Divas Half Marathon: Race Report

Went into this race with absolutely no time or PR expectations. My goals were simple: have fun and FINISH with my two best running friends. No nerves. No stress. Headed over Saturday to the race expo to pick up my bib and was thoroughly overwhelmed with more pink than I have seen in my lifetime. Pink is just not my color. Never has been. Race expo was super small with a couple of fun booths: Lululemon, Runningskirts.com, and See Jane Run:

Not going to lie, the absolute hardest part of this 13.1:

Woke up at the butt crack of dawn, stumbled into the kitchen, drank my coffee, got sparkled up, and headed out to pick up my running partners in crime:

The end result = a PR for one BRF and an amazing illustration of hard work, perseverance, and running triumphs by both my BRFs. WE also got to be a small part in another friends FIRST race: awesomeness all around. After THREE YEARS and seven half marathons, I can finally say that I finished a race WITH my two best running friends. And it was by far my most memorable race to date. I can still see E’s smile as she ran down the finish shoot and the triumph of finishing on R’s face…both priceless.

And what happens when you ask strangers to take pictures, no attempt to move us out of the shade, sorry J:

I really wanted to LOVE this race. And I LOVED the route: absolutely gorgeous.

BUT…

* they ran out of water at the turnaround. Like, completely out of cups AND WATER. One dude handed me a pitcher of water and told me to drink from there. At other water stations, they were not prepared for the numbers of people and water cups were not pre-made. You were handed an empty cup and then had to wait in line for someone to fill your cup.

* mile markers were not super visible.

* large portions of the race were run on super small two lane trails and got super congested.

* the post race snacks and champagne lines were ridiculously long. Had we waited in them, we likely would have missed the last shuttle back to our car.

* the last shuttles were not schedule out far enough and did not leave people enough time to enjoy the post-race festivities.

* the shuttles were poorly organized. No lines, no signage, very little communication amongst drivers and multiple buses went to the same hotel versus the other locations in need.

* the race touts good-looking firemen at the finish handing you your rose and finisher’s medal; however, the reality was prepubescent boys in firemen-ish costume. Quite possibly the biggest disappointment.

* their Facebook fan pages posted that over 6,000 people registered and only 5500 packets were picked up, yet they still ran out of goods. I truly don’t understand this. Despite being an inaugural event, running out of water is just not acceptable, especially at a pivotal point such as the turnaround.

With the race done, I am looking forward to crossing the next big milestone off my bucket list: a triathlon. Of course, this means I need to find a pool and see if my junior high swim team experience still holds. And a bike without a flat tire. In honor of working towards this goal, I sucked it up, and gave spin a second chance. For the record, my booty still hurts but I killed the class. I have never, in my life, SWEAT so much. I will be back. I am determined to finish a triathlon in the near future. Without drowning.

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Running Magic: BRFs


I am certain I could do anything with these two by my side.

They have taught me that much.

Running has taught me that much.

8 miles on Sunday, with two of my favorite people.

MAGIC

Ready for race day. Excited.

Bring it: number seven.


I Love Running, I Hate Running, I LOVE Running…

There are many things in life I have a love/hate relationship with: mornings, jeans…RUNNING.

I hate the first five minutes. Without fail, every single run. It’s a struggle to get the legs going, get my head in the game. It is often at this point where the decision as to how far I’ll go is made. Or not made, in some cases.

I hate the sore, the pain, the aftermath of a particularly sucktastic run.

I hate the rebuilding of your base mileage after time off. Knowing what you CAN do, HAVE done, but not being ABLE to do it.

I hate that my thighs don’t cooperate with the super cute running skirts out there. Thigh rubbage + shorts = no bueno. For anyone.

I hate the stress and anxiety of sticking to a training plan.

BUT…

I love the twinge of jealousy I feel when I see someone running outside while I am driving in the car.

I love the confidence, self esteem, and sense of accomplishment gained from conquering 13.1.

I love and cherish my friendships made on the trails.

I love the example I am setting for my boys.

I love the ME that I am when running consistently.

Sunday was slated to be a typical long training run, the last before my May 6th Half. As always, trying to schedule anything with two other busy mammas proved difficult and I ended up on my own for this one. In the past, this would have done me in. I would have either ditched the run all together or powered through 8 or 9 and called it a day.

It may sound cheesy or completely cliché, but something happened on this run that has never happened before and I have no idea why. I wish I could bottle it up the awesomeness for future use.

Having run many training runs on this particular trail, I decided to run out and back 4, stop at my car, pick up my new handheld water bottle, and then head out for the remaining 8.

Throughout the first four miles, I still held out hope that one of my Best Running Friends would text that she was on her way. Meanwhile, I struggled to find my legs and had to reset the mind for a new game plan: 12 solo miles. I headed out for four, found myself back at the car, and picked up my water bottle. There are only two water stops on the trail and I knew I had to suck it up can carry my own. I haaaaaaated running with the water, but perhaps that made the difference?

Headed out for 8. Mentally telling myself I hadn’t just run 4 and only had 8 to go today. Four out, four back.

I purposefully left my g-mo at home. When running with the Garmin, I find myself obsessively checking the mileage and pace, pushing myself harder to reach a certain time. Instead, I ran with my iPhone and the Nike+ app LOVING the little applause that played each time someone liked the post. I wanted to track the mileage, but not necessarily the pace.

The miles weren’t flying by, but they were falling by the wayside nicely. My pace was surprising as I was running comfortably, following my find the JOY in running plan. I was grateful for my water. It as warm, even at 7:30.

I got back to the car and my mileage was at 12.44. I noticed a sub-2 was easily in sight. I threw my belt and water bottle in the car and headed out for the last .6 or so. If I did it, awesome. If not, okay.

I have never in my life had such an amazing 13.1. Certainly, NEVER during a training run. I knew that I would be running Divas for fun. I have never looked at that race in any other way. My two BRFs will be taking some time off and it will be our last hurrah together. I have every intention of crossing that finish line WITH both of them, something we have never done in our three years of running together.

I am certain that the cross training has paid off.

I am thrilled that my body knows what to do.

I am less than thrilled that it appears a handheld water bottle seems to be the way to go. Any tips on how to carry this without hating it?

More than anything, I LOOOVE how this run made me feel. Kick ass. Strong. Confident.

I LOVE RUNNING.


The Year I Put the JOY Back in Running…

Running is hard.

It’s hard on your body. Your mind.

Some days, it’s the perfect retreat that allows me to refuel my sanity tank. Some days, it’s a lonely, mentally challenging battle.

Some days, the miles fly by. Some days, the miles draaaaaag.

For the first time, ever, I couldn’t finish a run. My run Sunday, ten miles on the books, sucked. I can list a number of reasons why, but in the end, it just wasn’t one of those glorious, Nike-commercial-esque, sweat free, no jiggle endeavors. It was a funky, sweaty, plodding, grimacing affair.

And I began to wonder why…

I’ve done the train to finish thing.

I’ve done the train to PR thing.

Yes, PR’s are indescribable. You train hard, you sacrifice, and you meet your goal, hopefully.

But you are often ALONE.

Crossing the finish to your own applause.

To this day, my PR races are memorable, but the MOST memorable are those run with friends. AND finished with friends.

There was a time not so long ago that training and running was my number one. I ran at all costs. But I didn’t foresee the burnout. The effect on my body. I didn’t understand how people could train for 13.1 and NOT race. Heh.

Much like everything, you don’t understand until you do.

Nearly every hat I wear in my life: mother, sister, daughter, wife, friend…presents a multitude of challenges everyday. Some are won, some are lost. Some set aside for another day…

This year, my runner hat will only present me with JOY. I will not let it get me down. If I miss a run, I will not feel guilty. If I run a personal best, I will feel proud. If I don’t run a personal best, I will feel the joy in the process, in the moment, in the being there. If I enter a race with friends, I will ENJOY the moment, cherish their company, and thrive in their presence.

As hard as it will be for me, I will not let the numbers dictate my love of running. Instead, I will put the time spent with friends and memories made first.

Bring on the happy, BRFs.


Expectations

It only takes one…

One missed run to throw you off track.

One sick kid to throw off your routine.

One traveling husband to throw off your training.

One bad run to throw off your mental game.

The truth: I am not where I had hoped to be at this point in training. Mentally. Physically. Pace wise. In all honesty, I am nowhere near where I had hoped to be. Between our family travels, sickness, and the husband’s travels, I just don’t have the long runs under my belt to realistically hope for a PR. Funny, I assumed as the boys got older, finding time to run would get easier. Not so much.

But I won’t give up. I need to let go of former expectations and embrace new ones. Easier said than done, but running has taught me that much. Sometimes merely getting to the starting line is the victory. In every race I have run to date, the starting line is more emotional for me than the finish.

It only takes one…

One laugh to make you smile.

One good run to get you back in the game.

One good run to make you see the possibilities.

One good run to make you remember why…

Ran 9.1 on Sunday after a horrendous week. My first long run of the season.

Grateful that my body remembered how. Grateful for the reminder that 13.1 is possible. Grateful for the newfound outlook towards the May half.

Old expectation: sub 1:50. New: embrace the journey. Take pride in the journey. ENJOY the journey.


Running Magic

Sometimes you need a little EXTRA motivation to get those miles in. Sometimes new music works. Maybe a new piece of gear. At my favorite running spot, there is a magical view that motivates me every single time. As you round the corner of the last hill, hill FIVE, I have counted many, many times…

Getting closer…

You are gifted with this magical view. Even more magical on a 70+ degree day in FEBRUARY:

And the best part is sharing this with my littlest little man. Every Wednesday after we drop big brother off at school, I ask him what he’d like to do. The last two Wednesdays he wanted to walk and “expore”, so walk and explore we did:

Magic.


An Ode to My Running Homey-Mama-Girlfriends

There are many concrete truths about running:

* It’s hard. It doesn’t matter if you run a 7 min/mile or a 14 min/mile, it’s hard.

* It gets easier but NEVER easy.

* The first five minutes are often the same torturous endeavor for every runner.

* You get out of it what you put in. Every single time. Consistency is key.

* Properly fitted shoes are imperative.

* I never thought I would be a runner = the famous last words of almost every runner out there.

* It’s ALWAYS easier with friends.

There are few things I vividly remember these days. Ask me what I had for dinner last night and it will take me a few minutes to conjure up an answer, if at all.

Wedding day. The birth of my boys. And crossing the finish line at my first Half Marathon. Vivid details, to this day.

What began as a fluke challenge after the birth of our second kids has turned into something far greater than the three of us could have imagined. Training for, and conquering, 13.1 miles is truly a journey. A long one.

But doable. Especially if you are fortunate to have a best running girl. Or TWO.

There is a bond built over hours and hours and miles and miles of pounding pavement. Stories are shared, souls opened up, and magic happens. Somehow the impossible becomes possible, the hard becomes easier, and the miles pass by. We have run through some of life’s greatest challenges, proved that busy doesn’t equal impossible, and set forth an example of strength and health for our children. Some days the miles represent an oasis of kid-free calm, other days, the miles represent some much needed girl time while solving the daily woes of what to make for dinner when you have a kid who won’t eat anything of the non-beige variety.

For years, I avoided running like the plague. It wasn’t for me. It was something that I’d do, if needed. If being chased. If my life depended on it. Yet, now, I can’t imagine my life without it. Running is a funny thing. It’s a constant challenge, and sometimes that gets old. However, there is always a small thrill of victory when finishing a run of any distance. A twinge of jealousy as I drive by another person running out on the street.

It is easy to lose the ME in Mommy: kids, husband, house, dishes, laundry, everything else…YOU. Running has opened the door that allowed me to find a love of fitness, find strength I never knew I had, and find a reason to put ME back in Mommy.

But more than anything, running has given me the priceless gift of friendship. Of two special, inspiring, amazing running girlfriend-mama homies. Without them, I know I wouldn’t be here training for number seven.

Everyone needs at least one best running homey. Someone to inspire them. Encourage them. Push them. Talk to. Come race day, no matter when we finish, how we finish, we’ll be crossing that finish line together. In spirit. A triumvirate of determined, dedicated, likely tired, Mamas. Victorious. Let the official training begin…the journey to number seven.