I DID IT!!!
13.1 miles in two hours, 20 minutes! Not too shabby for a first timer, and someone who has never ran that far before. My goal was about two and a half hours and to finish without walking so I made it. WOOT! What an experience. To sum up, I’ve decided to write 13.1 things I learned from it:
1. Pittsburgh climate is Pittsburgh climate: race or no race
For the first two or three miles, it was humid and overcast. Then all of a sudden: downpour. After that, steady rain for the remainder of the course. Oh, Pittsburgh and your fickle weather. It wasn’t that bad, though because the rain cooled down the humidity. Plus, I have played a lot of lacrosse games in the rain in my day (and snow and wind and 100-degree weather), so I was almost used to it. Living in Pittsburgh you have to anticipate rain, snow, sleet, hail, cold or hotness even the first Sunday in May.
2. Funny things may happen…
…like when I saw a guy in a shark costume run by me or the second I saw Heinz Field, the 1970s Steelers polka came on my iPod at that exact moment. Yes, I have polka on my iPod mix. I also enjoyed when I ran by the 96.1 tent and they were blasting Apache (aka “Kemosabi, jump on it, jump on it, jump on it…”)
3. You need safety pins and a know-how of where to put that thing on your shoelaces
I wasn’t aware you have to attach you bib with safety pins or how to put my sensor thing on. Good thing my friends are marathon pros! I don’t even know what the “sensor thing” is called I am so un-pro.
4. Take time to enjoy the festivities all weekend
Packet pick up was until 7 p.m. Friday night and we got there about 6:58 just in the knick of time. Traffic played a factor for that but next year, I’d like to go Saturday afternoon and partake in the fitness expo. Plus I could have probably scored a bunch more free samples and who doesn’t like free samples?
5. No need for Vaseline
Sorry, I will pass on your Vaseline on a stick. What’s with all the chaffing talk? I’ve not once chaffed or blistered while running. I think it’s called get a different pair of shorts/bra/shoes? Or maybe after 13.1 things go downhill for some people. Either way, I was a-ok.
6. Water and carbs are your bffs
I had the perfect amount of food and fluid in my system when I started the half. All day Saturday I drank water and Gatorade like it was my job. I also ate a sandwich for lunch and huge plate of pasta and garlic bread for dinner. I love carbs regardless so this was fun. Sunday morning I had about a cup of coffee, which was perfect, yogurt with granola, half a bagel with almond butter, a few bites of a Cliff bar and about 16 oz. of water. This was all at least two hours prior (minus the couple bites of Cliff). Throughout the race I had three cups of Gatorade which made me a little pukey-feeling, but all in all I had no cramps, no chills from being dehydrated, and wasn’t hungry. Plus I didn’t stop at any porta potties during. SCORE! (P.S. Mad props to the dude peeing on the tree “secretly” in the North Side. We all knew what you were doing buddy and trust me, if I could have I would have.)
7. Make a better playlist
Near mile 11.5ish, I wanted to hear Black Eyed Peas, so I had to scramble to find it on my iPod, which was attached to my arm. Then once that was over somewhere in the 12 mile-mark, I needed a good pump-up song to end. So I fiddled some more. My iPod was also being goofy from being wet. All in all, I could have ran faster at that point but was too busy messing with my music. Instead of making 24 hours worth of a playlist JUST IN CASE, next time I will be more strategic because I need music to run even though it’s “discouraged.” I’ll make sure Fergie and Will.i.am are right around the two-hour mark.
8. Twitter and Facebook are my friend
OK, so they’ve been my friend before the half, but really, they made the process so much better! I had so many tweets and posts wishing me luck, not to mention Tweet My Time updated my networks with my progress about 8 miles in. So cool – I didn’t even have my phone with me.
9. Having your family or friends watch you makes it that much better
I saw my parents around mile 6.5 or 7 and was so happy! Seeing a familiar face in the crowd gets you going even more. They snapped a picture, gave me high fives, and I was on my way again. I also ran into my friend Jason who ran the full around mile 5ish. Then, around 12.8 miles I saw my boyfriend Dave and my parents again. Seeing them rooting me on made me sprint the rest of the way to the finish. I would have been bummed if I didn’t see anyone given the fact that my friends and I lost each other within one mile of starting the race. Next year, though, I may have my fam stand at a certain mile mark so I know when to expect them. And I want a giant sign. 🙂
10. Never underestimate lip synching and clapping while running with strangers
Like I’ve said many a time, music gets me PUMPED. Without it, running is hard. And in a half marathon, running with it is hard. So, I improvise. A good song would come on and I was feeling a little sluggish so I’d start to clap. If you are reading this and saw a short chick randomly clapping: yeah, that was me. I was feeling the grooves. I often lip synch to songs while running (marathon or no marathon) so if you saw some short chick mouthing things, yeah, that was me too. Creepy? Yes. Effective? YOU BETCHA.
11. The fans, volunteers and bands make it more fun
Besides my parents, boyfriend and friends, the thousands of other spectators, volunteers, bands, cheerleaders, etc. etc. made it more fun. Turning on to the 16th street bridge and seeing people lined up on both sides cheering is just sooo cool. I wish I had people cheering me on in daily life such as driving to work or going to the dentist. That paired with some Peter Griffin-esque theme music would be amazing.
12. Clock time does not equal your actual finish time
This is kind of like me not knowing I needed safety pins. It’s kind of a “duh” moment but when I saw 2:27 I thought that was it. Then I realized I REALLY started 7 minutes after the clock started given all the people in front of me. This little tid bit made me happy. I’m also seriously considering buying a Garmin so I know what my time is at that moment. Plus it would make training so much better.
13. It would be nice to have a running buddy
I know lots of people that ran on Sunday, however finding someone to train and run with is tough. Not everyone runs at the same spot, we work, are in different areas, and the biggest challenge: We all run at different speeds. I love running alone and did about 12.8 miles of the race on my own, but to have someone there next to you might be nice. For a half, it’s cool, but if I do a full I may need a support system who loves to run 10.5-minute miles. 10.5 is the new 7.5 didn’t you hear?
13.1 I’m a badass
The real thing I learned is that after all my years of running for sports and exercise, that had NOTHING on this race. The real challenge was between me, myself and I. Mile 8 I got a little discouraged because my legs were so tired and mile 10 I had never ran beyond, but I just kept repeating the mantra “FINISH.” It was a mental battle and physical in that my legs were hurting but I kept on going and finished with a nice sprint to the end. I am thinking about doing another race this fall, maybe a half or less. All I know is I am so glad I did this, I want to do more (MAYBE a full one day) and my legs (which are STILL super sore now) are super hard now. I can crack eggs with them. 😉
On May 2, 2010, I will do something I’ve never done: Run 13.1 miles in the Pittsburgh Half Marathon!
I’ve been an athlete all my life. Nothing hardcore, just have always participated in sports. From field hockey to gymnastics to softball and lacrosse, I’ve played nearly every sport. Lacrosse was the sport I kept up with the most – playing from sixth grade up until I graduated from college.
I’ve been running since about sixth grade when I began the running sports of field hockey and lacrosse. From gym class where they made you run a mile for the President’s Challenge (I have Bill Clinton’s autograph thank you very much) to required runs for sports, it’s been part of my life. In high school I started running outside of sports for exercise and just stuck with it. Last May, after some friends of mine ran the 2009 Pittsburgh Half Marathon, I decided it sounded fun and in July 2009 registered to run the 2010 Pittsburgh Half. Now that it’s April 5, I am getting more nervous but I’m very excited to do something I’ve never done. Sure, I’ve ran a lot in life, but NEVER this far. I’m not fast by any means, but I’ve got the endurance to keep going.
So with that, the top five ways I’ve been training for the half marathon:
I first had shin splints in high school during one of the tennis seasons. I played tennis all four years and all that fast stop-and-go movement was recipe for shin splints. They went away but crept up again late last fall. Thanks to advice from Twitter friends @danahanzlik, @onlinerants and @MichaelSally, my shin splints have gotten MUCH better and are almost completely gone. The best thing I’ve done is ice my shins, stretch, and built more muscle in the legs. Then more ice. I go to bed icing my legs. Ice is my best friend. Ice, ice…baby.
Looking hot and listening to hot jamz
OK actually I probably look like a sweaty hog when I run (see above Homer photo) but I don’t care! Proper gear is more important than looking good. I invested in a great pair of ASICS that are great kicks and also helpful in combating injury like shin splints. I also love lululemon gear. On my ipod are songs that are fun and get me pumped, but also calming songs. Depending on my mood and energy level, a good song can make all the difference. I can listen to Nick Drake sometimes, but usually it’s more upbeat like Shots by LMFAO. Good jam. For a list of what I’m listening to, visit one of my last recent blog posts.
The great thing about social media is you can choose to tell your network everything or nothing. I try to not get too personal, but I have been letting everyone know I am running a half marathon. Same goes for my real life network of friends and family. This is great for encouragement and it’s great to share you just ran that 8 miles you never ran before. Plus if you don’t run, people will know. I’m even doing Tweet My Time during the marathon so family and friends can follow along with me during the race, even if they aren’t there.
Eating spinach like nobody’s business
Food is an important part of training. I’ve been trying to eat enough during the day (which is NEVER a problem) so I have the energy to run the 5 miles after work I normally run. I am a sucker for foodie blogs, and one trend in the food blog world is what they call Green Monsters (http://greenmonstermovement.com/). These babies are amazing. You put like 3 cups of spinach into a smoothie but the good news is you can’t taste the spinach and they are tasty. Plus you amp it up with Amazing Grass, which has so many health benefits and gives you energy. My recipe is the old standard:
One cup soy or almond milk
1 tablespoon flax oil
1 scoop Amazing Grass Chocolate Green SuperFood
1 frozen banana
A sh*tload of spinach
Blend again, VERY well
Sticking to the plan
The most important thing I’ve done since I officially began training on March 1 is sticking to a plan of running and cross training. Skipping days just won’t work in making my body ready to run, so even if I am exhausted after work, I change into my running gear and get going. My training plan can be found here, compliments of Runner’s World. I only run Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays so Mondays and Wednesdays are for my own version of cross training: YOGA. Fridays are for rest and I try to do some resistance exercises after my Tuesday and Thursday runs. Best thing you can do for yourself is do yoga if you’re a runner…or anyone for that matter. It really stretches and elongates your muscles and flushes toxins from the body. It also makes you super strong. I’ve missed a couple of Monday classes but made up for it by doing my shorter weekend run on Sunday and then taking class Sunday as well. Not sure how bad working out twice a day is for you if you’re training for a marathon, but my body is OK with it, and that’s what’s the most import part of training – listening to your body, stopping when you need to, and most importantly: having fun.
Follow me on Twitter for updates from the race that day. MAY 2 OR BUST!
In honor of #MusicMonday, I thought I’d share some songs I love to run to. Ironically, I’m taking the week off from running because I have horrific shin splints but I’m hoping after a week of rest (well, yoga and the elliptical) plus ice, I’ll be all better and can get back to training for the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon. Why is it that my shin splints, which I haven’t had since high school, decided to come back when I am training for my first long distance run? UGH. Anyway, back to the task at hand. Following, in no particular order are some of my favorite songs to run to. There’s a lot, and don’t make fun of me for some of these. 🙂
Save it For a Rainy Day – The Jayhawks
Because of You – Ne-Yo
Heat of the Moment – ASIA
General Specific – Band of Horses
I’m Looking Through You – The Beatles
Allentown – Billy Joel
No Rain – Blind Melon
What is Life – George Harrison
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
Undo It – Carrie Underwood
You Might Think – The Cars
Forever – Chris Brown
Layla – Derek and the Dominos
Float On – Modest Mouse
Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon
September – Earth, Wind and Fire
25 Miles – Edwin Starr
Invisible Touch – Genesis
Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand
Centerfold – The J. Geils Band
D.O.A. – Jay-Z
Don’t Stop Believing – Journey
Flashing Lights – Kanye West
Walk Away – Kelly Clarkson
All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers
Fool in the Rain – Led Zeppelin
Vogue – Madonna
Return of the Mack – Mark Morrison
Makes Me Wonder – Maroon 5
Just Fine – Mary J. Blige
La Belle et Le Bad Boy – Mc Solaar
Black or White – Michael Jackson
Juicy – Notorious BIG
Love is a Battlefield – Pat Benetar
Easy Lover – Phil Collins
Don’t Lose My Number – Phil Collins
Such Great Heights – The Postal Service
Jesse’s Girl – Rick Springfield
Seeds – The Roots
Tonight, Tonight – Smashing Pumpkins
Cherry Bomb – Spoon
And She Was – Talking Heads
Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears For Fears
American Girl – Tom Petty
Oxford Comma – Vampire Weekend
Right Now – Van Halen
Baba O’Riley – The Who
Faster pace/High intensity
Telephone – Lady GaGa (Hands-down my favorite song to run to at the moment)
Just Dance – Lady GaGa
Bad Romance – Lady GaGa
Poker Face – Lady GaGa
Now That We Found Love – Heavy D & The Boyz
Venus – Bananarama
I Got a Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
Love Generation – Bob Sinclair
Rock This Party (Everybody Dance Now) – Bob Sinclair
Radar – Britney Spears
Womanizer – Britney Spears
Piece of Me – Britney Spears
Candy Man – Christina Aguilera
What You Got – Colby O’Donis
Viva La Vida – Coldplay
Damaged – Danity Kane
Groove is in the Heart – Deee-Lite
Call on Me – Eric Prydz
Sexy Back – Justin Timberlake
Tik Tok – Ke$ha
She Wolf – Shakira
Shots – LMFAO
Got Money – Lil Wayne
U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer
Beat It – Michael Jackson
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson
PYT – Michael Jackson
Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus
Maneater – Nelly Furtado
Right Stuff – New Kids on the Block
Bojangles – Pitbull
C’Mon Ride It – Quad City DJs
Walk This Way – Run DMC
Fire Burning – Sean Kingston
Renegade – Styx
YMCA – The Village People
One Night in Bangkok – Vinylshakerz
Green and Grey – Virginia Coalition
Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
I Got It From My Mama – Will.i.am
I Love It – Young Jeezy
I’m always looking for new, fun songs to run to. I find a lot of upbeat stuff on the Bob Sinclair and David Guetta Pandora channels. What other songs should I download?
Visit my playlists page for more!