Our First Half!

Our First Half!

Monday, March 21, 2011

We Did it!

I still can't believe that I was able to run a half marathon. It's unbelievable and I feel the same way Lynn does. I'm so proud of myself and I can't believe I went from barely being a runner at all to running a whole 13.1 miles! Secondly, I still can't get over what an intense feeling it was to have endured the pain to get to the finish AND reach a life goal.

When I first took off, I wasn't really sure what I was doing. I felt like I was going pretty steady and was too scared to go too slow. I then realized that I was passing quite a few people from my corral and heading up to the 4th corral and thought to myself, "I hope I don't burn out." I had never really paced myself since this was my first long race. I was afraid if I started off to fast, I'd be hating myself later. I didn't burn out however, I kept my pace pretty steady the whole race. I think the competition was in my heart. There were a few people in the half that I had my eyes on, two girls who had run this half before (they were decked out in shamrock half marathon gear from a previous year), one older lady who kept flying by me, another girl in a yellow tank, and a girl with a "best in the world" shirt
with a Duke Blue Devils logo. I made sure anytime I grabbed water or slowed in the least, that I caught back up to them or passed them. Luckily they kept the same pace throughout the race, and I kept up with them!

VA beach was a beautiful run. The woods were great, the beach, the lighthouses, everything. And the best part was of course the FLATNESS! I love running on flat roads and trails so this was perfect for me. I'd been training on flat trails, but at a slower pace. I had probably never run more than a mile at even a 9:30 pace. Usually while training I would stop several times to walk or drink water. This was SO different. The adrenaline and the temperature just made me want to keep moving. It was definitely a mental game, but I don't remember thinking how hard it would be or how much distance I had left (which is what I usually do during long runs). Even when it was over I was shocked how fast it went by! Near the end was the part where I pushed myself the most. The girl in the Duke shirt had pushed past me just a little bit, and I took off. I was not going
to let a Dukie beat me!

In the end, I finished in 2 hour
s and 2 minutes and a 9:19 pace. I also finished top 25% in my category which I think is an accomplishment in itself considering this is supposed
to be when you're in your prime! The speedy lady at the end said she was pacing with me too and what an inspiration I was, which was so flattering since this was my first Half and I was pacing with her! I look forward to another half very soon - hopefully in May before foot surgery. I figure it won't be as flat as this, and am prepping myself for a much longer time due to hills. Then it will be rehabilitation which will be another awesome milestone for me (or so I am trying to see it that way).

Until then, I'm looking forward to completing the 10 miler! Yes, completing.... months ago I didn't think this would be possible either! The hills are really going to be a physical and mental challenge but I am looking forward to it!

And last but not least, a very special thanks to Lynn. I love her to death and so happy we could go on this journey together. I will always remember this! If it weren't for her making the commitment to this race together, and pushing each other to complete our training, I would have never accomplished this goal!


Well readers, thank you so much for following this blog to track our journey towards completing our first half marathon!  We have officially completed the half and did so with smiles on our faces.  I will tell you about my journey and then Pita can get on here and post about hers! 

some shamrockers getting ready to race!
I was originally planning to run the race like this: divide it into thirds and run the first third with my head, the second third with my personality, and the final third with my heart.  Well, it didn't really work out that way... 

I started the race more excited than I could have ever dreamed I would be.  I was jumping up and down, counting down with the starting line guy...10...9...8...7...etc.  And when he said "GO!", I have never been so thrilled!  I started off at a pretty good pace, not too fast or slow.  I was smiling and waving at all of the people cheering us on and it actually hit me... "I am running a half marathon! The day is finally here and I am actually doing this."  Truth be told, I actually starting tearing up at this point...I was just so overwhelmed that I was accomplishing a goal that I had set for my self so many months before.  Here's another truth: about 9 months ago, the furthest I could run was about a mile and I could only do it in over 10 minutes and had to slow down to walk immediately afterwards...now I was running 13.1 miles and feeling exhilarated!!!  I was smiling and running and waving and saying thank you to everyone I passed. Our bibs had our names printed on them, and it was so amazing to hear people say "good job Carolyn!" talking to me...ME! I was doing a good job?! wow...it was so incredible to have all of that support.  So, there you have it...I ran the first third with my personality.

The next third was a bit tougher...miles 5-8 were pretty tough mentally, not as much physically.  This part I ran with my head.  I knew I had to keep a decent pace if I wanted to be close to my goal of finishing in about 2 hours and 30 minutes.  I just kept on trucking!  There were a couple of DJs along the way...the first one playing Miley Cyrus "Party in the USA" was amazing...I felt like this was MY half marathon and the DJ knew that Miley was my jam!  I just kept on pushing and told myself that if I didn't walk at all then I would be able to say I ran the entire half marathon without walking.  So that's what I did...the only points when I stopped to walk were the brief moments where I got water at the water station...and that's because I'm super clumsy and would have spilled it all over my face otherwise!

The last part I definitely ran with my heart...as planned.  Once I reached mile 9, I knew I was close.  I was so pumped up I was trying to push others around me to get excited too! We were almost there...so close!  I could feel the excitement welling up inside of my chest!  I knew that Matt and my dad were waiting for me at the finish line and I was so excited to have the two of them with me to accomplish this goal.  I was so proud of Arpita for going so fast and I knew she was up there doing great.  I loved having her as a running partner, but in the end, I think it's best we ran our own races...she finished with an incredible time, and I ran the race knowing that I was accomplishing something for myself and that I could do it...the girl who could barely run a mile 9 months ago was finishing 13.1 today.  
Yuengling sandcastle at the end!
As I neared the finish line, I felt the tears coming up again.  When I crossed it, the feeling overwhelmed me and I simply burst into tears...I cannot even attempt to explain the happiness I felt.  It was such a feeling I can't even describe it properly!  You will just have to try it.  To anyone who has doubts about their ability to complete something like this...I just have to say: you CAN do this!  Anything is achievable when you want it enough and are willing to work to get it.  

I was so inspired on Sunday, I am now seriously contemplating running the full marathon at Disney in 2012.  The other runners were such an inspiration and I hope that I served as an inspiration to some of them as well, and to you all who read this blog.  I had one person behind me at the race shout out what was on the back of my shirt to inspire their teammates: "Pain is weakness leaving the body."  I told her that I took the saying from the Marine Corps because it inspired me, and she said she was going to use it next year.  I have a new quote for all of you now, though, and I'm sure you will understand why it is special to me:  "Pain is temporary.  Pride is forever."

I am so proud of my accomplishment and proud of myself for sticking to my plan, sticking to my goals, and completing one of the biggest challenges of my life.  Thank you all so much for all of your support and for following this blog.  And who knows, maybe stay tuned for the next step: Running Towards our First Full Marathon! 

Love you all, xoxo Lynn

Monday, March 14, 2011

Less than a week until the half marathon!!!

Well the race is one week away and I am super excited for it!  OK maybe super excited is a slight exaggeration but I am looking forward to conquering this goal.  Yesterday I ran my longest difference ever! 10 Miles!!!  But let's back up another day...

So as I have previously mentioned, I am a huge fan of the Biggest Loser, and I just found out that Tara from season 7 is going to be at our half marathon! (Although she is pretty baller so she is probably running the full)!  So I have been feeling particularly unmotivated since having the flu and was seriously questioning my ability to complete this race.  Fortunately, Matt decided to be my Bob Harper the night before last and gave me a Biggest Loser style workout... meaning I complained, whined, almost cried, swore, and oh yes, fell off the treadmill.  The only part that was missing was puking, and to be honest, I came close!

First he made me run intervals--first sprints for about 12 minutes and then walk uphill at a 12 incline (at about a 3.5 speed) for the next 8 minutes.  Then he made me do a series of ab workouts and then some jumping jacks.  I had to count out loud to 50 jumping jacks...I got weak around 45 and stopped, so he told me I had to do 10 more...that taught me to challenge my trainer! LOL!  Then I ran a mile in 7:36 (1 second away from my 7:35 goal)!!!  I am getting closer!  Then I stretched out some more and then walked up a 10 incline for another 20 minutes.  All in all, it was a fantastic workout--I was incredibly sweaty and worked out!!!

So now we are up to yesterday... my big 10 miler!  This run was both physically painful and mentally challenging.  The hardest part was probably looking down at my pacer/tracker and seeing that I had run 3 miles and knowing that I had 7 more miles to go... talk about a mental test!  I ran on the American Tobacco Trail and it was absolutely gorgeous!  It was a nice 75 degrees out (although this ended up getting a little warm and I got very very thirsty even though I had my trusty water bottle belt!)  It was nice to see all of the families out bike riding together and the other runners...it was very inspiring to see so many people enjoying the outdoors!

I am learning new things about myself and my running style each time I run.  I still need new socks, as I continue to get blisters on my right foot.  I also know that I need to drink wayyy more water before I start the run, as I was very thirsty the entire time I was running--at least they will have water stations along the way to keep me fueled!

In addition to water, runners need proper food to get themselves fueled up.  Now I am by no means the healthiest person in the world, and YES I do sometimes eat ice cream while watching Biggest Loser!  But whatever, that is neither here nor there...

Anyway, I thought I would share with you all a great staple for any runner or athlete who is looking to fuel up in the morning.  I got this recipe from none other than Jillian Michaels...

Take two whole grain waffles and toast them.
Spread each with a 1tsp of almond butter and 1tsp of honey (each waffle).
Then slice a banana and place on top (I used a whole banana although Jillian suggests half--I just don't like saving bananas for later when they are already open and I don't want to waste them either).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Great day for a run!

My route!
Well today was absolutely gorgeous...perfect blue skies and breezy 65 degree temperature...basically the perfect way to start the week.  I don't even know where to start with this one.  Although getting the motivation to start the run wasn't easy, the run itself was amazing.  Aside from the perfect weather, I just felt wonderful...I felt strong and a significant improvement in my stride.  I was nervous starting out because last week's 7-miler was so difficult, but the two runs couldn't have been more different.  Today, I wasn't rushed and I wasn't bored (which I think were both contributing factors to making last week's run so difficult...along with the fact that I hadn't run for almost two weeks due to my health issues discussed in the post before this one).  My attitude today was: just go out there and do this. enjoy it. celebrate it. and do not give up.

Well, it worked!  I ran to the law school and on the way there, I decided that I would run all the way up the hill on HWY 54...the one that I used as an excuse to walk during last week's run.  I ran the entire way up and felt great about it...in spite of the fact that the wind was blowing directly against me...and not a cute little breeze, but actual wind :-(

Then, on the way back from the law school, there was an older couple waiting for the bus and they moved aside so that I could run past them.  As I got closer to them, they said two words to me: "Good job!"  I couldn't even believe it...these complete strangers were being so supportive for someone they didn't even know...it was really inspiring and helped me lengthen my stride a bit.  Once I got to about 4.5 miles, I started getting really thirsty, so I ran in to the Rite Aid and bought a bottle of water and PowerBar Energy Gel Packets.  This was exactly what I needed.  The gel gave me the energy to push through and I kept going and felt strong the whole time.  I actually thought I could have kept going when the run was over!  8.5 miles down in about an hour and a half!  Longest run ever in my life!

When I got home, I decided to take an ice bath (well actually I had decided this before but actually decided to follow through with it when I got home).  Ice baths are supposed to help with muscle inflammation and soreness.  I just followed some instructions from online and drew a cold bath.  I sat in the bath of cold water for 5 minutes and then dumped the bucket of ice in and sat for another 10 minutes.  It was pretty brutal but I feel much better now.  And now I'm writing this to you guys!   I feel fantastic... I'm actually really looking forward to this half marathon now!

I am also feeling fantastic because I am starting to feel like I am accomplishing goals (I can fit into a size 2 again!).  We had our law prom this weekend and I was finally able to fit into the size dress I have been aiming for!  We had a wonderful time...danced the night away and just basically had the best time possible with our friends.  I am so blessed to have such incredible people to share such a special night with :-)  Love you all!!!  You are all so supportive and are my inspiration!

Next up? 9 miles!!!  We are getting closer to the goal!  Less than 30 days until the big race!  Can't wait...I'm actually starting to LIKE running...it's about time :-D

Here is the training schedule for this week:

Stretch &
5 m run
3 m run or cross
5 m run +
Rest or easy run
10-K Race

Friday, February 11, 2011

Will you get back up?

Well, as many of you may know, I have been struggling with some health stuff lately.  I saw a slew of doctors, each suspecting a different issue creating my problem.  I underwent countless blood tests and examinations, a CT scan and an ultrasound.  I was scheduled to meet with a surgeon for removal of an abscess and then later came to be relieved that the pain I was experiencing was coming from a plum-sized cyst that was hemorrhaging, which will probably not require surgery.  

While I was physically wiped out and exhausted, I struggled through emotional pain as well.  I don't like being sick but I mostly don't like not knowing WHAT is wrong, and what is causing so much pain.  During this time I wished that Dr. House was a real person and that he could come and magically tell me within 45 minutes what was wrong.  I was living on my couch, both because I was physically uncomfortable and because the emotional stress of dealing with this and not being able to continue with my training as planned made me feel as if the world I used to know was suddenly very different.  

After getting the (relatively) good news that it was just a cyst (painful as it may be), my world started looking bright again.  The doctor said I could resume physical exercise as long as I felt comfortable and didn't push myself too hard.  So I started looking up some inspiration online for getting back on track.  I just felt like such a mess...the apartment was dirty, laundry was piling up, I had work to do for classes and I hadn't exercised in over a week.  I found lots of inspiration and the next thing I knew I had a clean kitchen (like the cleanest it's been since I moved in).  Then I moved on to the living and dining room and tidied my life back up.  Then that night (last night) I hit the gym for the first time.  I didn't do much (just some chest presses and a little back work and walked for 2 miles) but I felt invigorated just by being back there and NOT being on the couch.  Here are some of the inspirations I found...hopefully, if you are feeling lazy or bad about yourself because you have fallen into a workout slump, these will help you as they helped me.  I am happy to report that I plan on doing another light walk today and get back on the official training plan as I feel comfortable.  Thank you to all of my friends who have supported me...I can't wait to make you proud after I finish this race!

"Think of yourself as a toy train. All toy trains de-rail now and then. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on track."

"Rather than viewing a brief relapse back to inactivity as a failure, treat it as a challenge and try to get back on track as soon as possible."--Jimmy Connors (American Tennis Player)

"Rest when you're weary.  Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit.  Then get back to work"--Ralph Marston

And my favorite:  Failure is only a fact when you give up. Everyone gets knocked down, the question is: Will you get back up?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body

Well I'll just start out this post by telling you how I really feel: SO SORE!  My whole body is sore, with the sorest part being my hamstrings.  Apparently I didn't stretch enough yesterday but they are in a constant state of pain.  I will definitely be enjoying my rest day today!  I think perhaps the issue is that I lifted weights yesterday morning and then ran about a mile and a half.  Then, later in the evening I ran another 3 miles because the schedule called for 4 miles on Thursday.  Needless to say, my body is ready for a break.  Anyway, I titled this post "Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body" because I am hoping that this statement is true.  This quote is on a Marines.com water bottle that I got at the Eve Carson Memorial 5K  (It was in my gift bag for signing up for the race).

When I take it with me onto the treadmill, it makes me feel like I am in control of my body, and myself.  I posted about the Marines a few days ago, but that is because they truly are a wonderful source of motivation and inspiration, and this second "mantra" is another example of why.

I have been noticing changes in myself.  I generally feel stronger, and when I run, I feel much more in control of all of my movements and my breathing.  I feel like my abs are in tighter and my arms are more powerful, not to mention that my legs move with greater stride.  I am feeling a change in the way my body moves, even if I don't see the weight falling off.  All things happen with time and I'm not expecting dramatic changes right away.  I work hard during training to get the results I want... and whenever I reach the point where I feel I can't go anymore, I just remember that pain is weakness leaving the body.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Do not quit. Do not give up."

Finished week 4 with 60 total miles logged since beginning training!  I have completed about 79% of all of the scheduled workouts because I took all that time off when I went to Vegas and leading up to it.  Last night I did my long run (5 miles) in a pretty decent time of 48:55.  I considered this to be impressive because I took the first mile very slow and completed it in 13 minutes, so for the remaining 4 miles I ran under a 9 minute mile! woohoo!  During week 4, I logged a total of 24 miles, 14 of those miles being running workouts (the rest was cycling/walking).  So not bad going into week 5!  

Tonight, I did BodyCombat at o2 Fitness.  Wow, what a workout!  It was basically a mix of taekwondo, karate, boxing, tai chi, and muay thai.  I was sweating up a storm and really pushing myself.  This class is definitely one of those "it's as hard as you want it to be" classes.  You can do wimpy jabs and just go through the motions or you can put your heart into it and really throw yourself into all of the movements.  I chose option number two and made every motion count.  The teacher was really into it and was really good at pushing us to go harder.  She reminded me of Jillian Michaels but maybe that's just wishful thinking since I am now addicted to the Biggest Loser.  

Ada the Terminator
Before: 258 lbs
After: 159 lbs

Yes, this is my new obsession.  The finale of the Biggest Loser Season 10 got me through last night's 5 miler because it was SO inspiring (I watch it on my phone using HuluPlus).  Those people make a commitment to change their lives for the better and get healthy, and that's kind of what I'm doing, albeit on a much much smaller scale....no pun intended ;-) I was particularly inspired by one of the top 3 finalists from season 10: Ada (the terminator).  This girl started out very overweight and insecure and ended up dropping about 100 pounds and discovering how to accept who she is.  She was the girl in the house who motivated all of the other women and always kicked butt in the gym (hence the name "Ada the Terminator").  While her weight loss is incredible, it was her drive and determination that inspired me the most.  She rose up from a life where she felt worthless and became someone she could be proud of and finally realized that she IS good enough.  Her mental and emotional strength was as admirable as her physical strength.  She is an incredibly inspiring woman and I'm sure she has encouraged many across the country to step up and make the commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

During Week 7 of Season 10, the contestants trained with the Marines on base.  One Marine repeated a "mantra" that I think is particularly relevant to my training, as well as anyone else who is seeking to achieve a goal:  "Do not quit. Do not give up."  So simple, and yet very powerful.  That phrase is easy to remember and will always come to my mind when I think I want to stop during a run or not finish the last reps of my strength training.  Completing any race is not just a physical test, but a mental one as well, and I will need to work on training my mind as well as my body to complete this half (yes, I just came to this realization).  Having these short phrases of encouragement will remind me to keep focused and have my eyes on the prize (or the finish line).  

In the second to last episode, the top four finalists ran a marathon.  YES, that's right, a marathon.  Ada finished the marathon in 4 hours and 38 minutes, setting a new Biggest Loser record for fastest female time.  That is definitely faster than I would probably be able to do one right now (if I could even do one).  It just goes to show that hard work, focus, and having good concrete goals can help you achieve more than you ever thought possible.  

My current goals are:
Run 5 miles in under 45 minutes
Beat Ada's mile time (from the show) of 7:35
and the obvious one: complete the VA Beach Half Marathon in 55 days!

Thank all of you who follow this blog...it helps keep me motivated!  You all are my inspiration!

Here is what's on tap for Week 5:

Stretch &
4 m run
2 m run or cross
4 m run +
40 min
6 m run