Giving Thanks!

As you may know, I finished my first marathon one week ago. I ran 26.2 miles.

Before training, the longest run I had ever run was maybe 8 miles. And that was LONG.

I had always been a sprinter – the 400 and 800m dash were my races. Even so, I have always loved running. Ever since I started tagging along on runs with my dad since I was, well, big enough to run, I have always loved everything about it.

The exploration, the challenge, the camaraderie, the sense of accomplishment – everything.

So, I have always run leisurely. two miles here, two miles there… Until a few months ago when a friend of mine messaged me on Facebook. “Hey! Want to do a half marathon with me in Las Vegas?!” Now, how could I turn that down?! So, I went to the website to register and noticed that the FULL marathon was the same price! Plus you got a sweet finisher’s jacket! I thought, well, if I’m going to Vegas, I’m going all in!

So, countless 4:00am alarms, 4 pairs of running shoes, 38 gallons of sweat, 64 gels, and 4 months of training later… here I am! A marathoner!

During this time of thanks, I look back at what kept me going. Running 20-35 miles a week for months was a huge change for me. It wasn’t easy. Don’t get my wrong, 99% of the time I enjoyed every minute of it! And in hindsight, I really did enjoy it 100% of the time. But there was that 1% of the time that it wasn’t easy at the time. There were days I didn’t think I could manage another 6 mile run. There were days I thought why am I doing this? There were days I just wanted to eat donuts, drink beer, and lay on the couch!

But, you know what? I am so, so, incredibly glad that I followed through. You may or may not know this if you’ve kept up with my journey, but I completed EVERY. SINGLE. Training run. Except TWO 3-milers to prevent injury. I never said I’ll just skip today. I never said skipping one run won’t matter. I never said oh well. I just did it.

In saying this, my point is that YOU kept me going. Though I am ultimately self-motivated and I believe that true motivation and desire to succeed comes from within, when my self-motivation was lacking during that 1% of the time, guess who was there. YOU. So many of you have encouraged me, given me tips, tricks, and pointers, shared with me your stories (good and bad!), and overall have just been the most supportive people I’ve ever known.

Like I’ve said, always will say, and will say again: runners are the best type of people.

Thank you for being you, for your support, and for your genuine desire for me to succeed. I want you to know that I care about you all and hope that you feel the same. In this time of thanks, I thank YOU!

Let’s keep the thanks going and share the love! Check out someone I’m thankful for, Emily, and her lessons from her first Turkey Trot! http://azsungoddess.weebly.com/blog-posts/lessons-from-my-first-turkey-trot

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Merino Wool BUFF® Review

Disclaimer: I received a Merino Wool BUFF® to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

So, what even is a “BUFF,” you say?

It’s a long tube of awesome.

Ok, but for real. In a nutshell, a BUFF® headwear item is a long tube that fits over your head and is extremely versatile in that it can be worn as a headband, neck warmer, hood, etc. They come in different fabrics ranging from UV protection, to Merino Wool. I’ll be talking and reviewing specifically the Merino Wool BUFF®.

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The facts, straight from the website:

The classic BUFF® headwear shape, but with a few extra inches of length for cozy protection, it features the natural moisture management and odor control properties outdoor enthusiasts love most. Made from soft 100% natural Merino wool, the Merino Wool BUFF® feels great next to the skin, and it keeps you warm even when it’s wet. It’s the soft, breathable extra layer of insulation you need for chilly days. Plus, BUFF® donates 1% of the proceeds from Merino Wool BUFF® to the planet so you can feel warm and fuzzy on the inside too.

  • 100% natural merino wool
  • 12+ ways to wear
  • Merino Wool’s natural qualities include: water repellent, odor resistant, flameproof, durability, UV protection and natural stretch and elasticity
  • Thermal protection from cold & wind
  • Cool in the summer, extra layer of warmth in the winter
  • Semi-seamless — small, unnoticeable seam on top and bottom of Wool BUFF®
  • Quick drying
  • One size fits all adults

Specs

  • Product Dimensions: (approx.) 26.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Weight: 1.7 ounces
  • *Tie dye styles are 3 inches shorter

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I’d say the product stands up to its claims. I live in Texas, so I haven’t needed it for extremely cold conditions, but it’s been perfect for chilly runs and walks. I even wear it as a hood (over my whole head, neck, and mouth) and it’s great for physical activity, because once you warm up, you can slide it down or convert it into a headband! Really, this is probably the most versatile piece of clothing I own.

The material is great – warm, but not thick or suffocating. It still allows air flow. I’d say the material weight is similar to a thin/non-cushioned running sock (not thick or “fluffy”). I have been wearing mine in the Texas winter and have kept warm without getting hot too quickly. I imagine it would be great for colder conditions as well. I will definitely take it with me if I go anywhere up North (or anywhere at all, really). I imagine it’d be a must have if I lived somewhere like Canada…

A major point about the material is that it’s NOT ITCHY. You really wouldn’t guess it was wool (no weird smell or scratchy texture) and it has stretch to it. I have tried other wool clothing items, even some that had rave reviews about being “buttery smooth” or “not itchy at all!” and as soon as I slipped in on… NOPE. It got sent back. I have pretty sensitive skin, so I was impressed when this did not itch one bit (if it did, I wouldn’t have worn it).

I really can’t think of any negative points I’ve had or have about this product. I think that anyone who spends any time outdoors would get a lot of use out of a Merino Wool BUFF®.

Here is is folded in half. My greyhound, Derby, wants one!

My First Marathon! Rock N Roll Las Vegas!

Where to begin…

For the past 30 weeks, I have been preparing for this one very moment.

It was time. Time to pack my things – decide what to take, what shoes to wear, my RACE DAY OUTFIT. Time to print my boarding pass. This was really happening!

I got on my flight from Dallas to Las Vegas, feeling all sorts of feels. Wondering and hoping I packed matching shoes and my favorite socks. I wasn’t nervous yet and kept wondering if I would be.

We arrived in Las Vegas and go straight to the hotel, Treasure Island. It was 12am Saturday morning by the time we landed in Vegas so it was time to rest up. I slept like a baby and woke up excited to go for a short run and to the expo!

I geared up and went for a short 3-miler just outside the hotel. It was amazing. There were people everywhere and so many things to look at. Without realizing it at the time, I didn’t even turn my music on. I was just soaking up the sounds and the sights. My run felt good. I ended with a few strides and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the expo!

THE EXPO! It was amazing! It blew me away. Not only was this my first marathon, it was my first HUGE race (47,000+ runners). So, this wasn’t just a packet pickup at the local run store, this was an event! Of course, you walk in and want to buy everything. I got away with just a T-shirt for my dad and a long sleeve for myself, and lots of freebies. EVERYTHING and EVERYONE was there, from Garmin to SPIBelt to Altra running… and everything in between. We spent all day there. I was on my feet a bit more than I would’ve liked, but it happened.

We then walked to an Italian place nearby called Carmines and ordered a pound of spaghetti, broccoli, chicken, and $30 worth of meatballs. Perfection.


That night I slept GREAT. AGAIN! I remembered a lot of people who mentioned not sleeping well because of nerves… I did not have this problem! I slept a full 10 hours that night, woke up and took TWO naps before the race (it was a nighttime run). I did wake up every once in a while and chug water.

Anyway, the start time was 4:30pm, so we got dressed and ready to take the monorail down to the start line by 2pm. I still wasn’t nervous. I was mostly a little worried because I WASN’T nervous. I thought maybe I should be… I think I honestly just trusted my training and wasn’t worried about it! I knew I could do it.

So, there we were – loading off of the monorail to walk to wards the start line. I see the crowd of runners and get really excited. We make our way to Snoop Dogg (the headliner!) and I was just amazed. The crowd was unbelievable. This was 1000x bigger than any race I have ever done! Just breathtaking.

For some reason, my bib said I was in Corral 1 (at the very top of the Start line) and that my predicted time was 3:00. I made my way up to corral 1, and decided to stop at corral 4, where I saw my ACTUAL pace group (a little over 4 hr pace group). I thought if I started with the speed demons I’d probably get excited, start too fast and burn out. I’m glad I made that decision.

Then there was the countdown… 3… 2… 1…! We were off! My legs felt great! The crowd thinned out fairly quickly (we weren’t shoulder to shoulder), which was great.

About not even a half mile in, BAM! The lady next to me face plants! She was weaving in and out of people and there was gravel off the road. Poor thing. Someone immediately helped her, which I was thankful for. I definitely would have helped, but I had worked so hard for this… it honestly would’ve been a bummer to have to stop (sorry if that makes me a jerk). It did stir me up, though. The adrenaline was already flowing and that really startled me. I collected myself and kept going. Hoping I didn’t face plant.

The first few miles were simply amazing. I just couldn’t even look at everything! There was so much going on – lights, music, crowds, cheering… it was a party! The first 10 miles flew by. About half way in (I remember it was almost exactly two hours in), my phone died. This was quite sad as that was my music source. I wasn’t even taking photos with it (I used the GoPro) and I had it on airplane mode, so I don’t know why it happened but it just plain sucked. I had worked on that playlist for the past, well, 30 weeks! I had my songs I wanted to listen to at the finish! Oh well, I decided it would be nice to just soak in the ambient sounds. I survived.

At about mile 18 I felt some pain. A lot of pain. For some reason the top of my right foot had a bruise on top of it prior to running and it was just in agony every step. I kept wondering if there was anything at all I could do to alleviate the pain. I just kept reminding myself that it was just a bruise. Even so, I was surprised at how much it affected my running. I was running weird to try to alleviate the pain. It went away for a few miles, then came back. It was just something I dealt with.

Miles 20-24 seemed like eternity. I’m not going to sugar-coat it. I was in PAIN. My hips hurt, by feet hurt, the top of my one foot hurt. I thought I was going to have a bathroom accident at LEAST 5 times. My stomach was not happy. I don’t even think it was something I ate or the gels (which I was already used to), it was just the physical exertion. I held my stomach at one point. Luckily, it would just come and go. I was fine the majority of the time and at the finish.

Speaking of finish, the last two miles were amazing. PAINFUL, yet unforgettable. I KNEW I was going to make it at this point. With two miles to go… it was for sure, 100% happening. Whether I had to crawl or roll myself there, it was happening. The 25th mile seemed like forever, but that last mile.2 flew by. I thought I had absolutely nothing left to give, yet I pulled it out of me and went for it. I sped up to what I felt and thought was a sprint (though I’m sure it was far from it), and didn’t stop until I crossed that line.

There is no way to express in words that feeling. Crossing the finish line… I was breathless – not from the running – but from the sudden emotion. I think I was crying, but no tears were coming out because I didn’t have the energy to produce them. I was in (dry) tears of joy, pain, amazement, and disbelief. It happened. I ran a marathon.

I slowly made my way to collect my medal and my (super sweet) marathoner’s jacket. My two friends who ran the Half were there to give me hugs. (They also did amazing on their runs!) I was thankful they were there. It was amazing to see a familiar face as an official marathoner and after being in such pain for the past hour. I had just done something only 1% of people do. I just learned a lot about myself. I questioned all of my life choices (like wanting to run a marathon), and I learned that what you CAN do is simply what you are WILLING to do. I can, and will, accomplish my goals. I can do anything.

 


Huge, huge, HUGE thank you to my coach, Andrew Simmons, for providing me with the confidence I had during this amazing race weekend… and for YOU. You all have been SO, so encouraging and supportive. It just blows me away and I genuinely cannot thank you enough. Like I’ve said and always will say, runners are the best! Runners encourage, support, and motivate like no other.

I can’t wait to go for my NEXT goal with you guys and share that experience with you!

And if you’re wondering, YES I WILL definitely be doing another marathon in the future!

This is just the beginning!

Week 29: Marathon Training

Wow! We leave THIS FRIDAY for the RnR Las Vegas marathon! I can not believe it! Needless to say, I am EXTREMELY excited! I have already told myself that I am committing to at least one run-cation a year after this (this will be my first out-of-town run!)

I think I’ve pretty much figured out everything I need for race day – I’m not 100% sure how I’ll be carrying my phone and gels but I have a few different belts to choose from. A friend tipped me off to a little trick to go to Good Will and get a jacket to wear before the race that I can just toss when I get warmed up. (Las Vegas is in the desert, so it can get really hot AND really cold).

Other than that – flight and hotel are set, I just need to remember to pack everything and figure out what I’m wearing! Oh, and not hurt myself in the next 6 days! I’m really confident going into it and just plan to enjoy the experience.

So, I’m currently in my last week of training (tapering!), but let’s see how last week went.

[ week 29 / ONE WEEK until 26.2! ]

Sunday – Long run, 14 miles, 2:12:00, 9:26 min/mile.

So, two week out from marathon day, this was a “short” long run. I went into this mentally thinking of it as a pretty “short” run (compared to 20 miles it is!), and I noticed that this affected my running. In a good way. I was more relaxed and just enjoyed. Oh, and played with my GoPro (yay new toys!).

I was reminded of the saying “it doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger” today, because never did I think that 14 miles would sound “easy” to me. You’d be surprised what you’re body can handle once you get used to something!


Monday – No run. Strength training.

I was “off” today, so I did some strength training at the gym – squats, dead lifts, curls, and a leg presses. Nothing too intense, but enough to feel a little sore afterwards!

Tuesday – Easy 3 miles, 28:00, 9:20 min/mile.

Legs felt GREAT today! Easy run, excitement kicking in that the race is next week!


Wednesday – Easy 5 miles + strides, 44:24, 8:50 min/mile.

I was really tired today, but I still got out there and once I did and finished my run, I felt better as usual. Run felt nice again today.

Thursday – Easy 5 miles, 44:40, 8:55 min/mile.

I was really tired again today, but I got my 5 miles in. 2.5 miles easy, 2.5 miles “tempo” – tempo was noted at 9min/mile, so nothing too fast. My legs felt really great, so I was at around 9 minutes the whole run.


Friday – 4 easy miles, 36:44, 9:11 min/mile. + 45 min bike.

Cause what do you do when you’re tired? Set a 4:30 alarm and get a spin class in! I got my cross-training in early, then did a quick 4 miles a few hours later and was ready for tomorrow’s rest day!

Saturday – Rest day!

Miles for the week – 31

I had an overall great week and feel confident and prepared going into my last week of training and ultimately running 26.2 miles – this coming SUNDAY!

I truly cannot thank my coach enough, Coach Andrew Simmons with Lifelong Endurance.

He is truly the reason for my confidence going into this. His workout plans, week after week, pushed me to dig deep and do what it takes to prepare my body to take on the miles. Feel free to contact him with coaching questions. Trust me, the best thing you can do for yourself is invest in yourself. It’s a wonderful experience.

Have an amazing week!

What do you use to carry your phone and gels on long runs?

What do you use to replenish electrolytes on long runs?