Wednesday, March 23, 2011

1/2 Marathon Recap

As many of you know, I ran my first half-marathon on Sunday in Virginia Beach. VA Beach holds the Shamrock 8K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon every year in March. There were 22,000 runners...needless to say, TONS of was crazy, but they did a great job of keeping everything organized and in control.

I am a personal trainer and have a love for everything exercise, yet have never mastered a marathon, nor a half-marathon. I still don't think that I have a desire to do a full marathon, but the half was just great. It was the perfect distance to train for (without having to spend multiple hours of your day to train) and throughout the run I never felt like I was "dying" (I hear this often from marathoners). The hubs and I make our goals at the beginning of every new year, and to run a half-marathon was one of mine. I am excited to have checked it off my goal list!


I learned SO much more than I ever imagined for training for this run. Most importantly, it is SO important to slowly build up your mileage. If you increase your mileage too quickly, you can easily get hurt. Also very important is stretching. Most of us don't take time when exercising to stretch properly. This is HUGE and is important for not injuring yourself. I believe that it is also crucial that you don't run every day. Make sure to have your rest days, cross training days, and strength training days. Of course, eating well plays a big role into good runs, too. Provide your body with enough protein, veggies, fruit and whole grains. After a long run, fuel your body with a snack such as a banana, half bagel with peanut butter or a smoothie. This helps your body recover since your muscles have been deleted of nutrients. "Nutrition plays a critical role in the marathon training process. Even with the perfect training schedule, runners will fail to perform well during their runs if they are not fueling and refueling properly." (Livestrong)

This is the original training schedule I used from here. I did make a few changes though to fit with my work and out of town schedule. Overall, I followed it closely. Unfortunately I never got up to 12 miles (like I was supposed to). The most I ran in this training was 9 miles. I was a little worried about this, but I was just fine. While training, I also incorporated speed work into my runs. I know this really helped strengthen my legs and enhanced my endurance.


The hubs and I met a good Clemson friend of mine (Caroline) and her fiance in VA Beach. Caroline and I decided to run the half together (we signed up last year). We all had a big Italian dinner early on Saturday evening. My meal consisted of lots of water to drink and whole wheat (so excited when restaurants have wheat pasta!) pasta with a garlic red sauce and grilled chicken. Pretty simple, carb/protein loading meal...exactly what I wanted. I didn't want to have anything too greasy or creamy that would make my stomach say 'ouch' before the big run. The four of us stayed in the same hotel, so after dinner we came back to the hotel and all hung out for a little (I sipped on Gatorade...pumping in those fluids!). Around 9:00 pm I headed to our room, had a couple chocolate chip/peanut butter cookies (recipe to come soon!) and got ready for bed. I spent about 15 minutes stretching my legs which I know helped my run on Sunday. I then laid out all of my running gear and hit the sack. Unfortunately, I did not sleep well at all. It was a combination of the anxiety of the race and a hotel bed.

My phone alarm went off at 5:00 am Sunday morning. Time to do this! I took a quick shower to help wake myself up. I then ate a cinnamon/raisin bagel with peanut butter. I made coffee, yet only had a couple sips. I also drank more water. The husband woke up, and we headed down to the lobby of the hotel to meet Caroline and her fiance. The race started at 7:00 am, yet with the TONS of people running, we had to get there early. Thankfully the guys dropped us off very near the start of the race. It was dark, cold and WINDY outside. Ugh...we seriously PAID to run 13.1 miles?? That was what was going through me and Caroline's heads as we neared the starting line. We were jealous of the guys sitting in the warm, heated car! The hubs gave me a great pep-talk before I left that I keep replaying in my head while running. He told me that I could do this and that the faster I ran, the faster the race would be finish. I kept telling myself that over and over and over. I can DO this! I's just's not like I'm jumping through hoops for 2 hours! C'mon!

At 7:00 am, the gun-shot went off to start. I thankfully had my headphones on and listened to great music while running. This was my lifesaver...running to the beat kept my legs happy. I felt great throughout the whole race...when I got to mile 10, I said "wow---this is farthest I have EVER run before, whoopwhoop!" In my training I had only gotten up to 9 miles, so I was worried how the last few miles of the race would go. I took a strawberry/banana "Gu" at mile 7 and then I took a half of one at mile 11. The Gu gave me the extra sugar and carbs to keep my legs going and to push through those last few miles. There were also many water and Gatorade stations along the run...I would grab a Gatorade and keep pushing. Never once to stop walking! Gatorade splashed all over my face as I drank it while running...but who cares, as long as some went it! Once I could see the finish line I started sprinting...I wanted to get the best time possible and I was sooo close. I did one last big push to the end...and ahhhhh...the angels were singing...I DID IT! Right after the finish line we were handed a metal, long-sleeve t-shirt, banana, pretzels, cookies, waters, etc. I immediately ate the banana and guzzled the water. The hubs and I had planned to meet at the finish line but there were TONS of people, I thought...oh my, how in the WORLD am I going to find him? Thankfully he saw me (and was routing for me!) cross the finish line. I was so immersed in my tunes, that I didn't hear him yelling. He eventually found me soon after. We took pictures and all that fun stuff. It was soooo cold though and the wind was kicking. I was ready to take a shower and head on home. It was only around 9:30 am Sunday morning and I did all and more I wanted to accomplish for the day. Ahh, what a GREAT feeling. :) Daniel and I headed back to the hotel, we quickly showered...I did some more good stretching (have I mentioned how important this is???) and then got in the car to head home. We stopped at Q-Barbeque (our fav barbeque EVER) on the way home for lunch. This was fun and tasted that much better after running 13.1 miles that morning.

When we got home that Sunday, I unpacked and then sat outside in the nice weather for a little watching the hubs do some yard work. I then came inside to have some couch time and ended taking a little nap. I RARELY take naps, but my body was needing it. We cooked taco's for dinner, then I turned in early. On Monday my quads were a little sore, but not too bad. I know that the stretching was one of the key reasons I wasn't too sore. I also have this thing called a tiger tail...if you are a runner and don't have this, go get one now. They are great! I used this after all my long runs. Of course, I took it easy with the exercise on Monday. My body needed rest, but it also needed to move. It is very good for marathoners (and half-marathoners) to take a long walk the day after their long run. This helps to stretch sore muscles and keep them from getting stiff. I took the pups on a 40 minute walk and it felt great.

My half-marathon time was 2 hours flat...that is a 9:16 minute mile. I am VERY pleased with this time for my first half. I would love to run another half! It really was such a fun run, perfect distance and a great feeling of accomplishment. For my next half, I'd like to get under 2 hours.........

*If you have any questions on running, training, or whatever...please don't hesitate to ask!

Oh, a new website I just discovered Ontri, creates FREE training plans based on your race distance, level and date of your event. Check it out if you are interested in running a race. Another great website for runners is Dailymile. Here you can track your workouts, map your routes, etc. Two GREAT websites!

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