Sunday, September 20, 2015

Beckley Half Marathon Walk/ Run

This past week I was getting really upset about the race that I had signed up for months ago. The bulging disc in my back was keeping me from running the whole thing and I found out there was no shorter distances. Only the half marathon and a full marathon. I thought I would have to drop completely. Blah!

But then I started thinking...there is a walk option...could I possibly walk the WHOLE half marathon? long would it take me?...would it hurt?....would I have the endurance to finish?

Then I thought, what the heck. I'm going to go for it! So I emailed the race director to make sure there were no time limits, since it could possibly take me over four hours to finish! He replied back that there wasn't a time limit and that did it for me. I was all in.

So Friday I went and picked up my packet. I skipped the spaghetti dinner to prepare some things for a small dinner party I was having the evening of the race.

I live barely a mile from the race start, so I didn't have to get up too early for the 8:00 AM start. I only had a small peanut butter and jelly sandwich that morning. It's all I could really stomach. I wish I had eaten a bit more because I got hungry out on the course, but hindsight you know.

My initial plan was to simply walk the whole thing. If I started hurting, I had my phone with me to call my boyfriend to come pick me. I took two Gu Gels with me and Gatorade chews to eat since I knew I would be out there a long time. It was a beautiful day. It started off cool. The sun was shining brightly so it did get warm, but it was a really nice day to be out there.

When the gun went off, my plan went out the window. Everyone started out running and I got caught up in the excitement of the course. So I started running out, very slowly. I wasn't being completely dumb. I knew running hard would hurt my back and endurance. I ran the first mile in about an 11.30 pace. Right after the one mile mark we hit a little hill. I figured that was a good place to start walking. So I did...for a while. I then started thinking towards running the downhill portions. And that's what I ended up doing. It worked out rather well actually. I ran a few flat portions, but mostly I walked.

I ended up walking with a girl that I went to high school for most of the race and she was also walking with intermittent running. I think hanging out with her really helped me not push it too far. Also talking with her really made the miles fly by (she had lost well over 100 pounds! Wow!). I took my first Gu around the 5 mile mark and had some Gatorade chews at around mile 9ish I think. There were plenty of water stops along the way since it was basically an out and back route, you had to go on the other side of the road at some points and there were some circles thrown in, but mainly it was out and back. Anyway, there were lots of water stations, but it would have been nice if they had some Gatorade or something. I think that may have helped me and I'm sure the marathoners could have used something like that when it got warmer out there.

 I started to really feel my legs around mile 11. My calves and hips were just getting sore. I wasn't used to power walking so much. It used much different muscles than I was used to using. Some points I had to run just so relieve the pain! I also felt some hot spots starting on the pad of my foot so I was afraid I was getting some bad blisters! Thankfully, it didn't turn into blisters. If I had to go further I would would have had some for sure. Around mile 11, I started picking up the pace to relieve my muscles a bit, so I lost my walking partner. I tried to just get to the finish line as quickly as possible. At one point I thought I might be able to make it right at 3 hours! But it wasn't going to happen. I got pretty close at 3 hours and 11 minutes! Well under four hours that's for sure! My pace was around 14.30 which I was really pleased with. That's really only 2 minutes and 20 seconds more a mile than most of my training that I had been doing. And since I hadn't really planned on running any of it and walked the majority of it, I was really happy.

I also didn't get passed by the marathoners. If I hadn't run any of it I would have, but I'm pretty happy that I didn't. The winner may have finished a mere five minutes behind me, but that is besides the point! Kudos to the marathoners though. The had to do the same course I did, but had to do it twice. That would be a feat of strength, physically and mentally. It's definitely a West Virginia course with hills. None of them were monstrous hills, there were just a lot of them. 

After the race. Don't be jealous of my blue counter tops!
And it turned out that I won an award! I had asked to be transferred to the walking category, but that didn't happen. Turned out that was fine since I did run some. It was also fine since no one else in my age category ran the race!! I knew it was small this year, but I had no idea it was that small! The girl I walked with, Jasmine, won the women's category for walkers. We were both thrilled!

I'm so so happy that I went for it! I would have felt rather blue if I hadn't given it a shot. My back feels just fine today, my calves and thighs are a little bit of a different story, haha. This gives me hope that I won't have to back out of the 10K on October 3rd and my 15K Trail race on October 10th. I have to get steroids shots in my back, but it might be a while before the doctors can get me. This gives me the confidence that I don't have to quit it all! I was even able to clean and cook dinner for my small party after the race yesterday! It was a good day, that is for sure.

Finisher's Certificate
By the way, it is also funny to me how this is by far my slowest half out of the three that I have done, yet I'm so excited about. I guess it's because I didn't think it was possible at all. I think I will have to remember this gratitude in the future when I get down on myself about my paces or how far I'm able to run.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Healthy State of Mind

For Labor Day weekend, I jumped in the car with my Mom and her friend and we headed to Vermont. It only took us around 14 hours to get there, but it was well worth it! Vermont was a beautiful state, with lots of farms, apple orchards, and quaint towns. An interesting aspect of Vermont was how conscientious the state is about recycling, keeping their state clean, and having a safe environment for bikers and runners (which there were a lot of). I loved it!

Our trip was jammed packed so I won't go over all of the details, but here are some highlights. We started the first day, after sleeping in, with a wonderful farmers market.

 That is mushroom tea I'm holding! It had citrus and ginger in it. I know it sounds gross, but it was so incredibly good! And refreshing, which is good, because it was 95 degrees and we were dying.
Rutland, Vermont

Then we took a tram (or gondola) up a Ski Mountain in Killington. I would have like to hike up the mountain, but that wasn't going to happen with my mom, haha. It had beautiful scenery.

It was a Mountain Biker's Paradise! There were so many!
We went on a spontaneous trip to Maine!

Nubble Lighthouse

We went sailing on Lake Champlain and ran into a bike race!

They were going so fast, it was the last day of a four day race. This part consisted of going .06 miles 32 or so times!

 And of course I got some hiking in!

This trip really was lovely. I didn't even mention all of the good food we indulged in! And yes there was lots of indulging... C'est la vie. We didn't see any moose though! :( haha. I would love to go back with some friends that like the outdoors as much as I do and try out more hiking and some kayaking. The lake we sailed on was massive and there were lots of kayaks out there. The area that we were in was truly a haven for people that like to get outdoors. Bikers (road or mountain), runners, walkers, hikers, kayakers, etc. would like it here. Plus there are the cutest B&B's and hotels to stay in. We didn't stay in any since were visiting someone, but there are lots of options close to anything you could want and close to restaurants and shops for the down time. I'm not big into shopping, but even I had a good time going into the little shops. And looking for local cider! ;) And I'm so happy we went to Maine. Though it was just for the day, Maine has always been a bucket list place to go for me. I have no idea why, but it was definitely beautiful. A little crowded since it was the holiday weekend, but nevertheless I was so happy to make it! I will have to head North more often, though I may fly next time!


Yesterday, to try to get back in the swing of not sitting on my behind, I drove 30 minutes to a gorgeous little town and went along the rail trail there and just did some walking. I didn't take any pictures this time because I just wanted to enjoy being outside. I walked a little over 5 miles. Well worth it.

Then today, I almost skipped working out completely. I got caught up in doing things around the house and then going shopping for groceries and so on. But it was an amazingly cool, Fall-like day and I knew I would regret not going. So I laced up my shoes and went on a short trail run. It was the first outside run I've done in probably over two weeks! And it felt great. I still went slow and still had to walk, but just being able to go outside and move was fantastic. I've been battling trying to decide if I should do any of my upcoming races and I think today showed that I can still do them. I just might need to walk, because of my back. Which I had an MRI on Thursday so hopefully I can get something resolved soon. I've gone as far as physical therapy and stretching can take me.

The past two weekends have been wonderful. This coming weekend I have a 5K. It was supposed to be my half marathon weekend, but that is just not feasible at this time. However, I'm still looking forward to it and hope it's a cooler like today. I just hope it's as good a weekend as the last two!