Recap: Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

In summary: this was one of the most physically challenging weekends of my life

  1. No sleep
  2. Humidity
  3. Two races + four theme parks in two days
  4. DisneyWorld churros are nowhere near as good (or easy to find) as DisneyLand

Last summer, we were planning a Caribbean Cruise that was leaving out of Orlando. Having never been to DisneyWorld, we chose to start the trip a few days early to visit the Happiest Place on Earth. Luck would have it, a few days later the dates for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend were announced and it fell on the same weekend as our visit. Being a runner, I knew I wouldn’t be able to pass up the opportunity to participate. Though I had intended to just do the half marathon, once registration opened, I got super eager and over zealous and clicked on the Fairy Tale Challenge option instead.

The Fairy Tale Challenge is two races; a 10K one day and a half marathon the next. “Hey, no problem,” I thought. I wish I knew how I was going to feel the few weeks prior to race weekend. The closer it got, the more anxiety I felt. I knew I could accomplish one race, but two? What in the actual fork was I thinking? Nonetheless, I had every intention of beasting through four DisneyWorld parks in two days – making the best of my first time there.

We conquered Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios the first day, but already my feet were in excruciating pain and swollen. I tried to distract myself from thoughts of wanting to drop out of the race with churros and other Disney goodies, but much to my displeasure, DW doesn’t have churro carts at every corner like Disneyland does.

Living in a much smaller race community, I can show up to the starting line 10 minutes before the start time and find a perfect corral spot, a port of potty and a space to stretch. Apparently at DisneyWorld races, if you’re not in the parking lot two hours before the firework start, you’re not getting in. In the days leading up to the races, I had numerous internal debates about taking an Uber (what if there weren’t any?!) or driving the rental car (what if someone needs to go somewhere at 6 a.m. before I’m done?!). I was still debating this hours before the first race (10K) and thus I got no more than four hours of sleep the night before. Given I was also in a totally different time zone, the lack of sleep meant I awoke with enough butterflies to fill the Animal Kingdom. Ultimately I chose to drive myself at 3:30 a.m.

image1-5Half dressed and following a fight with my hydration backpack in which I lost, I sleep-walked to the car and made my way to the Epcot parking lot. The closer I got, the more I anticipated rows and rows of vehicles to be in my way. Next thing I know, I’m in a spot only a few spaces from the race grounds. Was I too early? Better safe than sorry. I spent the next hour in the car, trying to stomach my usual pre-race sprouted bread, peanut butter and banana along with some Nuun Energy. Its rare for me to not finish a meal and as such, I knew I was in rare form.

With about 45 minutes to first corral release, I made my way to my starting spot. The battle with my hydration backpack continued and it wasn’t long before I discovered that the entire thing leaked out everywhere, leaving me with very little water for the course. I knew there’d be plenty of aid stations for both races, but I’m also used to running in very dry climate so I wanted to be prepared for the humidity in every way that I could be. As they started walking my corral closer to the starting line, I saw a b-line for the restroom and decided to go one more time out of nerves (and my pre-workout kicking in). Why is this part important? Well, because I’d like to apologize to the woman who opened what I thought was my locked porta potty door. Maybe that happened because we both needed a pre-race laugh, not horror.

For both races, it took about two miles before my breathing fully acclimated to the humidity. That was quite possibly one of the toughest parts of the whole weekend. If I decide to do another Florida race, I’m training on a treadmill in a sauna.

For the 10K, I told myself I’d do a lot of walking so that I wasn’t completely spent for the next day. But I couldn’t help it. Running is my calling and I was running in freaking DisneyWorld. I reached the center of Epcot right as the sun was rising. It was my first time ever being in Epcot and I couldn’t have seen it for the first time in a better fashion. Epcot recreated famous landmarks from all around the world so I was literally running across the globe with a glorious sight in tow.

I ended up finishing the 10K in just over an hour; I grabbed my snack box and raced home to prepare for another day of theme parking. I couldn’t wait to go back to Epcot and get a closer look at all the landmarks (and eat some food from around the world). My feet were still throbbing and standing in long lines didn’t help, but I kept reminding myself of where I was and did my best to enjoy every moment (even if it meant standing in lines for 1-2 hours at a time; the Frozen ride was SO worth it).

Luckily that night I was able to get some sleep and I felt a little less stressed about the pre-race situation. The half marathon was a little bit busier traffic-wise and I had no idea that you actually walk a mile to the starting line once you’re in the race area (someone needs to do something about that… or give us an extra medal for getting that far). image1-6

I started the half with so much doubt. I pictured myself catching one of the busses to the finish. Before I even reached the 5K mark, I had to start walking because my body was tired and sore. I just wanted a shower and food and a nap. But my heart knew I was better than that and soon my mind was wandering with all my typical mantras; I pictured later that day when I’d be on a cruise ship. I gave myself point to point goals. I started brainstorming for my blog and coordinating Instagram post (none of those thoughts will make it here because quite honestly I was full of delirium). I didn’t stop for any of the characters on the course because the lines were long and I just wanted to finish, but they were welcomed distractions. By mile seven, as I was leaving the part of the course that goes through the Magic Kingdom, I finally felt like I was going to make it. The negative thoughts finally turned positive. I struggled to the end but I did it – and in less than three hours nonetheless.

I’ve run two marathons. I’ve run multiple half marathons. I’ve done relay races. I crosstrain with some of the most skilled fitness coaches in my city. But none of that compares to how physically and emotionally challenging this race weekend was for me. But I am a better athlete and person for what I’ve accomplished and I’ll forever be full of pride for not quitting.

 

Advertisements

The story of nuun

I’ll never forget how embarrassed I was on the drive home from my first half marathon. It was in San Francisco – about 3.5 hours away from home. My boyfriend came with me to be race support. We had been together for about a year. After I finished, we grabbed the shuttle bus back to our hotel. En route, my stomach was screaming to be let out of the bus. I did my best to maintain my composure (and avoid having anything other than sweat in the nether regions). Our post-race plans included brunch and football at a bar down the street from our hotel before we headed home. While I went to our room to shower, he headed for kick-off which turned out to be a blessing in disguise as what happened in that hotel room after, shall remain in the hotel room.

When I thought I was safe, I headed to the bar. One bite into my breakfast and …. nope.

I told him I wanted an entire bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for the drive home because I’d sure as hell deserve it. Screw the medal, I want the chocolate and so it was such. Stubborn me put the morning with the porcelain throne behind me. After a few, my stomach was revolting. I don’t know where exactly we were, but we weren’t near a bathroom and luck would have it, there was a shitload (no pun intended) of traffic. We finally made it to a Carl’s Jr. – which I will never step foot in again.

After that day, I thought my boyfriend would never find me attractive again. (Side note, we just celebrated our sixth anniversary).

I almost never wanted to run a half marathon again. Forget the chafing. Forget the amount of training. Forget the early mornings. Forget the distance. Forget the black toenails. Dealing with that amount of stomach issues from running was a deal breaker.

After I recovered and did some research, I found this miraculous Nuun Hydration product. As a kid, we were told to drink Gatorade for stomach flu and as a college student, Pedialyte for a hangover. The problem with both of those is the amount of sugars and unnatural ingredients weren’t worth it. Nuun is none of that. Nuun comes in delicious flavor tablets, is gluten, dairy and soy free and packed with electrolytes to keep you hydrated. Given my post-half marathon stomach pain was as bad as the stomach flu or a hangover, I was willing to give it a shot. Hands down, its one of the best products I’ve ever discovered and one I can truly say has kept my desire to distance run alive. I do not run a distance greater than 10K without a tablet the night before and the morning of.

This morning, I powered through a 5K at the gym and came home to an email that I had been selected as a 2019 Nuun Ambassador. And while it brought me flashbacks of this first half marathon, it was one of the most exciting things I had read in a long time. I’m super proud to represent something that has truly changed the way I think about preparing for a run.

For more information about Nuun, visit www.Nuunlife.com. Stay hydrated! 

A (running, curve-loving) place

Season’s Greetings and Chocolate Eatings! I love a good catchy rhyme.. and a good Toblerone. I write to you from a place I thought I wouldn’t be at. Of course this time of year, its natural to reflect on the last twelve months, what you sought to do at the beginning of the year and what you actually achieved. When I say I thought I wouldn’t be in the place I’d be at, I say it with multiple meanings.

I am no longer on a weight loss journey. Yes, I want to see the scale go down. Yes, I’d love to get smaller sizes at the store. But this year, I’ve really learned to fall in love with my body and all it has accomplished. I walked around Hawaii in my sports bra or swimsuit top for most of the trip, and I was comfortable doing so. I ran races in just a sports bra and learned to block out the gawkers. I posted photos of myself in these once vulnerable states so that all the world could see. And they were met with nothing but support and love from the world out there (much to my surprise, I’ve yet to be approached by a shamer – knock on wood). This is the year that I have learned to love my body more than ever. Through curves and rolls and stretch marks and muscles, it is mine to keep, mine to nurture and mine to love so I sure as hell am going to do that.

I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t say I’m bummed by how tight my pants are, how many times I’ve skipped the gym this month and how many nights I’ve opted for a big, cheesy plate of pasta delivered via DoorDash instead of the homemade chicken fajitas in my fridge. I told myself I would no longer let the holiday season get to me, but it did. I told myself I would never look at January 2 as the day to start over, because I would never stop, but its happening. Place #2 I thought I wouldn’t be in.

I’m as excited about running as ever. After my first marathon, I refused to put my Saucony shoes on. I couldn’t find it in me to wake up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym. There was no WAY I’d even look at signing up for another race. Thankfully, that didn’t happen after this year’s marathon (place #3 I thought I wouldn’t be in). I kept running throughout the year (logging 527 total miles in 2018!!) and I have multiple race prospects on the horizon for next year. I am super stoked to be heading to Walt Disney World for the first time and as luck would have it, our trip was coincidentally fell on the same weekend as the Princess Half Marathon. I’ll be doing Desert Sky Adventure’s Biggest Little Half Marathon shortly after and will hopefully make a triumphant return to the Reno Tahoe Odyssey relay race this summer. That gets me through June of next year and I’ve set a goal to complete four total half marathons in 2019 so there’s certainly more miles in my future.

49175068_766737560373477_2009518578214109184_n

“The feeling of being different is really what makes us the same. We have our own struggles, yet we want the same things. We want human connection, a place to feel at home, and pizza.” ~Justin Timberlake, “Hindsight” 

 

Marathon 2

On June 3, I became a two-time marathoner. It wasn’t without challenge, chafe or crisis, but it was with pride, power and pep. It wasn’t the race I wanted, but its a race that, at the end of the day, I am proud of.

Since I am a Rock n Blogger for the Rock n’ Roll Marathon Series, I decided to sign up for the Remix Challenge, which is a 5K one day in addition to the full or half the next day. I told myself I’d walk most of that so as to not put too much stress on my body or risk a freak accident that would stop me from being at my best the next day. But, in true me fashion, I ran the whole way and killed it with a 10 min/mile pace (I’m normally 11:30-12 min/mile). I spent the rest of the day in recovery and relaxation mode, fueling up on carbs, enjoying Porto Vista Hotel’s spool (spa jacuzzi pool) and straight up Netflix-and-chillin’ in my hotel room. I was determined to awake the next morning in a calm and motivated state.

Since I traveled to San Diego for the race, I purchased a VIP pass so I had somewhere to eat breakfast, get coffee, stretch and hydrate pre-Race. While shoving a bagel down my throat, I saw the one and only Boston Marathon winner Des Linden hanging out on the other side of the tent. I tried to finish scarfing down my meal so I could go take a selfie with her, but I sadly missed her by seconds. Still, being in her presence was one of the most motivating feelings I could have pre-race. “Run like Des,” I told myself.

I made my way to Corral 22 hydrated, fed and stretched. Normally I like to jam to some New Found Glory when I’m nervous, but I didn’t want to waste my headphone battery pre-race as I knew I’d need the power-through songs towards the end.  Instead, I made a few friends – some returning marathoners, some first-time marathoners. We shared our stories as we waited nearly an hour after the first corral started for our turn. At about 6:56 a.m., I was officially en route on marathon number two.

828418_278303175_XLargeI vastly underestimated the number of hills that were on the course and they started right from the beginning. What did blow me away was the amount of course support there was from the City of San Diego. Everything from costumed strangers with motivational signs to a full on stretch of bars set up outside of people’s houses. Around mile 4.5 I enjoyed myself a shot of tequila, a swig of beer and a few jolly ranchers (the whiskey leprechaun was sadly on the other side of the street). Little kids were high-fiving everyone who would accept and neighbors thankfully set up their hoses to help runners stay as cool as possible on a wicked hot day. I kept myself occupied just at the sheer curiosity of what would be around the corner on the next stretch of road.

At about mile 10, the crowd thinned as the marathoners and half marathoners split courses. I had spent the latter half of the race headphone-free so I could enjoy the conversations, cheers and live music, but as the course became more and more desolate, I knew it was time for my “26.2 songs to get me through” playlist to be cranked.

During my training, the half-way mark seemed to be where my downfall would begin, no matter what distance I was aiming for and that was no different for this race. My feet were so sore I could feel and count at least three blisters on each foot. It was hot. SO hot. I felt well-fueled, well-fed, well-hydrated, but the heat and hills still took a toll on me. I did everything I could to just enjoy the surroundings, what I was about to achieve and the thought of what was at the finish line. I had great friends and family cheering me on and coaching me as best they could from a distance, my favorite bands were blasting in my ears and I was in beautiful San Diego. Of the many messages replaying in my head throughout the long course, “only half marathons from now on” was definitely one of them.

As I approached mile 22, a police officer was moving a course barricade. He then proceeded to tell us the race was over and the course was being shut down. “What do you mean?? We have two hours left to finish!!” “There’s an active shooter downtown.”

In this day and age, that is my biggest fear. Every concert, festival, special event I go to, I am met with that fear. I blew up in water works and called my family and my boyfriend to let them know that I was in a safe spot. We were being re-routed to the mall and a shuttle would come pick us up. Despite safety, I was mortified by the thought of not finishing. I did not spend six months training for something to be destroyed by this god-forsaken society we are currently living in. By some stupid schmuck. By today’s new norm. Fellow runners saw how distraught I was and comforted me. Thank you, strangers.

Luckily enough, the situation was quickly controlled and unrelated to the Race with no injuries at play. About ten minutes later, we were back on the course and met with the amazing news that we would be able to finish. However, the break was my downfall. I spent so much energy crying and fearing that it completely killed any stride I had left. I knew the last 4-ish miles would be the biggest challenge, especially with the MASSIVE hill that was miles 23-24. Literally all up-hill, at the end of the race, on the freeway, with no shade. It was brutal. I feel like whoever conquered that that day, should get a medal just for beasting that portion. The brightside was that a good majority of the remaining miles was downhill – but at that point, I was so beat-up, blistered, chafed and burnt that mostly-walking was how I kept going and “just keep moving” is all I could tell myself. 828418_278213763_XLarge

As I turned the corner to see the finish line, a little over a quarter of a mile away, I got that final burst of energy and off I went. Six hours and twenty minutes later (including the potential active shooter lull), I was a two-time marathoner. And thanks to the Remix Challenge, I had three medals to celebrate it with. And some pizza, beer and uber-delivered ice cream sandwiches.

 

One Month and Counting

Seriously? Al-fucking-ready? Training for marathon #1 seemed like it took a decade.  This one, is right around the corner. One more super long 20 mile distance training run stands between me and feeling done with the training. The test of all tests is already on the horizon. While I’m ready to have my weekends back, I don’t feel I gave up all that many. I’m ready to have a little less chafe on my inner thighs but given its getting warmer and I’m wearing shorts more, I’m probably bound to get that anyway. I’m ready to cut back on my carbs but we have yet to do our traditional sushi carb load. Marathon #2 is one month away. One more month.

Having connected with more people on Instagram this go-around has made this journey more excited and uplifting. I’ve loved the conversations that have transpired both on and off line from people following the journey. And seriously – it holds me more accountable than anything ever has before. Gotta do the damn workout do get the damn ‘gram pic! (I’m also slowly becoming a pro at selfies and timer pics).

I’ve been getting asked a lot about how running affects my body – everything from how my knees feel to weight loss to time consumption. My body aches – of course it does – there are days where I’m taking 30,000 steps before 10 a.m. There are days I forget to put vaseline on my boobies and they get chafed up from bouncing around for 45 minutes. There are Friday nights where I go to bed at 8 p.m. to be up at 4 a.m. to be out the door by 5:30 a.m. and to not return until 10:00 a.m… AND THEN …. I’m in bed the rest of the day because I don’t want to (see also: can’t) move another muscle. And no, I’m not losing any weight, I won’t lose any for the next month, and in fact, I’ve gained weight. My diet ranges from clean eating early on in the week, to heavy eating by the end, to recovery eating and celebratory eating. It’s hard to stay consistent because every day I’m preparing my body for something different. (PS; Check out the latest podcast from ‘300 Pounds and Running‘ titled “Why am I Gaining Weight While Training” for more perspective on this).

Hey, if you’re reading this – I’m in search of some new bottoms for my marathon – whether it be capris, shorts or a skirt – I want something with a rad print / color and high waist (because….gasp…. I think I’m going to do the run in my sports bra….hello first stomach tan since I was ….never).

What am I missing? The speed of my training just feels like it isn’t real yet. Will it ever?

What advice do you have for me and #2?

What do you want to know more about?

 

I Run and I Do Things

As the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon draws near, running is one of the only things on my mind. From planning training routes to buying new shoes and thinking of my race outfit, to ensuring my travel plans are all in order and thinking of my pre-race to-dos like a trip to the chiropractor, a pedicure and a trip to Reno Running Company to stock up on Honey Stinger Waffles and Sport Beans. (Side note: most of this equates to spending money which is my number one anxiety tick. Help me, I’m poor.) For the next six-ish weeks, when Facebook asks “What’s on your mind?” or an acquaintance wants to make small talk, the world will only hear me speak of running. Running to the store, running over the weekend, running through your mind, running to the toilet to vomit because marathon #2 draws near….

Which is why I sat down to write about the ‘other’ things. The other workouts that have made me stronger, the other goals I have for a better race day, the other things that will fill the next few weeks of my life… I don’t JUST run. I don’t run every day. Hell, some weeks I run twice, including my long distance run. See… even when I have intentions to do or write about other things they always equate back to running. Everything comes full circle during training but there are very, very few things in my life that I’ve worked as hard for and all these things show that. But still… I want you to know the ‘other’ things:

  • Cross-train. I’ve been doing a lot of leg presses because, quite frankly, they make me feel like such a BADASS! Just today I PR’d at 180# for 50 presses. After that, I did 5 rounds of 100 jump ropes and 20 bicep curls with 15#. Other favorites include rows, squats, shoulder presses and battle ropes. I’ve been really consistent about my 5 a.m. wakeup calls for things other than running and all of the different exercises have seriously aided my body – faster pace, less injuries and more stamina. I still shock myself every time I pace at a 10 minute mile (only on shorter distances…) but I know its because I’m really working hard to strengthen my entire body.
  • Sobriety. I’ve spent most of this year sober but birthdays, concerts and vacations have fallen back-to-back over the last two months and that affects my weekend productivity and even into Monday. I have one more fiesta on the books but after that, its a dry zone for me until race day. (Friends, don’t take it personally if you don’t see me the next few weeks).
  • Walk my dog. Cuddle my dog. Talk to my dog. Love my dog to pieces. Enough said.
  • Self care. I’ll be upping my chiropractor visits just to make sure I’m on my game. Epsom baths will become more frequent. A massage might be in my future. I’ve also been trying like hell to get my skin to clear but I’ve always struggled with adult acne and that shit is powerful right now. I’m trying out a few new things in hopes something will get it under control.
  • HEALTHY EATING. I was doing SO well with paleo at the beginning of the year but between carb loads and previously mentioned birthdays and vacations, I feel like I’ve fallen a bit off track. I’d really like to focus on upping my greens, curbing my chocolate cravings and seriously cutting down on weekend gluttony. I haven’t checked the scale in a few weeks (which is seriously liberating) but with a Hawaii trip post-marathon, I’d love to see it lower than it has been in years (and last I checked, I was almost there).

I truly did have other intentions for this post but sometimes the words just come out differently (and like the nerve vomit, word vomit is another nervous tick of mine).

SIX WEEKS…. AHHHHH.

 

Halfway there, halfway chafed

I’m in a temporary rut – one of exhaustion, hormones and with a lack of motivation. This week I have been nothing short of tired, no matter how much sleep I get. But I keep envisioning that June 3rd goal, how important it is to me and how amazing it will feel when it’s complete. I do have successes to reflect on, so I’m turning to this post to do so.

On April 8, I ran my first half marathon in two years! I traveled to the Bay for the Rock n Roll San Francisco Half Marathon, complete with great friends and my ultimate running partner. The day we drove in, the rain was a torrential downpour. Fingers and laces were crossed that it would clear up by Sunday, but until then, we had a two mile walk in Hurricane Half Marathon to get to the Race Expo. I love that we’re able to bring our guests to enjoy some of the Expo perks and I loved even more that Blue Buffalo was one of the vendors. I legitimately walked out of the Expo with more goodies for my dog than myself, which was great because I knew he was going to be pissed at me when I got home (see: Mamma’s Boy). Walking through the merchandise area gave me chills and it was the first time I had gotten nervous about the race. I decided on some retail therapy and got a beautiful teal commemorative tanktop that eventually went great with my race medal. 29873128_589164891464079_981320735037531872_o

We stayed at Club Quarters in the Financial District and it was a runner’s dream! Not only was there FREE WINE every day from 5p – 6p, but each floor had filtered water stations and each room had a yoga mat and resistance bands, plus access to fitness classes and a gym complete with Peloton bikes. Plus, the staff was super nice, there was electronic check-in, free laundry and an attached restaurant/bar. If I was in SF for business or just to be away, I could definitely see myself staying there for a few days without ever leaving (seriously, even my UberEats driver walked into the lobby instead of meeting me curbside).

On Saturday, we went to the birthplace of Irish Coffees at Buena Vista and aside from the finish line, this was the best part of our trip. To eat, you basically had to hover around other people until they got up from their spot and you could sit where they were. Luckily we made friends with an older brother and sister who allowed us to join them and another pair of strangers for breakfast. You would’ve never of guess that we had never met. It was like one big happy family at a breakfast table for the next two hours – sipping on Irish Coffees, compliments of the other couple, laughing, chatting, throwing things at each other (no really, I accidentally threw food on an old man’s crotch) and of course, enjoying some amazing, AMAZING food. I had a crab cake benedict that was perfectly crisped.

From there, we walked some of the course, said hi to the seals and eventually made our way back to the Expo for some last minute supplies and a less wet experience. Oh, and yes, the weather cleared and it was absolutely perfect. For dinner, we stumbled upon a restaurant down the street from our hotel called Mangia Tutti. Since working for an Italian family, I’ve become somewhat picky about my pastas and other delicacies. But everything from the wine selections to the bread dippings to the homemade pasta and authentic Italian waitress, was incredible. It was so nice to sit around a table and enjoy good laughs, good food and good company, all to ease the nerves of the Race morning. But alas, the sun was setting and it was time for me to get in my race preparations.

Fast forward to 4 a.m. when my alarm went off – I did all of the usual stuff – toast with PB and banana, Nuun, stretching, more Nuun, trying to poop, failing to poop, freaking out about not pooping and leaving before I pooped. I grabbed an Uber to Pier 39 as I was lucky enough to get VIP from the Rock n Roll race. I was also lucky enough to get to post to the RNR Instagram Stories all weekend which was SUPER fun and I squealed when I saw that some of my posts had almost 10,000 views (PR geek moment). As I was waiting for my friends to join up with me, a fellow Rock N Blogger recognized me and immediately invited me into the runner family. It was really awesome to meet face-to-face with some of the fellow runners I see on Instagram on a daily basis and that truly was one of the highlights of my trip.

29872843_590427661337802_7412043711818743457_o

Ok, go time. (Literally, I finally pooped just before the Race started).

I ended up finishing the Race strong but slow coming in at 2 hours and 50 minutes. A lot of that was due to stopping for the bathroom or mostly to take photos of the most beautiful course I have ever run. You guys, I RAN ACROSS THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE. And the weather was perfect, sunny and most importantly, especially in SF, clear. The views were some of the most incredible I have ever seen in my running days and my heart was just beaming as bright as the sun. My running pal and I stuck together for the majority of the race, talking and motivating, all to pass the time. By mile 11, I was ready to be done so I sped up a bit. I had been suffering from sore feet all week and a cramped calf from walking the hills which had me super worried about my performance all weekend. At the mile 12 marker, my foot started to go numb and I literally yelled out “Please, no, not now.” And it worked. The Running Gods heard me. The .1 of 13.1 was a steep downhill to the finish line which had runners crossing at top, powerful speed. Crossing that finish line was one of the best feelings I’ve had in recent times as I’ve ached so badly for that feeling. I so missed that feeling. I so wanted that to be the outcome of this journey.

And now… on to 26.2.

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! 

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

 

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.