One month and counting.

One month and counting.

I have been training nonstop since November 1. I’m not sure what the other side of this is going to look like, but I am imagining there will be some sort of culture shock thing happening. Part of me wishes that shock was because I was traveling to Europe or somewhere exotic, but alas, it’s because I signed up to run 26.2 miles. Yeah, I volunteered to do that.

This weekend will be my last distance run before I taper. Twenty freaking miles. As you’ve all read before, there’s always a million things going through my head. Some of them practical, like don’t forget to eat your carbs, others a sign of delirium – like what if I don’t put enough Vaseline on my thighs and I can’t run all 20 miles because I’ll be so busy trying to escape the chafe and then I’ll have to quit, ask for someone to pick me up and sulk in embarrassment before having to warm myself up to do it again. Or my whole training plan gets ruined and I have to quit trying to run a marathon less than 30 days out all because I didn’t wear enough stinkin’ Vaseline. Yeah…

Anyway. There’s a street here in Reno named McCarran and it makes one big loop around the city for about 23 miles.  In the local running scene, to run the whole street is known as the “McLoop.” I’ve always wanted to be a part of the groups that do this run a few times a year. A lot of people will only run parts of it and get picked up along the way. Others use it for a training run. It’s hilly. There’s lots of places to stop along the way. I’ve ran parts of it on my own courses. Mostly because of prior commitments, I haven’t been able to participate before. But now, it’s finally my turn to McLoop! Or … at least mostly McLoop.  Technically I only need 20 miles, not 23. But I have this awful quality that forces me to finish everything I start – like puzzles, books (even if they take a year), the ten sushi rolls I ordered at once.

Back to that training nonstop since November thing. This is it. This is the final hurdle for me. The point where as long as I can do it, I know I’ll be good on May 1. I know it’s going to be tough. I know I’m going to hate life, want to hurl over on the side of the road and die, but at the end, I’ll be so incredibly pumped and proud. Frankly, when I wrote my training plan last fall before even agreeing to sign up, it was these long runs – the in between – that almost stopped me from registering. It’s a huge time commitment and I just wanted to skip from A to Z. But I’m here. I’ve made it. Tapering cannot come soon enough. And on the flipside, that 15-miler now doesn’t seem all that bad with a looming 20 ahead.

(PS; I know it often sounds like I hate running and you’re probz like “why the Hell did she even sign up?” But I promise you, I love it. I love the accomplishment. I love the battle wounds. I love the medals. I love the journey. I love running.)

PPS – If any of you Renoites would like to join us on the McLoop – for even just a couple of miles, we’re starting at  7 a.m. and welcome any and all company!

Super Sad Soppy Running Story

Super Sad Soppy Running Story

Six months of non-stop training is sure to teach you a lesson or two – not just in what you’re attempting to do, but about yourself, your journey, who you are and everything in between. I’ve said over and over this is quite the emotional journey for me and I’ve shared numerous times that I was once really fat. And while I’m still emotional, I’m no longer fat. My thighs still rub, the scale is still pretty high, I haven’t inched from my size 14 jeans and I can still truffle shuffle. But at the end of the day, running has changed me, running has taught me, running has formed me. The aforementioned transformation has never been more prevalent than it has throughout this journey.

Things I’ve noticed or learned bout myself while training for a marathon:

  • I talk about running… a lot.
  • The thought of a marathon makes me want to pee my pants.
  • I half-doubt, half-know I can do this.
  • I buy a lot of things when I have a goal in mind. New running pants, GU packets, Naan hydration tabs, new running belt, new music, new water bottles. All things I think I need, but really, shopping is a nervous tick for me.
  • I have come a really, really, really long way. I always introduce my running story as “I played soccer for eight years as a goalie because I hated running.”
  • Can’t stop, won’t stop.
  • I actually do like running with friends – but only on long runs and only ones that will still let me put my headphones in.
  • Eight miles isn’t that far for me anymore.
  • A 10K is my new running average.
  • My body is done losing weight, and I’m okay with that. Look at all that muscle!
  • I can lift heavy weights, do hanging leg lifts and use the drop back bench.
  • You CAN chafe on your back, and your side, and crack, and well, everywhere else.
  • I like listening to Podcasts on long runs.
  • If I want to run faster, run through the ghetto.
  • I can run 18 miles then go to Wine Walk after.
  • Motivating a fellow runner, who may be a stranger, is a lot of fun.
  • That I have incredible surroundings – not just in where I run, but who runs with me through body or spirit.
  • I love eating toast with peanut butter before a run – no matter the distance
  • I refuse to drink the night before a run – even if it will calm my nerves. Now, after the fact…
  • Sometimes, thinking about a huge stack of pancakes is all it takes to get me to the finish line.
  • I hate chocolate energy gels, which is weird because I don’t hate chocolate anything. I am woman.
  • If you dance your way to the finish line, it still counts.
  • I’m not fast, but I can go far.

Most importantly, I’ve learned how incredibly proud I am of my body and my mind. How comfortable I certainly am in my own skin. How there is no ideal “runner’s body” just an ideal runner. I mean it when I say that my eyes start to water every time I picture myself crossing that finish line. Not just because I’m going to get a swanky medal that says I did it, but because this body, this body that has come so far, from a place where with the mind alike it was so dark, because this person, this me, did it. I did what was once unthinkable.

In 33 days, this will all be final, all be real. In 33 days, I’ll have learned the greatest lesson of all: that I AM a Marathoner.

The 18-mile slump ender

The 18-mile slump ender

Alright, it happened. Four and a half months into training, I hit my wall. My point of exhaustion. My point of disinterest. My point of wanting to quit. I’ve had to force myself to the gym, force myself to run, force myself to be cautious of my diet and more. I skipped a few runs. I strayed from my training schedule. I went on vacation, drank wine and fruity little drinks, ate everything in sight (including cake for breakfast… Hey, it was my birthday) and avoided my Saucony shoes at all costs. Sure, it helped me regain focus – but man was it rough to return from a “do what I want” mindset back to “goddamnit I’m running a marathon in less than two months, I probably shouldn’t eat this whole box of Girl Scout cookies.” And what better way to get past a wall than to run 18 grueling miles?

But alas, Friday night I ate a healthy serving of spaghetti and meatballs, went to bed at 10:30 p.m. and woke up Saturday earlier than I even do for work. I went through the usual preparations: hydration tab, coffee, bathroom break, toast with peanut butter and banana, bathroom break, put away the dishes, cleaned up trash, vaselined my who-ha, played Candy Crush, bathroom break, pre-workout, packed my fanny, bathroom break and whatever else I could find to procrastinate. At 6:58 a.m., I was gone.

I mapped out my route the night before – from home, down my usual South Meadows and Longely turf, to some new pavement with plenty to stare at as I ran by. I took my first break at mile six, a lovely, strangely crowded-at-an-early-hour Starbucks and was pretty confident in how I felt. I caught wind of some foot pain in the first few miles so those passed rather quickly complete with begging them to get me through *just* sixteen more miles.

As I neared my halfway point, I noticed a familiar sight – bright orange cones, mile markers, an aid station and some cheerful volunteers – I was crashing a race! Party on, Wayne! I had forgotten about the Biggest Little City Half Marathon that was debuting that day, but more so,  I had no idea it was crossing my path. As it was on a public course around Virginia Lake, I kept doing the damn thing (with proper race etiquette of course). The coolest part? I recognized some of the local elite runners so I knew I was running alongside the fastest. Regardless, they all treated me like I was one of them. Every runner I crossed paths with, thought I was one of them. They cheered me on, gave me the thumbs-up and a few even said, “only six more miles to go!” Ha! You funny people. I’m flattered, but these legs have to go another NINE MILES )(@*$(*@#.

I took a decent break at the halfway mark to refuel, stretch and snap a selfie. I felt good. Hell, I felt great. A week ago, I had a real tough time running ten miles. How was it that just a few days and a few skipped workouts later, I was feeling stronger than ever? Actually… who cares? I’m a bad ass.

Annnd.. that all changed quickly. I felt myself losing the gusto. An emotional switch instantly turned on. I got overwhelmed with the thought of May 1. I got teary-eyed thinking about my journey. I was a mess and hobbling my way through it. Then suddenly I hear “three miles to go” trigger from my Nike app. I matched my furthest distance. Only a 5K was left. Just three miles. You made it this far. Go.

Though the last bit was met with speed walking, backward walking and of course, painful strides, I did it. Three hours and forty-five minutes later – I did it. Where the hell was my doughnut and beer? (Answer: across the street. When I was done, I b-lined for the nearest grocery store and raided the bakery. I was glad to have those tasty, well-deserved calories burn right through my runner’s body.

Lookout world, I’m an almost-marathoner.

Hey Stranger…

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Today I am 28 years old. The age in which I’ll run my first marathon and the age at which – well, who knows what else is in store for me. But it’s already off to an amazing start that was catapulted by lovely getaway to Napa and Ensenada with someone very special to my heart. And while I may have slacked on my training a little more than I had planned, I feel refreshed, relaxed and ready to kick ass until May 1. Cheers!

Picking a Familiar Path, and Then Running a Similar Course

"I Guess This is Growing Up"

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Again, college is worth it for your career and life if you do it well and take the right steps towards making the most out of it. Inspired by her dad’s history as a roadie for punk and jazz bands, and her own love of music, Sara knew entertainment was where she wanted to be in terms of having a career one day. So she did the smart thing and started early, becoming the editor of the paper in high school and working for the Las Vegas Review Journal. She said that by the time she got to college, it was time to do something not on the opposite side of the spectrum, but familiar, “Since I had already had a bunch of experience with print, I chose the PR route so I could expand my skills. I ended up loving the PR side a lot more because I would…

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Injury Prevention 102

Nope, you read that correctly. I’m calling this “Injury Prevention 102” because there are things I do every run that not only protect my body from sprained ankles or whacked out backs and inflammation, but from chafing, stomach issues and more. Because let’s face it, any sort of pain, whether internal or external, can be considered injury – especially if there’s ways to stop it. From the obvious to the not-so, here’s a few tips to prevent injury while running:

  1. Vaseline is your bestie. Your BFF. Your Soul Sistah. Before a run, rub it anywhere and everywhere that bounces, jiggles or rubs – no shame. Chafing is a bitch and unlike post-run exhaustion, it can hang around for days.
  2. Drink lots of electrolytes, before and after longer runs. Your stomach bounces around quite a bit when that mileage starts to rack up which will have a bad effect on you as soon as mile three. Try Nuun hydration tabs – one the night before, one before your run starts and if you’re feeling any sort of stomach pain, one after. Aside from that, extra electrolytes will keep you from dehydrating during your run.
  3. Eat more food. Pre-run, get your good carbs and fats, post-run, get your protein. When your body loses energy – which food provides naturally for us – you’ll become sluggish, lose form, lose focus, maybe even get light-headed.
  4. Post-run may be the most important part of your run. Take the time to stretch – and stretch everything. My favorites include pigeon pose and forward lunging into my hips. (There’s probably a simpler term for that but I like to be descriptive… yeah, that’s it.) If anything feels particularly sore, ice it. Take an Epsom Bath. Foam roll. Then stretch some more. Spoil that body – it carried you far.

The Longest Yard (or Mile… Whatever)

The Longest Yard (or Mile… Whatever)

Pardon my tardiness on this post, I just ran 15 miles. Just as in six days ago but who’s really keeping track? My quads, apparently.

I did it! I think one of the biggest road blocks I’ve had in my mind during this training ‘venture is that I couldn’t fathom running more than 13.1 miles so this may be perhaps one of my most important milestones of the whole process. I will say, around mile three I was ready to quit. My foot still isn’t 100%, and the pain at times was worse than listening to Taylor Swift while waiting in line at the DMV next to a guy who wreaks of cigarettes and feet. But when I set my mind to something, stubbornness is my anti-hero. I didn’t want to let myself down. I mean, I wrote all of those haikus about it! And while that may have been the longest three hours and 15 minutes of my life, I sure as Hell celebrated success with a “whoop whoop,” an ice bath in the Truckee River and two giant blueberry pancakes from Squeeze In. Also, I Mia Hamm-ed it with a celebratory shirtless, victorious cry of never loving my body more than I had at that moment.

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How does one run fifteen miles in Reno? Here’s one way: start at Huffaker Park, run along Longley, to Neil, behind the airport and to the Grand Sierra Resort. From there, loop around the back into Rock Park and follow the trail along the river four miles out and four back. Then have your friend’s boyfriend pick you up and deal with your running stench and bragging on the way to the aforementioned pancake restaurant.

Proud is an understated word for this run and I was very happy and thankful to have Ann with me along the way. From the friendly chatter, to the new products she lets me try to the out-of-sync dance parties we have along the way as we both listen to our own music, running with a friend has never been as big of a necessity or reward as it has been during this training adventure. Oh, and she takes amazing selfies of us.