I did it!

Well I’m officially a half-marathoner, it was a crazy 11 months of blood, sweat, tears and blisters. I definitely needed time to fully digest my thoughts after the race. Let’s just say the race didn’t go as planned, at all. For the 3 days after the race I was definitely throwing a pity party for 1 and really wouldn’t listen otherwise to what anyone said. But let’s go back to the beginning…

My first half marathon was the Rock N Roll Vegas Strip at Night. The race was on Sunday night and I decided to head to Vegas Thursday morning to get adjusted to the time zone and have quality time with some of my favorite people. Vegas really has a special place in my heart and was the perfect location for a racecation for me. I was able to get the employee rate at The Palazzo and had an unbelievable suite (which is just their regular room and I’m a hotel snob after working 5 years with Ritz-Carlton). I had a great trip and here are some of the non race pics…

Bestiesraceexpo

Katie and I in our race shirts after the Expo

Donation

The last $88 I needed to exceed my fundraising goal of $2,700!!

MeBrandon

Hanging out at Bally’s with Brandon and crew

MeMadeline

Spent Saturday with this lil cutie, Madeline.

Okay I guess I will finally tell you about the race. I’ve really been putting this off. I actually would barely talk about the race the first couple days, mainly because I just wanted to cry at the thought of reliving it and I was just so disappointed.

Race started out with a breakfast I knew would work for me…

racebreakfast

a waffle and almond butter, just like I had for my 12 miler. I couldn’t sit still in my hotel room and the race wasn’t until 4:30 pm. I decided to head to one of the outlet malls to go to a couple stores and just get out of my room before I went stir crazy. After an hour at the outlet mall I grabbed a sub at subway (another pre-tested meal) and headed back to my hotel room. I had just the right amount of time to eat, get ready and not be stressed out. I laid out my race outfit when I got to Vegas so everything was ready to go. I got dressed and snapped a self pic…

selfpicbeforeraceA gear post will be coming soon!

Then I headed to meet up with Carmen and the rest of my Team Challenge teammates. We took a pic…

MeCarmenCarmen and I before the race. I couldn’t have made it through this without her!

Then headed off to the start line. Team Challenge arranged transportation for us to the start and luckily my teammate Rachel has run a few halves before was giving me tips and helping ease my nerves as we headed to the start. The busing was so helpful and we were dropped off right at the start. We headed to the Team Challenge area to check our bags, Carmen and I hit the porta potty one last time, and it was time to warm up. Our coaches Joe and Max lead us in a bunch of exercises and then it was off to the corrals. Luckily 4 of my teammates were in my corral and best of all my BFF, Katie was waiting for me there since my cell service wasn’t working with 20,000 people in one place.

BeforeraceBefore the race

bestiesbeforerace

Katie and I before the race. I miss her so much already, but don’t worry we’re already planning our next race together!

And then she was off to one of the earlier corrals since she’s quite a bit faster than me. As the race started, they were doing around 1.5 minute wave start between the corrals. So I didn’t start for a while, during this time the wind really started picking up and I had lost all the energy I had earlier in the day. Night races are just so different. It was finally time for my corral to go, I started my playlist (which was in shuffle mode) and Clique (Jay Z/Kanye rap song) came on. It was exactly what I needed to get my energy back up, then we were off.

The first mile was into the wind and I had to weave to get through people, I probably did the first mile in 11 min miles (my goal was to do 11:27 miles). Since this part was going south on the strip away from the hotels there weren’t buildings to block the wind and it was whipping. I never thought I would get to the Welcome to Vegas sign so we could turn around and have the wind at our back. It was probably only that first mile but it felt like 10. The wind was blowing pretty hard and gusting a lot at my back and literally pushing me forward. At one point it picked up one of my legs and slammed it into the other. I was going fast for me at this point and ran the next two or three miles at 10:30 pace. This is where I made the mistake of going too fast too early. I felt good at the time, but by the time I was at mile 7 I was not feeling great. My calves were tight and my left ankle just hurt. It was my left ankle that hit my right leg so I think that may have been part of it. I slowed down a little bit at this point, I even cheered for a friend that was finishing under 1:30 that I saw go by the other way (by cheer I mean yelled his name as I kept running). It was pretty cool to be on the strip. I think I was so focused on surviving that I didn’t look up and enjoy the sites as much as I would have liked.

palazzo

Feeling good the first half of the race

smiling

Still feeling good

Happy

Even posed for a pic while running

Beginning

And this is where it all goes downhill

Once we got into the ugly area of Vegas between the strip and old Vegas I was over it all. I wasn’t sure how much longer I was going to be able to run or if I was even going to finish the race. Miles 8-10 were going through old Vegas and random neighborhoods that were not in a nice area of town. At mile 10 I was over it and in so much pain. I finally gave into walking around mile 10, at this point I was mentally just DONE. I started texting my mom telling her I wasn’t going to finish and that I was dying. My poor mother was 3 hours ahead and staying up to see how I did. She sent me encouraging texts to help keep me going. Around this time I got a text that Katie was finished. I started texting her that I didn’t know if I’d make it to the finish and that I might have to go to the medical tent. I was fully in drama queen mode. Although for a while I really thought I was going to end up in the medical tent. I ended up doing a little running and walking as much as I could. At mile 11.5 I decided I wanted to run the rest of the way. I made it half a mile before I had the most debilitating cramps I’ve ever had right above my knee. I’ve never had a pain there before and it was extremely painful. I kept walking, but I must have looked really pathetic because two people running came over and asked if I was okay. I thanked them and told them to keep running their race, that I would be okay. At mile 12.5 I was determined to run the rest of the race without stopping. I put my head down and just kept going. My legs started cramping but I pushed through it and made it across the finish line.

walking

Walking and crying, yes there were tears and no they were not happy ones

barelymoving

I think hot is the only word that comes to mind when I see this pic. Also my legs could barely move.

eyesclosedfinish

And how do I not share this gem? Eyes closed and totally EXHAUSTED

My time was 2:45:19. I was severely disappointed. And it’s not about the time, it’s about the walking. If I had run the whole race I would have been ecstatic and proud, but the walking really just bothered me. It took me three days of just being bummed before I could even be happy about the race. But after some prodding by the most important people in my life I realized that I’m not being fair to everyone who supported me in this race, donated to my fundraiser, and listened to me talk about running for months. I needed to be proud of my accomplishment and learn from it. So I am, I’m a proud half-marathoner who raised $2,700.37 for a great cause, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Never in my life would I think I would be able to raise that much money for something.  And that’s something to be proud of. I’m looking forward to the my next race and applying what I learned from the first one. When I started this blog I wasn’t even working out, a year ago I hadn’t started running. Now I’m a half-marathoner with my next race less than 6 weeks away. So much changes in a year.

My next race is going to be a fun one with my mom. I can’t wait to run my 2nd half marathon while my mom runs her 4th, while my Dad cheers us on. Running has given me something else to share with my mom and I couldn’t be happier about that! So after a week and a half of minimal running it’s time to get back on my running game. I even have a running date with my Team Challenge buddy Carmen on Saturday!

Thanks for the race photos marathonfoto.com! If only you had reasonable prices so I could purchase them instead of $40 for one pic or $70 for all of them.

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Peak Weeks

So I’ve been slacking on the blog writing the past few weeks. I’ve been busy with work, training and socializing and honestly just not felt like putting all my thoughts into words on the screen. I have a really awesome post with some fun gear I received but it’s just not ready yet, hopefully tomorrow night I’ll get that one up.

After running the monster dash I definitely wasn’t feeling great but it was time to get back out there and start running 20+ miles in a week. My long run was set for 12 miles. I knew this was going to be the big one for me. It was the also the last training session with Team Challenge that I was going to be able to make before the race. The group was meeting at Stone Mountain to run the 5 miles around the base. Honestly that run SUCKS, it’s super hilly and I just wasn’t ready to face hills for 12 miles. Luckily there is a flat trail that starts at Stone Mountain heading east back to Atlanta. My trusty running partner Carmen was all about running on a flat trail so she agreed to go that route with me. She was only doing 8 miles, so we ran 4 miles out and then back. Carmen and I run a similar pace and usually fall into a groove while running. Our coach Max went along with us on his bike, keeping us company and cheering us on. The 8 miles with Carmen went well, when we said bye at mile 8 and I turned around for two out and two back I knew this is when it was going to get tough. Around mile 10 I hit a wall, pretty hard. I was running low on fluids, it had gotten pretty hot. I stripped off the arm warmers I was wearing and instantly started to feel better. I put my head down and just kept pushing through. The worst part about the trail I was running on was I had to stop a couple times for red lights to cross streets. I’m fine if I can keep running but the whole stopping thing really throws me off. I was toast by the time I hit 12 miles, it took me around 2:35 with the stopping at the red lights.

The next week of training was supposed to be a recovery week, so the runs were a little bit shorter this time, my long run was only 8 miles. I had plans to head to South Carolina for homecoming weekend to watch a lil Gamecock football and hang out with my best friends. This meant the long run had to happen on Friday, I took the day off from work and just had to go in for a lunch so I did got up and headed to my favorite trail along the Chattahoochie river. Brought a new Gu to try out that had 2x the caffeine (I usually use the caffeine free Gu) since I was running in the morning and wanted to see if the caffeine would have any effect on my running. The first 4 miles went well, I took the Gu at my turnaround point and wow did I feel the caffeine. I just kind of took off. I ran around 11:20, 10:40, 10:20 and 10:04 for the last four miles. Now this is FAST for me, like really fast. I usually do long runs around 12 min miles sometimes 11:45 if I’m having a good day. I felt really great this entire time and pushed myself at the end. I know I’m not the fastest runner but times like that just make me so happy. I really like the 8 mile distance I think it’s actually my favorite. After this run was complete I was ready to enjoy my weekend and you can see the highlights below…

Brittaney, Austin and I at Flying Saucer

KT and I before the Gamecock vs. Arkansas game

My favorite place in the Fall – Williams Brice Stadium

The USC Smokestack – Head towards that to find the beautiful Horseshoe

After my fun weekend was over it was time to get back on the running grind. It was my peak week of training and 23 miles were on the schedule. My 6 mile tempo run went great I felt good and ran faster on the treadmill than I ever had before. My 5 mile easy run did not go so well. I decided it would be a good decision to eat a big piece of cake around 3 pm and then run around 6. Needless to say I almost vomited and had to take this run at a slow pace.

For my last long run of training for this half marathon I wanted to simulate race day as much as I could. Since my half marathon starts at 4:30 I wanted to see how I would feel with a set meal that I could have when I’m in Vegas. I stayed out a little late on Friday night but didn’t drink. I still woke up with a headache even after sleeping in til 8:30. I was just not feeling good most of this day, but I didn’t want to put off the run because if I have a headache on race day I won’t have a choice but to struggle through it. I picked a new trail for this run after hearing good things about the Silver Comet Trail that is over 30 miles that stretches from a Suburb of Atlanta to Alabama. I started a little after 4 and was planning on 6 miles out and 6 miles back. One thing I didn’t factor in was how effing dark it would get and that there were no lights on the trail. I made it 9.5 miles before it was pitch black. The run was going great, my legs felt awesome and the Gu’s I had taken were making a difference. The temperature was just right. Really no complaints, but as it got darker and darker, my fear of getting killed like an episode of Criminal Minds was becoming more and more real. I took my headphones out and decided I needed to be on the phone with someone the rest of the my run. No one knew where I was and I was alone in an area I didn’t know. I called my mom and made sure she knew exactly where I was and made her stay on the phone with me as I ran 2.5 miles to my car. This entire run I was going pretty fast. I kept every mile under 12 min, and I think was under 11:45 min miles most of the time. The last few miles I started flying. Fear is a great motivator and I pushed it. Fortunately my mom is a saint and kept me entertained as I ran the last few miles. I made it 12 miles in 2:19:26, cutting 15 min off my time 2 weeks prior. I’ll take it!

I know what you’re thinking, wow Amy you’re a total idiot for running in the dark, alone on a trail I didn’t know. Honestly I’m thinking that too. That was a terrible call on my part and I will never do that again. I just assumed there would be lights on the trail and I just went for it. Scary enough I was talking to a friend about it the next day and she told me she heard there has been a woman who was raped and killed on the trail a year or so ago so I’m glad I made it out safely and will stick to the trail in the day light hours only.

Overall the last 3 weeks of training have been great. There have been some ups and downs but I’m feeling ready for the half marathon. I’m also only $217.63 away from my fundraising goal for Team Challenge. If you would like to help me reach my goal please donate here.

The next two weeks leading up to the half will be like a recovery week. I’m turkey trotting with my mom on Thursday and I’m hoping to blow my 5k PR of 32:07 out of the water, at least by 2 minutes. Here’s to a great week with my family before I head out to Vegas to take down the Rock N Roll Half Marathon!

I forgot how it felt

I’ve been having trouble sleeping, I’m not sure if it’s just that I can’t shut my mind off or I’ve been running too much at night. Monday night/Tuesday morning I woke up at 4 am. I tried to fall back asleep but by 6 am I just knew it wasn’t happening. Since I had a run planned for that night, I decided to get it done in the morning. I seriously haven’t been able to do that since I moved to Atlanta four months ago (seriously it’s been four months alreasy!). I’m so not a morning person, but getting the runs done before work are so worth it. I’m trying to make myself become a morning person again and to get all my runs done in the morning now. It just frees up more time to sit on my couch and watch tv in the evenings now 🙂

That early morning run went well and helped me stay awake at work after getting five hours of sleep. I wish it helped me sleep better and maybe it did a little bit but not much. I decided my Thursday run was also going to be a morning run. I got up and got it done. It felt so good to be free that night and not have anything to do after work but sit in my la z boy recliner and watch TV. I know you were all starting to worry about my lazy girl status with all this running, but don’t you worry, I’m still sitting on my butt when I’m not running or lifting weights.

My long run this week was 11 miles. My running group was doing 9 miles at my favorite trail. They meet on the other side of the trail that is 1.5 miles away, so I parked on the side I normally parked on and ran to the other side. I met up with them and did another 9.5 miles. It was FREEZING (okay in the high 40s) at the start of the run. When I met up with them I was literally steaming, like had a circle of steam surrounding me. I really didn’t plan out my outfit for the weather. I wore shorts, knee high compression socks, a t shirt and arm warmers. I really needed gloves for the first couple miles, I legit was shaking my hands and rubbing them together because they were going numb. But after the first few miles I was good to go and had just the right amount of clothing on.

Those 11 miles were tough. I started having some aches, cramps and pains, but I just pushed through them to finish it. I knew my legs weren’t going to quit, it’s just keeping my head in the game. Afterwards I looked really cute…

Yep I’m hot, just admit it

Rebounding

So the last couple weeks were pretty bad workout wise. I really just had bad runs the entire time. It was killing my confidence. Since I joined Team Challenge I really haven’t been as concerned with the running. I know I’ll be able to do it and instead my stress/anxiety was focused on raising money. This mental lapse totally effected my training. I wasn’t concerned with fueling my body properly, I just ate whatever and didn’t think about how it would effect my runs the next day.

After my business trip last week I really needed to get back into my routine, but it wasn’t that simple I had shifted my weekly chiropractor appt to Monday night and had a massage scheduled for Tuesday night. This definitely threw off my ideal running schedule of Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with cross training strength workouts on Wednesday and Sunday. Not to mention my BFF, Katie was coming into town on Wednesday evening with her husband, Phil (also my good friend from college) and I planned to spend all day Thursday with them.

Since I knew my routine wasn’t going to happen I made a plan of attack. I had a personal training session on Wednesday, then planned on running Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. I wanted to get my 5 mile run in on Thursday, but I kind of overslept, so I just did my 4 mile run. I had a great day with Katie and Phil so my semi decent run didn’t bother me too much.

Saturday was long run day, I had 8 miles on the plan. Since last week didn’t go so well, Tina suggested I only do 7, but I’m trying really hard to get all the long runs in no matter how difficult they are. On Friday I ate well all day and made sure to have a good dinner of shrimp and pasta. I woke up on Saturday morning a little late and wasn’t able to get ready in time to join my running group. I needed this run to go well and I was determined for it to go well. I went to my favorite flat running trail. The weather was beautiful and I beat the crowd and didn’t have to wait for a parking spot. I knew the 8 miles was going to be tough and I brought a GU to try for the first time. I started out slow, which is hard for me, I usually just take off and go fast (for me). My legs felt good and I just had a great run. I took the GU at mile 4, which tasted absolutely DISGUSTING (no more lemon lime flavor for me), but I definitely felt a boost from it. I decided to pick up the pace for the last few miles and negative split the rest of the miles, with the last mile being my fastest. I couldn’t have asked for a better confidence booster. This run came when I needed it the most and I was so proud of myself when I finished. I really wanted to high 5 someone at the end of my run but since I was solo I decided not scare the other people on the running trail with random high 5s. Luckily when I went to Katie’s house later to watch football and just hang out with her and her family, she gave me a high 5.

I wore my compression sleeves under my jeans to katie’s house to get my legs recovered for my Sunday 5 miler. The 5 miler was supposed to be a pace run, with 1 mile warm up and cool down and 3 miles at race pace. I went into thinking it would be whatever my legs decided it was going to be the day after a 8 miler. Well my legs were feeling good Sunday too and I actually went faster than race pace on all 5 miles. I don’t know what happened this weekend but I hope it happens on race day! I ran 13 miles this weekend and I feel great. I’m just proud of myself for rebounding from my rough travel week and bad runs.

I also have some great great GREAT fundraising news! I’m up to $1130 and 42% of my goal. I still have a long way to go so if you would like to donate go HERE!

Man I love Honey Boo Boo animated gifs!

I Need Your Help!

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve signed up for a half marathon, and actually I’ve signed up for two. Not really sure how smart it was to sign up for my 2nd half before training really began for my first, but I’ve always acted on impulse.

After my 3rd 5k, Expedition Everest.

Speaking of impulses, I also joined Team Challenge, which raises money for research and awareness for Crohn’s and Colitis. Team Challenge Georgia happens to be heading to the Las Vegas Rock N Roll Half Marathon on Dec 2nd, which is the half marathon I already signed up for. Since I’d already made the decision to run the half marathon (plus I’ve already paid for my plane ticket, race entry and hotel room deposit, which is what Team Challenge covers in expenses for you) it just seemed like a good idea to join Team Challenge.

Learn more about CCFA here

To be honest I wasn’t that familiar with Crohn’s or Colitis at first. I agreed to go to an info session for Team Challenge and had the mindset that if I had to raise more than $1000 then I wasn’t going to do it. When I saw the number was $2,700 I almost peed my pants, but then I started listening to the stories of people with the disease and talking with the coaches and mentors of the group. After that I just couldn’t say no and I wanted to help in any way I could to find a cure for this disease. I’m really not going to go into the details of Crohn’s or Colitis, but they are autoimmune irritable bowel diseases. Most people who have this disease are embarrassed to discuss the details because of the nature of the symptoms. After signing up for Team Challenge I found out that I have a family member with the disease.

So I’ve signed up for the task to raise $2,700 for Crohn’s and Colitis and I need your help to make this possible! A donation of any amount would help and I would greatly appreciate anything you can do to help! If your not able to financially support, I would love any moral support you can give me during my training and race.

You can donate online by clicking here. If you’d rather mail me check please send me an email or facebook message and I’ll get you my address. All donations are tax deductible and 82 cents of every dollar raised goes straight to the cause. It’s even more with donations to me since I’ve already paid my expenses and while I’ll be reimbursed, I’m donating all that money back into the cause.

I’m also trying to come up with fundraising ideas, so if you have any good ideas please let me know! I’m already planning to sell a YSL purse on ebay to donate all the proceeds. I may even sell some of my red velvet white chocolate chip cookies too.

Please help if you can! And look forward to updates about my training!

Things I’ve Learned

I’ve been running for over 5 months and over time I’ve learned a few things…

  • Find clothes that work for you. I’ve tried different types of shorts, pants, leggings, capris and certain things just don’t work for my body type. Being comfortable is number 1! Find what works for you and go for it.
  • Have a plan. If you’re just starting out find a plan to help you build up your running stamina. I started with couch to 5k and once that ended, Tina gave me a running plan incorporated in my running plan. I would have been so lost without it
  • Get fitted for proper running shoes. This really really really helped me! I used to have issues with shin splints, but since I was fitted for proper running shoes I haven’t had ANY! Miracle I tell you!
  • Drink water and more water and more water and more water and more water, just when you think you’ve drank enough drink more water. And then when you’re going to the bathroom every hour, still drink more water. Now I’m still lazy so walking to the water cooler is a big hinderance for my water intake. To overcome that problem I have a 32 oz camelback water bottle that really helps with that. I only have two go twice a day, which really helps keep me hydrated.
  • Find the proper fuel for you. Before I run I usually have half a luna bar and water. If I’m going to run later I’ll have more food, but I have to let that digest so I don’t cramp up when I run. Post fueling is also important. I’m like super super prone to migraines (it’s bad like really bad and it sucks) so it took me a while to find the best ways to rehydrate so I don’t have a migraine after every run. I’ve finally found it (and it changes the more I run). I drink lots of coconut water and so far it’s been working wonders for me.
  • You’re going to have bad runs and feel like garbage. It happens and you just have to realize it and move on to the next day. Sometimes you have a bad running week and then the next week you just kill it!
  • HAVE FUN! If you don’t enjoy running then don’t do it. Find the cardio or workouts that you enjoy doing. I hated running for such a long time and now I’m hooked on it. I know I have to give my body rest days but on those days I have the itch to run or do a weights workout, I have to tell myself I need to let my body rest.

I’m definitely not a running expert, but I’m at least a runner now. Maybe one day I’ll be some crazy marathon runner who is super fast, but right now I’m happy in my beginner state, just working on getting faster and doing the best I can.

If you run, what have you learned from running? What tips do you have for a newbie runner like me?

 

Race Anxiety

My race is 6 days away, probably less by the time you’re reading this. As the race has gotten closer, my anxiety levels have gotten higher. Questions and doubt have been running through my mind, can I finish? Will I finish in a decent time? Why is this so hard? Last week’s two horrible runs did not help ease my anxiety, they definitely made it worse.

I definitely have anxiety issues with pretty much everything in life. I’m just someone who gets anxious and feeds off of that anxiety. Most of the time it makes me perform better, but I’m not sure that will be the case with running. Running is just as much mental as it is physical. I’m trying to stay upbeat and positive but it’s not easy.

Friday morning I woke up with an awful sore throat and a cough. I went for a run anyways, but I shortened the time on it. I ended up having a great run, I was supposed to do 4 strides in 30 minutes. Since I only had 20 minutes for my run, I ran as fast as I could for the first mile, which ended up being my fastest mile by 1 min 40 sec, at 9 min 41 sec. I ran the mile back to my apartment at an easy pace.

By Friday afternoon I felt like crap and I knew this was not going to be good for my training. I planned on going to the race course on Saturday for my 40 min easy run. I really wanted to run the course ahead of time to gain confidence. I woke up on Saturday still feeling like crap, even though I slept for over 10 hours. I attempted to do one of my strength training circuits and had to give up after two times through only do the upper body exercises.

This morning I woke up feeling much better and decided to get out the door and running before my body realized I was still sick.  My goal was to run the entire 40 minutes without walking and making it 3.1 miles. I knew I wasn’t 100% so I just took it slow. I did both!

Finishing and making it 3.1 miles has given me a nice lil confidence boost. I know I can run the whole distance, even when sick. I’m looking forward to seeing how much I can push my body and how quickly I can finish it in.

Unless I get the urge to write earlier, the next time you hear from me will be after my race, hopefully I’ll have good news for you. Send me lots of run fast vibes on Saturday!