Marathon Training -- First week in the books!

In my previous post, I mentioned that I am now focusing my sights upon the upcoming Chicago Marathon this October. I am signed up for it, and I am running it with several friends, so I better get started on my training. This past week was the start of that training.

Coming off the North Shore Half left me tired, and admittedly a little discouraged. I am glad I finished, and I think I was pretty smart about taking it slow in response to the race conditions, but I was still left feeling like I walked just a little too much. (This is irrational thinking on my part, but it is more an emotional reaction than a rational one).

I gave myself permission to rest up from Sunday so I skipped my Tuesday run and worked to detox my body. My masseuse suggested that my body was probably still 'toxic' from the AVON weekend which might have been why my legs felt so heavy and my energy level was low. Toxic, meaning that there were likely still a lot of lactic acid and other byproducts of my exertion that my body had not purged in the six days between races.

(Mustard oil baths, aromatherapies, saunas, drinking lots of liquids after a massage/foam rolling, and basic sweating (while at rest) are all ways to encourage the body to purge the junk out of our bodies, clear the pores, and recover more quickly.)

I did get myself up early on Thursday morning for an easy run to kick things off. I needed to feel better about my fitness level after my performance last Sunday. So I got in a solid 4.7 miles at a 10:11/mm pace that morning. It took me about a mile before I feel into a good breathing and cadence rhythm but after that, it was really a good time! Then I went to my chiropractor for an adjustment and some PT. Boy I felt pretty darn good that day!

Then Saturday, since I didn't run on Tuesday, I decided to get in another run. This time I went for 5.7 miles. It was warmer and more humid that Thursday, which made it more challenging, but it was still a good, consistently paced run at a 10:34/mm pace. There were a lot of fellow runners and cyclists out that morning so there was a lot of 'shared greetings' throughout the run which made me feel pretty good as well.

Later that day, I went for a massage. I wanted to have some focus upon my calves and hip areas, as well as my upper back and shoulders. As usual, Toni was exceptional. And she applied lavender to my shoulder to help with the remainder of the nagging pain there from what I am pretty sure was a bee sting during the AVON Full.

She and I also discussed an herb called Arnica which can be used topically as an anti-inflammatory and pain relief treatment as well as a healing agent. She indicated that it could be used instead of Vitamin E as a topical ointment/creme on sore areas (like for your Achilles or IT Band). This turned into quite a discussion of aromatherapy and other homeopathic alternatives for various ailments. Very interesting stuff!

So with 10+ miles under my belt for the first week of training, I woke up early today to attend the first Long Run with the RRCA Marathon Training group. The run was scheduled for 6:30am so I got myself ready, ate a pre-race breakfast of a banana, milk, and a GU, and met up with the group.

I did not know what to expect. There were probably 20-25 people there of all experience levels. I was pleased to know I was not the only one there who was training for their first marathon. We were scheduled for a 7-mile run. We broke into various pace groups and I chose the 11-12/mm group.

The first annoyance I had was my water bottle. It kept falling out of the belt! This has NEVER happened to me before. It did it twice! I felt like such a noob! I ended up having to hold the bottle in my hand the entire run! Guess I will be getting a new fuel belt this week... may an iFitness belt this time.

The run started off pretty comfortably for the first 3.7 miles (at a 10:45/mm pace), which was where our water station was set up for this run (it is very cool that the Long Runs have actual water stations set up). We chatted for about 4 minutes at the water station. That's when I learned that two women in our group were also training for the 'Chicago' -- so I was not alone.

It was around 72 degrees but much more humid than the day before. As we started back, I found myself slowing down a bit. We had two pacers with our group so Melody chose to stay with me since I was new and did not know the route.

She and I pretty much ran the rest of the way back together. We were running at an 11:00/mm pace more or less which felt better. The legs felt fine but the humidity was making it difficult for me (and running the day before probably didn't help matters either). Twice during the run back, I took a 30-60 second walk break to drink water, bring my heart rate down, and refuel.

We talked quite a bit, which helped to keep my mind off the fact that I was the last person. I hated the idea that on my first Long Run with the group, I would be the last one to finish. But it is what it is, and perhaps it would be good to see how I would be greeted at the end. If they were less than gracious, then I would know to find another group.

Well, Melody was so nice and encouraging, that I finished the 7.5 miles in a good mood. The run ends at the Healthbridge outdoor pool (which we get to use to cool down) where they had water, Gatorade, and bagels. I chatted with several runners who were all very nice and welcoming. I felt 'okay' and not at all singled out for being the last person in.

I would have liked to stay longer but I had to hurry home to shower, change, and go to church with my daughter. I walked to my car with another runner named Toni who ran 'Chicago' in 2009 I think. She said she never would have finished if it hadn't been for the RRCA Training Program. She was excited for my journey towards that same goal.

So, I ended my first Chicago Marathon training week with 17.9 miles in three runs. Not bad for a start. Cari, our coach, suggested that I modify my weekly training plan to include a fourth Easy Run. So starting this week, I think I will be running Tuesday (Easy Run), Thursday (Track/Speed/Hill Work), Friday (Easy Run), and Sunday (Long Run). She specifically said it was important to follow a hard workout with an Easy Run the very next day.

Tomorrow (Monday) is a Rest Day for me so I think I will spend my morning in the Jacuzzi/Sauna, opening up those pores and purging some toxins. Then off to my Chiropractor appointment, and then to the office.

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