One more hard week to go in my Chicago training cycle, and then taper. This cycle seems like it's gone by pretty quickly. I think a lot of that is that I've always run my fall marathons in late November, so tapering in September just feels weird. Shifting back to 5 days on land/2 days in the pool has also helped a lot - shifting between pool and land seems to keep me mentally fresher.
My breathing continued to improve this week, showing that the shift in asthma meds was the right choice. I was taking my antihistamines in the morning, but I noted some sluggishness, so I decided to shift to taking them at night, which seems to help.
I only had two hard workouts this week - the 25x400m on Wednesday morning, and then my final "4-3-2-1" on Saturday. The 25x400m workout (25 reps of 400m with 100m "floating" recovery) is supposed to be executed at 10K pace, but I ended up running slightly slower due to the warm conditions. (Summer marathon training does suck sometimes.) My coach and I were both pretty happy with how the workout went.
The 4-3-2-1 went wonderfully. We were gifted with slightly cooler air, albeit accompanied by a fair bit of wind as tropical storm Hermine grazed the east coast. This workout (intervals of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles at marathon pace with one mile easy between) is the only workout I use my watch for. While I normally prefer to target an effort level and let paces fall where they will, I've found that what feels like "marathon pace effort" is generally too optimistic for me, and has no relationship to the pace I actually hold on race day. So for these workouts, I set my Garmin to show average pace and watch it.
I've been targeting 7:10-7:15 pace as my marathon pace, and that pace felt like cake on Saturday. Almost too easy. It was tempting to pick up the pace, but I kept the brakes on - I want to have one training cycle where I run all of the long runs very conservatively, pace-wise, to see how that works for me. The reward was a nice confidence booster - I don't think I've ever felt so good at the end of a 4-3-2-1 workout. Let's hope that's a good sign.
During Saturday's long run, I experimented with wearing a white running hat. I'm usually not a running hat person unless it rains - I much prefer sunglasses to a visor or hat bill for blocking sunshine. But I have no experience with warm sunshiny marathons, and Chicago could be my first (knock on wood that it's not). Since I have long black hair that loves to absorb sunshine, my thought was that wearing a light colored hat to cover my dark hair might be helpful.
Even though Saturday was overcast, I wore a white ventilated running hat anyway, to see how I liked it in dry and warm conditions. The result? I hated it. It felt like I was running with a woolen ski cap on - I just have too much hair. So that's a definite no go for the race, unless it's raining. I'm glad I tried that now.
In non-running news, we went to see Kraftwerk on Saturday night. I'm guessing that not many people reading this blog know who Kraftwerk is, but trust me, every single one of you knows their music. If you're a fan of mainstream artists like (takes a deep breath) Depeche Mode, New Order, Madonna, Jay-Z, Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand, the Chemical Brothers, R.E.M., Daft Punk, Missy Elliot, or Kanye West for starters, then you've heard Kraftwerk - they're literally one of the most influential and most sampled bands in history.
Since the show is basically 4 guys from Germany in their 60s and 70s standing behind computers for two hours, they include a 3D video projection as part of the show. One band member mixes and programs the video live, while the other three cue up samples, mess with keyboards, and occasionally sing or speak. The result is one of the best shows I've ever been to. Definitely in my top ten concerts of all time (and I have to have seen at least 300 shows at this point).
They're only doing 9 cities in the US this tour, and all the shows may be sold out at this point. And, given the age of the band members, who knows how many more tours there will be. If you're a modern music fan, and you get the chance to see them - jump on it. You won't regret it.
Monday: 8 "miles" pool-running; 2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.
Tuesday: 7.5 miles very easy (8:48) then upper body weights, followed by 2.5 miles very easy home (8:52) plus drills and strides. 2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.
Wednesday: 12.5 miles, including a workout of 25x400m averaging 1:38 with 100m recovery averaging 31 seconds. Followed with 1000 yards of recovery swimming. Sports massage at night.
Thursday: 8.5 "miles" pool-running and yoga in the morning. 4.5 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night
Friday: 10.5 miles very easy (9:30), followed by upper body weights and core. 2 "miles pool-running and foam rolling at night.
Saturday: 17 miles, including a workout of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles at marathon pace, with 1 mile easy in between. Splits were:
4 mile in 28:41 (7:11/7:11/7:10/7:09 - average pace 7:10)
3 mile in 21:28 (7:07/7:11/7:10 - average pace 7:09)
2 mile in 14:23 (7:13/7:10 - average pace 7:11)
1 mile in 7:05
Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards of recovery swimming. Foam rolling in afternoon. Kraftwerk at night.
Sunday: 8 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling in the afternoon.