I got some bad news from Andrea yesterday. She's not able to go to Chicago with me, because her husband's grandma is very ill. I'm not mad about it, of course, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. Going to a destination race alone doesn't have much appeal! At first, I was tempted to just say "Screw it!" and not go myself. But I trained for this race all summer, harder than I've ever trained for anything, and I know I'd regret not going.
So, instead of going to my sister's house on Thursday, I'm going to go on Friday. I'll stay there Friday night, and then go into the city on Saturday via train. I'll go to the expo, and dinner, and then to the hotel (Andrea switched it to my name, so at least I have a place to stay on Saturday night!). On Sunday morning, I'll run the race, hop on a train, and go back to my sister's house. Very anticlimactic.
A couple of my Ragnar SoCal teammates are also running Chicago, and when I mentioned what happened, they said I could hang out with them on Saturday. I was excited to meet them anyway, so it worked out well! I'm going to meet up with Caitlin and go to the expo, and then we'll meet Cat and her friend for dinner. The only time I think I'll feel kind of lonely is Sunday morning. I'm nervous to go to the race by myself, because I have a terrible sense of direction!
Anyway, I'm done feeling sorry for myself, and I'm starting to look at the positives of going alone--I can go to bed early, wake up early, not have to share a bathroom, take my time getting ready, etc. And I'm very excited to meet up with Caitlin and Cat!
This morning, I had five miles at an easy pace on the schedule. Usually, I do speed work on Tuesdays, so it felt kind of strange to be doing just five easy miles. It was in the low-40's this morning, which felt great for a run! I wore some UA Cold Gear tights and a long sleeved top. I even wore a light pair of gloves, since I wasn't going to be running hard enough to keep warm.
I felt really amazing today, and my legs wanted to go fast... I could feel it. But I held back, and tried to stay between a 10:00-10:40/mi pace. I want to save all of my energy for the marathon on Sunday. It was actually pretty hard to run that slowly when my legs wanted to go faster; every time I found myself spacing out, I noticed my pace would get down to the low 9:00's, so I would slow down again. I'm taking that as a good sign that tapering is working, and I'll have lots of energy on Sunday.
I decided to do a five-mile out-and-back run. When I got to the end of the road, where I had to go either right or left, I was confused for a minute--I couldn't remember where I was going. Then I realized I'd forgotten to turn around at the 2.5 mile mark! BAHAHA, that has never happened to me before. I was so lost in my thoughts that I forgot to turn around. I hardly ever do "just" five miles anymore, so I'm used to going all the way to that road and turning.
Thankfully, I only went about 0.33 miles past where I should have turned around. So when I got home, I'd run 5.65 miles instead of 5. I kept my pace pretty close to 10:00 the whole time.
Tomorrow is my rest day; Thursday, I have 6 miles easy; Friday, 5 miles easy; and Saturday, 3 miles easy. It just seems so... easy :) Then, of course, Sunday I have a tough 26.2! I plan on taking at least a full week off of running after the marathon, both for my physical recovery and my mental recovery from running hundreds of miles over the last few months.
A couple of people have asked me about the difference between Gu and Shot Bloks, and why I use both. Gu is a packet of a sugary gel, with the texture of frosting, only a little thinner (the chocolate reminds me of chocolate frosting):
The Shot Bloks are like gummy bears, only a cube-shape:
One packet of Gu offers about 100 calories and 20 grams of carbohydrates. It's roughly the equivalent of three Shot Bloks, which are 90 calories and 24 grams of carbohydrates.
Carbs are really important to eat while running long distances, because your body can only store so much. Once you run out of what's stored in your body, then you "hit the wall" and it's not fun at all. It's not mandatory to use Gu or Shot Bloks, or other brands of similar items. You can use any form of carbs--dried fruit, dates, candy, whatever sits well in your stomach and digests easily.
I personally prefer to use both Gu and Shot Bloks. I like Gu, but I can only handle two packets of it before my stomach starts getting icky. When I did the Detroit Marathon, Rik had some Shot Bloks, and since I couldn't stomach the thought of another Gu, he offered me a couple of those. They didn't bother my stomach at all!
The general rule of thumb that I follow during the marathon is to eat about 100 calories per hour--so either one Gu packet or three Shot Bloks. The Shot Bloks are nice because you don't have eat them all at once. I like to stagger them every couple of miles. The Gu is pretty messy, so I eat the whole packet at once. It's important to drink water with the Gu or Shot Bloks, so I usually aim to eat them just before a water station.
I like the Margarita-flavored Shot Bloks, because they have extra sodium--210 mg--and, well, they taste good! The Gu only has about 55-65 mg of sodium. So basically, I use both Gu and Shot Bloks for variety, and taste preference; but it's important to find what works for you. There are a ton of different products targeted for running and other exercise, but you can also experiment with natural foods, if that's your thing.