Signing Up For Your First Half Marathon

It’s been a while since I’ve officially raced a half marathon (just a little over two years to be exact) but Rock n Roll San Francisco is just around the corner so its time, once again, to suck it up buttercup. While my end goal this year is full marathon number two, believe it or not, 13.1 still makes me nervous. As I pondered the race this morning in the shower (you know, the place where we ALL get our best ideas), I thought back to my very first half marathon, which ironically, was also in San Francisco. What did I do to prepare? What would I have done better? Why did I decide to eat an entire bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on the drive home afterward? (See also: why WOULDN’T I do that?!)

I remember having all of the questions, and none of the resources. Running was still somewhat new to me so I didn’t have too many friends that I could reach out too. Of course, there was the internets, but who reads blogs and trust strangers? Thus, I present you with some helpful tips for preparing for your first half marathon.

  1. Picking the race: go with a run that includes some fun! Pick somewhere that you’ll have to travel to, but not too far or tricky to get to. I’d go with a place you are somewhat familiar with, but will still present you with some new scenes to pass the time on your run. That’s why I went with San Francisco – it was a short 3.5 hour drive from home that I had been to a few times, but hadn’t seen enough of. I knew how to get there, could plan a strategy around booking a hotel and the finish line and had a few pre and post race restaurants already planned out.
    • Part two: One thing I love about the Rock n Roll Races is that there’s always a free concert that coincides with it. At my first RNR, I got to see Macklemore and Ryan Lewis before the race and was so pumped on the show that it fueled the rest of my run! Find something that has a fun component to it. Tiffany necklace? Beer garden at the end? Running through Disneyland? This just gives you some extra motivation for getting across that finish line.
  2. Pinterest allllll the training plans. Seriously – look at a few and decide which one is most feasible for you. I tend to go with fewer short runs during the week, one long weekend run and three to four days of strength training. Why? Because it better protects my hips and I don’t get burnt out from running as quickly. The best way to figure out what will work for you is to just go for it. There’s nothing wrong with changing your plan to better conquer your challenges and Pinterest is there to help you get it done! I guess I am too – so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need help picking a plan.
  3.  Buy a new pair of running shoes. DON’T be like me and think you can run long distances in $30 sneakers from Payless or classified “running” shoes from the Nike Outlet. Take an hour to visit your local running or sports specialty store and ask someone to help you find the perfect pair. My life (and my feet) changed the second I stepped foot into Reno Running Company for some new kicks. The right store will analyze your running style, narrow down the type of shoe you need and even try and find something that fits your style (hello purple and pink Mizunos).
  4. Make a running playlist. Making a new one of these has been on my to-do list for a while. My personal computer recently died and with it went years and years and years of my favorite songs. What’s left of it, are my iTunes purchases and a very minimal list. Thanks to Spotify, I’ve been able to at least quickly select some playlists made by others (Punk Rock Workout being my favorite). Pick out 20-30 songs that make you dance, smile and move and group them together. They’ll keep you going along the way and help you pace out your miles. Don’t be ashamed to add whatever it is that will get you going – remember, this is for YOUR ears and feet. (queue Esther Dean’s “Drop It Low” in the background of my life).

I’ll never forget that last half mile of my first half marathon. I cried, I pep talked, I even picked up the pace. It helped that a fireman in a tuxedo was waiting at the finish line with a Tiffany’s necklace for me, but that’s not why I’ll never forget it. Me, who at her heaviest was 263 pounds, was conquering the world. My hope for every aspiring runner is to have their finish line moment, there are few things in the world quite like it.

Sign up for Rock n Roll San Francisco, April 8 in the Bay! Use the code RNRRNB2018 to save $15 on registration. See you there! 

#FuelYourPhenomenal – January Runner Box

Just to get some technicalities out of the way – I pay for my Runner Box subscription every other month and this is a totally organic, thoughts-are-my-own, post. I’m a real sucker for subscription boxes. As I prepare for a few travel adventures and home improvement projects this year, I actually had to scale back and cancel a few of them to save some cash (sorry, Birchbox… Ipsy beat you this time). Of course because I’m training for the Rock N Roll San Diego Marathon, Runner Box was definitely not on the chopping block. (Side note, use the code RNRRNB2018 to save $15 on your RNRSD registration!) To break up the monotony of “here’s how I trained this week” or “here’s the stomach pain ruining my life today” posts, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite and not-so-favorite items from the January Box.

Favorites:

  • Alllll the snacks. I am currently living off of a 90% paleo diet (still eat Greek yogurt), so I’ve been very focused on reading every ingredient of everything I purchase. This month’s R Bar was my favorite snack of the bunch. It was peanut butter and jelly flavored – how could I object?? Peanut butter anything (especially with chocolate) is my weakness. R Bar is dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free and non-gm with just three ingredients that make it rock.
  • Vermont Village Vinegar Shot. I used to take apple cider vinegar daily because of its many positive health effects, but as I slowly discover what’s too acidic for my body and thus causes pain, I learned that the beloved ACV is one of the perpetrators. This product, though, is a 1 oz. shot of ACV with blueberries and honey, which helped to cut the acidity and of course make it more delicious. The other night, I was feeling quite sore and inflamed, so I thought this would be a good time to test the shot (man, now that I think of it… I missed an opportunity by not taking it in a shot glass. That’s 34-day Sober Sara talking.) Anyway – the next morning, I definitely felt some of the swelling in my hip go down, but that could also be attributed to foam rolling and an epsom salt bath.
  • Biena Chickpea Snacks – I was on-the-go all weekend and slipped these in my purse, knowing I’d get hangry. They were very filling and a great healthy snack for the movies – though I was jealous of everyone enjoying their wonderfully-smelling buttered popcorn.

Dislikes:

  • RunGum – I used to have a daily routine of a piece of gum on my way to work but when it was suggested that this habit might contribute to my stomach pains, I quickly (but sadly) cut that out as well. It’s another one of those things (like ACV) that I will have every once in a blue moon. So, a piece of gum that provided energy for a six-mile run seemed like a great time to be blue. Wrong. This stuff was terrible! I had a “mint” flavor that was more like a gasoline flavor. The texture was also very rough and never truly squish-ified (solidified felt like the wrong word) for a normal gum experience.
  • Endurance Tap Natural Energy – Okay, I’ll admit, the product gave me a great energy boost, but it was maple-flavored, and I loathe anything maple-flavored. I’d certainly be open to another flavor!

I really do love my Runner Box and especially opening my mail to the motivational quotes included on the box and many of the products. Oh! This month’s box also included a monthly calendar with runner-focused quotes and important race dates. It’s hanging on my wall!

Happy running this weekend, folks! For me, its a quick four miler before I get my first cheat day of the year thanks to the Super Bowl – ahem – “Big Game.” Go JT!

Last Week Was Fun and I Never Want to Remember It

I know its only the fourth week of 2018, but so far, I’ve felt a focus and desire to reach my goals more than I ever have before. This has included making it to the gym every day I said I would, making my meal plans and sticking to them, taking my vitamins, etc. But then last Monday happened and although I felt incredibly discouraged by it, today I write this as one last send off to its past.

After a delicious, paleo, in-the-diet-plan, homemade dinner on Monday, I started getting severe but intermittent sharp pains in my abdomen. By about 8 p.m., I had my head in the toilet. And it hardly left there all night. I’ve been through something like this before, which I thought was just food poisoning, and it usually goes away within 12-15 hours, so I decided to stay home from work and get some rest. I hardly moved all day, unless it was to hurl or grimace in pain. I couldn’t drink water or even eat saltines. I couldn’t walk to let my dog outside or feed him dinner. I knew if I went to Urgent Care, they’d send me to the ER. I didn’t want to go to the ER because I’m still paying for my last trip in October 2016. 

More than 48 hours later, it was still happening and this time worse than ever. I finally decided to go to the hospital Wednesday night where I was checked for possible appendicitis. After lab work and a CAT scan, thankfully appendicitis was ruled out. The hospital gave me some heavy pain medication which was worth the trip in itself because I went from “I’d rather be in Hell right now” to “Maybe I can get a decent night sleep!”

My labs did show some things which I’ll be following up with my doctor on this week, and my body has certainly felt weak while in recovery. I was getting winded after simple tasks like doing the dishes. Whether this is related to the mysterious pain I often get, I’m not sure. But it did give me more ideas on what to ask my doctor and hopefully I can kill two birds with one stone.

It took a few days for me to get back to the gym but I am determined to continue on the accomplished path that I started the year out with. Yesterday, Pawko and I did a well-paced four miler that was a great accomplishment for us both – me after the week from Hell, and he at his farthest distance in quite sometime. We were quite proud of ourselves, and earned our Epsom salt bath and belly rub rewards respectively.

Here’s to a brand new week and here’s a  to last week.

I See You Looking at Me…

That’s it… 112 is officially going on my running playlist.

This weekend I conquered (more like struggled through) six miles. I’m feeling the soreness in my hips from upping my mileage and focusing on my training, but I’m also working on strengthening and stretching that area so it doesn’t become a common problem. Between mile three and four, I had a bit of wreckage with my run and kept having to walk, stretch, adjust my gear and basically avoided getting back on pace. Once I got over that little hump, I stayed focus on the finish line for the remainder of the run and felt great once I reached the end. I made a promise to myself that I could spend the remainder of the weekend relaxing and resting without feeling guilty, and such is what I did.

As I was trying to pass time on my run, I couldn’t help but notice the different type of eye contact and reactions I had from drivers along the way. I often wonder what exactly they are thinking as I run towards them and they drive past me. I’ve gotten smiles and waves and honks and even a few middle fingers. Yep. For whatever reason, multiple assholes have decided giving the girl trying to push herself to be her best, a big ol’ bird from behind the wheel. Like, can you really smell me from there?

So I present to you, driver reactions to distance runners on the road:

  • The woman smiling is rooting me on because she knows how great and healthy I’ll feel when I finish
  • The older woman switching lanes so I can have more room on the road is silently shaking her fist at me and saying “damn kids.” She also apparently thinks I have a sign on that reads “wide load.”
  • Mischievous teens are impressed that a girl my size looks so bad ass in running shoes and a tank top in 50 degree weather
  • Fellow runners honk in jealousy because they wish they were out on a jaunt (I know this one is true from experience).
  • Non-runners are wondering why I am running on the road, in the bike lane, against traffic – no its not because I’m running from a monster, but so I can see you (looking at me).
  • If my dog is with me, EVERYONE is oogling at how handsome he is in his bowtie with his tongue sticking out and freedom blowing his ears back.

To be quite honest, I have a few more that I could list here, but I’ll save those for one-on-one conversations with people I know won’t judge me for them. I hope the above made you laugh, because while I aim to provide you with interesting, motivational and informational content, I also aim to make you smile in the interim. Have a great week!

The Power of Ten

Happy New Year! It’s January 2nd and I’m still suffering from an NYE champagne hangover. I blame it on the fact that from Christmas till NYE, I got whatever cold is going around along with the fact that I need to realize I just cannot drink like I did in my early 20s. Needless to say, January 1st was supposed to be my first official marathon training day, but that did not happen.

Back to that cold thing… man – I thought I got off easy with just a terrible sore throat, but it got worse Thursday night, so I went to bed at 7 p.m. and literally could not leave my bed (except to go to the bathroom) until 9 a.m. Saturday. It was rough and I have never really been happier to breathe fresh air. Between that and a week of bad eating, my body is certainly feeling the repercussions. Everything from a food belly to an awful case of acne is happening, but of course, its time to kick all of that in the ass. As such, I was up dark and early to begin training with a three mile treadmill run and a one mile cool down walk. While it wasn’t my best due to the aforementioned circumstances, it felt a hell of a lot better than laying in bed all day.

As I enter 2018 with a positive outlook and a big goal in mind, I set up a few smaller, attainable goals to help me get there. Ten to be exact. They are daily action items that will keep me focused on the bigger goals ahead. And since you asked, here they are:

  1. No alcohol until Valentine’s Day
  2. Only black coffee or tea (no sweet, sugary coffees)
  3. No eating out unless previously scheduled or necessary for work
  4. Meet 10,000 step goal daily
  5. Go to sleep by 10 p.m., if not earlier
  6. Drink a gallon of water per day
  7. Take vitamins daily
  8. Take an Epsom Salt bath at least once per week
  9. Make extra time for stretching and foam rolling
  10. Make your shopping list on Friday and grocery shop by noon on Saturday

What’s your goal for 2018 and what are you going to do to get there?

Well, I did it…

Marathon number two is official.

In May of 2016, I didn’t think there’d ever be a marathon two. I said, “No way. Absolutely not. Never Again.” The rest of 2016 was spent without mileage boosts. I’d mostly (never) remember to go to the gym. The weight gain was fierce. The insecurities were arise. But no worries, I ran a marathon. That instantly makes me skinny and fit for the rest of my life, right? If only.

Then, come Fall 2017 I started to seldom say that if the right race came along, in the right place, at the right time of year, then maybe… just maybe I’d do it. This turned into, “okay, I think I’m gonna do it.”

A few months back, I happened to stumble upon a tweet from the Rock n Roll Marathon Series looking for bloggers. Thinking I didn’t have much to lose, and that it was likely a long shot, I took my chances and applied. About two weeks ago, the best surprise landed in my inbox in the form of being notified that I had been selected for the Rock n Blog team! As I scoured the list of RNR runs for ’18, the word “marathon” stood out like a sore thumb. It was my sign, my calling, my fair warning of lots of chafe ahead.

San Diego caught my eye and soon after, my ducks were in a row  – I had a good friend I could stay with down there, I could fly in the day before and back the evening after and not miss any work, the weather is seemingly always perfect and the altitude was on my side (seriously… going from running in the Northern Nevada altitude to sea level is always heavenly).

At approximately 4:30 p.m. yesterday, I did it. I made it officially official followed by Facebook official. In 2018, I’ll be running Marathon #2. Training starts 1/2/18.

Dear chiropractor, we’ll see each other monthly. Dear friends, I’m sorry, I can’t go drinking, I have to run 18 miles in the morning. Dear boyfriend, I’m sorry I have to go to bed at 7 p.m. to make my long run in the morning. Dear Pawko, hope you will enjoy the first or last miles of my run with me. Dear everyone else, I’m sorry you’ll have to listen to me talk about this from here until June 2.

#SorryNotSorry

 

Today is one of those days.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you probably have read about these horrible, incurable and unidentifiable stomach pains I occasionally get. They leave me buckled over in pain, unable to be comfortable in anything I do. Everything from walking to wearing buttoned pants hurts like a mother f-er. It takes me off the gym track just as I’m having success. I’ve been to multiple doctors, spent thousands of dollars to be tested and spent a day in the ER because of it. No one can tell me what it is or what causes it. I even had one doctor tell me that the pain would go away if I just lost weight. No sir, it was even worse when I was 30 pounds lighter. (Also, can we talk about how he just looked at the number on the scale and NOT my overall fat vs. muscle weight!!)

My latest “let’s test this and see if it helps” is giving up acidic foods. For the last few months, I’ve cut out tomatoes, apples, hard cider and the rare carbonated beverage from my diet almost completely. The results: it still happens, though less frequent.

The pain comes out of nowhere and I can never tell how long it will be sticking around. Sometimes just a day, but definitely as long as four.

Today is one of those days. While I’m celebrating that it’s been an entire month in between instances, I sit, complete with pain, wondering what caused it and wishing with everything I am that it would just go away.

I think watching the acids has certainly helped. I miss tomatoes more than anything, but they are worth giving up if it means I no longer have to walk from my office to the bathroom with tears in my eyes. I’ve taken an extra dose of the omeprazole I’m prescribed, which helps every now and then. I drank kombucha to help the internal inflammation. I’m about to chew my 20th tums of the day. I celebrate a little every time I fart 💨 (#realtalk) because it relieves some of the pressure. I’m mad at myself for hardly being able to leave my desk all day (barely 3,000 #fitbit steps).

Kudos if you got through this post. I know there are worse things in the world than a temporary mysterious pain, but I needed to have my pity party for a moment. I’m determined to one day have an answer for this, even if it’s as little as an official diagnosis.

In the spirit of timeliness

I’m about to break allllll the content and communications rules here but at the same time, its totally within my brand to be late on posts and absent for a period of time, right? RIGHT. That being said, the week of Thanksgiving, I decided to do daily Instagram posts on why I’m thankful for running. My intentions were to take those posts and elaborate them into a blog at the end of the week, but then I was stuck in a turkey coma for quite some time. Yeah, we’ll just say that. So with that being said… here are said reasons:

  1. The obvious; the before. Before I chose a healthy lifestyle, I lead a heavy one. Both in weight and within my head. Thoughts like “Oh, I’ll never get that job because I’m too fat,” or “I’ll never fall in love because I’m a size 22” would conquer my head. I tried to appear as though I were a confident, plus size woman who embraced every pound but realistically I was dying to have a better body and dying to feel good. Up until I graduated college, I ate everything I wanted to – everything from a pint of Ben & Jerry’s one to two times a week, fried foods daily, spaghetti to meet my budget and more all-you-can-eat sushi than any of my male friends. Now, I haven’t given up some of these things completely but over time I learned the beauty and satisfaction of moderation completely.
  2. The strive; the challenge. Running opened the door to so many other doors. It was the main gate to my Buckingham Palace. From 100 burpee challenges, to push-ups on my toes, to obstacle courses, tire pushes and even sharing my journey to complete strangers. I became a better, STRONGER person because of running.
  3. The companionship; the commitment: One of the things that pushed me to go further in my running was the bonding time it created for my dog. Full of energy when we first saved each other, but with no backyard of our own – we’d set out on two, then three, then six mile jaunts together. He kept (and still keeps) me going all for the sake of his well-being. Though his age prevents him from going as far and as often as we used to, few things make me happier than seeing the happy exhaustion on his face when we run together.
  4. The others; the inspiration. I’ve always wanted to inspire but never did I think it’d be through what I’ve done with my life rather than through words of encouragement. The biggest hug to my heart, though, is hearing that my journey has inspired my dad’s – who has spent the better part of the last two years working on his fitness and eating habits to live a longer life for his wife, children, grandchildren, dogs and granddogs. I am thankful to have made the decision to share the journey with him, the rest of my family and my friends so that we may live in longevity.

I’m sure I could come up with at least ten more reasons, but those were ones I found important enough to share on the ‘Gram.

My passion has slowly returned over the latter half of this year – with medals earned and miles logged, I feel I’ve finally shaken the marathon funk from 18 months ago. So what better thing to do than to run another?!

?!

?!!!!!

Yep. I’ve been thinking a lot about doing another marathon the last month or so and have kept it as my little secret that I am searching for the right one in 2018. Last week, I was selected as a contributor to the 2018 #RockNBlog team via the Run Rock n Roll Series. I certainly took that as a sign to get my feet back in high gear. I’ve spent the last few days researching and budgeting and looking for couches to crash – and I believe I’ve settled on the San Diego Marathon on June 3. Training starts Monday and without any further adieu: here we go again.

What’s Next?

After two weekends of 10Ks, I told myself I’d keep going. Long runs on the weekends, strength training through the week. While I’m still grumbling at my 5 a.m. gym alarm, I’m still facing issues with my hip which have left me unable to run, and some days, unable to even bend over. I know it will get better in a short time (like tomorrow after a panic call to my chiropractor) but I fear I’m going back down the damn rabbit hole for the tenth time over.

I’m also sitting here with that recurring stomach pain I’ve often written about. Since cutting my beloved tomatoes and apples out of my diet, the pain has been fewer and farther in between, but still here. Still a literal thorn in my side. It didn’t stop me from the gym this morning, but will it let me reach my 10,000 step goal? My ass in my work chair for the last three hours says no, but my OCD says “FIGHT THE PAIN!”

So, maybe I just need to commit to something. You know… make a plan. Normal people do that kind of thing, I suppose. Pick a half marathon (or maybe a full??) and get to the pavement. I have been pondering another full more and more. I am not sure a half would be as satisfying to me anymore (though the 10 miler did the trick just fine). Some days, I feel weird calling myself a “marathoner” or “marathon runner” when I’ve only done one.  I’m in the runner’s abyss, lost in translation.

What’s the best Race you’ve ever participated in?

 

Crack, crack goes my neck

Holy crack… I mean crap… I just went to get my hips adjusted only to find out that my entire spine was out of place, from those things that don’t lie all the way up to my neck. I am more sore than leg day, more sore than after a marathon and more sore than food regret on Thanksgiving. I’m pretty good at knowing when I need to go to the chiropractor but thought this time around my body was handling things a little better and I waited a while in between visits. Next time, I’ll listen to the four to six week recommendation.

Oh hey there. Sorry that I (yet again) went absent for a while. Last we left off, I was training for the Reno 10 Miler. Well, that went phenomenally and it was the first (and only) time I ran double digits since my 2016 marathon. What a feeling. The sun was shining, the course was hilly and the all-you-can-drink beer afterwards was absolutely worth it all.

I’ve spent the time since then focusing more on strength training than anything, but with the colder weather outside and my work schedule slowing down a bit, I’m working on ramping that mileage back up. In addition to the 10 Miler, I completed my fastest 5K in three or four years, coming in at 30 minutes flat, as well as two consecutive Sundays of 10Ks. The first of which, the Dirty Wookie 10K, is where this post’s featured image comes from. (Side note, I wasn’t going to post this image because I don’t find it to be very flattering, but running isn’t supposed to be pretty). The second of which, Girls on the Run, was six minutes faster than the first and was the final in a series, so I dual-medaled! Getting a series medal is now off the running bucket list.

23331485_10101512283868038_7639121445123841923_oOh, and on an unrelated-to-running note, I also was honored as the 2017 Chapter Member of the Year for the Public Relations Society of America, Sierra Nevada Chapter for which I got to do a pretty sweet photoshoot with my dog.

Now that I’m done with races for the year, my goal is to keep up with 5-6 mile runs on the weekends until I can pick another half or full marathon that I want to do in 2018. Perhaps something early on in the year so I can slack off for the final 75% of the year and just claim I was an early to bed, early to rise goal achiever. Just kidding.

I’ve also been following along with the Tone It Up 21 Day Challenge in which I’m doing 21 reps of five different exercises for three rounds, four to five days a week. Every once in a while, I’ll join a blacklight spin class that may or may not be becoming my new obsession. Perhaps one day I’ll get used to the soreness in my unmentionable space from the bike seat. And through it all, I still have 10,000-steps-on-my-Fitbit OCD. Moral of the story, I’m doing my best to stay active, even if its not running!

You’ll see that I’m doing more posts on my Instagram (hence why I felt it was due time for a blog update). Please follow along as I do enjoy connecting with everyone.

What have you been up to? What races are you training for?

Until next time, which is hopefully not six months from now.

(PS; my new-found love for the “My Favorite Murder” podcast wants me to end this by saying, “Stay sexy, don’t get murdered.”)