It's been 7-1/2 weeks since I last posted and it's not because I haven't had any stories to tell. Instead of blogging, I've just been plugging away at my training for the Oct. 9 Bank of America Chicago Marathon (I'm in the middle of Week 13 as we speak) and I just haven't had much time to write about it. Since the training segment started in the middle of June, I've logged 617 miles with probably close to another 300 to go.
It's kind of a shame I haven't, since this summer has been one of the more brutal ones I've run through and in the midst of it I've completely overhauled my habits. This is the first season I've worn sleeveless technical shirts and tank tops (I went from zero to a whole drawer full of them).
I routinely carry a spare shirt with me whenever I run any significant distance and cannot run without a towel. I've also taken to running with a visor just to keep sweat out of my eyes (I guess those sweatbands of the 70s aren't fashionable anymore).
Gone is the Camelbak for training -- I now rely on water fountains at various parks and when this isn't possible on a route, I bring a very small plastic bladder of water to drink. Early on, I tried to keep my water drinking to about six ounces every few miles, on pace with what you'd expect from aid stations on a marathon course. But now I make sure I drink when I need to.
Lake Clara Meer in Piedmont Park has been my friend -- I used the roughly .9 mile of paths around it for interval training and (some) long runs during my 2014 training for the Marine Corps Marathon but as soon as I found out I was accepted to run in the Chicago Marathon, I knew I would do most of my training there, since it is one of the few flat stretches near me. I get a kind of sick joy thinking of when I ran around it 16 times for a long run. It still sounds crazy to me.
Upcoming festivals like Music Midtown are going to make me have to get creative on where I'm going to do my final set of workouts before the race.
I've bowed out of races that I'd signed up for previously before I knew I'd be doing a fall marathon -- the Aug. 6 Vinings Downhill Race for the Kids and likely the upcoming Big Peach Sizzler 10K on Labor Day. I'm a maybe for the inaugural Craft Classic Half Marathon on Sept. 10 but my marathon training schedule has become priority.
What I like about this training schedule this time around is that it feels easier for me. I've informally been following a very truncated Hansons schedule for nearly two years now since the Marine Corps Marathon and it's brought me speed, fitness and running success. I also feel like two years ago, I trained at a pace that wasn't challenging enough for me.
This time around, it's plenty challenging and everything is done at a much faster pace. I've been very mindful about not going too fast but already just running at a moderate clip (and not trying) I'm informally breaking PRs I've held in longer distance races or running at a pace that would have broken longtime bests that have fallen in recent races.
The heat has affected my training, though. I'm only now coming off of a period in which speedwork I'm accustomed to doing was not even doable for me and it's a huge relief now there's a little change in humidity that things seem to be back to normal.
There are costs involved -- I am often sore. The frequency of my FitStar workouts have decreased by half since I started this training cycle, although it's nice to know I do more burpees than when I started the smartphone sessions at the beginning of the year.
During this training segment, I've dropped five pounds below what I consider to be a good race weight for me. At a benefit of two less seconds per mile for each pound lost, you can bet I'm eager to enter the marathon as light as I can safely be.
The effect of all this work won't really be known until race day. I have a Plan A, B and C but there are a lot of unknowns like what the weather will be and what I really can do that day.
But posts or no, I'm still around, crushing the daily streak and maybe someday I'll tell you about the time when a three-car pileup happened just feet from me halfway through a 10-mile run or the time I made the mistake of pausing another long run to enter the sauna-like robotoilet in Piedmont Park.