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

 

The Morning of the Marathon

The last I left you Brian and I were off to bed at the Hyatt Regency.  I had an alarm set for 345am in order to eat a good breakfast and be able to digest before the run.  Brian’s alarm was set for 5am.

The starting lineI woke up around 3am on the morning of the marathon and thankfully was able to fall back to sleep for the next 45 minutes until my alarm went off.  I hoped out of bed, grabbed my water bottle, banana, small thing of peanut butter, a greek yogurt and instant oatmeal that my mom and brought me and went into the bathroom so I could turn the light on.  Since the room we had did not have a microwave or a fridge Brian and I had to get creative.  We kept our yogurts in an ice bucket filled with ice and I used the coffee maker to have hot water to make my oatmeal.  But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do! I drank an entire bottle of water while eating my meal and was back in bed trying to fall asleep at 4am.  I laid in bed half asleep half thinking about the race for the next hour and 15 minutes.

Brian was up at that point and he showered and I helped make his oatmeal.  Then I was able to shower and start putting on my marathon clothes.  It was a surreal experience thinking about running the race in a few hours and also thinking about how it would all be over in just a few more hours.  For those of you who are wondering, I was able to be fully digested before heading out the door at 6:20 to head to the start of the race.  I would say for a first timer I timed that right.

marathon morningWe met my mom in the hallway and headed out the door all race ready though according to this picture I look pretty much asleep.

Now here is where it gets a little interesting.  As we left the hotel it was drizzling.  Just a light rain.  We walked the mile from the hotel to the area where the corrals were set up for the start of the race which was at the Museum of Natural History. We grabbed the little bottles of water they were handing out (they had fruit as well but we were all set) and then it was off to gear check to drop off our bags which of course they made you walk up a hill to get to the UPS trucks waiting in order of last name.  This meant mine was at the exact opposite end of where Brian’s truck was.  Then we hit up the port-a-potties that were set up at the top of the hill rather than fight the lines at the bottom.

That is another piece of advise I would give to runners – go to the bathrooms that are away from the crowds so you don’t have to wait as long and they also have been used less.

After that little stop it was starting to rain a little harder as it approached the 7:15 mark. The sun was also starting to rise behind the clouds – so at least it was no longer total darkness.  We got to our corrals at about 7:20: Maddie, Maya, Kristy and I were in corral 17 while Brian was up in corral 2.

A corral for those of you that do not know in a race is the wave you start the race in.  Each corral at least for this race started approximately 2 minutes behind the previous and each corral is set based on your projected finish time that you select.

Marathon racers readyMy mom took pictures of us in our corral and getting ready to start. And then it was time to get serious as the corrals started to move each going at their own pace.  And then it was on, the countdown for our corral, the start of the race, my heart was beating and I was at the start line.  Everything I had worked for 18 weeks for was leading up to this moment….3….2….1….Stay tuned for the race!DC Rock n Roll Start

Marathon Weekend Begins

After a week of MDP training, Brian and I flew into BWI on Thursday in preparation for the marathon weekend.  I kind of goofed up and booked our flights thinking our training was the following week so it wouldn’t conflict.  My advise to future MDPs, check your schedule and if you do have a conflict with a training time be honest about it as soon as you find out.  Sarah and Jillian were both really understanding because I was genuinely concerned and it had been an honest mistake. Thankfully we worked it out and missed training that Friday and took a floating holiday, I call it my marathon holiday.

Brian and I wanted to get the flight out of the way and give ourselves time to adjust and get two good nights sleep leading up to the marathon, rather than worrying about work and flying the day before.  Plus we were worried that the Buffalo winter goes until it feels like ending so we didn’t want to chance a weather delay and not get a good night sleep the night before.  Best to limit the stress in the days leading up to the marathon; as well as, enjoy the entire marathon weekend rather than just go for the day.

So we arrived in BWI to bright and sunny weather. One of my friends who was running the race with me picked us up from the airport and we drove to her apartment in Baltimore.  Maddie is a saint, she did not have to pick us up at the airport which was 25-30 minutes away from where she lives.  Maddie is one of those friends who we could talk for hours and never get tired of each other which is why she was perfect to run a marathon with.  By the time we were all settled and Maddie had taken her dog to camp for the weekend we were all starving.  We then headed to an awesome dinner at Golden West Cafe and had amazing burgers.  Followed by a treat of a Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie which we brought back to enjoy and ate about half.

The next day Maddie dropped us off at the train station (she had to go to work until 3) and we headed into DC to pickup our bibs at the Expo.  We also picked up Maddie’s because we weren’t sure how traffic getting there would be and it was only open until 7 that night.

Tip: If you are running with a friend and one of you can’t make the expo ask them to pick up your race packet or offer to pick up theirs- it will save you the headache because as it gets later in the day the expo gets more crowded and the lines get longer.  For Rock n’ Rolls you a copy of their ID and their original race form.  I had Maddie write a note granting me permission as well just to be safe.

After checking into our hotel (The Hyatt Regency) we walked to the expo which was about a mile from the hotel.  This was about 1pm.  The expo was interesting there was a lot of sales going on and vendors that wanted you to test out their latest products.  One thing I was surprised at was the limited amount of free things that were there.  I had heard marathon expos were all about sample products.  Jelly Belly was passing out their variety pack of sports beans which I love and planned to use already at the race and PowerBar was handing out small samples of their bars that were going to be at the end of the race the next day but as far as free products go that was about it.  There were also some contests you could enter and a few games you could play.  Brian and I picked up our tags, got our shirts and bags that were given to us by the race, took a few pictures and bought a pint glass with the marathon logo on it (pint glasses are kind of our thing) and then we determined it was time for lunch. DC Rock n' Roll Expo

At this point it was about 230 and we decided we would head to the Corner Bakery Cafe that was just up the street from our hotel.  It is very similar to Panera Bread and looked delicious (I had never heard of the company before and we actually found out there is one right in Buffalo).  He and I both got a panini and a soup, it was a little pricey but we were on vacation, don’t know how often I would actually go in Buffalo but it fit the bill that day.  I had the chicken pomodori which was awesome! Unfortunately when we left we forgot to check the bag because we were both so tired and hungry and they had forgotten Brian’s soup.   We called and they said we could walk back – even though it was less than half a mile the day before a marathon we just wanted to rest.  So he and I split my soup and ate our sandwiches, after all we were planning to go to dinner with my family that night.  Then after eating we both passed out for well over an hour.

Sadly my mom and sister weren’t able to get into DC until almost 10pm so there wasn’t much time to enjoy with them before really needing to fall asleep.  But we were able to go to Carmine’s with my Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and her daughter.  Brian and I walked from the hotel to the restaurant (approximately half a mile if we hadn’t gone in the wrong direction for half a mile).  But it all worked out.  My cousin had plans to run the full but hurt her knee in training (must run in the family) so she decided to run the half instead.  It was a delicious family style meal and Brian and I hitched a ride back with them and at that point we started getting in the race mindset.  race gearAfter laying out all of our clothes for the race and taking one last look at the weather (it had been another gorgeous low 50s day in DC that day but was scheduled to rain all day the next day), we turned on the ACC tournament and did a nice long stretch out and waited for my mom to arrive.

Without realizing it Brian and I had walked nearly 6 miles the day before we were slated to run 26.2miles!

Advise to future first time runner – be mindful of how much you are walking – don’t just sit around the day before but also just be careful about how much you are walking.  We ended up being fine but could have been rough.

We also probably were not drinking as much water as we should have been that day, even though we carried around my CamelBak water bottle the entire time we probably needed more water.

Another tip for runners, make sure you are carrying a water bottle with you at all times.  One of my friends who has run several marathons with her mom goes out and buys a gallon water jug at the store and just carries that around with her the day before a race.  That way she knows exactly how much she is drinking and makes sure she is hydrated.

My mom and sister arrived around 9:45, we said hello and good night to them (they dropped off our breakfast for the morning it was off to bed as we had a big day ahead of us!  Stay tuned for the morning of the race.