Not Created Equal

This is a quick post, but I had to get it out. Not all runs are created equal. No matter if you have been running for 5 weeks or 15 years, you’re gonna have some runs that aren’t so great.

Lately, all of my runs have been awesome, whether they are 5 or 15 miles, and it’s been great, so it was basically due my time for a less than stellar run. This morning when I woke up to run it was thundering and there was a chance of storms, so I moved my 10-miler to the treadmill at the gym. I’ve had no problem long running it on the treadmill in the past, but today was different.

Let me vent:

  • The gym was hotter than normal, talking like 75 degrees inside with no fans or vents on at all (I use the same treadmill every time because there is always a vent that spews cool air periodically). Nope. Not today sucker!
  • I was dripping sweat two miles in and the first two miles felt like I had been running for an hour.
  • I could not establish a groove for the life of me, the whole first half of the run I was trying to ‘get in it’ and it just wasn’t happening.
  • Mentally, I wanted to give up. I probably tried talking myself out of the second half of the run at least three times. Excuses, I was trying to excuse myself. Honestly though, it was mentally TOUGH, and I have no clue why.
  • My legs were feeling dead, pooping out on me, and not wanting to cooperate.
  • Acid reflux. Last night I covered my grilled chicken in Sriracha which was a great idea at the time, but this morning for miles 0-5.65 I was burping like nobody’s business, and everything after mile 5.66 I was trying to not puke.

That is my vent and end of crappy attitude for the day. I’m glad I finished, nothing worth having comes easily, if it was easy then everyone else would be doing it, I’m stronger because of it, enter every motivational quote or saying you can find.

Basically, sometimes things just suck, but that doesn’t mean you give up or quit. Too often it’s easy to throw in the towel because ‘it’s harrrrrrd’ wah wah wah. Take some cheese with your wine and go sit in the corner sulking because something was hard. See how far you get with that. In times like these you’ve just gotta put on your big girl panties and muscle through it, and make yourself awesome.

Have a good Thursday friends, and go water your own grass.

Dumping In

Yes, you read that right! I’m not dropping in, I’m dumping in because I haven’t posted in what seems like forever. Let’s see if I can remember what all has happened!

First, last Thursday was my awesome mom’s birthday!

Upon her return from vacation in Colorado, I made her a super delicious chocolate cake from scratch with cream cheese frosting (her request), and crushed up mint Oreos on the sides. Boxed chocolate cake will never stand a chance in my family again after this masterpiece!

It’s a good thing that I can bake because I am sure not a good photographer. It’s also a good thing that I run because if not, I would stay home baking and eating my life away.

My St. Patrick’s day began with a 12-mile run with my friend Jen, remember her from Tulsa?

She is like the sweetest girl ever and is running her first half marathon in 3.5 weeks! I would be lying if I said the run didn’t get my out of my comfort zone…for once I didn’t map out the course, didn’t know where we were going, and had no clue of what our course would be like, Jen did all the steering for this one! The hills made me a little mad and I think it’s just because I wasn’t mentally prepared for them, and where we ran was hillllllly. BUT it was good for me to have a challenge and take the backseat for a change.

After that I spent the rest of the day in downtown Kansas City with some awesome friends and Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. Lots of people don’t know that I am huge country fan and needless to say I was in heaven at the concert. Sighhhhhh. Plus, Luke and Jason are two artists who sound better live than on recordings in my opinion, which is rare and totally great to find!

It was sold out, loud, and SO MUCH FUN!

Sunday was back to real life which included some rest, because Saturday night at the concert I was yawning at 10:30pm, and Sunday night was IN bed around 10pm, which is relatively early for me. Good thing I got some rest though because Monday I had the best run everrrrrr!

Well, best run to date everrrrrrr! I was up at 5:30am (unusual for me), and decided to hit the treadmill at the gym for a speed session. I wasn’t sure how my legs would do after two back to back double digit runs (again, unusual for me) but wanted to give it a go anyways! I didn’t have an exact plan for the run, except that I wanted to listen to my body and run at a slightly uncomfortable fast pace. I did a two mile warm-up at a 10:30 pace, then started creeping the speed up. I held miles 3-5 at a 9:30-9:40 pace, and ran the last half mile at an 8:34 pace which is something I have NEVER done before.

This is silly, but it bothered me a little that I could see the upper half of my reflection in the window because I was getting really self conscious about my stride and form, worrying that it looked bad or off, but just kept along. The last half mile I took out one of my earbuds from my iPod to listen to my breathing and I could really feel my heart rate being pushed, and my breathing was hard to control. I completed 5.5 miles, and after my cool down as I was leaving, a lady who had been lifting (and watching me apparently) asked how far I went. I told her, then she told me that I have an awesome gait and running form, and that she could tell I was a runner! I cannot express how stinking happy this made me, because that whole time I was worrying about looking stupid and have worked so hard on my form over time to make it the best I can. We talked for a while and I made a new friend! Leslie, you have no idea how stupidly happy your compliment made me!

I hope that you are having a great week of workouts so far! I’m looking forward to another weekend of back to back double digit runs and maybe even getting to run in the rain! The half marathon madness begins in 3.5 weeks and here’s to getting faster! Have a FANTASTIC week!

Believe In Yourself

This is something that I feel is said a lot, but often times people who say it don’t actually get it, if you know what I mean.

Growing up, kids are told that they can do anything they set their mind to. Parents, grandparents, teachers, any adult will tell a kid they can do anything they want, but what happens when that kid grows up and experiences some of life and it’s realities, is it still possible to do anything their heart desires?

Of course it is. But how? You have to convince yourself first.

Today I went on a 10-mile run with a friend, who was running his first double-digit distance ever, and four miles farther than his previous personal distance record of 6 miles. He’s training for his first half marathon next month and we made the plans to do this run together because I knew that it would be a challenge.

For me, it was an experience because I had to mentally prepare on his behalf, thinking back to the days where anything more than four miles was scary, and put myself in his shoes so I could keep his spirits up during this seemingly daunting task. He reminded me of how badly we can get into our own heads and how our mentalities can tear us down because we let them do so too easily. It took a constant flow of motivation and reminding him that he COULD complete this run and that he was strong and capable enough to do work on that run.

This got me to thinking of why people don’t chase after their dreams with all they have, and how much fear is able to hold people back from accomplishing anything they desire. It is way too easy and excusable to welcome defeat with open arms and settle. Just settle. Settle down, get comfortable, and brush those ambitions under the rug because they weren’t easy to attain.

I for one, know that our minds are the most powerful things in the world and we can be our own worst enemy or our own biggest fans simply by what thoughts we allow to flood our minds. My friend here that I was running with, would mention how hard the run is, when it was still early on. I had to cut him off right there–I knew that just by him speaking out that this run would be difficult, it would be difficult because he was telling himself it was. We can convince ourselves up and down of anything we want, be it positive or negative. This really motivated me to keep the positive words flowing because I knew that if he was mentally convinced he could run ten miles, then he’d be able to.

He just had to believe.

It’s taken a lot of work on my part to make the choice to think positively, not only with running but in a vast majority of life situations. I have had so many runs where I would develop a poor attitude, thoughts, and feelings about myself and would have to snap myself out of it because when you’re feeling that pathetic, it doesn’t help you at all when you’ve gotta be with your own bad attitude for miles on end.

If I didn’t learn to make the choice to think positively, there is no way on God’s green earth that I would have been able to run a couple of marathons, and handfuls of half marathons. There’s no way I would be dreaming of running a marathon in every state, wanting to raise money for charities, and get my story out for other to hear so that just maybe, just maybe, I could impact a few lives.

It’s all in our heads, and all you have to do is believe in yourself. Convince yourself of your success, and very soon, your success will be staring you right in the face and taking you places you never dreamed possible.

Life is Good

Last week I was riding on the marathon high through the end of the week, which I didn’t get after Route 66, but I loved it. My heart has been so touched by all of the amazing, kind, and encouraging words I have gotten from so many people. YOU all are awesome!

Usually it is recommended that runners take one day off per mile of whatever distance raced, so three weeks to 26 days off of hard running after a marathon. Last week I took Monday completely off, and went for a 2-mile shake out jog with a friend on my favorite trails. By Wednesday my pain had subsided for the most part even though my legs felt a little tired. On Thursday morning I met a friend at the gym and was able to get in a 6 mile speed session before 7am, which I’d call a success!

I’m not sure what it is, but I just haven’t been able to sit still! Even though I’m not running a marathon again until September, I really do want to make relatively high mileage weeks a regular thing for me to help build my endurance and speed, essentially making it a ‘normal’ thing for me. The fitness level I am currently at is something I have worked hard to build up and absolutely do not want to (and will not) let go down the crapper.

My desire to workout recently has been more intense than I have ever had in my life, I have seriously been looking for excuses to run, sometimes even twice a day! The rest of my off week last week also included some cross training, walking and Zumba!

On Saturday I got to volunteer at a race instead of running it! The local St. Patrick’s Day Run (always a week before St. Patrick’s day!) was the first race I volunteered at two years ago, just a month before my first race. I wanted to see what this race atmosphere was all about back in 2010, and last year I ran in this race, but didn’t want to run this year so I lent my helping hands.

I love everything running and volunteering made me appreciate all the hard work people put into races even more than I did before! Even if you aren’t a runner, you can still give your time to your local running community because I can assure you, there is no such thing as too many volunteers! It took a small village to put on this race, and I can’t imagine how many volunteer hours it takes to put into a marathon!

There is now only a month until my first of four half marathons for April-May and this week is when I’ll really start focusing on more speed work in the weeks leading up to Rock the Parkway. Since this week is also my spring break (which is a joke since my class that requires the most time is online…), I’ll actually have time to invest in making a solid speed plan. Ultimately, I just want to get my body used to running shorter distances at a faster pace that I know I can maintain.

I almost forgot to mention…if you ever want an awesome workout, go pole dancing. Yes it sounds raunchy and possibly a bit inappropriate, but this past Saturday we finally made it to a pole dancing class for my best friend’s belated birthday celebration!

Pole Worx is near the West Bottoms in Kansas City and it’s a fitness studio offering pole dancing, chair dancing, Balates (ballet+Pilates) plus many other classes only for women! You can also book birthday, bachelorette, etc. parties; there were five of us and we each paid $20 for an hour long class which proved to be a good deal!

Our instructor wasn’t necessarily a great instructor, but it was obvious she had been dancing for a long time and definitely knew her stuff. Or maybe it was just that none of us were very good on the pole? Regardless, we had a ton of fun. We learned different spins such as the ‘firefighter,’ ‘martini,’ and ‘the Demi Moore.’ Oh and how to go upside down which is a whole different story.

Aleeza was pretty much a natural.

Also, it’s Monday and I’ve gotten more sore over time since we took this class Saturday night. I now have a huge respect for women who can do this type of dancing because the physical fitness, poise, and grace to do something like this and do it well takes a lot of hard work. My legs and knees are bruised from falling, I can’t lift my arms over my head because they’re so sore, my abs are sore, and there are muscles in my quads that I didn’t know existed. It was my kind of workout.

Thank goodness we didn’t dance in those shoes, because I’m positive that would have resulted in a trip to the emergency room.

No more pole dancing for me this week though, I’m sticking to running and Zumba. Oh and shopping. That counts as a workout, right??

This post was all over the place, as is my brain. Forgive me and have a FANTASTIC Monday!!!

 

 

Little Rock Marathon

Let me preface this by saying you are in for a LONG post.

Friday night I did eventually get my stuff packed for the weekend and slept terribly. I woke up at 5:30am on Saturday to shower, finish packing and hit the road with my mom and aunt to Little Rock, Arkansas. We wanted to find a Cracker Barrel to have breakfast at, but unfortunately the route we took only lead us through countrysides of Missouri, even gas stations being hard to come by.

Eventually we were all getting hangry and pulled off a random road that looked civilized and ran into this little gem, Mary Dean’s Diner. I’m not usually one for ‘diner’ food, but we were all so hungry and the food was awesome. This was a small town diner for small town people, and it was adorable.

When was the last time you saw food this cheap? How about pretty close to never.

With full bellies, we hopped right back on the road en route to Little Rock. We made great time and actually got into town before we could even check into the hotel, so we made our way right to the expo.

The weather was absolutely perfect and after sitting in the car for 7+ hours it was great to be able to walk around. Most race expos are pretty much the same from what I’ve found, Little Rock’s was very organized, had great vendors, and I really liked that they had more unique event merchandise for sale than other races.

I ran into some local running friends, and it was nice to see familiar faces in an unfamiliar place! The expos are usually when I start to get excited about the race, but my nerves were surprisingly absent even at the expo.

After picking up my packet, I reunited with my mom and aunt who had been meandering, and I told them that Bart Yasso was at the expo and I really wanted a picture with him. He designed a workout that many runners and marathoners incorporate into their training plans called Yasso 800’s, he is the chief running officer at Runner’s World Magazine, an author and of course, a seasoned runner. Needless to say I totally geeked out and got to talk to him for a short while, and soaked in every bit of advice he gave me for Sunday’s race.

He also told us he was announcing names at the finish line of the race, and I think I was looking more forward to him announcing my name than finishing the actual marathon!

We got checked into our hotel and hung out for a little bit before we all agreed we were hungry for dinner at 5:30pm. Being the prepared person I am, I had researched restaurants in advance and we went to Big Orange for gourmet burgers. I am pretty cautious about what I eat the night before a race and ended up getting the blacked tilapia ‘burgerwich’ which was so delicious. My mom was just happy that she got to watch college basketball. Easy to please, I tell ya.

After dinner we went back to the hotel and I couldn’t stop yawning. Nerves had sort of set in for the race yet and road trips make me feel super greasy and gross, so I stood in the shower for about half an hour to help relax. I wasn’t near as nervous for this race as I was my first one, it was strange. I didn’t miss my stomach flopping around but my energy levels still weren’t ‘there.’ I hopped in bed and proceeded to watch college basketball which I think is a great way to spend the night before the race.

I didn’t even make it to half time. I can’t remember the last time I fell asleep before 10pm, but Saturday night was a new record for me. But because my body has gotten used to an average of 6 hours of sleep per night, I was up at 3:30am ready to race. Too bad we weren’t leaving the hotel until nearly three hours later! I was up and down until my alarm went off around 5:15am.

Generally, you’re not supposed to try anything new (food, clothes, etc.) the day of a race and I’m also not usually one for energy drinks, but I did do an 18 mile training run after two iced coffees and the run went great, so before the trip I picked up a low-carb Monster and drank about a third of it with my breakfast of egg whites, Ezekiel bread and water.

Finally, excitement hit me! Maybe a little of it was the caffeine too, but I skipped out of the bathroom just before 6am on Sunday and was ready to rock! ‘I’m gonna run a marathon today!!!’ I was excited to run 26.2 miles. What?? Crazy crazy crazy.

More than anything, I was excited and thankful to be able to run this marathon, because a couple of weeks ago I was sad and mopey, thinking that this marathon could potentially not happen for me this year.

We packed up all of our stuff because we weren’t coming back to the hotel, said our ritual pre-race group prayer, and were on our way to the race!

Little Rock greeted us with a perfectly beautiful and crisp race morning!

Before anything happened, I had to take care of business. Yet another pre-race ritual, visit the porta-potties at least two times before the race, even if you don’t have to go.

Then stand around and wait for the race to start

and talk to other runners and make new friends with them while standing around

Then get in your start corral and stand around and wait some more.

Okay, enough with the waiting. One of the things that blew me away with Arkansas and the community of Little Rock is how FRIENDLY and NICE people are!! Plus their accents, oh man did I love their accents. This race was bigger than Tulsa which I really liked, and the people we so awesome. I talked to probably seven or eight new people consistently before the race started, which doesn’t seem to happen frequently in races I’ve done.

After all of the waiting, it was finally time to start the race! I didn’t have a specific time goal in mind, but I situated myself right behind the 5:10 pacers. Honestly, I did much less mental preparation for this race than I have for any other race in the past. All I did was remind myself why I was running this race and to fully enjoy it, and with the sign on my back I hoped to encourage other runners as well.

Bart had told me that the first half of the race was deceivingly fast, and he was right. It was flat with a few rolling hills, and I did start out faster than I should have, but not so fast that I wouldn’t have enough energy for the tail end of the race. Since I almost always run by ‘feel’ anyways, that’s what I did. I set into a comfortable pace and just kept along. From mile one, people were reading and commenting on my shirt, I got many congratulations on the surgery, people telling me I was an inspiration, and others agreeing on how great God is.

At first, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to some of the comments, but I just made sure that I encouraged every person who was encouraging me. Whether it be talking with them for portions of the race, to telling them that they were amazing for being out running a marathon, I made it a goal to consistently build others up.

The course started in downtown Little Rock, going over bridges and up and down baby hills, with great crowd support the whole entire time.

I loved running over the Arkansas River on that bridge, but maybe because it was a decline?

Before I knew it, we were already past five miles. I hadn’t run more than five miles in the past two weeks, and bad thoughts tried to creep in my head but I left those in the dust.

My mom and aunt were staked out between miles 8 and 9, which also happened to be the location of the first semi-vertical uphill of the race

I was also talking to my mom while running and she managed to capture this hilarious beauty of a photo. Apparently running hills makes your hamstrings stick out more than normal. Sigh.

Now is where I talk solely about the race. This point was be the last I saw my mom and aunt until the finish line, because the course was so spread out.

The first eight miles of the race truly did fly by, they felt like nothing which is quite unusual for me. I was still hanging close with the 5:10 pacers and met a couple of ladies in that group who were running their first marathon. It was so fun getting to cheer them on while we were running, all the way up to the finish line. After we ran through downtown, we hit more residential parts of Arkansas, and eventually the state capitol and the governor’s house, and the governor of Arkansas himself was out cheering on all the runners.

Oh, and for the first time ever, I hit up the porta-potty during a race. I couldn’t imagine running any further without stopping (especially with my kidney issue), and felt SO much better afterwards. I had always been nervous about having to go to the bathroom during a race, but I had to overcome my fear. It took less than a minute and I was back on the course, but by this time I was well separate from my pace group.

The area where the capitol is located was absolutely beautiful. We continued on residential areas and again, the course support was amazing. You could tell that the marathon is a big deal in Arkansas because many of the houses we passed had music playing out of speakers from their porch, and many families were out tailgating, I’m not kidding! There was one house with people who had tables set up of champagne and orange juice for mimosas, bloody mary mix and vodka for bloody mary’s, AND they were grilling right there on the side of the course. If you ask me that is just plain rude to be having a good time and grilling out while thousands of runners pass by with over ten miles to finish a race 🙂

For every group of tailgaters, there was also a group of church people! Many of them couldn’t have service Sunday morning because the course ran right along where their church was located and the roads were closed, so they still had their congregations our cheering us on with pom-poms, cowbells and gospel choirs. This was the south, after all!

The miles came, some seemed longer than others. Miles 11-15 really dragged on for some reason. Oh wait, I know why…this was probably the hilliest portion of the race. The race course had started to lead us into some winding back roads of Arkansas, and winding back roads in Arkansas means there are hills. None of the climbs were particularly steep, but they lasted forrrrreverrrrrr. I was also waiting for this ‘dreaded downhill’ I had been warned of on the course elevation chart and also by Mr. Yasso around mile 16. I took my first real walk break up the hill at mile 14 or 15, I can’t remember which one it was, but I needed to walk. That hill was kicking my butt.

Then there were more hills, again, not steep, but winding and long and I was convinced I would never see a downhill. Turns out the real downhill didn’t happen until mile 17, and Bart warned me to not go down it too fast because it would kill my quads and I would be hurting for the rest of the race. I did exactly what he advised in adjusting my form, but still, halfway down, I felt every step in my quads. Man oh man, did I feel it.

Despite this challenge, this was a very enjoyable section of the course. We were on winding roads lined with tall pines, it reminded me of Oregon. I was also by myself for a small section which reminded me of the trails I run on here at home and I loved it, the beauty and serenity were perfect.

From the course map, I was prepared for a long out and back section from about mile 19-22 and good grief, those were the longest three miles of my LIFE! It was some flat, back country Arkansas road, and pain was really setting in. I don’t feel that I ever quite ‘hit the wall’ but this was definitely a challenging part of the race. Seeing all the people that were on the back portion, at miles 21-22 wasn’t encouraging either because they were closer to being done than I was. Then there was the headwind, that was just fantastic. Actually, it was kind of nice because the road was shaded from the hill and the wind was keeping me cool, but the back portion was the exact opposite.

We hit the mile 20 marker which thankfully had a DJ playing great tunes and were coming up on the actual turn around, shortly followed by an aid station. The back portion of this loop was hard. The sun was really getting to me at this point, my face was sun burnt and wind burnt, and my lips were raw. Being mentally tough at this portion of the race was crucial, and after we passed mile 21, I began to feel encouraged. One of my favorite distances to run is five miles, it’s just perfect for me. A lady who I was taking turns passing since mile 17 met up with me and we hung together until near the end of the race.

We shared running chatter, walk breaks, and encouragement. She was wanting to run a sub-5:18 but wasn’t sure if she would be able to make it. Misery really does love company, especially during a marathon. At this point, a lady was talking to me about the surgery and we passed an older man who yelled out, asking about my surgery. I slowed down to talk with him and he snarkily said, “So why are you running?” and all I could think of, was, “To see if I could do it.” His comment hit me, not in a bad way, but I’ll elaborate on that later.

The lady I had been running, walking, and talking with was walking more than I wanted to. I knew I needed to run and get to the finish line, especially with just four miles left, so I wished her luck and continued on. She told me to “Get after it girl!” and that was just the push of motivation I needed.

At this point, I was surprised I was still moving forward. My face and arms were burning, my body ached, and I couldn’t feel my legs. With three-ish miles left we encountered another hill. How cruel! I ran up 85% of it, walked to the crest, then picked up my pace again. To see another hill. We couldn’t catch a break!

One lady who I passed was reading my shirt and said, “You had surgery 18 days ago…but you’re running too fast we can’t read the rest!” This made me smile and pushed me up that last, painful hill with a mile left to go. There were more aid stations in the last 4 miles than in the first 8 miles but I flew by them all because I wanted to get to the finish and to hear Bart Yasso say my name. On the way to the finish I passed a lady who I had been running with in the pace group and I shouted, “You’re about to finish your first marathon!!!!!!” There is nothing like that feeling of finishing your first.

I knew I was going to beat my time in Tulsa and pumped my not-little legs all the way until the end. I almost teared up a little bit, but that feeling was overcome with sheer joy and happiness.

I think I gave my mom this thumbs up as a sign that I wasn’t going to totally pass out.

The only way to describe how I was feeling at this point was that my heart was completely full. I was so stinking happy, and still am.

To me, running this race was completely about being thankful that I serve a God who can overcome anything and everything, every challenge, adversity, whatever it may be. God seriously proved himself to me and I know the overwhelming joy I am experiencing is all from Him.

I faced a lot of questions and criticism leading up to this race, people not sure that I could do it, not sure that it would be safe, and doubting my ability to complete this. I had really felt down and about about my decision to try and finish the marathon. However, I knew that if I didn’t at least go to Little Rock and try, there’s no way I would have been able to live with myself. Not trying and having that faith is worse than trying and not finishing.

I also must say that I did not finish this race by my own ability. I even told other people on the course this, when they told me I was amazing, I told them, “No, God is amazing. I’m not the one doing this,” and that’s how I want my life to be. It’s not by my strength, might, or power, but by His.

This post cannot justify or describe the feelings I have. Like I said, my heart is so full, it’s just bursting! Never did I imagine that it’s possible to feel this strongly about something in my life. Just by running this marathon, my faith has grown past what I thought it could be, my heart has grown, and I have no doubt that the sky is the limit when it comes to anything.

No words…that’s the best way to describe it! I cannot fully express in words the immense joy I am experiencing from this!

As soon as we got in the car to start heading home, I said, “I wanna do that again!” No joke. I’m wishing there was another marathon I could do sooner than later! This was just another step in my journey and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead!

As long as I can have Cracker Barrel wherever this journey takes me. Ha!

How to Not Pack for a Marathon

I had this great idea yesterday that I would make a helpful post on how exactly how to pack for a race. Since I am the worst packer in the world, I am writing this post on how to successfully not pack for a marathon, because that is what I am currently not doing.

First, when you get home from work, don’t do anything. Sit back on your couch, listen to Pandora, organize your iCal, and muddle around on Pinterest.

Next, take your clean laundry out of the dryer and throw it in a pile on your bed. Don’t fold it. That’s a bit overreaching, don’t you think? Just let it sit there.

Okay now would be a good time to whip out that packing list you made, and start finding the random stuff you need to pack, but don’t actually pack any of it.

As soon as you start getting stuff out, arrange for your best friend to show up to your house and go get frozen yogurt.

Sorry, Aleeza.

Messy hair and no makeup are ideal for froyo outings. If you want the best froyo, go to Yogurtini. If you don’t go to Yogurtini or Yogurtland, you might as well not go.

Proceed to sit around and laugh and talk until it is near closing time, then decide it might be a good idea to finally go home.

This my friends, is how to not pack for a marathon. If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up throwing all your crap in a bag about ten minutes before you go to sleep.

Speaking of sleep, I’m getting tired. I hope I don’t forget to pack my sports bra.

Pre-Marathon Prep

Cue butterflies in my stomach and sweaty palms…marathon weekend is nearly here! I’m telling you, this feeling could never get old, and I hope it doesn’t. The anticipation, culmination of training, travel prep, visualizing myself at the starting line, everything…I love it.

Before my first marathon, I had never traveled for a race other than the half marathon I ran in Texas, but even then, I stayed with my brother and was still in my comfort zone.

Here’s a look at some things you may not think about that go into a travel weekend for a marathon:

  1. Registering for the race. Obviously, this is important. The earlier you register for a race, the cheaper it is. I specifically waited to register for Little Rock at the Route 66 race expo because I knew they were having a booth there, and you typically get a lower rate and occasionally some free stuff for registering on the spot.
  2. Book a hotel. Unless you know someone living in the city you’re traveling to, it’s nice to book a bed to sleep in the night before running a race of any distance. Most races have host or affiliate hotels. I booked our hotel room back in December, and it is an affiliate hotel of the race and offers free shuttle rides to and from the start and finish lines on race day–this is HUGE! It is a plus to not have to worry about parking near the race, etc.
  3. CHECK THE WEATHER. Oh goodness, it baffles me at how many runners don’t look at the weather on a daily basis or especially when traveling. As soon as the 10-day forecast is within ten days of the race, you better believe I’m watching it like a hawk. Even on race morning in Tulsa, I stumbled downstairs in the hotel at 5:45am to step outside and check the weather for the race. So far, Sunday is looking might fine in Arkansas! 
  4. Make a list of the stuff you need to pack. Yes, I have to write down EVERY thing I need, otherwise I will not pack it. If it is not on the list, I will forget it and be without a sports bra or socks on race morning. I like to avoid serious public humiliation at all costs. Don’t worry, that’s not my whole list. Oh yes, and this is a trip that will last a whole two days. I pack less when I go on week-long trips.
  5. For runners, find out where you want to eat before you get to your destination, especially if it’s some place you’re not familiar with. It is advised to runners to ‘not try anything new’ the night before or day of a race, so you wouldn’t want to end up somewhere that only has Man vs. Food portion sizes of food you’ve never eaten before…or maybe you would. Different strokes for different folks.
  6. Confirm your hotel reservation! This is VERY important, and it’s also a good opportunity to ask any questions to the staff that you may be concerned about. I called our hotel earlier this week and was wanting to know when late checkout was, which is 2pm. This is good to know for slow-pokes like me, plus the time getting from the finish line back to the hotel (via shuttles) would not ensure us back at the hotel by 2pm, so we had to make alternative plans. You know what that means right? I don’t get to shower after the race…hahahaha! I seriously think this is hilarious, and if you saw my whole packing list, you would understand why ‘baby wipes’ were on there.
  7. Write out directions. I know this is old school, but GPS’s cannot be trusted. This is said entirely from first hand experience and a girl whose family is notoriously nicknamed the “Wrongways.” Just know where you’re going!

I am sure I could think of 100 more things to add to this list, but this handful of steps help make any race experience more enjoyable, especially when traveling. I am not typically an anal person, but when it comes to racing weekends, I like having a plan, sticking to it, and being able to fully enjoy myself sans stress.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting about packing for a marathon, and stuff you may not think you’d need but actually do, stay tuned! I’m going to go have sweet dreams about the frozen yogurt I’ll be enjoying with my best friend tomorrow night, because a good race deserves a froyo send off 🙂