My Half Marathon Journey: Part 3

Follow along with me as I share my half marathon journey – I’ll be running my second half in Pittsburgh this May – with weekly updates. (*articles may contain affiliate links*)

half marathon journey

Anyone else still feeling the effect of Daylight Saving Time? Truth be told, I cruised into work on Monday because yinz’all were sleeping in, but by Thursday I was right there with you. In the last two days, I hit snooze at least 27 times and I am so ready for bed as I’m typing up this post tonight. But, a deal is a deal, and I’m committed to this training and sharing of the plan!

Training Plan Status

Saturday: YFit 17.3 workout had my hands hurting. I still can’t do pull-ups, so I went to the rings when I realized I’d be doing something over 100 of them. There was a point where I almost fell backward doing the squat snatches, but it triggered something in me to make this more than a cross-training addition. I think it’s time to admit, even though I have a long way to go, that I really like CrossFit.

Sunday: Fought with my running app (Nike+) and compared it to my FitBit, S-Health, and MapMyRun to determine I ended up doing 5.34 miles on the trail at an 13:17 pace (1 hour 11 minutes, 11 minutes of that were walking). I WAS ECSTATIC. I was also COLD.

 

Monday: Full out run at work, 4 miles at 13:22. Still proud.

Tuesday: YFit + ab work that still has me hurting when I laugh.

Wednesday: 4 miles on the dreadmill at the Y. My first 1.5 miles were in the low 12-minute pace but then my head got the best of me and I slowed it down. By 2 miles I decided to kick up the incline and really slow down the pace (to about 14:30) for a mile before leveling off and doing a 12:45 mile. I didn’t quit like I thought I would. Ended up with a 13:20 pace and decided to write a post about running gear that night.

Thursday: I felt spent (DST kicking my butt) and accidentally stayed at work longer than I meant to. That got me in traffic, but I didn’t complain. I enjoyed the blue sky and then came home and pushed play on a Beachbody Country Heat workout. Even though I missed YFit, my routine was weighted…see?

(I held them both for the last 3 minutes, but held Ava about 30% of the workout. Ouch!)

Friday: Today was stretch day. Om!

Current Progress

February Miles (follow me on Nike+): 35.91
February Average Pace: 13:32

March Miles (so far): 26.46
March Average Pace (so far): 13:37 (-17 seconds from last week)
Current Projected Finish Time: 2:58 (+5 minutes from 2013 pace of 13:13 / 2:53)

What I’m listening to: Sit Still, Look Pretty gets me moving pretty quickly these days.

What’s coming up next? 6 mile run on Sunday, then 3’s this week.

Anybody else dreaming about Marathon weekend? Three dreams and counting over here.

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If you’re running in the 2017 Pittsburgh Marathon events, let me know. Be sure to follow along on my social media – I’ll be using #fitmomintheremaking #pghmarathon and #runpgh with my shares!

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Read the rest of this series:

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 1 (March 3)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 2 (March 10)

Read other Pittsburgh Running Blogs through Steff’s linkup: Run Steff Run


Half Marathon Training Essentials

(*articles may contain affiliate links*) This list of half marathon training essentials comes to you from someone who grew up walking the Presidential Physical Fitness Test mile and turned into a running junkie. While I’ve been running for five years with a Half Marathon medal hanging in my house, I’m no expert but want to share as I go.

half marathon training essentials

Half Marathon Training Essentials

When I first started running, I had no idea how much gear runners really needed. Granted, I’m not going to tell you to go out and buy a hockey bag to fit your stuff, but it’s definitely more complicated than “I have feet and shoes, what more do I need?”.

Shoes

Speaking of shoes, I’m not going to get into the shoe conversation. What I found best is to have your feet analyzed at a shoe store (we’re not talking the bargain stores either) and find the right shoe that works for you. Personally, I’ve tried lots of brands and have different shoes (like my kids, no favorites).

Be ready to spend, too. You’re going to want something that works and will last long miles with you. It’s worth it to spend $80 – $140 for a good pair of shoes. Think of the medical deductibles you are saving and tell yourself it is okay. (I am a sucker for watching sales and have gotten a few of mine on BOGO half-off deals!)

Also, be ready to replace. I’ll be breaking in my pair for race day in a few weeks. After shoes get 300 or so miles on them, it’s time to save them for a mud run.

Socks

Run a hole into your sock once and you’ll never do it again. Get some good socks and change them out often. Your socks are important because they’ll keep your feet cool and dry and (hopefully) blister free.

Yaktrak

Training for the Pittsburgh Marathon events is just awful timing. We get dumped on with snow and cold, often having to get to the treadmill (I did four miles on it today). My boss (who has run multiple marathons and more), recommends Yaktrax cleats for training on the ice and snow. They slip over your shoes and help you get out when it’s warm enough to run but still snow covered.

Running Belt

As your runs get longer, you’ll want somewhere to put your fuel. For me, a running belt makes sure I have my phone and inhaler on me, always a must. This one will hold all your things and is adjustable as your running impacts your weight (in a good way!).

A Good Playlist

This one, 105 Songs for Running, is full of classics that will pump you up. If you don’t already have unlimited music on your phone, I suggest Amazon Prime Music to work on your playlist, too.

LED Running Light

Let’s face it, you aren’t going to be running in the daylight all the time. I recommend getting a slap-on LED wrist band to help others see you on your path at night.

Fitness Tracker

I’m a big fan of Nike+ Run Club (an app), Map My Run (also an app), and my FitBit Charge 2 (which monitors my Heart Rate and tracks my run/pace). You have to get what works for you and what will motivate you as you go. As for consistency, I find my FitBit to be closest while I use MapMyRun on the PC to confirm my distances. You can never be too sure.

Recovery

Literally just days ago I fell in love with aminos for post-workout recovery. I’m not a health professional, so I’ll leave this one to you, but consider looking into a recovery beverage or cookie (yup!) that is going to make you feel flexible and recovered. Don’t play like me and sit at your desk without moving for hours after a run (again guilty tonight).

Foam Roller

After your run, you’re going to want to roll out all the ouchies. I have tried this foam roller and while it is pretty firm, it does the trick. One with trigger points is on my wish list, though!

Mental Toughness

Training for a half is tough. It is time consuming. You eat a lot. You cry a lot. You want to sleep a lot. Your spouse gets tired of you talking about running. Your pace is like a jack rabbit one day and a turtle the next. If you’re in it, you’re tough. Just believe in yourself.

A Plan

I’ve gone back and forth about a good plan. Many runners I know follow Hal Higdon’s plan. I’m mostly following his plan this time around, but I fall between beginning half-runner and novice half-runner. Whatever you pick, make it fit in your life.

What Else?

If you have done a Half Marathon or Marathon before, what are your must have items that you would add to this list?

If this list has helped you, please share this post!

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 2

Follow along with me as I share my half marathon journey – I’ll be running my second half in Pittsburgh this May – with weekly updates. (*articles may contain affiliate links*)

half marathon journey

 

On the training front, this week was sort of quiet. I didn’t make any huge leaps and bounds on my time, I didn’t feel disappointed. I did, however, have a nightmare that we were late to the starting line and I was left just in front of the sweep car. Eek.

Training Plan Status

Saturday was an extra day of YFit for me, including 17.2 which even though it was only 12 minutes I was beat after…then we worked out. Eek! Sunday I skipped my run for a day at the Aviary with the family, but I jumped right back in on Monday. Today was a rest day (my body was glad for it after an intense YFit last night).

Current Progress

February Miles (follow me on Nike+): 35.91
February Average Pace: 13:32

March Miles (so far): 13.09 
March Average Pace (so far): 13:54 (+ 11 seconds from last week)
Current Projected Finish Time: 3:00 (+7 minutes from 2013 pace of 13:13 / 2:53) Note – I totally had 3:59 last week and that was NOT right by a whole hour! Oops! 

What I’m listening to: Only Wanna Sing has me quite pumped up during my runs. I might even jump a little.

Mentally, I am so excited. Running is basically all I can think about. It’s kind of crazy, this running thing. On Wednesday, I didn’t want to stop (but needed to because life called).

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Pro Tip: If you are shredding your muscles training for an endurance event like a half marathon, order yourself this foam roller to help with muscle soreness. You’ll be so glad you did.

QUESTION! When is the right time to start breaking in my shoes for Race Day? I’ve been staring at them, so ready to put them on, but so scared to wear them out too soon. If you know, lemme know!

If you’re running in the 2017 Pittsburgh Marathon events, let me know. Be sure to follow along on my social media – I’ll be using #fitmomintheremaking #pghmarathon and #runpgh with my shares!

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Read the rest of this series:

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 1 (March 3)

Read other Pittsburgh Running Blogs through Steff’s linkup: Run Steff Run

5 Ways Training For a Half Marathon Prepped Me For Twin Mommyhood

half marathon training

People who have visited us since the twins were born have commented that both Greg and I seem relaxed and have this parenthood thing down. These people don’t see me zombie my way to the nursery for middle of the night feedings or cry when my incision is being dressed, but they are right. And my theory as to why? In 2011, I set out on a journey to better health. I lost 130 pounds and gained a lot more self love than I had before (and I had a lot even at my heaviest because I couldn’t see my weight issue and thought I was just fine). This journey led me to running, eventually training for and running the 2013 Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I believe this lifestyle change attributed to my healthy pregnancy and being ready to welcome twins. In turn, I can easily compare training for the Half to being a mom to newborn twins.

1. I sleep few hours (less than 6) but am fueled for my day. Sure, little sleep is rough on the body, but training and motherhood while balancing all the other things are time consuming. Sleep is necessary, but it happens when it can…do read number 2.

2. When I sleep, it is amazing. I sleep very deeply whether I’m training or being a mom to newborns. Running puts me in a good place and even short amounts of sleep are quality (Greg used to worry I wouldn’t hear a smoke detector). Being a new mom has raised my love for life, too. When the girls and big kids let me sleep, I sleep hard. Out cold. Sleeping while training or as a mom just is very easy for me.

3. Protein, protein, protein. My body is so thankful to training for this one. As someone who used to live life fueled on carbs and chocolate, I had a learning curve to conquer when it came to eating protein at every meal and snack. Now, I have tons of favorite options that I would not have had if I hadn’t been in training. Speaking of…I need to bake up some egg whites for quick and easy breakfasts (since that’s always been my easiest to miss meal). I even had a box of protein bars and packs of nuts on hand for snacks while feeding the girls. And while training…I ate all things protein (and often, see #4). Shakes, bars, ground turkey, turkey jerky, egg whites, almonds…always something protein to keep me going.

4. Eat often. I was ravenous while training, but was doing so much activity that it didn’t pack on pounds. Likewise, I am pretty much eating all day long post twins. They eat, I eat. And the weight? That’s truthfully a different post (I have thoughts on all the recent social media body movements and want to share them), but I have never lost weight faster in my life…even when I had lots to lose. I eat often, but try to make it good. We just finished up the welcome home cake and are almost through my birthday cookies and then it’s pretty much healthy from here out. (This was not the case in Half training with the exception of my 30th birthday cake.)

5. I am motivated by my kids. When you run, you don’t just run to run or because you have to. Deep inside, there is something that moves you, that motivates you to push past steep hills, shin splints, and forward to the finish line. When I look at my little girls and big kids, I am motivated to push past the hurdles of running and life because they are (and I AM) worth it.

And probably the most crazy thing? I’d do either one all over again because of what they’ve done for me and my spirit…but the Half Marathon is way more likely now that I am a new mom of four kids and have college and weddings to look toward paying for some day – that’s nothing compared to the price of a race bib!

Half Marathon Emotional Dump

This post is pure emotion…a dump of my thoughts post Half Marathon. What a day!

Kids, I hope you can look back on a day and can say it was the best day of your life, even if that day changes throughout the years. Maybe right now the best day of your life was the day you were able to try real ice cream (Arianna) or the day you were able to wear Thomas unders 24/7 (Evan). But for me, that day would be yesterday, May 5, 2013.

It sounds cruel, as a mother and a wife, a college and grad-school graduate to say that a random Sunday in May could surpass your births, our wedding day, the days I graduated, or even the days I got my first job…or started at my current company (which, by the way, I totally forgot my 4 year anniversary was last week, I was so wrapped up in this day). I know it sounds awful, but I hope one day you will understand.

One day, you’ll look at what your Mama did and know that this day was a big one for her. Your Mama carried a lot of weight, both physical and emotional over the past 6 years. I went through some things I never want you to go through, and I needed to find a way to deal with that and move on. I found my healing in running, and set a goal to run a Half Marathon.

Saturday I was a complete mess, laughing, crying, snapping, doing everything wrong, doing everything right. My emotions were crazy, I was scared. My goal was just around the corner.

Greg and I went downtown on Saturday and he ran the 5k with my friend Steffani. They did awesome, it was her first 5k and I was so proud to watch it.

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Then we went to the Expo and met a pacer who gave me a temporary tattoo to wear and a goal of 3 hours. (When I left my office on Friday, the goal was 3:30 and not to get swept.) I was pumped, I could do this. We went to lunch. We shopped for too long. I was exhausted and a wreck. Sleep came way too easily, albeit after eating my first entire Subway footlong in 2 years (shame? none.).

Sunday morning, the big day arrived. You were not with me, I decided it best in case something crazy happened. Instead, you watched the TV from Grammie and Pappy’s for me. (Arianna, you claim you saw me, but no one can confirm as you were alone at the time.) We headed downtown, my arms and legs branded in motivations.

#BostonStrong *USA* today I run for…Wendy, Tracy, Aaron, Genre, & Dad. #CancerSucks

I was ready, but I didn’t know it. Greg held me for what seemed like forever after we exited the T in a mass of participants. I didn’t know if I’d see him again (my emotions went that crazy) and I wanted to enjoy every last second. He took a picture of me, we stretched my hamstrings, we hugged goodbye and he wished me luck. I was thrown into a sea of E-Corral pacers.

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The National Anthem played. I bawled. I saw a voicemail from Myrtle Beach friends–I got to listen quickly before the start, it was ‘lil runners wishing me good luck. I cried, I laughed.

My friends were with me throughout the race, although I ran it (physically) alone:
-Greg and I saw a shooting star above the city just before the race–a sign that for me has always been Wendy letting me know she’s still here, looking out for me.
-They played Renegade just before my start.
-They played Don’t Stop Believin’ as I crossed the starting line.
-A blogger friend was live blogging from the crowd–I saw her, but didn’t realize it until the race was over.
-A pair of runners dressed as Mario and Luigi and had the theme song playing from a phone
-Evan and Arianna–a harmonica player was playing “You Are My (Sunshine) Mommy”

Here’s my mile by mile reactions:

Mile 1:
-Really fast, for me, but felt good. Around 12 minutes.
-Why are people already lined up for the bathroom? I swear to my self I will not stop.

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Mile 2:
-Wow, here already? Another fast one, 2 miles down in just over 24 minutes.
-Didn’t grab a water, hope the next one is before mile 6. Gatorade cups are slippery!

Mile 3:
-The clock is broken. My time is going to be incredible if I keep this up. One bridge down.

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Mile 4:
-Where the hell is the clock?
-Where the hell is Greg? I’ve crossed two bridges, he better be on the third one.
-Mile 4 is a freaking long mile to get to. (I never saw the mile 4 marker.)
-So glad I saw Greg on the bridge. He looked so cute sitting up there, cheering for me.

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Mile 5:
-Oh, already at Mile 5? Where was mile 4???
-Greg and Steffani got to run down that hill yesterday, lucky ducks.

Mile 6:
-Almost halfway. I’ve got this in the bag. If I keep this pace up…wait…I’ll be under three hours. There’s no way. No way.

Mile 7:
-Will I ever get to Mile 7? West End bridge and the hill after were tough, but tougher is ahead. Keep your head up, keep swimming.
-West End neighbors are awesome!

Mile 8:
-Wait. Where was mile 7 (again, never saw it).
-Gulp the water, oh!

Mile 9:
-Furiously looking for Greg. He finds me, I realize even at fluid stations I didn’t walk, just ran through to get my water. I yell, NO WALKING I AM A BEAST! He jumps to the side of the course to reach out to me, I never have felt more love.

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Mile 10:
-GU is an amazing invention, can I have more???
-I have never full out run this far.
-How the HELL do I get on that hill with those runners [to my left on the hill district]

Mile 11:
-Time to say goodbye to the marathoners and make the Birmingham Bridge mine. I got this.

Mile 12:
-That hill is a mother, forget the bridge.
-If I pass out on this hill, no one will be able to get me…oh crap. Keep going, don’t walk.

Mile 13:
-They said it was all downhill from 12. What is that hump before the finish line?
-Finish line in sight. Find husband, make sure he’s watching.
-Cry. Cry. Cry. This is so awesome.

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Finish Line:
-3:13. I did it in just over 3 hours. OMG. Wait. That’s the gun time. I started 20:50 after that. OMG. I did it in under 3 hours. I can’t do math right now.
-My knees won’t stop moving. Ouch.
-I need a picture. I need a heat wrap. I need the glory.
-I need water, lots of water. No medic needed, I am walking!!!

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Post Finish Line:
-Find Greg or bathroom? Bathroom wins. Greg finds me first. He had to hold me so I wouldn’t fall over.
-How the hell can I pee if I can’t bend my knees anymore?
-OMG. There’s a medal around my neck. I finished. No cart sweep. Cry, cry, cry.
-My phone is dead. I can’t share this with anyone but Greg, but that’s okay right now.
-I need to stretch. Don’t let anyone step on my head.
-Results tent. “Did you have a goal for under 3? Cause, uh, you killed that.” 2:52:55? ARE YOU SURE THAT’s ME??? “Yes, that’s you!” OMG.

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Sunday was an amazing day for me. It marked leaving things on the pavement, fighting off fears, meeting goals, remembering what got me to here and where I can go now. It was an amazing experience, and I am so proud to say I did it. I am a fighter, and I won’t give up.

5/5/13, the best day of my life (so far).

(More photos on Flickr)