Global Running Day and The Big Run

Yesterday was Global Running Day.  It’s a day meant to celebrate the joys of running.  And what’s so cool is that anyone can participate.  The inclusiveness of running is something I really love about the sport.  Whether you run like a herd of turtles through peanut butter (I borrowed that from a T-shirt I saw) or you run like the speed of sound, if you run, you’re a runner, and Global Running Day is all about doing what we love to do.

And thinking about Global Running Day just gives me warm fuzzies.  I mean, how cool is it to share something with people from every country of the world?  It makes the world a smaller, more friendly place to think of people around the world lacing up their shoes and heading out the door, all on the same day for the same reason.

In celebration of Global Running Day, my favorite local running store, Fleet Feet, hosted The Big Run last night.  It was a locally run 5K that was also run nationally.  So essentially runners from around the nation competed against each other.  So fun!

It was the first running of this 5K, so I was happy to be able to participate in it.  And it was held on the Riverwalk, a walking/running/biking trail along the Arkansas River, one of my favorite places to run.041

 

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This was a much smaller race than other races I’ve participated in, but there was the usual pre-race socializing, complete with the Fleet Feet shoe. 044And the obligatory row of porta-potties.043Finally it was time for the race to begin, and off we went on this historic run!  I knew from the start this was going to be a tough race for me.  It was something like 80 degrees F, which always slows me down, and my legs were really tight and sore from CrossFit.  Right around the halfway mark, I had to walk for a bit, and from then on, it was run/walk the rest of the way.  Needless to say, I finished in a disappointing 30 minutes 39 seconds, the worst 5K time I’ve had in probably 2 years.  I placed a disappointing 6th out of 29 in my age division.

But as I was talking to one of the Fleet Feet coaches later about my miserable 5K time, he said, “Well, you can’t have the good races without the bad ones.”  And he’s right.  How will I know when I have a good race if I don’t have a bad one now and then?

So I just enjoyed the atmosphere and the post-race party, complete with band, pizza and beer (none for me, thank you!).051There’s always a next time, and if there’s one thing that disappointing races do, it’s to motivate me to work hard so it won’t happen again.

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Talk to me:

What did you do yesterday?

Where’s your favorite place for a run or a walk?

To Sticker or Not to Sticker?

Following the Route 66 marathon, my second, last November, this happened:IMG_1576Yes, I became one of those obnoxious people with a 26.2 sticker on the car window.

I was going into work a few nights ago.  I have to cross an air bridge from the parking garage to the hospital, and parts of it are frigid.  Seriously, the air blasting out of the vents is like Jack Frost breathing on you.  (Remember, that Santa Clause movie where Jack Frost freezes everyone with his breath?)  So I walk fast, partly because I’m freezing my tushy off but also because I just naturally walk kind of fast.

Anywho, I came upon another nurse going to work.  He made the remark, “I’m going to get out of your way.  I saw you get out of that car with 26.2 on it!”

I just laughed, and said, “That doesn’t mean I can run fast!”

But that brief exchange has stuck with me and has made me think a lot about why I put a 26.2 sticker on my car.  Is it making other people feel I’m superior to them?  Does it seem like I’m bragging?  Am I sending a message that I belong to some exclusive club?

That certainly was not my intention, but I began to feel rather self-conscious about the sticker on my car.

But it got me thinking about why marathoners put stickers on their cars, and I have to say I think it’s the same reason people put any kind of sticker on their cars.  I’ve seen cars pulling into the garage ahead of me with some “RN” or nursing related themed bumper sticker.  I see the stickers of families, where there’s a sticker for Mom, Dad, big brother, little sister, and the dog.  I see political stickers from both Republican and Democratic supporters.  I see stickers about Jesus, guns, a child who made the honor roll, and some with no real cause except to make you chuckle.

But the one thing all those stickers have in common is that they represent what’s important to those who drive the car.  They let us know who you are.  I think bumper stickers are a way of connecting with our fellow humans.  They tell stories of accomplishments and hint at beliefs and passions.

So I’m not going to feel bad about a 26.2 sticker on my car.  Running is an important part of my life, and running a marathon is a big achievement, something I’m proud of, and something that changed me.  It’s a part of who I am now, and that’s what my 26.2 sticker means to me.

Besides I don’t think that thing would come off if I wanted it to!

Talk to me:

What bumper stickers are on your car?

What’s the best bumper sticker you’ve ever seen?

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An Interview with My Favorite 4-year Old Runner

My niece Candice was born with hearing loss, but seriously, unless you saw her hearing aids, you’d never know she had a hearing problem, thanks to Happy Hands.

Happy Hands is this super cool preschool and kindergarten for kids with hearing loss or communication disorders.  The kids learn to sign, along with all the other things preschoolers have to learn.

Candice has been going to Happy Hands for a few years now, and I am just amazed at the progress that kiddo has made.  Her speech is right on par for a 4-year old and her hands are so expressive when she signs.  She blows my mind.  Well, all my nieces and nephews blow my mind for that matter.  Seriously, how did I get the privilege of being Aunt Nita to such great kiddos?

But back to Happy Hands…I am so grateful for everyone who makes that school function, from office staff to teachers and everyone in between.  Every year the school does a fun run as a fundraiser.  You may remember that I attended last year as well.  I can see myself attending this fun run for a lot of years to come.

The run itself is set up in the parking lot of the school.  Cones divide the space and arrows chalked on the pavement point the direction to run.  I love this starting line!071And there are all kinds of fun characters that attend.  Candice was totally enamored with Jimmy’s Egg, or the big marshmallow as one cutie pie called him!079The police and fire department also came.  I love this look on Candice’s face as she waits with anticipation to see the fire truck.

070At the end of the run, I “interviewed” Candice.

Isn’t she just the cutest thing ever?!  She is definitely my favorite 4-year old runner!  Here’s to lots of years of “running super fast!”

I love when the things I’m passionate about collide, and this Happy Hands fun run fundraiser does just that.  It takes running and turns it into an avenue to support on organization that is helping my sweet niece find her way in a big world.  If you’re looking for a worthwhile organization to support, check out Happy Hands.

Talk to me:

What’s one of the best fundraisers you’ve ever attended?

What’s been the best part of your week this far?

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Running Coach!

A few weeks ago I spent the weekend in Little Rock, Arkansas, at St. Vincent’s hospital.IMG_1069No, don’t worry!  I wasn’t there because someone was sick.  I was there for educational purposes, and it wasn’t nursing or anything medically related.

Curious yet?

I attended a running coach certification course!  It was a weekend jammed full of information on the different types of runners, what different types of runners need, and how to design training programs for runners from a couch to 5K to a marathon.

I have to admit.  It was pretty overwhelming.  I never realized what went into the training that I’ve been through.  I just showed up and ran with my group, followed the coach’s instructions and lead, and then on race day, I showed up and ran my race!  The science and discussion behind various training strategies is fascinating–and complicated!

Anywho, attending the course was the first step towards certification.  The next step was successfully passing the online exam.

My goal for this week was to complete the exam.  We could take as long as we needed to complete it, as long as we completed in within 30 days of the course.  So I started the exam yesterday.  I’d work through a few questions, take a break, come back to it.  This morning I finished the exam.

My heart starting beating fast as I hesitated over the submit button.  I had one chance, and there were a few questions I was unsure about.  But I knew that I had answered the questions to the best of my ability.  Come what may, I was done with the test.  I hit submit.  And then that 5 second wait that seemed like 5 hours was over and my score popped up on the screen.

Was that really my score?  I could feel my hands start to shake.  It’s over, I told myself.  Deep breath, girl.  You….PASSED!IMG_0337

Yes, I passed the exam, and Tulsa now has a new certified running coach.  So if you’re in the Tulsa area and you think you might like to be a runner, I’d love to help you reach that goal!

 

Talk to me:

Who’s the best coach you’ve ever had?  Why?

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My First Trail Run: The Spectacular Spill on Turkey Mountain

One thing on my running to-do list has been to try trail running.  But training for and running two marathons in one year didn’t leave much time for other running adventures.  So with no big races planned for 2017, when I saw the announcement about the Snake Run I decided to take the opportunity to try trail running.

Now, the name of the race seriously made me reconsider registering for the race since my fear of snakes borders on a phobia.  I am terrified petrified of snakes.  I hate them so much I made my sister read the reptile chapter in my eighth grade science class to me so I wouldn’t have to look at those pictures.  Shiver.

But once I scrolled past the picture of a colorful, coiled up snake (shiver, again) on the race’s website, I discovered that the name of the race came from the curvy nature of the trail on Turkey Mountain, a wilderness area right here in the middle of Tulsa (sweet!), and had nothing to do with snakes, thankfully.  Then, I learned that runners of this race chose a time limit of either 3 or 6 hours.  The objective, then, was to run as far as possible within that time limit.  Sounded like a good race for my first trail race, so I signed up.  At least if I made one lap and decided I hated trail running, I could just quit.  There wasn’t a distance I needed to complete.  Kind of took the pressure off, you know.

So for those of you who follow me on Facebook, here’s the story I promised you of why my first trail run ended like this:trail running, 1The day of the run dawned sunny and clear, a perfect day to run.  I was feeling a bit nervous since the rules of this race were so different from road races.  A veteran trail runner explained that we would make the 3.75 mile loop, check in at the start/finish line for our miles to be logged, and head back out for the next loop.  The strategy came in finishing the current loop before your time limit was up.  Otherwise, those last 3.75 miles would not be counted.

The 6 hour runners started, and 15 minutes later the gun went off for us lowly 3 hour runners.  I took my place in the line of runners along the narrow beginning of the trail, and my first trail run was underway.  I discovered that what I’d been told about trail running was absolutely true.  My pace was much slower, and I had to focus on the ground right in front of me to know where to put my feet.  Yep, just like they said.

snake run2, 2017About 2 miles in, I was feeling good, enjoying the new adventure of jumping over rocks, mud puddles, rocks, and ditches when all of sudden I found myself face down in the dirt.  But it wasn’t just a fall.  It was one of those falls that begins with a couple of bounces when you hit the ground and finally ends when you skid to a stop with an “oomph.”  A most spectacular spill, I’m sure, if I’d been on the viewing end of that initiation into trail running.  Other runners passed me like gazelles, slowing down enough to make sure I was okay and to pass on encouragement to “walk it off”, telling me that a fall makes me a true trail runner.  Sprawled on the ground, taking up the entire trail with limbs in every which direction, that did make me feel a bit better!

snake run1, 2017I landed hard on my left hip (enough to get road rash through my shorts, I discovered later), but running didn’t seem to make it worse, initially, so I kept going.  My goal was to run 13 miles in the 3 hours, but with each loop, my left leg and knee started protesting more and more and my lap times kept getting slower.  Finally, I noticed that I was holding my breath and with each step over tree limbs, rocks, or ditches, a little moan would escape from my mouth.  I decided that to risk further injury, the prudent thing to do was to end the race…at 12.75 miles.  I hate doing the prudent thing sometimes, especially so close to my goal.

So there you have it.  The story of my first trail run…and 2 weeks later, I’m still sporting a nice greenish bruise on my leg.  But fall and all, I had fun!

Talk to me:

What’s something new you’ve tried recently?

What’s something you’d like to try?

 

From the Back of the Pack

For the first time in over a year, I skipped a Saturday run today.  That shin pain that developed after my last marathon has been bugging me again this week, so I decided it would be best not to run 16 miles today.  Plus, Saturday runs have not been so much fun lately.

I’ve been feeling discouraged about running and CrossFit and fitness in general lately.

Two weeks ago I ran the Sweetheart run double–a 5K followed by a 10K.  I was okay with my 5K time but 158disappointed in my 10K time.  It was almost 2 minutes off my PR.

Then we had a benchmark workout on the schedule at CrossFit.  It’s an opportunity to measure ourselves to see that we’re progressing in our fitness.  Our score was the total number of repetitions of several different exercises completed before the final buzzer.  Of the girls, I finished last by quite a few repetitions.

And after running with a group for a year where I could easily run at the front of the group, I moved up a pace group where I’m lagging way behind everyone else, crying inside, the coach plodding along beside me, encouraging me so I could just finish the run.

What is going on?  Why is everything such a challenge?  Why can’t I do better?  These are the questions I’m asking myself as I mentally berate myself from the back of the pack for not keeping up with the others.

As I’ve mulled this over, thinking about my performance in the various activities I participate in, it came to me.  Things are harder because I’m pushing myself.

148The Sweetheart Run with the disappointing 10K time?  It was actually a 15K PR.  So it wasn’t a consecutive 15K, but I understand now why my 10K time wasn’t better.  For a total of 9 miles, I made myself run raster than I did during my last 15K.

And that CrossFit workout that I’m bummed about?  I actually completed more repetitions than I did last time, and, unlike last time, I did not scale the workout.  I used the weights and distances that the workout is meant to be done with.  Gains!

And maybe I am bringing up the rear in my running group, but I’m running at a faster pace for a longer distance, something my body is not yet used to. 159Perspective.  When I stop comparing myself to others and look at the gains I’ve made, I’m doing okay.  Things are hard now because I’m making my body work hard, but that’s how fitness gains happen.  And that’s really what it’s all about.  Whatever you do to keep yourself fit, it’s not a competition (unless you’re a professional athlete in which case you probably wouldn’t be reading my little blog!).  It’s not about comparing yourself to others; it’s about pushing yourself to be the best, the strongest, the fastest, the fittest you can be.

156So I traded in my running shoes for dumbbells today and got my glisten on.  Hopefully, next week I’ll be back with my running group, trying to remember that my place at the back of the pack means I’m getting stronger!

Talk to me:

How are your fitness goals coming along?

How are you feeling about your current level of fitness?

 

Surviving Winter Running

I used to be a fair weather runner.  If it wasn’t sunny and 60 degrees, I probably wasn’t going to run outside.  I may run on the treadmill, but I just wasn’t into running in the rain and the cold and the snow…But then I started training with a group who are not JUST fair runner weathers (or fair weather runners, as the case may be!).  They run in all types of weather–hot, cold, rainy, windy, snowy.  The one condition that nixes an outside run, though, is lightning.  Safety first, above all else.

Oddly enough, over the years, I’ve discovered that I like running in the rain and the snow.  The elements add dimension and interest to running.  And I actually prefer running in the cold instead of the heat.  So yeah, I’ve become an all weather runner.  The run this past weekend cemented that.

This was the view outside on Saturday morning, the morning we had a 7 mile run planned.

IMG_1409The dread of Oklahoma winters–ice.  Thankfully, here in Tulsa, only elevated services got covered in ice.  The roads were wet but not slippery, so our run was a go!

Rain was pouring down, and temperatures were somewhere around the freezing mark when we began our run.  It was COLD!  Barely a minute into the run, I stepped in a puddle of water and soaked my feet.  So I stopped worrying about getting my feet wet.  It already happened.  I just settled into the pace and took in the beauty of ice-covered trees.

So I thought today I’d give you my tips on surviving a run in less than ideal conditions.

  1.  Wear a waterproof jacket.  I’m learning that there is a difference between waterproof and water-resistant.  Water-resistant gear repels water but won’t necessarily keep you dry.  Waterproof gear is supposed to keep you dry.  My NorthFace waterproof jacket held up beautifully on our 7 mile run in full on rain and drizzle.  I didn’t get wet at all.  The only IMG_1405downside to waterproof/resistant gear is that it tends not to be very breathable.  It can get really hot underneath there, so you may not need as many layers on the top as you normally would.  With near freezing temps, I was plenty warm with just a long sleeve technical tee and my jacket.
  2. Wear a hat with a bill.  When I’m running in precipitation, a hat with a bill is a must.  I wear glasses, can’t see a thing without them, and would be in big trouble if the lenses became occluded with water.  Think of how hard it is to see through a windshield in the rain with no windshield wipers.  But whether you wear glasses or not, a hat with a bill keeps the rain or snow out of your face and eyes.  For warmth, I like to wear a headband that covers my ears and my hat over my headband.  I am a fan of Headsweats hats.  They are lightweight, breathable, and easy to adjust for size.IMG_0332
  3. Layer up those gloves!  My hands get miserably cold in the winter.  There are hand warmers that you can use, but I landed on a solution that works great for me.  First, I put on a lightweight pair of moisture wicking gloves.  Next, I put on a pair of just regular knit gloves.  On top of that I put a sock on each hand.  Yes, I said socks.  They act as mittens, keeping your fingers together for warmth.  Through 7 miles in cold rain, my hands stayed nice and warm!IMG_0333
  4. Dress in layers on the bottom.  Some guys on our run Saturday were dressed in shorts.  Maybe I’m a weenie, but I need something to cover my legs when it’s wet and cold outside.  But I don’t want bulky clothing.  I like to wear a pair of running tights and put on a lightweight pair of wind pants on top of them.  The tights provide warmth and the wind pants really block the chill of the wind but don’t add any bulk or weight.  Plus, they protected my legs from the splashing water as we ran through puddles.
  5. Socks–wear them.  I’ve discovered that my favorite running socks, Feetures, tend to dry quickly, or at least don’t feel wet, when they do get wet.  As I mentioned, my feet got soaked early in the run.  My feet initially felt wet and cold, but after just a few minutes, I didn’t notice the IMG_0334wetness any more.  When I got home and took off my shoes and socks, I discovered that my socks were pretty much soaked, although I couldn’t tell.  I am a Feetures fan, so I haven’t tried any other running socks to compare them to, but I was happy with the way Feetures performed in the rain.
  6. Be safe!  Above all, think safety.  If it’s a foggy, gray day, remember your lights.  Let drivers know you’re sharing the streets with them.  Slow your pace.  Wet streets can turn slippery quick whether there’s ice on them or not.  And obviously, if there’s lightning in them thar clouds, stay inside!  No run’s worth getting zapped for.

So don’t let the elements deter you!  Snowy runs have been some of my best runs.  The cold is invigorating, on top of exercise that is also invigorating!

Talk to me:

What kind of outdoor activities do you enjoy in winter?

I’d love to see photos of how you keep on the move in winter.  Leave a comment with your photo attached.

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Post-Marathon Blues

The days, and weeks, after a marathon are kind of strange.  At least they are for me.  You’ve been working and training for a race for 4 and a half months, and suddenly it’s done.  Poof.  Now what?  Not having to go for a run feels weird.

You may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet here on the Other Side.  It’s because I’m in a serious post-marathon funk.  I remember this happening after my first marathon, but it seems a little more intense this time.

Part of it is that I haven’t really been able to recover like I did last time.  Following my first marathon, I met up with my training group for a recovery run a week after the race.  We rehashed the race, spent some time celebrating our accomplishment, and talked about future running plans and races we want to run.

This time, I haven’t been able to run since I crossed the finish line.  I’ve had a persistent pain in my right shin since the race.  With immediate running the pain intensifies, and then I spend the rest of the day walking in pain.  It’s been 3 weeks since the race, and I’ve not run at all.  It is seriously messing with me.  I am in such a funk.  (Yes, I have an appointment next week to get my leg checked out.)

There really is a phenomena called post-race blues.  I see it as a loss of focus and lack of a goal.  One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I need to be challenged.  I need a goal to work towards.  Unfortunately, pain is preventing me from setting a new running goal.  I can’t sign up for a race until whatever is making my leg hurt goes away.  Sigh…I just want to run!  (I know.  I’m whining.)

Anywho…perspective.  That’s a big part of what keeps me healthy in mind and spirit.  So I’ve been trying to find the positive in not being able to run.  It’s taken me a while, but I think I’ve found a couple of good things about taking some time off from running.

  1.  It gives me an opportunity to volunteer at a race.  Next weekend is a holiday 5K that I was hoping to run.  It would have been race number 12 for 2016, a goal I had set for myself.  But I’m quite sure things won’t be up to running order in a week, so I decided to take the opportunity to volunteer to help with the race instead, something I’ve wanted to do but have found it hard to do when I’m running the race!  I’ll be standing at the finish line handing out medals and water.  How fun to see those runners cross that finish line and be able to celebrate their achievement by handing them a medal!  I feel my spirit lifting a bit.
  2. It gives me time to try yoga.  I’ve read some about the health benefits of yoga, the core and balance work, the stretching aspect, and how helpful it can be to runners.  I know I need work in the balance and flexibility department, so even before the marathon, I’d been thinking about incorporating yoga into my workout routine.  The only thing stopping me now, since I’m not running hours a week, is…nothing!  I just need to make it a point to go.
  3. It gives me time to sleep.  I can’t seem to get enough sleep since the race finished.  Maybe I just didn’t let myself think about how tired I was before, or maybe I’m tired because I’m just in a funk or maybe still recovering physically from the beating I gave my body, img_1351but at any rate, I’ve had time for lots of naps since afternoons aren’t taken up with running.  Lots of naps.  Maybe one day I’ll catch up on my sleep…
  4. It makes me hungry to run.  After my first marathon, I kind of lost the desire to run.  It seemed hard.  Not running for several weeks now has made me crave a run.  I seriously almost salivate when I see runners on the street.  I want to be out there so badly too.  But while not running has put me in a funk, not running also makes me love running more if that makes sense.

So hopefully soon this post-marathon funk will lift, and I’ll be back to myself and running in no time.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy some activities that I haven’t had time for before, and look forward with eager anticipation to my first post-marathon run!

Talk to me:

What pulls you up when you’re down in the dumps?

What’s something you’re looking forward to right now?

 

Preparing for a Race

Maybe you’ve run a gazillion races.  Maybe you’re planning your first one.  For one of the guys I trained with, the marathon this past weekend was his very first race…ever!  He’d been running, but he’d never run even a 5K!  I was super impressed.  My first race was a 5K, and I was intimidated by that.  I can’t imagine facing a marathon as my very first race.  At any rate, whatever your plans are about running a race, I thought I’d give you my tips on being well prepared to run a race.

  1.  Hydrate well.  Whether the temperatures outside will be hot or cold, you’ll need to be well hydrated going into the race.  Start drinking more water in the days leading up to the race.  Waiting until the day before the race won’t give you enough time to get well hydrated.  All last week, I walked around with my insulated cup just sipping throughout the day.  My goal is to drink half my body weight in ounces of water every day.01f5193db89b2d537019dd25c5a3b845b0133adca02.  Charge up all your gadgets.  I like to charge up my Garmin and my bluetooth ear buds (review coming up soon on that) the day before the race so there’s no doubt they are fully charged.  Don’t forget to charge your phone, too!  I just plug mine in and let it charge overnight.0170af4dd8468733f6efcb2bc1d5d69947ddac1b2e3.  Check your playlist.  I have a marathon playlist that I created with hours of my favorite, upbeat songs.  I have everything from a little J Lo and Pitbull to Planetshakers!  Quite a combo, uh?  But I like to double check my playlist.  Sometimes songs fall off for some strange reason.  Technology.017105e3b3a97fa23f367ce27db4c7daefeaa6e32d4.  Remember to pick up your race packet.  Some smaller races may let you pick up your bib at the event, but bigger races like the marathon this past weekend do not have day of the event pick-up.  There was an expo before the marathon that runners needed to attend to pick up their race packet.  Know when and where you need to go to pick up your bib.  You may not be allowed to run without it!011aa18b7ff52e700743a15a2fd98ed7add181075d5.  Lay out everything you’ll need for the race, including clothes.  Don’t wait until race morning to get everything together.  Laying everything out a day ahead of time will assure you that you have all the nutrition that you need, that you know how you’re going to carry it, and that you have your favorite running gear clean and ready to go.  You don’t want to be scrambling on race morning to find what you need!  img_1323 6.  Don’t try anything new.  I don’t eat anything that I don’t usually eat in the days leading up to a race.  I want to stick with things that I know how my stomach reacts to.  In fact, I have a pre-race dinner that I almost always have:  pasta with marinara sauce and chicken.  Don’t wear new clothes or new shoes that haven’t been broken in.  That’s just asking for chafing and blisters.  Don’t do any new exercises.  This is NOT the week to be adventurous!013dd1a135249480aecd6fd3a765241c6c56bc64ae8.  Rest.  It still feels weird to me to cut down on running in the week leading up to a race.  It seems counterintuitive, right?  But resting allows your muscles to heal so that you’re strong and ready to go.  In every race that I’ve run following that week of rest, I’ve hit a PR.  Just sayin’…I do like to do extra stretching and rolling of tight muscles during the days leading up to a race, though.0106618296e064477363681d6f07bbf923661e254d9.  Have a routine for race morning.  I like to get up about 2 hours before I need to leave the house.  This gives me time to shower, eat breakfast and not have to run on a full stomach.  Just like I have a pre-race dinner, I have a race morning breakfast:  a banana and a rice cake with peanut butter and honey.  I also try to drink about 20 ounces of water when I wake up, finishing the last of it about an hour before the race starts.  That lets me go into the race well hydrated without having to visit the port-a-potty every mile.                                                                           10.  Check the weather.  Last but not least, look at the weather forecast before you head out the door to make sure you are dressed appropriately.  If there’s a chance of rain, I like to just go ahead and wear a hat.  Looking at highs and lows of temperatures over the span of your race will let you know how to dress.  I like to use the rule of dressing for temperatures 20 degrees warmer than actual temperatures.  That may mean dressing in layers so you can shed clothes as you warm up.  I will tie jackets around my waist as I no longer need them, or like for the marathon this past weekend, I bought a jacket at a thrift store for a few dollars and just added it to the pile of clothes along the race route when I no longer needed it.

Happy racing!

Talk to me:

What races have you done?  If you’ve never done one, would you want to?

How do you prepare for races?

 

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Marathon #2: Route 66 Marathon Recap

3:30 a.m.  My eyes popped open.  Race day!  Nervous butterflies fluttered in my belly.  For some reason, I was feeling way more apprehensive about this marathon than I did with my first one back in April.  What ifs scrolled through my mind.  What if I bonk again?  What if my legs cramp up again?  What if the pain in my right leg hurts too much to run?  What if my nutrition plan is not right?  What if my pace is too fast?  What if I haven’t trained enough, or trained good enough?  What if I can’t run 26.2 miles?

4:45  Apparently, I’ve had all the sleep I’m going to get.  I decided to just get up, try to shake off the nerves, and go about my normal pre-race routine, starting with a shower.  There’s nothing like a shower to clear my head!  Then it was my usual pre-race breakfast of a banana and a rice cake with peanut butter and honey, followed by rolling that tight calf.  For good measure, I rolled my hamstrings, quads, and IT bands too.

6:30 a.m.  I left the house to meet my friends at the Fleet Feet store downtown.  There’s plenty of parking there, and it’s not far from the start line.  Plus, all the training groups are meeting there for one huge group picture.

7:15  My buddies and I head towards the start line.  It’s cold today!  I wore a lightweight jacket over a long-sleeved shirt and added a heavier jacket over that and 3 pairs of gloves.  You have no idea how cold my hands can get! My fingers looked like fat, little sausages!  As I warm up, that heavy jacket and the gloves will wind up beside the road.  I expect there will be a trail of clothes along the course today.

8:00  Our corral is full.  We’re just behind the 4:30 pacer.  The national anthem has been sung, and corral A is on the way.  The mass of people in corral B where I am surges forward and excitement takes over any lingering apprehension.  Confetti fills the air.  Here we go!  The race I’ve fought for through tough runs, speed intervals, and hill training for 19 weeks was finally starting!

8:07 (or somewhere around that time)  I hit start on my Garmin as we cross the start line and the first steps of 26.2 miles are behind me.  I’ve decided to run with a pace group this time.  In evaluating my last marathon, I suspect that being too aggressive on the first half may have led to such a miserable ending.  The pacer’s job is to get us to the finish line within a minute of our goal time of 4 hours 30 minutes, and I want that time so bad.  I know if I stick with him, he’ll get me there.  Besides, I had a great experience running with a pace group during the Tulsa Run.  The support and camaraderie for this much longer distance will be nice.

I got warm quickly and by mile one, I tossed my heavier jacket.  By mile four, just in time for my first energy gel and mustard packet, the last of the gloves sailed to the side lines.  My nutrition plan involves taking an energy gel and a packet of mustard every 4 miles.  Instead of drinking Gatorade offered on the course, I’ve opted to take electrolyte tablets every hour.  I think the sugar content in the sports drink contributed to my late race demise last time since I wound up feeling sick and unable to take nutrition to sustain the last push to the finish line.

Mile 13.  The halfway point.  I’m starting to struggle mentally already.  We’re only halfway there and my legs are already so tight.  I focus on keeping pace with the pace group, listen to my music, think about this gal I met during the early miles who is running her 66th (seriously!) marathon today, and admire the beautiful fall leaves.  I’m trying not to think about all the upcoming hills.

Mile 15.  The pacer admits that he struggles mentally the most from mile 15 to 18.  Okay.  So I’m not alone.  I’m seriously wondering if I’m going to make it the entire way.  I still have 11 miles to go.  I try to distract myself by wondering where I’ll see my family next.  My brother and sister and their families are driving around town to cheer me on from different parts of the course.  I cannot even begin to make them understand how much that means to me.  They are the best!

Mile 18.  This is the mile that I bonked at last time.  But oddly enough, I’m starting to feel better.  I’ve pushed through some of the fatigue, and I’m feeling a little more energized.  Let’s hope that continues.  Spectators, as usual, are a godsend, and with their creative signs, the entertainment helps to keep me going.  My favorite sign, aside from the ones my family held up especially for me, was one that said, “Run like you’re the third monkey trying to get on the ark.”  resized_20161120_190552

Mile 21.  There’s my family!  I give them a thumbs up and keep going.  Only 5 more miles.  By George, I think I’ve got this!  So far, I haven’t had a single cramp, and I’m not feeling sick.  My legs are super tight, but I’m not done yet.resized_20161120_191058

Mile 22.  The dreaded hills of Cherry Street.  Thank God for our pacer!  I was crying inside trying to get up those hills.  I think I might have actually groaned out loud, but the pacer coached us through.  The pace group had dwindled to just me and one other guy at this point.  We were about 2 minutes ahead of pace, so the pacer encouraged us to just lean into the hill and take it easy.  Relax the shoulders, he reminded me.

Mile 23.  The hills are mostly behind me now.  The finish line is just 5K away.  I picture the 3 mile loop I run in my neighborhood.   Piece of cake, I tell myself.  The pacer is telling me if I’ve got anything left to take off.  I’m feeling pretty fatigued, but I think I’ve still got a little something left in the tank.  I drop the pace to 9:30 and head for the finish line.

Mile 25.5.  Oh my gosh, I am so incredibly tired.  My legs are so tight I’m not sure if I can make it this last 3/4 of a mile.  I’ve only walked through water stops, so I gave myself about a 15-20 second walk break.  It was enough.  I rounded the corner, climbed that last short, steep hill.  Putting a hill at the end of a race course is just a mean trick, by the way!

Mile 26.  I could hear the finish line and the cheering of the crowd.  They pulled me forward.  There was my family yelling for me.  I high fived them as I went by and crossed the finish line with a fist pump in the air having beat my goal with a time of 4:25:33.20161120_124221And marathon #2 is behind me!  And what a much better experience it was!  I think I learned well from my first marathon.  My nutrition and hydration plan worked well.  I didn’t cramp up at all, which I attribute to the mustard, and I realized that if I just trust my training, it will carry me through.

For my own benefit and in case your wondering, this was the nutrition that I used during the race:

Mile 4:  apple cinnamon Hammer gel

Mile 8:  apple cinnamon Hammer gel

Mile 12:  Accel gel

Mile 16:  Bonk breakers with caffeine

Mile 20:  Bonk breakers with caffeine