Urban Bourbon Half Marathon: 13.1 + 90 Proof = 1 Perfect Race

If you are considering running a half marathon in 2018, you are going to want to make sure you add the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon in Louisville, Kentucky to your race bucket list!

This race was different from any other race I have ever done because it was focused on the experience, not necessarily the running, there were people of shapes, experience levels, and sizes running. So when I say the experience, I mean the bourbon experience, what else?

Urban Half Marathon Race Weekend

I was really looking forward to this race because it was one Brian and I would be running together. Well, we would both be on the course at the same time. Brian was shooting for a sub-1:35 and I was going for a sub-2 again.

The best part about this race for me was going to be seeing one of my best friends, who I hadn’t seen in a very long time! It is crazy how life brings people into your lives and you can not see them for over a year but you can pick back up right where you left off. That is me and Shelly.

The nice part about heading to her hometown is she knew all the sites to go see, the must-dos, and could navigate the city for us. Plus, her parent’s were gracious enough to let us stay at their house so that helped the budget (after all, we are saving for a wedding)! We did end up staying in a hotel the night before the race to make things super easy. The nice part was were able to just get up and walk to the race (5-minute walk from the hotel). We wanted to limit stress.

The Bourbon Expo

I will say, this expo was the most understated race expo I had been too. But they had pre-warned all racers of that. The expo was about picking up your bib and trying bourbon. It was not going to be flashy or a ton of vendors. Again, it was about the Bourbon Experience. Brian and I were not in the mood to taste test so we picked up our bibs and left to go home and check into the hotel!

Urban Bourbon Half Marathon: Race Day

Race Morning was probably the easiest I have ever had. I woke up, drank a cup of black coffee and had a vegan pumpkin muffin (thanks to Shelly’s mom), drank some water and ate a banana. Then I did my thing, showered to wake up, went to the bathroom, and got dressed in my race outfit!

I also mixed up my two bottles of pre-workout, Energize. One in my race bottle that I would carry with me and the other in a coffee cup to drink as we walked to the starting line. This was a strategy I had tested on many of my longer training runs; as well as, at Corning and loved the effects. This is the only kind of pre-workout I have found that doesn’t give me the jitters.

About half an hour from the start, Brian and I walked over to the gates and parted ways. I stood in line drinking my pre-workout, listening to my pump-up playlist and tried to focus my mind.

The Starting Gun

This race was different from Corning because instead of starting with the 2:10 pacer, I started with the 2-hour pacer and said I would stay with them as long as I could. I knew the course was going to be way hillier than I had trained on so I went into it for the experience but was going to push.

Miles 1-6

As I started the race, I felt great. When I heard my first-mile time was an 8:59 I was in shock. First off, the pacer was going faster than the 2-hour pace but I was okay with it because I was feeling good. The next 5 miles flew by and my time was continuing to drop. When I hit mile 6, I was on pace to hit my goal by a few minutes. I was averaging 8:50/mile and still with the pacer. Despite the rolling hills, I was feeling great. The Energize was working.

The miles I would like to forget: 6-7

The Urban Bourbon Half Marathon up to the halfway point had me feeling great. I was thinking, I can run rolling hills no problem! Even my sister who was watching via the tracking app was thinking I was about to hit my goal.

But then at about mile 6.5 as we entered into a park was the hill that I know I will never forget. Everything was burning and I felt like it would never end. I also realized my pace was the same pace I could walk (or at least it felt like it) and mentally I was defeated. So, I decided I would walk to the top of the hill (which was well over a mile or at least it felt like it). I may be exaggerating the distance but I have never gone from being on such a high to crashing so hard. The race photos were taken right at the start of the decline of the hill.

8-The Finish

Now, at this point, I was still on pace if I picked it back up to where I was to hit that goal but I couldn’t get my legs moving again. That hill had taken so much out of them. It was heart-breaking for me to hear my total time continue to increase as I went along.

I ended up crossing the finish line with a time of 2:07:21 (which would have been a PR before Corning 2017). I had also run 13.39 miles so almost .3 more than 13.1. But that didn’t bother me because even if I had only run 13.1, I would have missed my goal.

Although I didn’t hit my PR, I still managed to have fun and take in the sites of Louisville. Despite having an evil death hill, the park we got to run through was beautiful.

Post-Race Party

After the race, I got to meet up with Shelly and Brian. Brian had hit a HUGE PR with a time of 1:34. I was so happy for him, I even paid to have his medal engraved with his name and time (plus now we won’t confuse the two).

The line of food for the runners was amazing coming across the finish line! Panera Bagels, chocolate milk (what I crave after any race), Powerade, water, and bananas. I grabbed a Cinnamon Crunch bagel (my favorite that I try to avoid because it is over 400 calories) and enjoyed every last bite of it.

We headed back to the hotel to stretch and shower before hitting the party. Something I was grateful for as I really needed to stretch. Plus, by this point, my sweat had started to turn to salt, a major sign I was dehydrated.

After we had showered, hydrated, ate a bit, we headed to the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon post-race party and it was a ton of fun! Definitely earned its top 10 status for a reason. The only thing was there had been some rain and it had made the field so muddy! But the tastings were great.

Brian and I did not wait in line for pizza because the line was so long but the soup/chili was amazing! We grabbed some photos and stayed until the party was over listening to the music and enjoying our tastings. Having never had bourbon, the bourbon barrel beer was my favorite drink, but I did have one tasting that I really enjoyed.

Post-Party Festivities

After the race, we headed to Peerless for a tour and tasting. And then Brian and I downed two pizzas at Garage Bar with Shelly and Brett.

The rest of the night was low-key. We enjoyed some relaxing time with Shelly’s parents at her house, stretched and headed to bed after watching Game 7 of the American League Playoffs. We were flying out early the next morning to have the rest of the day to recover and prep for a week ahead so after an eventful day, it was time for sleep.

Consider a Half Marathon?

Overall, if you are considering running another half marathon or your first and love bourbon, the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon is for you. If you have never been to Louisville, this race is a great “runcation”. That was one of the reasons we ultimately ended up deciding to go! We had never been to Louisville, we wanted to see Shelly, and there was a top 10 race with an after party. If you love hills or even if you don’t, this course is a fun time and the after-party is one to remember!

Top 4 Reasons to Run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

  • Free Race Photos
  • Great Post-Race Party
  • Free Bourbon Tastings
  • Convenient Hotel to Race Start
  • Really Cool Medal

My only recommendation: Stay at the hotel closest to the start!

A Wine Glass Half Marathon to Remember


It has been awhile since I wrote about crossing a finish line. Since I started running, I have completed 1 full marathon and 5 half marathons including 3 Wine Glass Half Marathons in a row and will complete my 6 half marathon on Saturday (10/21) at the Urban Bourbon Half in Louisville, KY.

Corning Wine Glass Half Marathon

What I wanted to write about though was my experience training for the Corning Wineglass Half (my 3rd time running this race) with my sister or seester as I prefer to call her on social media platforms. Now, let me start this by saying, Devon and I are not runners. We have never been runners and the only race we have ever run together was a Turkey Trot 5k and we walked most of it.

Tall Seesters Run

So when I convinced her to run Corning, I wasn’t sure she would take the training seriously but boy did she!

To be honest she had me nervous going into race day because all of her times for her training runs had been crazy fast! We tracked our progress on our sister Instagram account (@tallseestersrun). I am so glad we did that because it became a way for us to stay connected and accountable to each other and our plans.


Race Day

Race day came and the weather was looking perfect (little chilly, it was 35 degrees as we stood outside on Market St. waiting for the buses). We had gotten to the buses at 6:10 but did not get on a bus until 6:45, this had never happened to me before. We got to the start (it is a point-to-point course) at nearly 7 am which made me slightly anxious but I knew we had time. The race did not start until 7:45 but I knew they also usually started cattle-herding you to the start line around 7:15.

We hit the potties and to be honest I just sat in there to get warm (totally gross I know but on race day you gotta do what you gotta do!). I was shaking from the cold at this point. I was so glad Devon and I elected to not wear the tank tops I had bought because I felt so bad for those who were wearing no sleeves and shorts!


To stay hydrated, Devon and I had brought up a water bottle filled with Energize (pre workout) that we planned to start drinking about 30 minutes before the start. We finished it about 10 minutes before the horn went off which was great because it takes about 30 minutes to kick in and neither of us were feeling full or bloated from it (so glad I had tested this on a training run). We also had our handheld water bottles full of Energize to keep us going throughout the race!

The Race

It took about 3 miles for us to thaw out but once we did we were cruising. We made it up the steady one-mile incline between miles 6.5 – 8 and felt great. Things took a turn for me around mile 10 when my hamstring started to get tight (definitely stemming from my knee). My hip on that side had been tight all week but I had been diligently stretching it out all week in hopes to avoid an issue.


But by mile 10.5 I knew this was going to be a slow go for the next 3 miles but after a short walking break to stretch it out, we were off. Another short stretch at 11.5

and 12 and Devon was ready to push. She was prepared for the last stretch of the race and I couldn’t be more proud and I was crushed inside that I was holding her back. But the goal was to finish together so she stuck by me. As we ran down Market Street, I wanted to cry, my baby sister had just run a half marathon!


The Finish Line

We crossed hand-in-hand just as we planned. Right after we crossed, my body instantly tightened. It had given me what it had and now it just wanted a hot tub! And that is exactly what it got….oh and champagne! Next up, Urban Bourbon, and this one I am about to go at alone!corning-wineglass-half

Find Something You are Passionate About and Run Away With It

Find Something You are Passionate About and Run Away With It

It is funny how life works. One minute you can be doing one thing and the next you are working on something completely different. It is amazing how working on something you are not passionate about can affect the rest of your life.

I had a conversation the other day with a potential client. She shared with me that her health had been completed effected by working in an environment that did not allow her to be creative. Lately, I have been feeling similarly. Now please do not misconstrue my words as a lack of love for my organization because it is actually quite the opposite. If I didn’t love the place I work for then I would be gone. I would easily be the stereotypical millennial if you want to call me that.

But at the end of the day, there is only so long one can work on something without passion. At least for this girl. Everything in my life has always been tied to my happiness quality. When I am not happy, I am less likely to workout, go out, and appreciate the little things. My half marathon training and my blog are the biggest victims to my unhappiness.

Half Marathon Training

Now, I have been running but nowhere near where I should achieve my goals. My goal for the Corning Wineglass Half this weekend was to run under a 2 hour. Unfortunately, I have some serious doubts. I was able to do an 8-mile run (my longest of the training cycle) at a 9:22 pace with negative splits. Basically, I paced myself to finish it – not for a certain time. Unfortunately for me, this run was on the treadmill. Now I do know that if I was able to run under nine-minute miles for the remaining 5.1 I would be right around a 2 hour. But it is always those back miles that are mentally the toughest.

I will be happy if I can break my time from last year and my half marathon best of 2 hours and 10 minutes. Therefore the following are my goals:

  • A: Sub-2 hours
  • B: Course PR, Sub-2:10
  • C: Have fun and finish. The weather right now is calling for rain and a high of 70. Thankfully, unlike the Buffalo Half, that was sunny and 80s by 7 am – this is fall!

I love the half marathon distance because it is a challenge but do-able with limited training. Someday, I will dedicate as much time to my half marathon training as I did the first half of my marathon training a year and a half ago. When I get back to that running shape, a sub-2 hour will be easily within reach.

Blog Suffering

The other piece of my life that has been affected in the last few months has been my blogging and I have been neglecting it because of a few reasons:

  1. The with struggling with passion
  2. Focused on working on my client’s blogs
  3. I think I feel that I have less to contribute to my personal blog when I am less excited about what I am working on. Does this make sense to anyone?

My vow to myself today is this: Find something I am passionate about and run with it. The seasons are changing and so must I. If you want something bad enough and put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. There is no reason to work a job you are not passionate about in this world. There may be times you don’t like your career; however, it should not be your whole career. This world has too many options.

So, my question to anyone reading this is – have you ever experienced something like this and if so how did you get out of it?

2016, There You Are

It is hard to believe that 2016 is almost a month in right now – but I thought what better time than now to really think about my goals for this year.  2015 was a heck of a ride with highs and lows and I am excited to see what is in-store for this new year!

running goalsFirst I want to start off with my running goals.  2015 was about picking up a new sport.  I ran my first half marathon and before that, ran my first marathon.  I also participated in the Buffalo Corporate Challenge – a 3.5 mile run.  Now 2016 I want to get better at running.  I want to further learn to enjoy running but I also want it to bring my friends closer together again.  I loved running the marathon with Maddie because it gave us a chance to really catch up.  Prepping for Corning last year with Maya and Kaylee was another great opportunity.  This year I am running the Buffalo Half with my fellow MDP and good friend Ali and we are working on several others who may join the post-race party.  I want to head to Louisville to run the Urban Bourbon Half with my first friend in Buffalo – Shelly, who has since moved on to grad school back home.  I also want to return to Corning for the Wine Glass to get a PR! So here are my running goals:

  • Run 3 Half Marathons in 2016
  • Hit a sub-2 hr half marathon
    • I want to hit this in Corning because that is a race I intend to run by myself which is something I struggle with. The other races, I want to enjoy the experience with my friend and forget about time. Those are about catching up and feeling awesome at the end of 13.1

Next are my life goals, I mean what are running goals without talking about health, fitness, relationships, etc.  2016 I want to focus on eating smart – Brian and I experimented with the year of yopuPaleo as a cleanse before the holidays (post coming soon) and I really enjoyed it and am looking to kick that back up in February.  I also want to make sure I am hitting the gym or some sort of exercise class or getting moving every day.  I also want to make sure I am hitting 10K steps a day.  I love my VivoFit and that keeps me honest. So here are my 2016 Health & Fitness Goals:

  • 10,000 Steps a Day
  • Focus on Healthy Eating
    • Think about what I can eat not what I can’t
    • Clean out the house and don’t allow large quantities of processed food into it!

What is life without having some Financial Goals, Brian and I are at that point in our lives where we weigh the option of does it make sense to continue to rent or buy.  How long do we plan on being in Buffalo – are we here for life or only the short-term? These are questions 20-somethings typically ask themselves at this point in their live.  If we can find a deal on a home in the area we want, I mean there are areas that you don’t want to necessarily purchase a home due to crime, violence, etc – then maybe it is worth it.  On the other hand, if we can find a deal on a rental that we like, can we continue to save money without the responsibility of having a mortgage, etc. I can’t truly say what my goal is yet because you never know what the housing market/rental market is going to look like.  All I know is come June 30th our lease is up and we have to make a decision before that point.

2015-2016Finally my Career Goals, as I think about where I want my career to be over the next year I think about where it has come since I started at M&T a year and a half ago.  I am doing things I never thought I would be doing and that amazes me.  I love that I am working with students, getting to be a peer mentor, the exposure I have to all different business lines and working on making important business decisions regarding innovation and where the future of banking is headed. So if I have accomplished all of that in a year and a half what will 2016 look like?  I hope that I move into a role of managing projects from a decision standpoint and out of the generation of reports.  Responsibilities come with trust and proving your abilities, I hope that I am able to show the management team at M&T that I have the potential to do a lot of great things.  I also want to further develop relationships that I have started both with my mentee and my mentor; as well as, several other working relationships that have developed organically.

As 2016 progresses I am excited to adapt my goals to the changing times.  Goals I believe are set to act as milestones but if I reach one earlier than planned than I want to evolve it to further push myself.  Bring it on 2016!

Crossing that Line at the Corning WineGlass

Yesterday, I ran my first half marathon in Corning, NY at the WineGlass….I know you are probably thinking, didn’t you run a marathon, wouldn’t that have been your first? Yes, I guess that would be my first true race but that training cycle was rough and I ran hurt this was my first 13.1 and healthy distance race.

My first marathon, the weather was terrible it rained and was freezing the entire time.  I had hurt my IT Band during training (probably due to my terrible habit of not stretching enough, doing minimal strength training during the training period, and not being a runner for very long).  Before that training period the most running I had ever done was maybe 5 miles at the most and those were few and far between.  I was a basketball player, we don’t do distance we do sprints.

But this training cycle was completely different. I have been healthy the entire time.  It was warm out and I was able to do most of the training outside (another aspect that was different than marathon training last winter).  I also added a lot of additional strength training back into my program.  To top it all off, I wasn’t overworked with basketball and full-time career so I was able to focus on my life and have more of a balance in it.

The Corning WineGlass is a gorgeous course, and I couldn’t have asked for better weather.  Unlike DC where it was gorgeous both days around the marathon but pouring the day of, it poured on Saturday (for the Corelle 5k) and then it was sunny and 50s for the race on Sunday.  The course runs along a scenic route throughout neighborhoods and during the perfect time of year when the leaves are just starting to fall and are all different colors.  It is ranked as one of the top half-marathons to run.

wineglass expoMy mom and I got to go to the expo together to pick up Maya and Kaylee (my two friends from high school who were running the full) and my race information. It was much smaller than the expo in DC but then again the race was much smaller with about 6,000 runners.  The expo was held at the Corning Glass Museum which I highly encourage anyone to venture to if you are in the area.  Runners were given a long-sleeve running shirt (I had to exchange mine after the race because the medium was so short on my torso – the large is perfect)!  Runners over the age of 21 were also given a bottle of champagne and a wineglass. There was limited other free things from the vendors; however, there was an offering of free pre-and-post race massages (the line was to long for my taste – but hey its free).

When Maya and Kaylee arrived my mom and Tim had made chili and lasagna for our race prep meal.  It was delicious and protein packed. After we were all stuffed and getting excited/nervous for the race the next morning.  It was going to be Kaylee’s first full and Maya had done the DC marathon with me.  It would have been nice to run with them but I don’t think I will be doing another full for a long time, if ever! The training just consumes your life, what is nice about a half is that you can do all the training during the work week.

pre-raceRace morning, I woke up at 5am – had my cup of coffee, a pumpkin pie Oikos Greek yogurt (tis the season), and 2 packets of Steel Cut Oats – Raspberry and Blueberry.  It was the perfect amount to leave me full throughout the race but not too full.  I also drank more water.  I had really hydrated the day before so I was feeling good.

The way the race works you have to get on a bus that takes you to the start line, for the half the buses ran until 6:30 with the start time for the race at 7:45.  So my two friends (who were running the full) and I headed to the start (thanks Mom for driving) at 5:55 to make sure we had plenty of time.  The start of the race had a lot of bathrooms and also had the school open to stay warm (though no one listened to the instructions to go all the way down the hall so I didn’t bother). As I was waiting around, I ate my banana I brought with me (unlike DC where they were giving out water and fruit, there was nothing at this start).  The biggest problem with the race morning is that it is so early; however, we had heard last year the race started 45 minutes late and a lot of people were mad, I know I would have been.Finishing
What was really nice after all that waiting around was that the race started right on time – myself and 3,500 other half marathoners headed out only the course for our journey to the finish.  I ran the first mile and a half with the 2:10 pacer and couldn’t resit the itch to get going a little faster like I had in my training runs (probably a mistake but you live and learn).  By mile 7 I was at 1:04 (right where I needed to be for a sub-2 hour).  But it wasn’t to much longer after that when I got a side-stitch and at that point it was so painful I needed to walk.  I was able to keep a 10:30 pace the rest of the way which lead to my chip time of 2:10:18 – my B goal.  According to my tracker I actually ran 13.31 miles in 2:10:52 (I forgot to stop my nike app for nearly a minute after the race) so really it would be 13.31 miles in 2:10:18.  My official half marathon time on my GPS was a personal best of 2:07:57.  I also ran my fastest 10k to date in 56:34.

race finish

Crossing that line felt amazing.  It was the first race that I had run alone and unlike the marathon I was smiling as I crossed the line. I was also able to maintain under a 10min/mile pace.  It was also great to see my mom, Tim, Devon, Sam, and Ben at the finish.  Dev, Sam, and Ben ran down the side walk of market street (the final shoot for the race) so they could alert my mom I was coming. So they like to say they finished with me.

post-race relaxing

I have a swimsuit on, I swear!

Post race they had a lot of food for the runner with water, chocolate milk, bagels, fruit, cookies, fresh hot pizza, and fresh chicken noodle soup!  It was a nice assortment of things though I wasn’t that hungry yet.  However, that chicken soup hit the spot.  The volunteers for the race were amazing.  The water stations were all adequately stocked.  I am not sure how I missed the GU Gel station but unfortunately I did, thankfully I had one stored in my back pocket which I took around mile nine.  From beginning at the expo to end at the finish, the volunteers made the race what it was – I am so glad and thankful for all of them!

The best part of doing a race in a town where your family lives is being able to go home and shower and change into clean clothes without having to drive far.  My mom lives about 5-10minutes from the finish so it was really nice to just hop in the car and drive home.  Post shower, another bonus was my mom’s new hot tub which definitely helped to ease my muscles.  After a nice long soak I quickly changed and headed back down the hill to be able to see Maya and Kaylee finish! They killed it with a time of 4:15:08.

Over this winter, I plan on adding some yoga into my workouts to force me to stretch more.  I am also thinking about taking spin and strength classes to throw a change-up into my routine for my body.  All while running 3-4 miles a couple of times of week with a longer run around 6-7 miles a few times throughout the winter.  As the days get shorter and the nights get longer I plan to do most of my workouts inside and yes that means more miles on the mill – but no extreme distances and more focused on increasing my speed which I think will help prevent some of the injuries I suffered during marathon training.Swag

I am very excited about the next race I have signed up for which right now is the Buffalo Half Marathon over Memorial Day weekend.  I have made it a goal of mine to run a half in every city I live in, so this is my first checkmark!  I plan to run the Corning 8k the weekend before during GlassFest.  I know the Corning WineGlass Half Marathon is one I plan to run on an annual basis and come January, I will be signing up again for 2016.

Looks like I found my new expensive hobby though I don’t know if I would say I have caught the running bug quite yet as I still don’t enjoy running, I definitely have never lost the training bug – looks like NARP status is not for me.

A Race in Every City I Live

Run SmartAwhile back I mentioned I had started training for my 1st half marathon and really my 2nd race in my life. This time I am running the Corning Wine Glass Half marathon and it is coming up fast over the first weekend in October. I have been in training mode for approximately a month since returning from vacation., ideally I would have been doing the full 12 week program but vacation threw me for a loop.

This training cycle is completely different from the marathon training cycle. I am determined to complete this training cycle healthy and happy. Marathon training really took the life out of me.   I felt at the end of the day it had taken my whole winter from me, took my weekends, and I really wasn’t able do anything aside work, train, and coach. It left me really unmotivated and really not wanting to run again.

But then I knew I did want to run again, running does give me a sense of accomplishment, it allows me to clear my mind and de-stress. I feel so much better going to work after a run, I feel better about the decisions I make when I can honestly say I have a clear mind.

As I prep for this half, I love the fact that I can do all my runs during the week. I am running 3 times a week. Four to five miles on Mondays and Wednesdays for speed and then a Friday long run paced out. Then on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday strength training, elliptical and bikes. Sunday is spent relaxing with no particular workout in mind, I feel it is so important to rest during training and that is where I focus my Sundays, rest.

During my marathon training I really slacked on my strength training and in the end it really effected my body and I ran the full marathon hurt. Getting hurt during training can be the biggest disappointment but what I have learned is that listening to your body is the most important piece of advise I can give to any new or used to running.

Training should never be easy, you should always be willing to push yourself but it shouldn’t be miserable either. I am focused on training smart and being happy and enjoying the ride rather than just doing it.

Clearly, I am enjoying the ride because Brian and I just signed up for the Buffalo Half Marathon over Memorial Day week in 2016. I have made it my goal now to run a half or full (probably half) in every city I live in. Who knows, maybe I will cross Rochester ,a former city, off the list as well someday.

Going the Half Distance

marathonFor my first real race I decided to go big or go home and ended up paying the price during the marathon and running injured.  It was disappointing but the accomplishment was finishing the race despite all the factors that played into that day.  This time I have officially signed up for the Corning Wine Glass Half Marathon and I plan to train smarter.

The half marathon is the first weekend in October so I have about 4 months of solid training time which I intend to work my way up to the longer runs and work on my speed of the runs as well. Not only am I focusing on getting my speed up a bit, I am going to focus on strength and flexibility.  I didn’t stretch as much as I should have and it hurt me during my training; as well as, the amount of strength training I did aside from core training was minimal at best.  I need to make sure I am working out my legs and even my upper body to keep my muscles on edge and always guessing whats coming next.

Ideally I am aiming for an under 2 hour half but I also want to be able to enjoy it.  Brian was going to run it as well; however, the Giants are playing the Bills in Buffalo so he has his priorities.  So I am hoping that my former neighbor and friend gets off the wait list and we can run it together.

It imageshas been said that the Wine Glass is a gorgeous scenic course that runs right into downtown Corning.  The race sets off at 7:45 so hopefully I am crossing that finish line right around 9:45 this time with my running buddy in hand!

What I realized last time about running the full with Maddie was the awesomeness (yes I just used that word) of running beside someone and talking, laughing, singing, genuinely catching up, and cheering each other on.

Running is definitely better with a friend especially on the long runs.  Even though this half marathon race day will probably feel much shorter than the full day did I am looking forward to catching up with Mandy and our mini bottles of wine at the finish line!

Be sure to stay tuned as I start to train for this next race in the next couple of weeks!

Tips for Running a Marathon

As a new runner, there are many things I wish I knew prior to running my first race.  I can always look back on what I wish I did better or what would have helped but I can’t change my first race – after all the saying goes, hindsight is 20:20.  But what I can do is hopefully help someone learn from my experience. So to do this I have come up with a list of the tips for running a marathon that I wish I followed going into training.

Preparing for the Race

  1. Learn from others experience and take it seriously!
    • I know that is easy to say now but I wish I would have given everything people said online some serious thought.
    • Some of my biggest fears were surrounding having to go to the bathroom during the race because of what I read online; unfortunately, while I read away about my fears surrounding marathon training, I paid little attention to the tips like proper strength training workouts to follow or key stretches to follow – getting hurt or running hurt wasn’t even crossing my mind.
  2. nike trainingTrain in all types of weather!
    • Our marathon poured so I was very happy to have done at least one long run in the rain and some in the snow.  Not only did it help my mindset knowing I had already done it but I was able to expose my shoes to those elements as well.
    • There were so many people I saw with bloody ankles after the race and I think a lot of it had to do with their shoes never having been wet (of course improper socks, newer shoes, etc could have all contributed) but people don’t think about exposing their clothes to the elements.
    • I also had experience running in my rain jacket, gloves, and headband so I new what that felt like and knew that I was going to be just fine wearing it for the duration of the race.
  3. Strength Train your Legs
    • Being a former college athlete I took my strength training for granted (honestly our team’s routine for maintenance during season wasn’t that great) but I would go and lift on my own especially during the off season period.  But when I started my running plan I didn’t make the time to do all the training I really needed.
    • My advise spend time on your legs.  Work on your hamstrings, quads, calves, glutes and hip strength.  You do not need to spend a lot of time nor are you trying to “bulk”, you are just trying to strengthen your legs that are about to probably take the biggest beating of their life.
  4. Work on your Core
    • It goes right along with strength training your legs, work on your core.  Your core really runs your body and because you are about to be on your feet for so long you want to make sure your core is ready to hold your form for that extended period of time.  I love doing core but I could have done a lot more.
    • My advise try and do at least one thing of core each day.  Again like the legs this is for strengthening purposes not to get ripped or have rock hard washboard abs.  You want to make sure that you are maintaining and building abdominal strength.
  5. Stretch, Stretch, Stretch
    • It can be easy to get caught up in a three hour run and then have to get on with your life. I know unfortunately I did.  Maybe it didn’t happen after a long run but I neglected my stretching during the shorter runs that I would do before work.
    • I can’t even make excuses I flat out have never been someone who stretched for a few minutes each day and just took it as inflexibility but looking back I realize how stupid of a mindset that is.  Now everyday I stretch for at least 10 minutes and try to stretch in the morning and in the evening.
    • Getting hurt changed my mindset but I hope for whoever is reading this can just learned from my negligence rather than have to suffer the consequences like I did, especially if it effects your race like it did mine.

Race Weekend

  1. Practice what you want to eat during race day!power running breakfast
    • This is one of the facts that kept coming up on runner’s blogs that I would read during my training.  I agree with it to a certain point.
    • First, don’t be stupid and go have some strange exotic new food the day before the race – that is just silly by anyone.
    • Second, try out different foods for your breakfast or your pre-run meal during training.  I went back and forth between my pre-basketball-game meal of peanut butter, bananas, honey on 2 toaster waffles and oatmeal.  Ultimately on race day I went with oatmeal, Greek yogurt, a banana with a little bit of peanut butter, and half a cup of coffee.  I don’t think my training meals even included yogurt so that was a risk I took on race day.
    • Third, try out what energy you want to eat during the race.  Just having tried things will give you confidence.  If you have a sensitive stomach you should probably read many others blogs about testing out different products because I have a pretty good stomach I would say and ended up trying new things on the course like the GU gels and drinking gatorade.  Once I was in the race it didn’t matter to me.
  2. Don’t sit around the day before the race.
    • I recommend as you are walking around, whether you are in your own city the day before a race or exploring a new city don’t spend hours on your feet! We walked around for a good chunk of time and before we realized it we had walked something like 6 miles the day before we were set to run 26.2.
    • Also, be careful at the expo.  The way it is laid out if you do more than one lap you are going to be taking a lot of steps.  We tried to limit our time at the expo to half an hour.  We took one lap and we were out of there (it helped that I didn’t think this expo was all that great).
  3.  Stay hydrated the day before the race!
    • I have a friend who has run several marathons and she and her mom go to the gas station and buy gallon jugs of water and carry them around the day before the race.  This way they know how much water they have drank; as well as, make sure they get enough.
    • When you are walking around if you don’t go with the gallon jug make sure you are always carrying a water bottle that is full.  You want to be as hydrated as possible going into the race (not over hydrated but definitely not even close to dehydrated).
  4. Do not wear anything new on race day!
    • The day of the race is not the day to break out something new.  This goes back to train in all types of weather, how can you wear new items that you have never broken in during your marathon?
    • We saw so many people at the expo buying new shoes, running gear, having their knees taped with KT tape and then we saw those same people wearing their new products the next day.  Being a former college basketball player I know that my shoes take at least a solid month to break in and adjust to my feet.  I wouldn’t even think about wearing something new for anything longer than a light three mile training run at least a month out from the race to prevent blisters that do not have time to heal.
    • On race day we also saw a lot of men with bloody nipples.  Apparently this is a thing for guys but I think in the rain it became that much worse.  People wearing new t-shirts and wet clothes for extended periods of time just caused them to bleed a lot more.  Thank goodness I am a girl!
  5. Give yourself time to digest on race day!
    • I woke up at 345 for my 730 race to give myself time to eat and digest a little bit. When I woke up I ate in 15 minutes and then went and laid back down to try and get some sleep until 515.  In all honestly I didn’t really get much additional sleep but I also didn’t feel tired (thank goodness for adrenaline!).
    • When I got out of bed I made myself a half cup of black coffee and drank that along with more of my water. Then hopped in the shower.
    • By the time I left the hotel at 620ish I was all set (runners use your own inferences).
    • Honestly having to go during the race was one of my biggest fears and I was in the clear and left the hotel knowing I would be.
  6. race hydration stationsTake a little bit of water or Gatorade at every station during the race.
    • Even when you don’t feel like you need it, down the line you are going to wish you had especially because you can’t chug water when you need it and keep running.  I made sure I took a glass of something while running from every station (sometimes I took both the water and Gatorade).
    • By the end of the race my hands were so puffy from being dehydrated and soaking wet for over 5 hours that I could barely close them but I guess that comes with the territory.
    • I also recommend having some kind of nutrition whether it is the course offerings of gels or jellybeans and you take a few from the volunteers when they have them or you bring your own PowerBar, gels, granola bar, beans, whatever you use, it will make a difference because you are burning so many calories throughout the race that your body needs to know it isn’t going into starvation mode.  It needs carbs and sugar (in moderation).  I ran with just my sports beans while Brian ran with a protein bar and sports beans.
  7. Bring a change of clothes for after the race!Change of Clothes
    • After the pouring rain, running through puddles, sweating and just being in my clothes for over five hours I was so happy to have dry clothes to put on.
    • I recommend bringing a change of everything including underwear, sports bra, socks, shoes (I had recovery crocs), sweats or shorts, shirt and sweatshirt (depending on the weather).  I forgot underwear and a clean sports bra which was silly on my part but just wasn’t something I even thought about.
    • Brian didn’t bring an extra pair of shoes and socks so he had to stay in his race shoes waiting for me.
    • There also aren’t a lot of areas to change so be prepared to change in a port-a-potty.  I ended up changing in the handicap one so I had more room.
  8. Be prepared there are very few places to sit down!
    • I grabbed a chair from the med tent to put my shoes and socks on because I refused to do that in a port-a-potty.
    • Races really want you in and out of the space, plus I finished about an hour before the race was scheduled to finish so they were almost in pack-up mode. But even when Brian finished there was no where to sit down aside from the med tents.

I hope that my crazy list of things I wish I knew or things that I think are important when training helps out some first time runner or even helps out an active runner.  Running isn’t an easy sport but it is a sport with a huge community and I recommend joining a running community whether it is in person or online!

Stay tuned for my next post about the running blogs and community I chose to join – remember you aren’t going through it alone!

Races are about the Experience

marathon quotesTo say that marathon day was ideal would be stretching it to the extreme.  It wasn’t that it wasn’t an experience because I think anytime you set out to complete your goal of finishing something that you have been working towards for 18 weeks or more, you will have an experience and it will mean the world to you, whether your goal is to become a full marathoner or a half marathoner, regardless of outcome you will have accomplished your goal whether the result is perfect or not.

Looking back now there were a few variables that were not perfect but they were also outside of my control and couldn’t be avoided.  So on race day I just rolled with them.  As a new runner I learned you cannot control the weather.  It rained nearly the entire time I was on the course, was windy and was cold.  That was an element that I could not control so I stopped stressing about it once I knew it was going to be that way.  I also could not control the weather during my training.  We had one of the worst winters in Buffalo’s history and most of my training was done indoors to keep from freezing or risking injury.  I think I did 2 runs out of the whole month leading up to the race outdoors.  All of my long runs beyond my first half marathon training run were completed inside on the treadmill. You can control what time of the year your race is but once you have done that, you can’t control what you train in.

During the race my knee gave out around mile 7/8 and though there were things I could have done to prevent it during my training, I could not go back and change them at that point.  So even though I couldn’t run I did make up mind that I was going to finish the race – that was in my control and I was determined.  A marathon is a distance regardless of how fast you complete it.

There were things that were in my control that I should have done better but come race day you can’t go back so it is best to look directly at the task ahead.

  • I should have done a lot more strength training.
  • I should have done a lot more core work.
  • I should have done a lot more stretching.
  • I should have taken more than 18 weeks to become a “runner”.

These are all phrased with the term I should have done, but in the end I learned from this experience and if and when I do train for another race I will know better for next time.  I will take the time to just build a more consistent base and platform that includes running muscles which are really different compared to the muscles needed to make it through a basketball season. It is crazy to think that I was playing a different sport one year ago and now I have done something that I never thought I would. Remember this post? Well I have certainly come a long way since then and even though I didn’t run that half in Buffalo I ran a full in DC.

MarathonerWhat I have realized coming off of the marathon, now as a “marathoner”, is that you have to go in with few expectations and be willing to just roll with the whatever happens.  I didn’t plan to have my knee start to hurt during the marathon but I also didn’t let it stop me from finishing.  There was an awesome quote I read and I want to leave you with it – especially if you are training for your first marathon.

“You can keep going and your legs might hurt for a weak or you can quit and your head will hurt for a lifetime” -Mark Allen

“It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint”

ready set goI believe 3…2…1 was where I left you the last time.  My heart racing, my cousin on one side and long-time friend Maddie on the other, the rain had gone from light to pouring to light again but it was pretty windy. However, we were ready to run.

It was finally our chance to cross the line and we were off.  We started the four of us in a line but within a minute it was clear Maya was on a whole new level than Maddie and myself and she was gone.  She crushed it with a time of 4:17 for her first marathon.  I am so proud of that girl.

Right out of the gate Maddie had to pee but being former athletes we all just thought that it was that nervous energy.  When she still had to go as we approached the 4 mile mark we stopped and that was where we lost Kristy (she was doing the half and only had 9 more miles to go so I don’t blame her).  We both went because who knew what the bathroom situation would be on the road ahead and then we trudged on.  We were stopped for about 2 minutes there and were on our way.

In that first four miles Maddie and I were keeping a great pace just under a 10 minute mile perfect to our plan.  We had to go around a huge circle which was annoying because as you entered you saw people who were half a mile ahead of you completing the circle.  There were a lot of stupid twists like that on this course which made it less enjoyable but the course review is for another day.

As we approached the 7-8 mile marker my knee started to really hurt.  As mentioned in my countdown blog, I had hurt my knee during training which was rough.  But this was different on one of my steps I had a shooting pain up my leg starting from my knee.  I decided to go from a running motion into a fast walking motion and that seemed to help it.  Maddie was great, she slowed her pace with me and we kept an 11minute mile up through mile 18.  For me it was a combination of running when I could, which was about a quarter of a mile out of every mile, there were periods that I ran for longer and periods I ran less; however, the pain would come back.  Maddie jogged along side me encouraging me the entire time.  She really is one of the best friends a girl could ask for.  At anytime she could have left but she didn’t and we talked to keep our mind off the race.  We also kept a running SnapChat story to pass the time.

It wasn’t until the 17 mile marker that the pace we were keeping, I could not keep up, my muscles were starting to really cramp from using different form then I had trained for the distance.  My knee was also starting to really hurt overall – I was dreading looking at it after the race but I pushed on.  At the 18 mile marker Maddie turned to me, I knew she was starting to cramp and she had to pick up her pace and stride it out.  She looked so disappointed she couldn’t finish it out but it comes back to rolling with the punches – I told her to go and not think anything of it.  Then I was alone (well with the other marathoners) but alone in my own head.  Maddie was able to finish with a 4:50 time, so proud of that girl!

texts to my momThis was about the time that I put my headphones in and turned on my playlist I had prepared for the marathon.  Up until that point I had not listened to any music because Maddie and I had been talking.  Plus I wanted to have battery on my phone if I actually needed it.  I thought with 8 miles to go I would be okay.  I also texted my mom (see to the right) with jumbled texts and told her I was hurt and had been for awhile.  My hands were so swollen by this point it was a nightmare.

But the journey was about to get worse, there were mud puddles everywhere, roads were flooded at one point but that wasn’t the worst part.  There were hills from mile 22-24.5.  When I say hills I am not talking baby hills I am talking you are going straight up without water for over a mile, then you go down hill and then back up and down and repeat (again a course review is coming).  My mom reminded me then that this was a marathon not a sprint and it was about finishing.

my seesterThe hills were almost the death of my knee.  It was frustrating because there was no mile 23 marker so I didn’t know where I was, if I was getting slower and the mile was just lasting forever or what was happening.  As I approached the 24 mile marker I was almost five hours in which I had planned to be done over half an hour before that.  What really helped keep me going was the texts from my mom, sister, cousin, dad, other family members and a few other friends.  The thing with my marathon was I never hit a wall because Maddie and I were talking the whole time.  I think the other part of that was because I was in pain for so long and being a former college athlete I had been trained to push through things.  But that being said, I would never run a marathon or half for that matter alone.  I do not know how Brian did it.

What was even better than the texts and I almost broke down because of it was when I saw my sister on the bridge at about the 25.5 mile marker.  I needed to see someone I knew.  She talked me to the end of the bridge as I approached the finish.  Even though I hadn’t run since mile 18 I was determined to run over the finish line so I sucked it up and ran the last stretch across the line.crossing the finish line

Crossing the finish line was a relief.  I do not look happy in the pictures because of the pain shooting through my knee, being soaking wet plus I was exhausted but I had done it. Even though it took me 5:20:53, I finished.  I finished a marathon with no race experience to my name. I had never done anything athletic for 5 hours straight (AAU basketball all day tournaments are very different than running and being active for that extended period with no breaks) and on March 14th I had.  love my teammatesSeeing my mom, my sister, Brian (he was in a lot of pain as well) and to my surprise my two former college basketball teammates, Alexis and Becky.  It was great to see them.  As I was so focused on the finish line they had been cheering me along on the fence that lined the home stretch – they thought I was mad at them because I ignored them but really was just so focused on crossing that line that I saw nothing else but that finish line.  I instantly hugged them when I saw them. IMG_3869

To say that marathon day was ideal would be stretching it to the extreme. But what it was, was an experience that I got to do with the love of my life, my childhood friends, my cousin and have my family and friends there to support me.  Marathon training is probably one of the most challenging things I have ever done but it is supposed to be that way.  Getting to the starting line is more than half the battle.  Once you reach race day thats the fun part. Completing a marathon is an experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life and it is also something that no one can take away from me. I am a marathon runner! former teammates support