Chicago marathon race strategy + tracking info

image1-5

What a wild ride it has been.. and it all comes down to this! We fly out to Chicago tomorrow and the race is just a few short days away. If you’re interested in tracking me on race day, the easiest way to do so is to to download the Bank of America Chicago Marathon app and then look me up. My bib number is 7955, and I start at 7:30 a.m. CT–if all goes well I’ll finish around 11 a.m. Here’s a quick overview of my strategy for Sunday:

  • Take it easy Saturday pre-race: After we see Hamilton (OMG OMG OMG) on Saturday at 2:00 p.m., the rest of the day is committed to laying low, making dinner at our hostel (major bonus), and getting to bed early. No major walking around allowed!!
  • Start with Alexa and Danielle, but don’t hesitate to split up if we need to: If you’ve been reading along for a while you probably noticed that I’ve been doing most of my long runs with these two awesome ladies from track. We are all aiming for a 3:30 finish, and we do really well pacing each other. That said, we’ve agreed it’s a-ok for us to split up if and when we need to.
  • Negative split the race: I’m planning to run super steady 8:00 minute miles for the first half, and then speed it up a hair if I’m feeling good. My goal time would require 8:00/mile on average, so banking a few extra seconds/mile in the second half wouldn’t hurt to have as a cushion. Plus, Strava is giving away free shoes to anyone who negative splits a fall marathon–so bonus!!
  • Fuel and hydrate strategically: I actually plan to carry my handheld water bottle since I’ve gotten really comfortable with it. I think if I’m able to have the water station volunteers fill it once or twice I should be good to go–way easier than trying to get a cup of water into my mouth every mile! I also am sticking with my 2 packs of Clif Shot Blocks–one with caffeine and the second without. This has worked well for me during training and I don’t want to switch anything up at the last minute.
  • Follow the blue line and stay left: One of the biggest pieces of advice I’ve heard about Chicago is that with all of the turns most runners end up running close to 27 miles–but apparently if you follow the blue lines on the street and stay to the left, you can minimize that extra distance. Challenge = accepted.

If you’ve run Chicago before, I’m all ears in terms of any last-minute helpful hints. If you’re going to be in Chicago, keep an eye out on the insta for my race day outfit and look for me!! Other runners–GOOD LUCK! WE’VE GOT THIS!

See you on the other side,

Leah

Advertisements

Chicago marathon training: week 17 (5 DAYS TO GO!)

img_0573Hello hello from taper land! We are less than one week away from Chicago and I couldn’t be more excited. The miles are getting shorter, the forecast looks incredible (high of 62 with a low of 48 overnight!), the anal packing list has been started, and I’m focusing in on staying super hydrated and getting lots of rest.

This past week I topped out at 27.3 miles, which felt like a lot for a taper week but actually was my lowest mileage week since early June. As I mentioned last week, all of my runs at this point are highly specific and coach-approved, basically consisting of lower mileage with some very calculated speedwork targeted at getting me really comfortable and familiar with my marathon goal pace (MGP) of 8:00/mile. I ended the week with a 9.8 miler with one of the track ladies, where we averaged exactly 8:00s! I’ll be posting about my race-specific plans and goals later on this week, but as I have alluded to in the past, I think this is my year to quality for Boston. This will mean aiming for a 3:30 finish, although anything under 3:32 should do the trick. More to come on that 🙂img_0544

Oddly enough, this was actually the first really rainy week of the whole training cycle (I guess the only good thing about the drought?) so I modified my schedule a little bit to avoid any running in the rain blister issues. Also, while my appetite is generally pretty ragey during marathon training, it was out of control this week. I think some added stress at work probably fueled the fire, but I’m listening to my body and making sure I have lots of healthy snacks at the ready.

To wrap up, here’s a quick list of Chicago things I am so excited for: seeing my college bestie and her lovely bf, eating lots of amazing delicious gluten-free things, SEEING HAMILTON, staying and playing in one of my favorite cities, and oh yeah… seeing all of the benefits of my hard work and training pay off on Sunday!

img_0567-1Week 17:

  • Monday: 5.6 miles
  • Tuesday: 3 miles at MGP + 6 x strides, 7:32 average
  • Wednesday: OFF
  • Thursday: Solo track! 4.3 miles total, details here.
  • Friday: 4 MGP (plus) miles, 7:48 average
  • Saturday: 90 minute yoga/OFF
  • Sunday: 9.8 miles, 8:00 average

Linking up with The Weekly Wrap and Tuesdays on the Run!

Chicago Marathon Training: Weeks 13 and 14

img_0312Whelp, another couple of weeks and another missed weekly recap–oh well! We had a couple of jam-packed weeks which included 2 weekends in Maine, my 29th birthday, the first week of fall classes, an absolutely nutty time at work, a half marathon, and a friend’s wedding. PHEW.

Rewinding to last week, I knew we were heading up to Maine for the first half of the holiday weekend so I met the girls Thursday morning for our 3 hour long run. The idea of this run was to run around a minute slower per mile than MGP (marathon goal pace) but to run for 3 full hours. We ended up covering about 21 miles at an 8:45 average pace. It was actually pretty challenging to purposely take the run slow, but I felt strong by the finish so mission accomplished. Grateful as always to have found such great long run buddies! I ran some fun workout-type runs in Maine and rounded out the week at 43.6 miles total, which is my highest weekly mileage to date.

img_0070
On Thursdays, we wear purple.

Week 14 was a cutback week before I hit my longest run this coming weekend, so I registered for a small half marathon in Maine with my OG running buddy, Bry–we ran a half for her birthday so we decided to do one for mine too. Full recap to come soon, but despite some crazy weather we had a great time. Spoiler alert below in the full recap–not bad for a hilly course and less than ideal conditions.

img_0282Other updates: I managed to squeeze a massage into my schedule and it was SO necessary! It really relieved some of the hip tightness I had felt creeping back in, and it felt amazing for my shoulders which had gotten crazy tight with the work and school stress. I also finally invested in a new pair of shoes. I decided to stick with my Asics and the news ones are feelin’ excellent so far.

I’m definitely getting to the point in training that I’m just a little bit tired of constantly thinking about my running schedule, especially now that I’m back in classes and things have picked up at work, but I feel strong and ready heading into the last month of training. Time to start crossing all of my fingers and toes for good conditions!! Full recap below.

Week 13:

  • Wednesday: 4 easy miles
  • Thursday: 21 mile slow n’ steady long run at 8:46 average pace
  • Friday: OFF
  • Saturday: 3 big hills, 2 tempos (7:37 and 7:08), strides
  • Sunday: 3 miles

Week 14:

  • Monday: 4 negative split miles at an 8:08 average, 90 minute yoga
  • Tuesday: Rainy track day! 6.5 miles total, workout details here
  • Wednesday: 4 easy miles
  • Thursday: OFF
  • Friday: 5.5 miles with some tempos mixed in, 8:04 average
  • Saturday: 3 mile shakeout
  • Sunday: 13.1 mile RACE! 1:41:47 finish, 7:45 average
  • Monday: 4 recovery miles at a 9:05 average

My favorite running clothes

Hi all! My dear friend from college asked me to put together a post about my favorite running clothes, so of course I had to do it. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m a major creature of habit when it comes to my exercise clothes. When I find something I love, I’ll wear it forever (case in point: the purple tank top/white visor combo below). Here’s a candid, unsponsored overview of a few of my favorites… Deby, this one’s for you!

IMG_0013Tops: As a curvy gal, I love the fit of Athleta’s tank tops. They tend to be the only ones that are fitted but not skintight, and they come in a great variety of cuts and colors. Also, for my short ladies, it can be super tricky to find tanks in an appropriate length!! Hip length usually = a cute mini-dress. Athleta to the rescue! Just be sure to size down–I wear an XXS here vs. a 4/6 at Lulu. Unfortunately my number one favorite tank I can’t seem to find this season, but the Surge Tank seems to be the closest thing–super lightweight for hot days. I also love the Chi Tank–a slightly heavier fabric but it works for running or yoga. I swear this only fits me correctly in the varied stripe version. It also happens to be on sale–go for it!

IMG_9761Shorts: I’ve written in the past about my love for slightly longer shorts, but this summer as my body composition has shifted a bit (thank you speedwork) I’ve started opting for shorter and more fitted pairs. I don’t totally love supporting Lululemon, but for long runs you can’t beat their Speed Track shorts. They have the perfect mid-length inseam and enough pockets to store your phone, keys, headphones, credit cards, and Gu without batting an eyelash.

Bras: Every time a bustier runner mentions bra issues, all I say over and over again is Moving Comfort, Moving Comfort, Moving Comfort. These bras are INCREDIBLE–I never ever wear anything but the Rebound Racer! I love that this lightweight bra has relatively narrowly spaced straps that don’t cut up under my arms (short people problems), no weird foam cup padding, and super adjustable straps. This baby has nearly eliminated any chafing issues for me!

IMG_9747Socks: Apologies for this whole post turning into a rant about short people probz, but being a smaller sized human comes with having very very tiny feet. This means I need socks that come in a full range of sizes (one size fits all is a hoax!) I also like a good amount of padding in my socks since I’m pretty blister-prone, and a nice cotton-y feel. Enter Bombas! These babies do the trick, and they have tons of fun colors to boot. If you’re looking for a good compression sock, I love Pro Compression’s Marathon socks, although they’re a little thin so I mostly use them for recovery. I’ve been lusting after the Marathon Elites which have more padding to actually run in, but at $55 I’m hesitant. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve tried ’em!

Headwear: It may not be the coolest-looking thing, but if you’re training in the summer, do yourself a favor and get a visor!! I have this super basic one from Target and it is a life saver.

What are your favorite running clothing items?

Linking up with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the run!

Weekending… and some big news!

IMG_9865Let’s get the big exciting news off the table first, mmk? Last week J and I had a picnic in a local park for our fourth anniversary, at the end of which he got down on one knee and popped the question! I knew this was coming at some point but he did an amazing job and I was still super surprised and excited. I’m pretty sure I was doing so much crying and saying yes that I forgot to even look at the ring until a couple of minutes later 😉 If you’re into that sort of thing, the ring is the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever owned–vintage, totally unique, and very “me.” IMG_9874And before you ask–we don’t have a date yet, but we’re planning to get married next summer in Maine. I’m semi-dreading some of the wedding planning stuff but I am SO excited to marry such an incredible guy! We’re having a ton of fun introducing each other as “my fiance” (so weird) and just reveling in the joy of making it official.

After we called and texted and Facebooked on Thursday night, I was basically too jazzed to fall asleep so I woke up bright and early for a quick 3 miler around our neighborhood with J. Friday was a haze of congratulations (you all are incredible, thank you x10000 for the calls, texts, comments, hugs, cards, etc.) and Friday night it was time for the Olympics Opening Ceremonies aka the start of my favorite athletic event of the year! IMG_9872This is my third time in a row hosting an Opening Ceremonies party and this one was extra celebratory given our news. All of my thoughts about the actual ceremonies are pretty much summed up here–but holy heck were they just as ridiculous as always. I effing love the Olympics so if you need me over the next few weeks, I’ll be geeking out about women’s gymnastics and obviously all of the running events.

Saturday morning I battled my way through a tough long run with friends (more to come in the weekly update) and then we were off to NH for a gathering with J’s family. We had been planning to camp that night before a Sunday hike, but we decided to treat ourselves to a night at a B&B to celebrate. Thanks to AirBnB, we stumbled onto the cutest/quirkiest little spot, and I couldn’t have been happier to get a great night’s sleep and a delish breakfast before our hike. EDBD1C7A-FDB0-4C45-8803-71BA2D60DE66

The weather was perfect and we summitted both North and South Twin Mountains–two more 4000 footers down! It was a perfect day hike–definitely challenging with some technical spots, but we were able to wrap up 11 miles and approximately 3000 feet of elevation gain in 6-ish hours. It was really nice to get to spend some time doing something we love together.

All-in-all, it was a whirlwind weekend and my head is still spinning, but I am beyond thrilled. Love is the best!

Leah

Chicago Marathon training: week 6

race_1770_photo_39036837Another week of training has come and gone! This one blew by after a whirlwind weekend away in Maine and New Hampshire. We drove up Friday and headed to bed early to sleep before the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon. Full recap to come, but I really enjoyed the race and (spoiler alert) I kicked it to the end for a 1:40:29 finish–2 seconds slower than my previous PR. Not too shabby for a hilly course!

After the race we zipped over to NH for my dear friend Em’s gorgeous wedding on Lake Winnipesauke. Pro tip–if you ever want to feel like a million bucks, introduce two people who eventually get married and then go to the wedding and meet all of the relatives! IMG_9611Everyone was so sweet and grateful… and I was so honored to get to celebrate two lovely humans and their togetherness. Despite the unseasonable cold and rain, we were able to squeeze in some outside photos before heading indoors for dinner and dancing. We stayed over Sunday night and I was thrilled to wake up to an incredible gorgeous morning for a quick lakeside run before we had to head out.

The rest of the week was back to business as usual with an appearance at my favorite track workout and some steamy runs around the neighborhood. This week is a cutback week so I’m taking some time to recover from both the race and from a hard track workout.

IMG_9610Week 6:

  • Friday: OFF (pre-race)
  • Saturday: 13.1!
  • Sunday: OFF
  • Monday: 4.5 miles at 8:27 pace, with some accidental hills
  • Tuesday: Track–300 @ 5k, 200 @ mile, 150 @ best, all x6–averaging 5:46 for the speedwork!
  • Wednesday: 4.5 miles at 8:48 pace
  • Thursday: 60 minute yoga (and maybe a few miles later…)

Off to the cabin for a relaxing girls weekend with my momma!

Linking up with The Weekly Wrap, hosted by HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin 🙂

 

It’s ok NOT to PR: setting race goals

header-maine-half-marathon-logo-v3I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing holiday weekend! I was thrilled to be in town after so much traveling–and doing my 14 miler on familiar turf didn’t hurt either (more to come in the weekly recap on Thursday). I finish up my first summer course on this week, which means I have one weekend of freedom without having to worry about school before my next class starts up. Of course, we’re going to be out of town–first heading to Portland, ME for a half marathon to celebrate my OG running bestie Bry’s 30th and then to Lake Winnipesaukee in NH for another good friend’s wedding.

Dis is Bry. She's really smart.
Dis is Bry. She’s really smart.

Bry and I were chatting a couple of weeks back about our goals for this race. She has been dealing with an injury and is planning to take things nice and easy. I mentioned something about taking things a little bit easy too and she said something like “Wait a minute, have you ever taken a race easy? Come to think of it, have you ever even taken a run easy??”

Whoa.

While it’s a little bit of an exaggeration, she’s pretty spot on (as usual). Running has shown me that I have a very hard time giving myself a break. Whether it’s racing, work, school, or yoga, my biggest challenge is knowing when to back off and be ok with not giving 110%. For example, my past three half marathon times have looked like this:

  • 1:55:45
  • 1:46:29
  • 1:40:27

Basically, I’ve been stuck in a rut where I feel like I have to PR every race that I run. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with this–it feels incredible to see what I can accomplish, and I hope all of this fast running will get me a qualifying time for Boston. But sometimes pushing myself to the limit can take just a little bit of joy out of the experience.

So this coming weekend, I’m looking at my race as a joyful, extra special marathon training run. My goal? To run at my marathon goal pace and feel like I still have gas in the tank at the end of race. Will this be a PR? Nope. My 8-ish minute miles will put me around a 1:45 half, which will be at least 5 minutes slower than my last race. And as it turns out, that is 100% ok.

Oh yeah–one more goal for this race: to have FUN! I can’t wait!

Linking up with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the run!

Chicago marathon training: week 4

IMG_9461Hard to believe it, but I’m recapping the first full month of Chicago Marathon training! (Click here for my recaps of weeks 1, 2, and 3). I did a quick mid-week update on this, but I am so glad I swapped my long run this past week for an earlier time on a less hilly route. I’ve definitely been feeling the summer heat/humidity this week, with average temps in the 80’s and a few rainy days. That said, it was a solid week of training–even though my paces seem to even out when I include warm-ups and cool-downs, I’ve been adding in some tempos and strides to mix things up a little bit.FullSizeRender (5)

I also got back to my favorite track workout this week! I really love the Nike+ track format–the workout this week was lots of short and fast repeats, which normally would lead me to go out way too fast, but having the pacers kept me in check. I even had some juice left for a full-on sprint at the end! It all ended with a pretty dramatic rainstorm, which just makes me feel a little bit more badass… and ready for a shower, obviously (see skeptical face).

Week 4:

  • Thursday: 5 miles at 8:36 pace
  • Friday: 10 miles at 8:20 pace
  • Saturday: OFF
  • Sunday: 3 mile recovery run with J at 9:02 pace
  • Monday: 4.7 miles with miles 3-4 at tempo, 8:14 average pace
  • Tuesday: Track! 5.2 miles total, with the workout averaging a blistering 6:08
  • Wednesday: 4 miles, 8:41 average
  • Thursday: 6.1 mile progression run + strides, 8:17 average

    IMG_9451
    Summer rain = pretty skies!

I can’t wait to finally be in town for the weekend! I have my 14 mile long run on tap, along with a bachelorette evening for one of my besties and a 30th birthday party for another. J and I are planning on a low-key 4th, given all of the traveling that we’ve been doing, but we’ll definitely sneak over to watch the fireworks.

Happy 4th, everyone! I’ll be back this weekend with my favorite summer breakfast recipe. Stay tuned!

Linking up with The Weekly Wrap, hosted by HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin. Thanks, ladies!

Chicago Marathon training: week 3

IMG_9385Howdy, y’all! I can’t tell you how happy I am to be reaching the end of week three, mostly because I spent a good chunk of the week cramming for a midterm and then immediately taking off for a wedding weekend in New Hampshire. This week’s training had a number of fun new additions. On Thursday, I went to my first SEAC > Speed workout, which included a 2 mile jog to the store, another mile to Boston Common, and then fast hill repeats up and down Beacon Hill. Combined with another couple of miles home, this one was definitely a doozy, but a lot of fun! I met a couple of new folks, one of whom is also training for Chicago. I’m still easing my way into the Heartbreakers crew, but everyone I’ve met has been fantastic. Keep an eye out for a future post on how to find training buddies–not an easy feat!

Oh we fancy, huh?
Oh we fancy, huh?

On Friday I scooted out of work early and J and I hopped in the car to drive 2.5 hours up to his friends’ wedding, which was at a ski resort at the foot of the White Mountains. The wedding was fun, laid-back, and very personal–a lovely weekend all around. We even got to take a chair lift in our wedding clothes to get to the summit ceremony–so cool! As I always do when I’m travelling, I went and asked the hotel staff to recommend a running route. I lucked out and ended up chatting with a super badass lady marathoner who gave me some great ideas. The problem was, any way I went I would literally be running up a mountain. So out I went, at 10 am, in the warm sun, and climbed close to 1,300 feet. For reference, that’s more elevation gain than you lose across the entire Boston Marathon course. My 9:32 pace definitely felt MUCH harder than any of the low 8:00-range long runs I’ve done so far!

mountain
Which mountain? THAT mountain.

Either way, it was beautiful and I was so happy to get it done and enjoy the rest of the wedding, followed by a sunny Red Sox game for Father’s Day.

IMG_9375On Tuesday night I met up with some of my training buddies from last summer for a track workout. It was my first time doing track without pacers, so I definitely went out a little bit fast, but it was a fun challenge to work on feeling out my own pace (and so nice to catch up with the Boston Fit crew–miss you guys!)

Here’s the overall weekly recap:

Week 3

  • Thursday: morning yoga, 7.8 miles (hills, drills, and thrills)
  • Friday: OFF
  • Saturday: 12.1 miles at 9:32 pace (running up a mountain and such)
  • Sunday: OFF
  • Monday: 3.5 miles at 8:44 pace
  • Tuesday: morning yoga, 6.8 miles (track workout)
  • Wednesday: 3.3 miles at 8:49 pace

Can’t complain too much about the lovely weather we’ve been having! We’re off to relax by the lake up in Maine this weekend. I might give my first 6 day week a whirl if I’m still feeling good. First 13+ mile long run since last summer… here I come.

Harpoon 5 miler race recap

What a month of racing! I think this is probably the most races I’ve run in such a short period of time… whoops, sorry wallet! Either way, I’m so happy to be wrapping it up on a high note after this weekend’s Harpoon 5 miler.

35733932_race_0.6065765543248611.displayAs you probably guessed, the race is a 5 mile loop that starts and ends at Harpoon Brewery in the Seaport. The course is flat and there’s beer at the end, so I managed to get J and a crew of our buddies to sign up for what they call a “6 pack team.” The race is super popular so I was stoked to be able to get a crew of our friends on board. The weather had been looking dismal all week, but it ended up being in the sixties and cloudy–pretty perfect!

After my many, many mistakes at the Spring Classic 5k, I decided to do everything I could to make this one a success. I chilled at home the night before, got plenty of sleep, ate a good breakfast, and drank tons of water the morning of the race. After waiting in a stupidly long bag check line, we wandered to the start, which was a little bit of a mess–people were everywhere and it was tough to figure out where the start line was. We managed to squeeze our way up into the crowd, but I still feel like I spent the first mile or so weaving around people before the group thinned out a bit. I kept my eye on my speedy teammates as the first few mile splits clicked in at 6:53 and 6:58. I knew I was going out a little bit fast (I was hoping to average under 7:30s) but I felt strong, so I kept repeating Coach Dan’s “fast and relaxed” mantra over and over to myself as I settled into a good groove. IMG_9036The crowd got thinner and thinner, and I kept picking people off, which I have to say feels pretty darn good! Passing tall buff dudes is my favorite #likeagirl

I was feeling a little bit dried out by the last mile but I didn’t want to lose time at the water stops, so I pushed it through and picked up my pace for a 6:28 in mile 5. I finished the race in 34:09, with an average pace of 6:50… which is most definitely a PR! I’m so so pleased to see the speedwork paying off, and it’s amazing to know how much I can do when I’m rested, hydrated, and really leave it all out there on the course.

IMG_9037 (1)The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging, drinking a couple of ciders (the new hibiscus cider is delish!) and celebrating with the crew. The didn’t have a ton I could eat, but there was great food for the gluten eaters and I housed a couple of bags of chips before grabbing some more substantive food on the way home. Other than a totally backed up bag check situation, this was a super smooth and fun race–highly recommend!

This guy graduated with his Master's and ran his longest race ever this weekend! #proudgirlfriend
This guy graduated with his Master’s and ran his longest race ever this weekend! #proudgirlfriend

I’m definitely looking forward to taking some time off before my next race–the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon in July for my bestie Bry’s 30th! More to come soon on my fall marathon plans and some exciting running updates. Off to my lovely friend’s wedding in NC followed by some much needed hiking time in the mountains with J. See you soon!