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! 

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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.

Here we go! #MotivationMonday

I simply can’t fathom that Race Week is here. Every workout, every short jaunt and long sprint, every chafe, every Nuun tab and all the carbs all lead up to this. Aside from the whole nutrition and extra rest yada yada that will come this week, my goal is to wrap up my final thoughts into this blog because until now, this week was nothing but a dream. A so far away dream that is now here and I’ve already pinched myself a thousand times since waking up this morning.

#MotivationMonday comes in the form of thanking everyone who inspired me and carried me throughout this journey. I can’t even when it comes to listing you all, but to Scott for the sushi dates before long runs and being patient when I had to give up a big part of our weekends, to Marysa for always checking in on me and cheering me on from the PNW, to Ann for your coaching and companionship, to Randy for bragging about me to everyone at work, to Mark for engaging with all my posts and always sending encouraging texts, to my family for forgiving me when I had to train, to Evven at Evoke for helping me reach new feats in strength training, to Pawko (yes, my dog) for helping me stretch and finish out many of my last miles, to New Found Glory for your upbeat and fantastic music that I could blare through my headphones to find my happy place at mile 13, to wheat toast, bananas, peanut butter, ibuprofen, Honey Badger, GU, potatoes and water for the energy boosts, to Frankie for the honk-and-waves and tweets, to Allie, Elizabeth, Margarita, Nancy, Kristen,  Brandy, Mary, Bridget, Kris, Ray and Lara for liking every single one of my social posts (yes, I noticed!), and to my body for toughing out through injury, soreness, laziness, lethargy and whatever other obstacle came my way these last six months – thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

In all seriousness, I really wish I could list every single person and thing that has helped me out along the way and please know that if you even so much as acknowledged that I was running a marathon, you were a part of this with me. You motivate me because I don’t want to let you down!

Race ready, blog not-so-steady

Hey you! Remember me? I’m the girl who wanted to blog about her marathon training and have alas made it this far, only to fail. But I guess its better to fail at the writing than the running.

There are fifteen days until my first marathon. I’m already starting to feel a post-race depression kick in. I feel it every time I work out. I feel it while I taper. What do you mean I only have to run EIGHT miles this weekend?! Ooh-wee, I’m leaving the vaseline and the GU at home, papa.

Two weeks ago, I finally hit the point where I knew I was ready. I ran 20 miles – the only thing that scared me more than the actual run. That day was phenomenal. The sun was out. My Honey Badger pre-workout did it’s justice and turned me into an unusual 6 a.m. chatterbox. (Seriously… do NOT try and talk to me in the morning). I had my traditional night-before sushi coma that was more delicious than ever. I slept well. My body felt great with no injury in sight. Everything went just as it was supposed to.

When training started, I vowed that each long run would be met with a new product test. This time, we worked really hard at the whole eating thing. I have never craved nor savored a bagel more than I did at mile nine (and I’m a Jew, so that says something). I was let in on a *spudworthy* secret at mile 12 and at the end, I devoured a hamburger, fries, three beers and two shots of whisky that numbed any cramp or pain that came my way. So, when a runner tells you they “run to eat,” it seriously is so very true.

After a two mile incline in the super hot sun, my running gal pal told me I should give myself a “whoop whoop” at the top. What came out of my mouth and what she actually heard resulted in my new mating call, my new holler and what you should yell at me any chance you get (like from the cheering sections on race day): “Jew Whoop!” While that’s not what I said, it’s fitting and Ann had every right to think I would come up with something so clever.

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As I sprint around some of the memories from that day, the one that keeps crossing my mind the most is the thought of being ready and how I felt it most in the last three miles. Truly, it’s because of the people I had with me that day. The ones who texted me every few miles to check-in, the ones who surprised me with a group Facebook follow, the ones who pulled over in the middle of the street to honk at me, and most importantly, the ones who ran with me. I have never felt luckier in life than I have since training began.

But also knowing that I’ve worked my ass off these last six months has left me with such a feeling of completion, even though I haven’t officially ran the race yet. I’ve remained committed. I haven’t quit. I’ve dedicated early mornings, late nights and weekends to accomplishing something I never dreamed I would do. Something I told everyone I would NEVER do. Something I am, now, GOING to do.

Fifteen days separates me. Each day I get a little more nervous, but each day I recall that feeling of being ready because I AM ready.

Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

Well folks, I’m halfway there! I’m still, kind of, recovering from my third half marathon over the weekend. I say kind of, because I’ve yet to take a day off from working out. Please don’t be like me. It’s sick. (Don’t worry, I’m being very wary of injury. Lots of stretching, soaking, stretching more and advil.)

First and foremost, I have to thank Natasha and her family for being such wonderful company over the weekend and allowing me to crash their party. It’s always wonderful to have a few friends by your side to ease the nerves and celebrate the after.

Second, nothing proves how much running gear you have than when you have to pack for an out-of-town race. Proof: here’s everything I packed aside from a Lion King tank top.

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Included in my packing list: GU Energy Gels, Body Glide, wicking socks, rolling stick, Nuun electrolyte tabs, running fanny, Beats Wireless In-Ear Headphones, portable phone charger, Run Disney race waiver, Fitbit, Ibuprofen, sparkly headband, Old Navy compression pants, Nike sports bra, tank and sweater, and of course, the Darth Vader skirt and matching hat… which I ended up not wearing.

One of the running perks that comes with big races is the expo and packet pick-up. Tons of goodies, samples and things to buy. My favorite acquired item? A sparkly headband that says “May the SPARKLE be with you.” If you know ANYTHING about me, you know that there probably is no better headband for me to own.

The bummer news about the race is that I was in corral E. I was most definitely one of the last two hundred people to start the race which meant I started about 30 minutes later than planned. But once across the starting line, I felt bliss – I was finally marking something off my bucket list!

Miles one through five were throughout Disneyland and California Adventures. Most of the time it was exhilarating, but then there were times where I was on the verge of an anxiety attack. Trying to fit 10,000 runners through one entry gate and a back alley into Disneyland is probably the worst idea in the entire world. As I looked down and saw that I was pacing 14 minutes per mile, I could feel all the anxiety running through my body. Knowing that I didn’t want to waste my energy on the petty stuff, I tried to take deep breaths and – oh hey! There’s Chewbacca! Space Mountain! Storm Troopers! Big Thunder! I can’t wait to ride all of these! You see… those first few miles, though aggravating at times, were quickly shoveled aside by the atmosphere. Here I was, Sunday morning at the butt crack of dawn doing one of the things I love most at one of the places I love most. The Castle, Main Street, the Ferris Wheel, Cars Land, oh my!

The rest of the course took us on a tour of Anaheim – did anyone see that giant hotel with all of the giant indoor water slides?? I’m in. When does it open?

I do wish there was more Disney during the race – in the sense that once you’re done with the parks, you kind of forget you’re doing a Disney race. It’s mostly residential, parks and businesses the rest of the way. Too bad Target wasn’t open. I could’ve used a Cliff Bar. But the people of Southern California did a great job of dressing up in Star Wars costumes and planting themselves at random stops along the way. At one point, about mile eight or nine, I was staring at ten Darth Vaders plus a mini Vader. Someone even dressed their car as R2d2. Side note… I don’t think the guy with the Delorean got the memo.

Usually between miles eight and ten are when I start to feel the need to hop in a disgusting port-a-potty but I can humbly say that I, Sara Robbins, successfully made it through a long distance race without the dreaded Runner’s Shits. Seriously. I was soooo looking forward to every part of this race except the though of walking around Disneyland afterwards and having to leave the two hour Space Mountain (errr… Hyperspace Mountain) to barely make it to a toilet. I feel confident that between my pre-run electrolyte stock-up and taking advantage of Powerade at every aid station, I waved a big middle finger to ye’ old trots.

At mile 12, I got my runner’s high. I was ready. Let’s get this last mile done baby – you’re on your way to churro gold. And before I knew it, I was done. Two hours and thirty eight minutes later – I tried not to be too disappointed with my time as I reminded myself of the park cluster and instead gave a big ol’ fist bump to those who finished with me and accepted my medal with style and grace… and a post-race waddle. Half marathon number three was officially in the books.

 

 

 

Thanks for being a friend.

Hey you. Yeah, you. I just wanted to say, “Thanks.” As I’m recovering from the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend, I’m most humbled by the amount of support that carried me through the finish line. Whether you called, texted, read this blog or just simply “liked” a photo – please know that I’m incredibly overwhelmed by the number of people who are on this path with me, even if in the simplest ways.

Running is my happy place. Running makes me feel free. Strong. Sexy, even when doused in more sweat than any one person should be. Empowered. Free. But perhaps most importantly, running makes me feel inspired. To participate in a race and see thousands of people competing with themselves for the same goal: inspired. To watch people do things they never thought possible: inspired. To see so many others cheering on complete strangers: inspired. To be supported by people near and far: inspired. And overwhelmed. But mostly inspired. So thank you. Thank you for inspiring me.

More on the Dark Side to come…

Sock it to me

Before every big race, I have pre-big-day traditions that, like carb-loading and hydrating, I wouldn’t feel ready to run without. In anticipation of running the Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland in ten days, I thought I’d share one tradition that has turned out to be one of the most important, albeit, life changing.

Buying new socks.

12088345_10100805221621448_2303560925920131562_nI instantly feel fifty years older after typing that, but it’s true. One of my favorite race day preparations is heading to the Reno Running Company and scoping out the two synthetic foot coverings that will take me anywhere from ten to soon twenty-six-point-two miles. What color should I get? Should I stray from my favorite brand? Would it be weird if I sniffed them gleefully in the middle of the store because I never thought I could know such happiness?

Sorry, that got weird.

Truthfully, socks are often overlooked by runners (including myself for a long time) and like a great pair of running shoes, they can, and do, make all the difference. From protecting your ankles to warding off blisters and cuts to helping with blood flow — here are four tips for picking the perfect running socks:

  1. Avoid cotton at all costs. Since our feet happen to be one of the parts of our body where we sweat the most, you need a fabric that will control moisture. Otherwise, you risk a soggy foot and bigger chance at a few nasty blisters. Instead, look for socks with synthetic fiber that will wick the moisture off of your feet.
  2. Get the right fit. Since I’m a long lost cousin of Big Foot (size 11s represent…), I tend to buy mens socks because they provide full coverage and better ankle support. And because no part of your body is safe from chafing, a good fitting pair of running socks will protect you from the aforementioned worst feeling in the world. If you’re purchasing at a running store, they’ll most likely have some samples you can try on, or at the least, a good exchange policy.
  3. For faster recovery, try compression socks. Lots of runners wear them on long runs to support blood flow, while others will wear them post-run to reduce lactic acid build-up.
  4. Get funky! Pick your favorite color, pick a bold pattern, pick something that’s you because when your feet hit the pavement, nothing is more important than feeling confident that you’ll have a rockstar performance.

And there you have it! My favorite brand is Feetures, but I’ve also purchased from Brooks and Nike. What’s your favorite brand?

The Word “No” and its Lavish Journey

I don’t make resolutions. Mostly because that word itself sets me up for immediate failure. And when I make lists that involve the word “no” (i.e. No chocolate, no crappy television, no letting the dog sleep in my bed), the stubborn brat in me wants all of these things to the point of over-indulgence. So, this year, I’m goal setting and I’m saying no to “no.” Instead of “no ice cream,” maybe it’s “ice cream only after a Saturday 5 miler” or “no spending money on clothes” will become “spend money only when your credit card is paid.” No to no.

I do, however, make goals and so, everything I set out to do this year, will not be thought of as an “I can’t have” but rather a measurable, attainable if and when goal.

Now the obvious – my biggest goal for 2016 is to run a full marathon. I’m signed up. I’m training. I’ve got the shoes, the gels, the tunes, the sparkly headbands and the chiropractic appointments scheduled. Now it’s time to cross that finish line, baby. But here’s some other things I’m hoping to achieve in 2016:

  • Read more, Candy Crush less
  • Blog more, Candy Crush less
  • More trips to the dog park for Pawko
  • Get better at media pitching
  • Be more attentive and compassionate towards others
  • Lift heavier, Candy Crush less
  • Travel more for New Found Glory
  • Travel somewhere new
  • Cook more, dine out less
  • Satisfy sweet tooth ONLY if a 30 minute workout or 10,000 steps have been achieved for the day

I’m sure there’s more and I bet you as I thought about writing this blog, I had a million I could put down. But, of course, I should’ve done it then because they’re far from the mind now.

Happy 2016 to you all. And remember: Candy Crush less.

On your mark, get set…

GO! That’s what my mind told me after weeks of deliberation on whether or not I was going to click submit.

After being unhealthy my entire life, after years of self-doubt, no confidence and size 22 pants, I finally decided to take action. I struggled with dieting, lacked consistency at the gym, and couldn’t face reality. Then, I found running. Or rather, running found me.

With the longer miles went the pounds of fat. With the need to focus on other areas, came group fitness classes and fitness friends. With the desire to fuel the body, came better eating habits. One mile on a treadmill turned into a 5K by the Truckee. Thirst quenched for longer distances and bigger medals and my wall ached to add more racing bibs to it. A random emotional panic lead to signing up for a half marathon. “Can’t imagine running another 13.1 miles,” turned into “I think I’m finally going to do it.”

You’ll learn more and I’ll tell more as we embark on this journey to 26.2 together. I plan to share my training journey, new products tested, trails explored, aches, pains and cries for motivation. Whoever you are, for whatever reason you’re reading, I hope you’ll enjoy.

See you at the finish line.