They Pulled out All the Stops: BCS Marathon Review

Disclosure: I received a complimentary race entry for the BCS Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

When I attended school at Texas A&M (can I get an “a-whoop!?”), I had several friends slave away to run the BCS Marathon. I always thought it would be cool to run a half, but never, in a million years, did I see myself running a full.

Because I couldn’t even run three miles at the time.

Four years later, and I’m back to do just that. Funny how life works.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s cut to the chase. I’m here today to review the BCS Marathon in College Station, Texas.


Pre-Race

A turn of events caused us to be in Austin late Saturday before the race, so I actually wasn’t able to attend the expo. Head over to Live Slow Run Fast if you would like a better idea of what that was like.

I can provide more feedback on the pre-race morning experience. Being in College Station, parking is a non-issue. There are a variety of hotels close to the start line at Post Oak Mall, so I was able to sleep in until a glorious 5 a.m. alarm. We left our hotel around 6:15 and parked by about 6:25. It was just a short walk to the start line, where I met up with Jessica. I noticed there were plenty of porta potties as we made our way to the start line – there was hardly even a line!


The Gun Goes Off

Soon enough, it was time to run. Jessica and I ran together for the first 5 miles or so; it’s always a pleasure to get to run with a friend. We went our separate ways and it started to look like I just might be able to pull off a 5 hour marathon.

The route was scenic and ran all over the Bryan/College Station area. We ran through the historic neighborhoods, then moved on to downtown Bryan. Later on, we made our way out to the Tradition’s golf course, which offered more nature/scenic views. Finally, we ran back to campus as people started to hit the dreaded “wall.” It’s planned perfectly because student organizations come out to cheer people on and staff aid stations. And everyone wants to be near campus, so they are really excited!

I truly appreciated the pacers. At my first marathon, there were no pacers for the full marathon, which felt lonely toward the end. I’m sure it’s quite rare for a marathon so small (less than 1,000) to have pacers. The attention to detail really helped me stay motivated. The 5:15 pacer and I kept passing each other, and he was super cool. The marathon relay group also made the course feel a lot less empty, which was well-planned.

Aid stations were also fabulous. They all had water and Gatorade, as well as medical staff (with Vaseline for chafing). Every few aid stations, they offered food – Gu, orange slices, bananas, gummy candies, etc. The race was small enough that the stations weren’t crowded, either.

Personally, I didn’t hit the wall until about mile 21, because there were barely any hills. My race felt pretty great the whole way, but at mile 21, my leg started to cramp. I stayed the course, got some Tylenol and drank some Gatorade at the next [perfectly-timed] aid station, and was able to power through the rest of the race.

I had to make it up one last hill to the 26 mile marker, and then I sprinted back downhill to finish.


Finisher Party (and boy, was it time to part-ay)

The finish line crowd was also spirited, as was the announcer (who high-fived me). It felt like a much larger race. Immediately after crossing, I was able to find my husband and parents, who had come in from out of town. I received my beautiful medal, banged the PR gong (heck yeah, 20 minute personal record), and headed to the party.

The post-race party was filled with food and goodies. It was easy to find my finisher jacket, which was also pretty well-made. There were pizza rolls, beer, margaritas, breakfast tacos, the list goes on. It was just awesome. I also liked that there was a little bit of a walk back to the parking lot from Wolf Pen Creek, where the party was. It helped me to cool down, which I too often do not do.

Overall, I would recommend the BCS Marathon to anyone.

It’s almost as well done as the big ones, but with a small town heart. There is truly something for everyone. Plus, Aggies are very friendly, and that spirit proved true for this race.

However, due to the race occurring during the holiday season, I would personally appreciate a packet mailing option; yes, running a marathon is obviously a huge deal, but it’s the time of year where things come up. It would have been helpful to have a way to work that out.


Well, I did it, you guys! I ran my second marathon – the BCS Marathon. Did not know how I was going to make it at times, but I did. With a final time of 5:21:38, BCS was the fastest marathon I’ve run yet. It was also a great value for the price; marathons are expensive, but they pulled out all the stops, just like at a larger race.

Cheers to marathon PR’s in your old hometown.

Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon Recap and Review

Disclosure: I received a complimentary race entry for the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

As most of you know, I’ve been training for the BCS Marathon, with the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon as a bit of a benchmark midway through. This past weekend (October 16) I finally made my way up to College Station for the race. Not only did I look forward to seeing how my former home has changed, but also to experience a city that I haven’t seen yet on the run. 

Pre-race

The race did a great job of communicating updates leading up to the race, through emails and social media. They also ran several giveaways with their sponsors on Facebook, which kept race goers engaged with the page. Actually, this is incredibly smart, because if timely messages need to be communicated, any page must have an active audience for Facebook to push out content.

img_4099In terms of the expo, it was held at the Nutrabolt headquarters. There were only 4 booths in total, including Nutrabolt’s area and the race packet pickup – not exactly what I’d call an expo. While signup and packet pickup were easy, the expo wasn’t anything to write home about. However, since there is no other way to pick up your packet for this race, it must be done!

Side note: we stayed at the Holiday Inn. It was clean, comfy and a 10 minute drive from the race. The staff were also friendly and accommodating.

Racing time!

The race starts at 7, but it’s a good idea to aim to be at the start line by 6:30, if you are meeting people, no later than 6:45 if you are riding solo. Parking and walking takes an extra 10ish minutes. You must pass through the underground tunnel leading to the start line before 6:45 to make it on time (it’s part of the race course).

Porta potty lines were as expected; there are plenty for the number of race participants, but there is always a line. Anyway, there were tons of announcements and of course the national anthem, the Aggie fight song (whoop!), and a prayer. Just get there early if you want to chat or use the bathroom. Unfortunately, I was running late… between all of the announcements, Erica at Another Half Please and I couldn’t snag much of a pre-race conversation, but we did catch up the first mile of the race and afterward. The race started, and we were off!

The first several miles of the course, we caught a view of the most beautiful sunrise as we ran through campus. That always makes the early mornings worthwhile. The course itself was fairly flat, with mild hills. For this Austinite, the course wasn’t particularly challenging.

The race field was not too big, and not too small (about 650 total for the half). There was no crowding on the course. The aid stations were consistently every 1.5 miles, and they were staffed with pleasant, friendly volunteers. I did not see any long lines for porta potties either; just 1 or 2 people total in line at a time, so they had an appropriate amount. They even placed Gu’s appropriately at around miles 4 and 10, as wells as oranges and bananas. This is a nice touch and an area where the race excelled. Any race I’ve attended that has fuel on the course puts it at mile 7 – kinda late to start fueling for a half. At the end of the course, where the path winds through a residential neighborhood, volunteers stood throughout to guide runners (also much appreciated)!

Finishing strong…

In terms of my time goal, I tried not to set one until I felt it out. Race morning was sunny and between 71 and 75 degrees. I did well before the sun was overhead. I tried to push myself in the last half to see if I could at least finish between 2:25-2:30. The heat got the better of me and I had to finish conservatively. I ultimately finished at 2:36:12. Not Austin 2016 at all, but I’m happy to have finished uninjured and enjoyed the experience overall. The finish line was also inside Kyle Field, which was really neat. I didn’t stay in there long though, because I was ready to get out of the sun and into the post race party. 

My face after my husband found me, drenched in sweat!

Post Race – Time to party!

One of my favorite parts of the Nutrabolt Half was the post race party. Karbach beer was on tap (4 different types). It would have been nice to have a cider choice available, especially to serve gluten-free folks. However, I sat down with a wheat beer, Weisse Versa, which was refreshing and appropriate, as my time in College Station was the peak of my beer drinking days. For runners, they also had pretzels and bratwurst, complementing the Oktoberfest theme, in addition to the other runner food staples of bananas, muffins, etc. There was only a line for beer, which also made it easy to enjoy the party!

This recap cannot be complete without a note on the wonderful swag we received. Before the race, we received a nice Nutrabolt bag (similar to lululemon shopping totes). Inside the bag were a couple of FitJoy bars, and a large beach towel. After the race, we received a super soft, triblend finisher’s shirt, a ceramic beer stein and a sweet medal. Even though none of these pieces were super technical, they are actually pieces that I will use outside of running, which is awesome. I prefer to get a few quality pieces of non-running swag than one tech shirt/jacket that is not made well, because I’ll just never use it! I’ve been wearing the t-shirt to sleep in all week, actually.

Overall, it was worth the trip to Aggieland; I will absolutely make the trip back if given the opportunity in the future. Thanks again to the race director for making this possible. I’m excited to return to C-Stat for my 2nd marathon in December.

Today’s question – what was your hottest race experience?

Cheers to “fall” races in Texas (and the beers that follow)!

 

Body Glide Review – Protect Your Skin this Summer

Disclosure: I received a sample of Body Glide Original Anti-Chafing Balm as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

Let’s be real here: not only are most people slightly embarrassed by chafing, but it is also physically uncomfortable. Luckily, I’ve never seen a community to talk so openly about chafing as the running community. Through the openness of other runners, I found out about Body Glide Original Anti-Chafing Balm, and it’s one of the products I’ve been using almost as long as I’ve been running, especially because I live in a climate that is so warm year-round.

I first realized how much I needed an anti-chafing product when I was in the thick of training for my first marathon. I came home from a long run and jumped in the shower, and that’s when I realized that unbeknownst to me, I had succumbed to chafing (ow!). So that’s when I purchased my first tube of Body Glide.

balmybalm

So what is Body Glide exactly?

Well, it is an anti-chafing and anti-blister balm, and it’s really as simple as that. Rather than gels, Vasoline, or powders that can be messy and stain your clothes, it creates a dry, transparent barrier to protect your skin from the constant rubbing that can be so painful. Since using Body Glide, I believe I have been saved from not just many instances of chafing, but also blisters as well.

Body Glide is easy to apply – their unique formula goes on just like deodorant (picture that scene in Juno where Paulie Bleeker looks like he is putting deodorant on his legs).

I find it’s easiest to apply Body Glide before you put on your running clothes, hence the bathroom photos.

tubbytub

See? It’s all over my leg and you can’t see it.

Even though it’s easy to apply, the balm is also long-lasting. As it took almost 6 hours for me to finish my first marathon, it’s safe to say that I am by no means a fast runner. However, even though it took a long time for me to finish, Body Glide lasted the entire time and my skin was left unscathed.

In addition to how well it works, how it’s made is also an aspect that sets Body Glide apart from the rest of anti-chafe products. Body Glide is free of a lot of ingredients that can clog your pores and irritate your skin.

And it has a pretty clean label… see for yourself:

  • Made with plant-derived ingredients
  • Petroleum-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Lanolin-free
  • Mineral oil-free
  • Allergen-free
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Never tested on animals
  • Child-safe

Really, in addition to Body Glide being a great product, the thoughtfulness that has gone into how its made is something I value as well. I appreciate that they have thought of active people with diverse needs with their manufacturing processes. I also like that the formula is non-drying (my skin tends to dry out easily), while still remaining breathable.

Chaffeychafe

If there is anything I would change about Body Glide, it’s that I have a hard time making sure I have covered an area thoroughly. Of course, this a small price to pay for something that is so easy to apply, transparent and does not stain your clothes. To make sure I am covered, I try to be generous during application. I run over the area with the palm of my hand to ensure I did not miss a spot.

To purchase Body Glide for yourself, visit BodyGlide.com. Different sizes are available ranging from reasonable prices of $5.49 – $14.99. If you have sensitive skin/want to test it before purchasing a larger tube, I’d recommend buying one of the smaller sizes to make sure it works best for you.

To wrap this up, I’ll ask a silly question for today. What’s your funniest chafing story? Let me know in the comments. 😉

Cheers to being chafe-free!

A Belated Blogiversary (and a Special Announcement)

Welp, it’s July, you guys! And you know what? Time has flown by and I just realized I never posted about my blogiversary.

It is hard to believe it’s been two years since I started training for races, running distances longer than 2 miles, etc. and of course, blogging! Reflecting on the past couple of years, I feel incredibly blessed to have come so far in such a short period of time, both in my blogging and running. I ran my first half marathon, then went on to run my first full marathon. Mostly, I have learned so much about myself (go figure).Me after I picked up my first race packet for the Houston Half Marathon!

Oh, and here is my super excited pace when I smashed my goal at the Hot Chocolate 15K earlier this year.

Through running, I have learned the value of hard work, commitment and perseverance. Pre-running, I was never able to stay committed to an exercise routine; not only have I gotten better at that, but I am also leaps and bounds better at understanding problems, and setting reasonable goals in order to solve them. Just this weekend, my husband and I proudly made the last payment on my student loans… We are now debt free! Of course, it has taken a lot of personal commitment from both of us to stay diligent together; I believe running has challenged me to be a better wife during tougher times, which has made times and accomplishments like these even sweeter. I could go on, but I will save the novel of words I could easily write for another time, because I have other exciting news to share this evening!

One of the highlights of this past year was running my first race in my new hometown of Austin, the Austin Half Marathon.

In light of my two year blogiversary, I have been aching to set a date for another race. While I don’t race THAT often, I do find that setting races gives me a solid goal to work towards. AND I really wanted to see what a difference nearly two years would make in my marathon time. I am excited to say that I’ve had the opportunity to sign up for not one, but two races on my list through BibRave.

The Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon on October 16, 2016

AND

The BCS Marathon on December 11, 2016!

I am both excited and nervous at the same time, because I want to train hard and continue to set better records for myself. But I am mostly excited, because Aggieland holds such a special place in my heart (and the post-race party for the Oktoberfest Half will have special steins with 10 craft beers to choose from, so what’s not to like).

Right after I became a marathoner in Irving… Looking forward to doing that again!

Both of these races will take place in Bryan/College Station, Texas, which I am also super pumped about (’cause I’m an Aggie, duh)! Seriously though, Chris and I have been trying to find an excuse to take a weekend to go back, reminisce on our college days, and take part in all of the wonderful (and fairly inexpensive) things that there are to do in C-Stat. I plan to post info on things to do in BCS in a separate post from my normal reviews, so you can get a better idea of not only why the race is great, but why you should make a trip to College Station to run it.

Oh and then there are discount codes. If you already were planning a fall or winter half or full marathon, and this seems like it might be for you, you can use the code RAVE2016 (for the Nutrabolt Half Marathon it expires on 9/16 and for BCS Marathon, it expires 11/11). That makes the BCS Marathon $85 if you register before August 31, which is totally reasonable if you have been wanting to give it a go. If you think you might want to run either of these with me, feel free to ask any questions, or check out the race websites: nutrabolthalf.com and bcsmarathon.com.

What races are you looking forward to this fall?

Cheers to personal growth through physical fitness!

Becoming a Runner Step 2: Finding a Schedule that Works

Want to tackle a half marathon, 10K, or even a full marathon in 2016? You’ve probably spent some time trying to find a method to help you accomplish that goal. Or perhaps you haven’t! Either way, I’m here to try to help take some of the guesswork out of that process, so you can get to running!

The longer I have been running consistently, the more I realize that running works for me because I’ve found a schedule that fits my lifestyle. When I was training for a marathon, I was running at least four days a week, and I did not have much time for anything else at a certain point. It was worth the commitment to accomplish my goal, but that rigorous workout schedule was one that I knew I couldn’t sustain for years and years.

Ask yourself the following questions to help determine the right distance and schedule for you.

What are my goals? Are they realistic?

If your goal is to go from 0 miles to a marathon runner in 3 months, that’s probably not realistic. However, maybe 0 to 6 miles is possible! Basically, the longer the distance you want to run, the more time you need. If you are starting from zero and want to run a marathon, give yourself a year (or two!). If you want to run a 10k, then that might be possible in 2 months. Just set your goal, and give yourself more than enough time to accomplish it. When I started running, one practical way I figured out how much time I needed was by finding the longest training schedule I could find, and giving myself an extra month in case I end up facing injury (I did this for the half and full marathon).

How often do I want to run?

There are many variations of training schedules for just about any distance. Are you super busy, like me? 5 days a week of running is probably not going to work for you! You’ll run a little longer/more miles each day if you run 3 days a week, but you won’t have to go to the gym nearly as often. If you work out every morning before work, then 5 days a week might work a lot better for you. Just find a balance that fits your current schedule.

Do I want to incorporate other activities?

If you do, it might be wise to pick a 4 day a week plan and incorporate 1 day of cross training, like a class, in place of a shorter run (3 days running, 1 day CT). Regardless of whether you want to incorporate a cross training option, or not, I would definitely make sure you are lifting weights some time during your training, so that all of your muscle groups stay strong.

Ready to get started? Here is a list of resources that you can use to find the a schedule that works for you:

Runner’s World

Hal Higdon

Competitor.com

Cool Running

Jeff Galloway

Women’s Running

Most of these resources should have free options available. I have used Hal Higdon’s several times and really like his plans. Keep in mind that all of these websites (and individual plan authors) will have different philosophies on what works best. Jeff Galloway, for example, is built around the idea that taking walk breaks can help prevent injury and burnout. With any plan that sounds like a fit for you, try to steer clear of plans that have mileage increases of more than 10% each week. 10% is not a scientific number, but for most people, this number strikes the balance of  increasing mileage while building cardio endurance, without causing too much stress on the body too soon.

What kind of running regimen works for you?

Cheers to another year of great running!

Disclaimer: I am not a physical therapist, running coach, or a medical professional. I’m a runner sharing my personal experiences, and this does not replace advice from a licensed healthcare professional or running coach. Please consult a licensed professional if you are in need of in-depth advice on an exercise regimen that works for your personal needs.

Becoming a Runner Step 1: It’s in the Shoes

In case you live under a rock missed it, it’s 2016, folks! For many people (myself included), the New Year is a reminder to get serious about accomplishing goals. My visit to the gym today reminded me how many people promise to themselves to get fit each year; however, many resolutions go unaccomplished by December. I think the reason why is that people lack practical advice on how to achieve these goals. Whether you’ve decided to get fit this year, or you want to accomplish a goal like a half marathon, I wanted to share some of my experiences to help you become a successful runner beyond the month of January.
FTR_Shoes360

I’ve learned that the first thing you should do before doing any kind of running is finding the right shoes. Here’s how:

Don’t just search the internet for shoe reviews… Go to a store that has a specific section for running (like Luke’s Locker, Road Runner Sports, or any locally-owned running store) and get fitted.

Set a reasonable budget for yourself. Especially the first time you get fitted, this isn’t the place to cheap out. For me personally, I try to stay under $120, and if you have neverdone this before, $100 budget is about the lowest budget I would set. That’s a lot of money, but when you factor in the advice you are paying for and the ability to try a range of styles and price points to find out what works, it is worth it. It is waste of money to purchase a pair that doesn’t work for you, and you could potentially injure yourself.

Set aside an hour or so for this endeavor, and wear athletic clothes. The first time I got fitted, I went on my lunch break in business casual attire. This was not the best decision, because you will likely have to run/walk around the store. The associate needs to be able to see your gait and the way your feet move when you run.

Bring in your current running or athletic shoes. Being able to review the wear patterns on your soles also helps the associate to see how you walk or run.

Here are some great examples of the wisdom I have acquired during my shoe fittings over the past 2 years:

  • My foot pattern and arch height: I underpronate. Underpronation is a typical pattern for people with high arches, so I assumed I had high arches; however, I have low to normal arches.
  • Correct shoe size: Running shoes should be 1-2 sizes larger than your normal shoe size and have about an inch between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. I normally wear a 6.5-7, and I wear an 8-8.5.
  • Fit/feel: The shoes you wear should “feel like you’re running on a slipper;” they should feel comfortable to you!
  • Correct shoe type: There are different foot patterns, and different types of shoes. For example, I wear a neutral shoe because I underpronate. Having a neutral foot pattern is different, and it doesn’t mean you should wear neutral shoes.
  • Looks (they don’t matter): Color shouldn’t be the deciding factor, but if you really like a shoe and they don’t carry your favorite color in the store, it may be possible for the associate to order it online.
  • Price: If you have a strict budget, local stores can sometimes offer discounts to meet your budget. They have a vested interest in making sure you pick a shoe you are happy with.

Finally, enjoy the experience. You’ll rarely find a sales person at a department store invested in which shoes you pick, for running or otherwise. These associates care and can offer great encouragement and advice.

FTR_Shoes_TracktoTrail

Your new shoes should last anywhere from 200 – 500 miles. If you want a long-lasting shoe, be sure to tell the person who gives you a fitting. My shoes above are still going strong, from treadmill to trail, at almost 400 miles (can you believe they’ve seen a marathon and half marathon?). Keep a log of your miles to determine when it’s time to replace. If you start having random injuries, then it’s definitely time.

Once I find a shoe I LOVE, I stick with it for as long as I can. I found my Brooks Ghost 7’s and I have been able to purchase discounted pairs online. Expensive initially, but they work for me and now I’m able to save some money. That’s why the fitting was so important!

Any advice I missed? Please feel free to leave it in the comments below! This will be the first in a series of blog posts this month, so please check back for more tips.

Cheers to the New Year!

Disclaimer: I am not a physical therapist, running coach, or a medical professional. I’m a runner sharing my personal experiences, and this does not replace advice from a licensed healthcare professional or running coach. Please consult a licensed professional if you are in need of in-depth advice on an exercise regimen that works for your personal needs.

 

Now Playing – Funky and Fun Running Playlist

FTR Funky Run
When I’ve had a long day at work and I still have to log a few miles, I need a solid list of pump up songs that just make me feel like smiling.

That’s why I made this playlist. Super fun, super catchy, with a hint of bubble gum pop, funk, classics and nothing too crazy. I’m not a really big popular music fan, but some songs just stick with you, and I’m totally okay with that. Good for the treadmill or the track.

Watch out though, you might catch yourself cheesin’ big time mid-run (not that that’s EVER happened to me or anything).

What are your favorite songs to jam out to?

Monday Motivation – June 1, 2015

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Let’s face it: everyone feels like quitting sometimes. I want to encourage you all this week to keep going. Whether you’re dealing with an extremely difficult week at work, trying to conquer creative burnout, or running a marathon, a breakthrough is always around the corner. Keep pressing on. You got this! 😉

Cheers to another week (and the first week of a new month)!

Yes, running a marathon will change your life.

Around mile 17 of my marathon, the miles got hillier, seeming to drag on, and the spectators and energetic aid stations became more sparse, sapping me of my physical and mental energy. With nearly 10 miles left, I started to doubt myself.

Then, from the other side of the course, other runners began yelling to me, “you got this,” and “good job,” with a few thumbs up here and there. I thought it was strange at first, but soon realized how much their words were sinking in as truth. When I started running down the other side (around mile 18 or so), participants were still coming from where I just was. “If they are out there trying their best, running to the finish,” I thought,  “I can, too.” After all, they had even further to go than I did.

In that moment, I also made a decision to focus on encouraging them, which helped me shift my focus from my own personal struggle to something positive. The other miles flew by, to a point where I knew I could finish, even if I walked.

Then, another woman came up beside me and started walking and running with me. She told me her story – she had negative influences in her life and ran to overcome them, to do something positive for her health – which inspired me. We chatted and alternated running and walking the rest of the race. And then we crossed the finish line together!

It was nothing short of inspiring. The runners on the course didn’t have much of an audience, so we all had to step in and encourage each other. This wasn’t about who was running the race more quickly; it was about finishing and pushing each other to accomplish something we could all be proud of.

A little over a week later, that’s what has affected me most about the race.

A lot of this experience has been about pushing myself and my limits. I knew the hours I put in had to be done, but they pushed me in more ways than I thought. While I haven’t been alone by any means (I seriously have the most supportive husband, family and friends), many times the process still felt lonely; I had be my own encouragement and push myself during the hours of workouts, without much outside support. As an individual, training for the marathon was one of the most challenging experiences of my life.

What was life-changing about running the marathon was seeing the encouragement within the running community on the day of the race and realizing just how much I needed it to keep going. It helped me be at peace and gave me a deeper sense of accomplishment.

I was fortunate to share the joy of my accomplishment with so many of my personal friends, but I couldn’t believe the outpouring of support from complete strangers. Maybe everyone just had a “runner’s high,” but I prefer to think it was because we all needed each other.

Most importantly, it has been a great reminder of how simply being kind to others can make a greater impact than you realize.

I hope that everyone gets to experience this feeling. For me, it’s reason enough to run a race.

Thank you again to everyone who has supported me through this process – from my family and close friends who have listened to me talk about running, of all things (because that’s what was on my mind a lot), to all of you who have offered kind words, advice and support. I cherish the marathon as a personal accomplishment and feel fortunate to share in the joy of finishing with so many people. I’m enjoying the break from training for now, but am looking forward even more to what’s to come and hope to continue getting to know you all better as well!

Irving Marathon 2015 Recap

This past weekend, my first marathon took place in Irving, Texas! It was a life-changing, exhilarating experience that I will cherish for years and years and years.

After giving myself a few days to recover and enjoy the Easter holiday with my family, I want to share a recap of the weekend with y’all.

On Good Friday, Chris and I drove to Irving and checked into our hotel room. I was fortunate to be able to get off work a few hours early, so we could make it in time to pick up my packet and bib at Luke’s Locker. While this made me feel a little more relaxed, knowing that we could take our time to check into the hotel and that I would not have to pick up my packet the morning of the race, I still was feeling pretty nervous. Thankfully, Chris is very good at helping me remain calm.

Anyway, we found an Italian restaurant and grabbed dinner. They had the best bread, which helped in my carbo-loading efforts. Then, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few food items and some Advil, headed back to the hotel and got ready for bed.

To give my breakfast plenty of time to digest and to have enough time to use the restroom, take my time getting ready, etc. I planned to get up at about 5 a.m. However, I set my alarm for the wrong day and ended up waking up an hour late – around 6:15! I stayed calm, tried to get ready quickly without stressing (Chris decided to snap a quick picture to document the morning), and we walked out to the starting line, which was about a 10 minute walk from the hotel, around 6:45. The race was scheduled to start at 7:30, so we had plenty of time, which was nice, and we even got to see the beautiful sunrise. I think oversleeping actually ended up being a good thing because I didn’t have time to psych myself out.

Soon enough, it was time to find my corral and say goodbye to Chris… Can you tell I’m not a morning person?

The gun went off and the race began!

The strategy I mapped out for myself was to run 5 minute intervals with 1 minute of walking for the first half, and increase the intervals in the second half if I felt good. During the first half, I felt like I was making good time, not wearing myself out too much, and taking it relatively easy. It seemed to fly by and the volunteers were all so nice. There were water stations every mile or so throughout the course for the first half, so it was easy to wash my fuel down with water regularly. This part of the course also had the half marathon runners, so there were lots of people and it was great to feed off of that energy.

Then came the second 13.1 miles. The way the course was laid out, the marathon course had an out and back leg that split off from the half marathon course. This was nice, as part of it ran through parks and trails, but then it got to the point where it was in a hilly neighborhood. I was doing pretty well until about mile 17 or 18.

All of a sudden, I felt so drained, and everything hurt, including my hip, which never bothers me. My knee was actually feeling fine, which was a blessing. I stopped doing as many intervals and just ran as much as I could and walked. It was a small race (under 400 for the marathon), and because I was at the back of the pack, there were less and less people out there around me. The water stations were also further apart, which made it difficult to stay motivated. This was tough when I was already hitting a wall, feeling overwhelmed with 8 more miles to go on a hillier course than I anticipated and few people around, most of whom were also walking (but then again, running a marathon is supposed to be tough). I’ll have more on this later, but I honestly didn’t know if I could finish at this point and resolved to take it one mile at a time and see if I could focus on my music to make it to mile 19, then 20, and then 21.

I eventually made it to mile 22, when I finally felt like I could do it, even though I was totally beat. At that point, I made a new friend and we ran and walked together for the rest of the race, talking and trying to encourage each other. I will also have more on this, later.

Finally, the convention center where we started was in sight off in the distance. We took one final walk break and pushed ourselves to run the rest of the way to the finish line.

The finish line was such a blur. There were some people who stayed for a long time, and who I’m very grateful for. They cheered as I was coming in, though I was also listening to music and trying to savor the moment. I finally saw my husband and gave him the thumbs up – I was almost there.

I sprinted to the finish and then it was all over.  A volunteer insisted on putting my medal on me and I found Chris and gave him a huge hug. I shed a few happy tears. I found my friend, who didn’t have anyone to meet her at the finish, and congratulated her and thanked her for running with me. And then we left to go eat.

Chris took this photo right after I was handed my medal!

I honestly felt so accomplished and tired and happy all at the same time. It was a strange emotion. I didn’t want to take my medal off, even though we were the only ones from the marathon at the restaurant. Part of this came from my desire for people to understand why I was limping everywhere and walking so slowly. 😉

It was certainly one of the most accomplished feeling moments of my life. I felt like I gave the race everything I had and was absolutely giddy with joy and excitement. I even shed a few more tears of joy on the way home.

Thanks to everyone who has been supportive of me since I embarked on this endeavor. What’s made this experience so exhilarating is having people by my side to share in my joy.

I’m so grateful to have made it to the finish line and still can hardly believe it’s real… but it is! I’m a marathoner!