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.

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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! 

#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!