Tag Archives: half marathon

Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon

7 May

Hello! As I type this, it is now 72 hours since I’ve finished the Flying Pig Half Marathon, and my legs are still sore! If there is one thing I can tell you about the Flying Pig it’s this: It’s pretty hilly.

But let’s rewind a bit. On Saturday, Zach and I woke up bright and early and hit the road for the three hour drive to Cincinnati. Our plan was to get there early and hit the zoo before checking into the hotel.   The weather was sunny and warm with a slight chill to the wind, which made it perfect zoo weather. When we were waiting in line to pay for our tickets, I was regretting not bringing my jacket, but once we were walking around I was fine.

I love the Cincinnati Zoo! That was my first time there, and it was a lot better than some others I have been to. The animals seemed more relaxed. I know there is a bit of controversy about the Zoo in general, but I can’t help but love it. 10333426_10100900153826733_2115547184449372019_o The tulips were beautiful!

Pregnant gorilla!

Pregnant gorilla!

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Just getting a drink….

 

I think this may be my favorite picture. The female gorilla's face is the best. That baby gorilla is 1.5 years old.

I think this may be my favorite picture. The female gorilla’s face is the best. That baby gorilla is 1.5 years old.

My favorite part of the zoo was probably the gorillas, followed closely by the giraffes. Their was a baby giraffe, but the line to see her was very long and you couldn’t get a good glimpse of her because she was inside a building, but once you got beyond the line, you saw the male giraffe out in the yard.

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Alien!

At some points, he was so close that I felt like I could reach out and touch him! I had never seen a giraffe up close before and my friend said it best: They look like aliens! It’s so neat to see an animal that looks nothing like any other animal you’ve seen before. I also really liked the polar bear. He was a distinguished gentleman:

Well, hello good sir!

Well, hello good sir!

I was so sad when it was time to leave! But the clock was ticking. I had to head to the Expo to pick up my bib. That’s when the nerves started. I was feeling incredibly nervous about the race. This was my first “big” race. Overall for all the events, there were over 36,000 participants! Once I grabbed my bib, we headed over to the Expo. One thing I was very grateful for was having my friend Shannon by my side. As nervous as I was, I might have had a heart attack if I didn’t have a friend there that I knew would be with me every step of the way!

Both of our husbands were taking the same picture so we were laughing because we didn't know who to look at!

Both of our husbands were taking the same picture so we were laughing because we didn’t know who to look at!

After the expo, we had some dinner and then Shannon and Ben headed to the hotel while Zach and I met up with some other friends at a bar called Arnold’s. This bar was voted one of the top ten bars in the country by Esquire Magazine and I could definitely see why! It is over 150 years old and has the best patio I’ve ever seen.

Not the best photo...

Not the best photo…

It was almost like we were sitting in a little French bistro or something. There was a jug band playing called the Cincinnati Flying Pigs, which seemed appropriate. However, I wasn’t able to stay long — I had to get to bed because I had an early wake up time! _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The race started at 6:30 AM, so Shannon and I set our alarms for 5. I had no trouble getting up (I never do on race day, the anticipation is too high), but my nerves were still going strong. I had my outfit out, so I put that on and proceeded to try to prep my IT band for the run. If I haven’t mentioned it, I have IT band pain on long runs for the past few years so I was trying everything I could to keep that at bay. I rolled out a bit, rubbed some topical pain relief on it and used an IT Band strap like this:

Spoiler alert: It didn’t really help at all. After that, we left the hotel and headed toward the starting line, which was a little less than a mile from our hotel. Our plan was to grab breakfast on our walk to the starting line, which was a huge rookie mistake. That would have been fine if the race had started at 8, but with a 6:30 start time there isn’t anything open to grab breakfast. We slowly made our way to the Millennium Hotel, where we had planned to meet up with a friend from Huntington who was doing the full marathon, so we just hoped they would have  something there –  I was thinking a vending machine with a soda and a granola bar would have worked for me! Luckily, when we got to the hotel, there was a makeshift breakfast bar in the lobby for race participants! Score!

Yum! Sugar!

Yum! Sugar!

Once we were fueled, we used the bathroom a couple of times (nerves!) and waited for Meghan to come down (she was staying at the Millennium).

Found her!

Found her! — Photo Courtesy of Meghan Elkins

Oh, and I should mention: Meghan wasn’t just running the full marathon, she also had done the 4-Way challenge, which means she ran a 5k AND a 10k on Saturday followed by the full marathon on Sunday — yeah, she’s pretty much a rock star. After parting ways with Meghan, Shannon and I headed toward the starting line.

Got a pretty sweet photo of the Cincy skyline on the way!

Got a pretty sweet photo of the Cincy skyline on the way!

Once we found the starting line, we walked and walked and walked trying to get to our corral (E). I have no idea what the proper way to get to your corral was, but people were climbing over the fences. I knew I would hurt myself trying that, so luckily somebody had opened up a gate at the E corral and we slipped in. There were so many people around us!

A sea of people!

A sea of people!

With that many people, I thought it would take us a long, long time to get to the starting line, but the race started really quickly once we were in our corral and once the sea of people started moving, before we knew it, we were at the starting line and started running.

One really cool thing about the Flying Pig is you get to run through two states.

That sign says Kentucky. I am not good at taking photos and running at the same time.

That sign says Kentucky. I am not good at taking photos and running at the same time.

 

Not long after crossing into Kentucky, we saw Meghan again! We thought that was pretty cool, so she took a photo. Then she told us that she was keeping a slow pace, so if she caught up with us again, she would make us run faster. I was glad not to see her again! Ha!

 

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Photo courtesy of Meghan Elkins

Shannon staying positive while crossing back into Ohio.

Shannon staying positive while crossing back into Ohio.

Ok, after getting back into Ohio, I kind of lost it. My IT band strap kept slipping (Pro tip: Don’t wear one of those on your bare skin. When you sweat, it slips right off). I could feel my IT band tightening up and I had to keep adjusting my strap. Plus, I could see those famous Flying Pig hills formulating in front of my face. I had to make Shannon stop to stretch a few times, and then we started the longest climb of my life.

Not kidding, you guys, I feel like we climbed a hill for 8 miles. I’m pretty sure it was 2.5-4 miles, but it was about 85% uphill. I was in tears and shouting curse words at one point. It was definitely not my best moment. Shannon kept me going, though! She’s amazing! I found myself being consumed by negative thoughts. I could feel the nagging pain in my IT band starting to bother me and the hills just didn’t end. It was rough. I could tell Shannon wasn’t struggling nearly as much as I was, and I knew it was the difference in our attitude, so basically I got myself through it by thinking about seeing my husband after the race, getting that medal, and drinking a beer. I just kept repeating “You can do this” in my head and thinking of putting that medal around my neck. It definitely helped!

Our friend Sarah told us to stop and take a photo at the highest point in the race, and the best way to express the never-ending hills is to show you these two photos, taken 30  minutes apart. The first one is where I thought the highest point was and the second one is actually the highest point.

I was so happy! Then, I realized that there was more of a climb to come....

I was so happy! Then, I realized that there was more of a climb to come….

The actual highest point!

The actual highest point!

After all the hills, all of the sudden there was an amazing downhill portion. It was about half a mile downhill, and although I normally don’t enjoy running downhill, I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to just let gravity pull me for a while. My IT band stopped hurting and I felt exhilarated!

Once we got on flat ground again, we ran through town and I was struggling a little again. We were at mile 11 or so, and I was just ready to be done. My knee started hurting again and I was just tired, but I wouldn’t let myself stop running. Shannon and I stopped talking and I just kept saying, “I can do this” over and over again. Finally, I ripped off my IT Band strap and miraculously, my knee stopped hurting. I just ran. We were on a straight away at this point, and there were spectators everywhere so I knew we were close. I just kept my eyes peeled for the “Finish Swine” as they call it and we finally saw it! It was glorious! We held hands at the finish and raised our hands above our head and just smiled! It felt so awesome to be done!

We grabbed our medals and headed through the recovery area to the finish line party. There was all kinds of food available for us for free, but nothing looked good to me. I saw Swiss Cake Rolls, which I thought looked good but I took one bite and threw it away. At this point, my knee was hurting so badly that I was limping so we made a bee line for the medical tent and I texted Zach that we were there. A very nice medic gave me a huge bag of ice and wrapped it tightly around my knee and we met up with our husbands.

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After we got to the Finish Line party, I bought a chili dog and a beer. Two things have never tasted so delicious!

Beer at 9:30 am!

Beer at 9:30 am!

After that, we had to walk to our hotel. I can’t tell you how much that hurt! My knee was throbbing and it was a long walk. But, I really think that helped cut down on my soreness (although I was pretty sore for the past couple of days).

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On the way home, I checked my email for our finish time. It’s definitely the slowest half marathon that I’ve done, but with all the hills, I’m pretty proud of that time. I can’t wait to run the (flat!) Marshall Half this November!

 

 

Failed New Year’s Resolutions (and why that’s ok)

30 Dec

I’ve found a trend in the healthy living blog-o-sphere lately, and that is the non-resolution. Several blogs I read are bucking tradition and opting instead to focus on little changes. I totally get it, because statistics show that only 8% of people who make resolutions stick to them! New Year’s resolutions have gotten to be some what of a joke, and I myself have fallen into the trap of planning big on December 31st only to fall flat by March.

Image source: http://ideas.time.com/2013/12/30/new-years-resolutions-are-bad-for-you/

Click image for image source

However, I do feel there is something to be said for New Year’s Resolutions, even if you don’t always stick with them. If you’ve read this blog before (or you go back in the archives) you can see that one of my resolutions last year was to run 600 miles. Well, to make a long story short: I didn’t. However, I did run a lot more than I would have if I hadn’t made the resolution. You see, somewhere around June, my priorities changed and it didn’t seem as important — I joined Crossfit, and I wouldn’t change that experience. My fitness interests wax and wane, and now that I’m no longer a member of a Crossfit box, I’m more focused on running and yoga — and I’m enjoying every minute of my fitness pursuits.

Another New Year’s resolution I had last year was to run another half-marathon, shooting for a PR. Another failure, but again – I’m ok with it. I saw my opportunity to run a half-marathon this year come and go, and I think I made the smart decision to abstain this time. I hadn’t trained properly, and although I probably could have finished the 13.1, I wouldn’t have gotten a PR and I might have aggravated my IT Band injury from 2012.

So despite these failed resolutions, I’ve still progressed. And both of those goals are still within my reach, and here are three reasons why:

1. I got a treadmill!

<3 <3 <3

My awesome husband got me this baby as a Christmas/Birthday present and it’s wonderful having it in the house. It’s so much easier to hop on the treadmill if the weather is bad, and if I just don’t feel like working out, it’s easy enough to hop on and try it out. Usually I’ll just end up finishing a mile or two and that’s better than nothing. I’ve set my yoga mat out right next to the treadmill to remind myself to always stretch afterwards!

2. New shoes!

Hello, lovely.

Hello, lovely.

I love these shoes. They are the Asics Gel Nimbus 15, which is the same model I got last  year, but these feel so much better somehow. The man at the running shop really showed me how they will bring my knees in and help with my IT band issues.

3. The biggie — I did this this weekend:

flying pig

My first out-of-town half marathon! This could be the PR that I’ve wanted for so long (2:00 or under) — although I’ve heard it’s hilly! I’ve got some friends (including veteran marathoners) who I’m training with and we’ve already started (we’ve got 19 weeks). I’m super stoked to be doing this.

I guess the moral of the story is this: Even though you may not reach your goal by December 31, 2014, don’t give up on it. The other moral of the story is: Don’t be afraid to fail, because you might learn something if you do.

Question of the Day:
Do you make New Year’s Resolution? Why or why not? What’s your resolution for 2014? 

Marshall Half Marathon Recap

12 Nov

 

 

Yesterday, I completed the Marshall Half-Marathon in Huntington, WV.

As of yesterday, I have completed two half-marathons in two years. I’m often envious of other bloggers who log many, many miles a week and seem to breeze through distance races with ease. I love a good 5k, but half-marathons take a bit more mental and physical preparation for me.

If I’m being honest (which, of course I am) my training was not up to par. I didn’t get the required mileage under my belt, and I didn’t run as often as I should have. As you may know from my previous post, I paid for it in what seems to be an injury to my right leg. After sleeping on it, I can localize the pain to the outside of my right knee (IT band?) and my Achilles tendon. I can walk (slowly), so I don’t think I’ve sprained, twisted or fractured anything. It’s weird because I can’t pinpoint any moment during the race where I actually hurt myself, so I guess I just pushed too hard and my legs weren’t ready for it (is that a thing?)

The first 5 or 6 miles went really well. I was pushing my pace, and was definitely on par to PR under 2 hours (which was my goal) or at least come in a few minutes over 2 hours. By mile 7, my leg started feeling a little weird. I took a few breaks to walk/stretch it out and kept running. Mile 8 was painful. I started feeling terrible pain and was in tears (p.s. don’t cry while running. It turns into hyperventilation pretty quickly). I knew that Zach would be waiting for me right after mile 9, so I pushed it until then. By the time I saw Zach, I just collapsed. I was hyperventilating because I was crying so hard, and my leg felt terrible. I wasn’t in a good place. I honestly considered just quitting. Then I thought about getting that medal, and I thought about having to report a DNF here. I couldn’t do that. I had started this race, and I only had about 4 miles to go, so even if I walked the entire time, I was going to finish.

Those next 4ish miles were hell. I tried running some, but it became so painful that I had to stop and walk. I think maybe I ran more than I think I did, because my finishing time wasn’t quite as bad as I expected (2:22:40). By the time I was about half a mile from the finish, I went ahead and pushed it. I ran the whole way, even sprinting across the finish line. At the very end of this race, you go down a steep hill to enter the stadium, and then you run the length of the football field, and then another length to the finish line. The downhill entrance was probably the worst part of the whole race. The pain was so intense I thought I might fall.

But, I finished. I immediately started crying when I crossed the line, luckily Zach was right there. He’s incredible, did you know that? He told me so many times yesterday how proud of me he was. His pride rubbed off on me, because despite the fact that I have a lot of reasons to be disappointed with yesterday’s race, I’m not. I’m proud that I pushed through to finish. I’m proud that I managed a halfway decent time despite an injury. I’m proud that I just did it.

I took my first ice bath yesterday as well, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and it made my legs feel much better for a while afterwards.

We had beautiful weather yesterday.

So now I have a decision to make. I really would like to finish a half marathon in under 2 hours, but I’m not sure I’m a distance runner. I enjoy races of the 5k variety, but the training involved to do distance races ends up being a problem for me. I enjoy doing so many different types of exercise that the time that you must put into training never really works out for me. I’ve got some time to think about it, because I think the next time I’ll consider running this distance is next year.

Until then, I’m planning on trying out Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer starting as soon as I can comfortably walk again.

The first four weeks require you to do no cardio at all, which shouldn’t be a problem considering I don’t think I could even run a mile right now. I guess 4 weeks will be just the amount of running rest I need!

Question of the Day:
What’s the longest distance you’ve ever run? 

Done!

11 Nov

I finished my second half marathon in 2:22 (unofficial time), which is about 9 minutes slower than the first one I ran. I was on pace for a PR until mile 8, when I started getting a lot of pain in my right leg. By the time I saw Zach just after mile 9, I was hyperventilating and unsure I could go on. I hobbled through the next 4ish miles, though. I walked most of it, but still managed to sprint the finish. I’m in severe pain right now, so I have a feeling I won’t be running for a while.

 

What I need to do now is take an ice bath, but I’ve never done it and I really don’t know if I can bring myself to. Someone talk me into it?

I’m a Puppy

10 Nov

All of the images in this post were borrowed from Run, Puppy, Run! 

I’ve been very down on myself about the race tomorrow. I haven’t run more than 9 miles in 2 years, yet tomorrow I plan to run 13.1.

I haven’t trained enough. I’m not ready. Why did I sign up for this race anyway?

All of these thoughts have been racing through my mind, and it’s been bringing me down.

Then, something amazing happened.

 

My friend and neighbor, Ashley, hosted a yoga class for some friends this morning. She did a “hip opening” class, and explained that the hip chakra is where we store our emotions. She warned us that this class may release some emotion.

As we moved through our first poses, she told us to pick something that had been holding us back, and let. it. go.

 

I thought about my negativity towards this race. I thought about all the times I told myself, “You’ll never run this in under 2 hours.” — and I decided to let it go.

As we stretched our hips, balanced and sweated through some pretty intense poses, I told myself that it was a privilege to have my strength and I thought about all the people who couldn’t do what I’m doing tomorrow.

 

As we lay in our final relaxation pose, Let It Be played while Ashley read us a passage from a book called “The Little Book of Letting Go” by Hugh Prather.

Underwear on the floor can break up a marriage. But the eyes of a puppy light up when they see boxers or briefs. To them, dirty socks are not a reason for fights, but a reason for play. Obviously, most little animals are hooked on something quite divine. Something within them releases enormous freedom. I suggest that something is simplicity and purity, and that we can experience the possibilities of this natural state as well. 

As she read that, tears popped out from behind my closed eyes. I can blame it on the opening of my hip chakra, but really I was feeling the release of my negative attitude.

 

So now I’m approaching tomorrow with a new attitude: With that of a puppy. How exciting to get to do something as awesome as lining up outside of my Alma Mater, and running 13.1 miles with a thousand other people. How amazing that we will run on a balmy November morning. How lovely that I get to see friends and acquaintances lining the streets of my hometown.

Tomorrow, I am a puppy.

 

On Rest and Recovery Before a Big Race

2 Nov

Happy Friday!

I’m so excited about this weekend. The weather is supposed to be nice, I have a girl’s night planned (Dance Central 3 on Kinect will be involved — YES!), and Zach and I will be celebrating our 2 year anniversary! Woo hoo!

I have been crazy tired this week, and feeling just a little under the weather. After not getting a good night’s rest on Tuesday night, I was completely wiped out on Wednesday night. I ended up in bed at 8:30 pm! I woke up at 2:30 in the morning (that’s what I get), read for a little bit, and surprisingly enough fell back asleep until 8:00 AM, making me late for work! I guess I needed it! Then again last night, I was in bed by 9:30 PM. I was up and ready to go to the gym this morning, though, so I think I got the rest I needed.

At the gym, I took the morning yoga class, followed by a shortened version of Clare’s Tabata Sprints workout.

I took my sprint speed up a bit this time, and boy was I feeling it. I was dripping with sweat!

On my way home, I sneakily took a photo for Grow Soul Beautiful‘s Yoga A Day challenge (a day late!):

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Boy, did yoga feel good this morning! I got really deep into some stretches that I felt like I needed, and when I hopped on the treadmill, I had zero sciatica pain! Woo hoo! I’m feeling really hopeful for a pain-free half marathon a week from Sunday (!!!).

This week has been good for workouts. I’ve done something every day. Since I slept in yesterday, and trick or treat was at 6:00 PM (don’t ask why my town doesn’t do trick or treat on Halloween, because I have no clue), I didn’t have much time to squeeze something in. I did 20 minutes of Pilates, though, and I’m feeling it in my core this morning! On the running front, I’ve done a lot of short distance speed work. I’m setting myself up for a low-to-no running week next week. I can’t promise I won’t go for a little jog if the weather is nice, but I’m planning to stick to lots of stretching and maybe a little pilates to rest/stretch up for the half marathon. I’m still a little nervous, but this morning, while I was sprinting on the treadmill, I realized that fitness-wise, I’m good. I know I can run 13 miles if I need to, and I will. I don’t know if I’ll do it in under 2 hours, but I know I have the capability to do so.

Because I know I have the fitness, and I know I have the capability, this week I’m going to focus on having the mental strength to run 13 miles. I’m also going to focus on getting enough rest, and fueling my body properly (I’ve been struggling with this lately). Wish me luck!

Question of the Day:
How do you prepare for a big race? 

My Running Story and A Lesson Learned

19 Oct

I have a confession to make. I’ve been running pretty consistently for a long time now, and I pretty much never stretch after running. Well, I used to never stretch after a run. Now, I have to. Here’s my story.

I started running in 2010 (it seems like longer ago….) after losing about 50 pounds and deciding that I wanted to focus more on fitness (I started out focusing mainly on diet changes, which turned out to be a great way to lose weight). I did the Beachbody Insanity program from start to finish and after I was done, I thought I’d start running. I just…did it, starting out with walk/running and moving up to running consistently. I ran 3 miles non-stop for the first time one week before my very first 5k. I ended up finishing that hilly course in 30:05 and finishing third in my age group:

After that, I set my sights on doing a half marathon. Remember, I had only run 3 miles non-stop as of August, and the half marathon was in November. I immediately set about a training plan, during the hottest summer/fall that I’ve experienced in West Virginia. I was nervous, but I knew if I just paid the $50 entry fee, I’d have to run, so I did it. I finished that race in 2:15:45

Photo courtesy of my dear friend Jenni. The race finished in my Alma Mater’s football stadium, and she was up in the stands.

After that race, I signed up for our local Turkey Trot and got my fastest 5k time ever. I’m planning on running it again this year, because I think after training for and running a half marathon, 5k’s seem like a breeze:

After the Turkey Trot in November of 2010, I took a big break from running and started focusing on other forms of exercise. I purchased a YMCA membership and got really into doing group fitness classes and weight training. I still ran here and there, but nothing like before.

In spring/summer of 2011, I signed up for a local 5k class which was sponsored by my Alma Mater (Marshall University). Once a week, we went through running and agility drills, which led up to the West Virginia 5k Championship (the largest 5k in the state). I set a PR in that race of 27:31:

That’s when I was running in glasses. So glad I don’t do that anymore.

I get side stitches sometimes because I forget to breathe, so that’s me in pain. Also, that guy in the gray shirt in front of me? Yeah, he beat me pushing a stroller. Sigh. After that 5k, I didn’t run another race for a while. I kind of felt like I had lost my running mojo. I had thought I would run the half-marathon again, but I just couldn’t get into a consistent training schedule. Zach and I had started dating around Halloween of the previous year, so I was focusing a lot of time on just falling in love 🙂

Fast forward to this spring. I decided that I wanted to start running again, in a big way. I had to push myself, but I started running consistently and signed up for the WV 5k Championship again. I focused on getting a PR, and ended up doing it — barely. I finished the 2012 WV 5k Championship in 27:28 — beating my previous time by 3 seconds. Hey, a PR is a PR, right? I’ve done a few other 5k’s here and there, but I’ve never run a 10k or a marathon. Someday, perhaps.

Now, we are about 3 weeks outside of the half-marathon and I’m in the same place I was 2 years ago. I’ve trained, I’ve paid my $50, and I’m hoping to just make it through. I’m faster than I was then, but I’m also not as healthy. Which brings me to the lesson I’ve learned since I’ve started training for races again:

Never, ever skip the post-run stretch. 

I never stretched after I ran. Ever. I used to think I was super-human or something. My muscles were alway loose, and I always felt great. Well, after my re-introduction into the sport of competitive running, I’m feeling it. My hips are tight and sore. My hamstrings hurt after a run. It’s awful! I wonder if I had focused on a proper stretching regime when I started running if I’d be having these issues today? I guess I’ll never know. But here is what I do know: If you’re a runner, please focus on the stretch and strengthening your muscles as well as logging your miles. Trust me, you’ll thank me.

I’ve got to give a big old shout-out to Tri-State Racer, a local website that has all of the local races listed, links to the online registrations, and most importantly: A database of all the race results, dating back to 2000! I’d never know my race times without them. Thanks!

Question of the Day:
Be honest, do you ever skimp on your post-run stretch?