Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chicago Marathon Training: Week Fourteen - The Big 21 Mile Run

This was a big week of training!

Monday: 60 minute Easy Run -4.48 miles
Tuesday: 40 minute XT - Bike Ride 6.67 miles
Wednesday: 40 minute Tempo Run with Two Stride Drills -3.47 miles
Thursday: 45 minute Run - 3.4 miles
Friday: 30 minute XT - Yoga Meltdown Level Two
Saturday: 21 mile Long Run 
Sunday: REST
Monday was my last 60 minute weekday run during training.  It was a pretty day and I ran over to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's to pick up groceries after.  I really enjoyed the run and felt good.

Tuesday I decided to bike to work.  It ended up being the perfect time and distance for my cross training as well.  I took the trail and enjoyed the ride by the lake in the morning.  Along the lake I was pretty much riding into the wind the rest of the way, which added an extra challenge.  I also rode my bike home, but didn't included it on Daily Mile.

Having nice weather makes such a big difference when running.  I had a good tempo run Wednesday around Ravenswood.  I found a good tempo pace, that was challenging and not exhausting.  I woke up a bit late though and only had time for two stride drills at the end.

Thursday it was cloudy, but still cool outside.  I ran some of the same route I used to run by my old apartment and kept a comfortable pace.  This was my last week with two days in a row of running too.  

I woke up and did Level Two of Yoga Meltdown for Friday's cross training, which was fine. 

I had another early wake up call Saturday morning so I could get in my long run, my longest run before the marathon.  20 miles were on the schedule which is a doozy to think about.  I know I ran 18 two weeks before, but 20 is just a big number!  We have had some lovely weather this week in Chicago and Saturday was no exception.  I had a Chocolate Peanut Crunch Clif bar and water before heading out.  

I brought my handheld bottle filled with water and two small bottles of G2 on my iFitness belt for the run.
It was dark when I started so I ran without my headphones on until I reached the Lakefront Trail.  I was able to see the sun rise over Lake Michigan as I ran, which was beautiful.  I decided to take walk breaks every two miles and had fuel every 30-45 minutes.  

I tried some new things for fuel this week.  Last week I got a free sample of the Gatorade Carb Chews that I decided to use.  These were quite good.  They had a good orange flavor and were very easy to chew.  

I also tried the Clif Shot Gels.  I have never used gels before because the consistency kind of grosses me out, but they give these out on the marathon course so I figured I would give it a try.  I picked up the Citrus flavor with caffeine and had it at mile 13.  Yeah, it really did not taste that good and it has a slime like texture.  After eating it though I definitely felt a shot of energy and some pep in my step, so it does it's job.  I like that it had caffeine in it and although it didn't taste good I will probably have one race day since I felt it help my performance.

I brought along my favorite fuel, Honey Stingers Chews in the Fruit Smoothie flavor too.  They are organic and are like candy to eat.  They are easy to chew, taste great, and give a great boost of energy during a run. 

Fleet Feet sets up hydration stations along the trail so I stopped at three of them for Gatorade.  (Big thanks to the volunteers who run these stations on the weekends!)  Plus I sipped on water throughout my run, refilling my water bottle two times.  

I tried to break the run up into sections to make the distance not feel so daunting.  My first goal was to the lake, then the marina, etc.  One of them was my meet up with Katie.  She emailed me the night before and offered to run a mile with me since I was running solo.  It was so nice of her to offer!  I ran into her around Diversey, which was about mile 6.5 for me, with her brother's adorable dog Molly.  It was really nice to have someone to run with for a mile.

I debated wearing my compression sleeves for this run because I was a little worried about my left calf muscle.  I didn't wear them out, but stuffed one in my back pocket, just in case.  I ended up not needing it though.  My leg felt a bit tight the first few miles, but that dissipated.  I did feel some tightness in my IT bands and hips, so I made sure to stop and stretch about three times during the second half of the run, which helped a lot.  
Overall the run went well.  I stayed within my heart rate training zone and kept a nice slow pace.  
I got to run on the Southern half of the trail as well, which is really pretty.  I usually don't go that far so it was a nice change of scenery.  It is much quieter and not as crowded down there.  

I got through a nice big section of my audiobook, World Without End as well.  I just enjoyed the scenery and running along others attempting their long runs as well.  A lady on the trail even said, "Have a good run!" as she passed me, which was really nice and picked me up a bit.  
There is no doubt this was a looong run, it took me five hours - that is a lot of running!  The plan was to run 20 but I ended up doing 21 miles so I could end in a more convenient spot, but I am glad ran a little bit more.  I have been debating what my longest run should be and I feel a little better that I got an extra mile in.  I picked it up for the last mile to mimick the last mile of a race so I would have an idea of what it would feel like to run faster on tired legs.  
Once my Garmin hit 21 I stopped it and walked about five minutes before stretching in the park. Oh boy were my legs tired and tight!  But I did it!  My longest run before the marathon and another new personal distance record!  Now it is time to taper before the race, which is less than three weeks away!
Afterwards I was ready for some food and went to check out the Eleven City Diner.  This place was awesome!  My mom had heard about it from a friend and I was a bit on the fence about visiting it, but I'm so glad I tried it.  I sat at the bar and order their signature French Toast (sans banana).  It was challah bread with fresh strawberries and coconut on top and was delicious.  

I will definitely go back there.  Everything that came out looked good and the place has a great atmosphere.  
Since Katie had a car for the weekend she also offered to give me a ride back to my apartment.  How awesome is she, right?  Seriously, I was so thankful.  She ran her 20 miler Sunday at the Newton race so check out her blog to see how it went!

Once I got home I stretched some more and foam rolled my legs.  Those 21 miles left me with a great runner's high!  

A bit later that day I went down to the Chipotle Cultivate Festival and walked around.  I went last year and enjoyed it and was excited to go back.  It was similar to last year but a bit bigger, which is great.  When I got home from the festival I was exhausted and spent the rest of the day wearing my compression socks and watching TV in bed.  

What is your favorite fuel you take on long runs?  What is your ideal running weather like?