Sunday, August 19, 2012


Last summer I attended the CARA Super Clinic, which is a day-long clinic focused on dozens of marathon training topics.  Even though I was not planning to train for a marathon last year, I still wanted to hear what the experts had to say.  (Hal Higdon was there!)

One of the speakers was talking about the enormous level of dedication it takes to run a marathon.  He then said three words that really resonated with me at the time, and re-resonated with me again last night.  What he said was, "Respect the distance."
Yesterday evening I ran 16.5 miles.  It took me well over three hours to do it.  It is another new personal distance record for me.  And it was an absolutely gorgeous night in Chicago.  But during the last few miles as the fatigue was hitting, as my left hip flexor was stinging, and I was feeling newfound aches in places I'd never ached before, I was trying not to cry.  As I was walking home, I was telling myself, "Just get upstairs to the privacy of your own home and then you can cry all you want."

I got upstairs and actually made it through about 5 minutes before I did start crying.  My last bump in distance, a 15-miler two weeks ago, had felt relatively easy.  As a result, I had felt pretty confident going into my 16.5-miler.  But the 16.5 miles ended up being a lot more challenging than anticipated.

I have no idea how I am going to add almost 10 miles to this.  I have an 18-miler coming up in two weeks, then a 20-miler in another two weeks.  Forget running 26.2 miles, my next two training runs seem pretty daunting right now, too. 

What have I gotten myself into?!?!? 

Why am I doing this?!?!?

What was I thinking?!?!? 

(These are edited versions.  What I am actually thinking is actually much stronger.)

My first thought last night was that maybe I could spend the rest of my waking life buried under the blankets of my bed, curled up in the fetal position.  Thankfully, Amanda is a mind reader.  A few weeks ago she dictated the file folder in my head entitled "Marathon training" and wrote this very reassuring post

You better believe I was reading and rereading that post again last night.

I know that I should be happy about achieving another personal distance record without having to do any crawling.  And at some point I will be.  But right now, it goes without saying that I am feeling very humbled by the challenges of training. 

How could anyone NOT respect this distance?


Some other notes from last night's run:
  • I am auditioning two pairs of shoes for the big day - a pair of Mizuno Wave Rider 15s and a pair of Brooks Glycerin 8s.  I wore the Mizunos for a 12-miler last weekend and they felt good.  (I did get some blistering on my big toes, but I have some Moleskin blister dressings which would help.)  Last night, I wore the Brooks.  There was no comparison.  The Brooks are not supportive enough for me.  My feet felt tired and achy fairly early on and I was wishing that I had compression socks (not just compression sleeves).  The Mizunos are the clear winner between the two.
  • I did put BodyGlide on, but it started to lose its effectiveness towards the end.  I'll need to experiment with either using more of it at the start, or carrying some with me so I can reapply it.
  • Since my schedule has been such a complete disaster over the few weeks, I've been pretty lax AGAIN about doing my physical therapy.  Not good.  This was made even more obvious to me as I started feeling some unsettling groin tightness towards the end of last night's run.  While groin tightness isn't completely new to me (I have experienced it here and there in the past), now would be a really, really bad time for it to start becoming a recurring issue.
  • I threw some food into my slow cooker before I left on my run.  It was very comforting to come home to the aroma of a freshly-cooked dish waiting for me.  Slow cookers are the greatest culinary invention known to human kind.
  • The Bears played a preseason game at Soldier Field last night (Adam even went to the game).  It was easy to tell that there was a game going on - I saw folks all over the city wearing their Bears attire.  I ran past the stadium and thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the happy tailgaters enjoying themselves on a gorgeous summer evening.  I was blown away by how so many folks go ALL OUT with their setups.  It must be like a religion to some!

Chicago Bears fans tailgating

(Adam would reprimand me in principal for putting up a picture of Bears tailgating but not one of Steelers tailgating.  So here you go.)

Pittsburgh Steelers fans tailgating

Happy Sunday to everyone.  I hope you all enjoy a wonderful, relaxing rest of the weekend (free of training doubts as well as any aches/pains)!


  1. Congrats on your new PDR!

    I am sorry you struggled with the end of your long run! Unless I am having a stellar day, it always seems like the last two miles of my long run get a bit tough. I usually just want it to finish, and that is when I notice the aches in pains. Were these pains that affected your gait? Or did noticing the minor pains just freak you out?

    Give yourself credit! You are running each of these distances for the first time and have no idea what they will bring. It's definitely going to be an adventure. But you can do it. Especially if you wear the right shoes next time and have enough body glide! Those things make a few difference. And that is why you have to do these dress rehearsal long runs - to see what works for you!

    Fab idea with starting the slow cooker before the run! Nothing worse than coming home after a run and being hungry with NO energy to think of something to make! :)

    1. I was so spoiled after my 15-mile run where I felt so good at the end, that I just kind of figured that the same thing would happen with the 16.5-miler. Way too optimistic!!! But I am excited to see how the next run feels when I am wearing shoes that work better for me. Thank you for the pep talk and for reminding me that it's always better to have these problems during your training runs than on race day!

  2. I have learned after running a few marathons that the main focus should be on getting yourself in one piece to the starting line. If you are injured, you won't even be able to complete 2 miles, much less 26.2. So, during training, if you feel like you could be doing damage, stop, recover and run on another day. Good luck!

    1. SUCH A GOOD POINT. I've been so focused on just knocking out all the miles on my training plan, but there is absolutely no point in training that hard if I can't even cross the starting line. With that in mind, I think I am going to take a few days off of running this week to try to focus on PT. Better to be slightly undertrained than overtrained and/or injured, for sure!

  3. I must agree 100% with Pete. In my last 3 marathons I have not been able to have a full training cycle or avoid injury before the race. Getting to the start healthy should always be your #1 priority. I think your next long run will go better than this lousy 16 miler. Its strange how one run could go awesome and the next one terrible without any reason behind it. It seems like you made some good discoveries about shoes and body glide too :)

    How is your nutrition for these longer runs? Maybe some more salt later in the run might give you a little "pick me up" in the later miles. I experiment with gu and salt intake a lot during my runs so this is one of the first things I look at when I'm feeling exceptionally crappy on a run, and something that I've found that makes a difference to me at least :)

    You are well on your way to becoming a marathoner. I have no doubt in my mind that you will cross the finish of the CM with a huge smile on your face. Don't let these training runs get you down. They are the optimal times to screw up and see what doesn't work so your 26.2 journey can go smoothly :)

    1. You are such a great voice of reason - thank you so much for the pep talk and the encouragement! You are SO right about these runs having no rhyme or reason to how well they go. And FANTASTIC suggestion regarding taking some salt tabs midrun - I do so during races, but not during these long training runs (DOH!). Will have to incorporate them in training, too, and can't wait to see how much they help!

    2. It's funny I wrote what I did above. My run today was exceptionally crappy- no rhyme or reason. Well maybe the heat contributed to it. Ack.

      And thank you for the encouragement as well :) its been a rough week emotionally for this whole marathon training thing. Here's hoping to a much better next week! :)

    3. So sorry to hear about your crappy run. Heat makes a HUGE difference, for sure. I know how emotionally draining it is, especially when you put forth so much of your heart and soul into training for so long. Your next runs WILL be MUCH better. I am certain of it. And I can't wait to hear about how much better they are!!!!!

  4. Here's the post where I ran my very first 16 miler. Spoiler alert: it didn't go as well as I'd hoped.

    Not every run does. It's frustrating and can make you apprehensive about getting out there again. But hang onto the good runs. Concentrate on those. These crappy ones are just you figuring out what does and doesn't work.

    1. I really appreciate you sharing your 16-miler experience! I remember you telling me about how awful that run was for you, but that you still finished your marathon strong a few weeks later. That helps a lot!

      And yes, right now I'm definitely feeling very apprehensive about getting back out there again. Thanks for understanding that feeling of dread. But, as you said, the bad runs are just opportunities to make things better next time!!! (Fingers crossed!)

  5. It's so funny that you posted this because I was just thinking this morning (yes! This morning!) "Ya know, if you can run 10 miles, you can run a marathon." You really can! It's all mental. Getting through those tough runs, pushing yourself to keep going. Follow your training plan, and you will be okay!

    PS how jealous am I that you heard Hal Higdon speak?! Very, very!*

    1. Thanks, Amy! I am learning very quickly how much it truly is all mental, indeed. It's tougher mentally to get myself out the door, knowing that I have a 3-hour run ahead of me, than it is to actually do the run!

      And yes - I was so thrilled to see Hal Higdon in person! He's got a very dry sense of humor and he sounds just like his Twitter tweets. =D