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

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.

The Countdown is On for the Marathon

DC Rock n RollI can’t believe it…race day is less than five days away.  In five days all the training, all the sweat, all those runs I didn’t want to do will be worth it.  I will be running the streets of DC with two of my great friends, Maya and Maddie, my cousin Kristy, Brian (who is running much faster than all of us) and some others who will be running the half and carrying the rest of us home after the full.  🙂

We will also have a great support team. Our families, friends from college, family friends and 22,000+ other runners families and friends cheering us on.  It will be an experience.23

I do not think I will be doing this type of training ever again so I intend to take in every minute it of, all 4 and a half hours of it, if everything goes well.

Over the last 3 weeks I have been battling knee pain, strained hamstrings and probably taking on to much.  If I could go back I would definitely add strength training into my program.  I think going from such a high impact sport in basketball to a completely different type of high impact sport of running, I took for granted my strength training and did not make it a focus.  I would also try and dedicate a minimum of 15 minutes a day to stretching and rolling out.  I really tried to do a lot more stretching as I got further into it but I need to make more of a habit out of it before I need to do it.

But unfortunately I can’t go back now.  As I sit and write this post, icing my knee and hip (a side effect of walking around this weekend and compensating for my left knee) I think about making it across the finish line of the race with Maya and Maddie, cheering each other on and finishing together.  I never would have imagined running this race with the two of them, never would have thought that five years ago when we graduated high school that we would be celebrating that anniversary with a marathon – 26.2 I still can’t wrap my head around it.  It is also Pie Day (3.14) so I know K.A.F will be watching us from above and motivating us and driving us forward.  We run this for you Ms. Ferris.

This will probably be the most intense and crazy thing I ever do but I will be able to say I did it and it will only make me stronger! Holy count down –  4 days, 12 hours, 35 minutes!

marathon running

Refreshing with Resource for a Marathon

training for a marathonMarathon training officially kicked off this week. It is crazy to me that a girl who hates running would commit to something like a 26.2 mile race but I am financially committed to the DC Rock N’ Roll Marathon on March 14th, 2015  and I will take it as my greatest challenge to date!  The phrase YOLO is something that is often thrown around with college parties, doing crazy and often stupid things – but to me running a marathon can be summed up with the phrase – YOLO.

I look at it this way – yes 26.2 miles is a staggeringly long distance.  The farthest distance I have run to date straight is 6 miles and that was Friday but I know I can do it.  Talking with a lot of people that have run marathons they say if you can run five you can physically run the marathon.  I have to look at this as a personal challenge because the marathon is not a physical battle but a mental one.  I know that the energy of the crowd will propel me through the first half and then it will be me vs. my mind the second half.  Right now I feel like I am in the best endurance shape of my life – I have always been training for something and why not train for the biggest race of my life and the biggest mental battle.  My body is not getting any younger.Run for the resource

Going into training, I know there are going to be challenges I have to overcome, the first being, it’s Buffalo from November – March.  What was I thinking – it snows, it gets below freezing so I know that I have to be prepared for a lot of treadmill work in the coming months.  At least there is a plus side, it will be college basketball season and there will be awesome games to watch as I run! I find I run best on the treadmill when I cover up the time on the machine, have a towel with me, have Netflix going on my iPad and then read the subtitles on the TV in front of the machine.  Since I do not have changing scenery to distract me I have to distract my brain with multi-tasking.

Another thing that I am going to have to combat is the holiday season.  With my family traveling to NYC for Thanksgiving this year, making sure I get those runs in will be key! And then for Christmas, I will not have access to my gym and my mother lives out in the woods which means home treadmill work it is!

Another thing will be working around my coaching season with practices and games.  I am coaching two teams: a JV team and a 5th and 6th grade team for the private school right near my house so making sure I find the time to get the runs in without over stretching myself with my day job at M&T and budding coaching career is going to be a challenge.  I will have to decide whether waking up at 440 to hit the gym right when it opens at 5 is better than sleeping until 6 to get into work by 7 and running after practice at 6.  resource on the shelfIt will really depend on my mood; however, thankfully none of the long runs will be affected by my crazy schedule as they all take place on the weekends – my team is lucky, we will always have late Saturday practices if we have them so I don’t have to worry about getting the run in after practice.

Finally, I am going to have to make sure that I am drinking water regularly throughout the day.  Whether I am running in the morning or at the end of the day it is going to be so important to focus on staying hydrated and thanks to my Resource Water from Influenster, I am set to take on the day at work, during practice, during my runs and throughout my daily life.  Running takes a lot out of you but water can help you get it back.  My plan for the race is to start experimenting with gels and water now as I start to get into those Refresh when you are not traininglonger runs.  I am not much of a Gatorade girl so water is going to vital to my training and progress!

In 18 weeks when I cross that finish line in DC with my cousins and one of my best friends I will know I have beaten myself and my mind.  I don’t care what time I get – though it would be great to hit under 4, more realistic will be under 430 – I just want to finish without stopping.  This is one time my mind will not get the best of me!

I received the Resource water complimentary of Influenster for testing purposes as part of the #ModaVoxBox!"I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes."