Posted in Race Reports, Running, Thoughts

Chicago Marathon Race Report

If you read my previous post, you’ll know that I didn’t exactly make the smartest eating choices the night before the race. LOL. Oops! You live and you learn though. πŸ™‚ And I learned to not eat really fatty foods the day before a marathon. FYI: This is A REALLY LONG POST. πŸ™‚ You have been warned.

I woke up the morning of the marathon feeling fine. I slept a good 7 hours and despite walking around the expo a lot the previous day, my legs felt really strong. All the rest I did the week of actually paid off! Getting to the marathon start line was SO MUCH EASIER than getting to New York’s. I hopped onto the Green line and took it all the way down to Millennium Park where the start was. I barely had to do any walking and within about 45 minutes, I was near the gate entrances. Security was very tight due to recent events and I very much appreciated it. Runners had to walk in a single file line through the gates while being screened by security wands. Despite the initial bottleneck, I was through the gates in 10 minutes and made my way to gear check and the corrals.

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Do you see it? So awesome!
As I was waited for the race to start, my stomach started to feel kind of funny. I thought about going to the porta-potties, but since they had already closed the corrals for my wave, I made the decision to just hold it and hope it’d go away. I didn’t want to go use the porta-potties and then have to start at the end of my wave. Also, never have I ever had to use the porta-potty before or during the race. Spoiler alert: I can no longer say that. LOL.

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At the start
As I crossed the start line, I felt the excitement and nervousness that I felt in New York, but I also felt a lot of pressure. I had never trained so hard for a race before and anything other than my goal time would be considered a failure for me. So off I went. It was difficult to keep my pace slow because the energy around me was contagious. Almost immediately, we went underneath a tunnel, and I experienced what I will quite honestly describe as “Uh WTF” moment. Guys who apparently didn’t want to use the porta-potties either were finding corners in the tunnel to pee. LOL. So weird. Anyway, I had to get out of that tunnel asap so I sped up a little bit. Haha.

For the first few miles, we ran around the Chicago loop in downtown. Chicago is truly a beautiful city. The architecture is amazing to look at and the skyscrapers around us kept us nice and cool.

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Hello skyscrapers!
Then at mile 3, my stomach started feeling funny and since my biggest fear is probably accidentally pooping myself during a race, I darted to the nearest porta-potty. The lines were long and I lost a few minutes at each stop that I made along the race. Sadly, I made three during the first half of the race. After each stop, I increasingly became frustrated with myself. I knew I had lost precious time, but I wasn’t sure how much because for reasons unknown, my tracking app was anywhere from 0.5 miles to 1.5 miles off during the entire race and it was really difficult to gauge my progress. I was also really worried about my fuel plan because my stomach was so uneasy. I didn’t want to take the gels and make my stomach feel worse, but I also didn’t want to hit the wall at mile 20. I had to play everything by ear and luckily, my stomach eased up at the halfway point and I was able to continue on with the race.

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Spectators on the bridge cheering on runners
To make up for the lost time, I sped up quite a bit after each stop, which made the race less enjoyable for me. I was so set on reaching 26.2 miles that half of the race was a blur for me. Since I felt better after the halfway point, I started to pick up my pace.  Unfortunately for me and the other runners, the 2nd half of the race was not well shaded and it was also getting hot. The race at this point was still a blur for me, but I think it was because crowd support for this race was neverending. There were always people cheering for you, little kids wanting to high five you, and more “Touch here for power-up” signs than I could count. I know. I tried. For the last 6 miles, I ran through as many sprinklers as I could. I grabbed wet sponges that volunteers were handing out to cool my body and I kept drinking water.

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So happy to get a sponge!
At mile 22, my legs started to experience fatigue. By that point, I had a feeling I wouldn’t have hit my first goal, but I knew that at the pace I was going, I’d still beat my person record so I pushed on. At 25.5 miles, I was DYING. Everyone that says that Chicago is flat as a pancake is WRONG. They’re 99.8% right, but that last 0.2% is during the last half mile of the marathon. WHYYYYY????? was my exact reaction. I turned the corner and was just devastated that there was this hill at the end. In retrospect, this hill isn’t that bad, but at the end of a marathon, it might as well have been life or death. LOL.

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Hooray! I did it!
As soon as I crossed that finish line, a FLOOD of emotions came over me and I just burst  into tears. I had just finished my second full marathon, a race I had trained so hard for, and no one was physically there to celebrate it with me. It was really hard for me and to help me get through it, I spent the next few minutes posting to social media and thanking all of my friends who sent me texts during the race to keep me going. I was so distraught after the race and my body was in shock. I remember calling my boyfriend and telling him that I’m not sure I’ll ever run a marathon ever again, only to remember that I was signed up for the Dopey Challenge in January. Not to worry though, I’ve changed my mind since then and am still planning on doing Dopey. LOL.

If you’re still with me and have read this to the end, here’s how I did:

Chip time: 4 hours, 23 minutes and 30 seconds (I beat my previous record by 25 minutes and 19 seconds!!!)

So there you have it – my Chicago marathon experience. Hooray! Would I do it again? Sure, but not any time soon. I have a whole lot of other races I want to check off my bucket list first. ☺️

 

 

 

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Posted in Race Reports, Running, Thoughts

Days Leading up to the Chicago Marathon

Well, it’s been 10 days since I ran my second full marathon in Chicago and I think most of the feelings have been processed. πŸ™‚ This race was less than ideal for me, but I think I did the best I could given the circumstances I’ll later describe in my next post, but for now, here are the details of the days leading up to the race:

I was pretty jittery during the days leading up to the race. My knee still didn’t feel 100%, but I also didn’t want to be too stiff during the race so I logged in about 10 miles the week of the race. I flew into Chicago Friday evening after a 2.5 hour delay on the plane. Boo Spirit! A 6.5 hour flight is not conducive to running. Luckily, my friend picked me up and so I got to sleep sooner than anticipated. After about 8 hours of sleep, I got up and dropped by Cloud Gate to meet up with some #werunsocial runners (I even met Kristin, who gave me an ornament from the ornament exchange last December) and then headed to the expo to explore.

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Kristin!

 

The Expo: If I could rank the top three expos that I’ve been to, I would say that the Chicago Marathon Expo would be at the very top with the New York Marathon Expo and the Rock N Roll Expos following it.

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Taking the Windy City by storm!

There were so many things to see and do at the expo. Runner’s World, Aftershokz, Oofos (which I’ll talk about in a later post), Run Disney, SportHooks, and about a billion more vendors were there.

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I love their headphones so of course I had to drop by to say hi!

I walked around and grabbed as many free Chicago marathon memorabilia as I could. I may have walked around for a little too long, but hey, they gave out cow bells to cheer on runners. Of course, I had to grab one! LOL. I even saw Hal Higdon and Bart Yasso at the Runner’s World booth and got a little starstruck. The expo was a place where you can meet the who’s who in the running world. They had speakers come out and it was just a great location for people to meet up. While I was there, I also ran into the BibRave team and other runners I’ve interacted with on Twitter.Β  Running into people that I’ve interacted with for over 6 months on social media was probably one of the highlights of my trip. I finally got to put names (or in some cases social media handles) to faces. LOL

Pre-marathon meals:Β After a few hours of walking around the expo, I headed out to grab lunch at the Purple Pig. I had eaten here before and since I was a party of one, I knew I wouldn’t have to wait long. I was right. What I didn’t anticipate was how the Roasted Bone Marrow With Herb Salad and Sicilian Sea Salt would affect my stomach the next day. LOL. Oops. I mean, honestly, who wouldn’t want to eat some fatty goodness the day before a race?

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Look at how happy I am with my Bone Marrow LOL

I later grabbed a few slices of deep dish pizza at Giordano’s with a friend (an action I also regretted the next day) and called it a night. Stay tuned for my next post on marathon day! πŸ™‚

 

 

 

Posted in Marathon Mondays, Running, Thoughts

Marathon Mondays – Week 15 of Chicago Marathon Training

There’s only 2 weeks left until I run my second full marathon and at this point in training, I just want to get it done and over with. LOL. I’m super impatient. Can you tell? Here’s how training went for this week.

Scheduled Mileage – Actual Mileage

Monday (5 miles) 5.1 miles

I started my new job on Monday and was very fortunate to finish early and get in the easy miles with my run group at Movin’ Shoes.

Tuesday (4 x 1.5 miles with 1 mile WU and CD)8.9 miles with intervals of some sort

Since I’m shorter on time with my new job, I decided to try and use my lunch hour as my run/lunch (runch) hour. I haphazardly created a route on Strava around my workplace that would give me 4.5 miles and ran out the door when lunch time came. What I didn’t realize was that the route I created was fairly hilly. Because 4.5 miles would have taken me a little less than 45 minutes and I only had 15 minutes to change, eat, and stop sweating before my meeting with my manager, I booked it up the hills. Never will I do that again. LOL. I checked out the gym and ran another 4.4 miles after work.

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Wednesday (Rest)Rest

Thursday (10 mile tempo run with 1 mile WU and CD)5 mile tempo with 1.5 mile WU and CD 

Remember about a month ago, I had difficultly breathing on my runs. Yeah, it’s happening again. I’ve been plagued by what I think is severe allergies to something in the air. I thought the allergies would be better indoors and on a treadmill, but it wasn’t. I had to keep stopping because my throat was clogging up and I couldn’t breathe well. I had to keep blowing my nose and spitting out stuff. To say it sucked is an understatement.

Friday (5 miles)5 miles

TGIF! Ran an easy 5 miles on the treadmill after work. Allergies were still in effect unfortunately.

Saturday (8 miles)  – 11.7 mile long run 

Since Thursday,’s fiasco of a run, I had been trying to keep my allergies at bay by taking medication for it. By Saturday, they were a little more manageable and I was able to knock out 11ish miles.

Sunday (10 mile long run)5.1 miles 

I was debating with myself the entire week whether I could do another 50 mile week, but by Wednesday, I settled for 44 or 45 miles. My shins and knees were acting up on Sunday so I decided to opt for 44 miles.

Total mileage (50 miles)44 miles

Thoughts of the week: I don’t like missing mileage, but with my current situation, I think that I did the right thing by opting for lower mileage. I think I forgot to mention it last week, but my knee freaked out after a run and I couldn’t extend my leg without my knee feeling like it was going to pop. I had to extend my leg extremely slowly and even then, my knee felt locked. My knee was better this week, but I could feel that it’s still not 100% so I don’t want to risk putting more stress on it. The rest of training will most likely consist of easy runs with mileage in the high 30s or low 40s. Hopefully, that will be enough recovery and I’ll be able to finish strong in the marathon.

Question for you: Do you have any advice for tapering? Or even for the week before the marathon? I’m all ears!

 

Posted in Marathon Mondays, Running, Thoughts

Marathon Mondays – Week 14 of Chicago Marathon training

OMG. 3 weeks left and counting. I’m doomed! LOL. Jk. Only sort of doomed. πŸ™‚

Scheduled mileageActual mileage

Monday (7 miles)7 miles

Since I was still in Texas and it was still hot as hell, the next few days of running were strictly on the treadmill. It was unfortunate, but it wasn’t unbearable. I ran an easy 7 miles and called it a day.

Tuesday (3 x 2 miles with 800 m recovery and 1 mile WU and CD)4 x 1 mile with 800 m recovery after 3 x 1 mile and 1 mile WU and CD

Intervals should be easy on a treadmill, right? You can adjust the speed to what you need it to be. Too bad my body wasn’t having it. I couldn’t hold the speed for 2 miles at a time and had to do 1 mile intervals instead. Boo.

Wednesday (Rest)9 miles with increasing pace

I was traveling to Boston on Thursday so I moved my tempo run to Wednesday. Unfortunately, my muscles were still really tight so I just decided to start out really easy and increase the speed slowly as each mile passed. I never got to my tempo pace, but I wanted to listen to my body. With only 3 weeks left, I can’t afford an injury right now. I also got booted out of the gym early because my boyfriend wasn’t with me. All residents must accompany guests to the gym. Boooooo.

Thursday (10 mile tempo run with 1 mile WU and CD)Rest

Again, HALLELUJAH! Honestly, I love rest days SOOOOO much especially when you spend half the day traveling.

Friday (6 miles)16 miles

Since I was in a completely new city (Boston) and my friend wasn’t available until noon, I decided to do a little sightseeing by way of running and boy did I sight see. In 16 miles, I was able to explore numerous neighborhoods and even got to run along the historical freedom trail.

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Sight seeing at its finest
This was probably the best decision of my Boston trip. πŸ™‚ Although, the 16 miles were not all in one go. Ideally, it should have been one consistent run, but since I wanted to sight see, I made stops along the way. Hopefully that didn’t hurt my training too much. Bleh. I’d run and if I saw something interesting, I’d pop in to see what was there. I also went to convenience stores and bought water. LOL. Can’t have heat stroke in a new city. That’d be bad. πŸ™‚

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Statue of Paul Revere along the freedom trail
Saturday (6 miles)6.2 miles

Someone on Friday mentioned that if my 16 mile route didn’t include running by the Boston marathon finish line, that I did it wrong. LOL. Sooooo I went back out and ran a route that specifically ran by it. It was awesome. πŸ™‚

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The closest I’ll ever get to the finish line unless a miracle happens and I can run like lightning
Sunday (16 miles)4.2 miles

On Saturday, I flew back and what was supposed to be a 5.5 hour flight ended up being 10 hours. Since I was tired as hell, I just ran a easy 4 miler and called it a week.

Total mileage (57 miles)51.6 miles

Thoughts of the week: This was peak week for Hanson’s Marathon method. Thank goodness. I didn’t think I’d make it to this point. LOL. Although I missed the target mileage, I’m still pretty proud of myself traveling and still being able to continue my training plan with a few modifications. It’s also the most mileage I’ve ever run in a week so yay! On another note, remember when I resolved to run 1000 miles this year? Mission accomplished! Yup. I achieved it this week. I’m stoked. πŸ™‚

Question for you: The next few weeks are critical for me. Hanson’s marathon method doesn’t actually really taper until the absolute last week and that worries me because I’ve been so fatigued lately. With my current mileage, how much should I decrease by? Hanson’s has me running 50 and 49 miles for the next two weeks, which is still really high considering I wasn’t able to hit 57 this week. I was thinking about shooting for 45 and 44 instead. What do you all think? What kind of taper works for you? 

 

Posted in Marathon Mondays, Running, Training

Marathon Mondays – Week 13 of Chicago Marathon Training

Less than a month until I run the Chicago Marathon. Holy crap. Here’s my recap of how my marathon training went this past week.

(Scheduled Mileage) Actual Mileage

Monday (6 miles)7 miles

Since Mondays are easy miles, I try running more miles than scheduled because I know I’ll be exhausted by Sunday.

Tuesday (2 x 3 miles with 1.25 mile recovery jog and a 1 mile WU and CD)8 easy miles

This was my worst run of the week. I had to run a few errands in the morning so by the time I was ready to run, it was noon in peak heat. I decided to run by the bay because it’d be a little bit cooler. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. With the heat and lack of shade for 4 miles, I got destroyed during the run. My calf muscles were extremely tight and it took 4 miles for them to loosen up. Each mile in, I had to stop and stretch. I was so mentally and physically drained that I ended up doing an easy 8 miles instead of trying to push myself for intervals.Β I also miscalculated and didn’t realize I was supposed to do a little over 9 miles. Oops.

Wednesday (Rest)9 mile tempo run with 1 mile WU and CD

I was traveling on Thursday so I decided to try for an 9 mile tempo run on Wednesday and rest on Thursday. It was still really warm and I ended up waiting until Wednesday evening to run. It was an okay run and I hit my tempo pace more or less. I did make a few stops along the way because it got dark and I got lost. LOL.

Thursday (9 mile tempo run with 1 mile WU and CD)Rest

Traveled to Texas for vacation so it was a rest day for me.

Friday (6 miles)8 miles (4.5 outdoors and 3.5 indoors)

If you didn’t know, Texas is very warm right now. I woke up a little late and was only able to run 4.5 miles outdoors before it got too warm. It was also my first time really exploring Bastrop and honestly I thought I’d get eaten by wildlife. The city is very much considered the countryside and my paranoia was getting the best of me. LOL. I finished the rest of the miles on the treadmill later that day.

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Running around Bastrop, Texas

Saturday (10 miles)10 miles (5.5 outdoors and 4.5 indoors) and an hour of rockclimbing

Again, I split the run into two parts – 1/2 outdoors and 1/2 indoors due to heat.Β I don’t really enjoy running on the treadmill, but this was the only option since I couldn’t get up early enough (I’m not a morning person) and didn’t want to get heatstroke in the sun. I also ended up bouldering for about an hour.

Sunday (8 miles)6 miles and dance classes

The plan was to go to the Greenbelt in Austin to run, but by the time I woke up, the temperature was already mid 70s. It would have taken another 40 minutes to get into Austin and by that time it would have been 80 and I don’t do well in 80 degree weather. Instead, I went into Austin and took some free dance classes (Intro to Hip Hop and Intro to Ballet for Adults) to mix things up a bit. I ended up getting the miles in on the treadmill later that night while catching up on the BibRave Podcast.

Total mileage (49 miles)49.1 milesΒ 

Thoughts of the Week: With less than 4 weeks to go, I’m getting really nervous about the marathon. Because I’ve been struggling with pacing and hitting my target mileage each week (thank goodness I hit it this week), I think I’ll try for a sub 4:15 marathon time instead. A sub 4 might have been too ambitious, but I don’t regret trying for it at all. 27 days to go. YIKES!

Question for you: I will be moving onto Boston for a few days, butΒ I’ve been having a hard time finding safe routes to run while traveling. How do you find routes to run? Any suggestions for routes to run in either Austin or Boston? Thanks in advance!

Posted in Marathon Mondays, Running, Training

Marathon Mondays – Week 12 of Chicago Marathon Training

With an ongoing heatwave in my city, week 12 of marathon training was not pretty. Sigh. I did what I could and this was the result.

(Scheduled mileage) – Actual mileage

Monday (7 miles) – 7.9 miles 

My usual group run only runs up to 6 miles so I ran 2.9 miles earlier in the day and ran 5 miles with them. I was feeling fairly strong so I decided to run an extra mile that day just in case something happened later in the week.

Tuesday (3 x 2 miles with 800 m recovery and 1 mile WU and CD ) – 3 x 2 miles with 800 m recovery and 1 mile WU and CD 

I tried doing these intervals on the track, but since they were so long, I got bored and deviated a bit and just ran around the campus. I also started out a bit too fast, which made me miss one of my split goals and I think made my legs a bit more tired later on in the week.

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Wednesday (Rest) – Rest

I felt pretty exhausted and welcomed the rest.

Thursday (9 mile tempo with 1 mile WU and CD) – 9 mile tempo with 0.7 mile WU and CD

My boyfriend was in town this past week and so I made it an effort to run earlier in the afternoon instead of doing my usual evening runs so this tempo run was attempted at 3 pm. It got way too hot too fast and I made the decision to run the tempo portion on a treadmill while watching Moana. LOL. Running on the treadmill was really tough and I ended up having to stop a few times because I started overheating despite the air conditioning being on. Go figure. The warm up and cool down was basically me running to and away from the gym.

Friday (6 miles) – Zero miles

This was a pretty upsetting day for me. I had a lot of errands to run and it was also my last day in graduate school so I was busily packing away my things. Having spent 9 years in the lab, I had accumulated quite a bit of stuff and it took me a lot longer to finish everything. Result? I ended up missing my Friday run completely. Bleh.

Saturday (8 miles) – 13 miles

Since I did my 16 miler last week, this week was actually supposed to only be 10 miles. But, because I missed my Friday run, I tried making up for it by running 13 miles instead. This was so hard because it was extremely warm even at 9 am. I think it hit 80F by the time I finished. It was tough. I cried during my last mile, but I finished it and felt better later in the day.

(Note: I always do my long runs on Saturdays because I run with a group. The scheduled mileage is taken directly from the Hanson’s marathon method beginner’s plan, which has their long run scheduled on Sundays).

Sunday (16 miles) – 5 miles

With the weather still being very humid, I ran 5 miles at a very easy pace. My legs felt like lead for almost 4 miles of it and I contemplated stopping almost every mile in. It also didn’t help that it started sprinkling about a mile in. Bleh.

Total mileage (56 miles) – 45.4 miles

Thoughts of the week: So I haven’t been as good about my training as of late and I am a bit worried about the last few weeks of training. I don’t know if I can keep the mileage up with the next few weeks asking me to hit 49-57 miles a week. I’ll also be traveling the next two weeks to very hot parts of the U.S. so it’ll be very tricky to see if I can do it. I’m also EXTREMELY FATIGUED despite missing my target weekly mileage. Eek! Help, anyone?

Question for you: What kind of training program have you followed? Did it work? I’m hoping to follow Hanson’s Marathon Method as closely as I can to see if it’ll work for me, but I’m curious to see what others ones people have had success with.

Posted in Marathon Mondays, Running, Thoughts

Marathon Mondays – Week 11 of Chicago Marathon Training

Week 11 of Chicago marathon training is officially over and boy did the week drag on and on and on. I was sick and plagued with allergies all week long that running made it really difficult for me to breathe. Because of that, it was no surprise that I didn’t hit my weekly goal. Here’s a quick run down of how it went.

(Scheduled mileage)Actual mileage

Monday (5 miles)5 miles

After the AFC Half marathon, I was super happy to just run an easy 5 miles. Unfortunately, the run didn’t go very well. I was extremely congested and at times, my allergies got so bad I couldn’t breathe because I was experiencing heavy post-nasal drip. Trust me, it was not pretty.

Tuesday (4 x 1.5 mile with 1 mile WU and CD)No miles

Because of Monday’s fiasco, I decided against running my intervals. I didn’t think I’d have the strength to do it AND I still had to prepare for my defense, which was the next day. A day of rest, wouldn’t kill me, right? At least, that’s what I kept trying to convince myself.

Wednesday (Rest)Rest

Oh and I also defended and got my Ph.D. No big deal. LOL. J/k. It is a HUGE DEAL! πŸ™‚ I’ll write a post on this later.

Thursday (9 mile tempo run with 1 mile WU + CD)7.2 mile “easy” run

I still wasn’t 100%, but decided to try and do the tempo run anyway. It really bothered me that I was missing out on so many miles. I, again, had breathing problems and had to constantly blow my nose to make sure I could breathe properly. Then around mile 3, I had digestive issues and had to pause my run. I considered calling it then, but I was really worried about the low weekly mileage (especially with only a month and a half left til the race) and decided to keep going. At 7 miles, I was done.

Friday (5 miles)5 miles

These set of miles were thankfully better than Thursday’s. I wasn’t as motivated to run since I had one hell of a week, but managed to get it in.

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Saturday (8 miles)16 miles

I was only scheduled to do a 10 mile long run this weekend, but because I might be going to Vegas next weekend (to celebrate my graduation), which is also the same weekend as my second 16 mile run, I somehow convinced myself that I should do the 16 this weekend.  The run didn’t start out great. My calf muscles were really tight and I still wasn’t sure how bad my allergies would be, but I felt better after 6 miles in and after passing the 8 mile mark, I was committed to finishing the 16.

Sunday (10 miles)5.7 miles

Woke up and just dragged my feet to get ready. To get myself a bit more pumped about running, I decided to listen to a podcast on my run. The BibRave Podcast this week was on Tim Murphy, one of the co-founders of BibRave, and his experience during the Leadville 100 Trail race. There’s also commentary from his team and pacers and it was such a motivating podcast to listen to while I was trying to run. I was originally only going to do 4.7, but because Tim had done 100+ miles, I thought “Why not? Another mile won’t kill me” and ended with 5.7 miles. πŸ™‚

Total mileage (49 miles)39 miles


Thoughts of the Week: This week I missed the most mileage I’ve ever missed during the training program. It sucks, but because I also got my PhD this week and interviewed for a job while still sick, I’m going to give myself a pass and consider this still a win. πŸ™‚ I’m still very fatigued, but I still have 6 weeks to go and anything can happen in that time. πŸ™‚

Question for you: How was your week? Anything exciting happen?