In searching for races to fill my training calendar this summer, I came across the Madison Mini-Marathon. Many of my friends have done this race in years past, and I’ve only heard positive things about the race. So last week, I put Madison Mini-Marathon on my “Maybe” list. One thing that intrigued me was the M2 Challenge, presented in connection with the Summerfest Rock ‘n’ Sole Half Marathon.
What’s the M2 Challenge? Basically, if you run both the Madison Mini-Marathon AND the Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole Half Marathon, you get a special two-event medal! I’m not one to turn down an extra medal. Plus, it’s free as long as you complete both races! EEK!
So guess what? I’m now registered for both races!!! I figure that the Madison Mini-Marathon will be a killer training run for the Lakefront Marathon, plus I have a bunch of friends running the race. It’s a win-win!
Oh yeah. About that giveaway.
I am so excited to announce that the organizers of the Madison Mini-Marathon have given me A FREE ENTRY TO THE RACE to giveaway here on my blog! How awesome is that? I know. Pretty damn awesome.
I know that training for a marathon will be exhausting. But planning the training makes me want to puke.
A week after registering for the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, I slipped on the ice and threw out my back. I finally got permission to start running 1-2 miles a couple times a week and then Friday I slipped on the slushy snow as I was getting into my car and sort of tweaked my left ankle/calf/IT band/leg/etc.
CAN A GIRL CATCH A BREAK?!
Tonight I mapped out my training plan, starting with October 7, and working backwards for 30 weeks. I am merging three different Hal Higdon plans.
I have also realized that I can’t safely train for the Wisconsin Half Marathon in May, as I was planning to do, so I’m pushing back my first half marathon of 2012 to the Summerfest Rock ‘n’ Sole (Plus, the week before, I’ll run the equivalent of a half marathon during Ragnar).
Then, in July it’s the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon… followed by possibly the Madison Mini Marathon in August.
Enter the most hellish month of my life ever:
Followed by a marathon and epic rest week. #dontdie
I can’t be the only person who freaks out and requires insane planning before a race… What do you do to plan for a race?
So, two weeks ago I roadtripped it to the STL with some friends to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Half Marathon. It was pretty epic.
First, the road trip. Annie, Nadia, Bob and I met up at the State Fair park ‘n’ ride and before we left, Annie had to pee. So we drove down to the Pettit. We got refused. HOW RUDE. The guy wouldn’t let Annie use the ATM, either.
Our trip was off to a great start.
We finally got to a gas station which had A CALIFORNIA RAISIN!
We got back on the road and played “Who can check in to more funny places on foursquare while we drive?” We all won. Here are some of the beauties from the weekend:
Once we got to St. Louis, we headed to the race expo. I’ll tell you one thing, the Rock ‘n’ Roll series knows how to do an expo. I bought things I needed and some things I didn’t (per usual). After I said adieu to Annie, her sister Beth, Nadia and Bob, I headed west to visit one of my bestest friends, Holly. And her mom. And her THREE adorable dogs. We went out for dinner and had a great time that night, and the next morning watching a horror film and playing stupid games on our iPads, whilst cuddling with the dogs. It was a great visit.
Then I met up with Patrick and Lindsey (my friends living in DC) who are from STL and were home for the race. We sat and talked for HOURS. It was so great to catch up with them, talk about geeky stuff, journalism (and me getting out of the biz). I’m so glad I got to see them the day before the race, because I never found them on race day! (Which reminds me, I missed Sam from Sacramento too!!!) BOO.
Fast forward to an evening with three Munkwitzes. Thats Munkwitz overload. But awesome. I spent the night with Annie, Beth, Kim and Beth’s hubby Adam. Adam made us a great pasta dinner… of course we had to carb load the night before the race!
The next morning, we woke up and got ready for the race. I had gotten everything ready the night before, so there wasn’t much to worry about. I nibbled on my Clif Mojo bar, drank some water and anxiously waited to leave for the race. I wasn’t very talkative, but I wasn’t nervous, which was a new one for me. I had a feeling things would go well for me during the race. I was excited to do the race with all my friends from across the country, even if I didn’t see them, I knew they were there. 😉
We dropped off our bags at the gear check and headed to our corrals. I said goodbye to the Munkwitz girls and went to Corral 22 (second from the last, of course). It took about 30 minutes from when the race started to when I finally crossed the start line! That’s what happens when you have 21,000 runners!
It was such a beautiful morning, and pretty cool to run through downtown St. Louis. We passed Busch Stadium (where I stopped to get a picture of me flipping the Cards the Bird)…
… and a bunch of other cool buildings.
But now, on to the ACTUAL race recap.
The race started off really well for me. Except for stupid people who think that just because I’m fat, this was my first race. I can’t tell you how many times someone said, “Good for you! This your first?” I know they were being encouraging, but I took it as a dig. Yes, I’m fat. Yes, I’m slow. But I know what I’m doing.
In fact, about 10 minutes into the first mile, I realized I was going to have a split in the 12s. THE FUCKING 12s! I knew this would mean T-R-O-U-B-L-E for later in the race so I forced myself to slow down and walk a bit. After the first mile, I pretty much stuck to a run 5-6 minutes, walk 1 min interval ratio. Of course, I was flexible with the intervals due to the rolling hills and water stops… and maneuvering through groups of people. I was pretty proud of myself when, at about mile 5, I was encouraging a fellow racer (who WAS a race virgin)… telling him he had it and not to worry. He was asking about time limits and I told him that if he kept his pace going, he would be fine. Then he realized I was 5 corrals behind him and had caught up to him. I told him not to worry and that he was doing great… and I kept on trucking.
For the first time, I left the iPod and my Nathan handheld water bottle at home. I’ve recently become very annoyed by carrying water on long runs, and I knew there would be water every 1.5 miles, so I’d be fine. And as for the music, it was a Rock ‘n’ Roll race so there were bands along the course. I’ve also been avoiding the iPod during runs lately. I’ve been getting rid of everything except for my phone and shot blocks. And inhaler, of course.
Running without the iPod and water bottle was FREEING. It was also scary. I was alone with my thoughts. MY HEAD YOU GUYS. I had 3 hours of just me and my brain. I got a lot of thinking and soul searching done. It was a very, VERY personal experience for me. I don’t even know how to describe it. I dug deep into my soul, examined some priorities in life and even questioned if running was something I wanted to continue. At one point, I thought, “seriously, what the fuck am I doing?” Yes, I’d say I hit the wall alright. I worked through some things during this race. It was all very unexpected. Maybe that is why I haven’t written the race report for two weeks – I wanted to keep it all for me. And I’m not going into specifics for that very reason.
Woah. Back to the race.
I was rocking until the 8th mile (9th was even worse). It took 2 hours for the first 8 miles (incl. water stops and photo breaks), so I was PUMPED! I knew if I could keep things going, I was going to obliterate my PR.
And then, there were hills.
Well, they weren’t so much hills as they were inclines. Long, slow, drawn out inclines. My quads were on FIRE.
Things started hurting. I started getting snarky. Well, you know, more than usual. I took longer walk breaks (2-3 min). I wasn’t going to let a little pain keep me from beating my PR.
As I approached the finish line, (you could hear it before you saw it), I got excited. I was almost there. I turned the corner and sprinted the last quarter mile to the finish. I wanted to finish strong. And I did.
NOTE: I started writing this two days after the race but finally was able to finish writing it this week. Sue me.
Saturday morning, I completed my second half marathon with an official chip time of 3:33:45, an improvement of 15:54 overall or 1:18 per mile. Basically, I improved my time/pace by 14.4%! That’s pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. Now, granted, with a previous half marathon time of 3:49:39, there is much room for improvement, but I look forward to many more PR’s in my future!
Now that we have some of the technical stuff out of the way, let’s get to the report.
Friday night, I met up with some of my running besties, Annie, Rochelle, Krista and Tracey. We went down to Kenosha, stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Express, ate lots of cookies and candy and had a good ol’ fashioned sleepover. Never mind we’re between the ages of 28-33. We can still be kids whenever we want.
We got all our gear ready for the race, pinning ribbons with names of friends/loved ones to our gear.
LEFT: Orange ribbons for my Aunt Janice, Uncle Will and Grandma Kant. RIGHT: Pink ribbon for my friend and coworker, Anne, who is battling breast cancer.
Because I was unable to do the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon with the rest of my Team Challenge friends, this race was my “replacement” in honor of my loved ones who’ve battled (and are battling) Crohn’s and Colitis. So of course, I ran in honor of them on Saturday, hence the orange ribbons on my water bottle. I also ran in honor of my coworker, Anne, who is one kickass woman. She is fighting breast cancer, raising 3 precious kids and still coming in to work as she is able between treatments. Her humor and determination to kick this disease in the balls are nothing short of inspiring. The station I work for sponsored the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k Walk along the lakefront Saturday morning, and since I was not able to join my colleagues, I ran three of my 13.1 miles in honor of Anne and all the women fighting breast cancer.
Ok, now that we’ve gotten all sappy, let’s get back to talking about me.
Even though I’ve been through this before, I was physically ill about this race. I put so much pressure on myself and was nauseous all morning (and actually, for the week leading up to the race).
Here’s my view before the race started. There were only signs up to a 12 minute pace group, so I lined up behind them. And laughed because there was no way in hell I was going to run a 12 minute pace.
The night before the race I was dead-set on running the race alone, but it was nice to see some familiar faces (Jodi and Rachel) while waiting for the race to start. Just in case they wanted me to run with them, I warned before the gun went off that I was going to walk the first mile or so and then start my run/walking and that there was nothing against them, I just had a plan and I was sticking with it. We saw Karla shortly after starting the race and all walked together for the first 10-15 min. Then I told the girls I was gonna start my intervals and Jodi joined me.
Jodi is faster than me so I remember repeatedly telling her she didn’t have to slow down – that she could take off whenever she wanted to and I wouldn’t be upset. But she said she didn’t mind because she didn’t really train the way she wanted to and said it would be better for her to stay with someone who had a plan (run 5min, walk 3). She said it would also keep her from going too fast at the start.
It only took a couple of miles for the field to really start to thin out. This is most evident to slow runners like myself. You don’t really have to fight for a spot on the road when you’re at the back of the pack.
Jodi and I began giving other runners nicknames. Don’t judge. I know you ALL do it too. There’s the weird breather, tutu girl, crazy hat lady, guy in jeans, etc. Well we had Shuffleupagus (the guy who was constantly shuffling his feet – for 7+ miles. The sound became worse than nails on a chalkboard. I wanted to punch him). There was cane lady, who we were dead set on passing early on (C’mon. Who wants to get beaten by a lady with a cane?). There was also das boot – the lady running with a stress fracture boot. INSANITY.
It was great to see familiar faces out on the course – Marty, Kelly, Laura, John, Marge, Becky, Courtney, Lisa and of course my parents! It was also pretty cool to see friends running back to the finish (much of the course was an out-and-back so you saw runners headed the other direction). I high-fived Matt, Tracey, Krista, Annie and Rochelle. I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention someone, so please forgive me if I forgot to post your name).
Looking back, the middle of the race is a bit of a blur. I remember it getting overcast and a bit cooler. I remember drinking some gatorade that had obviously not been mixed properly (hello syrupy electrolytes) and playing leap frog with the same groups of people the entire race, thinking “My God, when are we going to hit a turnaround point?”
At some point, I told Jodi I was turning up my music to drown out shuffleupagus and to focus on my intervals. Seriously, this man made my blood boil. We took advantage of downhills to burst ahead.
We got to the turnaround point at Carthage College a few minutes before they started taking down the course and moving the runners/walkers to the sidewalks. I knew this was going to happen, but it was a little startling nonetheless. (Race directors said participants would be moved to sidewalks if they were slower than a 15 min pace).
Shortly after the turnaround point, I saw my parents in the distance. I’ll be honest. I kind of started crying when I saw them. I stopped and gave them each a huge hug.
Oh hi mom and dad – I seeeee you! If you look carefully, you can see shuffleupagus in the back. He’s wearing a blue shirt and black sweatpants.
Hiiiii mom! Hiiii dad! oh, and hiiiiii gullet!
The pictures above were taken around mile 8 or 9 I think. It was the right time in the race to get a little pick me up from my parents (also, the course didn’t have any spectators at this point).
I remember my dad trying to run ahead to get more pictures. I know I yelled at him, “Hey dad! I’m running a half marathon and you’re making me look bad! Stop it.” He replied, “I need to get a picture!”
Giggles. I love my dad.
Jodi and I trudged on. I started to fade (read: slow down) and we parted ways around mile 10.5. I never lost sight of Jodi but just couldn’t move my legs any faster than they were going.
As I ran into downtown Kenosha I saw my parents again!
Just as I passed the mile 11 marker, I saw someone taking down the mile markers, cones, etc. By this point we were running/walking on the sidewalks of downtown Kenosha – me trying to get around people “Hello! I’m running a race here people!” Again, I expected us to get moved to the sidewalk. I didn’t expect the mile markers/guides to be taken away. Luckily, this didn’t affect me and to be honest with you, I was so focused on finishing I didn’t think about it.
The last 1.5-2 miles of this race are such a tease. You see the finish line but have to head south almost a mile before you can turn around and head to the finish… So you have to run past all the people who are almost done – who have those looks like “yes! almost there!” when you’re hitting the wall. It’s pretty NOT awesome.
I got to the final little turnaround and it started to hit me – I was almost done with my second half marathon. I could crawl the last mile and I’d still beat my previous time. I had this in the bag. Of course, that didn’t keep me from ignoring the pain, it just helped me to keep my mind off it.
With less than a quarter mile to go, I remember a marathoner whizzing past me as a spectator yelled at me, “Looking good! You got this!” I was clearly struggling and the marathon douchebag replied, “Oh please, this is easy.” I’m pretty sure that if someone was videotaping me at this point they would have seen my jaw hit the pavement. For one, she wasn’t talking to you. She was looking at me, the fat girl, clearly struggling through the last quarter mile of the race. Secondly, you’re an a-hole. Shut up. Even the woman was shocked by his douchebaggery.
As I approached the finish line and the final tenth of a mile, emotions overcame me. I saw my mom at the corner, cheering and waving. I started blowing kisses and I heard a group of people erupt ahead. It was my besties! One of the benefits of being a slow runner is that every single one of your friends has crossed the finish line waaaay before you. So they’re obligated to stand there and wait for you to finish. It’s a rule.
high-fiving my besties! Note: Shuffleupagus beat me to the finish. Bastard with shuffling feet.
Throw your hands up!
Oh.Mah.Gawd. I’m done.
Oh wait! Garmin! Stop! Garmin!
Cue the tears
Yay! Cheese medal! And a banana! Note: I loathe bananas.
So there you have it. My race recap. Like a million years late. 😉
I’m sure you’ll get annoyed by my tweets, Facebook posts, emails and blog posts, but you can get me to shut up by donating today!
And, if you’ve ever considered running a half marathon, please let me know! We’re looking for you to run with Team Challenge! Watch this video below and try to tell me you DON’T want to run this race. You know it’s not possible, right?
I have had so many setbacks in my training and journey to health. It seems like each time I take one step forward, something sets me two steps back.
I have worked hard to not let this affect me but, to be honest, it tears me up. I’ve tried to put up a strong front. I’ve tried to be nonchalant about it all. I’ve had some moments of public disappointment about my injuries and setbacks. Mostly, I’ve tried to convince myself it was ok.
Truthfully, it’s been blow after blow after blow, both physically and mentally.
It’s draining to stay positive when all you want to do is ask God, “Why does this keep happening to me? Why do I keep having injuries? Why do I have to be so freaking cautious in my training? Why is it easy for everyone else to train without setbacks?”
I’ve tried to be strong. I’ve tried to set a good example for others who say they are inspired by me. I don’t want to let them down. I don’t want to let you down.
But it’s all a lie.
From knee problems and a sprained foot/ankle to plantar fasciitis and a subluxated rib, I’m sick of it. I’m sick of it all.
I am sick of being excited about an accomplishment, only to a short time later have to pull back.
I want to run. I want to run far. I want to run fast. I want to be the best. I want to compete. I want to race.
I don’t want to be the last to finish. In fact, I don’t want to be anywhere near the back of the pack.
But that’s where I am.
Why can’t I be happy with where I’m at? Why am I constantly comparing myself to others who’ve been at this so much longer than I have? Why can’t I be happy, knowing that I have completed a half marathon, instead of being disappointed I walked more than 10 miles of it?
Why does it kill me to know — that despite my hopes, my prayers, my careful and smart training post Napa and during training for Vegas — that there’s no way I will be able to run a full 13.1 miles in 11 weeks? That was the plan all along. Just finish the race in Napa. Then run the hell outta Vegas. I’m 11 weeks from the race and the furthest I’ve gone is 3.8 miles, and that was mostly walking. Yesterday I ran for a mile without walking, and while I’m so freaking happy about that, the accomplishment is clouded by the knowledge that I can’t keep that pace going for more than a mile.
I know I need to focus on the positive, but I’m tired of focusing on that. I need to vent. I need to cry.
I’m trying to be smart. I’m trying not to push myself too hard. I’m trying to listen to my body. I’m trying to listen to my trainer. I’m trying to listen to my coaches. I’m trying to be positive.
Last weekend, I completed my first half marathon. I wasn’t first, and I wasn’t last. My time was, well, twice that of some of my friends, but in the end it didn’t matter. I checked the ol’ half marathon off my bucket list. I also learned some valuable lessons throughout training and the race itself. Oh, and I got a kick-arse medal. Let’s not forget about the medal.
Before the race:
Pee. Trust me on this.
Drink lots of water all week long, especially the day before and morning of the race. This is why #1 is important.
Don’t drink four margaritas 18 hours pre-race, even if you tell yourself it’s okay because you’re getting top-shelf margaritas on the rocks with extra lime and salt on the rim. Margarita salt is not an acceptable substitute for an electrolyte sports drink.
Go to the race expo. Pick up your packet. Make some impulse purchases you will later regret because everyone else is buying that balance bracelet. Stare at your race bib. Smack yourself in the head for thinking you could actually do a half marathon.
Follow a training plan. There are so many plans out there – find one that works for you and your schedule. Mine included 3 days/week of walking and/or running, 1-2 cross training or strength training days and 1 active recovery/yoga/pilates/easy walk day.
Don’t be afraid to modify the plan. I suffered many setbacks due to knee problems and a sprained foot/ankle. I made adjustments (like biking or doing the elliptical instead of walking or running because they were low-impact). I had to cut one long “run” short because my foot hurt so bad. Continue reading “Lessons I learned from my first endurance race”
“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” – John Bingham
It started out like any normal Sunday. Well, any normal Sunday where you get up at 4 a.m. to get ready and catch a bus at 5 a.m. to your first half marathon. You know, the usual. My first half marathon experience was nothing short of amazing. God spoke to me through Freddy Mercury, I never stopped to use the bathroom, I ran about 3 miles, I kept smiling and joking throughout and got to see almost every single teammate along the way. I am so grateful for this experience.
Me and Coach Anne – the cool kids in the back of the bus.
Team Challenge Wisconsin met for one last team cheer before the walkers nervously boarded our fancy bus to Napa. I was a ball of nerves. Yes, I’m smiling in the photos above, but my stomach was in knots. What had I done? Did I really sign up for this? What the hell was I thinking? Who in their right mind – at 249 lbs – would do a half marathon? I mean, really…