5 things i learned from my first 10k

I did it!

I ran the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k  in 1 hour and 23 seconds.

It’s not the time I wanted but I’m so happy I conquered my first 10K!!

This is only my third race and definitely the largest (over 40,000 people!). Because of the size, there were a lot of variables that I hadn’t run into during my earlier 5k races so I learned a lot.  These are things I really wouldn’t have been able to know unless someone told me so for any future racers out there, I’m going to help you out!

Five things I learned from my first 10k:

1. Rain clothing – I brought a hat to wear because rain was in the forecast. It didn’t rain during the race but it did during that 2 mile walk to the start. The hat keeps the water from getting in your eyes and also keeps you a bit warmer if the temperature cools off from the rain. During the run I held my hat the whole time since I didn’t need it but because it’s just a lightweight baseball cap, it was easy to fold it up into the visor and run without it being a distraction. Better to be prepared than be caught hat-less in a downpour!

Another rain tip that I didn’t do but should have -> My coaches from the YMCA training team said to cut a hole in a trash bag and wear it like a poncho. You wear this until the race starts to keep dry. Once you’re done with it you can just throw it in the trash! Such a great idea. It would have been nice to have started the race warm and dry.

2. Fueling – Hydrate not just the day of or the day before but all week long. Same thing with healthy food. Course we should be eating healthy and drinking lots all the time but if not then definitely the week before a race. You’ll have so much more energy on race day and you won’t have to worry about excess bathroom breaks from chugging water the day of.

Also skip the alcohol that week! Even though my husband knows he shouldn’t drink before the race, he drank beer the night before. Let’s just say he had major pains during the first mile and paranoia the rest. 🙂

3. Park far away – If it’s a giant race then don’t try and attempt to park close. We spent probably 30 extra minutes in traffic trying to find a place to park until we gave up and drove back to my sister’s apartment. We then walked the 2 miles to the start of the race… in the rain. It ended up being great despite the rain because we got to warm up our legs and also see the top runners fly by us! A 4-5 minute mile is unfathomable! They were gazelles. My point is, take the extra time to park and walk. It’ll keep you from being stressed out when trying to park and dodge all the people near the race site.

4. Start in the right wave – One of the main reasons my time was slower that I wanted was because I originally placed my sister and I in with the 12:00 minute pace runners . I had NO idea we would be much faster than that once our training was over. We spent a TON of time running fast then running much slower to weave around people. I don’t have knee problems but my knees were quite sore from all the twisting and side stepping. My friend Liz who also ran the race said that her Nike + told her she ran an extra .2 miles from all the weaving! My advice to you is that if you know you’ll be pretty dedicated when training then up your pace group just in case. If you’re in the group that’s too fast well they can just run around you instead! Ha.

Oh I forgot to mention that my husband was in a faster pace wave to start but he decided he wanted to start with us (way slower) so he had it even worse! Course he still beat us by a lot but he had to pass a lot more people. Tough.

5. Enjoy it! – During the race I had a cold so I spent a good amount of time coughing WHILE weaving, slowing, and going. I could have been miserable the whole time but by mile 2 I snapped out of it and enjoyed the sites. If there are obstacles in your way, it’s okay. You can always run more races but not that specific one for another year! So stay in the present and enjoy!

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Now that I’m a seasoned racer (ha), it’s time for a marathon! My husband and I won’t be doing the Marine Corp Marathon because it sold out in 2 hours! BUT we will be running the Anthem Richmond Marathon on November 1oth. Look for more run-related posts as I’m sure I’ll be learning a lot more when I’m training to run 26.2 miles. Only TWENTY MILES more than the 10k, EEK!

Did you learn anything? I hope so. If not, do you have any racing tips that I missed?

and i ran

I ran so far away. Flock of Seagulls anyone?

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Saturday I wasn’t able to make it to BARK. Not because I was lazy and bailed on the dogs but because my feet were killing me from some good blisters that formed on both of my big toes. Mmm, what a great way to pull you in right? Ha.

So don’t wear crappy socks while running! Also, when your coach tells you to wear wool and not cotton socks on a rainy run day, make sure you actually wear wool socks and not cheaper cotton ones instead! Lesson learned. You know when the sand is super hot at the beach but instead of putting your sandals on to walk across it (sandals and sand = sand kicked up on the back of your legs which is the worst) you tiptoe/run while saying saying ‘Ow’ ‘Ooch’ ‘Eech’ the whole time? Yeah, picture me doing that in the house all day Saturday.

This isn’t even the point of my post. The point is that the blisters were worth it. I ran for an hour on Saturday. A WHOLE HOUR. While you watched two episodes of Income Property, I ran… the whole time. This seriously boggles my mind.

One hour and 49 seconds. I ran for 6 miles.

But I’m seriously not writing this to brag, I’m writing to say that you can run (and like it) too!

If you read my previous running post, you know that I used to hate running. During that time, I regularly went to the gym to run on the dreadmill treadmill. There would always be a girl who was already running when I got there and still running when I left! Sometimes she was still running after I finished my ab and weights workouts! I’d often calculate in my mind how long she’d been trucking along and many times it was about an hour. I’d think, ‘Man I’d DIE if I ran for a hour!’ or ‘Isn’t that super boring?’. Saturday I didn’t die and I wasn’t super bored. Craziness.

It’s all about your approach.

Here are a couple of things I do to enjoy and succeed at running:

  1. Take your time – if you can’t talk, you’re running way too fast (unless your doing sprints on purpose).
  2. Add distance slowly – to give you an idea, with our 10k training we’ve added an extra mile about every two weeks.
  3. Enjoy the scenery – this helps me tremendously. If your neighborhood is boring like mine, go somewhere else!
  4. Focus on your form – here’s a good article about the subject.
  5. Stay positive – even this summer when I was enjoying running, I didn’t think I could run for a whole hour. Negativity is a waste of time! If I’m struggling on a run I often think of the words ‘strength’ and ‘peace’.
  6. Just do itNike is right. You’ll regret not trying more than the actual run.

The sign up for the Marine Corp Marathon opens in 2 days so my husband and I will be registering for it soon! While running those six miles on Saturday the negativity crept in and I thought, ‘How the heck can I run more than four times the amount I’m doing now?! There’s no way.’. Then, I instantly erased that negative thought by realizing that I didn’t have to run that far tomorrow, next month, or even this summer. I have plenty of time to train. I just need to take it slow and the mileage will add up.

Do you have any exercise hurdles that you’ve overcome? How’d you do it?

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We’re running seven miles next Saturday but I’ll be sure to wear the right socks so that I make it to BARK afterward! The sooner we go again, the sooner we can choose our new foster dog. 🙂

calorie counting troubles

Aside from my major sweet tooth I’m a healthy eater and exerciser these days.

A few years back when I was in graduate school, in Boston, all by my lonesome, I took a break from my semi-healthy habits. During the day I was still eating well with oatmeal, turkey sandwiches, and salads as my go to meals but at night…oh at night. At night I worked at a pub that served awesome food so I failed there and then if I wasn’t working I was eating whole bags or tubs of whatever I felt like that night. Eh.

That year I gained 10-15 pounds.

To counteract my eating I would go to the gym. Research tells us that eating healthy is WAY more beneficial in losing weight than just exercising (unless you exercise all day long) so the weight stayed on.

I think my turning point was my engagement. I felt like crap and definitely didn’t want to feel or look like crap on my wedding day.

The first thing I did was improve my eating. I cut back somewhat on all of the junk and restaurant food. I kept up my exercising which was cardio and weights but added yoga for the first time and also swimming. The gym at my school was ah-mazing so to me it was fun to trek in the snow (I’m from FL so yeah), swim in the toasty pool, get ready for the day and then head to class. It was a nice routine for me.

All this was working. The only downfall was my calorie counting.

I think those calorie counting websites are a great tool to help you in the beginning of your healthy living overhaul. They can help you gain the knowledge you need to make the habits a lifestyle and not just a diet. BUT I didn’t kick the habit once I had gotten back to my original weight. For a couple of years I would track every calorie in and every calorie burned. Each time I gained a pound or lost a pound I internally freaked out. I probably only fluctuated 5 pounds or so which is NORMAL but at the time I didn’t think so.

Towards the end of my calorie counting I began reading healthy living and healthy food blogs. They were (and still are) great sources of postivity and inspiration in my life. Then one day it just clicked. What the heck am I doing sitting here trying to figure out how many calories my turkey sandwich has?? I’m wasting my life worrying about this stuff! I’m done with calorie counting and bringing myself down with negativity. Done and done. It was such a crazy epiphany. One morning I was calorie counting and by the afternoon I was this brand new person! I guess things finally just clicked.

Of course I still struggle with a negative body image once in a while but if I eat a whole box of mike and ikes one night, the next morning I have the choice to eat healthy again. No big deal! My life won’t be ruined because of that candy – maybe my mobility for the night will be and you’d like to think I’d learn my lesson by now!  But hey, it’s okay.

Now I have to tell you I have a naturally thin frame so some might look at my before and after pictures and say ‘There’s no freaking difference! She’s too skinny!’ but I was eating terribly and wasn’t happy in 2008. I mean I cried (not from happiness) trying on wedding dresses! How sad is that? Anyways, I now know that it’s not about the scale but about how you feel overall. When I have a good, healthy, balanced system going I look like the image on the right – like right now!

2008 & 2011

Today I focus on the meal at hand and mainly how I can add veggies or fruit to it. For exercise I focus on yoga 3 times a week (per my  2012 Resolutions) and training for a 10k in March. When I attempt to stay on track with this I feel balanced, I sleep better, and I’m SO much happier over all.

You can be healthy AND happy without overanalyzing your body and everything else for that matter! As my husband says, “Just Chill.”

running

I ran two miles with Roary this afternoon. It was so nice to get outside and exercise after an 8 hour work day. If you asked me a few years back how my run went I definitely would have grumbled and walked away with tears in my eyes.

I grew up playing sports, mostly volleyball. I was one of the best players on the team but I was ALWAYS the slowest sprinter/runner. For years on end I hated running with a passion. First off, I sucked at it! As a competitive athlete I hated being crappy at something.  Also, it was too tiring and too painful – my asthma would act up and I’d burst into hyperventilating tears. <- one of these incidents happened during a run with my husband when we first started dating, HA. He’s a keeper.

My main issue with running was that I could hear my labored breathing all the time. Hearing my breathing would make me anxious and want to stop. To ‘fix’ the problem I would blast my iPod so loud that I couldn’t hear anything at all. This still didn’t make running enjoyable, I just kept obsessing over how stinking long ‘Irreplaceable’ by Beyoncé was!

A change in my approach to running happened when my husband was deployed around this time last year and I was stuck walking the hyper dog 3 times a day. I decided to ditch the iPod, run a shorter distance, and fix my heel-banging stride. For six months, Monday through Friday, I took in the night sky (I woke up at 4:45am for my commute) and ran more on my toes at a nice, relaxing pace. I loved it! I added daytime runs on the weekends and enjoyed the sunrise (you can’t expect me to sleep in way later on the weekend when I get up so early during the weekday!). Roary and I even did sprints once in a while because it was fun!

roary dazed after a summer run

I ran my first 5k in December and my second on January 1st. Training for the 10k starts in a couple weeks! I’m so excited for the challenge and have high hopes for the Marine Corps marathon in the fall. Yikes!

I still find it crazy that I now enjoy something that I used to despise so so much. I guess the point of this post is if you think you hate something maybe you should try a different approach? You may be in for a pleasant surprise.