Running Disney 2

Last weekend my mom and I headed to Disney World for the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend. This half marathon is the reason I started running. This year we did the 5k and 10k too, because if running 1 race is great then running 3 must be really, really great. And it was :-) Here are some more random pictures and thoughts from the weekend:

Sometimes shirts made for children are way better than ones made for adults. This was a good purchase :-)

Sometimes shirts made for children are way better than ones made for adults. This was a good purchase :-)

Present for me! Yay/ouch!

Present for me! Yay/ouch!

All ready for the half

All ready for the half

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Race check bag. Normally I don’t check a bag at races, but for this one it’s worth it. The wait after the race can be really long

Pre-race wait. It did eventually get light during the half. For the 10k, the sun didn't come up until about 30min after I finished.

Pre-race wait. It did eventually get light during the half. For the 10k, the sun didn’t come up until about 30min after I finished.

Weather at the start line

Weather at the start line

Weather in Madison at the start time

Weather in Madison at that time

Weather in Sterling at that time

Weather in Sterling at that time

The weather really took a toll on us over the three races. Training outside in the Wisconsin (Or Massachusetts) winter does not prepare you well for Florida. This wasn’t the hottest Disney race we’ve run, but it was humid and foggy. This half was my second slowest ever…by a lot. I went into it planning to take it easy – I haven’t been feeling great lately and there was no way I was going to go very fast even if I tried. The 10k was my slowest ever. Somehow despite the fact that I purposefully ran slower than usual and had planned it that way, I am still really stressed about my times. Which is ridiculous.

The 5k was not our slowest ever, which was a little disappointing. During that we stop and take pictures and generally just goof around. It took us 45min to get from the one-mile marker to the two-mile marker. And somehow we still managed to finish faster than last year. I had been hoping to  take even longer this year, because it’s always good to have a goal.

So pretty! The fourth medal is for doing both the 10k and the half (Disney likes creating "challenges" by combining events)

So pretty! The fourth medal is for doing both the 10k and the half (Disney likes creating “challenges” by combining events)

We also got a lot of shirts (these are blurry, sorry):

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In addition to running, we also visited all four Disney World parks, Downtown Disney, ESPN WWOS, and a number of the Disney resorts. Some people rest between races…we are not those people. That may also have contributed to our relatively slow running. Totally worth it.

Post half breakfast for two! This picture does not do this sticky bun justice. It was amazing. Also it was about the size of my face.

Post half breakfast for two! This picture does not do this sticky bun justice. It was amazing. Also it was about the size of my face.

Lunch aka bacon cheeseburger macaroni and cheese. Because something called that just has to be tried.

Lunch aka bacon cheeseburger macaroni and cheese. Because something called that just has to be tried.

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Cake! Obviously, the way to recover from all that running was to eat about 4x more calories than we burned in all of the races combined.

Wine in plastic cups. I am continually amazed at just how much drinking you could do at Disney World.

Wine in plastic cups. I am continually amazed at just how much drinking you could do at Disney World.

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Animal Kingdom. I always take terrible pictures of animals, but this one is surprisingly not terrible.

Animal Kingdom. I always take terrible pictures of animals, but this one is surprisingly not terrible.

Overall the trip was a wonderful success. Lots of running, lots of eating, and lots of laughing :-)

Running Disney

We’re down at Disney World to do some running! Yesterday we did a 5k, this morning we did a 10k, and tomorrow we’ll run the half marathon. Tons of fun…except the having to wake up at 2am part.

Random pictures from the weekend so far:

Expo on Thursday

Expo on Thursday

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Race gear for the 10k

Took time to browse the running store here at Disney. By some miracle, we didn't actually buy anything!

Took time to browse the running store here at Disney. By some miracle, we didn’t actually buy anything!

It's made of legos. I feel like I should forget about getting a PhD and get a job where someone pays me to build sweet things with legos instead.

It’s made of legos. I feel like I should forget about getting a PhD and get a job where someone pays me to build sweet things with legos instead.

photo 3

We discovered I could easily fit into a child-size princess dress. And no, I didn’t buy it.

I am looking forward to the half tomorrow – planning to take it easy and have fun :-)

Madison Marathon Recap: Part 2

Now that it’s been about a million years since my marathon (well, 2 months), I am finally posting a recap of the actual race! I apologize for the lack of pictures, I was too busy running to take any.

Race Morning

Sunday morning my alarm went off at 5:30am. I woke up feeling good, having slept well. This was a great improvement over Friday night’s terrible sleep. My mom was picking me up at 7am, so I had lots of time to get ready.

My first order of business was breakfast. I need to eat at least 2 hours before running or I get sick. For shorter morning runs, I generally don’t eat anything beforehand. But knowing this was going to be a long one and that it was later than my typical morning run, I made sure to eat. I enjoyed my favorite pre-race breakfast: toast, peanut butter, and a banana. Yum!

My outfit was already laid out, so getting dressed was quick. My running get-up consisted of shorts, a t-shirt, makeshift arm warmers (made from long socks, so that they could be tossed if necessary), and a running jacket.

I put my Garmin on one arm and my stopwatch on the other. My Garmin battery only lasts about 20 miles, so I planned to use my stopwatch to keep track of my overall time. My Garmin was just in case I felt like I needed to keep my pace in check, at which point I could turn it on for a bit.

Next, I pinned my bib to my shorts. This was a first, as I am usually a bib-on-the-shirt type of girl. But I knew that I was likely to be removing or adding layers to my upper body, so shorts were the logical place. It took me a few tries to get it right since the timing chip on the back was bulky.

I was pretty excited that Madison had finally switched to b-tags (on the bib) from d-tags (on the shoe lace) for timing. I am particular about the way my shoes are tied, and tying things into my laces kind of freaks me out.

Finally, I wet my hair in the sink so that I could braid it easily. Taking a shower was out of the question, since my hair takes at least 45min to blow dry when fully wet (I wish that were an exaggeration) and I didn’t want to run with a wet head.

At 7, my mom drove up and it was time to go! I put on my sweat pants, grabbed my handheld water bottle and fuel, and headed out the door.

The drive to the capitol, where the race started and ended, was quick. We sat in the car for a few minutes, since it was still early. Finally, it was time for me to head to the start area. It was warmer out than expected, so I decided not to bring a throwaway sweatshirt. I figured I would be fine with just my running jacket, sweatpants, gloves, and headband.  I got some hugs, and then I was on my own.

First, I stopped by the porta-potties, because I am one of those people who always has to pee. Luckily it was early and there were no lines!

I wandered around to stay warm. It wasn’t too cold and I was dressed well, but I figured just standing would be uncomfortable. The Starbucks near the start was absolutely packed with people hiding from the weather. I feel bad for anyone who actually wanted coffee!

With about 25min to go, I headed back to the bathrooms. This time there were lines, although they were short. I chatted with other runners as we waited and, next thing I knew, I was ready to head to the start line. The timing was perfect, since they had just announced that they were opening the start corral.

This year they checked bibs before allowing anyone to enter, which meant I had to ditch my sweatpants. Luckily, the corral quickly filled up and was quite warm. I lined up near the 4:40 pacers. Based on my training and discussion with my running coach, Angie, this seemed reasonable. I have a tendency to start out too fast, so starting with a group would allow me to keep a steady pace without draining my Garmin.

I chatted with the runners around me, and next thing I knew, the national anthem played and we were off!

Miles 1-13

I wasn’t too nervous as we started running, the weather was nice and I was ready to go. About a minute into the race, one of the pacers found some money, which was sweet. People always talk about finding things while running, although it has never happened to me.

The first mile of the course was mostly downhill, which was fine by me. Around mile 1.5, I saw my family for the first time. It was nice to see them, although I wasn’t in need of much support at this point (the course goes by my house though, so they popped out to see me).

At mile 2, we entered the arboretum. I run through the arboretum regularly and don’t generally enjoy it, although I know the rolling hills are good for me. This time, however, it was painless and I barely remember it. Running with the pace group was so distracting that the miles just flew by. People were telling jokes, the pacers were giving advice, and it just felt like we were out for a run. I ate some shot blocs at some point in there.

We exited the arboretum around mile 5, and enjoyed a nice downhill. I was looking forward to seeing my family at mile 6, because I was ready to get rid of my jacket. We powered up the hill by Edgewood College and my family was waiting at the top. They took my jacket and I switched water bottles.

I don’t typically carry water for races, but having a cold had dehydrated me in the weeks before the race. So I really wanted to make sure I had enough fluids. Plus, I was afraid of repeating the mistakes of my last half marathon, where I didn’t drink nearly enough and ended up in the ER needing IV fluids (that’s a story all of its own and is also the race where I set my current half marathon PR). To feel safe, I carried a hand-held water bottle and my family had my other hand-held. We switched every hour or so, so that I was never low on water.

The route wound by Camp Randall (the UW football stadium) and then out towards the UW hospitals. Around mile 9, we hit Observatory Drive, which was one of the two big hills of the race. The pacers shouted encouragement as we trucked it up the hill, and before I knew it we were overlooking Lake Mendota. The view was beautiful and marked the end of our uphill journey.

We turned off the hill onto the street where I work. As we passed my office, all I could think about was how much more I enjoy running by work than actually going to work!

At this point of the race, I was feeling pretty good. My legs felt fine. The only thing bothering me was my back, which has been a problem for me in recent months. Every time I run, my back starts aching/tightening up within the first mile, despite my attempts to relax.

The next couple miles were down University Ave., one of the main roads crossing the isthmus. I enjoyed this part of the course. It wasn’t scenic, but I like seeing the city from different viewpoints. Since University is a big road with many lights, it’s not typically great for running – but for the race we had a whole lane to ourselves.

Around mile 12, we turned off University and headed north. My back was really bothering me at this point, and I was grateful to see my family around the halfway point. I grabbed some ibuprofen and switched water bottles. Typically, I avoid ibuprofen when running, because it isn’t a healthy combination. On this day, however, I just wanted my back to stop hurting!

I was amazed at how the first half of the race flew by. The context really seemed to change how long each mile felt. In a half-marathon, the miles seem longer because each one is a good portion of the overall distance. This time, each mile seemed much shorter despite the fact that they actually took quite a bit longer!

Miles 14-26.2

Miles 12-15 were the least attractive of the course, the road is more industrial and just isn’t very exciting. At mile 15, there was an incredibly large St. Bernard watching the race, so that was a nice distraction. Did you know that the largest St. Bernard on record was about 315lbs? If you put two of me on a scale and then added an average weight 7-year-old boy, we would weigh less than that. How do you get a dog that big into the car? What if it tries to sit on your lap?

We turned into Warner Park at about 15.5 miles and I was super excited to see my friend Sarah cheering! It was a great pick-me-up and came at just the right time. As we entered the park, the wind started blowing. It had been calm so far (which was amazing considering the 20mph winds the day before), but there was a half-mile section where there was a strong headwind. This was the only time I was cold during the race!

Once we exited the park into the neighborhoods behind it, we were in the only miles of the course that I am unfamiliar with. I have run on some of the roads in shorter races, but they all look the same to me!

Around mile 17, I needed to pee. I was  impressed that I had made it that far, especially since I was hydrating well. Even though it only took me about 30 seconds, it was enough to lose the pace group on the winding roads. Suddenly I went from being in a sizable group to being mostly alone.

Once we hit the next straightaway, I saw the group and caught up. At this point I was starting to feel less than great. My legs felt good, which was nice. My back pain had subsided thanks to the ibuprofen, but it had taken a toll on me. Turns out you run a little differently when your back hurts. It’s not noticeable if you watch me, but the slight changes to my gait add up over the miles. Lately this has been coming in the form of side stitches. It frustrates me so much. I like to think that I am in mildly okay shape, what with all the running/strength training/yoga/etc. So it’s hard to deal with something that makes me feel like I just started running.

Around mile 18, I was expecting to see my family…but they were not there. The map was not accurate as to the locations of the water stops in that area, so my family ended up a bit farther than I had thought. I almost burst into tears when they weren’t there. I had been keeping myself going by reminding myself that I would see them soon.

It’s funny, I am usually a lone wolf when it comes to running. Of the more than 1000 miles I ran in 2013, less than 100 were run with other people . I love running alone and can go out for 20 miles by myself and be perfectly happy. So it felt weird to be disappointed by not seeing people! I think it was because I had been anticipating it, whereas on a normal run I expect to be alone.

I was really starting to struggle because my whole rib cage hurt. When I finally saw my family, it marked my final departure from the pace group. I just couldn’t keep up because my side hurt and we had reached the final set of larger hills.

At this point, I started having to do some walking, which really pissed me off.

I turned my music on at mile 19 (I am surprised that I made it so long without any, this was the first time I even thought about it), but it didn’t really help. It was like I couldn’t even hear it. For the next few miles I did a combination of running and walking, while trying everything I could think of to make my side feel better.

I walked, sipped water (which was my go-to cure for stitches when I started running), held my hands over my head, focused on my breathing, and pressed my hand under my ribs where it hurt. None of this helped, in fact all I managed to do was give myself a large bruise where I had been pressing my hand into my side!

These miles were frustrating. There were times the voice in my head said I should just stop trying and walk the rest of the way, since I was doing terribly anyway. Amazingly, despite the fact that I was very down on myself at this point, I never thought of quitting the race. It just seemed like a given that I would finish it somehow.

I did manage to keep myself doing run/walk intervals, which was pretty good considering how much I  felt like just walking. This part of the course was the area of Madison where I first started running. On the same streets where I could barely run for 30 seconds just 3.5 years ago, I was now at mile 20 of a marathon.

Although the course wasn’t crowded at this point, there were way more runners around me than there had been in the previous miles. This part of the course narrows onto some bike paths, funneling people together.

At mile 21, I saw my family and asked my friend to run with me for a bit. Well run/walk with me, I suppose. It was a nice distraction to have someone talking to me, since it made me think a little less about all the running! I spent most of the time talking about how much I wanted a chocolate milkshake.

Around mile 23.5, I headed out on my own for the last out-and-back along John Nolen. I had been dreading this part of the course, having had some less than enjoyable runs along this road (some including 25mph headwinds that almost blew me into the lake and others including scorching temperatures that made heat radiate visibly off the pavement).

On this particular day, however, I really enjoyed running along the road. At about mile 24, my side suddenly felt totally fine – after an hour of hurting relentlessly, it just went away. I picked up my pace a bit and the music in my headphones finally started helping (shout out to Eminem, who kept me going). At about mile 24.5, I decided that I definitely wanted to do another marathon. I felt good, I was passing people and singing along to my music. Everyone else probably thought I was crazy, because I was even dancing a little.

The final trek back up to the capitol square is a hill. It’s not particularly long or steep, but it’s no fun at the end of a race.

The mile 26 marker signaled the start of the barricaded road to the finish, around the capitol. The last .2mi was great, there were lots of people cheering and I could see the finish line. As I turned the corner, I began my final sprint to the end.

Next thing I knew, the announcer was calling my name and I was done. I stopped my watch and slowed to a walk. Someone put a medal around my neck. I feel like it was a teenage girl, but it could really have been a middle-aged man for all I know. I got my mylar blanket, which was great because it got chilly as soon as I stopped running. My next stop was the official race photo, where I posed with my medal. As expected, this photo turned out terribly.

Then there was the food! I grabbed some chocolate milk, which I had been really looking forward to. Weirdly, I never actually drank the milk and found it in my fridge about a month later. I did enjoy a chocolate chip cookie, though. They also had ham sandwiches, but that sounded gross.

As I munched on my cookie, I made my way to my family and some friends (thanks Lyn and Matt!) who were at the finish. I made a quick stop to get a print out of my results (4:48:21) and then we headed to the car. My family was starving, so they were ready to get going! On the walk to the parking lot, there were many runners who looked like they were in pain or possibly about to throw up. Luckily, I was walking easily and feeling good.

Once we got to the parking lot, I threw on some warmer clothes and we headed out.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of my race recap, which I promise to write more quickly than I wrote this one. It will be a thrilling piece in which I discuss a variety of topics including: my post-race ice bath, my celebratory meal, the difficulty with which I climbed into the stupidly tall SUV my parents rented, and my overall thoughts on the race!

Happy 2014!

Well it’s finally 2014 and I hope everyone is enjoying the new year! The last month has been busy, which explains the lack of posts.

Overall, 2013 was a good running year. I accomplished most of my goals:

  1. I ran my first marathon
  2. I logged over 1000 miles for the year
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2013 mileage. Almost enough to run from my house to my parents’ house.

I didn’t make my goal of a sub 2-hour half marathon, but I did run a new PR of 2:01:00. So, not too shabby.

As I head into 2014, I am excited by the prospect of new opportunities and challenges. By excited, I mean totally freaked out. I plan to finish up my PhD this year, which should make me happy…but honestly it just makes me realize that I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life.

One thing I do know, however, is that I will continue to run! So here are my running goals for 2014:

  1. Run a <2:00:00 half marathon
  2. Qualify for the half fanatics
  3. Run another marathon, preferably in under 4:45
  4. Do more of my winter training outdoors
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Weather from my first run in 2014

I also have some general life goals:

  1. Use my iron. I have an iron that has never been used and a lot of clothes in the back of my closet that I don’t wear because they need to be ironed.
  2. Cut myself a little more slack. Setting high standards is good…to a point. But when your first thought after crossing the finish line at your first marathon is “I could have done better,” it might be a sign to ease up a bit.
  3. Cook more. I have this goal every year. I still can’t really cook. This year, I pledge to attempt at least 15 new recipes.

Happy New Year!

Madison Marathon Recap: Part 1

On November 10, 2013, I ran my first marathon.

Writing that sentence is pretty cool. It has taken me a few weeks to process the whole experience. But now I am ready to share it with you. This post will be the first of three detailing race weekend and more.

The Days Leading Up to The Race

The week before the race was uneventful, the normal mix of work and life. The only thing unusual was that I was running less, which made me pretty restless.

Friday

The Friday before the race, my family arrived in Madison. My parents and I met at Perkins for lunch, because they don’t exist in MA and my dad really wanted pancakes. After enjoying some delicious food, I headed to the airport to pick up Scott (the now-ex-boyfriend).

Once everyone had arrived and gotten settled in, we headed to the race expo. My dad decided that this did not sound fun, and stayed behind.

The expo was open both Friday and Saturday, but I wanted to get my bib so that I could spend Saturday relaxing. We also figured that Friday evening would be less crowded, and we were right. Upon arriving at Monona Terrace, our first order of business was getting my race bib. It took about 3 minutes, as there were no lines, making this my fastest packet pick-up ever.

My bib thinks I am 21 years old. Ha.

My bib thinks I am 21 years old. Ha.

Next we picked up my race shirt. I was excited that it was a long sleeve tech shirt. Despite having a ton of running clothes, I somehow only own one of these and it is bright orange…I don’t look good in orange. So I was glad to add a new, differently colored one to my wardrobe.

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In Wisconsin, the beer logo must be at least as big as the race name...

In Wisconsin, the beer logo must be at least as big as the race name.

We spent the next 20min looking around at the vendors. My eye was drawn to the booth selling headbands, which are always bright and fun. I had to remind myself, that not only do I already have some running headbands, but I actually don’t like wearing them.

Some money was spent at the official race merchandise booth (thanks mom). Normally I avoid official stuff, as it is often expensive and not very cute. Madison Marathon upped their game this year and had a lot more stuff for sale than in the past! I ended up with two shirts and a visor. My mom ended up with the same visor…we have a lot of matching things.

I've never had a shirt with a map on it!

I’ve never had a shirt with a map on it!

There was a bright pink version, but I am trying to branch out.

There was a bright pink version, but I am trying to branch out.

After the expo, we went out for dinner and then it was off to bed.  I stayed up later than I should have working on a jigsaw puzzle, but it was fun. Unfortunately, I slept terribly that night, which made me nervous because I do not function well without sleep. I blame it on the oft-repeated notion that it’s really how well you sleep two nights before the race that is most important.

Saturday

Saturday morning was spent planning for Sunday. My family would be spectating along the course and we figured out how they would get around and where they would be. We also spent time thinking about what I would wear and have with me during the race and what they would carry in case I needed something. I am intense about planning, it makes me feel less anxious!

Around 11am, we headed to an early lunch at the Great Dane.  They have a big menu and lots of basic options, so I wouldn’t have to worry about eating anything crazy the day before the race.

Once we had ordered our meals, my mom brought out a large bag stuffed with cards. Apparently in the time leading up to the race she, with the help of some very good friends, collected cards from people in my life wishing me luck on the race. As I read each card, I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness, caring, and humor that they held.

:-)

Amazing

I am so, so lucky to have such an amazing group of people in my life and these cards meant more to me than I could ever express in a blog post.  Instead I will share a few examples (I would love to show everyone’s because they are all wonderful, but that would make this an epically long post):

Can't forget my roots

Can’t forget my roots

"My grandma wins the prize for largest card. Also for the most frequent use of quotation marks."

My grandma wins the prize for largest card. Also for most frequent use of quotation marks.

A lovely cartoon from Maia in which I successfully cross the finish line…before collapsing.

A lovely cartoon from Maia in which I successfully cross the finish line…before collapsing.

Beautiful card's from my advisor's daughters. They have already far surpassed my own artistic talents.

Beautiful cards from my advisor’s daughters. They have already far surpassed my own artistic talents.

Dude. Annie embroidered this card. We stared at this one in awe for a while.

Dude. Annie embroidered this card. We stared at this one in awe for a while.

This is not a card…it is the sweetest sweatshirt ever.

This is not a card…it is the sweetest sweatshirt ever.

After lunch, my parents headed to the Badger football game and Scott and I headed to Target. I needed some throwaway clothes to wear while waiting for the race to start and knew that Target sells cheap athletic pants for small boys that fit me perfectly. Totally worth the weird looks I get for buying children’s clothing.

Then we headed to the movies! It was nice to put my feet up as we enjoyed Ender’s Game. I also enjoyed the soft pretzel that I, in a rare moment of brilliance, ordered to go at lunch. It was delicious and not greasy like the ones the theater sells. Not that I am opposed to greasy, buttery pretzels, but it just didn’t seem like a great idea the day before my attempt to run farther than ever before.

After the movie, we made the slow and scary journey back to my house through the sea of Badger fans – seriously, living near an 80,000 person stadium that doesn’t have its own parking is insane!

We spent the evening relaxing in front of the TV (well, watching TV on my tiny laptop) and enjoying a basic meal of turkey burgers and sweet potato fries. This is one of my default dinners, so I knew it was unlikely to cause any serious stomach issues the next day.

The end of the night was spent with me in a panic trying to figure out what to wear the next day. The weather had been weird that week and I wasn’t quite sure how to prepare. After a lot of swearing and second-guessing, I decided on shorts, a t-shirt, arm warmers, a jacket, and gloves. I would also have the throwaway pants I bought to cover my legs early in the morning. My family would carry some additional items, in case the weather changed.

Finally, it was time for bed. I was stressed because I had stayed up later than I wanted to, but overall I was feeling pretty good. Deep down I believed that, barring an emergency, I would be able to finish the race. Maybe not fast or prettily, but I would finish.

In Closing

I shall leave you with the words sent to me by my Uncle Dave, Aunt Ismini, and cousins Jack and Nikolas (apparently Dave isn’t just great at writing books, but also at writing inspiring emails):

“Noelle! Your first marathon, that’s very exciting. I’ve been to Marathon and heard all about the guy who ran the first one and all about what happened to him when he finished and…I mean, well, the Greeks invented democracy and since then things have certainly been…I mean, remember this, no matter what, even if you lose your way and go backwards for a few miles, you’ll still be faster than your mother.”

Trying to Remain Calm

This morning I went for my final pre-marathon run. Just an easy 3.5 miler to shake out my legs. It’s crazy to think that the next time I run will be in a marathon. Everything felt pretty good, well except for the fact that I am not quite adjusted to below freezing temperatures yet.

Now that the race is only a couple days away, it feels like this thing is really going to happen. My parents get into town in about an hour and tonight I’ll pick up my race bib. I don’t know where the time went, it seems like just yesterday that I was registering (okay, I registered back in March so I could pay the super discount price, but it definitely doesn’t feel like its been more than 7 months since then).

Currently I am feeling mentally calm, although my body is really restless. Going from running a lot to resting a lot has left with me with some extra energy! My goal is to stay calm for as long as possible and to keep reminding myself that I have done the preparation and there is nothing more I can do at this point. Mostly I just don’t know what to expect, which is not a feeling I like.

Any words of wisdom?

How do you stay calm before a race or other big event?

Marathon Music

I am working on my playlist for the marathon on Sunday. Crafting a good playlist takes time and thought, so I will be slowly adding to it throughout the week.

My plan for the race is actually to run the first part without music. I have recently done a few runs sans headphones and have really enjoyed it. Can’t believe I avoided going music free for so long!

But I want to have an awesome playlist ready for those tough miles when I need a boost. I have many running mixes, but am trying to include some new/different songs this time. The same songs get old after a while!

These accidentally went through the laundry yesterday. Amazingly, they still work perfectly!

These accidentally went through the laundry yesterday. Amazingly, they still work perfectly!

Some songs, however, must always be on the playlist:

What songs should I add to my list?

Rest Day Reflections #9

One week to go until the marathon! Just three more runs. I am starting to FREAK OUT. My confidence has been slowly waning. This feeling is to be expected, but I still don’t like it!

Week Stats:

Miles Run: 22
Yoga Classes: 2
Strength Training Sessions: 2
Weeks Until Marathon: 1

October Round Up:

Miles Run: 130.6
The most miles I have ever run in a month!  The last few months have gotten me pretty close to my goal of 1000mi for the year.

Almost there!

Almost there!

Sodas: 0
I made it through the whole month without having a soda. There were definitely times when I really, really wanted a cold Coke Zero – but I resisted temptation. In fact, I still haven’t had a soda even though October is over!

Things I am Grateful for This Week:

1) Corn
Not only is corn delicious, but it also has many other important uses. Like making Kraken-shaped corn mazes.

Corn maze! I think the observation deck needs to be taller...

Corn maze! I think the observation deck needs to be taller…

2) NYC Marathon
I love watching marathons. When I was younger, my mom would take me to see the Boston Marathon each year. We would cheer for a while and then drive home just in time to watch the winners cross the finish line. Today, I have had a lovely morning watching the NYC marathon.

Just Breathe

When I first started running, I got side stitches all the time. Invariably, I would end up with horrible pain under my ribcage before I hit the one-mile mark.

With time and patience, however, I started getting stitches less and less. Nowadays the only time I have this issue is if I eat too soon before running.

But in the past week or so, I have been getting stitches on every run. Even my easy, short runs have been painful. With each run, my panic grew: if I couldn’t run a slow 4mi comfortably, how would I ever run 26.2?

For days, I tried to pinpoint what the problem was. I kept track of what I was eating, made sure I was hydrated, ran slower…nothing made a difference.

On my easy run today, I made it to mile two before my side started to ache. Now, on a typical run, I listen to music. Today, it was raining really hard, so I left my electronics at home. In the end, it was running without headphones that led me to the root of the problem.

As I ran, I realized that my breathing sounded really weird (something I can’t generally hear over my music). And then it dawned on me – I was breathing through my mouth! This might not sound like a big deal, and for some people mouth breathing works, but for me it is really uncomfortable.

This past week, however, I have been fighting a cold and thus unable to breathe through my stuffy nose. My breathing has been strained and shallow, which is apparently a common cause of side stitches. I didn’t even realize I was breathing through my mouth, because it was the only way I could get air in!

As soon as I realized this, I knew it was the problem. Luckily I was much less stuffy today. I immediately focused on breathing like I normally do while running: slow and steady through my nose. Within about 3 minutes, the pain was gone and I was fine for the rest of the run.

It’s amazing how such a small change can make such a big difference!