The race is getting closer, and I feel it getting more and more real. This week was “peak week” where I would complete my first 40-mile week and finish a 20 mile run. While I had slacked the last few weeks, I was determined to complete all 40 miles this week. I’m excited about the race, but I’m definitely nervous. This was like the last night to study before a big exam…YIKES!

Monday

Even though I had good intentions for the week, I went on a bike ride but didn’t do an actual strength workout. I had a lot of fun on my bike, so I need to keep doing that going forward – it’s hard!

Tuesday

I ran 5 miles with my neighbor doing a little bit of a speed workout. I still only averaged a 12:05/mile pace, but I was running at a 9 minute or below pace for my 0.25 mile sprints (then walking for recovery).

  • 1.5 mile warm up
  • 0.25 mile sprint / 0.25 recovery walk (repeat this until mile 4)
  • 1 mile steady to finish

Wednesday

Of all the runs on the training plan, this was one of the top three that made me nervous; the other two were the 18 mile and 20 mile runs. For many of these Wednesday semi-long runs, I think the mental hurdle may have been the hardest. This one, 10 miles, was quite daunting. I laid out my clothes the night before, had a plan, and made sure to get out the door on time. I just had a Honey Stinger waffle beforehand then took two Huma gels at miles 4 and 7.

In the end, I did my 5-mile run twice. My average pace was 12:08/mile, which is pretty good. Doing loops of my common paths has been really helpful for me. I think it helps to take the mental hurdle away.

Churchill and me before his haircut

Thursday

When I went downstairs on Thursday, I was dressed and ready to go. I opened up the door to take out the dogs and…it was raining! Such a bummer. I just couldn’t bring myself to run 5 miles, so I snuggled with the pups instead before they haircut.

Friday

As I mentioned, I was determined to complete all 40 miles this week. I got out early on Friday morning and did a 5-mile hill workout. I hadn’t done a hill workout in a long time, but I felt great! Even with a hill workout, I beat all of my other paces this week. This run was done at an average of 11:49/mile, which made me really happy.

Saturday

This ended up being a hangout day. I paddle boarded for a while, which was great exercise, but otherwise, was pretty lazy.

Sunday

Planning

20 Miles. The most scary run on the training schedule. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew I had to finish it. The furthest I had trained in my two previous marathons was 18 miles for the 2018 Disney Marathon and 16 for Dopey 2020. I never completed my training plan, and I was never confident at the start of the race. Even if it took me all day and I had to walk the entire way, I was going to finish 20 mile milestone.

I think one of the best things I learned during this training cycle is planning out my running path. It’s daunting to say “I’m going to run 20 miles” and not know how far that is. I’ve enjoyed doing loops of my common routes, and I feel like this has mentally made longer distances easier. So, all week I toyed with doing 4 loops of my 5 mile path or doing 3 of my 6 mile route with an extra two. In the end, I opted for the latter.

The Run

This proved to be very effective. I went out at 6:20 am knowing it would take me around 4 hours to finish. Having a realistic time in my head also helped with the mental challenge of running. I lined up podcasts from Bigger Pockets, Dave Ramsey, Marathon Training Academy, For the Long Run, and I’ll Have Another. Podcasts are a great source of information and inspiration, and best of all, they are FREE! Listening to Trevor from Marathon Training Academy discuss his grueling marathon in the Italian Alps was very entertaining as I attempted my own grueling workout. I discovered running podcasts a few months ago, and it has challenged me to think differently about my running, much like running blogs did at the beginning of this training cycle.

Each lap was hard, but I kept going. I got really tired in the middle, but was able to stay strong at the end of my final lap. In the end, I averaged a 12:43/mile pace, which I was very pleased with. I was most happy that I finished my 20 mile training run and that I got in the miles!

Looking Ahead

This was the final high-mileage week. Tappering starts now, and I’m only 3 weeks away from the big day. An exciting update from the week was that Chicago Marathon put out the participant’s guide, which was my bedtime reading Thursday night. It’s becoming more and more real! Time to focus and start my visualization exercise from my first marathon to think about how I will feel at each stage of the race.

2021 Chicago Marathon Course Map