Running Recap: Princess Half Marathon Weekend

22.4 miles.

That’s how long this weekend was. I can’t even count it in hours, just miles.

And let me tell you, my body is feeling every single one of those miles today.

This weekend was my 3rd Princess weekend and my 4th Challenge course/Half Marathon.

It was also my dad’s 2nd 5k!

Like father, like daughter.

We walked the 5k, since his leg is still adjusting after his injury. But we still kept a brisk pace, and frankly outpaced some runners.

The 10k the next day was….humid. Like, really humid. Obscenely humid, even for Florida.

Accidental shirt twins.

We made pretty good time. I may or may not have been that asshole that started running uphill through Epcot. And we definitely finished drenched in sweat, despite there being a relatively cool breeze going.

Aren’t we adorable?

After the 10k, we actually got to help out with a proposal by one of the other charity runners to his girlfriend. She said yes, there was confetti. It was a good time.

Then came the half marathon.

I started out with very little sleep, despite going to bed at 5pm the night before. Then, on the way to the corral, I realized I didn’t have my phone. Fortunately, the lovely lady above was able to call my phone so we could make sure it was still at the charity tent.

This wasn’t a problem since I was running with two other people, so we could entertain each other for 13 miles.

Except I lost them at mile 2.

I tried. Really, I did.

I tried for a mile and a half to find them again. But the sea of thousands of runners made that pretty impossible. Eventually I had to resign myself to the fact that I would be running the rest of the half marathon without music. Alone.

I had gone into this race without any goal time because it was so muggy out and I had been pretty lax on training. Now that I no longer had any other form of entertainment, I decided to just power through the race as quickly as I could. I wanted to finish in 3 hours. My final time was 3:03.

The fateful picture I was in the middle of posting when I left my phone at the tent.
I had more than enough of the Jonas Bros by this point.
JAZZ HANDS

Once I finished, I honestly felt like my knees had been rammed by a car. I think I sat at the tent icing my knees for a good 20 minutes.

On the plus side, I did get a wonderful glass of champagne as a congrats for getting accepted for my PhD. (SURPRISE!)

Look at this beauty.

What did this run teach me?

  1. I can’t pace for shit without music.
  2. Silence is better than Jonas Bros and Miley Cyrus on repeat.
  3. WEAR SUNSCREEN. (I forgot mine, and now I look like a lobster.)
Booze.

Preparation is Key

The final stretch before the Princess Half Marathon Weekend is here!

One week left before I die trying to do back to back 5k, 10k, and half marathon runs.

I decided this is a good time to go over pre-race prep, and what my normal routine looks like.

The first crucial part of prepping for a race, especially one as intensive as I’m doing, is HYDRATING. This is so important. Don’t just wait until the day before to start drinking more water.

Typically, I drink at least 80oz of water per day anyway. The week leading up to a race, I tend to up that at least another 20oz a day.

I also try to be careful about my food during this time. A lot of people think that if you’re running long distances, you get to eat whatever you want. False. I try to maintain a decent amount of protein, veggies, and complex carbs. I steer clear of eating anything new, simply to avoid stomach upset. This is especially important the morning of a run. I don’t do anything new. No new drinks, no new foods, no new running shoes or clothes. Nothing. That is how you end up in misery two miles into your 13.1 mile trek.

To give an example, I went for a training run that was around 8 miles. I stopped in at WheelWorks to grab an extra energy gel, and decided to try a new brand they had. BIG MISTAKE. About 10 minutes after consuming it, I wanted to vomit. The whey protein did not settle with my stomach, and I ended up hating myself the rest of the way back to the car.

Since then I have stuck only with GU gels and Sports Beans. They’re dairy free, I know how my stomach reacts to them, and they taste great.

I may have a small GU obsession…

Around this time is when I make sure to plan out my running gear for the weekend. I don’t plan out anything I haven’t already run in. My usual outfit consists of dry-wick compression leggings, compression calf sleeves, and a dry-wish tank or shirt. For socks, compression foot socks with built in arch support are my godsends paired with my Under Armour shoes.

It’s incredibly important to run in something you are comfortable in. After 13 miles, you may very well end up hating that cotton t-shirt that is chafing under your arms. Many people during Disney races wear tutus, ears, or full costumes, and I have no idea how they do it. I would be readjusting my clothing every few feet. It took me about two years just to find a good running belt to keep my phone in, let alone trying to run with Mickey ears.

One thing I have added to my running gear is a CamelBak to not only keep extra water with me, but also store my snacks, phone, inhaler, etc… Something to note, though, is that I train with my CamelBak on and filled. This is key, otherwise your back will be at war with you spontaneously deciding to run with 5lbs of water strapped to you.

Above are examples of my normal race gear. The atrocious creases at my knees are the compression sleeves under my leggings.

The last thing to make sure you do is SLEEP. I know this can actually be a daunting task when you have to be up at 3am to get to the corrals in time, but it’s super important. Put up some blackout curtains, get an eye mask, do whatever you need to do, but try to get as much sleep as you can. It sucks when you don’t plan accordingly, get off work at midnight, and have to essentially turn right around to run a 5k. Don’t do it. Just don’t.

Running Recap: Everything Hurts

Quite simply, I’m an idiot.

My kickboxing partner/boyfriend is down with a cold, so we decided to skip Muay Thai today. Instead, for some godforsaken reason, I opted to run 13.1 miles.

It seemed like a great idea at the time.

Jean’s exact words were, “…..good luck with that….”

I blame the energy drink.

I grabbed my running belt, some energy snacks, and a bottle of water and set off to West Orange Trail. (Do me a favor and imagine that like a cut scene from a Simon Pegg movie. It’ll just make it seem cooler.)

Before: So young and full of hope.
JK, I’m 28 and a cynical mofo.

The first couple miles went pretty well. I felt like I was pacing myself, and though the cold air was not doing my lungs any favors, I was getting pretty well warmed up.

The beginning of my false sense of hope.

The next few miles were easy, since they were through the small “downtown” area. This is one of those downtowns that is about a mile long (if that) on one main street. There was the usual Saturday farmer’s market, so it was a pretty busy stretch. My right shoulder was really starting to hate me, though, since I opted to carry a water bottle instead of bringing my CamelBak like I normally would for this mileage.

Halfway!

It was at this point that the runner’s high kicked in. I sent a smug text to Jean with the picture of my watch going “Halfwaaaaay!”

I took a brief stretch break (Please do this. You’ll thank me later.) and consumed my Gu gel. I then turned around to start the last half back to my car.

Don’t I look so enthused?
Side note: It was 62° outside and I was down to a tank top and shorts.

By around mile 7, I started sprinting the downhill because, well, it seemed like fun. And it was, until I started to feel myself tipping over as I reached the bottom of the hill. Then it was slightly terrifying.

You’ll be happy to know I did not fall over.

I was also at this point impervious to cold. LAYERS ARE IMPORTANT. I was practically overheating in my sweatshirt, and thanks to my forward thinking, I was able to tie it around my waist and run with the tank top. BECAUSE I LAYERED.

It was around this point that I really started to actually feel like a runner. Don’t ask me why, but in the last two years I’ve never truly felt like I can call myself a runner. I’ve done three half marathons and I still just never entirely felt right. But this run I actually finally accepted myself as a real distance runner. And it felt great.

Then came mile 10…

Fuck mile 10.

It was at this point that both of my big toes started hurting. I came to realize that my shoes were not as broken in as I thought, and I became increasingly convinced I was going to be blogging about my two black toenails. The farther I ran, the more I was sure I was going to lose those toenails.

Every. Step. Hurt.

Amazingly, my legs were doing fine. Normally this is about when the jello feeling sets in or my hip locks up. But no. I was able to keep trucking along, despite my toes.

Eventually they just went numb. I kept looking at my watch and groaning every time. “It’s just two more miles.” “It’s just a mile and three quarters.” “You only have a mile and a half.” “-incoherent whimper-“

Finally I could see the end of the trail. My Spotify was really motivating and let me finish off with Red Hot Chili Peppers “Can’t Stop.”

Once I got to that last 0.1 mile, a cyclist saw me as he was going the other direction, chuckled at my desperate facial expression, and let out a supportive “Woo!” as he rode by.

The sunglasses hide the pain in my eyes.

The second I sat down in the car, EVERYTHING STARTED HURTING.

I was thrilled to find I left my sandals in my backseat, so I quickly threw my shoes off.

Then came what seemed like the longest drive home ever. I was tired, sore, hungry, and direly in need of a bathroom.

I live for Chick-Fil-A’s southwest salad.

As soon as I got home and did my bathroom run, I finally got to eat. I cared about nothing else in the world other than my food.

I have since soaked in the tub with what has become my miracle bath bomb. If you’ve never tried Fluffy Fizzies, you’re definitely missing out. They make the best running recovery bombs.

Currently, I’m laying on the bed with my calves on ice, and I’ll be soon using my foam roller to try and ensure I can walk tomorrow.

That’s it. No cute heartwarming story. Just the harsh truth about distance running.

The Importance of Cross Training

So you want to start doing races. Great! Get lifting!

Wait…what?

Yes, unfortunately to be a successful runner, particularly one that participates in distance races, you have to do more than just running.

But fear not! There are so many cross training options out there for you. Into weight lifting? Great! Enjoy rock climbing? Go for it! Love putting on leotards and dancing to old Jane Fonda tapes? Hey, whatever gets you moving. The point is, pick something that is a good whole body workout. Just doing straight cardio all of the time will be great for your stamina, but you’re going to hurt. A lot. And your muscles may not be able to keep up with your lungs and heart.

This is just an example of a weekly training schedule. It is my training schedule, in fact. What is Muay Thai, you ask? Simply put, it’s kickboxing. And boy, does it work your whole body.

The biggest thing you should take away from that schedule is that there are REST DAYS. Never forget rest days. Do not, DO NOT try and train every day of the week forever. This is how you over exert yourself and end up getting some pretty bad injuries. And then you won’t be able to run. And that would be a tragedy.

Also, always remember that sometimes, shit happens. You may have to take a few days or even a week off because of an injury, illness, alien abduction, etc… It happens. Don’t beat yourself up about it, and just do what you can to get back on track.

For some motivation, feel free to use this playlist.

Running Recap: My terrible, awful, no good, very bad run. (Or, Gracie and the boy.)

Today, I ran. I ran slow, I ran against everything my body wanted. But I ran. And I ran 5 miles.

And let me tell you, it was awful. 

Like, really awful.

There was too. much. goddamn. WIND.

There was a headwind the entire run. That shouldn’t even be possible when you’re running a loop. But it happened.

I woke up with a headache and my lungs were screaming. I popped some Excedrin and puffed my inhaler. Neither decided to do their job today.

By the first mile and a half, I was cursing myself for even doing this.

This doesn’t do my misery justice.

And then came Gracie.

Gracie is a dog. A very rambunctious dog. Gracie decided she didn’t want to be in her backyard anymore, so she ran like hell.

Then I saw the boy. This poor boy was maybe seven or eight years old and trying his damndest to catch up to Gracie and bring her home.

So, I ran after Gracie. I ran a half mile in a circle running after Gracie. Finally, Gracie found a yard she liked, and decided to use it. The boy was able to grab her, but looked like he was ready to fall over. I asked him if he wanted me to walk home with him in case she broke free again. He looked down at the very disappointed dog, let out a giant sigh and muttered “yes, please.” After we both tried our hardest to hold onto her collar, she acted as though we were choking her, and it became too awkward to hold her back.

Being the ingenious person that I am (no ego here), I took off my running belt and clipped it around her collar. Now the boy had a makeshift leash, and he couldn’t have been happier. We finally saw Mom power walking toward us with Gracie’s real leash, and she thanked me for helping her son.

Always replenish your carbs and electrolytes after chasing someone’s dog.

Then came the hardest three miles of my life.

Honestly, that’s not even true. My hip locking up during my first half marathon was definitely worse, but it was definitely the hardest three miles I’ll do today.

I swear, it felt like forever before finally making it home. My eyes were crossing from my headache. My lungs were struggling for air. At some point I got a horrific cramp under my ribs.

More accurate misery.

But guess what? I finished my five miles. I literally got punched in the groin. (Thanks Gracie!) And I’m alive. And I didn’t need an ambulance.

I even remembered to stretch!

I guess it maybe wasn’t so terrible after all.

(Yes it was.)

You Are What You Eat

One of the most important aspects of training is what you eat. The biggest myth around running (and heavy exercise in general) is that you get to eat whatever you want. This is so utterly false. If you are loading your body with a bunch of crap, you’re going to feel exactly that way when you run.

Now, when you’re brand new to running, it can be confusing as to what you should eat, what sports supplements you need or don’t need, whether sports drinks are really bad for you, etc… You’ll have GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, what have you trying to sell you all sorts of different, very expensive mixes and supplements saying you NEED these to be a good runner.

Don’t listen to them.

Running shouldn’t be expensive (at least outside of your bib fees…). You don’t need a bunch of fancy sports drinks and protein powders to improve your pace.

That being said, if you really want to try all of those things, be my guest. I do personally use a few pre-workouts and protein shakes because I have found some benefits to certain ones I’ve tried. Everyone is different, though.

I’m going to be gradually posting up a series on healthy recipes and such that everyone can use as part of their training regimen. Today, though, I’m going to share a general overview of what I personally use.

***PLEASE NOTE: I am not a medical professional nor a dietitian. All recommendations are based on personal experience. Please always consult your doctor before starting any diet/exercise routine.***

Best pre-workout I have ever tried. As an asthmatic, this has helped open my lungs to breathe while running, as well as provide ample energy for distance running.
These have been my go-to breakfast items. I generally do a cold brew/almond milk shake every morning with one of the protein powders and some MCT oil to help process the caffeine.
BEST THINGS EVER. As you run longer distances, you’ll need to replenish your aminos, as well as your carbs. These help with both! You’ll typically see these passed out during races along with water and Gatorade.
Your most important thing to consume. WATER. Lots of it. I carry a 40oz bottle with me everywhere, and drink at least two of them a day. Not a fan of plain water? Try something like Mio drops, which are sugar free and no calorie, to add some flavor.

Dancing in the Streets

The last few posts have been on the more serious side (because, you know, safety and shit), so this one will be more fun.

I had it suggested to help y’all pick music!

To give you an idea of what I run to, see my playlist below.

Right off the bat, you can see I have a BPM labelled. This is for my pacing for any particular run. Find a pace that you are comfortable with and design your playlist around that.

If you need help finding song at your desired BPM, Jog.fm is a great website to use.

I tend to run at a 11:00 min/mile pace, so 155-160 BPM is a comfortable tempo for me. I also do a walk/run, so the slightly faster tempo helps me even out my average. Adjust based on your goals.

Also, don’t be afraid to listen to whatever motivates you. It’s your run and your playlist. There will be no one judging you for rocking out to WHAM!. If hardcore gangster rap hypes up your basic white girl self, embrace it.