Monday, October 31, 2011

I Can't Sit Down But I Am on TOP of the World

As day one post marathon has come to an end, I don't think I have ever stopped smiling.  I am pretty much over the top, out of my mind, psyched about this marathon.  For me, I truly feel as I went in there and crushed this thing.  It was, in my mind, a total, utter, success!  I did not just make it, I dominated it! And I am keeping my positive, on top of the world attitude and that is that!!  Maybe it is the amount of sugar from Gus or the three chocolate chip cookies and ice cream yesterday or the adrenaline rush or the runner's high that is having this impact on me, but I am just soaring.

However, soaring, is a theoretical term because in actuality, I am moving a bit slowly today.  Getting up and down (yes just up and down forget about the stairs) are hard, and don't even talk to me about the bathroom.  Seriously, why is the toilet seat so freaking low?!? Steps....well, they are just getting progressively harder.  Where does this leave me.  Happy, proud, excited?  You bet!  If I feel this way, I must have given it my all.   And my all it come the splits, courtesy of my wonderful supporting runners

Erin reported back

1   10:00.1
7  9:37.7

I know Mile 18 was somewhere around 8:48.  And Liz added to the mix at Mile 19 and change...
Ok, so maybe Liz was going a bit faster than me at points, but I am going with the theory that it all evens out so that was my pace too, right?  Come on Liz, tell me it was about even, boost my ego just a little bit more haha.  Either way, I could not be happier.  This is pretty much exactly what I wanted.  All training I struggled.  I did not get it right.  The food was off, the hydration was off, and I never ever negative split.  In fact, in my last major run at Bay State Half, I did the exact opposite - I positive split, got bad side cramps, and massive blisters.

Yet, yesterday, everything went fine.  Everything we thought about, everything I stressed about during taper, was executed perfectly.  From the moment, I crossed the start line, it was as if I was in some surreal, runner's zone.  It was like, I knew what I was doing.  It was like I had trained for it.  All my comments about how, yes I put in the miles but had not trained for the right food, just faded away and I just did it because that is what had to be done to become the marathoner I wanted and needed to be.

Something just clicked.  I got there.  I knew I was runner.  I crossed the start line and I put my plan into action.

Highlight Reel - When It Just Clicks

1)  Hydration: As soon we started, Erin handed me water and we kept hydrating from there on in.  Even the mile or two on my own, I ran through the water stops and drank up, Liz even got me Gatorade (which I swore I could not do at other times) and I drank it like a champ, even enjoying it (go figure!).

2)  Timing:  I stressed a ton on this one.  My coach never gave me times, just finally told me on the last day - first three miles slowest, 3-6 steady, 6-16 comfortable 16-23 race it, 23 to finish you will just get there because you are there.  You know I was ecstatic to race into Boston and tell him the good news this morning.  Coach, you wanted this plan? Sure here it is.  No problem.  His response: fist pump!!  That's right.  But where did it come from?  Well, first Erin gave me an awesome breakdown which was perfect. Thanks lady.  And then also...

I listened to body, I watched my times, I fought my body, and I just let the training take over.  From the start, Erin and I were constantly checking our watches.  I refused to do this too much because I needed and wanted to enjoy the race, the scenery, and the crowds, but I checked it just enough to keep myself on target.  If we saw a 8 something and were in mile 11, I said let's slow down.  If I saw we were to slow, we sped up.  We anticipated the future as much as possible, preparing for the next step.  Feeling our bodies and getting our minds ready for the challenge.  When we wanted to get faster, we did so progressively, listening and responding.

I ignored, the negative thoughts.  An ankle that said early on, no go today Steph, quads that were screaming, a tiny voice at Mile 2 whispering that if upper 9s were hard, we would never get lower.  I just would not talk or dance with that.  Not on MY day. But ultimately, it was like a dream.  It just happened.  I put in the time, hours,  commitment, and dedication and it all unraveled before my tapering folks out there. I know you will go crazy, but from one crazy lady to another (or men, you too):  You did it, you are there, sit back and let the magic unfold....

3) Nutrition:  Another wonderful stressor.  So much so that I packed sooo many options for the course.  I had no idea what was going to happen. I knew I did not want to do just Gus and Blocks. I needed to do real food.  I also knew I needed to do more food than I usually do on training runs.  Not just one an hour but more!!  I had literally calculated exactly when I was going to eat beforehand.  It was good for me to have that, but I did not do it exactly.  I listened to my body.  I thought it was going to be soo hard to think about when and what and how much to eat while running.  But my body just told me and I did the hardest thing, I listened.  I made the snap judgment to obey my body's needs and it rewarded me.  So I slowed down, I took the Gu, then the Blocks, then Granola Bars, and then more Gu.  Only regret, those Girl Scout cookies people were handing out at Mile 8 looked kind of yummy...hmmm maybe I should go back..

That's enough race day talk for one moment, insert sad face here.  Actually I will keep talking about it if you will let me ;)  I just can't get enough.  Sorry people, but there is still more to tell (hey I was out there for a while!).   I hope you come back for more - I have some great giveaways coming up and a bit of apologies to do.  Last week, I had my Nuun Giveaway and there are THREE WINNERS:

Mackenzi Hunter
Quinnys Mom
Miss Teacher

Email me your addresses ladies and you are going to get a nice package in the mail soon! Well, as soon as I can bend down and pick it up and sit in the car to get to the post might be awhile, but not too long, I have a Turkey Trot and Vegas Half to get moving on (you did not think I was just going to retire now did you?!?!)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Am A F'kin Marathoner, Thank You Very Much!

And just like that, I am a marathoner. Well, ok not just like that...

Where to begin?  Please excuse me for boring you with a million MCM posts from here on out, but can you really blame me?!  I think we should just start off with a basic recap and see if I have anything else to say from there (who are we kidding, there is always more to say right....).

Sunday morning I woke up bright and earlier - 3:30 a.m.  I actually could have slept until 5:15, but who can sleep when you are going to run a marathon.  Not this girl, who I received a message from around the same time I woke up.  She had some great advice....

-If it bothers you even a little now, it'll bother you a lot after 26.2, so fidget until you get it feeling right
-Even though its cold, you can still get a sunburn (oops my suntan lotion remained in the car by accident)
-Remember that a positive attitude can pull you a lot of miles.  Don't get overly caught up in goals.  If you see a goal slip away, accept it, adjust it and move" ( I LOVE THIS)

We were in the car by 6:00.  It was a cluster f**k getting there.  I was soo stressed.  I was told to drive and park at Arlington Cemetery.  We could not get anywhere near there.  Maybe it was normally ok, but from where we were coming from, not so much.  I don't blame anyone who gave me advice, apparently the Metro was no fun either.  Either way, I was freaking out, my Dad and Aaron were stressed too, everyone was trying to do there best, but  it was BAD.  At one point, we got to a blocked off point where a cop was.  My Dad asked the cop what to do.  His response "Good luck, there are 30,000 runners, you can let your runners out."  I was like see you.. thanks coppie..uhh not.  Overall, not knowing the area really sucked and the paper and website totally lied about road closures.  End result - Aaron and I jumped out and Dad had to park soo far, I am sorry Dad!! But I am glad I got out, because I would have never made it in time if I had not.

So as Dad parked (a.k.a drove and parked way far away), Aaron and I attempted to find the start.  However,  what we soon found out was that we had been dropped off at the finish = FAIL.  No one seemed to know where they were going.  We thought we had to go over this muddy area to get to the start.  Uhhh nope.  At least I got not one but two piggyback rides across the mud to save the shoes.  haha. Seriously, muddy shoes on race day, no thank you!

I will save you any of the other drama, but mainly the rest of the morning went something like this.  Walk a mile to the start, shiver, get to the start, shiver shiver, open up hand warmers, freeze some more because those things take forever to work, go to the porta potty (partly to warm up,  take shoes off to put on Vasoline, feel even colder, go back to the porta potty, find Erin (this girl ran 17 miles with me!), go to the porta potty (take a picture), shiver shiver, use body heat of other runners in corral, run!

Yay it is 35 degrees out! Actually ended up being perfect!

The start was great.  We crossed the line 6 minutes after the gun went off.  My only major complaint was how truly crowded it was and not just at the start.  This race was jam packed and felt pretty congested until we got out well into the 15 mile marker.  And when you are not feeling good, it feels pretty bad to be so up close and personal with others.  It did break up at times but there was some unneeded weaving which made my Garmin blink about 26.62  by the end of it all.  Notice the about here.  I just checked my Garmin, I don't know how but the whole freaking race got deleted from the Garmin, c'est la vie!! I have a general idea and maybe Erin and Liz can send me theirs and I can make a general guestimate.   

At the outset, the coach had told me that I should try to do the following - first three miles the slowest, go three to six fairly even, 6-16 at a comfortable pace, race 16-23 and the last three you will just do it because you will get there.  Erin was awesome and came up with some great times - we decided to go for:

Mile 1 - 10:00 Mile 2: 9:50 Mile 3: 9:40  Mile 4-6: 9:30-9:40 Mile 6-16: 9:00-9:20 Mile 16-26: 8:45-9

From what I recall and the mile splits I do know, I could not be happier.  At the 10K mark, we were at a 9:48 pace, by 20K we were at 9:35, 30K we were at 9:27, 40K 9:24, and at the finish it was a total of 9:26 pace with a time of 4:07:28 - TAKE THAT MARATHON.  No it was not as fast as I had hoped, but I honestly could not be more thrilled.  I did not leave anything out there.  I gave it my all and I am so proud.  And I will be back, see you there 3:59:59 ;)

So here we go back to the long ordeal.  As you may have heard, my ankle and I have not been cooperating this week.  Well, it was not excited about the run and it told me that from the start.  It kept trying to talk to me.  But I remembered what some wise ladies told me as well as my coach, I just ignored it.  Every time my ankle wanted to talk to me (and it was often) I told it that I was not talking to it.  In fact, anytime, anything bothered me, I just said, I am not talking to you right now.  And moved on.  It helped a ton!  Yet, I am not going to lie, it made me very nervous that at an "easy for me pace" to start, I was not feeling good.  How was I going to pick it up if it did not feel good so early?!?  But I did not dwell, I just went with the flow.

Erin and I settled in as we tried to make room for ourselves in those first six miles.  We did not talk a ton but did have little bits of conversation here or there, which was great!  Just knowing she was there and we were in it together, made the world of difference!  We also had our own dialogue going on in the form of pointing - you know what I mean, point when you see people peeing on the side of the road (every two seconds), point at beautiful scenes (abundant), and point out fun shirts and funky outfits (a.k.a Batman!).  We also started off drinking a ton of water.  Erin was awesome she carried her handheld and this saved me.  My shoulders are awful and can't do this (I am working on the belt, right Robin?).   Not only did she carry and remind me to drink, she was a pro at refilling at water stations.  I did not dehydrate because of her, Liz, and Aaron (as displayed by my six very slow trips to the bathroom at dinner lol).  At about Mile 5.50, I took my first Vanilla Gu as well and we continued on up a pretty steep hill, we love hills, I reminded Erin, no walking, right?!?

Once we got up the hill, the crowd support really started and never gave up!  People were out of control!  They screamed my name the whole time, and I fed off it.  It empowered me.   People had amazing signs, their were bands, fun costumes, and kids to high five.  It is not easy being a spectator.  But I appreciated it so much.  We headed into the Georgetown area, at this point, (I believe) and the support continued.  I had run this portion of the run with Liz in September and I totally bonked and my ankle killed.  I refused to allow this to happen again. I kept my head up and let the experience take me away...

Finally, at Mile 11.50ish, we saw Aaron. Poor Aaron, he had all of our stuff still from this morning, my backpack gym bag and my food bag for mile 12 in his hands.   It was crazy!! He was running with us as we gave him clothing we wanted to discard and grabbing granola bars and Nuun water bottles from him. What an amazing guy!!!  Like I said, spectating is hard.  Spectating and being a pitcrew is even harder.  Thank you hun!!!  So Erin and I split a granola bar and continued on.  I also ate two shot blocks a mile or two earlier.  Every time, we ate, I slowed us down (poor, Erin, I was barking orders left and right, hopefully it was not too bad, sorry girlie).  But I wanted us to slow down and digest.

As we rounded the corner for 13.50, I told Erin, let's try to start picking it up at Mile 14.  We had been holding 9:15/9:20 and I wanted to get us down somehow.  So we started conservatively with 9:10/9:12.  At about 15 point something or other, we actually got to see Aaron. This time he was taking pictures.
Two thumbs up for marathoning at Mile 16 something
Kisses for marathoners!

Dad had the bag ready (thank you Dad!!!! You were amazing), I took two granola bars and handed one to Erin and shouted nuun at Aaron.

Read my lips Nuuuunnnn!!

 CRAP he yelled.  But like a trooper soon there he was racing up to us with a bag full of goodies.  He handed me a 8 oz bottle of nuun which I downed and I beamed with pride when Erin asked for Gatorade and out it came.  I ate the Granola Bar like a champ and continued to drink.  My quads were killing me by then, but again I was not letting them talk to me.

After that, I started to feel good and I believe we began to get close to the 9:00 min mark, if not lower.   This is awful, but somewhere it clicked to ask Erin how she was doing.   I know, I am sorry lady.  I am soo selfish and then felt bad that she was feeling not so hot.  But encouraging her, helped me go further. I wanted to see her do great. She is going to rock Philly! I can't wait!!!  Erin said her goodbyes at mile 17 (she finished another 3 and is now at taper, CONGRATS lady you made it. Thank you again).

After we parted ways, I felt GOOD!  I would look at my watch and see 8:30/8:45 and was feeling STRONG!  I was passing people and could not believe how good I felt at Mile 17, 18, 19.  I was smiling for the camera and enjoying it.  Taking it ALL in!  I took another Gu and continue on the high.  I was to meet Aaron at 19 with Liz and she was going to jump.  Aaron ended up going right to the finish so  I did not see him and I almost missed Liz.  All of a sudden, she came running up from behind, just in time for the bridge! Liz was unstoppable.  She was full of great words and encouragement.  She kept telling me how great I looked and how fast I was going.  And I felt it!!  I started rocking out to my music and told her that this was a cursing, dance party type race.  We hit Mile 20.01 and I said "wait for it, ok this is the furthest I have ever run!"  She responded by yelling at the crowd "CHEER FOR STEPH THIS IS HER FIRST MARATHON."  I grinned from ear to ear.  She continued to yell, I continued to smile.

So then came the famous MCM Bridge.  It was long, like over a mile, I think.  I was ready to crush it and told Liz that.  We passed a ton of people and I kept telling myself, I would not walk,  I would not listen to my quads, I would get over this part.  Liz, at some point told me, get through this part and then glory, everyone will be there cheering.  That took me so far!  I loved that and used it for the rest of the race.

At Mile 22, we came off the bridge, and I had about had it.  My quads were sooo done.  Liz got me Gatorade and it helped but my stomach had, had it.  In Mile 22, you go through a portion where you watch the Mile 23 people going the other way, I just wanted to be there.  As I got almost there, I smelled hot dogs.  UGH really people!?!  I know you are cheering and want to eat.  But do you really have to do this to me YUCK! It was awful.  But when I finally, got to the turn around point, and was at Mile 23, it did not feel much better, of course right?  I kept powering through though.  I kept up my mantras, remembered that this was my time and moved forward.  Liz ran this race last year and she is crazy knowledgable and she would tell me what we had to do.  Well, the Reader's Digest version that.  Just over this part Steph, then you will round the corner to the finish portion.  I tried to translate.  What did it really mean?  This really meant soften the blow of another bridge for ooh another half mile.  Just a little up hill at the end = get ready to die.  But I loved it!  It was perfect.

The last 3.2 were slow.  But amazingly not that slow.  When I looked at my watch, I never saw 10:00, I saw 9:30 mostly and I am sure some higher (choosing to block those out, thank you very much).  The last .2 was up a big hill.  Ok, well maybe a was short but steep and crowded hill.  People were stopping and walking.  Yes, I admit it, I had to push my way through to continue to run.  But there was no walking for me on this hill.  I had come all this way with no walking or stopping breaks (minus one moment to fix my shoe before Mile 1), and I was NOT stopping now.  In fact, I continually told myself that I was going to crawl before I was going to walk.

And then there I was, I did it.  I crossed the finish line.  26.2 Miles, 2 Gus, 2 Shot Blocks, 1.5 Granola Bars and countless hours of work and efforts and we had done it to help me become a marathoner!!! I could not be more proud, happy, and thankful to have had the opportunity to tackle 26.2 and I can't wait to see her again!
A very very very special thank you to all those who got me here, especially Aaron, Dad, Liz, Erin, Robin, Samantha, Colleen, and the PT/Coach. I am sorry, I can't list everyone.  You all helped so much. Thank you!  I can't wait to hear about everyone elses' experiences.  And thank you for all the wonderful encouragement.  It means sooo much :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Holy Crap Marathon Tomorrow!

That is all! Marathon tomorrow.  See you all on the flip side :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Motivational Mantras & Mensches for Marine Corps Marathon!

As we all know, while marathons are somewhat about the physical (you know just somewhat), a lot of it is about the mental game.  How can you keep your head in the game when the going gets tough?  There are some days when it just seems impossible, where you try and dig deep but can't find anything.  It seems like those days when you need to have your mental game the most that it is nowhere to be found.  And there are other days where it is so hard or hurts so good but you can muster those favorite mantras and power it to bring it home.  To me, it seems like a fine line, sometimes I have the energy to push through and stay motivated and positive and sometimes I just don't have the fight within me.  On those days, when I don't have the fight within me, I need these sayings or mantras & mensches the most.  It is these things that really get me through, and on Sunday they will push me as a demolish the WALL.

So let's start with the latter.  What is a mensch?  A mensch is a Yiddish meaning a person of integrity and honor.  So what does this have to do with marathons?  For me, I run with mensches all the time. Yes, they are my running partners.  But they are also people that are not running with me.  They are my mother, mother-in-law, my husband, my coach.  When the going gets tough, I imagine these people.  I know that they will get me through.  I think of everything they have taught me and given to me, I imagine them with me, looking over my shoulder and guiding me, pushing me, and moving me along.  It is these people that see me through.

For the marathon, I will take strength and courage from them.  For each mile, I will dedicate a mile to one of these people.  When things get tough, I will remember that they are with me, that I am running for them, with them, and because of them.  I plan to write their names on the top of my visor, so I don't forget them and so they can continue to look over me, as they always have.  As weird as this may sounds each of the miles chosen for these people has much meaning to me and are strategically placed to help me at the right times.  I plan on dedicating miles to many people (not listing all here) but some include my parents, grandparents, sibling, my mother-in-law, Aaron (of course, who offered that I could dedicate the entire last 6.2 to him, but he decided it was a cop-out), some of my amazing running friends - Erin, Liz, Robin, Colleen, Lindsay, and Samantha (yes you get your own miles), and Mali & Talia (Stephen came along too, hehe, of course he is included!).  Also, I am dedicating some miles to people who would love to but can't run :( I will run for them.

So what else will get me through?  Mantras!  You have to have mantras, right?  Throughout this training process, I have come up with a few of my own and have borrowed some from others, they include

1) Dig Deep
2) Never Give Up, Never Surrender
3) Stephanator!
4) Don't Deny Your Awesomeness
5) "Pain is temporary, a marathon is forever"
6) Run Hard, Run Strong, Run Proud, Run Happy
7) One Day I Will No Longer Be Able to Run, Today is NOT that day
8) Push Hard, Train Hard, Run Hard

Ok, that is only 8 mantras people and I have 26.2 miles to go!! Help me out, tell me some of your favorite mantras please.  Good luck to everyone racing this weekend and if you are not racing, come cheer us in D.C. or via Twitter (its all the same, you know...)

 Look at me Dad, I already crossed the finish line, well sorta....
 Attempting a jumping picture without the high speed camera = crazy fail
Loving the new marathon jacket

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quarantine: The Sickals

With the marathon in T-Minus 4 days, my house is on quarantine or rather should I say my husband.   That's right, you guessed it, both Aaron and I are not feeling so well.  While my symptoms mirror, pure exhaustion his are more acute - lots of coughing, loss of voice, and scratchy throat.  So all I can say is I am freaking out.  But am I surprised?  No, not all.  Ever since college, I have an uncanny ability to get sick right before big events - big tests, exams, you name it.  Now that I think about it, I was sick before my first half and Disney half, if that is supposed to be comforting.  I know it happens to the best of us and I know that the immune system is suppressed blah blah blah, but that does not make it any easier...

Now, back to Aaron and this cold.  I know I should be tending to his very needs, giving him big hugs, and kisses but in all honesty, I am NOT.  It is not that I don't love my husband.  I love him sooo much and want him to get better so badly.  But here is the thing, every time Aaron gets sick, I don't just catch his cold, I catch the super bug.  It is like Aaron's cold on crack. Yup there I said it.  So given the fact that I am already not feeling so well combined with Aaron's ability to give me his colds, I figure I am pretty much screwed.  But I AM running a marathon in four days, so I cannot and will not get sick!! Right?!?!

Thus, Operation Quarantine it is! Aaron and I have spent the day conversing from a distance.  He is currently on the other side of the couch while I remind him to cover his mouth when he coughs.  He enjoyed dinner because I made it, declaring that I did not want him touching my food.  As we move closer to each other, we cover our faces with our shirts....and yes he is being quarantined to the spare bedroom tonight.  So do you think I am the biggest jerk ever?  I guess I pretty much am.  I explained to Aaron, hey I am running a marathon. His response, I am not even questioning it. What an amazing guy!! I don't deserve him.

So for now, we are drinking lots of water, lots of tea, and lots of Orange Juice, hoping and praying that we get better/don't get sick.  Plus there is this random pain in my ankle that I am not appreciating right is going to be ok right?!?

Do you get sick before big events?  Do you get random fun pains?  Can you keep me calm?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Best Challah Recipe Ever

First off, my running buddy once had a blog and now she is back.  She is amazing, go check her out!!!

Second of all, I loved loved loved all your responses to my last post. I still owe people feedback, I promise it is coming!! It is crazy marathon week over here, but no excuses!

In honor of marathon week, I have been increasing gradually gorging on carbs.  I lovvvee carbs, what can I say, not much, other than I am a carb addict and proud of it. One of my favorite types of carbs is challah, a traditionally Jewish bread eaten on Shabbat.

My Kitchen Sunday Morning

In my husband's house growing up, challah was not something to be bought in the store.  Instead, it was a weekly treat that his mother would whip up as simply as if she was making a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe.   For many, challah is a difficult task.  It is incredibly hard to make the perfect challah - to get the right amount of flour, water, etc. to avoid inevitable doughy challah or the like.  For years, prior to meeting my husband I attempted to bake the best challah, and failed multiple times.  It was not until I met my husband, that I learned how to really make challah.

Within the first few months of dating my husband, his mother brought me into the kitchen and told me whats what as she danced around the kitchen teaching me how to make challah and rugleach.  The result was a beautiful golden challah, delicious cookies, and an amazing aroma that filled the air.    This, however, was not the first time she taught challah making.  My husband witnessed years earlier as my mother-in-law taught 40 women in her kitchen how to make this recipe.  And while I sometimes never make challah, it is really my husband that creates the magic, invoking his mother's challah making genes.

Thus this weekend we had our own group of 25 women over to learn how to make challah.  They each were assigned a kitchen aid, given the utensils, and partook in making their very own challah.  Aaron taught them the temperature for the water, the amount of flour needed, how to proof the yeast, and of course, how to add the cinnamon and sugar on top.  At the end of the day, everyone took home a braided challah to put in their ovens when they returned home.  While at our house, they got to sample fresh challah, challah french toast, and rugleach. 

While Aaron's mother is not here with us anymore, her challah making and many other qualities still shines through.  I can't help but share this with you all.  Now I am not a food blogger, so I am giving you the recipe the way it was given to me, the old fasion way...

What are your favorite carb meals pre-race?  

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Need to Pee: Peeing While Running!

Disclaimer:  this is an up close and personal post, I apologize in advance.  Btw, have you entered my giveaway for some nuun, it ends on Wednesday!

Do you use the bathroom ten times (at least) before you leave the house for a long run?  Will I find you in line for the porta-potties before a big race?  Are you worried about what to do if you have to pee and you are not even in half way through your half marathon?

I hope at least some of you said yes, because I need to know I am not alone on this one.  Since I have started running, the "need to pee" has haunted me or should I say stressed me out. What am I supposed to do if I have to pee during a race I wonder?  What am I going to do?  What if there are no porta potties around?   What if there are porta potties around and I don't want to give up precious seconds to take time to pee... WHAT IF?!?

Actually, in reality, there is only one time I have ever had to go during a race.  It was my first official race, the B.A.A Half 2008 and I made a rookie mistake of lining up way too early instead of 1) playing it smart and warming up, 2) going to the bathroom a million times, and 3) jumping in at the last second.  Well,you know how this story goes, as soon as I crossed the starting line, I felt the urge.  By Mile 3, I knew I had to stop.  So, like the experienced runner I was, at the first porta potty I saw, I stopped. Forget that I had to wait a good 5 minutes to use the toilet - it did not even occur to me at the time to be worried about this.  Instead, I was too obsessed with the idea of taking off my long sleeve, non dri-fit teeshirt and leaving it for the running gods as I waited in line.  Mind you, this meant taking off my running arm band that held my oversized iPod and then readjusting it on my now t-shirt, but I digress...

Today, I am not so carefree that I am willing to give up a good five freakin minutes for a potty break (it is totally ok and all the power to you if you are, but what can I say, I am "Type A" all the way.  So what do I do instead?  How do I avoid losing those moments that my take away my PR? I feel a list coming on ...

Top Five Ways on How Not to Lose a PR due to the Need to Pee

5)  Stop drinking an hour before the race.  Prior to the race you should be hydrating like crazy (you will know you are doing a good job if you feel the need to go like ooo 24/7).  The day of  the event drink 16 oz of water (I like some of this to be nuun) about 1.5 hours before the run.  But then cool it. You have done what you can do put down the bottle. 

4) Forget what I just said in #5, well sort of.  Right before the race let yourself have one more swing of water.  It will keep you tied over until your water stops.

3) Salt it up.  Make sure to consume salty foods (e.g., soup, pretzels, peanut butter, pickles).  These will help you retain water, remain hydrated, and stop the urge to go.

2) Make best friends with the porta potties BEFORE the race.  The best advice I ever got was get in line for the bathroom, go to the bathroom, then get back in line for the bathroom. It works!!  You can do all your stretching in line and then just warm up a little before. If nothing else, DO THIS!

1) Let it flow.  Ok, I know this is a bit controversial, but I have come to terms with it, so hopefully I won't lose some followers here.  For me, it is impossible to run when I have to go, bad, so when all of these things don't work, I recommend you just GO, and when I say go, I mean go in your pants.  Yes, there I have said it.  You may not agree with me.  But this is just how I roll (haha) I am cool, I pee my pants, and I am proud of it! 

I agonized over #1 (haha double meaning, love it) a ton!  Do I just go? How do I do it?  Will I chafe?  I even googled it, which actually came up with nothing.  So I was left to just go at it on my own.  How did I do it? I am telling you all this because I wanted to know how, but no one would tell me.  Well, simple, I just slowed a bit, relaxed and peed.  It was warm, it was yucky, my shorts felt meh, but in a few minutes all was forgotten and it was like I had never even gone.  That's it, that is all there is too it.  Although truth me told, i have only tried this in shorts, I am not sure how great it would be in capris or pants (stay tuned for that).

As per other bathroom habits, you all are on your own. I am not that brave, I hit the porta potties...I guess I am not that hardcore after all...

Don't leave me hanging out here people.  Fess up, what do you do or am I the only one out there with this wonderful habit...have I lost you yet?

Disclaimer:  these are just my thoughts and what has worked for me, so take it all with a grain of salt (again no pun haha) and do what is best for you and YOUR body!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Eating While Running - It's Like Cheating!!!

When I saw Dean Karnazes speak, he talked about how people asked him how he does it and he jokingly says that he arches forward and just puts one foot in front of the other. HAH! I wish it were that simple Dean.  Maybe for amazing runners like you, but for us normal people we have to think about many other things besides just running like my topic of the week...eating.  Dean can eat chinese, pizza, and cheesecake while running, but for those of us who do not have iron stomachs, things get a little bit more complex...

Once upon a time, I was not the smartest runner.  I did not realize the importance of fuel and hydration.  I just got out there and went.  I did not really see a need to eat or drink while running or training for a half marathon.  In my mind, I was out there to lose weight, so why would I be eating while doing it?  I used to think people were crazy for needing to eat so early on in the event.  Come on people it is only a mere 13.1 miles I thought why are you shooting back food like you did not eat a mere hour beforehand.  Boy, was I wrong!!!

Major, major fail Steph.  In fact, when I finally did wise up, I just remember thinking that eating while running was like CHEATING.  I had such a burst of energy and felt soo much better when I ate and drank while running that I just could not believe it was even allowed.  It is pretty darn amazing, if you ask me. 

While eating while running can result in some awesome results, it is also,  the source of much anxiety and problems for myself as well as many other runners.  If you eat too much, you may end of with stomach cramps or even worse in the bathroom (knock on wood).  If you pick the wrong food, your body may react funny.  If you eat too little, you might hit the pervival wall.  And let's not even begin to talk about timing - when do you eat? When you are hungry, before you are hungry? At the hour mark? At 5 miles? At 3 miles?  This has anxiety written all over it folks. So where or who do you turn to for advice? Dean who is very wise noted:

Get advice from everyone, listen to no one

Meaning what works for one person may not work for you.  Sure Dean can eat pizza like a burrioto and then wash it down with cheesecake, but I am, unfortunately, not that cool!  So what are you left to do but practice?  Think about works for you and try it out in your training runs - easy, right?  Well, while I have come a long way from my original no eating mentally, I have not perfected eating while running to date.  During my training runs, I have been eating at about an hour and then going from there with drinking every two miles (this has come from trial and error).  But my last 20 miler proved that maybe I need more or need to be doing something different...

Enlisting the experts,  I have been told that depending on your size you need 100 to 250 calories an hour, after the first hour! For me, specifically I have been told by some that I need 200 but others say that I need less.  Needless to say this has been the source of much anxiety for me.   And ultimately, there is not a lot of time left until my marathon and so many questions remain - what to eat? when to eat? how much to eat?  how to actually get that food ( I can't just order like Dean on the day of the marathon, or can I)?

So what is a girl to do? Through some very helpful women, I have come up with a plan for me.  I am not sure if this is going to work, but I am going to give it a whirl, keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best on race day.
Steph's Plan to Fuel Right During a Marathon
1) Every 30-45 minutes  fuel after the first hour (as long as your stomach will allow it) with food (about 50-100 calories worth)  Other than that, water or nuun every 2 miles, potentially less.  

2) Fuel options - different for everyone.  I personally know that GU & Shot Bloks work.  I am also interested in trying Mini-Snicker Bars, Pretzels & Bananas. 

3) Steph's Aid Stations On the Go - if at all possible carry some of your fuel and hydration or have someone there helping you.  Whether someone is running with you or you have planted someone along the way, this will ensure that you have all your fuel at your disposal. 

4) Breakfast - breakfast is going to fuel you for the first hour of the race.  For me, it is a scoop of PB, English Muffin, and a Banana as well as 16 oz of water/nuun.  Others can do more, others less.  Just do your best..

5) When all else fails, listen to your body.  If you need water, drink.  If you are hungry or feel your energy dropping, eat.  Be prepared  (if you can, have people along the course with different choices for you, when you come to them shout out what you want so they will have it ready).  Know your options (is the course offering Gatorade - what flavor?; what kind of Shot Bloks will they have).

That's it folks.  That is all I have learned to date.  Now it is your turn, how do you fuel and hydrate?  Any advice for me? When do you fuel and how much?

Friday, October 21, 2011

True Life Addictions - I am Addicted to!

So I know I wrote yesterday Que Sera Sera, but you all know that the first thing I did this morning was go to my favorite website in the world -  I just can't help it!!  So you can imagine the smile that went across my face when I say partly sunny high of 65 low of 48.  SCORE!!  That's not the weather for today, if you though that, but for race day..seriously?!?  don't you know everything revolves around race day.

But sigh, of course, I am not that easily satisfied and when I checked the forecast again later today it has become high of 60 low of 45, partly cloudy.  More troublesome are the days before the marathon, showers!!!  So of course my logic is that if it rains days before the marathon, it will also run on the day of the marathon.  I know I can't control the weather, I know it will be what it will be.  I just REALLY want it to be 55 and partly sunny with no wind (unless it helps me) that too much to ask?!? Maybe....

If it rains, will I get there and go?  Yes of course! But am I praying very hard for no rain?  You better believe it!

In the meantime, I am going to try hard not to worry about it and instead focus on my last long run of the training cycle, a total of 6.2 tomorrow morning and to make it better I am running with my favorite running buddy as well as this girl who decide to come travel to us and join in on the fun.  I started this blog to find wonderful people to connect and run with.  I longed to be one of those "cool" girls that had friends to run with and had other runners to do races with.  And today as I was tweeting about tomorrow's run date, I realized that I have that!   Whether it was last night's decision for a group of us to run a 5K together in December, or today's confirming of a weekly run date, I can't help but smile.  Running with friends = WIN! Just can't get much better.  So on tap for tomorrow 6.2 at 10K race pace.  Will it be a perfect 10K pace, ehhh we will see...When runner ladies are out and about, it is hard not to chat it up instead of saving my breath for running fast.  But on the other hand these ladies push me to go faster and reach higher :)

Are you obsessed with  If it rains on race day, do you have any good tips for me?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Que Sera Sera

My mother-in-law was a very very wise woman.  Right before she passed away,  she told her children in more ways than one "Que Sera Sera."  Even when she was suffering, she found peace and was able to accept what life had dealt her.  

I have learned many lessons from my mother-in-law and while she is no longer with me, I often spend time with her in my head, through pictures, and dreams.  This phrase "Que Sera Sera," which is the title of a poem and also a song brings me back down to reality again and again.  So much so that I even found a hip hop version to add to my playlist, of course.

Over the past couple of days, I have been a little bit uhhh crazy can we say? I have worried about blisters, side stitches, food consumption, hydration, and lets not even start in about my obsession with, it is just unhealthy, if you were wondering. But then I received a comment that made me stop, one telling me that while I can worry about all of these things, in the end, in a few days, no matter what (knock on wood) I would be having one of the best days of my life and dominating 26.2  That same morning as those words came into my Inbox,  I was listening to Dean on the elliptical machine (book on tape - try it, its amazing) and he gave me similar advice.  He said that yes getting to the marathon in all different ways can be stressful and difficult as well as uncontrollable.  But to try your best not to let this worry you as much as possible because you can't control everything and just to have a blast.

Finally, that night another woman put this in perspective for me.  This is a BIG event for you, she explained.  It us almost like planning a wedding.  While you may not have booked a caterer, you have worked and invested a lot of yourself in this event and you want it to go perfectly.  But ultimately she said, as the saying goes, "You plan and G-d laughs."  Because nothing is ever going to be perfect, it will be what it will be.  In order words,

Que Sera Sera 

As always, my mother-in-law is always around me, always guiding me, always telling me to CHILL OUT STEPH!  To realize that you can't control everything and you just have to go with it.  Am I still worried about my blisters? Yes!  Do I still check  You know it.  But am I trying to put things in perspective?  I really am!  This is a very exciting time in my life, I could spend it worrying and freaking out 100% of the time, or I could enjoy it.  So for now, I will enjoy it.  Enjoy the rest day tomorrow, enjoy my 6.2 with the running lady, and enjoy that JetBlue is letting me fly to D.C. Friday instead of Saturday for NO CHANGE FEE (oooh wait, I did not tell you about that one, more on that later and how it always pays to be a runner, I promise).

That's it for now folks.  Can someone please me remind me of this tomorrow when Weather.Com finally shows the race day forecast and I decide to have a mental breakdown over it.  Oh well, at least it will be a good blog post.

Who is racing this weekend?  How do you let go and just go along for the ride?  How do you come your nerves pre-big race?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Am A Nuun Convert & Nuun Giveaway

Once upon a time, I tried Nuun.  I put a tablet into water, shook, and took a drink.  And....I did not like it.  It tasted funny almost liked flavored alka seltzer.  So I put the stuff away.

Then, I went to D.C.  It was humid.  We ran.  I loved my time with this amazing lady but the run was not the best.  I was crazy dehydrated.  I had to do something.   I tried again.  This time I took the tablet and split it in half and took a sip.  It was not bad.  It was not the most amazing drink ever but I began to like it.  And then I drank some more and a funny thing happened, I was no longer dehydrated.  I felt good.  My muscles recovered.   It was as if this magical tablet helped.  So I started to drink more of this so called Nuun during the week and began to like it more and more.   Half a tablet or two throughout the day but especially right after a workout and especially the day before a long run.   And I REALLY began to notice the difference.  So I bought more flavors - Tri-Berry, Tropical, Strawberry Lemonade YUM!!

So let's get more scientific.  Tell me what is really going on with this stuff.  Nuun is an electrolyte tablet that you put into your water and quickly dissolves into your water bottle.  It has zero sugar and under 8 calories.  It is easy to carry and use and it comes in a cool looking tube.   So the amazing Nuun website tells us that Nuun prevents dehydration.  But how?

Nuun's special formulation of electrolytes helps increase the amount of water that's absorbed into the blood stream.  That means more of the water you drink is actually used to hydrate you instead of being eliminated because the electroyte balance wasn't right.  Nuun is not energy.  We design Nuun just for hydration.  It's what we do best!

We all know about Nuun, it is pretty amazing stuff, right?  But like I said, at first I did not think it was for me.  I even told Liz on that very run in D.C. that it was not for me.  But I can be wrong, and boy was I wrong! Nuun is the perfect way to stay hydrated.  While it can't give you the added calories you need while you run, it is perfect for hydration and in my opinion a great way to stay hydrated before, during, and after a run.

We all also know how amazing Nuun is as a company.  And once again they did not fail.  They sent me some Nuun to try out and giveaway.  I got to try out Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical, Lemon tea, Grape, & Fruit Punch as well as water bottles!  My opinion I love Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical, & Grape.  Lemon Tea & Fruit Punch are not my cup of tea.   But, ultimately a big thumbs for Nuun once again.

Ok so now what? It is your turn to get to try out these flavors and get your own water bottle.  And not just one of you but three of you will win FIVE new tubes of Nuun plus a Nuun water bottle.

How do you win?!?

How to Win Some Wonderful Nuun
1)  Be a follower of this blog (mandatory)
2)  Follow me on twitter 
3) Tweet or blog about this "I want to win some @ministryofnuun from @26runforfun2"
4) Like Nuun on Facebook and let them know I sent you 
This giveaway will continue until next Wednesday at 6:30 when running buddy and I will be getting ready for my marathon debut by watching Spirit of the Marathon and attempting to calm me down!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Taper Crazies and the Hubby to the Rescue

Well it is official.  I have entered it - Taper Crazies....or maybe I am already crazy as this tee-shirt may in fact suggest...

So I know I promised a nuun giveaway and I promise it will happen, but after today I had to report back on, well, my the Nuun giveaway will have to wait one more day.  I am sorry!

Now what happened you ask?  The answer, one day I have created a new meaning of taper crazies, the "Run for Fun" definition of taper crazies...uhh..but not so fun.

Taper Crazies - a manic state that runners enter 13 days before a marathon that lead to massive amounts of tears, the inability to concentrate, frantic calls to doctors,  too many tweets, and just general freak outs

It all started last night when I tried to get some feedback on how to get rid of my blisters.
Ewww gross that is my foot and not even the worst part...

While everyone was super helpful and amazing and I can't thank everyone enough, it still freaked me out because I am sooo under prepared.  People started to tell me that I should have a half size larger on my shoes.  Apparently, I once again, missed the freakin memo!! And now we are 12 days out and given my summer of shoe sorrows, trying new shoes does not look like a possibility.   Commence the massive freaking out here! What am I going to do about my blisters?!? I can't get rid of them, I don't know what the best way to handle them is, I can't decide.  Ultimately, I am a mess!


Enter freak out number 2 - the side stitches. Not sure what to do about that, know the advice I have received, trying to implement it, but it is still fairly scary and nerve racking = crazy crazy Stephanie!

Take those things into account and what do you get - a crazy, upset, blubbering Stephanie.  As I ran around this morning getting for work, I just worried more.  Adding fuel to fire, I could not manage to get myself ready for work in time or find anything I needed to bring with me and ended up late for work.  The day was just full of sadness, worries, unneeded tears, anxiety, and fears....I feel like I am a weak, first time runner. Come on Steph it is JUST a marathon (hahaha, like I would ever believe that).   But yet here I am freaking out (have I mentioned that I am freaking out yet?)  

So what can be done to help stifle taper crazies?  A taper crazy hallmark edited to my won't believe it until you see it...
If you are having trouble reading it, here is what its said, Aaron's add-ins are in italics...

"On the journey of my life, every tomorrow is a running path waiting to be walked run, Seek out what makes you happy (i.e. running marathons).  Keep moving in the direction of your dreams + the finish line.  If the past water belts weighs you down, leave behind those things  water bottles that can't be changed refilled...Leave behind each "should have..." and if only..." "...I run faster"  Travel lightly and carry only what you need (e.g., water, nuun, GU, shot blocks) as well as hope, love, and belief in your self

Every Step, no matter how small, will take you somewhat closer to the finish line until one day, a few hours later you'll look back at how far you've come...and be amazed that you ran 26.2 miles're not alone.  Others (e.g., running buddies, friends, + family) are beside you, believing in you and looking forward to the day when life is your feet are much better for you.

This card was the closest thing to a marathon moral boost.  A few minor edits were necessary to maximize the effect.  I love you, believe in you, and will always be there because you're my crazy b***ch

End result, snap out of it Steph, you are very very lucky!

Have you ever experienced taper crazies? What is your definition of taper crazies?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blister Blues, Side Stitch Sadness But Nice Nuun Giveaway Yay!!

Well we are 13 days out today from Race Day and officially in the throws of taper madness.  I know everyone says trust the taper, I know everyone worries about not logging the miles or not doing enough speed or hills etc.  While I am sure I can and will be spending time worrying about these things, right now, I am worried about the minor details.  The details that I should have already perfected.  The ones that come from your long runs where you are supposed to practice these things and get the kinks out.  But apparently, I missed the memo yet again and these issues decided to rear their lovely heads at the point of taper.  Great just great...

Aren't you all jealous of my beautiful looking foot?

Yup people I have blisters and side stitches and lots of them.  Why I had no problems up until now is unbeknownst to me but now with only 4 runs left and a Saturday long run of 6.2, I am going to just have to do my best with what I have.

So here we go with the issues (I promise light at the end of the tunnel):

Blisters - yup, I have got them and bad.  One on my right toe next to my big toe and one on the toe next to that.  And to add a cherry to the sundae, one of those blister's skin ripped off, it is not pretty and it is painful too.  It is currently wrapped, courtesy of the PT, with instructions to run on it tomorrow.

So what do you do, when you get practice yourself you ask?  The only thing you can do!  Ask the experts a.k.a blogger and tweeter buddies.  Seriously, who else do you depend on except complete strangers (relative term) to answer all of life's questions...

So what have the people come up with....


1) Skin Sake or Destin - lather up!
2) Body Glide - lather up (but not if you are using Destin, one or the other people, don't get greedy!)
3) New Socks - toe socks, new socks, different socks, anything just get rid of the old ones
4) Mole Skin

Did this advice help??  Welp, I already do Body Glide and am still getting blisters.  I have tried Mole Skin, but you know with my luck, I get more blisters (of course).  So I went out today and spent a ridiculous amount of money on socks!  Can you guess how much?  I bought four pairs, two toe socks and two from North Face....Tried the toe socks, no go.  North Face, we will try tomorrow.  Destin, I guess we are trying that tomorrow too eekkk!!

Dear North Face, You have been perfect before, please be perfect again!!

Stitches another fun topic of conversation.   It is not going well.   I got them twice now, once on the 20 miler at about Mile 10-12ish and once at the half marathon at Mile 3 for goodness sake. I know people say it is the breathing but I am not labored breathing or huffing and puffing.  Honestly, my guess it is the added food and water??!  What has the world (a.ka. bloggers and twitter buddies) told me...

For Side Stitches

1)  It is your breathing -  blow out hard (like you are blowing out candles), breathe with your belly
2)  It is dehydration - drink up
3)  You are drinking too much - drink slower
4)  You are eating too much before you run - eat less
5)  Raise your arm and bend
6) Push in the side cramp
7) Feel a cramp coming on, slow your pace, don't get out too fast, keep the slow pace till it subsides, don't stop or start suddenly
8) Stop, press a few fingers into your side, bend over forward, breathe deeply as you are doing this, then start again slowly

This is all great advice!!  Thank you soo much to everyone who has been helping.  I feel so loved.  But  at this point, I don't know really how to try any of it, which clearly freaks me out....just going to try to use it the best that I can.

Ok, so what about this amazing Nuun Giveaway.  If you have made it this far, I promise I will reward you.  Tomorrow I will post the full giveaway but for early entries give me some advice on blisters and side stitches (one comment for each please).  Added bonus a comment on how much you think I spent on four pairs of socks....

That's it for now...I will just leave you something to dream and drool over....

Isn't this what everyone's cabinets look like (you better bet that is the PB behind the nuun)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bay State Half Marathon Race Recap

 I am currently reporting to you from the couch.  Clearly, where else would you find me at this point, actually you might find me trying to get up and get my compression socks. Why you ask?  What else, running!  This morning I ran the Baystate Half Marathon in Lowell.  And considering the 20 miler last week, the half marathon, and oh the party I threw last night (yes the night before I ran 13.1, I thought it was a good idea to host a party until 11:30 p.m., sure why not?), I am not planning on moving except for icecream for the next couple of hours.  27 Dresses is in the DVD and I am surrounded by water and Clif Bars.  I am set for life.  Ok on with it...

Let's just say pre-race for the Bay State Half/Full Marathon was a runner's dream.  Minus the fact that we had to get there super early to avoid the traffic, it was smooth sailing.  We got to sit around in the nice, warm Tsongas arena which had REGULAR bathrooms and lots of them, which I chose to use, multiple times.  Not only that, this was the first race that I had soo many people to hang out with pre-race.  My running buddy, her sister, my cousin, and my law school buddy were all running it and their supportive significant others were all in toe (so happy to be along for the ride).

Getting Ready!!! Love me some fuzzy pants (yes Aaron has his "Crazy" shirt underneath)

The running buddy and I!!! She is so ready to kill it and did! (left)

Oh hi law school buddy, so nice to see you! (right)
 The cousin dressed in pink.  Her awesome boyfriend made this amazing sign!!! "Hi Brenna,  Don't Get on the Bus!"  Zoom in on this picture, it is worth it. Love it!
We hung out in the nice arena until right before race time and then jumped outside as a herd of powerful women  on a mission.  We gave our well wishes and then I hung out with the Running Buddy for five minutes while we waited for the gun to go off.  How wonderful it was too have someone with me waiting in the beginning of the race.  But before I knew it, we were wishing each other luck and were off.  So how was it?  Well, I like to call this the yo-yo race, at one moment I was full of energy and happiness and the next minute I wanted to cry.  I would go from determination to exhaustion from courage to OMG I am never going to make it 26.2....

Let's talk goals.  While the goal for this race was to race, it was also to learn somethings in preparation for 26.2.  So goals were:

1)  Food - Try real food.  Apparently, I really need to be having more like 200 calories an hour during the marathon instead of 100.  I wanted to learn to use Gatorade, GUs, Shotbloks, and shocker, real food - like Snickers.

2) Aid Stations - I am scared of Aid Stations.  Of being slowed down.  Of drinking water out of the cup. Of dropping water all over myself.

3) Hydration - We all know what happened last weekend, I needed to hydrate better.  Drink more and drink Lemon-Lime Gatorade yuck, was the plan for today.

As soon as we started, I knew I felt great!  My legs felt soo rested and I could not calm them down slower than 8:15 and it felt good, too good to be true - oh Steph when will you ever learn.  You can see my short lived happiness here.  I could not help but show you a bunch of these!!!  Looking back on the pictures, I now know where my energy went...


From Miles 1-6, I continued to feel good!  It felt so easy. I was flying.  But my stomach was not so happy.  For the past two times I have been running long, I have been dealing with side cramps.  I can't seem to get rid of!!!  I have been stressing lately about eating enough during the marathon so this race I was using to learn what my body can handle.  The plan was that around Mile 5 I would fuel up with food, the dreaded Snickers, no less HAH! But ultimately my body had other plans and my tummy laughed at me.  So at Mile 4.5 I started to get my GU ready.  I store my GUs in my back zipper pocket and as I was trying to get it out and zip the pocket back up, I saw my cousins cheering.  Seriously, they must have thought I was picking a wedgie, it looked sooo awkward.  Sorry guys! I promise, I was just getting food.

Meanwhile, Aaron was waiting for me at Mile 5.  I bought mini water bottles with sports caps for him to hand to me.  But I was just so speedy he was not even ready for me as I whizzed by grabbing the water out of his hand.  I took the water and the GU = success on the GU, but fail not trying the Snickers.  I just am not sure it is going to happen...

Tongues out!!!

Unfortunately, it kind of went downhill from there.  I began to struggle.  I was able to hold on for a little longer with the GU but by Mile 7 I was not feeling it.  All of a sudden my legs felt dead!! I wanted to walk or lay down on the pavement.  And here is where the Yo-Yo began.  I started to doubt myself, to think that if seven miles was hard now, how was I going to get to 26.2.  Oh and there is that freaking side cramp again - CRAP!  But then I bounced back.  I told myself no!  I remembered all the other ladies out on the course with me.  I remembered my virtual race date with Samantha, and I kept going.

The half marathon was a double loop course.  I was told by some wonderful woman, who will remain nameless, you know who you are ( I love you though don't worry I could not do this without you!), that the course was flat. HAH! HAHAHA, not flat.  And to add to it, the wind was unforgiving.  Just as you start to get to the hill, the wind picks up and just keeps on going...funnnn bah....But I continued on, mustering strength from the 26.2 gods and having the opportunity to see Aaron twice and my good friend Ariella who jumped and cheered for me when I passed.  She cheered me on just before a hill - what is better than seeing someone right before a hill and letting them carry you?  Not much!

Meanwhile, back on the goals front, I tried the Lemon-Lime Gatorade.  FAIL!  I tried, I really did.  I took two or three sips but it just made me crazy thirsty...and in my opinion there were not enough water stops.  So once I had the Lemon-Lime I was thirsty for the next mile plus.  To add to it, it got all over my hands and was a sticky mess.  Thank goodness for my pit crew though and I grabbed some water soon after.  Also around Mile 10, I just felt out of steam,  and forced down two more Shot Bloks = Success - additional fueling!!

The last three miles were no easy feat - more hills, MORE wind.  I could not understand why my legs felt soo tired with just 13, which was disheartening.  But again, with the yo-yo, my last minute playlist worked out perfectly, with the best songs at the worst times.  Usually I spend hours on the playlist, lesson learned = only spend 10 minutes max to get best results on a playlist.   I continued to dig, thinking of the women, of the music and pushing as hard as I could, I was not moving fast but I was getting there.  Then we rounded the corners of death, the ones at the end, where the end never seems to come. Seriously, what is with that, why aren't there more clearly markings at those points.  Don't you just want to scream  WHERE THE HELL IS THIS FINISH?!?!

But finally, I saw it.  And I figured a good pump for good measure!!

End results

Goal #1: Food. I learned no on the Snickers, unless I get a major craving on the go (haha) but Vanilla GU with caffeine here I come

Goal #2:  Aid Station.  SUCCESS! Not too scary at all.  I rocked that.

Goal #3.  Hydrate.  Not bad.  Probably can still do more but the Lemon-Lime Gatorade is a NO go.  Ugh.  I tried some "light blue" Gatorade once I got home, not bad at all.  Trying that next week!

Ohh and the results:  1:52:51 - not a PR, but respectful.  AG: 62/385.  Overall:  512/1590...

So I can't complain, but better yet the ladies around me did awesome - running buddy with a one minute PR and what a time indeed, and my cousin with a ooo 20 minute PR, what now?!  So proud of all these ladies

Ok I need help!!! I am in blister hell (lots of cursing today, sorry!)  I have been getting awful blisters on my right foot, my two toes next to my big toe and on the side of my foot (buonion area) help!!!!  Also, side cramps, really? Help!! How was everyone else's weekend? Races, life beyond races?

Friday, October 14, 2011

How Do You Run a Half Marathon!??

For years, I have focused on running 13.1. To date, I have completed 5 half marathons.  I know this is not a ton of half marathons but in between those I have been constantly keeping up that 13.1 training plan and running some other smaller races here or there. I know, again, not ton, but enough to keep me on my toes and know how to run and pace a half marathon. 

This weekend I will be running the Bay State Half Marathon.  When I spoke with the Coach/PT about it on Wednesday, the conversation went something like this

Me: So Bay State Half on Sunday, should I run it at marathon pace, 9 something
PT: No you should race it
Me: So run, faster?
PT:  Yes, try for negative spilts with your first three miles still being the slowest
Me (in shock): Wait, you actually want me to run the second 6.5 faster than the first
PT: Yes (thinking, that is what I just said, didn't you go to law school)
Me (still in shock):  OK (thinking YIPPIE!!!! uh...wait how do I run a half marathon fast)

If you have been reading my blog, you know that my PT/Coach does not like to be too open about pacing and rather would like to tell me in this omnious fashion to do my best, which, of course, drives my Type A personality crazy.  You can imagine my shock when he actually gave me some semblance of a plan.  Actually, I got down right excited and began tweeting with the Running Buddy to see if we can run it together = FAIL. Running Buddy is uhhh....super, duper fast and spit out pace times that made me laugh.  She is going to rock.  Unfortunately, for me, I won't be by her side, but rather 20 minutes behind her, if I am lucky.

So the next logical thought in my mind was what pace can I actually run this half marathon at.  Back when, I knew what I was pacing for, I was practicing these runs, I understood these runs.  But as of late, my runs have been either long, very very short speed blips, or 4 or 5 miles with serious hills.  Equal, I have NO clue where that leaves me. 

My first thought was to go out and try 8:20, 8:15 to get to 8s for the first half of the course and try somewhere under 8 for the second half of the course.  But with this week's speedwork, not really sure if that is a possibility. 

Ultimately, shocking as it is, I am going to go on feel.  Thinking back on it, my PR a year and a half ago at the Rutgers Half Marathon was on feel.  I remember at Mile 2 looking at my watch and seeing 8:30, at the time, that seemed like way tooo fast.  I tried to slow it down, because 8:30 was suppose to be my time for the overall course, but my legs were not having it.  They were happy and wanted to run, so I let them.  I don't think the smile ever left my face for that race (but I may or may not be having runner's amnesia).  I ended up with a nice PR but like 13 minutes, take that Disney World (my previous half)!  Yes, I did go in with a plan but then my legs took it away.   Fast forward a year, same thing.  Came in with a plan but my legs said Hahahah NO!  We hate you today.  The result I need to stop.  I have a general plan, some general thoughts but in the end it does not matter.  My legs are going to do what they want, when they want, and I am just along for the ride. So here we go....

Aaron and I post Rutgers (no fun race shirt just yet)

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!!! What are your plans? How do you run a half marathon?