Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Half of It: My 13.1 Mile Tour of Charm City

This is the story of my half marathon. Everyone has asked, "How was it!?" So here it is, a recap of race day.

Let me set the stage for you a little bit to accurately convey the overall mood on race day.... You might recall from my last post that the weather was going to be questionable for race day and we weren't sure if Josh and the girls would be there. Well, the forecast remained the same, but in addition, Josh's car broke down on Wednesday night. And by broke down, I mean $5,000 worth of broke down. If the rain wasn't enough of a question mark, having only one car put the final nail in that coffin. I would be there alone, in the rain.

{A little bit of blue sky toying with my emotions}


{Breakfast of champions, mediocre half-marathoners, me}


As you can imagine, when I woke up on race day my enthusiasm was non existent. I had no desire to run this race, I just wanted to get it over with so I could go home. I arrived downtown around 6:30 so I could park in the free lots right near the finish line and just waited around for a little while since my race didn't start until 9:45. When I walked over to the finish line area where all the festivities were happening I immediately ran into my friend Alexis and her parents. That, and the fact that it wasn't raining, made things much better.


Finally at 9:45 it was time to get in position for the start of the race. It was a huge crowd, so I didn't actually cross the start line until 10:00. Once we got going my mood really improved and I was able to enjoy the run. I was so impressed by the number of people who came out to stand along the sidewalk and cheer us on. Some people had signs, some people just cheered, some played music on their car stereos {lots of "Eye of the Tiger"}. The little kids with their hands up for high-fives were definitely my favorite. I will say that the people sitting on their front steps in pajamas sipping coffee annoyed me a little, but I had to remind myself that I was on mile 6 while they were still in pajamas and that made me much more awesome. And to add to my enjoyment, the weather ended up being perfect. It was right around 60 degrees and just the lightest mist fell only as we ran down Eutaw street into Camden Yards and across the finish line. 

Here's the full official route... {sorry it's a screen shot off my phone}

I had my phone app going while I ran so I could see my splits after the race. Sadly, my phone died at 10.5 miles, but up to that point I was keeping a steady 12 minute mile which I was happy with. Apparently that's where I hit my wall though because my finish time was 3:02. Had I kept that pace I would have finished at about 2:35. I know I was feeling the miles there at the end and did more walking than I wanted to. My feet actually hurt more than anything which may be an indication that it's time for a new pair of shoes. I can't really complain for a first race though, especially considering that I trained and raced on pretty minimal sleep.

Yes. I ran 13.1 miles for this medal and a shirt.

Just kidding, I did it for bragging rights.

Of course, the second question everyone asked was "Are you going to do another one??" My response to that is- today is not the time to decide. I mean, it was great and I had fun and I'm glad I did it. It was a lot of time dedicated to training though, and I'm not sure when/if I'll feel like doing that again. Part of me is totally fine knowing I did it and I'm capable. Part of me is a teeny bit curious how it would have gone if i had been able to train a little better and had gotten adequate sleep. Maybe we'll find out, maybe we'll never know. You'll just have to stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

5 Things I Learned While Training for a Half Marathon

Well here we are just three days away from race day. It's hard to believe its really time already. I feel like I've been training forever. It has actually been a long time. I started training in spring 2012 originally planning to run that fall. Then I got pregnant and decided to wait until this year. I started training again at the beginning of July when Reagan was about 3 months old. Throughout my training I learned a lot about myself as a runner. Here are five things I learned from training that I thought were interesting enough to share.

1. I don't love distance running.
I sort of knew this anyway, but somehow I hoped that I would grow to love it more. Don't get me wrong- I love being a runner. I love accomplishing things I didn't think I could. I enjoy the feeling of having completed a good, hard run. I especially love noticing myself getting better and better. I do not love devoting so much of my time to running when I'd rather be with my family or just doing other things. I don't love waking up early on weekends because that's the only time I have 2 hours to spend running. Surprisingly, it's not the 2 hour run that bothers me, it's trying to schedule it with everything else we have going on on weekends and what I'm missing while I'm gone.

2. Anything becomes less fun when it's an obligation.
I enjoyed running way more before I "had" to do it for training. Instead of running because I feel like it or because it's a nice day, I'm running because it's required. If I don't, I'll be ill-prepared for the race or risk injury. I have to schedule runs even when it's inconvenient, run when I'm not feeling well, run when my baby had me up half the night... because I have to. It starts to be something I resent for taking me away form morning snuggles, interrupting my social plans, forcing me to do something I don't feel up for doing. Even though I obligated myself, it's still an obligation. I much prefer running for fun. This is also still pre-race, so maybe I'll enjoy the race enough to obligate myself again sometime.

3. Expect the unexpected. Nothing goes according to plan.
I planned to run this race a long time ago. I thought once I was cleared to resume normal exercise after Reagan was born that I'd be ready to start running. Well, I was. Reagan had different plans though. I figured she'd be sleeping a lot and it would be easy to let her sleep in a bouncy seat or the bassinet in our pack-n-play while I ran on the treadmill. That didn't happen. She's not a good sleeper. It took forever just to get her on a nap schedule and even now her naps vary in length depending on the day. Beyond that, the training I was able to manage was interrupted by a random mid-summer upper respiratory infection which left me with a hacking cough for about 2 months, an infected toe which required antibiotics and about a week with no running, and while I'm fairly accustomed to doing most daily activities on little to no sleep, running any distance isn't one of them. When I went out for my 10 mile training run I had a total of 6 hours of sleep during which Reagan woke up three times. It didn't go well. These are all things I couldn't have {and didn't} anticipate. They were difficult to work through and I know they've negatively impacted my training. Fortunately, I only set out with a goal of finishing the race, and I'm positive I can manage that.

If those things weren't enough, now there is a serious threat of rain for race day. I'm not sure what the threshold is for cancellation due to weather but I imagine it's pretty high. There would be a whole lot of angry people if they cancelled for sprinkles. Cancelation would be the worst case scenario because it would have all been for nothing and I'd lose my entry fee. I can handle running in the rain. The downside to that is that Josh and the girls won't be there. While Reagan is still very young, Carsen is really into running. She loves it. She always wants to go running with me when I go, and that's her very favorite thing to do when we play outside. All along, from the very beginning of my training, I wanted her to see me finish the race. That's what I envisioned when I needed motivation. My girls are 99% of my reason for running in the first place. It's going to take a lot of wind out of my sail if they aren't there. Crossing the finish line with no one there and just getting in my car and going home would be a serious buzz kill. It is what it is. You just can't plan this kind of stuff.

4. Logistics are the hardest part.
If you think running 13.1 miles sounds intimidating, you don't know the half of it {terrible pun intended, ha!}. When I think about this race, I'm much less concerned about the actual running than I am about transportation and parking, what I'm going to eat for breakfast and when, where Josh and the kids will park, what time they need to arrive, if I pumped enough for Reagan to eat from the time I need to leave waaaaay early in the morning until I see her again after the race, where they'll be after the race and if they'll get to see me cross the finish line, what if it rains?? And those are just a few. If all I had to do was run, I'd be fine. It's all the other stuff that makes it complicated and stresses me out. If I have any nerves on race day it will be over logistics.

5. You can do it.
I never thought I could run 13.1 miles. For a long time I didn't think I could run 5 miles. Only when I put my mind to trying did I realize that I most certainly can. That's not to say it's easy, just that it mostly just takes deciding to do it in order to be able to. When I see people much older than I am, or much younger, or heavier, or pushing 3 kids in a jogger, or missing limbs out running, rest assured it can be done. If they can do it, you can do it, and I can do it. Maybe it's a cliche, but I honestly believe that. Try. You'll see.

Time to chug some water and get some sleep. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 4, 2013

One of Those Mornings

You know the ones... the baby wakes up to eat at 5 (after eating at 3:30), then you spend two hours trying to convince her to go back to sleep before giving up and starting the day with a headache and a giant cup of coffee, knowing that there is nothing but fussiness and screeching ahead of you since the 6-month old decided to start her day at 5 am and has a check up (including shots) scheduled at 9. You know... those mornings.

I went about throwing myself together, dressing the baby, and tossing Carsen's clothes on her bed without saying a word. I hauled Reagan downstairs with me and sat her in her exersaucer while I got breakfast ready for Carsen and myself. Then, just when I'm convinced that this is going to be one long, miserable day, while I slammed things around in the kitchen I had a moment. I looked around and this is what the girls were doing...

Clearly there was nothing actually wrong with my day except for my bad attitude. After being snapped back into reality, I decided that a little change in perspective could make all the difference today. It was going to be a good day because I was going to make it a good one. Instead of my precious sleep being cut short, I had extra precious time with my babies. Instead of Reagan fussing at me for 2 hours because she hates when I sleep (sometimes I actually wonder this), she just wanted to spend time with her mama. One day too soon those mornings of waking up to her smiling pink cheeks will just be memories so instead of being irritated, I decided to be thankful. Instead of having one of those mornings, it became one of those mornings when I can't believe how blessed I am.

Happy Friday :)