Friday, August 16, 2013

So You Want To Run a Marathon?

My sister in-law recently asked me for some race tips because she is thinking of running a half marathon.  As I started to put my “tips” together I realized it was actually quite of bit of information and I decided I would put it out there for anyone who is in her same shoes and might need some candid information.  

Note:  I am not a fantastic runner, especially not by most runners’ standards.  My fastest marathon was at a steady 11 minute mile pace.  Which is not fast.  And I by no means look like a marathon runner.  But I am. I have run 8 marathons with another in the works this October and I have several half marathons and other races under my feet as well. 

And with that experience comes my recommendations for those who are thinking of trying their feet hand at a race.  These may not be "official" tips, but they are things I have learned in my 10 years of running.  And boy have I learned it. 

1 - Buy a good pair of running shoes.  Running shoes should be replaced every 300 miles and if they are not, they can easily cause injury.  Buy a new pair! I recommend getting ½ size larger than you usually wear to avoid your toes rubbing on your shoes, which could lead to lost toe nails. Try on several pair.  Do a little jog in the store, on the tile.  It makes a difference.  You don’t want to buy uncomfortable shoes, especially when you will be wearing them for many, many miles.

2 - Know what you are getting yourself into.  Start with a shorter race and work your way up. A 5k and a 10k are great starters. I did start with a half marathon as I was not at all into running when I started and I allowed my sister to convince me to do one, against my better judgment (at the time).   
I definitely stick by this sentiment for anyone thinking of running a full marathon.  I really recommend that you run a half marathon first, and if you can’t imagine yourself running another 13.1 miles after the 13.1 you just completed, stick with half marathons.  But if you feel like you could do that all over again, you are a glutton for punishment you can run a full marathon. 

3 - Run a fun/good race.  Some races are much better than others.  There are a lot of factors: organization, entertainment, course difficulty, etc.   These factors make a HUGE difference.  If your race is boring or extra hard because it is all uphill  or you really don’t know when the next water table/restroom will be you just might finish the race and never want to do it again because of the lack of awesome you could have experienced…or maybe they didn’t give out finishers medals.  Seriously.  Do not run a race that doesn’t give out finishers medals.  They are lame.  
I love Disney races, they are well planned and just fun (pricy, but worth it).  The Rock n’ Roll series is pretty great as well, they have some great entertainment during the race. The St. George Marathon was voted the most organized marathon by Runner’s World in 2010, and it is a pretty great race (and beautiful to boot!).  Ask people who have run the race if they recommend it and decide from there.

4 - Plan your training.  I will look at the date of the race and work backwards on my training schedule. You should be running short runs 3-5 days a week and a long run once a week.  The short run’s mileage should add up to the distance of the long run.  For example, if your long run is 8 miles, you should run four 2 mile short runs.  Also add in some cross training/strength training on the days you aren’t running, or in addition to your short run.  Each long run day you will want to increase your mileage by 1-2 miles depending on the time you have before your race.  Don’t run the full race distance as the long run the week before your race, do half the distance, but be sure to run at least 11 miles prior to your half marathon, and at least 18 (but please try to get in about 22) before a full marathon.  And it may go without saying, but please train.  It is easy to put off long runs, or even short runs, but this will make a huge difference.  If you don’t train, your body will not be prepared and you can get injured and/or have a horrible experience. I’ve had my fair share of well/not well trained-for races.  I will take the well trained races any day.


5 - Train your stomach. Your body needs to know what you will take in before/ during your runs.  If you eat something your body isn’t used to, especially on a long run, you will find your body will get angry, and you will need to find a restroom fast.  Not to mention you’ll be uncomfortable which makes for a miserable run.  I usually try different foods before/during my short runs.  My classic go-to is a banana and a piece of wheat bread with peanut butter or oatmeal with a banana and then I stick to that before most/all runs so when I do my long run, my body handles it well.  If you are doing long, long runs, pack some items with you to help re-fuel during the miles.  Most races have things like orange wedges or half bananas for the runners, so get your body ready for them just in case you want them during the race.

6 - Make sure to fuel your body.  Water and Powerade are important, but make sure you include more fuel, like Gu or Gu Chomps (the chomps are much more easy for me to stomach because the texture is much better) or Clif-type bars.  These help you to maintain the energy you need to run.   You need this.  Train with this.  Don’t try Gu or Clif bar for the first time during the race, see #5.  Also, a new flavor may not bode well and you might gag/puke as some are not good if you don’t know what to expect.  No lies.

7 - Don’t do anything new before a long run.  Don’t buy a new sports bra or clothes in general.  Don’t wear socks you haven’t worn running before.  Don’t eat something different.  Nothing new (I don’t even recommend you trimming your toe nails right before.  Do it a day or two before your long run).  New things could cause a myriad of unpleasant consequences you don’t want to have to deal with when running 10 miles plus.  Better to try the new thing out on a 2 -4 mile run so you know if you should kick it or keep it for your next long run/race.

8 - Pain killers.  After a while you start to feel the burn of tired/sore muscles.  To avoid this, I take a pain killer with my pre-race meal.  I like Excedrin because it has acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine.  But I am also a huge fan of ibuprofen as it has an anti-inflammatory.

9 - Plan to avoid bowel distress.  On a too-much-information note, when running many miles, you will get some bowel distress (usually regardless of your prep from number 5).  It happens to all of us.  I take an anti-diarrheal with my pre-run meal as well to help avoid bowel distress.  Trying to find a usable bathroom while in distress is awful and uncomfortable.  And I have seen waaay too many marathoners who haven’t, uh, made it to the toilet, and you can see/smell the results their entire run.  Awful. 
I’ve had many people tell me that this is the best tip I have given them…and has helped them with their running the most as they could focus on running and not on what else their body was doing.  Just don’t take too much anti-diarrheal, being constipated during a race is also unpleasant.

10 - Miscellaneous. 
·         Lubricate your feet or any place that might rub: your thighs, where your bra touches under your armpit, etc.  This will help against chaffing, which makes for an uncomfortable race.  I love the Chamois Butt’r.  It is pricy up front, but will last a long time. 
·         Get a running belt to carry chapstick, gum, tissues (your nose will run too).  Don’t have it be too bulky or it will bounce and just be super annoying. 
·         Check the race course and other details before the race.  You want to be prepared for hills (do some decent hill training), where the water stops are and other expectations like cut off times etc. We usually train to only have water every 2-3 miles during our long runs as that is the general distance between water stops/restrooms on a race. 

11 - Focus on the accomplishment ahead of you.  This is what got me through training and some of my hardest races (The Goofy Race and a Half Challenge). And it is for this reason that I have signed up for all of my races following the first one I ran in 2003.  There truly is a runner’s high, and it is at its peak for me when I cross that finish line and know what I just accomplished.  I cry every time.  Every time.

I need this to keep me going during the race sometimes too.  During the aforementioned Goofy Race and a Half Challenge, I was struggling big-time. And I saw a man standing on the side of the race with his three medals around his neck and I started bawling.  BAWLING. Because THAT was what I was doing this for - to know that I accomplished what I set out to do.  I was NOT going to quit.  I’m getting emotional just typing this because I love that feeling so much.  It makes it all worth it to me. 

12 - You will be sore. The morning after a race is death.  Your legs and muscles you-didn’t-think-had-anything-to-do-with-running will ache. Going downstairs, stepping off curbs or picking up anything that falls to the floor will be a chore.  Lowering yourself into a sitting position will be miserable.  I personally love Tiger Balm on sore muscles, I feel like they aren’t as sore, or that they feel better faster when I rub it on my muscles.  I also advise that even though you have sore muscles, don’t just sit.  Move around a little so your muscles don’t stay stiff.  After my longest race I walked all day around Disney World, and although getting on and off rides was a nightmare, ultimately all the walking helped my muscles recover faster because they didn’t stay stiff and stationary.

I hope these tips help.  I definitely have a love-hate relationship with running.  But the love always seems to out-do the hate, that is why I keep running.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Upcoming Marathon?

I’m going to give you another marathon comparison  I’m a runner, so it is just habit.  If you don’t want to hear it, you may stop reading now.

On Monday night I was thinking about the fact that Tuesday  November 27th - would be my due date.  I can’t believe the 40 weeks have flown that quickly.  It felt slow for a while there during the summer, but the last two months especially have really sped by.  And these thoughts got me thinking about the actual labor and delivery.  And then I started to feel it.  It’s a feeling I am very familiar with.  It’s not an awful feeling, but it very distinct. 

I felt the Night-before-a-marathon-dread. 

For those of you who have completed a race or many races, I know you know what feeling I’m talking about.

The night before a marathon I will always get everything ready for a quick prep in the morning.  And it hits me.  I know I have everything ready, I’ve trained for the race and I’m ready for it, and I know that the end of the race will bring great emotions of accomplishment, satisfaction and joy  I will be so glad I did it when it’s over.  But one thing looms over me: I have to run 26.2 miles tomorrow.  UGH!  This seemed like a great idea when I signed up for the race  but do I really want to do this? 
This feeling also hits me as I’m being bussed to the beginning of the race - especially if the bus route takes you on the race route.  Because you begin to realize how long 26.2 miles is. 

So this is how I’m feeling.  I’m ready for the labor and delivery, I’ve “trained” for it.  I know that completing it will yield a beautiful baby and a lifetime of joybut there is still the fact that I have to go through the labor and delivery in order to see the end results.  And that is where the dread sets in. 

To combat this I’m just focusing on the sweet, beautiful little lady that will be arriving and that pushes the gloom aside and I get excited and happy about the “marathon” I have ahead of me.  I know it will be just fine, and I'll rock it.  

Wish me luck!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Final Countdown

This is it.  The final 4 weeks.  I feel like I've been running a marathon, I'm on mile 23 and I only have 3.2 miles to go.   It is still a decent distance, but considering how far I've come, the finish line is so close I am anxious for it.  

I could compare pregnancy (and I'm sure the upcoming labor and delivery) to running a marathon all day.  And because I've tackled a full marathon 8 times already, I'm pretty sure I can handle what's looming down the road in less than 4 weeks.  

Overall I feel great.  I have some of the typical complaints, such as my back hurts, or I don't sleep particularly comfortably at night...but compared to many, I am fairing pretty well on the pregnancy home front.  In fact when people hear how far along I am and they say, "Oh, you are at the really uncomfortable stage" and I say, "Actually, I feel great."  I always get a weird look from them like I'm not normal.  

I'm sure as I get closer to the finish line I'll feel more miserable and can't wait to be done (there is another comparison for you) but I'm enjoying still feeling great for the time being.  

Saturday, August 4, 2012

We're Having A....

Husband and I are welcoming a little lady into our home this fall.
Hooray for a girl!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Joys of Pregnancy

Being pregnant brings on a whole new world of experiences.
I've done plenty of things in my life that brought on quite the adventurous experiences, here are a few examples:
  • Going on a mission to a foreign country.  Try hand washing your clothes for 18 months or walking everywhere you needed to go...not to mention trying to express yourself in a language you just learned and are trying to understand...slang is your enemy in this situation my friend.
  • Running a marathon.  If you have never run long distances before you are in for a treat!  Not only do your muscles (including the ones you never thought had anything to do with running) protest significantly when you get to, say mile 15, but just wait until the day after you run.  Your muscles go on strike completely.  If your exhausted muscles weren't enough to make it an experience, your bowels go bizurk causing pain, cramping, gas and other unpleasantness that requires a bathroom 5 minutes ago.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Though, I do admit, you begin to get used to it and know how to be prepared for/combat it after you've completed 2+ marathons and are addicted to the sense of accomplishment and runner's high from the 26.2 mile races.
  • Getting married.  Yes, this is an experience.  Not only do you get to marry your best friend (which is awesome), but you get to take two lives which are two complete different cultures and bring them together.  Marriage is wonderful...but not without its adventures I can promise you that.  
  • Changing jobs.  I worked for the same company for almost 6 years and decided I needed to make a change.  I went from a place where I was the all-knowing Oz to being, well, not.  The people I work with are awesome and supportive, but it took quite the adjustment.  I hated not knowing everything and having to rely on others to help me with pretty much everything for the first couple of months.  Now that I've been at the new place of employment for over a year I am pretty comfortable with what I am doing, but as it is part of the medical field, I will always be thrown new curve balls that I have to learn how to swing at.  
I went in for my 23 weeks baby appointment (that means I'm starting my 6th month of pregnancy) yesterday.  It was a normal appointment.  My doctor listened to the baby's heartbeat, measured my belly (which was the first time she did that) asked if there was anything I had questions about or that was bothering me.  I've already talked to her about the majority of my ailments, and she listened gave advice and told me what I get to expect next time (the dreaded glucose test and a wonderful RhoGAM shot because my blood type is A-).

I'm sure your mommies out there are reading this saying, "yep" "yes" "uh huh"...and I'm sure I'll do that when I read back on this after I have a houseful of children, but for the time being, this is all new...and sometimes not that great.

Do you know what else is new (and not that great)?  The horrific heartburn.  The shooting back pains when you get up to walk and can't because you might fall over or have a leg go out on you.  Being uncomfortable at night and missing sleeping on your back...but not, because it also is uncomfortable.  The gas.  The weight gain (which I know is good for baby, but admit it, it is depressing for mommy). The exhaustion.  The swelling of the ankles making it so you can only fit into one or two pairs of shoes.  Buying new clothes (I know this can be joyous, but not when you have to plan to get bigger and make sure what you are buying will work for your growing body and knowing these expensive clothes will only be useful for a few months).  The tummy touchers...oh the tummy touchers!!! It is one thing to have your close family and friends touch your baby belly, but it is a complete other thing to have strangers or people you barely know - let alone tolerate - touch your tummy.  I have half a mind to reach over and touch their tummy.  We'll see how they like that!  The hideous stretch marks. The morning sickness and not being able to eat anything and just the thought of certain things make you want to gag.  The hunger - which is really only eating about half of what you could before at a sitting because baby is taking up all the space.  The need to pee because your bladder is being squished by baby.  The hip pain when you try to jog or even walk, making you feel pathetic and unable to complete an easy two miles.  The many things you can't eat, like sushi and deli meats.  The scary things you read on the internet about the delivery and the awful things that happen to your body  which you have to recover from for weeks after.

And it is all just going to get worse (I still have 17 weeks to go).  Oh!  And that is another thing...the lingo!  For all you non mommies out there, when you are pregnant they track it in weeks or trimesters, not months.  I hated it before I was prego and someone told me they were 30 weeks along, I thought "well how many months is that!?!"  So I try to specify because I hated feeling out of the loop, so I'm trying to not make you feel that way too.

I will admit that there are some fun things about this experience.  Feeling a baby move around inside you.  At first you think it is just gas in your bowels or "butterflies" but then you can feel distinct moving and bumping and it kind of really hits you that you are having a baby.  (Though I hear the moving can become uncomfortable and wake you up at night so, that will soon be going on my "what else is new (and not that great)" list.  The ultrasounds and seeing the baby on the monitor and realize that it isn't just some TV show baby, it is YOUR baby.
Another cool thing...around 22 weeks you can hear your baby through a stethoscope, so I raided my husband's medical bag and I used it to hear the baby's heartbeat at home.  It was super cool.

Overall, truthfully, this experience is like the other ones I've had.  Having a baby takes the endurance (and pain) of running a marathon and the responsibility and need to acquire new knowledge like you need to when you start a new job.  It will be a new culture of bringing someone else to my family and the joys (and pains) that come with it.

It certainly will not be easy...but anything that is worthwhile probably shouldn't be easy.  This is just a new adventure, one that I am excited and terrified about for at the same moment.  But just like with my other experiences, I know my life with never be the same after.  And I welcome it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

New Mom To Be

It's official.  I'm going to have a baby!

Much to my surprise, on March 26th, I was informed that I was pregnant.  It was a surprise, as Husband and I had decided to put the actual baby making on hold for a couple of months while I had a couple of foot surgeries.  But I guess when the Lord wants you to have a baby, you will have one.

I was actually at a follow up after my second foot surgery when the nurse practitioner said, "Did you know you are pregnant?"

Wait.  What?

Yep.  Apparently the test 4 days before the surgery and the day of the surgery missed the fact that I was expecting.  It wasn't until after the surgery that my condition became apparent.

It's alright though as I needed the surgery and come to find out from my doctor, that the painkillers I took at that time were not harmful for my baby.

So we are having a baby!  Hooray!  Our little bundle of joy is due on November 27th.  Fingers crossed the baby will come in November!  I don't wish a December birthday on any of my babies.  =)

We told our families and friends about the baby on Sunday, May 13th (Mother's Day) and have been enjoying the well wishes, doctors appointments and new baby excitement since.

This is all so new to me.  And a little scary.  It has been fun because I feel like I'm being welcomed into a new club that I was forbidden to join until I became pregnant or a mom.  It will be such a new experience and life changing event, I am excited but terrified at the same time.  There are so many successful parents out there that I know everything will be okay.  It's like when I was graduating from high school.  What came next was exciting and new, but my whole life was about to change so I was scared of the uncertainty and newness of it all.  And having a baby is even more anxiety ridden.  I will have a little person that I am completely responsible for, not just myself.

Don't get me wrong.  I know this will be a great blessing and will teach me so much that I don't know.  I know that we have to step into the unknown to truly understand faith and trust in the Lord.  And only in becoming a parent can I truly understand the full extent of unconditional love and selflessness.

This will be a difficult but wonderful journey.  And I am so excited to embark upon it with Husband.  He is a great man and will be a wonderful support.  I cannot wait to share this with him.  He will be a great father!

Wish me luck!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Blessing in Disguise

In my last post I told everyone how I sadly deleted my boards on Pinterest. Since that time Pinterest's terms and conditions have been updated. Here is a brief overview as to what has been changed:
"- Original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.
- We updated our Acceptable Use Policy and we will not allow pins that explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse.
- We released simpler tools for anyone to report alleged copyright or trademark infringements.
- Finally, we added language that will pave the way for new features such as a Pinterest API and Private Pinboards."
Note: To read the terms in their entirety go here.

I believe these changes now protect pinners so that we won't be sued if Pinterest uses our pins, so it is probably safe to go back to pinning (though this is my very non legal advice and just a personal opinion).

However, since deleting my boards, I probably only peruse Pinterest one time a week, if that. And while Pinterest does have some great ideas that I value greatly, I am thankful to have broken away from that addictive website.

And although I am not a mother yet, this article helped me realize it is better for me, and my future family, to stay not-addicted to that website.