Posts tagged ‘race prep’

St Jude Half Marathon Recap 2009

I don’t think I could have asked for a better first half marathon. Even five days after St. Jude and despite a cold, I am still on a half-marathon runner’s high.  I have stopped wearing my medal, but I am sure strangers can still see the pride beaming from my face.  After all, finishing your first half marathon is a big deal.

On race day, I woke up ahead of the alarm and had my planned breakfast.  All my clothes were laid out and I dressed slowly.  I decided on two tech shirts (purple showing) and my fleece vest with purple shorts over black tights.  It was about 25 degrees when I left the house and it felt that way.  My boyfriend took me downtown and dropped my close to the start.  He would meet me at the finish a few hours later.

The next hour was spent waiting and walking in an attempt to stay warm.  I was not very successful but met a few nice people to keep my mind off the chill. All morning I was amazed at how calm I was.  I never got butterflies.

At exactly 8:00, the race started.  I was in corral #10 and began my race with 17:30ish on the clock.  The first mile was slow, especially because my toes were completely numb and refused to wake up.  Finally in the second mile my feet felt normal and everyone around me seemed to wake up, too.  There were gloves and sweatshirts flying through the air as people began ridding themselves of now-unnecessary layers.  I was struck by the thought that if this kept up, I would be running with a bunch of streakers by mile five. Luckily things leveled out.

My pre-race plan divided the course into three segments: 1) First five miles: this was the twisty part of the course weaving in and out of downtown streets hitting a few of the Memphis highlights and ending on the St. Jude Campus.  2) Next five: straight stretch for three miles followed by a winding two miles through Overton park.  3) Final 3.1 miles: another straight stretch back downtown toward with several downhill surges and a few final turns into the AutoZone Redbirds Stadium.

I knew if I made it to mile 5 feeling strong, the rest of the race would go well.  I knew if I made it to mile 10, the rest would feel downhill.  Luckily, I was right on both accounts.  After a very slow 11:00 first mile, I got a little elbowroom at picked up to the 10:30 pace I maintained most of the race.  The highlight of this stretch was running through the St. Jude Campus and seeing all the kids and employees that came out to support us.  It was inspiring to see firsthand what an impact this fundraising event has in their lives.

The next stretch was fairly flat with a few hills.  Spectators continued to line the roads and cheer for us.  St. Jude did a great job with the course, having water, Powerade and portas at each mile marker.  There were so many volunteers braving the cold to support us and it was much appreciated.

During mile 8 my knee began hurting and continued for about half a mile until it stopped as abruptly as it started.  No complaints now, especially as it has not hurt since.  When I rounded the corner out of the park and hit Poplar just before mile 10, I knew I had made it to the final stretch and would make it.

The final stretch was a mix of energy and exhaustion.  I am not sure if the energy was from gels and apple juice or adrenaline, but it waned a few times.  I had a back up plan of calling my sister if I ever really wanted to stop running, but it never got to that point.  At mile 12, I picked up the pace and despite being tired found I had the energy to maintain.  Downtown was coming closer with each step and before I knew it, I turned the corner and saw the stadium.

I started to see people who had already finished the half who had come out to cheer us on.  Then I really got excited. I actually told a few people who were walking, “we got this” as I ran past, hoping they would get excited too.  I started to sprint and ran into the stadium, only to realize that I was not quite at the finish.  One more big push and I crossed the line.  I had done it!

I did not experience the tears I had expected but still felt a great sense of accomplishment.  I texted boyfriend, “Did it,” and began looking for water.  I passed up the post-race photos for water and a heat blanket.  Luckily there were a few great shots of me sprinting to and crossing the finish line.

I found boyfriend and before I knew it, we were walking back to the car.  The day was done.  I had run and finished my first half.  The sheers size of what I had done hit me as I looked at the car clock on the way to my house.  Only 5 hours before we were leaving my house, and now we were back.  It seemed like days.  I ran literally half the time we had been gone.  It was an amazing feeling that felt even more amazing under a warm blanket after a hot shower and half a pizza.

I would say the big thing about race day is realizing that it’s not the only day.  Each day of training led me to this point.  And it doesn’t end on race day either.  I am already working toward the next one.  It was a wonderful moment, and one of many I hope to have as I continue running.  Thank you for sharing this one with me!  All your support through my journey meant so much.  I hope you enjoy the pics!


December 10, 2009 at 10:47 pm 3 comments

Ready to run!

Since my first run just three months ago, I have trained consistently.  I have covered uncounted miles and acquired several pairs of running shorts.  I have even purchased 4 pairs of fancy wool socks at $14 each.  I have finished two races and was happy with both finish times. I have read a running book, a triathlon book and everything Running World has ever published on its website.  I have also faithfully read many great blogs and runner tweets.  Today, it is quite obvious that all my prep work is complete and there is just one thing left to do: run.

I could make it a lot more complicated.  I could talk about all the many feelings and thoughts running through—how I almost cried when I got my race packet at the expo because I was so excited or how I have obsessed over the ever-dropping temperatures that are now estimated be about 28 degrees when I head out in the morning—but the one thought coming in loud and clear over every other thought is that I am ready to run.

My legs feel great.  My running kit is all laid out.  My gels and apple juice are in the right pockets and zipped tightly in my fuel belt.  The camera is charge.  Boyfriend knows where to be.  I am very carbo-loaded.  My playlist is finalized.  It is time to run.

Tonight, I plan to relax, knowing all the details are taken care of.  I am sure there will be a moment of panic in the morning—even in the middle of the night—but I am ready.  Tomorrow is my first half marathon and I am ready!  All those shirts and stickers in the expo? Tomorrow they all pertain to me. It is so overwhelming I can’t help tearing up just a little.  It must be all the carbs.  Tears, freezing temps and 13.1 miles will all be tackled tomorrow.  I am ready to run!

December 4, 2009 at 10:52 pm 1 comment

St Jude Half Marathon Bound


First and foremost, I am pleased to announce I am running in the St. Jude Half Marathon on Saturday.  You may wonder why this is news.  I have been talking about running this race for months.  Well, here’s a quick breakdown of my Thanksgiving drama.

Sunday: Great 10-mile run

Tuesday: Bad leg pain that fits the description of a classic stress fracture.  I make a doctor’s appointment.

Wednesday morning: Doctor agrees it sounds like a stress fracture.  When it becomes clear I will not stop running without proof, he schedules MRI.

Wednesday afternoon: They call before the MRI to let me know it will cost $850 because I have not met the deductible on my new insurance.  I call my mom (the nurse), who asks if knowing really changes the course of treatment.  Since it doesn’t, she agreed I could skip it (so that I could afford heat this winter).

Wednesday night: I ran a mile and everything, including my leg, felt terrible.  I sat in the floor for an hour feeling sorry for myself.  My leg did not hurt worse than anything else, but I was scared to keep running and risk it.

Thursday morning: I tried to run the Turkey Trot.  After 1.5 miles I quit.  My leg was twinging and there were so many people it was impossible to walk it off.  Yeah, I know.  I drove the 2.5 hours to my mom’s to eat turkey feeling sorry for myself.

Friday morning: When I told my grandmother I wanted to try running once more, she begged me not to run.  Common sense seemed to point toward bailing out.  Getting hurt would be jeopardizing all the other things I want to do this spring.   I was really pitifully bummed the entire drive home (sad, rejected playlist).

Friday night: Boyfriend told me to quit worrying and psyching myself out.  I tried the hop test and no pain.  Still undecided.

Saturday: On my feet all day decorating and no pain.  Decided to try one more run.

Sunday Morning: I ran 5 miles and my leg did not hurt at all.  I felt out of breath on the first 2 miles, only to discover I was running really fast—not hopelessly out of shape from my pitiful running attempts.

Sunday Afternoon: Brunch downtown.  No pain, but a few mimosas—my last drinks until after Saturday.

Monday: No pain from the run.  I am planning another run tomorrow and getting ready for the big day Saturday.

The moral of the story: stress fractures can affect the brain, too.  I think I was so worried about a new pain (not unlike others I have felt along the way that faded naturally, with rest or with ice) interfering with my race, that I overreacted and let it interfere with my race.  I am glad I had it checked and incredibly thankful I feel better.  Also glad I did not spend $850 on the MRI.

November 30, 2009 at 10:48 pm Leave a comment

Good and bad

The good news is my purple shirt and new “racing cap” were delivered today just in time for Thursday’s Turkey Trot and my half marathon next weekend.  They match my tights perfectly and look great!

The bad news is I woke up with a terrible pain in my leg that has not gone away.  I know I am overreacting, but I am going to the doctor tomorrow to make sure it is not a stress fracture.  I may wear my purple shirt to the appointment for good luck.

November 24, 2009 at 11:02 pm Leave a comment

Getting closer

Sunday was my long run.  You know, the super long 10-mile run?  It was, in a simple, beautiful word, awesome.  I tried to do everything as if it were race day, and while I know that is much easier to do when it is not race day, all went well.

I felt great when I set out.  My first mile was a little slow, just 10:22, but I decided not to sweat it and just keep running a solid pace.  Throughout the run I could tell I was holding pretty consistent to 10:30 miles.  Each time I wanted to slow down, I just told myself I had the juice to keep going.

About 8.5 miles, I had the temptation to cut the run a little short.  I just starting to get tired, but I never seriously contemplated an easy out.  Before the thought had really formed, I got this mental picture of myself finishing my race in two weeks and almost started crying I was so proud.  That definitely kept me going.

When my Nike+ said 400 meters, I was ready to cross the finish line.  I started sprinting.  I next thought it said 50 meters to go and I really picked up the pace.  Then it said 100 meters to go.  I will admit to shouting “bitch” a little more loudly than one should in a nice neighborhood, but kept sprinting.  Finally, those great Nike+ words, “you have completed your workout.”  I had done it!

My final time was 1:45:38 with an average 10:33 mile.  For my 9 miles last week I averaged 11:01 per mile, so this was a major improvement.  This was also the first long run where my splits were consistent instead of getting progressively slower.  Even better, I feel much better the day after this 10 than I did after last week’s 9.  It is amazing what I week of resting and hydration can do!

I refueled with two 4 oz apple juices and one gel.  I will do one more of each I think on race day but otherwise I felt good. I did order the purple shirt, and it should be here this week for a few test runs.  Otherwise, I am going to try to take the advice of my friends and taper.  I think that must be easier said than done though, because I am bummed I don’t get to do another 10-miler this weekend.

I am hitting the gym tonight to stay loose, then 5 miles tomorrow.  My goals for the week are to eat well and sleep well.  Why is that the hardest part?

Photo credit:

November 23, 2009 at 10:28 pm Leave a comment

Just 35 more miles

There are no two ways about; I procrastinate.  More than once after finally doing the thing I’ve been dreading, I have found myself thinking, “that wasn’t so bad,” or “that was much quicker/better/more fun than I expected.”  I procrastinate about a long list of things including cleaning, work projects, taking the dog out and even going to bed.  Lately, I have put off running until the last possible moment too, which makes my blog even later!

I can say I sort of had a good reason to stall on running this week, or at least I thought I did.  After my 9 miles Sunday, my right knee was really sore.  After icing all day Monday, I was afraid to run on it Tuesday and opted for the gym instead.  Thursday I was supposed to run, but I was so afraid of finding out my knee was really “messed up,” I waited until today.  A week’s worth of worry (and rest) resulted in a fine run today and very little pain afterwards.

Running really is 98% mental.  I have just 35 miles to go before my race and I need every one of them.  Putting them off is not an option.  No room for procrastination or excuses.  Just 35 more miles.  I can’t believe I have come this far, and you better believe I am going all the way!  Next up: 10 on Sunday.

Photo credit:

November 20, 2009 at 10:38 pm 1 comment

Fancy Fleece Wear


Gearing up for my run this morning seemed to take forever.  It was 40 degrees out, which I consider quite chilly, so I stacked on a light skullcap under my running cap, pulled on shorts over my tights, added a fleece vest over my long-sleeved shirt and at the last minute decided I needed my gloves too.  All I could do was laugh before heading out, thinking about all those times I have read that running is a low gear sport.  I don’t think anything I do is low gear.

After half a mile I stopped being cold. At mile 2, I contemplated taking the gloves off but decided against it.  I guess when dressing guides ask what temp you like to be, my answer would be “warm.”  At mile 5, I needed to consume my gel and decided to take off the gloves instead of getting them sticky.  I was surprised to see they were soaked through, but my hands were dry and did not chill in the air.

I finished mile 8 strong and walked about half a mile to stretch everything out.  (I always wonder if I am walking as slow as I think or if it just feels slow after running.  I always think someone will offer to give me a ride because I am barely moving. )

At home, my running cap was soaked but the skullcap was pretty dry and had kept me warm.  I notice my vest was really damp on the outside but I was dry and toasty.  All of my wicking stuff seemed to have wicked well, but I have yet to see the wicking product that could prevent a salt-covered face. After 8 miles. Running is not always pretty.

After I got in the shower I remembered how silly I had felt before my run all geared up in everything my running shop could offer.  What can I say, it all worked.  I was warm and dry, and spent my run focusing on running instead of my clothes or the cold.   And really, that isn’t silly at all.

November 6, 2009 at 8:56 pm Leave a comment

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