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!

California, here I come!

{Editor’s note: Apparently my United flight (on a brand new plane too for your information…grumble, grumble…) did not have Wi-Fi. Lame. I did actually compose this post on the plane but am posting it from the hotel…}

TGIF!

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I’m just popping in from a bajillion feet above the ground on my way to California. And… the guy in front of me just reclined seat… This 4 hours of blogging shall be fun.

Anyways, is anyone else pumped that it’s Friday??! It’s been a long week as I’ve been semi- sick with a sore throat, body aches and a slight fever and Kyle has been traveling in Russia. I’m sure we’re going to be crazy fun party animals tonight and go to bed around 7pm so that we can be refreshed and ready to go on Saturday!

I’ve had a bunch of you ask me why I’m heading to the state of sunshine and happiness today.

This was the weekend of the marathon and I’m still TBD on what I’m going to do on Sunday. Kyle’s registered for the half so my options are currently…

  1. Run the marathon – NOT happening considering that I haven’t been training and it was highly recommended that I do not run 26.2 miles by my dermatologist. Darn iron issues…
  2. Run the half-marathon with my lover boy – A possibility. I doubt Kyle will be running quickly after traveling so much this past week (and not training that much himself…) and it could be a fun bonding experience. And by fun, I’m sure we’ll have so much fun, we’ll never run another one again ;)
  3. Run the 5K that I just found out is happening on Sunday morning.
  4. Be a cheerleader for the hubs.

I’ll make sure to let you know what I’m doing and Tweet/Facebook my race tracking number in case any of y’all want to follow along!

Well, that’s all for now – Signing out somewhere above the state of Iowa!

What are your plans for the weekend? Anyone else racing?

Marathon Training – Week 2 Recap

**Before I get into my marathon update, I have a BIG announcement! Remember my Muesli Fusion Banana-Chocolate Truffles? They’ve been chosen as a finalist in a recipe contest! I’d love for your support and for your vote for my truffles on Facebook :) Thanks a bunch!**

Week #2 down – Only 16 more to go! ;)

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This week’s 5 miles was a low-mileage week compared to my previous two weeks of 7ish miles. I finished my run in 44 minutes which is an 8:50 pace. Although I didn’t feel the best, it was one of my faster paces recently. Win!

Here are my splits – Mile 4 was much slower because I had to stop and wait for traffic. Dang cars ;)

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The one major thing I realized this week was that I have no choice but to get my nutrition habits under control if I want to have a successful marathon training. I don’t necessarily eat unhealthy but often I eat too much which makes my body feel less than ideal and definitely not up to par for a marathon training plan!

This week, I am going to focus on eating what my body is wanting but nothing more. I don’t need seconds (or thirds when it comes to cookies!) most of the time and I also need to increase my intake of water during the week.

Sadly, I’m also going to have to cut back on my Friday night wine fests. Two, three, okay you got me – four glasses of wine don’t make for a pleasant early Saturday morning run! With a 9-miler on the schedule for this coming Saturday, I am limiting myself to 2 glasses of vino on Friday night along with LOTS of water.

While running, I come up with lots of questions and I wish I had an experienced marathoner next to me to annoy with a new question every few minutes ;) My next best option is to ask you all! I have lots of questions this week and I’d love your help/advice if you have any!

  1. Sweat. I hate how it drips down my face and inevitably ends up in my eyes. Runners – What do you do about sweat? Do you carry a towel with you or do you just let it drip down your face? I know it won’t be as hot or humid in Long Beach come October as it is in Minneapolis right now but I guarantee you that I will still sweat while running 26.2 miles!
  2. Water. How do you hydrate on your runs? Do you carry a disposable water bottle with you and drink an ounce (or a specific amount) every mile? I don’t know when/how I should be hydrating on my longer runs… I don’t want to get dehydrated but I also don’t want to get water-logged. Help!
  3. Arm/Shoulder Pain. This hasn’t been an issue yet but I remember near the end of my half in 2011, my arms/shoulders were uncomfortable and sore. Do you run with your arms over your head for a few minutes (I’ve seen runners do this…)? What other tips do you have for avoiding this annoying issue?
  4. Fuel. When should I start bringing/consuming fuel on my runs? I have heard of the 90 minute rule… once my runs get longer than 90 minutes, I should start fueling. Do you abide by this? And if this is the case, do you fuel at the 45 minute mark?
  5. Music. Do you listen to music? I don’t for my shorter runs but I need it for my longer ones. What headphones do you use? Ear buds are out of the question for me, they don’t stay in my ears for more than 2.3 seconds. #soannoying I have been using some that hook over my ears but those still fall out every once in a while. Do you have any brand/model recommendations for headphones?

Wish me luck on my long run this Saturday – it’ll be my longest distance since 2011!

Can you help me out with any of my questions above? Do you know of any other runner problems I’m missing that I need answers to?

Marathon Training – Week 1 Recap

Week 1 of my Long Beach Marathon training is officially COMPLETE!! Success #1 :)

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I did the math – yep, I can still count ;) – and I am officially 18 weeks out from my first marathon. Cue the panic.

Based on my last few weeks of running, I am starting my training this week at Week 3. This will give some flexibility since I know I’ll be traveling a few weekends this summer and fall (Helllooooo Napa and Vegas and Nashville!) and it will be difficult to fit in my training runs those weekends.

Plus, who want to cut into the wine tasting in Napa or the shopping in Sin City to make time for a training run??

Not I, my friends, not I ;)

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So how’d this weekend’s long run go?

I woke up bright and early on Saturday with the intent on heading out the door for a run immediately. I quickly realized that I was starving so I ate scarfed down a bagel with mega amounts of peanut butter and decided to walk Mitchell for 45ish minutes so I could digest my carbs before running.

After our walk, I headed out for a 7.5 mile run. The first 2-3 miles of every run are difficult for me. I struggle to find a good breathing rhythm and a pace that I feel comfortable with. After I got over my running “hump,” my run was amazing! I did get pecked by the same damn bird that keeps harassing me on my runs (I sense a battle coming on… and little birdy, trust me, I win my battles!) and got a slight pancreas cramp – and yes, I’m fairly confident that it was my pancreas that was cramping ;) – around 5.5 miles so I walked for about 20 seconds but besides those two minor obstacles, my run was amazing!

I finished my run in approximately 68 minutes – a little over 9 minutes per mile.

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And how am I feeling about the whole marathon thing?

Sometimes I feel like I am training for The Hunger Games. Is this an appropriate feeling to have after signing up for a marathon? I mean, I am 99.999999% that I’m going to survive but sometimes I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle. C’mon, 26.2 miles? What sane person signs up for something like that?

Heh… heh…

Oh goodness, what did I get myself into?!

Thankfully, there is the promise of wine and friends (and hopefully a personal masseuse – I’m still accepting applications ;) ) following the marathon so I’m not likely to skip out on the whole marathon “fun” run thing. I’m just going to keep thinking that I’ll be burning off approximately 20 glasses of wine while running the 26.2 miles, and y’all know that inspiration will keep me goin’ until the end!

So all in all, so far so good. Check in next Tuesday for my Week 2 update!

All you marathoners out there, I need some advice. There is a 10-mile race the weekend before the marathon that Kyle has registered for. Should I sign up for it? I’m concerned about pushing myself too hard and risking injury the week before the marathon but – according to my training plan – I am supposed to run 8 miles that weekend and I honestly don’t think 2 additional miles is going to make a whole lot of a difference. Thoughts? Should I register or pass and be a cheerleader for Kyle that weekend?

My First Marathon

You guys. I did it.

I registered for my first ever marathon!

The first few moments after hitting the all-empowering “submit” button on the registration page were filled with excitement and awe and happiness and a BIG cheesy smile combined with a happy dance.

I looked something like this…

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Or maybe more like this… And yes, I’m completely aware that my goofy grin and my nose haven’t changed since I was a toddler…

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And then it hit me.

I am insane. I don’t have just a little bit of the crazies, I am totally, utterly, absolutely, no questions asked, 100% loony. Someone lock me up right now before I do anything else absurd.

Seriously. I just committed to running 26.2 miles. TWENTY-SIX POINT TWO MILES!! Who does things like this?

Well, I hate to break it to myself, but apparently I do.

After I got over my excitement and the realization that I am insane, I started panicking (yep, the heart beating out of my chest, gasping for air, sweating kind of panic…) and those gosh darn negative thoughts that I mentioned yesterday began creeping into my head.

Becky, you told yourself you’d never run any crazy-long distance race again after your half-marathon in 2011. Don’t you remember how bad your knees hurt after the race?

Girl, seriously? 26.2 miles? Are you trying to kill yourself?

A marathon?? People die during those? Are you sure you want to put yourself up to this? 

During my panic, I sent Kyle a text to inform him that we would be vacationing in California in October and to let him know that he may become a widower in 18 weeks. Melodramatic, eh?

Once I came to grips with what I just signed up for, the panic subsided and the terror set in – I obviously went through the full range of emotions yesterday morning!

During my morning meetings, conversations like this were going through my head (maybe I am insane!).

Holy crap, I’m going to die. I better live it up over the next few months! …NO! I can do this. I am strong. I am confident. I am able. I know when to slow down and I know when to push myself, I’ll be fine. I’ve never run more than 13.1 miles before – am I seriously going to double this distance? Yes, yes you are and you are going to love it and you are going to do better than you could ever imagine!

You get the idea…

Right now, my emotions are now a mix of slightly terrified and mostly excited with a little bit of crazy. Sounds like a fun Friday night, am I right??! ;)

When I told my coworker and friend, Natalie, what I had done, her response was so uplifting. She said: “You’re a goal-setter. You thrive on goals and you always succeed. You’re determined and you’ll be fine!”

And she’s right. The thing is, I love setting goals. I love pushing myself to my limits and testing my capabilities – both mentally and physically. I have come to the conclusion that I will not only be fine, I will be freakin’ awesome and I can’t wait to share my journey with you!

Okay, enough with the emotional jazz. I bet you’re all curious to find out which race I am running! After much debate and research, I decided to register for…

The Long Beach Marathon on October 13th!!

As I eluded to yesterday, I really want to turn this marathon into a celebration and a vacation and what better place to do that than in California?

Other criteria I was looking for in a race – yes, I know this sounds like I am looking for a potential mate here… – was a moderate climate (the Midwest’s indecision – aka possibility of snow and ice – in October frightens me, the South-East is too dang humid for someone who isn’t training there – I’m obviously just as selective about my climates as I am about my men ;) ) and little to no hills. 26.2 miles is going to be enough, I can’t imagine incorporating humidity or snow/ice as well as elevation and crazy mountains into the mix!

Coastal, southern California was the obvious choice. Moderate temps averaging between the 50’s and 70’s in mid-October and basically NO elevation changes along the ocean.

Oh California, you’re like the perfect man – you’re moderately cool but know how to turn on the heat, your landscape is pleasing to the eye, and you always have a glass of wine waiting. How I love thee so.

So, the plan right now is to get into California the Thursday or Friday before the race, spend the weekend in Long Beach and then head up to Napa to celebrate the completion of a marathon!

The location of Long Beach and its proximity to copious amounts of wine may or may not have been a deciding factor in the selection of this marathon ;)

Let’s be honest here, this girl is going to need some serious vino – and ice packs and water and a personal masseuse (now taking applications!) – following a 26.2 mile run. And by serious vino, I mean that I might drink Napa dry in October so, if you’re planning on visiting wine country, get there before October 13th!

In all seriousness though, I am extremely excited for this experience! I can’t wait to do a training recap for you to follow along with each week! I’ll talk about my distances, my overall fitness level, my nutrition plan and, since we all know what a pretty runner I am, I’ll make sure to include a post-long run photo each week for your entertainment :)

Will you come cheer me on during the race? (I’m talkin’ to you Carly and Katie and Allison and Sarah!) Will you run with me?? What should I plan on bringing with me to California? And what do I need to use to fuel during my long training runs? (Please don’t recommend gels or gu or anything of that nature, it makes me gag!)

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