Sunday, October 30, 2011

My First {of several} Marathons

On October 16th, 2011, I did what I said I would NEVER do....I ran {with more walking than I wanted} a marathon! When I decided to do a marathon, it was important to me to pick one relatively close {I have been known to travel for races} so that my parents could be there with me.  So, I decided to enter the lottery for the Nike Women's Marathon, and Luck Be A Lady I got in. And so the journey to 26.2 started...

As we headed to San Francisco, we filled the car with all the essentials for both us runners, and our cheerleaders

Essentials for a marathoner {Nuun & KT Tape}

Essentials for a marathon weekend in San Francisco

Our fabulous home for the weekend {I really could live in a big city!}

One of my favorite parts of all races, is going to the EXPO! Not only does it get the excitement going when you get your bib and timing chip, I love walking around and seeing what all the booths have {the latest in running technology, nutrition/supplements, gadgets, running apparel, etc}.  Although I was disappointed in the Nike Expo, we still had a great time!


Throughout the entire training process I felt so blessed to have had no major injuries or setbacks in my training {especially since I started with a setback}.  I did struggle with IT band issues, and 3 weeks before the race I had some weird foot Dr. Roberts and KT Tape {I swear by this stuff} came to the rescue!

Words really can't explain the energy as over 20,000 women {and a few men}, of all ages, abilities, athletic levels & motivations {some were running in honor of survivors, some running in memory of family, friends, and loved one, some were survivors themselves, some were running for the prize at the end, and others just running to be part of a phenomenal even} gathered to support a great cause and accomplishment something pretty amazing.  No matter how long it took people to finish, and the end of the day we were all marathoners!!!

Heading to the start line, rocking our Team Sparkle skirts!

Overwhelmed with excitement!

Proud dad! Thankful daughter!

This was at mile 11...I'll be honest, I was STRUGGLING!!! It was more of  a mental struggle, than physical.  As we climbed the hills of San Francisco I kept thinking if I am this tired now,  how am I possibly going to finish 26.2!? It wasn't that I was so tired at that exact moment, that I couldn't run any further, but I was tired enough that I was afraid I wouldn't be able to finish 26.2.  BUT, I never doubted that I would finish, it just might be a little slower than I anticipated.  

The ugly cry!!! For those of you that know me, I am an emotional runner...I get overwhelmed with a feeling of accomplishment and joy every time the finish line is in site.   


We did it!!!

And the REAL reason why I wanted to do this marathon....

The blue box!

Firemen in suits!

My only goal for my first marathon was to finish, injury free, without any "accidents" and with a smile on my face...mission accomplished! Although my time was quite a bit slower than I expected and I walked more than I really wanted, I am still a marathoner and I learned a lot for my next marathon {blog post coming soon}.  

Thank you to all who supported, encouraged & motivated me throughout the entire process!   

Monday, October 10, 2011

Marathon Training Is A Lot Like Baking A Cake

I know this might seem like quite a stretch, but this weekend as I was making funfetti cupcakes with some kiddos, I came to the realization that training for a marathon is a lot like baking a cake!

If you are anything like me, you rely on Pillsbury when making a cake...He provides the bulk of the cake, and step-by-step, foolproof instructions to make it. When I am preparing for a race I normally head straight to for my training plan, but for my marathon I referred to Run Less, Run Faster {which for me actually meant run more, run faster}. Run Less, Run Faster training plans are made up of speed work, tempo runs, and long, slow runs {times for each are determined by your  fastest 5-k or 1/2 marathon time}

Just buying the box, or writing out a training plan, doesn't ensure a successful outcome.  While baking a cake requires eggs, oil and water; training for a marathon requires mental toughness, commitment to training, supportive running partner, family & friends, early morning wake up calls, the right shoes, clothing & undergarments, fuel for the run, proper nutrition, and lots & lots of water!  When baking a cake, once all of the ingredients are mixed together, I can't resist trying the batter, and having a little taste of what the final product will taste like.  Throughout my training, I had several "tastes of victory" {finishing a 20 mile run & getting a 7 min PR in a half marathon to name a few} that got me excited for the final product...crossing the finish line.  

The Necessities

After all of the necessary ingredients have been mixed together, they need to bake in hours of dedication, commitment and training.


Once the cake has baked {or the training plan has been completed} it is really important to let the cake cool completely {taper} before applying the frosting.  It's necessary to let  the cake cool completely, or when you go to frost it the cake will collapse, fall apart, and the frosting will melt.  I learned this past weekend, that the cooling {or tapering} might be the most difficult part of making a cake.  McKenna asked me every other minute if it was time to frost the cupcakes yet...and I kept telling her we needed to wait until they completely cooled.  The taper has presented some struggles for me too...Our first run of the taper was a 12 mile run, which I approached with the mentality of "Oh, this is only 12 miles, I've got it" {It seemed relatively short after 20, 18 and 17 miles}.  That run ended up being one of the most difficult runs of the training...both mentally and physically! Now that we are down to a few 400s and a 3 mile run...I find myself questioning if I am really prepared?? Or should I get in another run??  I keep reminding myself, just as I did McKenna, that tapering is a necessary part of the training plan.


Once the cake has cooled, it is time to add the frosting.  For me, my frosting will come as I cross the finish line of my first marathon, and am frosted with a Tiffany's Necklace.  Although I am excited to receive a blue box from a fireman in a tuxedo {I mean really, who couldn't run 26.2 miles for that??}, I am really looking forward to the feeling of accomplishment when I turn the corner, see the finish line & and my parents there cheering me on.   I am an emotional athlete, and am always overcome with an overwhelming  feeling of accomplishment when I finish a race, which almost always results in tears of joy!

All the hard work has been done...Sunday will be my chance to celebrate the hours of training, and miles & miles of running that have been put in.  My emotions are all over the board this week...excited, scared, doubtful, confident, anxious, disbelief, etc.  But the one think I know for sure, I WILL cross the finish line and will officially be a marathon this Sunday!