Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Marine Corps Marathon Race Report 2013


My only goal for this race was not to give up (Spoiler alert: I didn’t). I encountered the pain I was afraid of: both of the insides of my ankles were filled with sharp pain if I ran on them starting at about mile 14. I did my best to power walk to the end. I got diverted at mile 17 and lost a few miles off the whole “marathon” so technically I haven’t finished the marathon distance. I am 100% okay with this. I’ll have a chance to tackle it in the future. I am happy with my performance because I may have stopped running, but I didn’t stop moving. What would I have gained by stopping? Nothing. Why would I be allowed to stop? I committed myself to keep going until I was told to stop. There’s nothing else I could have done.

Miles 1-6?

I was running fine, even kept up with the pace group for a mile or so. I met friends on the course. I was going to run with one of them for a the race, but we couldn't find each other at the start. By the time I knew where she was, she was 3 miles ahead of me! go her!

I ran with one friend for a while and it was really nice, but eventually I just couldn’t keep up and had to slow down. We had nice conversation and she told me about the area. I suppose that the pain started around this time and that's why I needed a longer walk break.

I don't know where along the course this is, but I'm so pretty, right?

Miles 7-16

I met another woman named Trish (“so, I didn’t catch your name”“It’s trish”“But my name is Trish”) and I ran with her for a few miles. She definitely pushed me to keep going. She was maintaining a run/walk thing and I managed it up until the half marathon.

Most people say they were bored along this part of the course, but I found it very peaceful. I think it is called Haine’s point? It was really nice. Many of the signs were witty and encouraging. There was one part of this stretch that was lined with members of a group with Run to Remember. They were standing, each holding flags. Maybe 30 people?

On the other side of the point, I met a woman named Christine. She helped me, too. She could see that I was clearly in pain, and she pushed me to do little stretches of running. “From lampost to lampost”. I lost her after the aide station at mile 16…I really hope she met her goal!

Mile 16- 17 ish

This is where I completely lost it. Crying like crazy. Another woman running with the luekemia/lymphoma group told me why she ran: for her niece, who died. She said that she couldn’t stop because her niece had to be strong through so much more. My face was just a waterfall at this point. This is where I told myself that I have to just keep going until I can’t go any longer. There’s one quote from Firefly that’s very apt to bring up here: “If you can’t run, crawl, and if you can’t do that, find someone to carry you”. I never had anyone physically carry me, but so many people helped carry me mentally. I never did find why I was running, but I did know that I couldn’t stop. I just couldn’t. 
This is me in pain! oh joy!
I was too slow to beat the cutoff after mile 17 and they redirected me to join in again at mile 20. I saw another friend here. She was very sweet and asked if I’d like to run with them but I knew I just couldn’t run anymore lest my feet crack in two.

Miles 20- 26.2
I think about half of this was over a bridge and then in Crystal City where there were no porta potties for about 5 miles. I don’t even know. It felt like I was going to explode for over an hour. Oh, and some random weirdo spectator tried to ask me out for a glass of wine. Like, No. I finally found my porta potty at the dunkin' donuts food station.

On the last mile, I met a man named Ray. He was very interesting. He carried a flag the entire marathon. I’m pretty sure he stuck around in the last miles to encourage people before he crossed the finish line. He told me a very good piece of advice. If you don’t want to tell people your finish time, all you have to say when they ask you is “It was timed?” and they will never ask you again. And then he asked me, very kindly, “Do you think you can go a little faster to the end? you’re almost done and it might be a good idea to go just a little faster” (it was a couple minutes to the official close of the race). I found a little bit more strength to climb up that little hill right at the end. 
This is Ray

The marines at the end were super encouraging. It was very surreal to be at the end, I swear. Even though I didn’t get to finish the whole thing, I would have. I was gonna keep going until I was forced to stop.

I didn’t give up, and I met my goals. I did the best I could have given my circumstances. 
This is me almost done

This is me not stopping

Thank you for reading. And, as ever, thank you for your continued support.

I learned a few things about myself… like, now I know I won’t give up. It’s weird I didn’t know that before.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Will Run For Food" Trail Half Marathon Race Recap

September 28, 2013
"Will Run For Food" Trail half marathon
 (actually 13.3 according to the race director)
Mt Pleasant, MI

That was a well-fought run, especially for someone who sees a hill and cries.


  • Everyone said "good job" to me, and I assume they did for everyone else they passed. So friendly!
  • Walking up the hills (big fucking hill #1 and big fucking hill #2) felt like more work than running the straightaways.
  • The sandy hills were also quite annoying. 
  • It was a small race...Around 8 people in my age group, I think. 40 racers total. The only downside is that I pretty much ran the entire thing by myself, since I was much slower than everyone. Which isn't to say I ran slow. I ran my goal pace that was about the same as what would be an easy pace on the road. I think that it was about 2 min/mile under my easy trail pace. There was still a lot of walking involved.
  • I ate two clif shots and 3 oreos. That's less than I intended to eat but I didn't need the rest of the food.
  • Big fucking hill #2 was a pain... it was super steep and sandy, which makes for very hard goings. I had to do it 3 times. I didn't want to at all. 
  • At one point, near the end, I thought "Isn't it nice I haven't fallen at all?" and 2 seconds later I tripped and fell. 
  • And two miles later I crossed the finish line in laaaaast place.

I assume all the hard work pays off eventually, even though I am kind of lonely now. I'm sure it won't be the last time I ran fast by myself. I should get used to it, considering I signed up for an even longer trail race next year. It is funny that I don't mind being by myself when I train, but I just feel sort of pointless when I'm in last place running by myself.

It is a small race and there were really yummy cookies at the finish line... monster oatmeal cookies! and fresh apples! Instead of t-shirts, everyone got water bottles. I've been using mine since Saturday.

I finished in 2:56:26. Technically a personal record since it's my first trail half. I'll take it. 

There's a good chance I twisted my ankle without realizing it, since the next time I ran, I found the pain. I can't tell if it's going to hurt on my next run, but I'm RICE-ing as much as I can. I have a marathon in 24 days and I do intend to finish the damn thing. For that, I need to shuffle some of my training schedule around and be patient with the foot. Prayers for the dumb ankle are being said. Here's hoping.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Officially registered for the Marine Corps Marathon

I had a deferred registration from last year. I have to do it now, since I can't defer again!
So, I have a goal for this year... Good luck, me!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Training Log Feb 11- 17


...Otherwise known as "I thought running sprints were difficult but this was much worse".
I made par on 5 through 9 (with fins for support)...I suppose I just had to warm up. 
One thing though-- my stroke form and breathing seemed to click much faster tonight than in weeks past. I think I am finally getting the hang of it. Next I think I'll progress to actually getting that flip-turn incorporated. Eventually I will also leave the fins behind. Not yet though. 
Pretty much how I felt after completing that workout.
A nice, crispy, easy, 3 miles at night (40:49)(I did say easy, pace was 13:40 min/mile). I watched my breath in the light of my headlamp the entire way.

Scheduled rest day.
Unscheduled rest day. I was very frustrated at my scheduling situation and I basically ended going home and crying out all my frustrations. I had eaten my afternoon snack such that I wouldn't be crazy hungry by the time I got home and could run, but I couldn't leave work until an hour later than planned. I tried really hard to let all the anger and frustration go(over this which was out of my control...I'm trying harder to just let stuff go, but it's so easy to get angry), but I ended up a mess curled up in bed anyway. I decided to move my run to friday since it was about 8:30pm by the time I "sobered" up.




I regret to have to say that I did nothing all weekend except try to hold myself together mentally.
I honestly don't know why it's been so rough this past week, but I'm not going to dwell on it.
I realize that getting out of bed and running would have been a good thing to do...but I woke up each day, had two minutes of quiet before the house was ablaze with noise, and then cried because I couldn't fathom why I can't just have quiet.
Anyway. It's a new week now, and I'm going to have tons of fun and run in multiple states this week!!!
I'm going to Louisiana on Thursday night to visit my friends from college. I really need it and I'm happy to be going.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Priorities-- Running, Studying, Rugby, and Work.

So, this is mostly not running related, but it is related to planning a training schedule.

I recently registed to take the MCAT (the big test for medical school admission) and I am treating the study time the same way I would treat a training plan for running. I am struggling to reconcile this study time with the time I've got to be at work, with the time that I have allotted to race training (even though I haven't committed to a race yet), and with rugby training.

I know this is all about priorities. I want to do the things that will make me happy AND I want to do the stuff that will allow me to be happy long-term (job and MCAT, even though both are not fun at all). My goal for Lent, which is a season to re-focus on important things, to strive to do things that, while they may not be "fun" or "easy", they will be better for you long-term. I've given up things (such as sweets) that get me instant, fleeting, satisfaction and I hope that I can strive to attain a stronger happiness over the next 6 weeks.

I am struggling with these priorities, though. I want to play rugby, and I want to go to practices twice a week, but hot damn does that take up a lot of time. I think what I will go to rugby as much as I can, whilst still keeping my race training schedule as "more" important (spring is not the really competitive season, so I don't feel like I'm skimping on my training as much as I would be if it were the fall season. That said, rugby is also where I get most of my that's a little rough). I have goals that I want to acheive that would be much more difficult to acheive come fall, and rugby happens spring and fall, spring and fall, so I'd always be able to come back to it. Even though there isn't a distinct time frame on these goals, I also know that if I put it off another year, it might be even more difficult to acheive...The longer I wait, the more extraneous commitments I will have accumulated...especially when I get into medical school.

Regardless, I am going to be very busy up until April 26, when my exam is. I know it's the top priority. I know it is. I also know I need to have running to stay mentally healthy.

I think that if I can change my home habits around (such as actually sleeping on time and waking up early) I can fit in the time I need to study easily. I could run in the morning before work, then do work, then come home, change clothes, and go to the library to study. On rugby days I could go to rugby practice (which I might reduce to 1 a week until after the exam). On weekends, I'll have to make more of my food in advance so I have enough for lunches and for study food. Additionally, just like how long runs are on the weekend because they take more time, practice tests are going to be on the weekend.

I'm going to be busy, but hopefully not overwhelmed.
It's an hectic time to be Trish...but if I work hard now, I can reap many rewards later.
[breathe][I promise I won't be able to overwork myself. I know my limits well.]

Sunday, February 10, 2013

North Shore Cupid's Love Dash 5K Race Recap

I made a personal record! Yay me!
It's a 3.42% improvement over my last 5K-- that's pretty good I think (it's a 5.2% improvement since my first one. I'm regaining some of the fitness I lost last year. Yay).

5K in 32:20.2 

I warmed up a bit before the start, just by running around a few blocks.
The course was icy and hilly. The ice was probably due to the rain coming down. It was really difficult especially when crossing the small bridge. I think I just shuffled my feet over that.
I passed a lot of people in the first mile and that made me feel really good... I checked my pace to make sure I wasn't going too fast to sustain but I asked myself "can you keep this up?" and the answer was yes. I finished the first mile around 10:00 minutes and I was ecstatic! Then I managed to keep the pace a little slower than that for the last two miles, but as I said, it was hilly and icy.
I really don't have much to say about the course except that it was hillier than I would have expected for this part of Illinois (Highland Park; I should have known). I also should have worn my trail shoes since there was plenty of ice and snow still on the roads.

I finished with an overall pace of 10:29 min/mile.
For someone who used to do infinite min/ mile, that's great. Just amazing. I amaze myself.

Also there was no water so I am glad that, even though I felt silly carrying it since no one else carries one, I had my water bottle. It's like a security blanket for me.
They gave me a medal (it has glitter) so I gave it to my cat:

The best thing I got was this bumper sticker, though:

I am a fan of puns

And one thing I really loved about their organization was that when I picked up my bib and shirt, the lady giving it to me asked if I wanted to try it on, just in case, and she gave me two other shirts to try on in case the first on didn't fit. I didn't like the long sleeve black shirt that I was supposed to go away with, so I took the short sleeve grey one that was an alternate. I'm really happy with the fit and I needed another short sleeve wicking tee.


Anyway... Sort of a simple shirt, but I'm probably going to wear it a lot, since it fits so nice.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Training Log, Feb 4 - Feb 9

Ok that was loud :). I did some 1050 yards of various swim strokes/ drill at my stroke refinement class. This went really well in terms of endurance. I finished first in my class because I was the only one who didn't have to stop at the end of each length to catch my breath, except for at the end of the speed laps (times marked). My freestyle stroke/breathing is really improving. I felt most like I was really getting the hang of it in the 4-kick Beat drill. That's basically where you make sure you kick 4 times in one stroke. It had the right rhythm for me to 1. be distracted enough counting the kicks to keep my hand in front of me and 2. take a breath every 3 or 4 strokes. It turns out I'm a natural bilateral breather, so that's comfortable for me. An odd number of strokes for breathing means you're breathing on the same side, since you take the breath with the last stroke in the count, in this case, the 3rd stroke. Breathing every 4 strokes means you breathe bilaterally, because the side you breathe on will switch each breath.

Ran 2.78 miles very easy (37:00 min-- pace of 13:20 min/mi).
I'm trying to accomplish running even a little slower than that for my easy runs... I'm trying to use it as a time-on-feet active recovery thing. I'm shooting for a pace of 13:59-15:00 min/mi because this is what I have outlined. It's surprisingly difficult to overcome my brain telling me to "speed up or the people will judge you". It allows for active recovery when I start adding in harder workouts, also facilitating more fat burn because the lower heart rate (I was around 162 bpm, which is lower for me, but not really that low. I've noticed my HR zones are just higher than most guidelines anyway, though. Yay genetic variation.

Wednesday- rest

2.96 easy, snowy miles with 2 20-sec pickups (at mile pace)-- 38:18
I had no idea running while it snowing at night would be so much fun! It was my first time running in snow, using my headlamp. I wasn't going to run at first but then I did and IT WAS SO WORTH IT.
I can't get over how great that run was. I even wore the perfect ensemble of clothes that I was the perfect temperature. I didn't bring any water and I didn't need it. It was perfect.

Can you see me?
I live in Narnia

Friday- Rest

3 nice easy miles in a new pair of shoes and lovely snowfall all around me (40:18).

Sunday, tomorrow, I have a 5K. That's going to get its own post :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I registered for an Impromteau 5K (that is coincidentally Valentine's Day themed)

Before I start training for anything new this year (whatever that really ends up being; I haven't registered for anything yet) I wanted to get a baseline of my fitness in 2013. I don't think my recent half marathon was the best gauge of that because I did have to walk so much of it. So, instead, I started looking for a 5K in the next month.
There are approximately two in the area... So I registered for the one that was closer to me. I was extremely reluctant for two reasons: I don't really like 5Ks & since it's this weekend, the price was ridiculous (because of those doggone price hikes). I paid only 8 dollars less than I did for the F^3 half marathon (which I had a discount for). All I can say is that I hope the shirt fits and is made of gold or something. I don't necessarily register for races based on their swag, but if I'm paying this much it really ought to have a good shirt.
The 5K fits in quite nicely with this weekend's running plan and for my spring training plan in general. I read a few places that the race hasn't been exactly 5 kilometers in the past, but I'm hoping that's just people whining about the discrepancy between their Garmins and the race course. If it ends up being really different, I suppose I'll just use the time my GPS watch says I ran 5K in, but I am suspecting it won't be an issue.
There is also a promise of chocolate since the race is Valentine's day themed. I also had to pick my availability status (paired off/looking for "luv"/ "lone solo": single and happy. It was confusing since the first two are both meant to be used as two people running together, so you have to run it with your partner or wing-person. I chose "lone solo" cause that's how I roll (though it would be nice not to be alone, I'm terrible at finding relationships, haha)

I know, you're just gagging with the cheese this race exudes...

I am hoping I can run faster than my 5K from last fall... I don't think it will be too difficult to since I basically ran that without having done anything but rugby for 2 months.

Remind me never to sign up for a race this close to race day again...Honestly price hikes are just wicked!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Mile test and Researching training methods

Saturday I decided to go to the track and test my mile. The idea was to go to the track, run half a mile of warm-up, then run a mile full-out as if it were a race, then cool down. I can use this, if I test it every once in a while, to keep track of my fitness for that distance. I tried to keep track of it last year, but I only did two mile tests.

Yesterday I accomplished a 9:49 mile. I am really not at the same level I was in March last year when I ran a 9:15 mile. I know exactly why this is, and I am not dismayed by it, only disappointed that my mental state after moving home last year was really quite terrible. I am disappointed that I never sought help. For about 6 months last year I could barely muster the will to get out of bed, leave the house, whatever. As a side-effect, I lost a lot of the fitness I should have been able to maintain easily. I'm not quite back at square one. I am determined to not let this happen to me this year.

As spring comes in, I have a few options for training. I can go the route of building mileage to reach a nice base requisite for MCM training in the fall, while adding speed workouts, and a half marathon or two. I could also go the route of using a lower mileage marathon training plan in the spring for, perhaps, a summer marathon, while still balancing out my training through running, swimming, and rugby. Then again, I could do the latter option while building towards the prior one. I have been finding many plans that seem to re-evaluate the effectiveness of much-used and long-standing plans*. I have found two ends of the spectrum… one with very low weekly mileage and three runs(interval, tempo, long run at pace)/ cross training a week and one with a rather high mileage, but evenly balanced across the week.

The latter, called the Hanson Marathon Method, looks to be a very interesting and well-researched methodology that involves the use of intervals, easy runs, and long runs that take place after a few days of shorter runs before it. The guiding principles here are that 1- long runs over three hours can do more damage and need more recovery time than is effective for strong training and 2- no rest days before the long run place less emphasis on it, as it also simulates running in the latter part of the race, not running the beginning of a race. The long runs also cap mileage at around 16 miles, depending of the pace of the runner-- avoiding running too much over 3 hours at once is the goal here.

I’m interested in the higher mileage, but not necessarily interested in running it right now, so maybe getting up to the higher requisite base mileage would be a good goal for me now during spring, and also working a bit on my speed. Then, as summer/fall comes, I could use this higher mileage plan to my advantage.

The previous plan I mentioned is one I could use now as I work my way up to higher mileage and still be able to swim and bike during the training. It’s sort of like a triathlon training plan if you isolated the running and said the other types of workouts were your cross-training instead. That works for me since I want to also do a lot of swimming and rugby right now.The active recovery in this plan is not easy run days, but cross training. It would work for my rugby practice schedule and swimming quite well.It's part of the FIRST training methodology, which essentially says that you can run less but you have to run faster in the training runs. I'm not sure about it yet, but I like the speed workouts so I may just use them incorporated into a Frankenstein-monster training plan of my own devising.

There’s a lot to think about. What I don’t want is a plan where I just have to slog through mile after mile without really changing the speed from run to run. A lot of beginner plans are like that--they focus on getting you over the finish line. That’s the goal, yes, but I would also like to make sure my fitness improves, not just subject my body to mile after slow mile.

*if you understand that to be a week that includes rest/easy/tempo or pace/easy/rest/long (often capping at 20 miles)/cross train.

Addendum: Rugby practices contain sprint exercises, so no matter what plan I choose I will keep this in mind when planning speed workouts, if I choose to include them at all. I like researching plans but these two are probably not what I would choose for a first marathon. I have a lot of time to research and plan carefully.

Friday, February 1, 2013

F^3 Lake Half Marathon Race Photos

Also known as: "how to take weird photos because your face does weird things".
I will start with the weirdest...
My eyes are closed. I am not surprised. Source

And the slightly less weird...
I don't normally smile with my mouth closed. It's weird that I did here. Source
And now the fairly decent!
I am so poofed up because I am wearing four layers. Source
There were some other really cool photos, not of me, that really make me want to be a faster runner. The photographers kept moving spots and I didn't see more than one on the course because I was much much much slower than the amount of time the photographers stayed. Which is a bummer, because there were some really cool photos.
That's the weirdest motivation that I've had yet to get faster. 
I suppose it makes sense. I'm a photographer. I liked the lighting. I was too slow to have the cool lighting.

Race recap is here

I have race schedule for the year. Finally!

It took forever for me to decide, and it's not set in stone yet, seeing as I only have registration for one of the races.

April 13-- Muddy Monk Double Down trail 10K/20K, Somme Woods, Northbrook, IL
May 4-- Possibly going to Michigan to run a half marathon with my bestie.
June-- Mystery race TBA ( I don't want to jinx it )
July 13-- Dances with Dirt (I haven't decided which distance I want to do), Devil's Lake, Baraboo, WI (one of my favorite places)
Sept 2-- Oakbrook Half Marathon on my birthday!!!
Oct 26-- Marine Corps Marathon, Washington DC, provided that rugby national playoffs and it don't interfere, otherwise I have a tough decision to make. I already deferred from last year (this is the one I have the registration for).

I've been having trouble finding a race I really would love to do this spring/ early summer, so I am very happy that I found [mystery race]. I don't really want to say what it is before I register for it, just in case I end up finding out that my knee wants to fall off and I can't go through with training. I suspect I have about a month before it fills up.

I would also love to find a 10K for February that doesn't cost forty-five dollars or more. I just want to test my 10K fitness against last year's 10K. That's all. I suppose there just aren't that many cold-weather races. Is there a way I can "replicate" race conditions to test my fitness? I'm not sure.

I'm pretty darn excited by the races that I've chosen.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why, and how, I started running

I think a person's motivations are very important. My motivations for running have changed over the years, but the first motivations were basically to get in shape.

I had a moment, back in 2010, Where I found myself looking for ways to pay for medical school. I came across a military-based scholarship program, and even a military medical school. The more I researched it, the more I felt like this looks like it would fit me well.

The only thing I needed to do, really, was volunteer a whole lot more and get fit and get strong. This is the part that posed a problem for me. You see, growing up, in elementary school there were bi-annual timed mile tests, sit-ups, curl-ups and sit-n-reach. The only thing I could do was sit-n-reach. I could not run to save myself. I was an overweight kid.

At the time, I didn't know that running was the sort of thing that a person could learn to do. I thought it was either you can or you can't and if you can't, you get to suffer through the mile test time after time. That is what I did. Fast forward to high school and the test now becomes a test to see how many laps you can run in 20 minutes. I could do thirteen; I couldn't run them. It was embarrasing. I got A's in PE because I always participated but that was because I had to make up for the complete lack of fitness somehow (13 laps was a 'C' grade, 22 was an 'A+'--That's on a 10th-mile track). I even had PE teachers tell me that I have to run the whole time. "Keep running!", they said. "I can't".

What they never did say was, "Just slow down and run a slower pace", "Alternate 2 minutes running with 3 minutes walking, next week we'll increase to 3 minutes running and 2 walking". I was never taught how to run, I was just expected to know. Would you be expected to pass an exam on the neurosystem without studying? No. Why would you in running?

Let us flashforward to my freshman year of college, 2008. This is the year I hit my highest weight. This school year is also the year that I started to establish better eating habits. I walked everywhere (miles a day). I walked up flights of stairs (I lived on the seventh floor). By the end of the first semester, I had lost 20 lbs without realizing it.

Let's move forward again. By the start of my junior year, I was biking everywhere. I had lost even more weight, not really intentionally, it was just a by-product of my healthier choices and increased activity. I was no where near fit, but I had laid the foundations to actively seek out becoming a fitter person. I made all my own food because I was cheap, I biked because it took too long to walk to work or school from my apartment, and I drank only water because anything else made my tummy upset.

And so it was that I began to think about my applications to medical school and ultimately how to start running. I didn't use couch-to-5k as so many people I know did; I used the Navy's guidelines for learning to run. It went from speedwalking 2 miles to speedwalking 3, then run 1 minute/walk 4 for 25 minutes, 2 min run/3 min walk, 3/2, 4/1, and ultimately running 2 miles without stopping. I did these things three times a week and elliptical on the other days. I even convinced one of my swimmer friends to re-teach me some basic swim strokes and I improved my backstroke enough to use it to work out. I loved the pool at my school's rec center. Honestly, I was spoiled with the olympic-size and depth pool. I didn't know I had it so good there!

As the end of my junior year came, I could run on the indoor track 2 miles at a time. I had lost even more weight. I was feeling really excellent about myself and these accomplishments. I had even gotten a new bicyle that year as a birthday present (which I absolutely love. It is a Giant Avail 3, an entry-level road bike), so I was even learning how to go pretty far cycling. It was easier to do outside than running was to do outside. The oppressive heat and humidity of summer in New Orleans is very difficult to get used to after running inside an air-conditioned gym. I knew I had to get outside though. So I went back to alternating my run/walks, working up to running two miles again. My friend asked me if I wanted to do an imprompteu 5K with her (free) and so I said "that would be really difficult because I can hardly run outside". We still did it and I think I finished in about 45 minutes because I had to walk so much. This was also the first time I had really run in Audubon Park (I lived in New Orleans). It was exciting and empowering. I kept running outside. I got better. I got to three miles without walking. Then somewhere down the line my same friend asked if I wanted to do the Jazz Half Marathon with her. At first I said "no, I can hardly run 3" but she said, "it's ok, you have time to train for it. There's a method" and so I agreed.

I completed most of the training for that race. I ran the race in just under three hours. I was slow, but I did it. I felt amazing and tired and amazing after finishing that first half. There's nothing in the world like having your hard work realized. Nothing.I signed up for another race the for the next spring, the New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll marathon. I actually was registed for the marathon because there really wasn't a price difference and I thought "what the hell, I might as well let myself have the chance"--HAH. Anyway, I got faster and more consistant when training for that race, at least after I got back from winter break at home. I hardly did anything at home that year. Thankfully it wasn't back to the drawing board with my training. On this half, I shaved over 20 minutes off my first time. That was really out-of-this-world to me.

It's crazy what you can do when you just know what's possible.
That's why, when people say, "Oh wow you did a half marathon! I could never do that!", I shake my head and say "but I did".
If I can do it, anyone else can, I'm sure.

They just need to know that it's possible.

My motivations now have changed and now I run more to show myself that I'm in control of my life, that I can do whatever the hell I am persistant enough to pursue. I challenge myself on purpose in order to grow.

I amaze myself that I will actively seek out a challenge instead of slinking back and saying "I can't do it". "I can't do it" is the lie I learned was a lie by learning to run. I now think "how would I accomplish that?" instead of "I could never".

And it's amazing.
That's how I learned to run.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

F^3 Lake Half Marathon Race Recap

And so it begins. I woke up a few hours before the race. I ate my oats-in-a-jar. I prepared my gear bag (no easy feat! winter coats do not fit in small bags!).

I took the el from my friend's apartment where I had stayed the night. The walk to Montrose Harbor was about a mile from the station. I kept seeing other runners who were warming up or getting to the race. There were also many runners staying warm in their cars.

At the start line, I overheard that 1800 people registered and only about 1300 people picked up their bibs. I guess the winter training isn't for everyone? And there were quite a few people around me in vibram five fingers and all I could think is that if I, wearing socks and shoes, cannot feel my toes, how can you? I checked multiple times to make sure my socks weren't wet because my toes were so cold I couldn't feel them. All that just from standing around waiting for the race to start.
First mile. The runners spread out quickly.
We started at 10:00 and the runners thinned out fairly quickly, despite it being such a narrow path.

I found myself running on a weird snow/sand mix that covered the path. Not having trained on that at all, it was confusing and difficult. My shoes didn't have enough traction despite being my trail shoes. I can't imagine how much slower I would have been if I wore my normal kicks.
Weird mysterious snow stuff
At around mile 2/3 the path continued to be snowy, and a little hilly.

I started feeling a bit of knee pain in mile three and I had to ask myself...If I take an ibuprofen will I be able to continue? If I finish the first out-and-back will I be able to finish the second? I decided to take the ibuprofen and a gu, then I decided to do the second out-and-back. I didn't want to give up.

Mile 4(ish)
I had the sun on my face from mile 3 to 8, and I managed to get sunburnt. Whoops.
I gotta say, I was mostly bored during this race because the field thinned out so much. There was only a few people that I kept playing leap-frog with because we were run/walking. Because of my knee pain, I decided to walk a minute every mile, or less as needed. I couldn't have finished if I didn't walk as frequently as I did.

Mile 5 (ish)
I continued on by my lonesome self... It was around mile 5 that I kept seeing the leaders on their way in. They were so fast.
These aren't the leaders but they are about 3 miles ahead of me.
I kept calculating how far ahead the people passing me were. I was getting pretty bored and distracted by my tired legs. In training, I only really made it to 8 miles for a long run. I was seriously undertrained for this race.
I kept watching dogs and their owners play on the icy beach. So cute! The water is deeper here, where they have open water swim in the summer. I wouldn't want to go in the water now. COLD.

At the turnaround at mile 8, there was a woman who looked like she got her hand clipped by a bicyclist. She was bleeding a lot. An ambulance was on its way for her.  The course wasn't closed off, so there were still bicyclists. I almost got clipped myself. Seriously, if you ride your bike around runners, please be vocal. I do my best to listen for bikes but sometimes it doesn't work.

Finally on my way back in.

On my way back in after the turn around--all those other runners ahead of me; all the beautiful water to my right. No more sun on my face (it was much chillier after there was no more sun on my face, but at least I wasn't getting sunburnt anymore).

Around mile 9 there was some really neat ice in the water.
It was here I had my last gu (I tried for one every three miles or so. I was tired and I do believe in adequately fueling myself during a race. 100 calories every few miles usually does it for me). I kept counting down the distance to the end.
I made it to ten miles and just kept saying, only 5K to go! You can do a 5k!

During this last 5K, I had to walk more frequently. I wasn't upset by this, I was just annoyed that the race wouldn't be over as soon.
You know how if you're in class or something and you keep looking at the clock thinking 10 minutes has passed and only 1 has? That was how I was feeling.
Around mile ten. 5K left!
I finally made it to the end. Somebody saw me trying to take a picture of myself and said "oh, no no no!" and offered to take the picture for me. Also the bags you can see behind me are all filled with bagels :) .

So there you have, folks. Half marathon number three. Not a PR, but not slower than my first half marathon! Also my hair looks fantastic for just having run for 2 hours and 50 minutes. Haha.
My race medal is a cowbell. This is mostly why I didn't want to give up. I wanted that damn cowbell (cause I got a fever)(and the only cure is more cowbell).
Official time was 2:50:50.

Edit: The official race photos are here.

My here-I-am-at-blogspot first post

And so it begins...
I've had a blog for about a year and half, just not this blog. I decided that when I was browsing my tags, that if my blog was made up exclusively of what I put in the "running" tag, it would actually be a pretty quality blog. I mean quality as in quality vs. quantity. This blog, recently created, is going to be a place for me to publish my more reflective posts. I have a tendancy to liveblog everything on my other blog. My plan is to publish my race recaps, training journal, reflections, that sort of thing on this blogspot.
This is my first post but I will have back-dated race recaps/reflections for thouroughness in documentation of my running journey.
A little about me? ok. I'm 23, I live in the suburbs of Chicago, I work there too, I prefer vanilla to chocolate, my favorite candy is M&Ms, I walk through my favorite shoes, I love to ride my bike, I went to school in New Orleans, I don't do well in cold, I still train and run in cold, I'm studying for the MCAT, I intend to go to medical school, I'm average height, I have a cat, I'm vegetarian.