Between the humidity and lack of planning, this was a tough week! Sounds like the same update from last week, but week 6 was even more challenging! Thankfully, it was a down week for mileage. The humidity will be here for another two months and mileage will continue to increase, so I need to just stick to it and be patient.
One of the Instagram accounts I follow (@Run4PRs) always has really good tips and is giving a lot of hot weather tips lately.
This morning I was excited to go on a two-mile walk, but at the end of my walk, I realized I was going to stay in Greensboro tonight and wouldn’t be able to run on Tuesday! Today I should have run 3 miles! I also couldn’t go to Pure Barre since I would be driving. I didn’t eat well and just felt off all day. Sigh, I had a big work meeting on Tuesday morning, and that took most of my focus. This is why you are supposed to schedule a weekly planning session on Sunday!
Today was supposed to be 3 miles, but I didn’t plan. It was too hot for me to run in the evening, so I didn’t get a workout in today. Worst of all, I didn’t bring my charger Monday night to charge my Apple watch, so I didn’t get any part of any ring closed! I also got a visitor, Stubby, the Corgi that I dogsit sometimes on the Rover app. Since he is young, Stubby has a lot of energy and requires a lot of attention.
Today the Chicago Marathon team sent out our corral placement numbers! I was placed in the second to last corral group (M) which is part of Wave 3. It required some research to understand this, but it is because of my estimated finish time of 5:00. I hope I can do it in that time, if not less. Ideally, I would finish with a sub 5:00 time, but I also get nervous that I won’t finish at all! If I run an 11:00/mile pace, that is about a 4:50 finish time. It’s starting to get real!
A neighbor joined me for the 5 miles on my schedule today which made for a nice and faster run. I felt pretty good; I think I walked only 2 times. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick to running a heart rate plan like I was supposed to do. My average HR was 161 BPM with an average pace of 11:42/mile. Maybe I can consider this a tempo run? It was incredibly humid again, and I just felt gross. It was a good run overall; it’s just a miserable time of year. It’s funny how different it is to run with someone vs. running alone. There is a different mindset, and since I respond more to external pressure, it does help keep me going.
In the evening I ended up going to Pure Barre and was the only student because of a big rainstorm. It was a good class – I always leave there feeling stronger, so even though the dogs weren’t happy, I’m glad I went.
As if this week couldn’t be more off, this morning’s run was awful. Since Stubby has so much energy, I tried to see if he could run with me but that was a fail. Since the humidity was uncomfortable again, we walked for almost two miles because I took him home then went out for a 1.5 mile run. I was so uncomfortable. It’s wasn’t a fun run at all. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough walking to wear out the pup!
My normal 6 am Pure Barre class felt great this morning. Stubby and I went on a short walk, but I get nervous about him with the humidity. Needless to say, he got his crazy laps in around the coffee table.
This is my usual cross-training day, so I walked Stubby for 1.5 miles because I didn’t want to overwhelm him with the humidity, even though we woke up around 4:30 am. After that, I did my 3 mile run to make up for missing Tuesday. Still got all of my miles in! The rest of the day, I was especially lazy and just spent time with the dogs since they felt neglected during the week.
Today was my last single-digit long run. Only 7 miles, but going off the theme of week 6, it wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t feel strong because of the humidity. I kept telling myself, the important thing is to get the miles in. Since I knew this would be a tough run from the beginning, I decided to start with a 3 minute run / 1 minute walk pattern. This saved me and made it more manageable. I couldn’t fathom going out and running 7 miles. This may be the pattern I pick for the marathon, so I need to figure out what the right run/walk should be. I kept my average heart rate to 148 BPM and performed at a 12:20/mile average pace.
An account I follow on Instagram (I forget which one!) posted about running in the heat/humidity and said 3 steps: run slower, hydrate, and swear. I thought it was really funny but totally true for this week. Not that this will change for week 7, but I should be better planned.
This week absolutely flew by which must mean that running is becoming a routine. The first step needed to run a marathon! The big news this week is that RunDisney is returning with in-person events! For any RunDisney fan, this was desperately and much anticipated news. While I love seeing all of the Dopey training posts on Instagram and am very envious, I think I will try to do the Fairytale Challenge in February for the first time. I’m also going to plan costumes for the affair, so I’m quite excited. Even though I’m planning for the Chicago Marathon and that is my focus, I need to have goals lined up for afterward to keep me motivated.
But good luck to all of those training for marathon weekend and Dopey 2022! I love thinking about my 2020 Dopey experience and plan to do it again in 2023.
Monday – the dreaded yoga day. I did yoga for a hot minute before getting too bored to continue. Then I tried again, so I didn’t stop once but twice. I walked and did some other bodyweight exercises, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do a full yoga session. Why is it so challenging? So many people talk about the benefits of yoga for marathon training, and I understand there must be a huge benefit, so why can’t I just do it? Sigh…
Summer is in full gear, so it’s important to get out to run early. Today was my normal 3-mile run which went well. I am still focusing on heart rate since I don’t think speed work will help much until I lose weight. I had a great run in both metrics and how I felt finishing with an average pace of 11:43/mile and a heart rate of 141 bpm! Big accomplishment. I restarted my full Pure Barre membership, so I am going to get in as many workouts as I can. My schedule let me fit in an evening workout, so I finished a barre class. All on a Tuesday! At least that makes up for my lack of yoga yesterday. Getting stronger can help improve my running to make marathon day easier. Pure Barre does a lot for core strength which can also help make you a better runner.
Semi-long run Wednesday this week was another 4 miles. I finished with an average pace of 12:10/mile but also achieved my average heart rate goal of 141 bpm. This pattern should mean my aerobic fitness level is improving, which is my goal. I need to have the fitness level to sustain 26.2 miles. Felt really good again but was super sweaty – the humidity is awful!
This is going to get more challenging in the upcoming weeks. I have to fit in 5 miles next week, and I’m really nervous about timing for this.
My final weekday run was another 3 miles. I felt great again finishing with a 12:04/mile average and 149 bpm heart rate. Another wickedly humid morning, but it was done! I’m really proud of how these morning runnings are becoming natural. I lay out my clothes the night before and have a morning routine that gets me out the door.
I signed up for Pure Barre again, but wasn’t sure what “Pure Empower” meant as the class name. Little did I know I was going to do burpees at Pure Barre! This version of class is a cardio version of Pure Barre. It was a fun class, but I wasn’t really expecting it. A challenge with doing strength training in this type of environment is form is really important, but it’s hard to have good form when moving so quickly. Needless to say, I was very tired that night.
After a hard workout the night before, I was at another Pure Barre session at 6 am. I like this class and enjoy it in the morning. You feel strong for the day, and I really like the teacher. Pretty low-key activity day, but then I had work and getting ready for Independence Day weekend!
Chicago Marathon also posted on Instagram is that race day is 100 days from TODAY!!
I usually cross-train on Saturday and originally planned to swim this morning. Then I got to thinking about fireworks on Saturday night and how staying out late will make for a rough 9 miles the next morning. Using the logical side of my brain I thought, “why don’t I do my long run on Saturday morning?” For someone who doens’t like to deviate from a plan, I was pretty proud of myself for arriving at this conclusion! So, long run on Saturday!
This week I spent a lot of time reading Disney race recaps and information on running basics. Fueling is always a big topic, and I read somewhere that if you finish off a long run slower it can be because you 1. start out too fast, 2. don’t fuel properly. Hmm. I’m sure I have both of these troubles. 9 miles is a mental hurdle for me, so I wanted to make sure to eat enough to start my run, plus I brought a berry Huma and a salted caramel GU gel to take at miles 3.5/4 and 7 (if needed) and packed a plain bagel and peanut butter to eat before the run.
I hate eating before I run, but I learned training for my first half, that I have to eat if I run over 4 miles. I hate it, but it’s necessary. My usuals are toast with peanut butter or a peanut butter Cliff bar. A few weekends ago I tried to eat a banana, but that wasn’t enough. I also have to have enough time to digest my food before going out and usually try to give myself an hour.
The actual run…
Well, we had AMAZING weather on Saturday. Seriously 62F in July is unreal in North Carolina. I woke at 5 am had water, Nuun, and ate my bagel. I didn’t finish eating until 5:45 am, and I wanted to get out at 6 am. I waited until 6:20 since it was so nice out. My first two miles were around an 11:40/mile pace which is strong for me, but in the third mile, I didn’t feel right. I had to walk a lot taking my pace to 15:00 minutes. Finally, all I wanted to do was throw up. I knew it was the bagel, and it wasn’t sitting with me right.
That third mile was rough. I threw up a few times which made me feel worlds better. I walked into the fourth mile forcing myself to take it slow, then incorporated more running and got stronger into miles 5 and 6. My 7th-mile split was high at 14:02 because I took the very hilly route, but I finished my ninth and final mile at a 12:04/mile pace! I felt so strong at the end and so proud of myself. My average heart rate for the run was 157 bpm, and as Hal Higdon suggests, I got my miles in regardless of pace!
No running for me today. I slept in until 6 am and had a lazy morning snuggling with the puppies before going on a walk. I just love those kinds of relaxing mornings. More importantly, today is July 4 and Independence Day! Happy Birthday, America! The fact that we live in a society where we can be free to pursue our passions like running is a gift. I listened to podcasts about forgotten American heroes and gave thanks to all of those brave men and women. I’m so appreciative for the life I lead and the country that allows me to be me.
Lessons from this Week
I need to figure out my pre-run fueling strategy for long runs. I don’t think a piece of toast is enough, but I also don’t think I can handle any more than that. There will also be the added complication of more time between wake up and the start of the race once marathon day is here. I have several more weeks to figure this out, so I’ll keep researching ideas.
I’ve been really conflicted about how to structure my weekday runs. I learned in my last training session for Dopey the benefit of hill running but also what a speed workout is. For his Novice 1 training plan, Hal Higdon doesn’t recommend any of this. He stresses getting the miles in. While I’m not a complete novice and want to do more to improve, I am starting to think this approach is probably right for me. I’m going to continue focusing on heart-rate running and losing weight.
I started tracking my food again, so we’ll see if I can do a better job at planning my diet. This could be one of the biggest benefits for my marathon performance.
Looking forward to WEEK 5! The weeks are just flying by!
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!
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!
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.
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!
The Swamp Rabbit 5K and Half Marathon is an annual race in Greenville, SC, on the – wait for it – Swamp Rabbit trail. The trail is essentially a greenway that runs throughout Greenville and various points outside of the city. I think it’s over 26 miles in total, so you can cover some good mileage! This race is unique because it is one direction. You take a bus to the start line and run almost entirely downhill, thus giving it the tagline “The fastest race in the Southeast.” When I signed up for it, I pictured running down a mountain and what a challenge that could be.
Greenville has been on my travel list for a long time. I have been stir crazy from the lockdown situation and was longing for both a trip and a race. I started researching options and somehow stumbled upon this race. It was in person and in a city that I’ve wanted to go to. It’s weird that I live just over the SC border and the difference in activities from North to South Carolina. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do an in-person race, so I signed up immediately. Since I wasn’t in half-marathon shape, I opted for the 5K knowing this would be a great way to cap off my pre- pre-training for the Chicago Marathon.
Sign-up was pretty easy. You just had to make sure to get a shuttle ticket to either the start or the finish. I opted to get the shuttle from downtown to the startling so I could wander around at the end. I booked an Airbnb near downtown and put the trip on my calendar. It motivated me and gave me something to look forward to doing.
Arrival and Logistics
Once I got into town, I went to pick up my bib. I was disappointed that people didn’t seem very friendly. It may be because of COVID and people don’t chat anymore, but I literally gave them my name, got my bib and shirt, and then left. I was hoping to talk to someone about the shuttle and how it worked, but it just seemed cold. They did have the medals laying out and wow! I couldn’t wait to get this one. Even though it was a 5K, the medal looked awesome – stay tuned for a picture at the end!
It took me reading the website several times to feel comfortable about where I needed to go. The Peace Center downtown at 6:15 am for a 7:30 am start. The half arrival time was 5:45 am since they had further to drive. I was nervous about parking, but there was a lot of free street parking at that time. I think the parking limit started around 9 or 10 am, and the race would be done long before then.
The Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery, a restaurant on the trail (I told you it was long!), was the starting point of the 5K. I bet it is a very cool place to hang out. They had these funny bike stations for repairs, so it must be a common stop and cycling must be very popular.
There was lots of time to explore since we had to wait for so long. We wore masks at the start but took them off when we started running.
After playing the national anthem, they kicked off the start. There wasn’t an actual “on your mark…” because of COVID. Everyone started at their own time and kept their space to social distance. Your time would start on your chip. My goal for the race was to run the whole time and speed up at the end. I’m sure the half marathon runs on the trail most of the time, but the 5K didn’t. In the beginning, we ran through a neighborhood to get us back onto the trail. Then we were off the trail again on the 2nd mile because of construction. While we were on the trail, it was very nice. Unlike at Disney, I didn’t take any pictures because I was running. It was very easy to socially distance. And while you can see on the elevation graph, it was mostly downhill, it was not going down a hill or a mountain like I pictured.
Once we got to the end (about 2.5 miles), we saw the downtown area and the finish. It was an awesome setup, and I couldn’t wait to check it out! At the end, you go up a short hill and then it was a sprint to the end. And sprint I did! I finished the race with a PR of 33:18, which works out to a 10:42 mile.
Once I crossed the finish line, I got one of my favorite medals – look at the sliding rabbit!
I was admiring my new bling when I heard someone yelling my name loudly. Since I didn’t know anyone in town and my friends were still sleeping (or so I thought!), I thought it would be for another Kristin. Eventually, I looked up and saw that I had a fan club! They made signs and had a balloon. I couldn’t believe they took the time to do that for me – the surprise completely made my day! I felt very cool and special to have such amazing friends to greet me. They were cheering for me at the end, but I was too focused sprinting to hear them.
This was just the kind of race I needed – something simple yet in a very cool town. This made for a great weekend, and overall I think the Swamp Rabbit team did a great job! I would recommend this race to someone in the future. I would like to do the half marathon at some point in the future. I’ll definitely be back!
After the unexpected shut down of 2020, I am hesitant to set my mind on anything specific for the year 2021. Regardless of what “is allowed,” I need goals; I need plans to look forward to or I struggle. 2020 was a hard year for me like it was for many other people. The let down of canceled events caused me to shut down and not engage, which (I hate admitting it) led me to a sad space. I’m lucky that I at least go to work, but I lost motivation in my personal life. With that, I stopped running. I didn’t have anything to work towards.
Luckily, in November, I received an email regarding my deferred entry to the Chicago Marathon and entered my request for 2021. Within a few hours, I received the email confirmation, and I was registered for the 2021 Chicago Marathon! Finally, the motivation I was looking for; I was rejuvenated!
Each year I pick a theme and a “checklist” of items to complete for the year. As I started thinking about 2021, I knew I needed a different list. Several podcasts I listen to talk about goal setting: Dave Ramsey, BiggerPockets, ChooseFI. Lead and lag measures is a concept frequently discussed on the BP podcast, and I love the thought process. Typically my checklist is just a list of lag measures, but I don’t take the time to plan the tasks to “lead” me to achieve those.
Fulfilled Intension is my theme for 2021. For me to accomplish my goals (the lag measures), I need to have the right behaviors so that each day I am moving in the right direction. I need to be intentional in my daily acts and habits. Instead of checking off my accomplishments, my goal is to fulfill the behaviors I intentionally set out to do.
Goals and Behaviors
It’s hard to list out goals publicly, but I find a lot of motivation in listening or reading others’ goals. Who knows, maybe someone will read this when looking for motivation.
Meal Plan Weekly
Avoid eating macaroni and cheese (focus on healthy dinners)
Focus on my running plan and complete runs as scheduled
Strength train twice/week
Practice yoga on Sundays
Incorporate self-care (Epsom salt baths, foam rolling) into my routine
Signup for short races
Budget monthly and save money
Continue learning about real estate; regularly attend a meetup
I want to make it count. I feel like we are getting a second chance at 2020 in 2021. So much of 2020 was missed opportunity. I could have maintained a running schedule, I could have participated in virtual races, but I didn’t. Since I’m frustrated about the missed opportunity, I have even more reason to get it right the second time. My lag measures this year is a scaled-back list of 2020, but the difference is I have the lead measures to get me to achieve them and am rethinking the type of person I want to be.