My First Marathon

It’s almost a whole month since my marathon!  I actually cannot believe it came and went as fast as it has.  It was one of the most challenging mental and time issues I’ve ever dealt with.  A whole ‘nother challenge; including finding best nutrition habits and hydration; along with finding the time to run 2-3 hours most days of the week in order to fit in the long runs for the “big day”.

Cut to the “BIG DAY”….

I already shared our morning of the race and left off at the starting line…336142_364536386907790_1919357756_o

Grace started in the group just ahead of mine; as she is a faster runner.  As they called out the starting time for her group; I said a small prayer for her and wished her well, aloud…although I knew there was no way she could hear me.

Then it was our turn.  As our group began to run; I felt an overwhelming rush of emotions fill my body.

I had trained to be here.  I was an actual “runner” and was accomplishing my goal of taking on a full marathon.  What a rush.  I was in awe of this experience that laid out ahead of me.

I decided to enjoy the people around me, the beautiful scenery and weather; as well as my music I had prepared for my marathon run.

Mile 1 went by…mile 2…I was feeling strong.  My plan was to take a Gu packet at every 4th mile and drink water or electrolytes at every water station; and/or every 2 miles.  They say to follow your guidelines of fuel and hydration as you had on your training.  I planned to do it right…this was not the time to play “hero” and take another route.

I found a good pace and kept up with a few runners around me.  My pace felt strong and I was keeping with the 4 hour pacers.  This was great!! At times, I would fall between the 4:10 and the 4:00; but that was completely fine with me.

Hearing the cheers of spectators and volunteers continued to help my energy push.  They were here to watch US!!  That felt amazing.  I was honored that they would do this.  There were spectators with signs for their family and friends who were running the race.  I still felt like it was for all of us…as we were a “family”; running together in this large pack.

It wasn’t until the mark where the 1/2 marathon runners merged with us that I began to hit a mental “wall”.  Although my pace was strong; my mind was in a negative state.  What was happening?  To the best of my understanding; (as I was busy running a marathon and not really interested in spending time and energy investigating what my “problem” was) I was thrown off with the fact that they had come in “late” and were already so much closer to the end than we were.  It was an odd feeling and I don’t even understand why this fact bothered me, but it did.

I continued on anyway.  It became a bit congested on the roads.  People all running different speeds; with their groups of friends and keeping each other on track.

When I got the the 1/2 way point; we were heading down the boardwalk of the beach walkway.  It was a narrow, two laned sidewalk that became filled with runners going one way or the other way.  Who were these amazing runners anyway; already coming back towards the finish line?  It was quite impressive.

So, I kept running.  I kept taking in my Gu every 4th mile and grabbing water and electrolytes to hydrate.  Apparently, I had been drinking enough water as I actually had to stop and use the “port o potty” to pee.  That was a new experience.  I had never needed to use the restroom while I ran my long runs before so even though it slowed my time a bit; I was happy to not be dehydrated.  (it’s the little things)

And I kept running.  Where was this turnaround, anyway?  I looked up ahead and saw the mile markers continue down the boardwalk.  I couldn’t see the end of our side.  I couldn’t see where they were looping around.  I tried not to worry too much about this fact and just focus on the task at hand.  Run, breathe, fuel, hydrate.  Run, breathe, fuel, hydrate.

Now I knew we were back to only the marathoners running this part.  The 1/2 marathoners were on the road alongside the boardwalk.  Why was this fact even an issue?  I was becoming more and more annoyed by them finishing sooner.  It became a bit of a “game” as I would tell myself to STOP thinking the negativity and focus but my fatigued body and brain wanted to remind me again and again.

I continued anyway.  I ran strong and hard.  Then I passed Grace.  Wow, she was running at a good pace!! I called out to her and we smiled and waved.

Now, I was sure this turnaround was getting close.  I kept my tempo.  I kept with the beat of my music.  I breathed in the surroundings and the fact that I was accomplishing this goal.

We ran near the campsites and campers were sitting and watching us run by.  One such campsite held a large table and a big sign that read “Beer and Bacon.”  The campers were encouraging the runners to take some free beer or bacon for their run.  Ummmmm…excuse me?  Were they serious?  As I laughed this off and continued to pass them by; one runner ahead of me, did a U-Turn and came back to take them up on their offer.  Stranger things happen, I’m sure.  At least it gave me a laugh.

I continued on.  Seriously, this straight away was longer than I would have ever imagined!! Then, I saw it… I saw the U-Turn!! I saw another water table!! It was like an oasis in the desert…what a wonderful site.  I could have cried.  I actually might have…just a little!

As we turned, I noticed we were at mile 22.  Only a little over 4 miles to go.  Wow.  It was almost here.535590_514182718624601_1805423726_n  I realized that Grace was most likely almost done; or done at this point.  I wished I was too.  I heard my phone ring while I ran.  I ignored it.  Who would be calling this morning?  It was early and the only people I could imagine calling me would be those who knew I was running my marathon.  It stopped ringing.  I kept running.  Then it rang again…seriously?  I didn’t have the energy to even try to figure out who it was.  It stopped again and I continued on.

The last few miles felt torturous.  I almost felt like stopping.  My legs were heavy.  I was falling behind my goal time.  I was running just ahead of the 4 1/2 mile mark. I wouldn’t let it pass me by.  I kept pushing further.  I focused more on my music…and the energy of the people around me.  Again, we came up on some of the 1/2 marathoners but this time it didn’t upset me.  I knew we were all at the end.  I was ready to be done.  Whenever I saw a camera person, I always gave my biggest smile and waved.  It didn’t matter what point of the race I would see them; even at the most difficult stages; I would still take the time and energy to smile and wave.

It’s the little things.

I then saw the finish line.  The crowds were building around us.  They were cheering.  Runners were encouraging others who were about to give up.  One man who was obviously a faster runner; stopped to hold a woman’s hand from his running group…and take her in with him.  This is what this race is about.

Sacrifice.  Challenge.  Tears.  Perseverance.

Just like life.  You want to throw in the towel but you keep going.  You want to give up because it’s too hard; or you’re too tired.  But you keep going.

You put one foot in front of the other.  And you do it again and again.

When I was 2 tenths of a mile from the finish line, I did all that I could to speed up.  I remembered how at the beginning of the race, there was the gentleman with the sign that read; “you’re almost there, just 26 miles to go”…

I knew I had to only run that 2 tenths that I had started off so strong with.

I ran my legs as hard as they could.  I pushed my body as much as possible as my lungs heaved with fatigue and gasped for breath.  I willed my mind to finish.  I had trained for this and I would not give up at this point.  I crossed the finish line just after 4:30 and that was okay with me.  I felt really proud and really tired.  My husband was there.  He whistled and called out to me.  I begged him to hurry to my side as my legs were quickly tightening and I needed to rest and hydrate.

I made it.  I finished my goal and completed my challenge.  It was a huge victory.  When my husband finally caught up to me; I asked him, “Why do people do this?”….

And he grinned…

Carb-Loading; Not What it’s Cracked Up to BE!

bread

So, Carb loading….

It was supposed to be magical.  I imagined awesome days, filled with pastas, breads and so much wonderful CARBS….

It’s not as fun as I thought.  Why, you may ask?  Well, obviously, carbs are the “fun” food group that helps to curb our deepest cravings and satisfy the hormonal shifts that tend to make us cranky and short on energy.  It’s supposed to make us feel all cozy and happy and FULL…

Well, apparently, eating carbs pre-marathon means JUST carbs.  No fats and no proteins with it.

screeeeech….Excuse me???  What does that leave me with?

Here’s the food list that I was “enjoying” (but not really that much) the 2 days before my race:

*plain “white” pasta (blech!! I don’t eat “white” anymore!! and here I had to break my clean eating for plain white pasta)

*plain white bagels

*oatmeal (probably the best choice of all!)

*plain white potatoes

*bananas/apples

*lots and lots and lots of water (kind of the complete opposite of my bikini comp pre-week “Peak Week”)

Oh, sure, you’re most likely rolling your eyes and thinking that Kathy has NO reason to complain about that amazing list of foods…but really??? Who wants to eat plain everything?  I want my peanut butter or avocado atop my bagels and toasts.  I like to have some veggie omelet scramble and protein pancakes for some of my “fun” breakfasts…

In any case, (and all of my silly complaining aside) it DID help!  I ate as plain as possible the 2 days before and drank at least 4 liters of water each day (hello, where is your restroom???) and had so much energy to spare!! I think some of the pre-race crazy excitement may be solely blamed on this meal plan.

For the day of the race, I woke up at 3am (it is NOT morning yet!!) and drank my coffee (cuz that’s what I do every other morning) and ate my oatmeal with banana and almond milk.  I took bananas and snacks and more water with me to have again about an hour before the race.

The actual race plan was to drink water or electrolytes at every water station on my run.  (I dehydrate easy due to how much I sweat…wanna bet??? I’ll totally win!)  I brought 8 packets of “gu” (again, it’s what I had been using on all of my long training runs for the previous 16 weeks so no way I’d change that up now!) and burned a playlist to my iphone, wisely titled “Marathon”…(I know, I come up with some good ones!)

We arrived and parked early enough to be relaxed and walk the area in the still-dark-morning!  Ben (hubby) stated that he would accompany us to the marathon; although I “warned” him he’d be waiting for over 4 hours for us to run!  (I think he was worried I’d collapse from exhaustion since he cannot wrap his mind around 26.2 miles…but neither can I so I am happy he came!)  He had to put up with crazy energy from both Grace and myself.  We met with a few other runner “friends” took pics and shared our excitement with each other.

554383_10200530708181082_908034840_n

 

We visited the restrooms more than once.

Then, it was time.  We headed out to our section to start; amongst the crowds in the dark and cold beachy morning.

I heard the first group begin; I became a bit more excited with anticipation.

Then the second group went out; Grace was amongst this group and I yelled out to her, “Go, Grace!!”

Finally, it was our turn to run (there were 6 or 7 groups, I think) and I remember being filled with an overwhelming emotion of pride, gratitude, nerves, calm and everything in between.  I felt almost as though I was bawling my eyes out; but not really crying at all.  It was a rush of all the past 4 months of training and planning and doubts…

Then we passed a man standing on a ladder.  He was holding a sign that said “You are almost there” and then he turned his sign around and it read “just 26 miles left!”….

Apparently, 0.2 miles were officially done.  The woman running alongside of me, turned to me and said, “should we kill him now?”

and so it began….

My First-Marathon (what does that mean?)

It seems a bit unreal that my marathon training and actual marathon race; have been completed.  I remember deciding (albeit hesitantly) to take on my first marathon (which for those of you who are unclear; is 26.2 miles!! And yes, there seemed to be MANY people unclear on this fact)

and the schedule that laid out ahead of me.

IMG_1459My tracking had me running over 10o training “runs” and that alone, scared the heck out of me!

I am not a “natural-born” runner.  I remember having to run for P.E. class and just hating it with a passion.  I was lazy.  It hurt.  I couldn’t breathe…

On and on, the excuses went.  They never changed either; since I hadn’t changed the way I thought about running.  It always makes me think of how powerful our minds are.  We put so much emphasis on how much “strength” or “endurance” we have within us; when it’s simply just the mind’s capacity and ability to get over the hurdles.

My humorous complaints regarding the marathon itself; the amount of training I needed to overcome; and the fact that Grace (my running partner) was trying to “kill” me with these challenges, were only said in jest.  I knew in my heart and in my mind; that I was determined, one way or another, to get to the finish line and be able to stand (in a semi-proud posture) and enjoy the accomplishment after.

I found it amazing how I went through the training phases in a pyramid like fashion; which meant increasing my long runs each week until 20 miles and then gradually tapering back down for recovery.

Those 20 milers sure took a toll on my body!  It took every bit of strength to walk the rest of that day; and don’t get me started on lifting up my legs to walk upstairs! :-/

All in all, the day following my super long runs were surprisingly good days!  I was told it would be worse the “day after” but my body didn’t follow along the basic guidelines, I’m sure!  (not too surprising since I don’t really follow along “normal” guidelines in anything! ha)

The week leading up to our marathon was more or less a “restful” running week.  Runs were shorter and a few quick bursts of speed and that was it.  I didn’t complain one bit.  It seemed to be more of a “mental” training week; in preparing ourselves for the upcoming race.  How would this be possible? I wondered.  What if I had to quit? I feared.  I know that these are all normal thoughts and feelings that newbies have; and maybe even veteran marathoners at times.  It didn’t slow me up or make me fear enough to back away…NEVER!!!

The weekend of the marathon, Grace and I went to the Expo along Huntington Beach Pacific Coast Highway in order to pick up our race packets and receive all of the important info for our race.  I have to say that we just became giddier with excitement and it was then that I knew I would do well.  No matter what happened; I would finish.  No matter my pace; I would finish.

All in all; we would finish.

I will write more in the next few blogs regarding the specifics of our nutrition prior to race day; (yes, carb-loading to the max!! NOT as fun as I thought) planning for the big day; during the run itself; and post marathon.

Aren’t you excited already?

photo (2)

Success Story: Robin Kelder

46533_10151144416212739_387898002_n

Here’s an inspiring story from a runner who has battled weight and finally found what works.  She is crushing her results and accountability in our current challenge group and I’m so proud of her!  Read on for her story in her own words…way to go, Robin!!

————————–

My journey with weightloss has always been a sensitive issue for me.  In high school, although I was fit, and one of the fastest runners in my state, I always felt like I needed to lose weight.  When I went to college, I actually lost a freshmen 15 instead of gaining 15 pounds.  I think that was due to me running cross-country and track at the collegiate level.  However, when they told me I would not be earning a scholarship, I quit.  All of my structure came tumbling down, and in a matter of months, the weight started piling on.  Before I knew it, I had put on over 65 pounds.  I joined Weight Watchers in 2004.  As a competitive person, the points program was working for me…initially.  However, I soon learned that I could “cheat” myself by counting “junk food” instead of real food.  I’d avoid meals so I could eat garbage…legally.  Things were staying relatively constant, but that was because I was running between 50-70 miles a week.  I soon learned just how bad my new “healthy” diet was when I injured myself and could not run for a month.  I put back on 20 pounds.

Once I graduated from college, I found myself overwhelmed by a real job, and little time to run, or even work out.  I went back to Weight Watchers because that’s what I knew. That’s what worked for me in the past (when all I had to do was just run and go to school).  However, it wasn’t working.  I would slip up, feel guilty, and stop going.  The weight would inch up even more.

Then…as many moms find….pregnancy brings out the worst in ourselves.  I gained 80 pounds with my first child.  In fact, when I went into labor, my blood pressure was so high they told me that I needed an epidural (I didn’t want one), or I was at risk for having a stroke.  That was a wake up call for me. After delivery, I could barely fit in the wheelchair to get wheeled to the NICU to visit my daughter. I was miserable.  When she was 6 weeks old…I went back to Weight Watchers…again.  I shed nearly 30 pounds, and entered into the last semester of my Master’s Degree where stress played a huge role in my life, and I gained 15 pounds back in a month.

I wanted to lose all the weight before having another child, but plans did not work out that way.  I gained weight again with my son, but not nearly as much.  However, after he was born, it did not melt off as quickly as it did with my daughter. In fact, it plateued.  It would not budge.  My husband told me at this point, I was not allowed to do Weight Watchers anymore…he’d seen enough.

That”s when I was talking to a friend of mine who was doing Insanity.  I saw her results, and thought, “hey. I run marathons (or at least did), I can do this.”  I was intimidated by the price, but liked the online accountablity with the Super Gym, not having to use any equipment, and being able to work out at home…so I signed up for the challenge.  After a few weeks, my friend invited me to join a Facebook Challenge with Kathy, and I have hung on since.  I finished the Insanity Challenge, losing 17 lbs and 4 dress sizes.  Plus, I smashed my half marathon goal by 7 minutes.

That was all over my vacation.  Going back to work at a new school proved to be challenging.  I tried P90x, but I had a hard time staying motivated.  I tried Insanity again (seeing a pattern here)…but the intensity of workouts and my work schedule were not meshing.  Then, I saw a program in my challenge group that caught my interest: Les Mills Body Pump.

Body Pump was always one of my favorite workouts, and now I saw I could do the workouts at home…even better!  I signed on for Kathy’s New Year Challenge, committed to using Shakeology (which has helped me curb cravings), and have made it through my first month.  At first, I was getting discouraged because the scale wasn’t moving drastically…but in the last week, I saw a 4 pound drop, and 10 inches of fat disappear! Poof! Gone!  I didn’t believe it, I remeasured several times.  I am doing Weight Watchers concurrently, but I only eat REAL foods.  I avoid fat free foods, and as much of the processed foods that I can.  However, I am also realistic.  Eating a pre-packaged yogurt is going to keep me from going to the vending machine more than not eating it will.

I love my online motivational system.  Sometimes, it is hard to make it to a gym for a scheduled class…working out at home allows me no excuses.  Checking in gives me more accountability…and people notice when I don’t check in.  I still have a long way to go, but at least I know, I am on the right track now.

~Robin Kelder (Feb. 2013)

So, are you next???