Runners Tell All – A Link-Up

I’ve been passively following along with The Lady Okie‘s Runners Tell All monthly link-up. Mostly because I’ve never considered myself enough of a runner to contribute a blog post to the link-up, and up until this point, I’ve been content just reading what others have to say. I particularly liked THIS post from Amanda about poop.

Except this month’s topic is “Share a Running Picture” … And during my race from earlier this month, someone snapped my favorite running picture of me… ever. Most of my pictures from races turn out truly horrific.

But first, you’re going to need a little race recap to understand the feeling behind the photo…

Y’all know I love runDisney races, but man, you have to get up real early for them. You have to be on the bus early and at the pre-race location early and in your corral early or else you simply can’t run. The flying pig was SO different. I guess living close to downtown helps.. But I left my apartment at 5:20, found a parking spot right next to the finish line at 5:25, and was at the starting line at 5:40… And the race didn’t even start until 6:30.

I’m going to preface the rest of this by saying I am not a fast runner… I started out running with the 2:45 pace group, thinking I’d be able to stick with them at least until the hills, and then I might fall a little behind. I was going strong as we crossed the first and second mile markers in Kentucky, and then it all went south for me. First, my entire body started itching. Like, I probably looked like a crazy person running and scratching my arms, legs, head, face, etc. In hindsight, it was probably because of the sweat, but I was convinced I was having some kind of psychotic episode. THEN, my KT tape started peeling. Probably from the sweat and the itching. I couldn’t peel it all the way off, so I just left it flap around. Meanwhile, I was running and itching and trying to keep my tape from peeling for about a mile before all the multitasking caused me to trip. And while I didn’t actually fall down, my foot didn’t quite feel the same after. I slowed down a little bit heading back into Ohio and through downtown because I knew if I kept up my pace, my foot would become a big problem real fast. At 4.5 miles I texted my mom and said “4.5, my foot hurts”.

I kept a 13ish minute mile pace through about mile 7. Then the longest of the hills came. Mile 7 was my slowest at 16:08, and the only thing I could think while running walking up the hill was “ow, ow, ow, i think it’s broken, ow. keep going.” That’s when I saw two of my friends waiting to cheer me on (Thanks Abby and Ryan!!!). I wanted to hug them, but I was all sweaty. I managed a high-five, said something about thinking my foot was broken and then attempted to run a few steps before the pain was too agonizing.

The rest of the race was either flat or downhill, which I thought would be a welcomed change… But the constant pounding of my foot on the ground sent shooting pains up through my ankle and into my calves. By mile 12 I was struggling. I was running 10 seconds, walking 10 seconds, because I knew I was approaching my former PR, and I wanted to beat it. I previously set my PR at the Niagara Falls Half when I was running with a hurt back, and I knew I could push through this to beat that time. (Remember, I’ve only done 4 of these, and I’m not very fast).

Right before the 13 mile marker, I ran into an “unofficial hydration station” that was handing out beer. (!!!!!!!!!!!) I chugged mine, and ran as fast as I could for the finish. One of my sorority sisters was at the finish line cheering on her husband and I came out of my finish-line trance long enough to hear her shout my name and turn to see her waving, and that gave me that extra push for the finish… THANKS AMY JO! :)

And now, for my picture. I wore the shirt from my church’s running group, and there was someone snapping pictures of everyone wearing these shirts along the course. He got this picture of me crossing the finish line, eyes closed, taking in that moment…

Flying Pig Finish

I hope the feeling of crossing the finish line never gets old. I’ll keep racing until it does… Even if it means being slow.

-Jess

My Vacation Recap

Ever need a break, like, really really bad?

That was me. Two weeks ago. Work and Life and just… everything was dragging me down. And when my younger sisters qualified for the state diving meet last Wednesday, I decided to take (most of) last week off. (I say most of because I worked last Tuesday). I was already leaving on Thursday for Florida, and Monday was a company holiday.

And let me tell you, I needed that break. I needed 10 days off work from my brain. 10 days of just living.

So, let’s recap what went down during those days off…

My sisters did amazing at the state dive meet… And I got to watch all of it from the deck with all the divers and coaches. I felt like a celebrity, because some of the other coaches and the professional photographers were asking me so many questions about my sisters. But alllll of the pictures I took are on my actual camera, which is at my parents house.. So I have none to post here. But, take a look at how gorgeous these two are before their senior Mardi Gras.

twins

After getting back from Canton, Ohio on Wednesday night, Mom and I jetted off to Orlando on Thursday afternoon for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

airplane selfiesairplane selfies!

We spent Friday morning at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. I was like a kid in a candy shop and Mom laughed at me pretty much the entire time. Yes, I did wear my Hogwarts shirt because I’m a huge dork. Hogwarts14(remember last year when I went to Universal alone and all the strangers took crappy pictures)

 We did the whole race-expo thing after checking in to our hotel at Disney. We spent the rest of Friday playing Gin and hydrating like crazy. I did the Glass Slipper Challenge (10k on Saturday, Half on Sunday)… So I was off to bed pretty early in order to get up at 3:15 to head to the race.

Or so I thought. I slept TERRIBLY. I was awake every hour, maybe even more often than that. And the very last thing I wanted to do at 3:15am was get up and run 6.2 miles. But, I toughed it out through the humidity, and after a shower and an omelette, I took a nice long nap.

Mom and I spent the afternoon at Magic Kingdom (and managed to add 7 more miles to my step count). After a torrential downpour, it ended up being a beautiful afternoon!

Magic_Kingdom

We also went over to Epcot since we had the Park Hopper and I just HAD to get a funnel cake…Since I’ve been craving one since after one of my long runs almost a month ago! We also shared it with a little Epcot duck :)

funnel_cake(can you tell that I was basically a zombie at that point?)

After an actual dinner, we went to bed early again. Our alarms were set for 3:00am, and since I had no caffeine and such a crappy night sleep the night before, I curled up in bed, expecting to get a great night sleep. But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. That would just be too much to ask. I didn’t fall asleep until after 11, and was up every hour, once again. For the second day in a row, that alarm clock went off and everything in me screamed to just hit snooze, or turn it off and go back to bed. But for the second day in a row, that race bling got me up and moving and out the door. (but not before running face first into the closed bathroom door).

Now, I realized last Tuesday that I needed new running shoes. But not wanting to break in a new pair during a race, I decided to just keep wearing my old pair. Big mistake. My feet and shins were so sore on Sunday morning, that every step of every mile of that half marathon was filled with pain and agony (no exaggeration). I thought I would have to slow down to keep pace with my mom, but it really turned out that she was slowing down for me. But never one to give up, I crossed that finish line at a sprint and got my medals.

MedalsP.S. HOW AWESOME IS MY MOM?!

And after a shower and some lunch, Mom and I spent a few hours by the pool (there’s just something about sunburn in February that makes me a little happy) before heading over to Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney for a little bit. And at the end of the day, our fitbit said we took over 45,000 steps… Just over 20 miles. And burned over 3800 calories. Good day in my book!

And when the alarm went off at 5:30 yesterday morning, the last thing I wanted to do was get up and go back to Ohio. Every single muscle in my legs, butt, and back hurts like you wouldn’t believe. And whattya know, my mom wasn’t sore at all. Who convinced who to do this again?!

vacationfromvacation

So now it’s back to the daily grind. Work, errands, cooking, cleaning and training for my next half marathon: The Flying Pig here in Cincinnati at the beginning of May. But these 10 days off were filled with life and happiness and exercise. Just enough to get me out of my funk. Now, is it Spring yet????

-Jess

P.S. If you haven’t been following my instagram happiness project, check it out HERE.

Tips for Doing a Half Marathon If You Haven’t Trained

Let me preface this with one important thing…
I do not recommend this. And I’m sure every serious runner and medical professional would agree with me. You could hurt yourself if you have not run serious distances before.

That being said… I have now completed TWO half marathons. I did not train at all for either race. Sometimes life gets in the way. For the first half I did, I was in the midst of an important project at work, and after working a 14 hour day, the last thing I wanted to do was run. For the most recent race, it kind of snuck up on me. I started training a little bit a few weeks before… But 7 days before the race, I threw my back out. I wasn’t even going to do the race, thinking there was no way in hell I would be able to finish. But I had already paid for it, and… why not try?

So. If you find yourself a week or two before a race you haven’t trained much for, especially if you haven’t run a race before, here are some tips that might help get you to that finish line. These tips also apply for the non-crazy people who have trained for their races…

1. HYDRATE.

  • I cannot stress this enough. The last thing you want on race day is to get a mile or two in and get a cramp. Drink PLENTY of water and Gatorade 48 hours prior to the race. Make sure your pee is clear. Bring a bottle of Gatorade for the first few miles. Take 3-4 gulps every 8-10 minutes during the race. Yes, this probably means you will have to pee A LOT. but well worth it for not getting muscle cramps mid-race.

2. Don’t set unrealistic expectations.

  • If you’re going to attempt to run a race you haven’t trained for, don’t psych yourself into thinking you’re going to do really well. Don’t put pressure on finishing in a certain time, or certain place. I clearly was not prepared for the Niagara Falls half marathon. I was suffering from a back injury from a week prior and was considering not even doing the race. Had I gone in thinking to myself “I’m going to finish in 2:30, or I want to finish in the top 50 of my age group”… You’re going to be let down. I literally put NO expectations on this race. I told Michelle on the way there that I didn’t even see myself finishing in under 3 hours. Because I knew I was going to have to walk it (still not easy). I finished in 3:08, dead last in the female 20-24 category, but happy as a clam because I expected that. Doing a half marathon is a huge accomplishment, even if you finish in three hours.

3. Pre-race meals.

  • STICK TO WHAT YOU KNOW. Don’t go trying out new foods the night before or morning of a big race. This is true if you have or haven’t trained. I know that my tummy does not like gluten. What did I do the night before my second half marathon? Ate lobster ravioli. So delicious… But not smart, Jess. By sticking with what you know, you eliminate the risk of having a stomach ache the morning of the race, or worse… During the race. Luckily, once I got moving, I was fine. But I won’t make that mistake again. There are other ways to carb load.

4. On-course snacks.

  • You’re probably going to want a little something to eat mid race to keep your energy up (I always do, but other people don’t). I wear a super cool fanny pack and put a granola bar and some of the Gatorade energy gummys in it. Just in case.

5. Keep Moving!

  • If you haven’t trained, or if you’re longest run wasn’t as long as your race, you’re going to want to stop. Keep moving. Around mile 9, I wanted to just stop and sit on the ground and stretch my legs. But I knew I wouldn’t want to get back up. Don’t stop at water stops… Grab the water and keep moving. If you’re walking, try jogging slowly for a few minutes, and vice versa. I found that if I had been speed walking for awhile and was getting tired, switching to a slow jog helped give some muscles a break. After the race, slowly walk around to cool your muscles down.

6. Start slow!

  • It’s easy to get caught up in all of the excitement of the race and start off faster than normal and get tired. Think of the first 5-10 minutes as warm up and take it slow. Increase your speed as you feel like you can

7. Expect to be sore.

  • Later in the day and for the next few days, you’re going to be VERY sore. You’re just going to want to lay on the couch, but get up and move a little bit at a time. Walk on the treadmill at a slow pace for 20 minutes. You will start to feel better sooner if you continue to work your muscles while they’re recovering. That being said, don’t expect too much of yourself for the rest of the day or next day. Don’t try to wear heels to work or do anything strenuous. Take it easy.

8. Savor the moment.

  • The feeling you get when you cross the finish line is so euphoric. Every single race, I get almost teary eyed as I cross. Savor the moments leading up to and just after the finish line. Any runner will tell you that there isn’t a feeling that compares. And then they put one of these around your neck, and you are on a high all day long:

half marathon medal

Also, my pal Amanda from The Lady Okie has been writing on How to Start Running… Head on over and check out her awesome tips!

Any other runners out there have tips for beginners? Share in the comments below!

Happy running!

-Jess

the runDisney experience.

Blogtember Day 11: A memory you would love to relive.

Before I get into it, I want to say that I had this entire post written before I went to the Bengals game last night, but I forgot to schedule it to post this morning… So. yeah.

There are SO many memories to choose from, guys. I could have gone back to college graduation, or studying abroad. Or any number of the vacations I’ve taken. All of the fun times with my greatest friends over the years. But today, I’m choosing to go back to the day I ran my first half marathon. The disney princess-half-marathon in February of this year (with the bestie, of course)…

Disney Princess HalfBestie and I at the starting line!! (around 5:30am!)

First, we woke up at like… 3:30AM… Got ready (aka, just changing clothes and eating a granola bar). We were staying at the All Star Sports Resort, and we hopped on the bus with dozens of others and were shuttled to Epcot. There was a HUGE party of people stretching, dancing, and taking pictures with characters.

Have A Magical Race!

Along with 20,000+ other people, we moved to the staring corrals (like cattle, yes)… And waited (when the above picture was taken). It was chilly, and I ended up having to get rid of my jacket, but around 6:30, we were OFF! Now, while there are SOME men that run this race, the vast majority of runners are women. And it was so empowering to run alongside women that were cheering everyone else on. It wasn’t about beating each other, or finishing first, but about doing it together! It was such an awesome day!!

20130917-121308.jpgPhoto cred goes to Michelle on this one. Just a random guy in front of us going in to Magic Kingdom.

So, 13.1 miles was hard. Especially because Michelle and I did almost no training for it. But even though we walked most of it, crossing the finish line of that race was one of the best moments of my life. I fought back tears of happiness and if I could relive one moment from that day over and over, it would be the 100 feet before and after the finish line. It was such a magical day. And it’s a day I’ll not soon forget.

 I’ve got a runners high, and have signed up for two more half marathons and a 10k in the next few months (including the glass slipper challenge in February!). If anyone is considering doing a runDisney race, I highly recommend it. They are a little pricey as far as races go, but in my opinion, totally worth it! It was an amazing weekend and I’m so looking forward to doing it again this year (with my mom!)

runDisneyhi bestie : )

What’s a moment you wish you could live over and over again? Any other runDisney fans out there?

-Jess