Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Providence


August 19, 2012 was my half marathon debut.  Providence, Rhode Island.  It was fortuitous that the race was happening to close to my 30th birthday.  Greg and I decided to make a little road trip out of it.

We set out the afternoon before and got to the hotel and checked in.  It was raining which was making me nervous even though the forecast for race day was sunny.  We stayed at the Providence Biltmore and it was this funky, old school hotel that was right in the center of the city.  A few blocks away was the race expo and we made our way over there through the rain.  That's when I began to get nervous.  Now it was real.  I picked up my packet, and wandered around.  I did not make too many purchases, though I did get talked into some fancy insoles that I haven't used much since.  Rookie mistake.

I was conscious of not wanting to do too much walking, but also reluctant to get in the car.  So we wandered the city a bit.  We grabbed dinner at the Union Station Brewery.  I can't remember what I ate - pizza or pasta more than likely and I had this delicious chocolate stout that I wish I could remember the name of.  After that we headed back to the hotel but not before we checked out Waterfire that was going on.  It was beautiful and so different from anything I'd seen before!  We also hit the mall to grab a jacket because it was chilly!

Back to the hotel for an early to bed.  I don't think I slept super well, and I was up bright and early for race day.  I had set out my outfit the night before and off to the start I went!  Greg walked with me and kept me company until I had to actually get into the corral.
Pre Race!
 I'd been exchanging tweets with a fellow runner who I'd connected with, but we never managed to find one another.  I did end up seeing her in the race, but she did not see me.  We've since fallen out of touch but it made me feel a little better "knowing" someone on the course.

The course...I had studied it a bit and knew it was hilly.  I was not prepared for just how hilly.  But I trusted my training, took it easy and walked when I had to.  The best compliment I got all day was "Your form is great! You look like you could run all day."  That was from two ladies nearby as we were charging up a hill.

The aid stations were great, and the bands were often a welcome distraction.  I did have my own music with me, with a very carefully curated playlist.  Nothing too fast at the start and all the power at the end.  And I would need it!

I don't remember ever feeling like I couldn't do it.  I stopped to stretch a few times, and took some pictures.  And then we were almost there.  It was hot, the sun was brutal when you were out from under the trees and I was ready to be done.  The last two hundred feet or so were uphill.  How CRUEL.

At this point my goal was not to walk, and not to throw up.  I wanted to do both.  And then I heard Greg.  I couldn't see him, but I could hear him.  And there it was, my surge of energy.  I threw everything I had into it and kept going.  I crossed the finish line and grabbed a banana, some water and got my medal.  Greg and I reunited and I got to tell him all about it.  He was, and is my biggest fan and supporter.  I could not do any of this without him.  I thought my time was 2:46 and I was a little disappointed because I thought I'd be a bit faster.

AND THEN I REMEMBERED.  That the clock started when the race started, but my corral was at the back! My official time was : 2:36:04.  I was super pumped.  We hung out for a bit after the race.   Ultimately we decided to pack up and head home that day.  I was tired, and there was no way I'd be up for walking around much.  The hotel was kind enough to refund our rate for that next night and off we went! It was a long ride home, and I was sore the next day but something started after that race...something I continue to work hard at, even now.  I've raced three more half marathons and have my sights set on a Fall 2016 marathon.  This blog will be where I track that journey.

From Warrior Dash to Half Marathon?!


Shortly after finishing my Warrior Dash, I decided I needed a new challenge.  Having goals helps me stay focused.  The following summer I would be turning 30.  What better thing to do for my thirtieth birthday than to run a half marathon?  And as luck would have it, the Rock and Roll Providence Half was right near my birthday!  Even back then I knew I was breaking all of the running “rules” by registering for a half before I’d even run a “real” (road) 5k.  And let’s face it, I hadn’t run the Warrior Dash.  But I promised myself I’d squeeze in a 5k or two before my goal race.  I couldn’t register fast enough!

I registered. And then I needed a training plan!  I wound up using Hal Higdon’s half marathon training plan for novices.  I also (obviously) needed a Garmin.  I bought a Garmin 305 at a pretty decent discount because the model was on its way out.  When I look back at my training, it felt like I ran regularly all winter.  In reality, I ran pretty consistently at least 2 days a week but that was it.  My half marathon training did not really start until May, and my race was in August.  Reflecting on that – I’m quite impressed with how I felt and am surprised I did not feel worse.

I ran three days a week, increasing my mileage a little bit each week for my long run.  I started to dabble in fueling, and learned that I enjoyed Cliff Shot Bloks, particularly the Cran-Razz flavor.  I liked having something in my mouth to distract me as I ran.  I began to think about water too.  I bought a few hydration bottles, one hand held and one waist belt to figure out what I liked.  I learned I don't really love any of them, but can tolerate both.  

That summer we bought a house and moved out of our little apartment.  I got to spend the last month and a half of my training on the trails behind our neighborhood which was amazing.  They are well kept trails, mostly gravel and/or dirt and they go for miles and miles.  It stays cooler down there in the summer because there's some shade.  My only complaint (then and now) is the bug issue.  On the plus side, they keep me moving.  If I stop running, the bugs come get me.  So just keep running.    

I started reading Train Like A Mother by the AMR ladies Sarah and Dimity.  Even though I was not a mother yet, their writing was entertaining and their ideas were accessible to me as a young woman with a full time job, trying to make time to fit in her running and the rest of life.  Once I had a child, the rest of their books became invaluable to me – more on my AMR addiction/hero worship later.

I booked a hotel quite near the Providence start line.  I knew that I would not want to be dealing with crowds, parking or any navigation issues on the day of the race.  Greg and I agreed to drive up the day before, spend some time poking around the city and turn in early for my big day!

Next stop...Providence or bust! 






Monday, June 27, 2016


Hello world! Well here we go. Yet another foray into the blogging world and maybe this time it will stick.  My blogging topic certainly has.

Let me fill in a little backstory.  I am 34 years young, mom of one, wife to the most epic husband on the planet and work as a school counselor.  I am born and raised in NY and make my home in the Hudson Valley.  I run.  A lot.  Not as much as some others I follow, but more than I ever thought I would.  Because see here’s the thing, I was a NON ATHLETE growing up.  No organized sports, I hated PE class and actually used the excuse “I’m on a medication and cannot be in the sun” to get myself out of the softball unit my junior year of high school.  

Off to college I went, and while I dabbled in the occasional foray to the gym with my friends for some treadmill or elliptical time, I wasn’t committed.  I did take a really fun belly dancing class once.  But that was about it.  I ran periodically, outside and probably faster than I should have.  I’d burn out and give up.

Enter my adult life.  I worked at a yoga studio while in graduate school.  I did manage to start a fairly regular yoga practice, and got free classes to boot!  Still gave running a try every so often, and every so often it would fall to the wayside.  Move back upstate with my soon to be hubby and started building our lives and careers together.

He had some friends that decided to do a Warrior Dash just as those things were becoming popular.  He signed up, they signed up, and I agreed to spectate/hold bags/drink beer.  And so I did.  I wasn’t particularly moved by watching them but suffered a decent amount of harassment for not participating myself.  When they agreed to do it the following year, a few of the other non-participants and I agreed to do it together but we WOULD WALK.  Pinky promised, and off we went.

The next summer rolled around and that 5k Warrior Dash was staring me in the face. “We agreed to walk” I kept reminding myself.  But I hate to be embarrassed.  Don’t we all? And one of the other women was a former college swimmer, what if she was still in shape? What if she wanted to run!? So, I secretly started running.  I got myself a Couch to 5K plan and off I went.  It was slow going and frustrating but I kept going. I got out there, I did my runs, and when Warrior Day arrived I was ready!


We walked.  Up the mountain, through the course; we walked.  And then there it was! The finish line! We are RUNNING!  I still have the picture of the three of us, running across the finish line. 

And somehow…this time? It stuck.  Maybe because I realized I felt good.  Maybe because I realized it helped me de-stress and stay sane.  Maybe because I was starting to enjoy it…..and off I went.