like good expos, there's was top notch.

After spending an hour or so there, we all started getting hangry and Kate had to eat, so we stopped at the Marriott next to the convention center and had a late lunch. We had to eat dinner in 3 or 4 hours, so it wasn't ideal. After we made our way back to the hotel, we went to the pool and sat in the sun for an hour to chill. We got ready for dinner and met up with Peter again at this Italian spot in Little Italy. It happened to be prom night apparently, and this joint was so mom n' pop they told us it would be a while for the kitchen to catch up since they were so busy from the prom parties that just left. Luckily the food was good because we waited for a while.

After a long day, it was finally time to sleep. Kate's friends made purple shirts for all of us to wear during the race that said "#KateKicksCancer" and "MattypIsCancerFree" to support both of them. After I laid out all my gear it was time to sleep.

San Diego Rock N' Roll

Our hotel was really close to the finish line, so Ricky, Mom, and Kate could walk there. The start line was about 4 miles away, so Ricky was nice enough to be the person who woke up at 4:30 to drop us off. The sky was heavily overcast, but the air was warm. Dad, Peter, and I made our way to the porto potties as soon as we got there. We ran into Kim after walking closer toward our corrals, about 45 minutes from the start. I needed to pee again, so we waited in line again. The lines were SOOOOO long. By 6:15, we were clearly not going to make it to the front in time (the race started at 6:30), so my dad scoped out a hill behind the porto potties where tons of runners were peeing behind bushes. Perfect.

San Diego Rock N' Roll

Once that was over it was time to get in our corrals. Kim and I went into corral 2 and Peter and my dad made their way back to corral 6 after we said goodbye. I looked around for some of my other Pro Compression ambassadors who would be wearing the same socks as me, but couldn't see anyone. Kim and I wished each other luck and ended up going out with Corral 1. 

My goal in the half marathon distance is to get a 1:30 and I loftily set that for myself for this race. That's a 6:52 pace. My last half marathon I raced was May 2015 in OC and I did 1:34:34 which was a 7:13 pace. I thought back to how hard that race was, just one week after my first marathon, but also how strong I felt. I was going into this race with only one speed workout and feeling a little sluggish, but I also knew I was an even stronger runner now. I also had Kate waiting at the finish line for me and I wanted to PR badly since I hadn't done so the entire time she's been sick.

I went out fast, but it felt easy - logging my first mile at 6:41. Finally around mile 3, the crowd really started to break up. There were a few small rolling hills the first few miles, but I was focusing on getting through mile 6. That's where I kept hearing the final hill was and it appeared that way based on the elevation chart. The course had lots of support which was nice. I really enjoy the spectators so much more now that I don't race with music.

Finally we got through mile 6, and all I could think was, that wasn't too bad. I had no idea what was coming for me. I tried not to continually look at my watch as this is distracting and ruins my form. I only checked after each mile went off. All were sub 7 and I was pretty convinced by mile 9 that a 1:30 was in sight. And then there were HILLS. Killer hills. I came around a corner just before mile 10 that led into a downhill with a huge uphill in site. I gassed out on mile 10 going up the hill pulling in a 7:08 mile. Now that I was over 7 minute pace, I just hoped that I had enough cushion from the last 9 sub-7 miles to make up for it.

Just after seeing Kate and my mom!

Just after seeing Kate and my mom!

Meb came along around mile 11, and he was just gliding along so easily. He really makes running look beautiful. I didn't think I would make it to sub 7 again, until we came up on mile 12 and there was a huge stretch of downhill leading to the underpass for the freeway. It must have been just over half a mile long. I took it as fast as I could and mile 12 came in at 6:54.

The remaining mile was a stretch of small uphills and downhills as we made our way through the city to the finish line. I usually keep my watch on lap mode, so I don't get distracted by overall time. I turned it back to the overall distance mode and saw that I was still under 1:30, but not far enough for what I had left. I turned the corner to what I thought might be the finish line just before hitting mile 13 and I was disheartened to find another small hill. I pushed hard but my legs were beat. I turned the final corner and it was downhill!!!!!!!! YAHHHH. I pushed hard. As I came into the shoot I heard my mom and Kate yell my name! It was amazing!!!! I gave a final kick and saw the clock was just over 1:32 when I crossed. I couldn't believe it. I remembered to shut my Garmin off right away so I could get my actual time - 1:31:42. O.M.G. So close, but so far from 1:30. I'm still so happy that I could get a solid PR and an official finish time of 1:31:36. 

San Diego Rock N' Roll

After I finished, Ricky found me. He took a few photos and then went back on the course to capture some pictures of everyone else who was coming in that we knew. I found my mom and Kate and waited to cheer everyone on. Kim came in shortly after me and she looked great! I found her at the finish line and brought her back over to the spot with my mom and Kate. Peter came in at 2:17 which is awesome! He's been fighting through injuries the last few months and was nervous for this race, so I was very happy for him to do so well!

All I could think about was my dad and how hard it was going to be for him to get through those hills. The hills in the Zion Half killed him because he wasn't ready for it. We had a bit of a misleading elevation chart for San Diego and I knew he was hurting. Eventually it was about 2:30 on the clock and my mom started to get worried about him. I knew he had some wiggle room because they were in a later corral. When 2:35 came and he wasn't there yet, we all started to worry. Finally, we saw him! He had his headphones in and he couldn't hear us yelling and screaming for him. I ran up to him just as he started down the shoot and ran into the finish with him. I could see how hurt he was. His left foot was numb and he needed to sit down, but I was so proud.

Daddio coming into the finish

Daddio coming into the finish

San Diego Rock N' Roll

After the race we all met in the finish shoot. My dad was in so much pain, so he and my mom went right back to the hotel after we took some photos. Ricky and I went to the finish festival and got a few Suja juices, and Kate went to find her friends. After the festival, we went back to the hotel for what felt like the best hot shower ever because I'd gotten so cold waiting in my sweaty shirt and I didn't bring a jacket for after the race because it was so humid. 

San Diego Rock N' Roll

I really wanted to meet up with We Run Social at the Pro Compression after party, but Kim invited us to her hotel since she had a late checkout so we could relax by the pool. Kim is just amazing and since I rarely see her, I wanted to spend the time with her relaxing. It turned into a gorgeous sunny day around noon after the clouds lifted and we all got enough sun to poop us out on the drive home. 

I could not be happier about this race. I got to spend the weekend with tons of awesome runners, friends and family. I PR'd. Kate is cancer free. That last part though - I can't think of anything better than that. My heart is full. 

J