The big highlights for this training week were increasing mileage on Wednesday and Charlotte Racefest 10K on Sunday.
Yoga Monday – done! I finished a whole yoga workout, which was good to finally do it. The stretching is very beneficial, and I need to strengthen my core. The whole point is to learn to clear your mind and focus on your breathing but…sigh. It’s so boring! There was an obstacle, but I was impressed she could hold the pose for 30 minutes.
The standard 3-mile Tuesday run was another heart-rate run. I did a great job on it averaging an 11:46/mi pace and an average heart rate of 148 bpm. I felt great, even though it was a very thick morning with 94% humidity. Ahh, summer is here and it’s only going to get worse!
It was like God knew how nervous I was to go up to 4 miles today, so He sent me a beautiful cool morning! It’s the only good explanation for getting such an amazing morning at the end of June. My run was fantastic this day. I was going to do a heart-rate run, but it was too pretty, so I just went. I finished the 4 miles with an 11:21/mi average pace but my heart rate was 164 bpm. I have the same mileage again next week, but Wednesdays will be a challenge going forward. Do I keep this as a heart rate run? Should I do tempo work or something? I’m not sure if there is a strategy for doing a semi-long run mid-week.
Two beautiful mornings in a row?! What is going on here? Too bad this wouldn’t be the weather for the race on Sunday, but again, I’ll take it. I tried to do a heart-rate run, but I didn’t slow down enough. I averaged this 3 miles with an 11:35/mi pace and heart rate at 154 bpm, which isn’t too bad.
So, Fridays are strength days, which is supposed to be a Pure Barre morning. I couldn’t figure out how to buy individual classes on the app, since I can’t rationalize spending $140/mo for unlimited classes (I can’t only make the Friday morning one). I went for a walk with my sister, Shadow. I did some other body weight exercises, but I didn’t add a check on my training plan since I didn’t really do what I should have done. Sigh…I need to make a phone call.
This is cross-training day, so I did a 45 minute walk (partly with Shadow). It was a humid morning and just a walk around the neighborhood, so not a lot to talk about there.
2021 Charlotte Racefest! Read my full race recap here. Since racing is BACK, and I enjoy the race environment, I am trying to sign up for more races to do with my long runs. I have a few scheduled, but I got into this one really last minute. There were 5 miles on the schedule since it was a down week, so this 10K would be perfect!
Goal A: run an 11:30/mile pace
Goal B: heart rate run
Goal C: finish the race
At the end of the day, I accomplished Goal A, but it wasn’t by planning or being methodical. I was proud to earn my second fastest 10K time of 1:10:02!
Week 3 is in the history books. Instagram has more posts for #2021ChicagoMarathon and runners are getting into their training. It’s very motivating to see. A lot of people ran 13-14 mile long runs this week. I need to focus on my training plan and not compare myself, but they are awesome! Here’s to week 4!
Charlotte Racefest is an annual race here in town, but it was completely new to me. It supposed to be in April, so it was canceled in 2020, and they moved the 2021 date to June which was great since North Carolina’s COVID restrictions were lifted in May. The race is a half marathon and 10K.
While I hadn’t heard of the race before this year (not sure why), I came across it in my race research earlier this year. I didn’t sign up for the 10K yet because I wasn’t sure if I should do a lot of races during training, and I didn’t want to miss out on a lake weekend. Luckily, my parents went on vacation this week, so I was home. Unfortunately, when I went to register earlier this week, the 10K was sold out! I am not in shape to complete a half marathon, so I was really bummed. Then when I was surfing the interwebs on Wednesday or Thursday night, I saw it. No joke, but the registration page said “1 spot remaining” for the 10K. I jumped right on that. Not sure if it was an error or what, but I wasn’t asking any questions.
The race and check-in were at Armored Cow Brewing Co., which was new to me. Personally, I thought this was a great location for pick-up and race start. It’s a large brewery and there is a TON of parking! Check-in was really easy. You checked in to get your bib then went to another station to pick up your shirt and bag. I think something definitely was off because I didn’t get a normal gold bib that the 10K racers received. Mine was black, so I’m thinking I snuck in. The race shirts were cute, too.
They did it for COVID protocol or because the greenway is narrow, but there were 5 waves. The half marathon started at 7 am and went off in 3 waves followed by two waves for the 10K. Most of the race was on the greenway, which was really nice. I’ve run on it before with the run club, but I don’t run there on my own so I’m not too familiar with it. The 10K (and the first half of the half) was an out-and-back past UNCC. There were two hills at the beginning which reared their ugly head about a mile from the finish. It was not pleasant!
Since it was so hot, the race team had water stations about every 1.5 miles. This was very appreciated, and I took water at the first two stops and a Gatorade at my third. I give major kudos to the half marathoners because it was HUMID!
One of the things I’ve read is that you should plan an A, B, and C goal for races, which I think is really smart. My usual goal is usually just to finish, but I’m trying to be more structured. I really debated what my goals should be for this 10K. This was my weekend long run, so it’s supposed to be an easy pace. At the same time, it’s a race environment, so it’s a chance to kick it up a bit! What to do? Finally, around 5:40 am, I decided my goals should be:
Goal A: Run at 11:30/mile pace
Goal B: Run a heart-rate run
Goal C: Finish
Well, I know I accomplished C and technically, I accomplished A, but it wasn’t because I was steady. I came out hard. It was so exciting to be part of a race and the was quick out of the gate. Isn’t that the first rule of racing – start out slow? Sigh. I looked down at my watch as I was getting onto the greenway to see I was running a sub-9 minute mile. YIKES! I tried hard to slow down and saw a mid-9 a little later. “SLOW DOWN!” I told myself, “You have 6 miles to go.” Not good to get so frustrated at the beginning, at the same time, I was enjoying the run. I just knew I couldn’t sustain it normally or in the humidity. My first-mile split was 10:03.
The rest of the run, I tried to run slow, but I really struggled. Whenever I looked at my wrist, I was running somewhere in the 10s, when I really needed to get into the 11s. I wouldn’t be able to sustain it, so I would walk (in the 14s). It went on like that for 5 miles. I want to run a steady pace; that’s what I’m worried about for Chicago. I need to focus on pace.
Well, around 5.3 there was a hill. Not just a hill but a BIG hill. So much for running the rest of the way. Almost everyone had to walk up that hill…and that was just the first one! Great course, but wow, those were two killer hills at the end. Poor half marathoners!
Luckily, I saved up a lot of gas to sprint at the end. Or at least I felt like I was sprinting. I felt good at the end and was very happy about the race. I was surprised to see my results – I averaged an 11:20/mile pace and finished with my second fastest time of 1:10:02!
I made a lot of changes to my normal routine, which definitely impacted my performance:
Music. I normally run to podcasts or books since they are easy going. When I listen to music I want to sing or dance which wastes energy and causes me to go faster than I should. This likely contributed to my speedy take off, but I had fun listening to my songs when it was a struggle.
Pre-race fueling. My race didn’t start until 7:55 am, which is late for me. I have to eat something for a 6 miler, but it’s usually a piece of toast. With a finish around 9:15 am, I knew I was going to need something else. I had a waffle with peanut butter around 6:15 am and decided to have a Huma gel before the race. I think this worked well.
Nuun. Since I was nervous about the humidity, I had a Nuun before the race. I’m not sure if that helped at all or if it would have felt worse if I didn’t. My fingers get really big when it’s hot outside, and that still happened today. I’m not sure how to stop that, but I would like to figure it out since it uncomfortable.
Nerves. Even though I was just running this for fun and had to do the miles anyway, I still got really nervous before the race. Not sure how to reduce this feeling, but I need to figure it out. Even when I visualize standing at the start line for the marathon I get really nervous…and I’m not even there!
Week 2 down, 16 to go! This training week looked a lot like last week. I stuck to my runs and Pure Barre but I couldn’t finish my yoga workout on Monday…
I know I should do yoga and was actually ready for it today. I wanted something that would be about strength, but the session I picked was really slow and I couldn’t focus. Then, this one wanted to be involved…
Another heart rate run, which went really well. I ran 3 miles at a 12:01 pace at 154 bpm, and I felt really strong. I’m still having to walk to keep my heart rate down but I am running more and more later on in the run.
I’m not sure what happened but it didn’t feel like June in NC! Somehow there was no humidity and only 66F. It was gorgeous! I just wanted to run, so I didn’t watch my heart rate. I had a few walk breaks but ran 11:43 pace and my average heart rate was 162 bpm. It felt wonderful! It’s amazing what a difference it makes when it is humid. I can get really frustrated during summer running about taking walk breaks and feeling slow, but it really is because of the humidity. I don’t understand why it makes such an impact but it does.
Wednesday training runs start increasing in mileage next week. I’m nervous about it, but it’s probably more of a mental fear. I can’t decide if this longer run should be a speed or tempo workout or just cover the miles.
I was out at the lake for this run, and I decided to take advantage and do my first hill workout of the season. Hill workouts (and the concept of speed workouts) were new to me during my Dopey 2020 training. I couldn’t believe how much that helped improve my running as opposed to just going out and running the distance. I thought “that’s how people become better runners!” So this will be a big part of my training now. I hate hills but love hill workouts. Not sure why but I always feel great afterwards. I ran 3.35 miles at 11:43 pace and a 162 bpm heart rate. (Thank you no humidity again!) There is a killer hill on this route. I did it twice, and felt great.
Pure Barre this morning was challenging and wonderful. I know my strength isn’t where I need it to be. I would love to hold the plank for all 90 seconds. Some days I can do it for half but today…nope. I could t hold it without modifying it at all. I was really frustrated, but that’s why I need to keep working. Yoga would also help with this. Gosh, it’s all connected!
Cross-training Saturday! I’m really starting to enjoy this day. Originally, I was going to go swimming, but I didn’t get to the pool until the afternoon. This is when all of the people are there, and there were too many kids to be able to swim laps. Note to self: pool time needs to be in the morning! Instead, I went paddle boarding in the busy lake which made for a tricky time staying up! It was a lot of fun, but I didn’t go very fast between the wake and the wind.
The funny thing about paddle boarding is its hard out there, but I don’t realize how tired I am until I get off of it. This is also more enjoyable as a morning activity when the water is calmer so you can go further. I hate the water, so I try very hard to not fall in! I did a little stretching when I got home.
This was my first 7 miler in a really long time, so I was a bit nervous about it. As mileage increases, I develop a fear that I won’t be able to cover the distance or that it will be hard. I went to bed last night ready to wake up and do the run before it got too hot (get out the door by 6 am). Not sure what weather app I was using, but it was heavy rain at 5 am and it didn’t look like it was going to let up anytime soon.
Laying in bed and evaluating my options, I decided to go back to sleep until 6 am. When I awoke again, I knew I needed to do something. I got dressed and made my way downstairs to create a plan thinking the rain may lessen at some point. I knew I would feel better if I finished my run and would regret it if I didn’t do it. My track record for not doing afternoon workouts is quite poor. Eventually, it looked like the red on the radar would be done around 8 am, so I made a go of it.
This was the second time I had actually run in the rain. My first time was the 2018 Rock ‘n Roll Chicago Half. I kept telling myself to find an easy pace (focusing again on heart rate) and just get it done. It wasn’t pleasant, but it wasn’t awful. At the end of the day, I felt great because I did it and 7 miles felt good. I also felt like I was a real runner! The one necessary thing you need to run in the rain is a hat. I didn’t have mine today, so I need to remember to pack it in the future…just in case.
I finished with an average pace of 12:24 and 157 bpm. It was hard to stop running to get my heart rate down because my running was feeling good. I know I need to be disciplined now, so I get better for later. Training is a long game; it’s literally a marathon, not a sprint!
After last week’s 6 miles, I knew I needed to fuel better. In several blogs I’ve read recently, they have mentioned Huma gels. I’ve only ever used GU before (and Clif blocks as a treat), and if I get more than 2 in during a race, that is a major accomplishment, but I need more fuel for my speed on a marathon. They make me gag, and I have such a hard time getting them down. With all of my reading, I knew I should start trying other brands. I tried the Apples & Cinnamon one, and it was delicious! It was so easy to eat, and I didn’t gag at all. I’m definitely going to get these in the future. The positive is its natural ingredients, but it doesn’t have any caffeine.
The other big change was I splurged on a pair of Lululemon shorts. I can’t believe I paid $60 for a pair of workout shorts, but they were worth every penny! They have a material that dries faster, which really helped in my rain run. They were comfortable and didn’t slide, which is the issue I’m having with my other pair of shorts.
Overall, this was a great week. I fulfilled my intentions (mostly) and am still feeling motivated for my training plan. I’m bracing myself because next week mileage increases on Wednesday, which is a big mental hurdle for me. Just keep doing the plan!
Marathon training is finally here! What a long time coming. At this time last year, I was preparing but was fearing the worse. I don’t remember what day it was canceled, but it was about a year ago. Now, it’s a different story. GAME ON!
My training program is an 18-week program from Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 Program. This is what many people told me they used for their first marathon. I used the Disney training programs for my other two. This one is simple and focuses on building up mileage. Through my research, I know I should add in speed, tempo, and hill workouts, but I’m not quite sure where to put that. For the first two weeks, I am still going to focus on heart rate runs as I did at the end of pre-training.
I was mentally pumped up for my first day of training – yoga – but less pumped up for yoga. Long story short, I didn’t do it. Not a great start to the training season, but I think I need to have a better plan than just saying “do yoga.” I know it’s good for me, and I feel better after I do it, but gosh I hate doing it. So slow – just proof I need to focus better!
Today was a much better day. I woke up at 5 am for my morning routine before leaving at 6 am to go on my standard 3-mile run. I’m still focused on heart-rate training. It was a beautiful morning. Ran at 11:51 pace with an average 158 heart rate. Not great, but I was feeling good.
Same routine, same route. I keep aiming to keep my heart rate around 144, so I did better at 153 bpm with a 12:09 pace. The humidity was getting worse today, but alas, it is June in North Carolina! I was tired but feeling really good.
My third run of the week – same routine, same route. I like this route a lot. There are a few small hills, but it is a flat route which is hard to find in my area. At some point during training, I think I will turn my 3-mile Thursday run into a hill workout. I did much better with my heart rate – 147 bpm! My pace was an even 12:00. When I look over my stats in Strava, I think I’m getting better. Apple Watch tracks your VO2 Max, but I think it’s supposed to be a high number. My number went down from a year ago, and since pre- pre-training in November, it continues to go down. A little confused about that, but I think I’m getting better. It was really humid today, but I felt good.
It is hard to keep going slowly to worry about heart rate. I keep reminding myself that training is not a race. This is the time to be disciplined and to practice the discipline needed to make myself a better runner.
Pure Barre day and I loved it! It’s such a good workout, and I always feel good after I leave. I have little strength, so I’m horrible at planks, but that’s why I go. I need to build up my core strength. A plus today is that I saw on my Apple watch that there are a lot more workout types than just what is on the main screen. I usually log my barre workouts as “Other” but saw today there is one for barre!
Cross Training Saturday! I was pleased to see from my Apple Watch discovery yesterday that there is also a workout called “Paddle” which I gladly used today on my paddle boarding adventure. I LOVE to paddle board. For some reason I love it despite the fact that I am terrified of the lake and don’t swim in it. Perhaps it is my motivation to stay on the board. I went out for a 30-minute paddle. It was earlier in the morning, so the only boats out were fishermen. It gave me a good time to think. I always find mornings on the lake a good time to reflect and thank God for the life he has given me.
After coming in and having a banana and peanut butter (why does this always hit the spot?), I geared up for my 30-minute swim. After doing this two weeks ago, I knew I needed to prioritize this in my training.
I went to bed early on Saturday, but I didn’t sleep well since the puppies decided to take up the whole bed. I woke at 5 am to make sure I ate (my banana last week wasn’t enough for me to cover 6 miles). I had a PB&J sandwich and water. I left shortly after 6 am. I wanted to get out before the heat was too bad, and while humidity was high, it wasn’t as bad as it has been. I focused again on keeping my heart rate around 144. I was able to run about a mile before having to walk to get it down. This route is very hilly, so my heart rate jumps a lot going up the hills.
Around mile 2.5 I wondered why this was hard. I felt like I wasn’t getting any better in running. I’ve been reading blogs of people who run in the 8 or 9 minute pace range – some in the 7! I was struggling to keep my heart rate down in the 12 minute range. Everything felt like a struggle, but at the same time, I was feeling good. Around mile 4, my thoughts changed. I felt like I was feeling strong and could keep going. Even at 6 miles in, I could have kept going. Maybe I am making progress. I finished the run with an average of 12:09/mile pace and average heart rate of 148. I’ll take it!
Pre-training is DONE! I’m so proud of myself for sticking with my plan, and I am geared up to start training for the 2021 Chicago Marathon! I’m filled with a mixture of emotions: excitement, anxiety, hesitancy, pride. It’s a lot to sort through, but I’m definitely proud of myself for “fulfilling my intention.”
New Weekly Updates
As I mentioned, as part of my training, I have been reading a lot of blogs and following Instagram accounts for other runners. One that I’ve been devouring is The Runner Beans, a blogger named Charlie based in the UK. I’ve enjoyed reading about her running journey and her tips as someone who is somewhat a new runner and trying to get better. Before many of her races, she posts training updates each week, and I really enjoy reading about the types of workouts she does. I am going to do this to keep myself accountable for marathon training since I am doing it on my own. It will also be a fun way to document my journey to the start line.
This was supposed to be a strength day, but I just took a walk. I really struggle with strength training because I don’t enjoy it. Everything I read shows how important it is, so I need to prioritize it. I signed up for Apple Fitness+ which is pretty good. The sessions are easy to use and filters allow you to find different lengths or types. I just need to get my lazy self up to do it!
Three-mile run. I’m still doing heart rate training trying to run as close to a 144 heart rate as I can. In theory, this will help me run faster by improving my aerobic fitness ability. Tuesday was a particularly hard day – my heart rate monitor on my Apple Watch wasn’t working. My average heart rate was 173 and an 11:44/mi pace.
Another 3-mile run. I did a better job keeping my heart rate lower (154 bpm) and a 12:26/mi pace. This was global running day, and I enjoyed seeing all of the posts on Instagram from runners about the day.
I did a 5K in celebration of Global Running Day (not sure why) but also to earn the NYRR Global Running 1M Strava trophy. Only had to do a 1M, but oh well. I also earned the June 5K. Heart rate was 152 ppm and a 12:02/mi.
Friday’s are scheduled to be a strength day. I signed up for Class Pass and decided to go to the Pure Barre by my house. I stopped my membership there over the winter because I couldn’t handle working out in a mask and was tied of online class. Wow, I missed it. Class was back to normal and kicked my butt! This is the type of strength training I need. I love this class and plan to do this every Friday going forward.
Saturday is cross-training day. With my Class Pass, I decided to try out Cyclebar. It’s a spinning class similar to Fly Wheel, but the team was so friendly and helpful. I had an awesome class and plan to integrate this into my training, too. What a great, low-impact workout. I would love to ride a real bike some time, but maybe this can help me get into shape for going on a bike trip somewhere.
My final 6-miler! I went out around 6 am with a focus to cover the mileage and keep my heart rate around 144. While I am able to run more consistently, I get in a groove then see my heart rate go to 167 or so. Then I walk to bring it back down, which takes a lot of discipline. This morning was very humid which affects me poorly. We’re getting to that point of the year in NC that I need to remember to just focus on the miles. The run is done, and I feel great! Average HR 147!
A look back…
Pre- pre-training started on November 23, 2020. I followed Hal Higdon’s very beginner plan for this. My goal for this period was to have the habit of running 3 days/week and build up my ability to run. I didn’t want distance to scare me, so it was mostly 1.5-2 mile runs. I wish I would have known about low heart rate training then. It kept me throughout the winter – in the cold and dark – plus it helped me regain the confidence I had been missing in running. I wanted to lose weight, too, but that didn’t happen.
I started pre-training on March 15, 2021. This was the Hal Higdon longer Novice program. My goal for this was to take me to running consistently 4 days a week. I learned during my first half marathon the importance of these short runs in avoiding an injury. This process was great because the mileage wasn’t daunting, so I still focused on the habit of getting out there. I completed almost all of my runs, so I would consider it a huge win!
The most important thing is that I feel great! Running is fun again, and I get such a high when I’m finished. Stay tuned! Big things to come next week!
The 2015 Rock ‘n Roll Savannah Half Marathon was my first half marathon. I’m writing this recap in June 2021 as motivation for my upcoming 2020 Chicago Marathon training efforts. While I didn’t have a blog at that time, I have always journaled about my big experiences, so I thought I would add those in as part of this recap.
I signed up for this race in February 2015. I had planned out the remaining of my 50 states by 30 goal, which would finish in May 2015. That had been instrumental to me and helping me through a down period in my life. I knew I needed another big goal to work towards when I finished that trip. By the time I visited Alaska, I knew a half marathon was my next focus. This was a SERIOUS race – I was so nervous I wouldn’t be able to finish, so I planned to take my training very seriously. My youngest brother also said he would join me on this adventure, so I was pumped!
Several friends suggested that I follow Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 Marathon Training program. I ran a little in college (about 2 miles most days), but I never thought of myself as a runner – far from it – then fell out of working out for several years until I decided to pick up running again. At New Years’ in 2013, I did a Couch to 5K app then made a habit of running a few days a week through Central Park. This was an amazing experience. Between this and several friends getting into running, I started to gain an appreciation for the sport. I watched the Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll Half/Full Marathon in December 2012 and the NYC Marathon in 2013, which provided a new perspective. These people had a goal and did the required training to achieve it. Maybe I could do it, too.
When I started the training, I was not accustomed to running 4 days/week. I think I was running 2 or 3 at the time. My main worry was about the distance, so I made sure I always did my long run on the weekend. I traveled to Austin to do a 7-mile training run on the Colorado River with my brother. Then, in October, I visited my friends in NYC to do my 11-mile training run in Central Park.
How to Make a Stress Fracture
Even though I was diligent about my weekend long runs, I was not good about my week day runs. I’m sure there were weeks that I didn’t do any of them. I just thought I needed to make sure to cover the distance, no matter how hard it got. When I visited NYC, I stayed with a friend who had run the NYC Marathon several times and another friend who was training for it. I had a lot of good motivation around, and I wanted to keep up with them.
I stuck with my friend on our 11 miler, running the first 7 miles without walking – a first for me. Then I ran/walked at the end. I’m not sure what part of it I told her to go ahead of me, but I was walking at the end. I was hurting, and I assumed I had a sore muscle. I’m the worse when it comes to pain. I don’t get specific, except just that it hurts.
After the run, I met up with my other friend who was running 7 miles after doing a half marathon race in the park. We made our way back to Hoboken as I hobbled down subway stairs. We rushed around the city later to catch rush tickets to An American in Paris on Broadway. My foot/leg/lower half hurt, but I just assumed I over did it. Eventually, I went home and was feeling okay. No runs during the week.
The pain returns…
I didn’t run over the week, but the next weekend I tried to run 5 miles. I made it about 2 or 3 miles before I broke down crying and called my mom to come to pick me up. It was awful. Not only was I in pain, but a half marathon is a lot more than 3 miles. I went to the urgent care (I will never go to one with a running injury again) who took an x-ray and said everything was fine. I went home to ice my foot and my ego. The next week, I visited a sports doctor a friend recommended. He did a horribly painful exercise to test for tendonitis in my foot. He basically used a ribbed (not sharp) pizza cutter-like tool to separate the tendons in my foot. It horribly bruised my foot since I bruise like a peach. He said to run some the next week – if it started out painful, then keep running, as it would work itself out. If it got worse while I was running, he would send me to a different specialist.
Well, it got worse as I ran. I couldn’t take it. Reluctantly, I made an appointment since I wanted to run long-term. He said of the 8 people to visit him for possible stress fractures, I was the winner. He explained to me the importance of training during the week. Those runs are to help your body build up the ability to be on your feet and handle the stress of running. Between not doing those runs and then going into overdrive in NYC, I had created a stress fracture on my right foot. I was to stay off my feet for some number of weeks – no running at Savannah.
A Very Tough Decision
My world was crushed. I was so close, and I ruined it. I regretted not running my weekly goals. When I asked my brother his plans for the weekend, he said he was going to do the race even though he hadn’t done a training run since our 7-miler in mid-August. Even though I was jealous, I said I would go and cheer him on. Our parents and brother were going to come, too.
I walk sulking to my friend who is a really good runner and had run many races. He suggested that I should walk the race. I couldn’t believe the suggestion – was he serious?! I was scared about getting last place when I was running! If I were to walk, I’m sure I wouldn’t even make it past the 15-minute pace requirement. What if my foot hurt, and I couldn’t make it to the finish line. He explained to me that there would be medical tents throughout the course that could help me if I was in pain, that lots of people walk through the race so I wouldn’t look unusual, and also assured me that I wouldn’t get last place.
I agonized over this for days. Then, a few days before we were leaving, I went on a 3-mile walk and didn’t have any pain. “Okay,” I thought. “I’m good to go. I can’t miss out on this opportunity.”
Travel to Savannah
Savannah is a four-hour drive, so my family went down the night before. We stayed downtown on the Riverwalk so we could get to the start line easily the next morning. We stopped at the expo before crossing the bridge. What an unreal first expo experience. It was so exciting getting our bib and t-shirt then walking around at everything running. To that point, I knew to get a good pair of shoes and some GU gels, but I that was about it. I didn’t know about all of the things you could sell runners.
We went to dinner on the Riverwalk where I had a simple dish of pasta and vegetables. My brother and I laid out our clothes (I didn’t know to take pictures then!) and went to sleep. Early the next morning we got up, had our Cliff bars, and walked to the park.
The Start Line
Having only done three races (a small 5K, a small 10K, and a run at Yankees Stadium), this Rock ‘n Roll event was like something we had never seen before! It was insane how many people were there. My brother went to his corral in front, and I went to the back of my corral. I didn’t want to start in the back because I would need extra time to walk. I was so stressed about making the time limit and finishing.
While we were waiting, I started talking to a pacer and asking about her experience. To my surprise, a girl in our conversation said she was doing the marathon and hadn’t trained at all because someone told her she could walk and she “did that sometimes”! The pacer started giving her a lot of warnings, but it shocked me. Maybe I wouldn’t be too bad off, but I was really worried for her. The heat index was also unseasonably high for November, so the event crew was actually redirecting the marathon route to try to find more shade. After completing this race and Disney races, I give the race event teams a lot of credit. They are dealing with a variety of kinds of people. While I believe that everyone can do a half or a full who wants to, I do believe you need to train for them and have a healthy level of fitness. Even though my brother didn’t have a running plan he did, he was a very active, athletically inclined young male. As you will see later, I am very jealous of people like him.
Anyway, the national anthem played and the race started! We were off – I was doing a half marathon!
The minimum pace limit was 15:00/mile but my friend said I would have more than that if I didn’t start in the back. The last person at only 15:00/mile. My goal was to be around that pace, which would have me finish in just over 3 hours. I didn’t have a watch or anything at that time, so I don’t remember how I clocked it. I guess I just watched the race clock.
Even though I was walking, I have a quick walk. Even from the beginning, I was passing people, and I have no idea how. I was terrified of coming in the last place. The first mile or two was through the city with lots of spectators and funny signs. Since this was my first big race, I was surprised by all of the signs! I loved it! The first one I saw (or the one that I will always remember) was a man standing on a street corner. He was holding a bright yellow piece of cardboard in one hand and a beer in the other. It said “It’s early. I’m drinking. You’re running. I’m winning.” It was so appropriate for the drinking town of Savannah, and I laughed so hard.
The beginning of the race went through some neighborhoods I wouldn’t have ventured to on a normal trip. Many of the residents came out to cheer us on and they seemed happy to see us.
Around mile 5, we made our way back to the historic area of Savanah, which I find beautiful. It is gorgeous to see how the Spanish Moss falls off the trees around all of the squares. The course has a lot of out-and-backs and the middle part goes around parks, so it’s a great race to have spectators. They don’t have to walk very far to see you at 2 or 3 different spots. Seeing them was a huge boost.
Overall, I felt great. I got a cramp twice, and it was hard not to run, but I finished in 3:01. I was so proud of myself and everyone who participated. It was an incredibly hot day that day, so it was not an easy race.
One of the best things about this race was one of my favorite bands, Rascal Flatts, was the post-race entertainment! I couldn’t believe such a big and popular band would be playing FOR FREE after the race. I was in heaven.
My brother killed his first half. I think he finished around 2:30, which is amazing for not training. He had a killer cramp in his leg that was saved when someone gave him bananas to eat. He caught the running bug, too, and went on to do two more with even less training, more drinking, and both were PRs. I don’t quite understand how people can do that. I have to train, and training is a real bear. More power to them, but I will never understand how some people’s bodies can do that.
What I found amazing about this experience is that anyone really can participate in a long-distance race if he or she wants to do it. I didn’t believe people when they told me that before. I think one of my friends is right. He always encourages to do half marathons because anyone can do that without a ton of changes in their daily lives. Marathons require more adaptations, but they are possible. You just have to put your mind to doing it.
It was a long journey, but I made it! I’m glad I was encouraged to walk the race since I really wasn’t out of place. A lot of people walk during the race, and I was able to do it without hurting my foot more. I finished my first half marathon on November 7, 2015. This was the start of a new hobby and passion.
One of the biggest goals I have ever accomplished is traveling to all 50 states by the time I was 30. This crazy thought came to me in 2013 when I was 28 years old living in NYC. The problem was I didn’t have an interesting fact. Whenever people introduce themselves at work events, you had to say your name and an interesting fact. I didn’t have anything, and I needed one. Urgently. I love traveling and visiting all 50 states was something I had on my list of life goals; why shouldn’t I put a timeline on it and do it?
I love to plan things. That’s usually some of the best parts of doing something. When I’m stressed, I can calm myself with a spreadsheet, a calendar, and now my budget. This endeavor to visit 26 states in a year and a half would require some major planning! Fortunately, I was living in the Northeast for the first time, so I could take advantage of easier traveling to all of these northern states.
But what would the criteria be? Everyone has different definitions of what counts. None are right or wrong. I decided my criteria would be, if someone asks, “what did you do in _______?”, I needed to have a good answer. A story was required, and it wouldn’t be cool to say “I flew through the airport” or something.”
On May 25, 2015, I stepped foot off a cruise ship in Juneau, Alaska! I was so happy I cried; I couldn’t believe I actually did it at 30 years, 1 month, and 14 days old (cruises don’t travel in April). That night at dinner on the cruise ship, my dad ordered a few bottles of champagne and made a toast about my accomplishment with my friends and family who made the trip. It was a wonderful end to the adventure.
I love looking back on these trips since I learned so much about myself and traveling.
There is so much to say about this experience. I get lots of questions about the experience since I think people want to visit 50 states for themselves. Everyone’s journey will be different but everyone can complete the journey.
What was your favorite state?
The short answer to this question is North Carolina since it is my home and the best place I can think of to be. I love it here. Of course, that is not what people want to know when they ask that question. I use NC as the answer because I don’t have another answer. Each state has its own uniqueness that I appreciated.
What places stood out to you?
This is a much easier question to answer. The first place I visited that threw me off my feet was Seattle. I had never been somewhere so naturally beautiful. Until I visited there, I didn’t even know what that term meant. I had never been to natural places before then, but the beauty was stunning. Subsequent visits took me to Maine and Alaska, where I saw the same natural beauty.
Was anywhere surprising?
South Dakota was the state that surprised me the most. I didn’t know what to expect but it was my second national park experience (I didn’t realize that at the time – I just wanted to see a buffalo and Mt. Rushmore). There was so much to do there, and it was so beautiful! I wish I would have stayed for longer, but it far exceeded my non-existent expectations.
How did you pay for all of the travel?
I am very fortunate for this, since I had visited almost half of the states already, and one was Hawaii. For the remainder, I was lucky that I was able to visit friends, had friends interested in traveling who split the cost, and was able to get gift cards from spending money on a corporate card for work. I also saved my money and used these trips as my main form of entertainment.
Why do this?
As I mentioned before, I did this so I could have an interesting fact about myself; it was as shallow as that. I always loved traveling and wanted to cross off 50 states as some point, but I accelerated it so I had a fun fact. Consider that done!
Are you glad you did this?
For many reasons, this is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I was struggling emotionally, and this experience helped me come out of that. It gave me purpose and something to plan and work towards. Even if it was just for the chance to have an interesting fact, it helped me become a stronger person. I learned that I was capable of accomplishing big things, and I could do those things by myself and with people who care about me.
I’m going to document my trips over time and will link them below. This is a goal anyone can accomplish, and I think everyone should! It’s an amazing way to see the great country of America and how vast and unique it is from sea to shining sea!
I’m changing my update titles to have the year since (I think) this may not be the only time I run the Chicago Marathon. I’m finishing pre-training next week, and I’m feeling really good. Better than feeling really good is the excitement I am having for running. Over the last several weeks, I have been searching for blogs that talk about the blogger’s running journey to give me motivation and insight into running the Chicago Marathon. On top of that, I have gone down a rabbit hole of reading about their experiences at other races. A few I want to call out
I’m so glad people post about their journey and their experiences, which (even though my story is nothing exciting) is why I want to post about mine. It’s nice to learn from others and see that others have similar interests that I do.
My pre-training ends with a six-mile long run next week, but I think I’m going to do it tomorrow, too, instead of 3 miles. The important accomplishment is I consistently ran 4 days/week. I’m up to 3 miles on Tuesday and Thursdays (have done on Wednesday for a few weeks now), which will turn into hill or speed workouts in the future. I am also closing my rings almost everyday and trying to do some strength workouts on Apple Fitness. I’m not doing yoga/stretching as much as I should, but I am going to try to fit it in more each week.
A couple of other highlights I’m stewing over from my research
The concept of a shakeout run the day before a race. The Abbott 5K is held Saturday morning before the marathon, and I wasn’t sure if I should run the day before. Much of my research says a light, slow run can be a good thing. I decided to do this for the experience and then rest during the rest of the day. Maybe even find a yoga class.
Heart Rate Running. I wish I would have found this in November when I started my pre- pre-training. My heart rate is really high when I run, but it should be lower and get lower as I get healthier. This training says to be patient and train at a slower pace (keep my heart rate around 144) and this will help you longer term with running. I also think this slower pace can help with weight loss. I’m going to try this for a while before getting into speed training since I am starting to think about longer-term running goals. Several blogs said this helped them get faster, so I feel like I should try it.
The Abbott World Majors. I’m a sucker for checklists. I visited all 50 states by the time I was 30. I’m working to visit all 7 continents by the time I’m 40. I love checking things off. When I started running and learning about races in 2015, I heard about the world majors. That seemed crazy. Friends had run the NYC marathon, but they were good! I was always so impressed with my friends who ran Chicago. Those seemed like an impossible feat as I was trying to convince myself a half marathon was within my reach. I think this notion is why training for Chicago is such a big deal for me – I simply can’t believe that I’m doing this! Kind of like the NYC Half Marathon. I wouldn’t have had the nerves to sign up if my friend hadn’t encouraged me to do it with her. Until reading these blogs, I thought adding an Abbott Series checklist to my goals was impossible because of getting a Boston BQ. But maybe, with the right training and consistency I could do this. It would definitely be a fun checklist to attempt and a fun way to travel!
Well, those are my thoughts for now. My spirits are high, I’m learning a lot, and finding inspiration. Loving this!
The Chicago Marathon is only 162 days away! Seems like a long time, but I’m old enough to know that time is going to fly by. I’m in the middle of my pre-training schedule. Outside of my brother’s wedding last weekend, I’ve done a really good job sticking to my training schedule. I’m not doing a good job with strength training (I just don’t enjoy it), my diet, or yoga/stretching, but they are all on my radar. I know where I’m slacking, so I want to continue to focus on those areas.
I’m replacing tomorrow’s 3 mile run with the 4.5 mile run that I was supposed to run last weekend. Then next weekend, I’m up to 5. Pre-training puts me up to 6, and I’m ready for it. One of my goals is to have a solid 6-mile base. After 6 mile runs, I will start doing a run/walk combination in my training, but 6 miles and less will be a run-only (or walk when I must).
With summer around the corner, I am getting so excited! I have the Around The Crown 10K coming up, Chicago Marathon, and Charlotte (half) Marathon is now an in-person race. I love the idea of working towards something, and I’m so excited for an actual race day.
Running on the other hand…wow, it’s confusing. My biggest concern is about pace. While this isn’t necessarily my focus or goal during pre-training, I am starting to think about it. There are days when I have to have a walk break during a 2 miler. That worries me. Then there are times when I feel like I’m so slow, yet when I finish, my pace is in the 10-11 minute range (which is good for me). One day I even ran less than a 10-minute pace, and I couldn’t understand. How do I get a better feel for pacing? I’m going to keep being consistent, but that’s definitely a concern I have as I round out my last five weeks of pre-training. Just keep sticking with it!
Pre-training takes me from getting in the habit of running 3 days/week to 4 days/week, which is my goal for marathon training. I am following Hal Higdon’s Novice Base Training Program for 12 weeks. My goals during this phase are:
Create the habit of running 4 days
Continue growing my confidence
Incorporate weekly yoga into my routine
Continue during strength / HIIT workouts to build muscle
Submit to Noom program’s advice to lose weight
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
I’m trying not to take off more than I can chew because building my confidence is really important. I don’t see myself as a runner, and sometimes a run can seem overwhelming or daunting. I don’t want to get nervous and miss one. Consistently running 1.5 miles has been a positive influence for me. I know that is a distance I can handle without a problem. As I continue my training program, if I feel I don’t have the time or the energy, I need to get out and do at least the 1.5-mile loop. A little bit is better than nothing. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of good!”
Can’t wait to give you my next update in a few weeks!