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.

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.

Runner Hacks

I’m writing this on five hours of sleep with a 2:50 a.m. alarm. Today was one of the rare, but ‘part of my job’ days where I had to be at work at 4 a.m. There are certain triggers that make me my most productive, most creative or most delirious. Today is a little bit of both and the trigger was being up before the sunrise. The other big trigger is when I’m sick. Seriously, 8 p.m. on a Friday and you can bet your ass I’m on the couch with a glass of wine on my third hour of binge-watching. But, strike me with a nasty cold and I’m waiting to accept my tenth mission from the chore-gods. I deliriously digress…

As I was sitting in a meeting yesterday, we got off-topic and started talking about working out on lunch breaks. YES, it sucks to get back to your desk and be a sweaty, hot mess the rest of the day. YES, it sucks to slip back into your work attire from said sweaty, hot mess. But when it’s 5 p.m. and you realize you can just go straight home because you got your fit girl on instead of your fat girl on (we have the most irresistible peanut butter cookies in our employee cafeteria…) it makes all the four hours of gym smells worth it. In said discussion, I went on and on about my lunch time workout hacks, when finally a lightbulb went on. “Hey! I should write a blog on that!”

So here you go. 6 Lunch Time Workout Hacks (so there’s no excuses).

  1. Baby wipes are not just for babies! I love me some green tea or aloe vera-infused Huggies. While nothing is as good as an ice cold shower after a sweaty betty sesh, a nicely scented wipe down can get you through the 4-5 hours you have left in the day.
  2. Pack your hair dryer. Now, I know you aren’t washing your hair in the employee bathroom sinks, but your hair will be wet from perspiration, as will other areas. Use the cool setting on your Revlon 5000 to eliminate any moisture. A small desk fan can be helpful, too.
  3. Freshen up with some dry shampoo, pack your foundation for touch-ups and don’t forget to carry a travel-sized deodorant and some perfume to re-apply post workout.
  4. Bring some dryer sheets or foot powder for your work shoes. Either will absorb the sweat and eliminate the stink.
  5. Pack extra underwear. You may have read before that I’m pretty particular about my undies when it comes to working out. If I’m going to workout at lunch, I have a pair to workout in and a fresh new pair for when I get back into my work clothes. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.
  6. If still doubtful, remember that even a 30 minute walk is great for your heart. Bring some tennies (don’t hate on the pencil skirt and Nikes look) and explore the walking areas outside your workplace. You won’t get quite as sweaty, your makeup won’t smear and you never know what new discoveries will come about.

Shut the Carb Up.

For years I’ve had this agonizing stomach pain that was just as annoying from the pain perspective as was from the brain. It just makes its way into my body whenever it feels like with no true way to relieve it. None of my doctors seemed to have an answer for it, despite multiple tests taken and thousands of dollars spent. I’ve been to the ER for it, I’ve had to quit or put-off working out because of it and I’ve had to spend many nights hurled over in bed from the pain. I finally went to a Gastroenterologist, who seems to think my body doesn’t process carbs, garlic, tomatoes or anything acidic at a normal pace. So, the chubbarita (thanks Emily) in me instantly died a little inside when he told me I needed to give these up (or at least restrict them… basically the same thing to anyone who loves food, amiright?!). But actually, the first whine out of my mouth was, “BUT I’M A RUNNER!!” Despite the fact that many of my reactions are, this is not an exaggerated claim.

This was about a month and a half ago – I’ve gone about 75% carb-free and still get the stomach pain, but not nearly as often as I used to. Now that I plan to up my running mileage though, I predict another obstacle to add alongside insult and injury. What am I going to do when I need to run in the double digits and I can’t have my wheat toast with peanut butter and bananas (also another item he added to the ‘give up’ list… I know, I … I KNOW). The doctor’s response was to focus on protein intake, but I still find myself very lethargic when working out. What’s most upsetting is that it puts a dent in all of my nailed down race/training routines. But I guess it’s good to throw complacency out the window… or something.

I thought I’d put a call out to all my readers for their advice on this one. Does carb-intake affect your running routine? What do you do in lieu of? This blog was meant to make people feel like they are not alone, myself included, so lemme hear ya!

(PS; also on the list of can’t-haves: hot lemon water, ibuprofen/advil, gum or mints. So, sorry in advance if my skin isn’t glowing, I’m in a lot of uncontrollable pain and my breath smells.)

Hey, I was once a blogger.

To sign up or not to sign up. That is the question that’s been roaming through my head for the last 13 months. I’ve missed the miles. The medals. The milestones. I’ve slowly tried to become a runner again (yeah, yeah once a runner always a runner). But truthfully, I haven’t gone a single month with more than 13 miles logged since May 2016. It’s hard. I never believed it could be. During my entire training process, I never thought I’d want to quit once I was done. But my body was tired, and sore, and frankly just didn’t have the will. When this year started, I thought I’d reset and refuel. And while I’m consistently at the gym (give or take a week here and there), I’m still struggling to face the course. I re-injured my hip in April to the point where I thought that the looming hip replacement was going to come 30 years early. My weight, like mind, has been complacent despite any healthy efforts.

While doing a blacklight boxing class yesterday (yes, as cool as it sounds) I decided – here’s where that changes. The second my paycheck clears tonight, I’m signing up for the Reno 10 Miler. I’m also signed up for the Reno Race for the Cure (join Sara’s RaRa for TaTas today!) I’m craving, itching for that double digit run SO badly. From there, perhaps another half marathon, maybe some more blogs in between.  And perhaps that’s where you come in. What questions do you have? What do you want me to write about? Go ahead, post below and let me know! I’m here, happy to help. Not an expert, but I’ve lived, breathed and trained the pavement so you can consider me the generic version. I’m the Great Value to your Kraft.

Self Doubt and the Finish Line

Content strategy is one of the many skills I’ve picked up along the way and thanks to many long runs, admittedly nights of heavy wine pours, silence during an epsom bath or simply just passing the time, I’ve created some pretty great, executable ideas.

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be a place where I could seek support, both from myself and from others, where I could offer my novice running advice, and where I could put career skill (which I so enjoy) to personal use. With each run and each workout, I focus on this blog. I’ve come up with posts focused on training advice, funny tips to make running seem less intimidating, social media posts that would make for great race week motivators. Yeah, those social media posts…

On mile 8 of my 9 miler this weekend, I started thinking about Transformation Tuesday. How I can’t wait to post a picture of my former self and say, “This girl is about to run her first full marathon.” All of a sudden I was a ball of emotion. I probably cried myself through that last mile – which was seemingly more like my eyes became an ice cube dispenser because it was so cold outside. I was overwhelmed and on the verge of an anxiety attack. But I had to finish.  What helped me power through? Thoughts of my size 24 jeans. Thoughts of not being able to fit into my desk in high school. Thoughts of bullies making sumo sound effects when I would walk by. All these things that haunted me for most of my life because of how much I weighed.

You see, the pounds may be gone, but those moments are engraved in my head forever. Those moments made me, yet they’ll also always haunt me. There are still days where I hear my estranged mother calling me fat, random strangers telling my dad that I’d be really pretty if I lost some weight, boys in high school refusing to acknowledge my existence because of a silly number on a scale. To all those people, all those moments in my life: thank you. You made me. You broke Me. You encouraged me to lace up my sneakers and experience a world I was never privy to.

The intent of this post is not to seek pity nor words of fortitude, rather to inspire and say this: just like a slice of toast with peanut butter before your next training run, use those moments of self doubt and rather-not-remembers as fuel. Fuel your desire. Fuel your journey. Fuel your life. And fuel a better you.

As I rounded the corner, a quarter mile to the end, I said to myself, “Hell yeah. That girl IS about to run 26.2 miles.”

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Flashback: Here’s me in 2008 on a tour of Harry Potter filming locations in London.