Chicago Marathon Training: Week 13 recap

“I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can’t run, what they would give to have this simple gift that I sometimes take for granted. So I run harder for them because I know they would do the same for me.”

IMG_2024.JPGPhoto above: 15 September 2014. At Nike Training Club, Chicago when Nike gave members of the marathon training crew new gear.

Week 13 out of 16 is now a thing of the past. The Chicago Marathon is less than 30 days away. Every time I run, I’m inspired by all the runners I cross paths with: the mother or father running while a baby sits on a running stroller or the person running on a prosthetic leg. These runners have defied all odds and will continue to do whatever it takes to keep running. Whenever I think I’m too “busy” to run, I just think of these runners and even others who can’t run then I keep moving forward.

I had a challenging yet successful marathon training week. This week was called “Peak Week”, the most challenging week of my training program. Here’s what went down:

Week 13 of marathon training
Dates: 15 September – 21 September 2014
Number of runs: 4
Total Distance: 31.46 (training plan called for 49 miles)

Monday, 15 September 2014. 
5 miles. I ran 4.66miles
Today was my favourite day of my training week. I arrived at Nike Training Club on Michigan Ave. to meet my crew for our usual Monday night group runs. The group went out for a 5 mile run. As usual, I was stubborn and started out running fast at around a 9:00/9:30 minutes per mile. Technically, that really isn’t fast but it is when my ankle tends to tighten up when I run fast. As a result of running ‘fast’, my left ankle tightened up again and I had to slow down. Thus, I didn’t run the full 5 miles.image_1

After the run, Nike surprised all runners with a special gift – NEW GEAR from Nike. Everyone was brought upstairs for the big reveal. We were all assigned to our different seats and under our seats were our individual bags filled with plenty of swag. I got a new pair of Nike shorts, nike top (customized with our team name #2SixPoints2), nike socks, and Nike SHOES. Nike just didn’t give us any shoes. They gave each runner the type of shoe that he/she needed. So for example, I need stability shoes when I run because I overpronate so I got the Nike Structure 17 shoes. Isn’t this all so amazing? Everyone was so surprised and happy. Christmas definitely came early this year.

Big Reveal 1

Big Reveal 3

 

Big Reveal 2

 

Nike also revealed some pictures on the wall of the 2nd floor of Nike Training Club. All throughout training this summer, there was a Nike photographer capturing all our training moments. I found my picture on the wall. I was happy to see so many other awesome photos.

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014
Run 12 miles (I ran 1.01 miles)
From the pain I felt yesterday on my left ankle, I thought it was best not to run today and if I ran, I was only going to run very few miles. So, I just ran 1 mile. Perhaps I need to start icing my feet for longer periods of time now.

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This photo is from yesterday. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014.
5 miles (I ran 4.05 miles)
I ran with my friend Azi today. She is also part of the Nike Chicago marathon training group. I technically covered 5 miles but because I walked a few times, I didn’t actually run the full 5 mile distance. I walked because my ankles started to feel tight again while running. It was fun to run with Azi and while running, I even ran into Sandra, another Nike marathon training group member. It’s never lonely on the lakeshore path.

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Today, I was contacted by ‘ThatIndieRunner‘, a guy from South Africa who has started a running blog. Although, he doesn’t call it a running blog, he calls it a movement. Specifically, a revolution. He would like me to be an IndieRunner in my country (USA). He wants to encourage everyone around the globe to start running and keep running. He even has plans to create a running documentary which is a great idea and I’d love to help him out with this. Make sure to start tagging all your running pictures on social media with #RunRevolution so that he sees how you are hitting the pavement. By the way, his name is Atlegang.

I enjoy being contacted by different runners on Instagram because these are people that I ordinarily would not meet. I’m reminded of when Nanna from VoltWomen contacted me because she wanted to feature me on their Instagram page for a #VoltWomenTakeover (where a runner takes over their account for a day and documents her running life). We corresponded back on forth over Instagram direct message but she never did feature me on their page…haha (hi Nanna, what happened??). I’m not sure why she never messaged me again but it doesn’t matter. I remember emailing her but she emailed back to say that she was busy and on vacation (understandable I guess). Anyway, the point is, social media can be a great tool to meet other people and share common interests. Infact, social media week is happening next week in Chicago.

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Thursday. 18 September 2014
Cross-Train (I cross trained and also ran 1.73 miles)
I exercised twice today; once in the morning and again in the evening. In the morning, I took a class at Shred415 (through my free Class Pass membership) and then in the evening, I took a class at Nike Training Club (free). Both were high intensity workouts which involved strength training movements. The only difference was that the class at Shred 415 involved running on a treadmill which I hate doing. It felt great to workout twice today – reminded me of my college days when I would always go to the gym to exercise.

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NTC Chicago

 

Friday, 19 September 2014. 
5 miles (I ran 0 miles)
I didn’t run because tomorrow is my longest run yet and I want to rest my legs

Saturday, 20 September 2014
22 miles (I ran 20 miles)
Today was the LONG RUN with Chicago Endurance Sports (CES). My Nike group and many other running groups, teamed up with CES in the morning for the final long training run before the Chicago Marathon. This race was the CES 20 miler and my very first 20 mile run (about 32 km). This was a very well organized real race experience and I can’t thank CES and all the volunteers enough for their help.

Everyone got bibs to wear and water/energy chews were passed out along the course. The largest running group present was the charity team from World Vision. I saw so many orange t-shirts along the lakefront path while running. Today’s run was important because it was a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the Chicago Marathon. Since this is my first marathon, I was told to make sure to practice running a LONG RUN in the same clothes I’ll wear on marathon day. I wore my new shorts and top from Nike but I didn’t wear my new shoes. I stuck with my Nike Pegasus 31 shoes that I’ve been training with all summer except for the month of August when I couldn’t run. It was good running with my new gear because now I know how it feels to run 20 miles in them. For marathon day, I won’t wear those shorts because it’s too short on me plus, I was very cold in the morning.

If you are training for your first marathon, all coaches will tell you not to be surprised on marathon day. While we can’t control the weather, we can control what we wear, how much rest we get the night before the marathon, and most importantly, what we eat. For food choices, you want to know what energy chews/gels and energy drinks (hydration) work for you. I decided that I really like the Clif Shot Bloks so I will stick to those on marathon day. A few weekends ago, I tried Gatorade energy chews along with Clif Gels and they both really upset my stomach to the point where I couldn’t run. Someone had mentioned to me that this was because I took them at the same time thus ingesting too much suga and I should stick to one energy source. Either way, because I’ve used Clif Shot Bloks many times now, since last year, so I’ll just continue using them. Unfortunately, the official nutritional products that will be passed along the race course on marathon day are the Gatorade products so that means I have to buy some Clif Shot Bloks which isn’t really a problem. It’s just always nice getting free energy chews.

I couldn’t sleep last night because I was both anxious (worried for my ankle) and excited for this morning’s run. I woke up around 5am and then ate a bowl of oatmeal with a banana at 5:30am. I later realized that I should have eaten earlier (around 5am) to let the food digest in my stomach. On actual marathon day, I will wake up much earlier.

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After eating, I got dressed and took a taxi to Fleet Feet Sports, the initial meeting location. Around 6:15am, my Nike group started walking to the run start location which was at the Benjamin Franklin statute in Lincoln Park. CES made a few announcements, a big group photo was taken, and then the different pace groups headed out to run.

CES 20 MilerPhoto from CES facebook page

I started running with the 10:30min/mile pace group but later on switched to a much slower pace (11:30 pace group). I know that I can run faster but when I do that, my ankle always gets really tight. Running with the 11:30 pace group was a good idea because I could carry on a conversation and my ankles felt fine.

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My run started out horribly because I ran too fast and both my ankles suffered (tightness). In addition, my phone battery died later on so I had to switch it off. After slowing down and finding the 11:30 pace group, I felt much better. I was even smiling while running. I’m finding that it’s more important to run at a comfortable pace instead of trying to run fast. I get this whole competitive edge because I’m a sprinter: I ran short distances in primary and high school and I won many races.

During the run this morning, I passed Erica so many times on the course; it was hilarious. She was running with a small group of her girlfriends. My run continued. Then something bad happened – my left knee started to hurt around mile 12/13. I’m not sure what happened but the rest of the run didn’t go as planned. I slowed down tremendously to avoid injury. Because I slowed down, I lost my pace group and was running alone. As a runner, I don’t mind running alone but when I’m in pain and know that I have 7-8 miles left to run, it really sucks running by yourself. Thankfully, I found a girl on the course whose knee (both her knees actually) were hurting so we decided to stick together. It’s amazing how runners understand each other and support one another. This girl and I (sorry, I can’t remember your name) ran and walked the rest of the race and I finished my longest run yet in over 4 hours (about 4hr 30 min).

image_11Photo Above: After running 20 miles. Although I’m smiling, I was in so much pain. My thigh muscles were so stiff that I could barely walk. This is the amazing gift of long distance running I guess. Walking to the bus stop to get home took a long time because of my painful left knee. But, I got to ice my knee at the post-race finish area because CES had provided a lot of ice for the runners.

Cindy on the other hand had a great run and Fleet Feet Chicago captured this awesome picture (see below) of her in action. I’m jealous that there are no pictures of me running…haha. I want a cool looking photo too 🙂

Fleet Feet Sports photoPhoto from Fleet Feet Sports Chicago, facebook page. 

Once I arrived at the finish line, I immediately went to the Athletico Physical Therapy tent where free stretching was provided. I saw Cindy inside the tent getting stretched. I waited in line (sat on the grass) for my stretch session. As I waited, I grabbed some lunch that CES provided (sandwiches from Jason’s Deli) and chatted with my friend Azi. Azi was also waiting to get stretched out. The sandwiches were delicious and there were many extras left so I took a box home and ate a second lunch later on in the day (around 5pm). I was so hungry when I got home in the afternoon because I didn’t eat enough yesterday (bad idea).

Sandwich
Photo Above: Here is what the turkey sandwich looked like. Besides the fruit, this is what CES provided after the 20 mile run. A very yummy lunch.

Overall, the 20 mile run was a great practice run for marathon day. I know what to wear, when to wake up, what to eat the night before and the morning of race day, and how to pace myself while running. I have a goal to run my first marathon in 4 hrs 30 mins. I know that my goal should just be to finish the marathon (cross the finish line) but I like setting time goals too. I think I will buy a knee brace for my left ankle to wear on marathon day just in case my knee decides to hurt again.

Sunday, 21 September 2014 
Rest Day (I rested)
Today, I wanted to run 2 miles to shake out my legs but I decided not too. I woke up, ate breakfast (eggs) and went to church. After church, instead of going straight home, I walked to Barnes and Nobles (about 20 minutes away) to browse at books. I eventually would like to purchase the book “Born to Run” but I am trying to save money to buy a Nike GPS Sportswatch. I miss reading and I would love to make it a habit again. I ran across an old woman and we chatted for a bit. She told me her story of growing up in Romania during the time of Hitler. It was sad to hear her story. Also, she apparently has a son or grandson who works for President Obama but she wouldn’t reveal his name.

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Week 13 is now over. I completed my longest distance yet (20 miles) so I met my goal for this week. My goal for next week is to maintain fitness and run at least 3 times in a comfortable pace. I also want to stretch and ice my legs more because I sometimes get lazy. I’m super excited for this training week because Nike has a special guest that will be coming to speak to my marathon training group. I wonder who it will be? I’ve already met famous long distance runners such as Dathan Ritzenhein and Rita Jeptoo so who else is left to meet? The President of the United States perhaps? Haha. I guess I will find out on Monday, 22 September.

Unto Week 14. The next 2 weeks is called ‘Taper Week’, where I will reduce my weekly mileage.

Have you been running? Do you struggle to listen to your body when you feel pain? Do you like to run fast like me and get angry when you have to slow down? Share you thoughts with me in the comments below.

xoxo,
Aggie

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8 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training: Week 13 recap

  1. The path is hilarious when you do long runs and pick people up along the way. We started at 6:45 ran south to Navy Pier (8 miles) from Belmont to the .5 mile mark on the path and back to North Ave Beach (8.75 miles) then back to Addison (2.5ish) and I ran home to Belmont. I start fast and get bummed if I have to slow down. I ran a bit slower for the first 18 or so and we picked up the last bit this time. Congrats on your longest run!!

  2. Hi Aggie! Found your page at random. I’m Jesse, and am a pacer for Chicago Endurance Sports 10:30 pace group. I’m pictured in the yellow CES singlet in your post running in front of your friend Cindy, who I met during the run. Sorry you had to drop back from the 10:30’s but congrats on your big 20 mile finish! Best of luck on your first marathon in Chicago- it’s going to be a great day. I’ll be at the CES cheer stations. My blog is over at http://jessejstreet.tumblr.com. See you out on the path!

  3. Go, Agnes!!! Yay for your incredible training!!! You look so strong, confident, fierce, and powerful!

    BTW – I received those same Nike shorts at the Rita Jeptoo event and I LOVE them. They are incredibly comfortable!

    ClassPass rocks, too, doesn’t it? I’ve been trying to use it to take lots of barre classes, but the options are really endless!

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