Half Marathon Palooza!

Today is a BIG day here in the ONW household – It’s Mitchell’s birthday! My sweet and wild furry boy is EIGHT years old <3

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Here is a little birthday ode to my favorite Mitchell Man that I wrote for his birthday last year :)

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And in other news, I am guesting posting over on Lindsay’s blog today! (If you missed my Friday Favorites post, I listed her blog as one of my newer favorites last week.) Her first half marathon is this coming weekend and I’m sharing a race-inspired post. I’d love it if you clicked over to her blog to check it out and gave her a little pre-race pep talk yourself!

How do you celebrate your pet’s birthday? There is going to be a lot of peanut butter and rawhides for Mitchell today!

Long Beach Half Marathon – Race Recap

As I shared after the race on Sunday, Kyle and I both ran the Long Beach Half-Marathon this past weekend – not the full marathon as I had originally planned.

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This was my 2nd half-marathon – the first being the Monster Dash in the fall of 2011 – and I was definitely much less prepared for this race than my first.

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I steadily trained for the full marathon from May-August but after the move to Chicago, starting a new job and finding out about some health issues, my training basically stopped. I didn’t stop running altogether but I wasn’t running more than 4-5 miles 3 times per week. Definitely not marathon (or half-marathon) training runs!

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Anyways, onto the race recap!

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We woke up bright and early and fueled with bananas and peanut butter before heading over to the race. Our hotel – The Long Beach Courtyard Marriot – was only a few blocks from the race start and finish lines!

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Our race was supposed to start at 7:30am but because of the masses (like 10,000+ – not kidding!) of people running the race, we didn’t actually cross the start line until 8am and we were one of the first groups to start!

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The overall course was gorgeous. We had great views of Long Beach and the Pacific Ocean but man was the course crowded. We were weaving in and out of crowds, trying not to trip ourselves in order to pass other runners throughout the ENTIRE race. I expect this to happen during the first 2-3 miles of every race as people overestimate their pace but passing people for 13.1 miles is a little ridiculous.

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Because of our delayed start time, we made a quick bathroom pit-stop around Mile 3. That 1-minute break was much needed and I was actually happy to be able to focus on running rather than my full bladder!

Since I was following Kyle’s lead throughout the race (This was his 1st half-marathon and since I didn’t really have a training plan/goal, I decided to stick with him as a running buddy.) we made quite a few water stops over the next several miles. I didn’t drink at all of them – I don’t like the way water feels sloshing around my belly while running. He also requested a few walking breaks – one around Miles 7, 8 and 10.

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Once we hit Mile 10, I knew I could not walk again or I’d never be able to start up running and make it across the finish line so I continued on ahead of Kyle.

As a side note, I’ve decided that running buddies are key to long runs and races. Those last 3.1 miles were killer and I hit a major wall that probably would have been much easier to overcome had I been running with someone.

Speaking of hitting a wall – I want to give a shout out and a HUGE thank you to all of the race spectators. Your cheering, funny signs, bite-sized candy and orange slices made those last few miles bearable and also made it possible for me to finish the race! Who knew that a granny telling each runner that they were a sexy beast, a tiny Milky Way and sucking the juice out of an orange slice could fuel me for a few miles??!

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On Mile 11 (or Mile 24 for her…), Monica from Run Eat Repeat zoomed past me! I love her blog and was pretty much in blog-celebrityville for those few moments. You can give me the Creeper McCreeperton award for the race because I snapped a photo of her as she passed by.

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Yep, I’m that creepy.

Anyways, I eventually made it across the finish line and man, why is that last mile always so emotional??! Spectators are cheering, you’re delirious and I always have to focus on breathing in order to not break down into tears, hyperventilate and/or collapse from sheer exhaustion.

My official time was 2:18 – slower than my first half-marathon time of 1:52 but still okay considering that I didn’t train and haven’t ran more then 4-5 miles in the past month.

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Kyle’s official time was 2:23! I was impressed considering that he came to the race after spending a week in Russia, it being his first race of this length and only making it up to a 9-mile run during his training. Yay for Kyle!

After donning my medal (they gave me the full marathon medal since my bib was for the full) and shoving a bag of Cheez-Its, a Rice Krispy Treat, a banana and fruit snacks down my trap, Kyle crossed the finish line. And yes, I was able to eat that much sugary-carby goodness in less than 5 minutes. My body craves some major carbs to replenish its energy stock after a race of that length and I couldn’t chew the food fast enough!

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Once we got our finisher’s photo, we wobbled back to the hotel to clean up before gorging ourselves with pizza and beer. Typical.

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So what are my overall thoughts?

It was a beautiful course but I just can’t recommend the half to anyone. It was way too crowded to be enjoyable and probably actually quite dangerous at some points because of thousands of runners. I actually overheard a spectator call us a herd of wildebeests. (I’m sorry sir but the only time I’ll respond to the term beast is when the word sexy is in front of it!) I think the full is another story – I’d love to try that one out, maybe next year??!

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I’m not sore in the least. (Pre-publishing edit – I was actually sore 2 days after the race but only my glutes… apparently they can power me through 13.1 miles ;) ) I’m really shocked about this considering my lack of training. It just goes to show that other types of fitness like Body Pump, Yoga and Cardio Kickboxing keep you in damn good shape and are just as important as actual running when preparing for a race!

After being able to finish this race, I think there’s something to be said for under-training. Yes, you need to be able to run and be in great cardiovascular health to run long distances but your muscles should not be fatigued. My muscles were fresh and ready to run and that they did. I also have a little bit more “fluff” right now than I’ve had the past year(s) – moving and stress do a number on the bod – and that probably powered me through the race as well… and don’t worry, I’m workin’ on it… with Body Pump and Cardio Kickboxing on my side, I’m determined to be back into my normal shape by the holidays!

How’s that for a super long post? If you’re still here, I’m glad because I really wanted to share with you my thoughts about the race and running a half-marathon without training!

What are your thoughts on training for long-distance races? What’s the longest distance you’ve ever run?

Long Beach Marathon – We’re Alive!

Helllooooooooooo!!! <– I’m quite delirious from dehydration at the moment so please excuse the incoherence of this post.

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I just wanted to check in with you beauties and let you know that Kyle and I survived our half-marathon! Woohoo! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed that I didn’t do the full as I had originally planned but there’ll be more marathons in the future.

I’ll provide a full update later this week but overall, I think I did pretty darn good for not training since moving to Chicago almost two months ago and having my last “long” run with Katie a month ago at HLS!

THANK YOU to everyone who tweeted and texted during the race, especially to Carly for sending me a photo of wine around Mile 6! I loved looking down at my phone and seeing words of encouragement. Trust me, when you hit a wall at Mile 11, anything and everything helps :)

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Oh, and the best part of the race? Finding these in my finisher’s goodie bag. Hells yes.

Now, I’m off to eat my body weight in nachos and steak (gotta refill my iron stores!) and guacamole and enjoy a beer or five… This girl is hungry!

Did you race today? Are you enjoying a Sunday Funday? If so, have a drink for me!

Monster Dash Recap

It’s Wednesday! Do you know what that means?

It’s time for a fitness post! :)

Instead of posting a new workout this week, I am opting to share a recap of my first (and most likely my last…) half-marathon. The Monster Dash on October 29, 2011!

Monster Dash

The Monster Dash is sponsored by Team Ortho – a non-profit agency focused on helping individuals who suddenly find themselves with a traumatic injury. Team Ortho sponsors a variety of events in and around the Twin Cities every year. Their events are always well staffed and a lot of fun. The Monster Dash is no exception! The event hosts 5K, 10 Mile and Half-Marathon runs and since it is held close to Halloween, many of the runners dress in full costume!

Since the 2011 Monster Dash was my first race of this length, I chose to not dress up. I knew that I would be happy lucky to finish it WITHOUT a heavy costume on, plus the temps were in the 20’s that day and I needed my layers! The runners that were in full garb definitely kept me entertained through the 13.1 miles – How can you not laugh when you see a man in a gorilla suit and his friend in a banana costume running in front of you on Mile 9??!?

For my training, I took the advice of one of my coworkers and followed Hal Higdon’s “Novice 2″ Half-Marathon training program. The longest I had ever run before deciding to do this race was 4 miles so I knew I needed some sort of training schedule to build up my stamina and distance. I only made it up to 11 miles on my longest training run (the training program recommended getting to 12 miles) but I felt very well-prepared for the actual race.

Me (in the center in ALL black) around Mile 8.

Becky Half-Marathon 2

The one piece of advice I would give anyone training for a long-distance race is that walking is imperative in your training program. It is perfectly okay and acceptable and NEEDED to walk during your runs. After my running distance increased to 7 miles, I would incorporate a 30-second walk after each 3-mile increment. It helped me to catch my breath and it also helped to prevent injury as I wasn’t pushing myself to run through pain.

Funny thing is, during the actual race, I didn’t stop to walk once!!! The adrenaline must have been pumping through my veins ;)

Mile 13! Almost done… Can you see the look of pain on my face?

Becky Half-Marathon 3

My goal time for the race was approximately 10 minutes/mile or 2:10:00 and I ended up SMASHING that goal!

My final time was 1:52:15 – an 8:35 minute mile! I was so proud :)

Here are my full results:

Race Results

FINISHED!! Sadly, I was so exhausted and dehydrated that I couldn’t even drink the free beer they gave away after the race :(

Becky Half-Marathon 1

At the beginning of this post, I stated that this would most likely be my last race of this distance. Here is why… Following the race, I was in a lot of pain. My knees were throbbing and I had a lot of issues actually walking back to the car. I was also diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma while training… an inhaler helps to ease most of the breathing discomfort when running long-distances but doesn’t prevent all of it. I hate the tightness and pain that I get in my lungs when running more than 7-8 miles.

If you all could solve my breathing and knee-pain issues, I would totally be up for half-marathon #2! ;)

In other news, my CrossFit box is doing a “Paleo Challenge” starting the day after the Super Bowl – Coincidence?? I’m still not sold on the whole paleo diet fad – I understand cutting out processed foods but removing foods such as legumes and grains is bizarre to me.

Have any of you ever tried the Paleo Diet? What do all of my nutritionist/health-counselor readers think of this diet? Should I try the one-month challenge?

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