A Wine Glass Half Marathon to Remember

wineglass-half-marathon

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!

corning-wineglass-half-marathon

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.

sarah-marie-designs

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

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.

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!

The Thing I Never Thought I Would Say

Following my collegiate basketball career, I pondered how I would stay in shape without the daily practices, “optional” workouts, pickup games, weight-training, pre-season and post-season workouts and summer training.  It was really the only workout life I had known.  I had always been training for something and at the end of the season it was a weird feeling to not have another season to train for and knowing I was never going to be tested again.

It has been 2 months since the end of the season and I have learned to adapt to a different pace because as my life changes and different things fill my time I need to accept the fact that any workout, no matter how long counts.  In season we would train for hours, be on the court for two hours a day or just play pickup because we could.   But in the real world, with everything life has to offer you don’t need to train for hours on end to stay healthy. Even a half an hour workout is better than nothing.

runningBut lately I have started picking up a new habit, one I never saw coming.  Something my friends and family would never have believed if I had said it before.  I am becoming a runner.  I used to despise running.  The thought of even doing a mile made me cringe.  But what I have learned that with not having someone breathing down my neck, counting down the seconds before I have to run it again, there is something peaceful about working out for yourself.  I love waking up and starting my day with a workout.  The sense of accomplishment before your day has really started is awesome.

Now I am no marathon runner….yet…but I am enjoying running further each week.  I have found something that allows me to forget about the stress of the world and just be alone with my thoughts.  Running to a playlist of country music allows me to get lost in the stories of others for a little while.  My next goal will be to build up my mileage to run a half-marathon in under two-hours which is about a 9 minute mile on average.  Who knows, maybe someday I will work my way up to a full-marathon.

YES, I want to run a half marathon – you heard it here, I have set my next goal and something to work for.  I am planning on signing up for one at the end of August in Buffalo in the next few weeks.

starting is the challengeToday I ran 4.38 miles which is a really nice loop.  That was the distance that I had a goal for on the day and in my head that was as much as my body was going to do.  Building my mileage slowly will allow me to prevent injuries.  I also have to build up my mental strength.  I do not think physically the distance would be as bad; however, for me mentally finding the strength to keep going is going to be the challenge.  My head tends to be my own worst enemy but I know if I work on it that I can build up the ability to run the distance without my brain shutting me down.  I have already seen a difference in my mental capacity because a 2 mile run is now a short run for me and a year ago I would never have said that!

I love the freedom that running allows.  The challenge and the ability to see how far you have gone.  There is something to be said about the fact that you are always moving forward in a run.

I am not following a program now but doing what feels comfortable to me and making sure that I am pushing myself farther each week.  I am pushing my speed on my mile and a half and making sure that I add in the strength training each week; as well as cross-training on bikes and ellipticals.

I think after college has wrapped up, graduation has happened and I go on my CRUISE (yes, thanks to the boyfriend) I will start a 12 week program to officially train my body for the half-marathon.  I think that will help me stay on track and make sure I build up my mileage in the right way.

Life after collegiate athletics is definitely different but if you are a true athlete, athletics and competition will never fully leave you.  The thrill of the challenge will always be with you – it is just a little different in stye.