Fitness Swellness: 5 things I’ve learned training for the 2018 Chicago Marathon

IMG_8163 (1)

As I mentioned last week, this training season for Chicago Marathon has been rough. And I’m not feeling like it’ll be a strong race for me. I think I’ve run enough marathons to have a good sense of what I can expect from my body. While I don’t think I’ve gotten strong enough physically, I feel like my brain has been working against me, so I’ve been working on looking at the positive aspects of this upcoming race. Because otherwise, I fall into thinking, “Why bother?” with completing the race if I won’t PB. And that is not the right mindset when running 42.2 kilometres!

So, here’s what this Chicago Marathon and this training season has going for it when it comes to my running goals:

  1. Chicago Marathon is where I do well racing the 42.2k distance. I’ve run it twice before (in 2017 and 2014) and these are my two fastest marathons (and that’s even with the intense heat we had for 2017’s race). I remind myself of this all the time.
  2. I discovered NRC Guided Runs thanks to Nike Run Coach Brittany Moran adding a few to my training sched, and they’ve improved treadmill training by making them less boring. I avoid the treadmill as much as possible as I find it about as dull as Outlander (don’t @ me) but having the coach talk me through each interval in the NRC Guided Speed Runs helps to break up the workout nicely. The one with Kevin Hart and Coach Bennett (remember when he told me I needed psychiatric help for running two races one week apart, haha) had me laughing.
  3. I’m getting better at replacing dreading runs with being grateful. When Nike Run Coach Brittany Moran heard I dread each long run, she reminded me that a lot of people aren’t able to run, and I know how awful I feel when I’ve been told to lay off of running (due to issues like my formerly overactive thyroid, or not being able to wear contact lenses).While those long runs in nearly 40 Celsius weather this summer have been grueling, I am thankful to be injury-free and physically capable of completing runs short and long. “To be honest, I’m jealous,” said a friend who’s taken a break from running about me running Chicago.
  4. I now think “fun” not “fast.” In the NRC Guided Run Run with Mo, Mo Farah instructs you to think not about going fast, but having fun, I now make a deliberate effort to think that when I do speed work. Rather than repeating, “This is freakin’ brutal and my heart feels like it’s going to explode and I can’t possibly run harder or faster,” I think “Let’s have more FUN.” I can’t say it works entirely (it still hurts to push hard through a tough workout and I know I really just need to try my best to hit the pace I’m aiming for), but thinking “fun” helps to shift my focus into a more positive space.
  5. Running gives me quality time with Billie Jean. I’ve been mostly training solo, which can be draining. But with my work schedule and travel, and with me not being a morning person (which is when most run crews run), the flexibility of running solo is often what works best for me. To help me make it through long runs, I usually run 22k alone and then pick up my dog, Billie Jean, for the last portion of my run. She’s run as long as 14k in the past with me, but with the intense summer conditions, I limit her distance to be on the safe side.

A friend who’s completed Ironman gave me a little pep talk the other day, too. She reminded me that even if Chicago 2018 isn’t my best marathon, it’ll help me prepare for future marathons, I can use it as an opportunity to experiment (whether I want to use a pacer or not, for example, in future marathons when trying to BQ) and that even if it’s not my best time, I’ll know what my current marathon time is to gauge my fitness level going forward. And last but not least, she reminded me that I may just surprise myself and it’s possible that every element comes together (nutrition, rest, weather, gear, mental state and crowd support), and I may just BQ.

I may BQ. It could happen. After all, in 2014, I was less than two minutes from BQ-ing and I totally didn’t expect to finish with that time (I’d anticipated finishing about 13 minutes slower!).

Plus, I have an excuse to go get a killer manicure again.

It’s only a crazy dream until you do it, after all. That’s what I learned at the Just Do It HQ Chicago I visited last week. And besides, PB or BQ or not, there is some very rad Chicago Marathon Nike gear this year.

Nike Chicago Marathon 1

Nike Chicago Marathon gea4

Also, while at the Just Do It HQ last week, I got the chance to customize a Chicago Marathon tank, which I will wear proudly after the race (once I’ve earned it!).

Nike Chicago Marathon tank

Leave a Comment September 24, 2018

Fitness Swellness: 3 reasons I’m anxious about the 2018 Chicago Marathon

IMG_9098

I’m about nine weeks into training for the Chicago Marathon and why’s it taken so long to post about this? Well, in part because training takes up a lot of time (leaving little time to blog…) and because I’m pretty nervous about this race.

This time around marathon training snuck up on me. A few months ago I’d talked to Nike Canada (one of the race’s sponsors) to explore whether running this race again would be possible (I ran it last year and in 2014) . Before I knew it, the race was three months away and boom, I met with Nike Run Coach Brittany Moran, and I had a three-month training schedule and had to kick things into high gear immediately.

For my personalized training plan, Brittany chatted with me about how I’ve trained thus far for the 11 marathons I’ve done, and asked me about my goals for this race. My goals (A, B and C) are all to PB.

When Nike sent me a magnet detailing my three months of training, with my goals boldly printed on the top, I started hyperventilating. Seeing it in print, with an intense schedule of training, well, shit just got real. I texted a few friends “Goodbye, see after October 7!” since it appeared I’d be doing nothing but running for the next three months.

IMG_8830

When I had a chance to have a more careful read of the training plan, I realized it wasn’t that much more in terms of frequency than my training last year. Brittany’s training plan has me running mostly five days a week. She’s made some of the recovery runs longer than the ones I added in 2018. She also has my longest run, this week, at a distance of 34k (up from the usual 32k distance I’ve done in the past). In addition, she’s made some of them a little tougher (a few of the long runs, I’m to pick up the pace at the end, for example).

I’m very much a realist when it comes to most things. Perhaps that makes me approach things with less of a lofty, optimistic view, but that’s just how I think I’ve been wired. Is this a Capricorn thing?

In any case, my A-goal is to PB with a time that will guarantee I qualify and get into Boston. My B-goal is to meet the BQ standard. C-goal is to marathon PB (my marathon PB is from Chicago 2014).

And here’s the thing: right now, with three weeks to race day, I don’t feel like I can PB. There, I said it.

3 reasons why a PB feels out of reach to me:

  1. I’m basically going from couch to marathon. Typically, I maintain a certain level of running fitness year round, regardless if I have a goal race. But this winter and spring, I ran very sporadically. Then right when I was going to ramp it up and train consistently for the Lululemon 10k race in Toronto, I caught a cold and flu that knocked me out for three whole weeks. Then, finally well enough to run again having recovered from the flu, my eye doctor ordered me not to wear contact lenses for two whole weeks. I’m too nearsighted to run without lenses and running with my glasses would be very uncomfortable and awkward with my prescription so I took those two weeks off of running. Five weeks of no running meant I was a starting from zero. And I still haven’t gotten my strength and pace up again to what I used to run.
  2. My marathon training schedule is three months-long. I usually train using a four-month training plan. It wouldn’t normally be as much of an issue if I were in good shape to train over three months (…but see point #1 above regarding starting from scratch!).
  3. This summer’s brutal heat and humidity has drained me both physically and mentally. It’s been an incredibly hot and sticky summer. I know it affects everyone’s training, but if you’ve ever seen me exercise, I sweat a lot and am miserable when drenched in sweat. The conditions mean my runs are even slower and difficult than ever and I just spend a lot of the run thinking of how unhappy I am in that moment. What have summer weekends consisted of? First I spend a lot of time dreading the long run I have ahead of me and then the rest of the time I am feeling sorry for myself in a pool of my own sweat as I pound the pavement. I even cancelled plans to play tennis one weekend because I’m done with drowning in a pool of my own sweat all the time.

I know this isn’t the optimistic, I-can-do-it post that’s fun to read. But this is what the reality is for me right now. REAL TALK, that’s all the rage now, isn’t it? 

I swear this isn’t just pre-race jitters…I’ve thought this for weeks now, and runs that I think should feel effortless are still hard work.

On the bright side, I have learned a few things and can recognize the silver linings, too, with regards to training for Chicago 2018, and I’ll post about that in Part II of this blog post.

Are you running Chicago this year or another fall marathon? How’s your training going?

 

Leave a Comment September 18, 2018

Travel Swellness: Camping with the GMC Acadia Denali

IMG_8818

Not that I’ve ever been the type to hate nature (although I do not like bugs…) but I’ve always considered myself a city girl. Over the past few years, though, I’ve been seeking out more time in forests, or by the water, but always with creature comforts (does having showers and flushing toilets count as a creature comfort?). I’ve gotten into camping (my first trip was last summer); just car camping (where you park on your campsite) — I have yet to do back-country camping (I don’t know if that’s something I’m ready to tackle quite yet).

For my most recent camping trip this summer at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, I had the opportunity to drive the GMC Acadia Denali. I was a bit nervous the vehicle would feel enormous like some of the recent cars I’ve driven (the Ford Explorer, the Cadillac Escalade), but to my relief, the Acadia Denali was not so over-sized for me that I felt nervous driving and parking it, and yet it had loads of room for me, two friends and two dogs and the piles of equipment you need for camping.

IMG_20180819_114644

Equipped with OnStar 4G LTE WIFI Hotspot, which is handy for road trips since you may drive through dead zones with no data service, the Acadia also featured OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation, which got us to Grundy Lake, to Burger’s Priest in Barrie (where we stopped for lunch on our drive back) and home with ease. I get very stressed out when lost as I have no sense of direction, so having a reliable and easy to follow navigation system is a must for me, and the OnStar was easy to use (the interface is clean and it’s all very intuitive).

IMG_8050

The WIFI also is handy when you’re in the car for a few hours, too. You know the two of us not driving would be looking up essential celebrity gossip and all of those other nonsense things you must google asap as we made our way north.

The Acadia is equipped with Apple Carplay, which we didn’t use much of during our camping trip, but it was useful when I had the car to myself and I had to make calls while driving. Safety first, after all, and I was able to call my friends to let them know I was soon arriving using Siri. Music-wise, for our road trip, we had fun checking out stations on Sirius (indie music for easy listening and old school hip hop for when we were needing something more hype).

Grundy Lake camping

The trunk area was spacious enough once we lowered down the last row of seats to make room for sleeping bags, coolers, the tent and food. When you’re car camping, you store all of your food in the car so as to avoid attracting bears, so you’re in and out of the car a lot, so it’s by no means a new feature but the button to close the trunk is a simple but most useful feature. The Acadia features the hands-free liftgate but I admit I always forget to use it. It’s funny how you can operate on autopilot, isn’t it? (For example, I still often forget I can turn right on red here when I drive, since I learned to drive in Montreal, and you can’t turn right on red there.)

MVIMG_20180819_155149

The interior of the car is the perfect blend of luxury and outdoors ruggedness. The leather seats were comfortable and easy to clean up after two dogs traveled in the vehicle (just a quick run through with my Dyson). And the exterior was Blue Steel Metallic, which is a very sexy colour; deep and mysterious and yet more special than just black. It’s a colour that makes you take a second look at the car.

At the end of my stint with this GMC Acadia Denali, I think it bridges the gap and suits both aspects of my lifestyle: life in the city (dinners out, errands, mini excursions to explore other nearby cities) and the outdoor adventures that I’m more and more drawn to (hikes with Billie Jean, camping). It is indeed “a luxury crossover vehicle,” smart marketing, haha. Granted it’s on the large size for just me and my dog for city stuff, but then again, you do need to bring a lot of people with you to eat the towers of lobster and crab at Fishman’s Lobster Clubhouse, so perhaps it’s just the right size.

Thank you GM Canada for GMC Acadia test drive! Next up, the GMC Terrain. I’m interested to see how this compares to my experience with the Acadia.

Billie Jean Grundy Lake

 

 

Leave a Comment September 12, 2018

Next page Previous page


Recent Posts

Categories

Recent Comments