You know those people who run marathons or other races “just to finish?” Certainly nothing wrong with that, but I’m definitely not one of those people. I have a plan and multiple time goals for every race, and each training run has a specific purpose. My plan for a training run may be to zone out and take it easy, or it may be to hit a very specific pace for a certain number of miles – either way, when I put on my running shoes, I know what I intend to do and if necessary I can adjust along the way.

Now let’s cut to my last two long runs – today’s 18 miler and last weekend’s 20 miler (which I ran with NYRR, in their Training Run #1). Remember when I said, waaaaay back in training week number 4 (I know, I’ve been a very bad blogger lately) that I hoped my first strong training week in ages wasn’t a fluke? Yeah, about that…

I was feeling great up until the following week, after a gnarly but awesome hill session. I had told myself that it was time to finally start training in earnest for my Colorado trail race (Aug. 19th), and I guess I got a little too excited. I was just having so much fun with this incredible treadmill at my gym that goes up to 30% incline (!!!!) and goes downhill too. The next day, I felt a hint of pain in my right hip – the first time I’ve had pain in that area for at least 8 months. I had a pretty bad hip injury last summer that completely derailed my Portland training, so as you can imagine I started to freak out slightly. I took a few days off, ran a slow 10M with my team since I had to coach that weekend, and the pain got worse. I took another few days off, which was followed by an extremely nasty cold which set me back a full week – and then it was time for my 20 miler. I was still sick but feeling a bit better,  and E had just arrived the day before and was planning on running the NYRR training run too, so I really didn’t want to skip it. Probably not the smartest move, but – I finished.

And that really does sum up that run. I finished. I had already adjusted my plan for the day – I wanted to run 9ish pace (nice and easy!) with the last few miles at MP. Not too hard, right? HA. E and I ran the first 5M together, and then I took off since I was feeling good and wanted to run 8:45ish. By mile 9/10, I was really starting to struggle. The humidity was pretty intense and despite having my usual pre-race breakfast, taking gels regularly and drinking plenty of water, I was completely zapped of energy. Not too surprising given I still had a cold I guess! (Note to my Gilda’s runners – if you happen to be reading this, do as your coach SAYS, not what she does! 🙂 ) My pace started to slow down, particularly after mile 15ish (was running closer to 10 than 9 by that point) and I nearly quit around mile 16 before the last 4M loop – but forced myself to keep going. “Just finish,” I kept telling myself. That was my only goal. Not “finish strong,” but just finish. And I did. And I was happy. I even managed a nice “sprint” at the end! Surprisingly, my average pace wasn’t all that bad – 9:15 – although I’m sure my garmin was off slightly. Here’s the route if you’re curious.

Today, the weather was far more brutal – I didn’t think it was possible to be more humid than last week, but it was, and very hot. The run was a bit shorter – I was going for 18M including my run to the subway (so 17.5 in the park) – and I finally shook my cold, but I felt just as crappy as I did last weekend. Once again, I had a plan as I jogged to the subway – run 9-9:30ish with my running buddy and then the last 6M or so around 8:45. And once again, that plan went right out the window! At the last Gilda’s Club meeting, several of my runners had expressed concern over their extremely slow paces in this weather and I assured them that it’s just the weather and not to worry about it. You have to adjust to conditions. I really should just show them my garmin details for today’s run – my average pace (10:16) says it all!

What felt like 9-9:30 in effort level was actually 10-11ish on my watch. Within a few minutes of starting, I was already trying to bargain with myself – “maybe I’ll just do a shorter run today and run long next weekend” which my running buddy immediately helped me squash. That’s when my new “just finish” mentality took over. And finish I did. I’m not sure it was a good thing that I finished, given how horrible I felt by the end, but I did finish! I took FIVE gels – I normally take 3, maybe 4 – because I was struggling so much. I only happened to have 5 because I was practicing running with my gel belt (E brought a lifetime supply of our UK gels back with him, so my mission to find a new US gel that I don’t hate has been abandoned for the time being). When I stopped, I got very dizzy, then felt sick to my stomach, and my hip started to hurt again. So yeah – not my best run. I know it’s hard to have a great run in these conditions, but it’s still frustrating to feel this crappy. And here I thought I had finally adjusted to training in NYC summer weather! Clearly I have to change something – perhaps my nutrition/hydration – and I need to sort out my hip. Just when I was finally starting to feel strong again…

Which brings me to my current Chicago goals. I’m wrapping up week 7 right now – that’s nearly the halfway point  – and I certainly am not where I had hoped to be fitness wise at this stage. I believe that I can get a PR if the weather cooperates – but sub 3:35? Not so sure. School and everything else going on in my life right now have made it really hard to focus my energy on training properly – and clearly my body isn’t coping as well as I had hoped that it would. The stress of school has really taken a lot out of me. There’s still time – I’m certainly not going to be running Chicago “just to finish” no matter what happens – but I also want to be realistic and admit to myself that BQ-ing, as badly as I want it to happen, isn’t at the top of my list of priorities right now and may simply not be possible. It makes me slightly angry to verbalize this because I feel like this is similar to what happened last summer with Portland, and in the last year and a half, I’ve had so many unmet running goals. We’ll see though – I’ve been taking my training week by week so far and I’ll continue to do so.

In more positive news, E is finally here! Although we still don’t have the apartment set up at all, it’s been so wonderful to finally be together. Currently, we just have an amazing bed and an awesome TV – the essentials, clearly! As a result, we’ve been sitting on the floor quite a bit for meals and to watch the Olympics. After running 18 or 20 miles, I can assure you that this really isn’t pleasant! Hopefully we will have everything sorted with furniture in the next week or so. I’m really looking forward to our new place feeling like a real home.

My second summer session has been a bit tough – motivation is at an all time low – but thankfully I only have a week to go. My final exams are next week and I CANNOT WAIT to be done! Hopefully I won’t be such a delinquent blogger after that. I’ll leave you with a few photos of my recent meals on the floor – it’s been really nice having someone else to cook for! I’m far more motivated to make pretty, yummy things when it’s not just me. Oh, and don’t be fooled – I really don’t eat this healthy all the time but hey, I’m a nutrition student so I guess it’s no surprise that most of my meals look something like this (plus some meat and fish a few times a week – just realized I’ve been vegetarian quite a bit recently!). Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

          

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