patrick henry half marathon

I ran 13.1 miles this past Saturday. No biggie. (!!!)

Al and I are officially halfway through our marathon training. We both ran the Patrick Henry Half Marathon successfully without any emergency pit stops, injuries, or giant blisters. It was awesome.

My morning started out at 2:20 am with major stomach issues. I’m not one to have physical problems when I’m nervous so it must’ve been the bag of Baked Lays I ate for dinner (mistake #1). I took a shot of Pepto and attempted to fall back asleep.

When the alarm went of at 4:15 I was still in trouble. In between another shot of Pepto and some Imodium I told Al that I didn’t think I’d be able to race. I couldn’t stand let alone run at that point!

An hour later I felt a bit better and focused on getting out the door. I went to put on my shoes and I realized my favorite running socks as well as one of my running sleeves were gone. I knew it was Olivia so I ran upstairs to the living room where she usually takes her victims and found only my running sleeve. She doesn’t play with toys but what she does do is relocate socks and bras to different parts of the house. It’s not a big deal and is usually pretty cute because she doesn’t destroy the items but at this point I was making us late! I ran to every room of the house and the backyard but couldn’t find the socks so I had to settle for a different pair.

Superstition and lucky clothing is a big part of sports or at least it was to me growing up so losing my socks kinda stunk. Not too big of a deal but just another bump in the road.

We finally made it to the race location and went to get our bibs.

Our names weren’t on the list.

The lady at check-in asked us if we had a receipt or our bank statement. Of course not lady! We weren’t registered and they only took cash or check so we walked back to our car which was thankfully parked somewhat close at a friend’s house. She told us where the banks were and we headed out to get cash.

Back at the registration tent with our shirts and bibs, I dropped off our bag and we headed to the porta potties. I had to pee terribly, my stomach still wasn’t settled, and the line was a mile long but we had to at least attempt to relieve ourselves.

Twenty minutes later we were at the starting line where I found my friends. We were off!

The first 4 or 5 miles were tough. I was worried about emergency bathroom breaks and my legs felt soooo heavy. The Thursday before, I ran a 3 mile hills workout not knowing that I was supposed to run a regular 3 miles so my legs were tired (mistake #2).

In the beginning I tried to not stop running at the water stops (mistake #3) but I seriously can’t drink and run at the same time. I usually choke or don’t get enough fluids in when I run so I decided to stop and walk quickly as I chugged. I think this also helped my tired legs loosen up.

As my legs warmed up and the miles passed, the skies opened and dumped tons of ran. I was so grateful. I almost got too chilly at one point but that sure beats sweating to death in the southern sun!

I’d been warned about mile 11 with the big hill. I told my running buddy, Tamra that I’d probably be speeding up at that mile to get up and over the hill and finish strong. She encouraged me and was so positive! She has run the race two times before and has already finished two marathons! A great inspiration.

At the hill we ran into one of our coaches who started telling a dirty joke to help distract us on the incline. It was the perfect motivation to help me speed up and get away! A dirty joke when I’m tired and focused? No gracias.

My knees had been aching since mile 3 but those last two miles were much worse. Cardio-wise I could have easily sped up to get a better time but my knees were killing me. I could feel that if I ran any faster I’d have a calf, knee, or hip injury on my hands so I stayed steady.

As I ran down the home stretch I could see the finish line and hear the cheers. A couple girls that I had passed earlier whizzed by me. I thought to myself, I could totally speed up and pass them! But no, this is a training run. I’ve got plenty of time to run more half marathons after the Richmond Marathon is over in November.

I crossed the finish line and kept walking. My bottom half ached horribly as I grabbed my metal and smiled at the volunteers.

YES!!

My official time was 02:18:04 which is about a 10:32 pace. I wanted a 10:30 average so I got pretty close. I was at the back of the pack overall which is okay by me. This was a very fast group of runners! But even with a pretty rocky start, I finished easily and could have gone a couple more miles. A perfect pace for a marathon training run.

After this run, I’ve learned that you’ve got to prepare as best you can but things will most likely go wrong at some point. Just go with it and conquer.

The more races I run, the more I learn. By November I’ll have it all down pat.

Have you run any races recently?

the mental side of training

Al and I have successfully completed one whole month of marathon training!!

I think I already knew this but the mental side of the training is by far the hardest part. I made it through two tough mental challenges this week.

I have a big fear of getting injured – of not being able to even start the race let alone finish it.

I’ve been recording my workouts and thoughts about each one in my training manual. After just four weeks I’ve figured out what I need to do to stay healthy and uninjured: SLEEP, eat, hydrate, stretch, foam roll, do yoga, and cross train. It’s a long list, but I’m trying to keep up with it.

This week life got in the way a couple times. There were multiple days of getting off of work after 7 which forced me to skip the yoga classes that I know help me with my IT bands and hips. I also had to work Saturday which is normally my cross training day.

Training and injury prevention is about structure but I’m also realizing that it’s about flexibility. Because I was unable to make it to yoga, I was too sore to run on Thursday so I ran on Friday instead. I doubled up on my workouts and moved my Saturday cross training to Friday as well since I had to work.

I ran nice and slow on the dreadmill treadmill and then I swam a good 1500 meters that really helped loosen up those tight running muscles.

I loooove a good plan but this week showed me that I can adapt when obstacles get in the way. Next week if I can’t make it to yoga again, I’m going to roll out my mat and do a session at home. I have plenty of classes to choose from in my iTunes library. No excuses!

I’ve got a fear of the distance itself.

26.2 miles is flippin’ far! Enough said.

Yesterday, we didn’t even run close to that but the mental challenge was ridiculous.

A couple of factors added to the fear. It was already hot and humid at 7 am when we started running and, well, I didn’t want to die in it. I was afraid of getting lost because the big running pack spreads out and I often end up running without many people in sight. Lastly, it was 7 miles and I hadn’t run that since March when the weather and course were totally different.

I started off super tired and feeling sorry for myself. My legs felt like lead. Everybody was passing me! I kept looking at my watch. I was running a 10:00 minute mile. I thought, Well either my watch isn’t working (because I planned on running ‘easy’ and was expecting a 11:30 pace to fight the challenge) or these people are going to pass out at the end!

By mile three I was still feeling pathetic and people were still passing me. I reminded myself that there was a water station at the halfway point so I’d be able to stop for a second and mentally regroup.

The 30 second break was just what I needed. I saw some of the people standing around that had passed me miles before. Their fast starts were getting to them. And the Powerade I drank was the best thing EVER! All I needed were some electrolytes and a confidence boost. I started running again and felt 100 times better.

The rest of the course was mostly in the shade which was nice. I stopped again at the second water station and kept on. I passed a couple more fast-starters while keeping my 10:00 minute pace. I couldn’t believe I was keeping that pace in the heat and for that distance! I thought, Maybe this training is working! Maybe I can actually stick to this pace at the marathon!

I was so shocked because our coaches have told us that our pace will start to slow when the distance increases. Obviously 7 miles isn’t far compared to what we will be doing in the months ahead so my pace might still decrease but I tried to run ‘slow’ on purpose and kept the pace up naturally. Sweet.

I heard the 6th beep (6th mile) from my Garmin and laughed out loud. I only had a mile left. I was so proud to go from almost bottoming out mentally in the beginning to feeling super tough in just an hour.

Even though you aren’t supposed to on the long runs, I sped up my pace because I could (!!). I felt like I could run a couple more miles without much trouble. Thank goodness because we’ll be running 8 miles next week!

I know there will be a lot more hurdles in the coming months and it’s going to be rough but I’ve got the tools to help me overcome them. Can I get a HECK YEAH?!

Yikes, that was intense. Excuse me while I come back down from my runner’s high.

Tell me about a mental hurdle you’ve overcome!

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?