The Thing No One Ever Talks About

When I first began writing this blog, I did so with the purpose of documenting my weight loss story in real time.  Over the past four years, this blog has evolved into documenting my love for running, races, and just general life shenanigans.  During those four years I lost weight, gained weight, maintained weight, lost weight, gained weight, lost, plateaued, lost, gained….well, you get the picture.  It hasn’t been an easy battle.  I loved following blogs of others who were in the same boat as me and others who had chosen to document their struggles and triumphs on the world wide web.  My Instagram feed became littered with transformation pics, before and afters, progress pics, daily food journals, and post workout selfies.  I was okay with this because I loved connecting with others and seeing the highlight reel of their life and staying up to date on their progress.  I, myself, had posted pictures of a similar variety.  Last spring (2014) I was in a great place.  My running was stronger than it had ever been, I was fitting into clothes I had never dreamed of wearing, and for the most part, I felt confident.  However, there was still a piece of me that couldn’t be happy with where I was at.  I would look at photos and cringe at how I looked.  I would pick apart every single detail about how I could have sucked in more, or there was major cellulite bulging out of my shorts, or how my face looked puffy.  I was never satisfied.  Looking back at those photos now, I could almost cry because when I see how I looked last year I literally had my dream body.  When I imagine what I want to look like forever, THAT is what I looked like last year.  I just couldn’t see it at the time.  That devastates me.

when i thought i was still morbidly obese.

when i thought i was still morbidly obese.

So, today I want to talk about a topic that I never see talked about.  Weight maintenance and weight gain.

I never see bloggers or Instagrammers talk about this.  You may be able to tell about the struggles through a picture here and there, but it never gets discussed.  Bear with me.

At the end of last summer I began student teaching in order to obtain my teaching license.  I went out and bought a whole new teaching wardrobe since I had a smaller body.  I just knew that being on a set schedule everyday would help me stay on track and even help me become stronger in my running.  Boy, was I wrong.  Lunch trips to the local hibachi joint, candy from my students, cookies and donuts in the teacher workroom, and late night binges due to stress were not in my favor.   School started too early for me to workout before work (I don’t feel safe running alone in the dark) yet I would leave work feeling so stressed and sluggish that working out was just not on my agenda.  I gained a few pounds.  Nothing too major but it was at least slightly noticeable. In November I started training for my marathon.  I just knew that this would be the kick in the butt to help me continue my weight loss journey but it didn’t.  It left me feeling more tired, stressed, and hungry. By the time December rolled around I had probably packed on 10 pounds.

Come January I got an interim position teaching high school.  All hopes for being on a routine went out the door.  One of my student’s parents owned the local Krispy Kreme for crying out loud!  I was able to get in my weekly runs after school and during my planning period but I still had an awful relationship with food.  I couldn’t outrun my diet.  My long runs on the weekends boosted my confidence but the scale was still getting higher and higher.  I did a half marathon in February and had a time I was super happy with even being about 20 pounds above what I was when I formerly had the same time.

looking large.

looking large.

In the weeks leading up to the marathon, I just became really depressed.  I hate saying the word depressed because it’s not truly what I was, but I was just down. My clothes didn’t fit right, I was flabby all over, and I didn’t know if I would be able to do 26.2 miles.  At times I thought my body would fail me, but in reality I was the one who had failed my body.  The marathon came and went and that euphoric feeling of finishing vanished quickly.  I decided to give myself two weeks before running again because I was SO.SICK.OF.RUNNING.  Seriously.  Running seemed so pointless.  Well, those 2 weeks turned into longer than that and before I knew it, August was here and I had packed on 30 pounds.  Yes, you read that right.  I gained 30 pounds this summer. Nothing prepared me for the major emotional downward spiral that can come after a marathon.

I weighed in this week and the scale said 255 pounds.  That’s three pounds heavier than my absolute heaviest of 252.  I could cry just typing that.  It’s embarrassing.  It’s terrifying.  It’s shameful.  And I have no one to blame but myself.  I am the one responsible for every workout missed and for every calorie put into my mouth.

Nothing in my closet fits..not even my fat jeans that I kept around just for kicks.  My workout clothes don’t even fit.  I’m lucky if I can get my sports bra over my head.  I got REAL job teaching 8th grade and had to go waste more money on new clothes so that I would have something to teach in.  It pained me to pay money for clothes knowing that there is no way I should be in that size.  I am horrified to see myself in photos.

No one ever talks about this.  I have felt so alone in this battle of increasing weight.  People talk about how they are 2 pounds down this week or all of their non scale victories.  I don’t read about people struggling with their food addiction, binge eating disorder, and recently developed hatred of exercise.  Am I alone in this??  I have felt so incredibly isolated during all of this.

Why does no one talk about how hard weight maintenance is?  It seems like every time I get near my goal weight, I lose sight of my goals and gain sooo much.  Up and down, up and down.  Now I’m really up and I don’t even know how to get down.

The thing is, I know what it took to get to my goals.  I know the restrictions it took for me to look good in all my pictures from last year.  I know the hunger headaches I had from not eating enough.  I know about the 3 and 4 hour days at the gym trying to work harder.  I know about saying no to friends who want to have lunch so that I won’t be triggered into a binge.  I know about cutting out all of my favorite foods yet still constantly thinking about them.

Deciding to lose weight is a huge commitment.  Deciding to maintain your weight loss is an even bigger commitment.  It’s hard. It’s lonely.  It’s difficult.  It’s a process.  It takes time and effort.  If you have ever lost weight at all then you know that.  It is harder to keep it off than it is to lose it in the first place.  And it honestly pisses me off that no one ever gets real and talks about it because it is SO common.    Like, I’m pretty sure the stats show that a good majority of people who lose a significant amount of weight generally gain some if not all of it back.  In my case, you gain more back.

The other day I was out to eat with some teacher friends and I was struck by how darn good my food tasted.  It tasted good.  It tasted real good.  And then I thought how unhappy I was that I don’t fit into any of my clothes and how I am now at a higher weight than I have ever been at.  It almost doesn’t even seem worth it to try to lose the weight again.  What if I just gain it all back again?  What if it takes me many years to get to goal?  What if I never make it back to where I once was?  All of those questions cripple me with fear.  Honestly, it seems easier to just love and enjoy food and not worry about what my weight is.  But deep down, I know that I will never be truly happy at this size.   I won’t be happy knowing that I can’t buy clothes at a regular store.  I can’t be happy knowing that I’m not reaching my full potential.

So where am I going with this?  I’m just addressing what people who lose weight usually don’t talk about.  I’m really just airing my grievances.   I have been a total failtrain at weight loss and I’m confessing.  I’m letting you know that I haven’t been honest.  I’ve just flown under the radar and just stopped talking about all things running, health, and weight loss.  I’ve let myself down and I’ve let others down.

After a long summer and a few long weeks of August, I think I’m finally ready to dust myself off and get back on the horse.  It won’t be easy.  It won’t be pretty.  But I’m going to try.  I’m going to do it the right way.  That means no major restrictions.  No strict diet of only chicken and oatmeal and yogurt.  I’ll definitely eat those things but my life won’t depend on it.  I’ll spend a healthy amount of time at the gym which means no more 4 hour gym days.  I won’t let it be the end of the world if I have one two many rolls at dinner with friends.  I won’t allow myself to starve for the sake of shedding a pound.  I won’t beat myself up over the number on the scale.  I will lose weight at a healthy pace and not focus on the negatives.  I will set small, realistic, and worthy goals and I will reach them.  And when I reach my goals I will set new goals that include maintenance.  My lifestyle will be sustainable and not just a fad diet.  I can do this.

Please, if you have struggled with weight maintenance, falling off the train, gaining weight, falling out of love with exercise, or anything like this then please know that you are NOT alone.  People everywhere are in the same boat as you but they just don’t always talk about it.  It is easy to share the joys and the ups of your journey.  It is hard to admit defeat and failure.  But you are not alone and there are so many people struggling just like you.  And if you are in the weight maintenance stage and have been doing good, then always reach out and support those who aren’t doing as great as you. Lift them up, encourage them, and offer them your support.  We are all in this together.    Weight loss is hard.  It is super hard.  If it was easy then obesity wouldn’t be a thing.  Just know you are not alone.

I promise to start keeping it real around here with my real thoughts and emotions along with real photos that aren’t me using camera angle to look a certain way.  Honesty is the best policy.  Thanks for reading/listening to me.

Race Recap: Downhill at Dawn Half Marathon

As someone who is racing the states, I try to find races that are geographically convenient to where I live as well as factor in the price.  When a friend from a local running group suggested I join her and one of her friends on a quick weekend race trip to North Carolina, I didn’t need any convincing.  Downhill at Dawn was held in Ridgecrest, NC which was less than a 2.5 hour drive for us.  We made the trip up on a Friday and spent some time shopping at discount stores and outlet malls.  The start takes place at the Ridgecrest Conference Center and fortunately they have several housing options directly on campus that are also tax exempt so you don’t have to pay extra for fees.  We had a little dorm that was directly next to the start line (see photos below) and since it had one big bed and two sets of bunk beds then we each got our own sleeping area.  I will note that the bathrooms are very small and there is no TV in the room so be aware of that if you plan to do this race.  IMG_8456

There's the start line from our room.

There’s the start line from our room.

sleeping quarters

sleeping quarters

We ate at an Italian restaurant for our pre-race meal.  I had pizza (judge me) and it seemed to sit okay on my stomach.  The race began at 6:01 so we had to be up early but it was SO nice having the start line literally right outside the door so that you could take as long as you needed to get ready and then use the bathroom one last time.  I headed to the start at 5:57 and had plenty of time.  Such a rebel, I am.

I stayed near the back because I knew this race would take me quite some time since I had only ran once since the marathon and that run was a race.  We started and I expected lots of downhills since the name has downhill in the title.  I was wrong…BUT I did look at the elevation chart so I knew they were eventually coming.

can you find me??

can you find me??

The first couple of miles featured an out and back section so I was able to stay distracted by looking at the other runners and cheering for them.  I met two super nice Half Fanatics.  One ran up and high fived me as he was doing the “back” portion and then I was able to walk and talk with another for some time.  Around mile 4 the race begins to go downhill which was such a relief.  I was scared they wouldn’t come.

After going downhill on a main road for a bit, we cut onto this gravel/sandy road to continue the downhill portion.  Jennifer had warned me about this so I was expecting lots and lots of gravel but it was mostly compacted sand which was a welcome relief to my legs that were hurting.  Since we were in the mountains there was a lot of shade so I never really felt the sun.  I was sweating buckets but at least the brutal southern June sun was not shining on me.  I wish I could remember the exact point but around mile 9 it started to flatten out.  I enjoyed the change of pace and continued to do a walk/run although there were no set intervals.  I tried not to look at my watch because the last thing I needed during the race was pressure but I did become increasingly convinced that I was not going to make the 3 hour time limit.

There were aid stations about every two miles and the workers at them were FANTASTIC. So nice and fun and motivating.  I’ve never been the type of person to wish for a certain type of drink on a course because I’m just thankful that they have hydration at all, but the orange Gatorade they had was the BEST thing I have ever put in my mouth.  Maybe I was delirious but mannnn it was so good.  My stomach never felt “bad” but it didn’t feel enough to handle one of the two gels that I packed in my belt so I decided to solely rely on liquid as my fuel source.

running next to a geiser

running next to a geiser

I saw a dead snake at mile 11 which was a little scary.  A quick glance at my Garmin told me I was good on time and before I knew it I was making the turn onto the sidewalk to head to town.  Eventually I saw the finish line in sight and began to run a little faster.  My last two miles were the fastest of the day.  I crossed and grabbed my really awesome medal and immediately made my way to the food table.  I was desperately looking forward to chocolate milk but they ran out so I settled for some bite size Nutella packets instead.  Have you ever seen these?  They were the perfect size and I had to keep myself from grabbing a huge handful.

heaven

heaven

It should also be noted that since the race finished at a church, they had INSIDE bathrooms.  How many times does that happen after a race?  Almost never.  We waited in line for a school bus back to the start line but we got SUPER lucky and this fancy church shuttle pulled up that had cushioned seats and air conditioning.  It was wonderful.  Bonus: I had the front seat and no one sat next to me so I had lots of room to stretch out and rest for the trip back up the mountain.   IMG_8453 IMG_8468

My final time was 2:45:29 which I was extremely proud of. I had told my travel partners to start looking for me around 2:45 and I totally nailed it.  What’s crazy is that for so long I tried to get under 3 hours at a half marathon and was never able to and now I feel as though I’m in the worst shape of my life and I know I’m at my heaviest weight yet I still did a 2:45:29.  Not too shabby although I have lots of room for improvement over the next couple of years.

If you need a NC race then I highly recommend this one.  It may be completely in the boonies but it was great in terms of being next to the race start and just general race hospitality.  Thankful to have state 8 under my belt and to have completed 20 half marathons.

 

Happenings Lately

First off, let me say a huge THANK YOU for all of your kind words, comments, messages, and texts on my post about my first marathon.  I loved going back and reading so many encouraging words on what was such a crazy event in my life.  You all are very appreciated!

It is graduation season here in Tennessee and I’ve been to several.  I was fortunate enough to watch my best friend from college graduate with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from our beloved alma mater.  The high school that I taught at this semester also had a beautiful ceremony where I got to see so many of my wonderful students celebrate this chapter in their lives.  Add in my former high school’s graduation and a few elementary graduations and I am about cap and gowned out.  It really is an exciting time in young people’s lives and I really do love attending.  IMG_7843

A week or so ago, I was able to volunteer at a race held in Knoxville.  This particular series rewards its volunteers with “race bucks” so if you volunteer then you get credit towards another race in their series.  I chose the course monitor position and spent my morning standing in the rain with a cowbell making sure that 10K runners knew where to turn while half marathoners continued on the course.  It was nice to get 80 dollars to use at a future race while cheering so many people on at the same time.  IMG_7989

The weather here in East Tennessee has been beautiful and I’ve been taking advantage of getting outside.  The evenings are especially nice and so my boyfriend and I recently spent some time at the river painting ourselves with river rocks.  If you ever visit the Townsend area, be sure to spend time on the water and enjoy all that nature has to offer. IMG_8019

This past weekend I ran in the Expo 5000.  I do this race every year but this year had a new course and I was also able to volunteer at the packet pickup before I ran.  Quick story: I have this really sweet friend that I met via Instagram named Katie and last year she was in town for this race and we met up.  Come to find out this schoolyear that one of my coworkers was her college roommate.  What a small world.  She was in town again this year and so we took a picture (of course we did).  This race was literally the first time I have ran since the marathon.  My body was super confused and I totally forgot how hard running really is.  Luckily I was able to have a really nice negative split and ran mile 1 in 12:18, mile 2 in 11:02, and mile 3 in 10:33 with the final .1 at a 8:35 pace.  I was pleased with my effort given my lack of running here lately.  Hopefully in the coming weeks I will get back to a normal routine and start running again.  My body definitely needed a break and so did my mental state.   IMG_8114 IMG_8126

Memorial Day was a huge success and I teamed up with my dad, uncle, and one of my students to play in a golf tournament. My handsome fella drove around spectating. All of the proceeds go to supporting kids’ sports in our small town which is critical given how funding can be limited with such a small community.  It was the perfect day to hit the links and enjoy crushing some golf balls.  Our score wasn’t as good as last year but at least we finished under par.   FullSizeRender

Today is my sweet Momma’s birthday so wish her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY.  She means so much to me and you all probably feel like you know her because I talk about her so much.  I love her a lot and hope she has a special day today.  Happy Hump Day. y’all! IMG_2686

My First Marathon: Flying Pig Race Recap

Y’all.  I did it.  I completed a marathon.  I crossed a finish line after covering 26.2 miles.  To some this may not be a big deal, but to me it is a HUGE deal.  My body was able to do what I never dreamed of it doing and I pushed myself to accomplish a longtime goal of mine.  Warning: this post is long and has lots of pictures.  I want to remember every detail of this event.

Thursday night was spent packing since I like to wait until the last minute to do everything. My sweet friend Holly stopped by with a wonderful card that had some uplifting words including a gift card to Cracker Barrel.  Who doesn’t love a little homecoming?  Brittney had also given me a pig Pandora charm for my bracelet when I visited her a couple of weeks ago.  I am so thankful to have such wonderful friends who lift me up and encourage me to achieve my crazy goals.  Momma and I headed north to Cincinnati early Friday morning.  Luckily it was only about a 4.5 hour drive and we enjoyed seeing lots of horse farms along the way which was exciting since it was also Derby weekend.  We were able to check into our hotel super early which we weren’t expecting and we rested a little bit before heading into expo.  Tip: It is MUCH cheaper to stay across the river in Kentucky than directly in the city.  Downtown was super busy but after finding parking we were ready to explore all the fun vendors that the expo would have to offer.   IMG_7595

here piggy piggy piggy

here piggy piggy piggy

The expo was laid out a little differently than last year, but it was nicer since packet pick up wasn’t held at a separate location.  I had chills when I picked up my race packet and made Momma take a picture of this monumental moment.  I told the volunteer that it was my very first marathon and he was so happy for me and offered me lots of encouragement.  There were a lot of cool photo opportunities spread throughout the expo including signs to pose next to and a local company even offered free backdrop photos like you see below. We took advantage of all that was offered and I made a few “26.2” purchases including a cute Christmas ornament.  Asics was the main sponsor so I purchased two race shirts from their booth that was Flying Pig specific.  I’ll probably wear those shirts forever.

thanks to this nice volunteer for giving me my race packet

thanks to this nice volunteer for giving me my race packet

fun expo backdrops

fun expo backdrops

IMG_7646

lots of decorated pigs around

lots of decorated pigs around

mother was in bag heaven

mother was in bag heaven

IMG_7618

official bib

official bib

After the expo we made a trip to Target to get some essentials and last minute items before heading to eat dinner at Skyline Chili.  When in Cincy, right?  We were able to spend the remainder of the evening resting and getting ready for the exciting weekend.

Saturday morning required a super early wakeup call since Momma was doing the 5k and Bryan was doing the 10k and 5k.  We arrived early and were able to scope out some prime spectating spots for the race and check out the Great American Ballpark. I was feeling pretty tired but I enjoyed being able to support them at their respective races and it was so motivating to be able to cheer on so many runners at the finish line. This gave me a little boost for the next day. Saturday night we headed to Cheddar’s for a pre-race meal of chicken and potatoes and it was delicious.  I prayed that the meal would rest easy on my belly and that I would have no problems on race day.  Once back at the hotel, I laid out my race clothes to make sure I had everything I would need for the marathon.  I was in bed at 7:30 and I think I finally fell asleep around 8:45.

momma after her 5k

momma after her 5k

we loved exploring

we loved exploring

outfit is race ready

outfit is race ready

Sunday I woke up around 4 and was able to take a shower and eat breakfast.  My stomach was a ball full of nerves.  It was a quiet ride to the race start.  My mind was racing and I desperately wanted to be positive but inside I was terrified and afraid.  I always have a fear of the unknown and the marathon was definitely unknown.  I did not know how my body would respond to 26.2 miles.  I did not know if the weather would become brutally hot.  I did not know if my stomach would cooperate (it usually never does). I did not know if my fueling plan would be effective.  I was scared.  Once parked I stepped out of the car and had Momma help me put my bib on straight.  That’s when the tears came.  I started crying right there in the parking lot before the race had even started.  Looking back, I’m kind of embarrassed that I was so emotional but fear is a crippling emotion.  We were able to take refuge at the Bengals’ stadium where I was able to use the bathroom a few times.  Thank goodness for indoor bathrooms at races!

Before I knew it, Bryan told me it was time to head to the start.  I was still crying but I tried to remain positive in my head.  Being nervous wasn’t going to help anything.  I gave Momma a huge hug and told her I would see her in 26.2 miles.  We made our way to our corral which was wayyyyy far back.  Flying Pig does a great job of corral organization so I was very pleased with that.  We saw fireworks go off which signaled the start of the race.  After about 15 minutes it was finally time to make our way to the start line.  Once it was in view I knew there was no turning back and just like that my Garmin was on and we were running.  I was able to spot my mom on the left side of the road and she screamed and snapped a few pictures.  I needed that one last boost before truly beginning the journey of a marathon.

and we are OFF

and we are OFF

We ran for a little while and then took a walk break once we got to the first bridge.  I felt great.  So great in fact that I wondered what I had ever been nervous about in the first place.  We did our 3:1 run/walk intervals and kept a nice easy pace.  I was feeling great.  The crowd support was unreal.  People were screaming everywhere and had signs galore.  I particularly loved running past the senior citizen home where the elderly were outside with humorous signs such as “hurry up, I’m missing Bingo”.   We were surrounded by runners and everyone looked so happy.  I didn’t take fluids until around mile 4.  I will make note that the forecast had predicted unseasonably high temps so Flying Pig made sure there was an aid station every single mile which was AMAZING.  Around mile 5 I took my first gel and we began the climb up “the hill”. I”m from the mountains so I usually don’t mind hills but this hill was killer.  We mostly walked and then ran when we could.  Bryan talked strategy to me and helped me overcome it.  After finally reaching the top of the hill it was time for the marathoners to split off from the half marathoners.  I didn’t really anticipate how much this would bother me.  All of a sudden there was hardly anyone around us.  Mind you, there were actually A LOT of people around us but it seemed like hardly any compared to all the half marathoners we were just with.

We continued our run/walk and it seemed to be working out.  We had slowed down but I was totally okay with that.  I was okay with being last place as long as I finished.  The aid stations were so supportive and people were so kind.  They offered Coke, candy, kleenex, anything we needed.  It was great.  I took another gel around mile 11 and began to hydrate at every station.  I was sweating profusely and knew I needed liquid.  At every water stop I would take the gatorade cup and fill the rest of it with water to dilute it and then would drink an additional cup of water.  At first I could hear my belly sloshing but I was thankful for the calories and the hydration.  We went through a really awesome neighborhood around mile 15 that had a lot of crowd support.  One lady said “great job, you’re almost there” and I just looked at her and said “no we are not” to which she then asked the person with her how much longer that we had to go.  I found it to be comical because 11 more miles to go was obviously not almost there. Little kids were everywhere to offer high fives which I LOVED.  Little kid high fives are the best! About a mile later there was a station offering bacon.  Wow, that sounded good but I said no.   Good thing I wasn’t volunteering at that station because I would have ate it all myself.

By this point there was a lot more walking than running and that was okay.  We pressed on.  Bryan willed me to run to certain landmarks like a phone pole in the distance or to the next water stop.  We were moving forward and that’s all that mattered.

Around mile 19.5 I began to feel dizzy.  My stomach didn’t hurt necessarily but I felt bouts of nausea and the road seemed to be moving.  Bryan was in front of me and I yelled to him that I had to lay down.  Yes, lay down.  In the road.  In a race.  I’m the kind of person that if I’m going to get sick then I just need to lay down.  So that’s what I did.  I said I just needed a quick minute.  Medics came and I was so adamant about being FINE.  I was scared that if they thought I was in any kind of serious distress that they would either pull me from the course (not an option) or try to give me and IV or something.  I took a gel while I was laying there which made it slightly better.  It crossed my mind that I still had more than 6 miles to go.  I asked myself how I would ever make it that far feeling the way I did.  But, alas, I got up.  We kept going.  The dizziness got a little better and we made progress.  It was obvious at this point that running was over.  It was going to be a long walk back to the finish.  Another 1.5 miles down the road we were on a shoulder of an interstate portion.  The sun was brutal and there was no shade in sight.  I had to lay down again.  Poor Bryan probably hated me and just wanted me to get up and go.  A volunteer came over and offered me a bottle of water that I dumped on my head and it felt heavenly.  Again, medics came over but I played the “just give me a minute” card.  One medic said that the course conditions were now “code red” which meant that they were dangerous.  I did not care because I had a marathon to finish.  After continuing on we passed under a tunnel.  There was a lady there handing out cups of ice.  It was shaded and felt so nice so I decided to sit down and take a gel while we had some shade.  I used the ice to rub my face and neck and wrists.  I even stuck one piece down my sports bra.  I kept that cup of ice for almost the rest of the race.

It was very late in the race at this point and the crowds had died down, however I was so pleased to see that there were still people out there cheering.  Some people had been there since daylight and they were still there to offer support. This encouraged me in ways I can’t describe.  Other aid stations had ice and it became my saving grace.  I had one ice cup in each hand and I just chomped away as I walked.  I was going to finish this thing even if I was dead last.  Several places had misting showers with water hoses and I also took full advantage of those.

We met so many wonderful people from mile 23 on.  One guy had completed a marathon in every state TWICE and was so kind.  I met a sweet lady who was completing her 53rd marathon and she offered so many nice words.  We kept going.  Bryan just walked right along with me and I apologized over and over that this is how the race turned out but we kept going.  I was honestly surprised that my belly had held up.  It wasn’t perfect and it probably hated having so much Gatorade and gel in it but it didn’t give me trouble like it usually did and I was so incredibly grateful for that.  A medic station was handing out ice cold wash rags and it was the best thing I’ve ever felt on my body.  I wore that rage like my life depended on it.  Mile 24 is where I became pretty emotional.  Someone said “you’re almost there” and I started crying and yelled to Bryan that I wish people would stop saying that because it is a LIE.  I know they were just trying to be nice but I was a wreck at that point.  I texted my Momma at mile 25 to let her know how close I was.  at 25.2 there was a huge clock and sign that read “one mile to go” and that’s when I lost it.   That ‘s when I realized that I was really going to finish. It was really happening.  Only a mile left.  I cried and cried and cried.  A Team in Training coach saw me and came up to check on me and I just wailed that I was so happy.  He gave me a hug and we kept going.

Finally we saw the Finish Swine.  Finally.  It was so beautiful.  We were entering the white gates of the long finish chute and I could see it in the distance.  I was shocked that people were still standing around to cheer.  As we came over the last little hill I saw my Momma.  She was standing IN the chute.  We started running and I’ve never been so happy in my whole life.  I wanted to run to hug her but knew that I had to just get to the finish line.  It was the greatest moment of my life.  There it was and I was crossing it.  I cried like I have never cried and smiled so big that my face hurt.  A wonderful volunteer gave me a medal and I hugged her.  I was so elated.  There are no words to describe the elation.  My finish time was 7:13.  I can’t believe I was out there for 7 hours.  Wow.  I wanted to be embarrassed about how incredibly slow that was especially considering my paces during training but I was so freaking PROUD of that time.  Who cares how long it took?

rounding 3rd and coming home

rounding 3rd and coming home

pure joy

pure joy

After making it through the medals, Byran went to get his 4-way challenge medal and I hobbled through the tunnel looking for two things: food and my mother.  When I came out of the other side I saw her and cried even more. She thought I was upset but I was just so thrilled and my tears were pure happiness.  One Flying Pig official told us to take as much food as we wanted so I was able to stock up on Sun Chips, crackers, and string cheese.  Bryan met back up with us and we snapped a few photos.  The car was parked fairly far away so Momma went to get it while we waited on a street downtown.  I was hurting pretty bad at this point so I just laid down on the sidewalk (again).  It was so nice to just sit and bask in the moment before she came to pick us up.

sobbing and wanting my sweet momma

sobbing and wanting my sweet momma

can you see the tears??

can you see the tears??

JOY. pure JOY.

JOY. pure JOY.

so happy

so happy

Once back at the hotel I had to assess the damage.  The only issue I had was chafing along my bra line.  Even though I applied a ton of Body Glide, I did sweat more than normal and had poured a lot of water over me during the race so chafing was to be expected.  My skin also had some wicked tan lines from being in the sun all day. Thankfully I wasn’t burnt since my mom put sunscreen on me that morning.  After a shower, I felt like a million bucks.

My beautiful friend, Lindsay, came over to our hotel room once we got settled.  She had actually came to the race earlier wearing an awesome shirt to support me but had to leave for a meeting before I made it to the finish line.  She accompanied my mother and I to my post race dinner of Steak n Shake and we were able to catch up.  It was so nice to be able to talk about my race experience and have her understand since she has also been in a similar marathon situation.  Lindsay helped me put my coveted 26.2 magnet on my car which was something that I had been looking forward to ever since I signed up for the marathon.  We made plans to meet for lunch the following day before Momma and I left town.

love this girl

love this girl

the moment i have been waiting for

the moment i have been waiting for

I slept like a baby on Saturday night.  My legs ached in a way that I did not know was possible.  No amount of pain reliever medicine helped and the only thing that brought any kind of mild relief was moving them.  So I laid in bed and just moved my legs back and forth.  Sleep felt wonderful and I slept with my medal by my side all night long.

It was time for us to head South on Monday.  We met Lindsay for lunch and took a trip to IKEA before heading home.  I wore my medal the entire drive home and tried to catch up with some friends.  I was overwhelmed with the amount of people who texted, called, wrote Facebook posts, and commented on my race pictures.  I tried my very best to respond to everyone and was just thrilled with the outpouring of love that I felt.

It has now been four days since I became a marathoner and I could not be more happy. Would I do it again?  Probably not.  I just don’t enjoy that long distance. Half marathons are more my jam.  Regardless, I became a marathoner and now for the rest of my life I will be able to say that I completed a marathon.  It wasn’t pretty and it took me forever but I did one.  And that, my friends, is something worth celebrating.

Marathon Week

Hey y’all!  Wow, where has the time gone?  It seems like just yesterday that I was signing up for the Flying Pig Marathon and making it known to the world that I was going to begin my quest to finish 26.2 miles.  Ideally I would have liked to have blogged the entire process.  I know that personally I would have loved to be able to look back and see all of my thoughts on my training and just the process in general.  But unfortunately life got in the way.  I know that is no excuse but I began a new job teaching 11th grade and I just didn’t feel like sitting down to type out my thoughts.  Not that anyone cares about my marathon training but I still wish I had actually blogged about it.

Regardless, here I am.  Just three days away from a marathon.  It is mind blowing to think that this day is finally here.  I always said I would never do a marathon, but I’m glad that I will (hopefully) be able to say that I’ve completed one just once in my life.  I know that it is impossible to sum up so many weeks of training in one blog post, but I’m going to share with you some of the highlights of training.  Please excuse the random pictures I throw in here with captions explaining what aspect of training I was in.  Consider it a photo journal.

getting in a group run with some of the KTC team

getting in a group run with some of the KTC team

taking our long run to the mountains on MLK JR. Day

taking our long run to the mountains on MLK JR. Day

I loved eating a banana and a recovery shake after tough long runs.

I loved eating a banana and a recovery shake after tough long runs.

Bryan was my “coach” so to speak and kept me up to date with what I should be doing and what kind of miles I should be logging.  I was able to do most of my long runs on Saturday mornings with the Knoxville Track Club which was great because it kept me accountable and gave me some company.  Most of my long runs were done at a run/walk interval where I would run for 5 minutes and walk for 1.5 minutes.  This was so helpful to me in terms of getting it done both mentally and physically.

Saturday morning group runs

Saturday morning group runs

Thankful to have my friend Kaycee along for many of my runs

Thankful to have my friend Kaycee along for many of my runs

I was able to get most of my mid week runs on our school’s campus since it has a 1.5 mile loop around it. That was fun and there were even times when kids would take pictures of me out the window of the school and put it on social media with captions such as “Ms. Godfrey is escaping” which was always fun to come back to.  Marathon training allowed me to be a healthy role model to my students.  There was also a period of time where we had terrible snow storms (terrible for Tennessee, anyway) and our school was shut down for more than 2 weeks.  That made it hard to run at all since there was about 10 inches of snow on the ground and no power.  But hey, life happens.

Still getting in some miles during a major snow week

Still getting in some miles during a major snow week

My longest run was supposed to be 20 miles but I never made it there.  I ended up doing four 16 milers.  The first two 16 milers were amazing and I did them solo.  The weather was perfect for them and I kept a good pace then entire time.  Of course the last couple of miles really hurt and my run/walk intervals started spacing out as I added in even more walk breaks but I was still able to do them.  I learned when to take gels and when not to take gels.  I learned that you can never have too much Body Glide and that sometimes major debilitating chafing has to occur before you learn that lesson.  I learned that I have an awesome support system.  My sweet Momma got in her car and followed me at various points during one 16 milers.  She took photos of me, brought me water, cheered for me, gave me new pieces of gum, and just kept an eye on me.  My friend Lindsay sent me an awesome care package that had some cute socks and a new marathon shirt in it.  I’ve just felt so much love during this long process of training.

Major salt deposits were usually on my face after runs.

Major salt deposits were usually on my face after runs.

Major chafing.  You have no idea how much this hurt

Major chafing. You have no idea how much this hurt

Elation after completing my first 16 miler solo.

Elation after completing my first 16 miler solo.

I’ll be completely honest and say that I probably won’t ever do another marathon.  The training has burned me out and I started feeling mentally defeated several weeks ago.  I don’t look forward to my long runs because they are so long.  Here’s something funny: I read in so many books and magazines that you gain weight while marathon training.  I read it all as blah blah blah blah because I sincerely thought I was going to be *that* person who loses weight while training.   Combine that with a brand new job and other life changes and I totally failed at that.  I’ve gained several pounds during training and some of my clothes don’t even fit.  I won’t blame marathon training and I’ll save my weight struggles for another post but let’s just say this cycle has slimmed me down any.

I enjoyed using races for long runs if it fit in my schedule

I enjoyed using races for long runs if it fit in my schedule

Something else I had to get used to was slowing down.  It devastated me to do slow midweek runs and I was constantly complaining to Bryan about how slow I had gotten but he had to continually remind me that after the marathon was over that I could focus on speed and short distance again.  I can’t wait for that to happen because I’m so sick of long and slow miles.

I would like to say that I’m confident going into marathon weekend.  I’ve definitely skipped some runs and there were times that my runs were a failure and had to walk the majority of them. It happens.  I’m comfortable saying that I completed about 85% of what Bryan asked me to do.  If all else fails, then I can walk it. They are predicting hot weather and the Flying Pig directors have added water stops to where there will now be water available every single mile of the race.  My biggest fear is severe cramping or muscle fatigue and getting sick.  My belly doesn’t respond well to long distance especially when I”m fueling with gel so I often experience terrible stomach pain.  There were some Saturdays where I spent the remainder of the day in bed thanks to stomach issues.  Let’s be positive and pray that this is not an issue on race day.  I’m thankful to have my mother going with me to cheer me on at the race.  No one is more proud of me than she is.

You can sign up for text alerts from the Flying Pig website if you want. I would love to have some virtual cheers and good vibes my way.  Realistically, I think I will finish in around 6 hours.  It could be more and it could be less.  My only goal is to finish the race and that’s what I intend on doing.

Race Recap: Little Rock Half Marathon

When I began my quest to run a half marathon in all fifty states, I knew for sure that the Little Rock Marathon would be my Arkansas race.  I had read so many race recaps on this particular race and it just looked like a fun time.  They are known for their full marathon medals but their half looked fairly sweet as well.  East Tennessee suffered a massive ice storm in mid-February and it continued for a good long while.  The school system that I teach in was shut down for over two weeks.  I pitched the idea of going to Arkansas to run this race to my Daddy and he agreed to make the trip with me.  We left early on Saturday morning and made the 9 hour drive to Little Rock.  We had chosen to stay in North Little Rock (across the river) to save money on a hotel and we were fortunate enough to find a steal of a deal that was less than a four minute drive to the start line. You cannot beat that.   photo (3) photo (5)

The expo was very well organized and the volunteers were some of the friendliest I have met.  They had several themed stations set up for photo opportunities including a massive pirate ship in the center with real pirates.  My Daddy had never been to an expo before and was blown away by the fact that people were selling a pair of socks for 10 dollars.  It was quite the experience.  After the expo we took a cable car ride around Little Rock to learn the history.  I’ve never seen a cable car in real life so I felt like a real city girl riding around in it.  The tour guide noted that the USS Razorback was very close to where we were and suggested going to tour it so we took his advice.  My father is former military and likes to see things that relate to military history so he was excited about touring a submarine.  It was only about 7 dollars for an hour tour of it and the tour guide was very knowledgeable about the sub and all the history that it holds. I’ll admit that I did get claustrophobic during a few parts of it.  I would advise anyone to check it out if they are ever in the area.   photo (4) photo 1 photo 2

We spent the rest of the day lounging in the hotel and found a nearby Cheddars restaurant for a pre-race meal.  I don’t “test” out meals very often prior to running but usually chicken and a starch work well for my belly.  We even splurged and had a massive cookie/ice cream dessert.  Thankfully Arkansas is an hour behind my usual time zone so by the time 8pm rolled around I was ready for bed.  I had made a makeshift pirate costume to run in for Sunday but looming rain forecasts had me worried if I would be able to wear it.

Race morning came and I woke up before my alarm rang.  I felt rested but a little nervous.  This was supposed to solely be a training run and my only goal was to run in less than 3 hours so that I would be forced to go at a super easy pace and take multiple walk breaks.  It was drizzly on race morning when we ventured to downtown and found a parking spot.  I was able to meet up with the Half Fanatic and Marathon Maniac group and get a picture taken prior to walking to the start line.  Once near the starting corrals I made a last minute decision to jump in line for the portapotties.  I finished right as the race started and my Daddy was super concerned that I was missing it but I assured him that since my corral was so far behind the start that I would have plenty of time.  I was right. photo 1 (1) photo (6)

The race itself was fantastic.  There were people everywhere and all the fellow runners that I met were super encouraging and nice.  With a light rain sinking into our skin, it was hard not to just laugh about it.  All of the miles were very clearly marked and you could see them in the distance.  My biggest complaint early on in the race was a handcycle that had either stopped for a break or just fell behind.  He was screaming at participants to move out of his way and was downright rude.  He literally would run straight into the heels of people which had to hurt.  Obviously it was harder for him to maneuver the crowds since he wasn’t on his feet but he still did not have to be so hateful.

I was able to run the first four miles of the race and I kept at about a 12:30 pace.  There was a huge amount of crowd support that really made me take my mind off the distance.  This course is by no means flat and the most annoying part of it was that the “hills” were really just inclined but they were soooo long which made it seem like they lasted forever and then the downhill inclines seemed like flatland.  We ran past the Governor’s Mansion and he was outside with his wife (and bodyguards) high fiving runners. Several people stopped for photos but I chose not to.  It was nice knowing that a man of his political power would be out there encouraging us peasant runners.  My favorite part of the race was the Couch Potato Mile.  This portion was a strip of race that had couches lining the streets on both sides.  The volunteers were handing out tater tots, french fries, potato chips, donuts, and beer.  They even gave us all a sticker that said Couch Potato Mile.  I’ve never seen anything like that before and loved the quirkiness that it gave the race.

Throughout the race several people asked me for an arggghhhh matey since I was in a pirate outfit.  I was even able to see a friend from back home out on the course who was doing the full. I was completely soaked with rain by the 10 mile mark and walked most of the race from then on. I was able to text my Daddy at each mile marker to let him know where I was at and when to be expecting me.   photo 2 (1)

Around mile 12.5 Maybelline beauty  cosmetics had a station set up where you could get beads and lip gloss for your finish line photos.  I grabbed some beads to put around my neck and placed the lip gloss in my running pack.  That was such a cool touch and another unique thing to this race.  Finally I could hear the finish line and had it in sight.  There were people everywhere cheering and the announcer was booming calling everyone’s name out.  I spotted my dad in the crowd and hollered at him so he would know that I was finishing.  2:54:53 was my official finish time and I was elated to be complete with another race.  This makes my 7th state completed and my 18th half.

The post-race chute was incredibly organized.  I was able to get my medal, some food, and my space blanket and then make my way to the reunion area. Oh, and the post race food was “snacks” but they were so delicious and perfect for what I was craving.  Chocolate milk and goldfish may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it was just what I needed and wanted in that moment.  I was able to locate my dad and then we stopped by the merchandise table and picked up a souvenir shirt since they were marked down to five dollars. Since I had a spectator I chose not to check a bag which made me glad because the bag check line was extremely long.  Something to think about if you ever do this race.  photo 5

On the way back to the hotel we stopped by a donut shop and grabbed a bite to eat.  Our hotel allowed us an extra two hours to check out which we ended up needing so I was super glad to not have to worry about rushing out the door. Overall this was a great race (despite the weather) that I would recommend to anyone. It was well organized, a fun atmosphere, and had lots to offer runners of all capacities.

Side note: due to a port strike on the West Coast, finishers medals were stuck at sea.  The race directors contacted everyone several days before the race to let us know the situation and even worked hard to get us some plastic medals so that we would have a tangible medal upon finishing.  They are mailing all medals at no cost to us so I’ve been very impressed with their professionalism.  Do this race, y’all!

Certification, Road Trips, and Ice Baths

Happy Monday!  Hopefully y’all are enjoying this day because Thanksgiving is this week and I’m already thinking about everything that I’m thankful for and planning out my Thanksgiving Day menu.  I’m ready to eat, eat, and eat some more.  Thankfully (pun intended), I signed up for a 5k on Thanksgiving Day to start my day off the right way.  I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks so here is a quick catch up!  I am finally feeling better after I had to take eight days off from running thanks to a nasty head cold that made it nearly impossible to breathe.  Hooray for not being sick any longer.

I stood before my faculty panel and peers for my exit interview to present my professional teaching portfolio, and I passed with flying colors.  It was intimidating but really all I had to do was convince them that I was a worthy and eligible candidate for becoming a teacher.  I’m officially certified to teach and will now be on the hunt for a teaching job.  Keep your fingers crossed that a position will open up and that I will be employed.  I am still working on my Master’s degree and hope to finish that up in spring of 2016.  Due to the nature of classes, you can spread it out for as long as you like which is something I’m thankful for since classes are at night.  So, you can now start calling me Ms. Godfrey because that is my official title.  :)  photo (2)

After my exit interview, I hit the road to Chattanooga to see my best friend, Brittney.  Since I was already in Knoxville, it barely took me an hour to make the drive down.  I loved spending time in her new home and seeing Chattanooga.  We ate a LOT of food/desserts and tried out several local joints.  We went to this amazing sandwich shop called Golly Whoppers which had the best sandwiches ever and then we snagged some snack size red velvet cheesecake bites.  But, of course, we had to get some workouts in.  I downloaded a free three-day pass to her gym so that I could attend some fitness classes with her while I was down there.  Since I was still battling a cold, we took BodyPump since it required more strength then cardio and then the next day we took Spin which consisted of me just pedaling on the bike.  I was glad to get in some fitness after so much time off and I was glad to work up a sweat next to Brittney since she abandoned me and moved farther South.  If you ever get the chance to visit Chattanooga, please do!   photo 2 (28) photo 1 (28)

Marathon training officially started on Saturday and I could not be more excited (and scared)!  It feels so good to have a goal on the calendar so far in advance and know that I am responsible for making that goal happen.  We kicked off training with a group run with the Knoxville Track Club who offers training for their spring race, Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon.  I ran 3 miles with a member of this year’s Biggest Winner team and then went back out for another 3 miles with Bryan.  Once I got home, my legs were hurting bad.  I attribute this to taking so much time off but hey, we all start somewhere.  I took an ice bath to help my legs but it was sort of an issue since my legs are too long for my tub. After a short nap, my Momma and I went out for a three-mile walk.  I cannot express how glad I was to sleep in yesterday.  Hopefully the next five months of training yield strong results and NO injuries.  photo (11) photo (10)

I hope you all have a great Monday!  If I don’t blog before Thursday then have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING and be sure to eat food and NOT feel guilty about it.  I look forward to hearing how your holiday went!  

Marathons and Mary Poppins

When I was in 2nd grade, my sweet Momma traveled to San Diego to participate in the Suzuki Rock n Roll Marathon for Team in Training for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  This was at a time when the running boom had yet to really take off.  I didn’t fully understand what she was doing or why she was doing it, but I knew that it was something special and something that not a lot of people had done. She had completed a marathon and earned the title of marathoner-a title not many people have. Momma still has her medal to this day and completing that marathon remains one of her biggest accomplishments.  I didn’t know it then, but this is where my interest in running/racing began.

Over the past year, I have seen so many of my sweet friends complete various marathons and have watched from afar as they shattered the goals they set for themselves and accomplished something that they may have never imagined they would complete.  This past summer, my friend and “coach” noted that perhaps I should take that next step and begin thinking about my first full marathon.  It was a laughable suggestion and I had no interest in completing a full.  I know how I feel around mile 13 of a half marathon and doing it again in the same day was absolutely not on my radar.  But the more I thought about it, the more the idea grew on me.  Doing a full marathon would sort of “complete” my story.  I could do it and show myself that I’m capable of something greater than anything I have ever dreamed.  But I was scared and a marathon was a long dang way so I disregarded it.

Bryan wouldn’t let the idea die down and we continued to talk about it.  I knew that I would want/need somebody (obviously him) to run with me to get me through the race if I chose to sign up.  Coincidentally, Bryan suggested Flying Pig since it is one of his favorite races and because I already know the first part of the course having done the half earlier this year.  The idea became more and more tempting and I was sold once he agreed to pace me for every step of the way.  The deadline for the cheapest price was on Halloween and I was still scared stupid to even register.  However when I picked up my packet for the Farragut 13.1 race, my bib number was 262.  That was the sign I needed to bite the bullet and officially register.  Before going to bed I submitted my registration form and forked over the money to endure 26.2 miles of torture.  Getting my confirmation email was all kinds of scary and the reality of the beast ahead of me suddenly sank in.  photo (1)

It is going to be a long training cycle for me since I have never ran more than 13.1 miles so I’m anxious to see how my body reacts and adapts to increased mileage.  I have full faith in my ability to stay dedicated and follow the plan that Bryan sets for me.  It won’t be easy.  It might not even be fun.  But when I cross the “Finish Swine” on May 3, 2015 it will all be worth it and I will earn the title of MARATHONER.  Crazy, I know.  Be sure to stay tuned for the torture fest I have in my future and see how training goes for me.  I vow to be honest about my feelings throughout training and to share all victories and defeats that may come my way.  It will be fun, right?

Speaking of marathons, let me tell you about another Mary.  I realize that I’m a little late to the party from posting about Halloween, but better late than never.  While Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays, I really enjoy scrolling through my Facebook feed and seeing my friends’ children dressed up in their costumes.  It is a lot of fun to take on another persona for one night.  Like last year, we had a trunk-or-treat event at my church where members handed out candy from their cars.  I had pinned a Mary Poppins costume to a Pinterest board earlier this year that I tucked away for this special occasion and I must say that it turned out very well.  The best part was that every piece of my outfit/costume is something that I already had in my closet so I didn’t have to spend a dime.  I was also surprised that my beautiful friend’s daughter was also dressed up as Mary Poppins.  We really rocked the “spoon full of sugar” look.  photo 1 (27) photo 5 (17)

Have any advice for a first time marathoner?  Did you dress up for Halloween?

Doing the Double: Two Half Marathons in Two Days

I read a lot of blogs of various people who are racing the states so it is not uncommon to see someone do two half marathons in one weekend.  Although it may be somewhat common, I have never even considered doing a double since that seemed like suicide to my poor body.  This past spring, our local track club announced an inaugural half marathon that would take place in November.  It would be the Farragut 13.1 and would run through a different part of town that Knoxville’s main marathon.  I love supporting our club and our running community so I could not pass up the chance to participate in an inaugural event.  After registering, it was announced that a neighboring town would be offering a half marathon the following day and that there would be a special medal for anyone who chose to run both.  This race was called Foothills Half Marathon and the course was primarily greenway.  Two great races and extra bling?  Sign me up!

After registering, I put these races on the back burner.  I knew there would be no way that these two races would be comfortable so I vowed to do them for fun.  Race weekend quickly approached and I began to doubt my ability to complete in two half marathons in consecutive days.  On Halloween, my Momma and I headed to Knoxville to pick up race packets.  She was originally registered to run but has had some knee pain lately and decided it wasn’t worth risking injury.  The host hotel had a nice little mini-expo and we were able to pick up some samples of things. Each participant got some nice swag in their race bags including free appetizers to Texas Roadhouse and free chili from Petro’s.  The shirts for both races were also very nice and unique.  We made a quick trip to the mall before heading home so I could get as much sleep as possible before race day.  photo 2 (27)

The Farragut 13.1 had a 9am start so I was lucky enough to get a little extra sleep before getting ready for the race. Earlier in the week, the meteorologists had called for snow so a lot of people were concerned what race day weather would bring.  We were fortunate enough to only get a light dusting on our cars but some of my coworkers had over a foot of snow at their houses (no exaggeration).  The wind was blustery and was cold enough to really make you shiver.  There was a big turn out for the race and it was very well organized although I was glad we picked up our packets the previous day.  I didn’t have a goal in mind but just wanted to finish so that I could get through the entire weekend. photo 3 (24)

I made it comfortably through the first three miles at a consistent pace but the hills began to wear me out and I took a lot of walk breaks.  So many other runners were very supportive so it was nice to socialize while out there suffering.  I ran when I could and walked when I ran out of breath or when my legs were starting to hurt.  I made it to the 10 mile mark just under two hours which was the only original goal I had set for myself.  Around mile 11 I completely bonked.  My legs refused to move forward and we were running on a cement sidewalk.  It became impossible for me to push myself mentally but I just kept the goal of the end in mind.  Finally I could see the hill that led to the finish line and I powerwalked my way up it.  There were lots of cheers from the sidelines and I was thankful for that since it gave me the strength to run the remaining tenth to the finish line.  My chip time was 2:43:26.  Not close to my best but far from my worst.  Bryan met me at the finish line and could tell that I was obviously in pain.  We headed to the food area and I was able to get some pizza, donuts, chocolate milk, BBQ, and chili.  It was the best post race food of all time.  And after a freezing cold and painful run, it tasted wonderful. photo 2 (26)

After a brief chat, I was able to head home to recover.  I stopped by the grocery store for a few items and to buy a foam roller.  Once at home, I took a nice hot shower to thaw out and then put on some compression sleeves.  I wasn’t really in pain, but my body was tired. I had Chick-fil-a for dinner and just lounged around for the rest of the day and into the evening.  My beloved Tennessee Volunteers were playing football that night but I could not even manage to stay awake for the miraculous overtime win.  photo 1 (25)

Daylight savings time became my instant best friend since I got to sleep so late the following morning.  The Foothills Half started at 2pm so I enjoyed being able to sleep in, take it easy, and mentally prepare myself for the second race.  I woke up a little tight, but nothing compared to what I had anticipated.  This race was a lot smaller and we were able to park directly next to the start line.  I will complain that this race had ankle bracelets for timing chips and those have chafed my ankles pretty badly in the past so I improvised and attached it to my shoe.  I found a group of ladies that I had done some long runs with in the summer and decided I would stay with them.  They were doing a 3:1 run/walk ratio and that was exactly what I needed to get through this race.  We were moving along and I was feeling great.  I told the lady I was running beside that I couldn’t believe it felt that easy.  The course monitors were so supportive and helpful at every crossing. photo 4 (23) photo 5 (16)

A bit into the race some of the group I was with had to take a bathroom stop.  Another lady and I continued on but the other group had the interval beeper so we decided to just run until we were ready for a walk break.  This continued on for the next several miles.  Around mile 9, my legs really began to feel the extreme fatigue.  It actually hurt worse to walk than it did to run.  We made it across the big pedestrian bridge that crosses to a new section of the greenway and I told my partner to go on without me.  From then on it was a mental struggle but I had approached those who chose to make the early start.  I made it my goal to start passing people and it kept my mind off the pain and fatigue I was feeling. Before I knew it, I was approaching the finish line.  The path to the finish was a nice straight downhill finish and there were lots of spectators and supporters lining the greenway cheering for finishers.  My finish time for this race was 2:46:27 which was only 3:01 slower than the day before. photo 1 (26)

Once I finished and collected both my finisher’s medal and my double medal, I was able to grab some food.  They were serving grilled cheese sandwiches which was DELIGHTFUL after a race, plus some chocolate milk.  Surprisingly I felt superb.  My legs were definitely aching but I felt so much better than I did after the finish on the prior day.  Maybe it was the adrenaline, but I did not feel dead to the world.  Once the sun started to go down it got pretty chilly so we took some photos and I headed home.  photo 3 (23)

I was starving last night since I wasn’t really able to eat that much before or after the race so I ordered myself a nice pizza and some cinnamon sticks.  Delicious.  After a hot shower and some Tylenol, I was more than ready for bed. This is probably too much information but I now have a lovely black toenail which I’m pretty sure is going to fall off but in some bizarre and morbid way I am glad I have it because that means that I worked hard.  I woke up in the same exact position that I fell asleep in which is absolutely not normal for me.  I woke up this morning feeling a little sore but great overall.  Today and tomorrow will definitely be a rest day and I will continue to focus on recovery before starting training again.

It is hard to believe this big goal of two half marathons in one weekend is already over.  Reflecting on this weekend, I have decided I would definitely do another double weekend which is a good thing since there will probably be more doubles involved in the future if I plan on racing every state.  If you have the opportunity to do a double weekend then I would highly recommend it…especially if extra medals are involved.

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon (& Vacation)

Around this time last year, I pitched the idea to Brittney that there was a race in Myrtle Beach that had an awesome medal and that we should take a trip to participate in it.  Little did I know that she took me very seriously and actually registered us for the race as my Christmas present.  Can you say best Christmas gift ever?   We quickly planned our week from there and went ahead and booked a condo for four days.  Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago when Brittney’s husband got a new job in a new city.  They bought a house and were scheduled to close on their new home right when we should have been laying on the beach so we were sort of at a loss as to what to do.  We ended up compromising so that my handsome fella and I would head to the beach on Thursday (instead of Wednesday) and then Brittney and Cameron would join us Friday night after they closed on their house.  Talk about a tight time frame.  photo 1 (2)

So, this past Thursday morning, my fella and I headed to South Carolina to start our vacation.  We were able to check in early (hallelujah) and we immediately parked our butts on the beach.  Since I had only ever visited Myrtle Beach in the summer months, I was pleasantly surprised as to how nice and warm the weather was.  There is no better  view that the vast ocean with the sand between your toes.  photo 2 (2)

Friday we made sure to be at the beach as much as possible.  I got in a three mile walk by the ocean that morning to get my legs ready for the half on Sunday and that really helped get the day off to a good start.  It was so nice to be able to lay on the sand all day listening to the waves.  Thankfully that relaxation allowed me to take a little one hour nap on my quilt.  Before heading to dinner we stopped by packet pickup.  It was in a beautiful hotel and was very well organized.  The expo was bigger than I was expecting and the race apparel was on point although I didn’t actually purchase anything.  We had received two complimentary tickets to the Medieval Times dinner show so we treated ourselves to dinner there after picking up our race bibs.   I love free things.  Cameron and Brittney made it to the condo Friday night and we all sat in the hot tub until staff kicked us out.  Vacationing with friends is so much more fun!   photo 3 (1) photo 4 (1)

Saturday was spent vegging out on the beach.  We took a break to grab lunch at one of my favorite seafood joints, Mrs. Fish, and then made sure we laid by the ocean for the remainder of the day.  It was hard to remember that we actually  had to race a half marathon the next morning but we didn’t let that damper our good time.  We braved the freezing cold water and actually went swimming in the ocean for a little bit.  That evening we headed out to take some beautiful photos on the pier before grabbing dinner.  We picked out a nice little oceanfront restaurant in the center of town and chowed down on some fantastic food.  Nothing we ordered was even a remotely smart choice for a pre-race meal but hey, you only live once.  My footlong chili dog tasted wonderful and luckily didn’t bother me on race day.  After getting full we headed back to the hotel to soak in the hot tub with some interesting Canadians we met before heading to the room for an early bedtime.  photo 5 (1) photo 1 (5)  photo (8)photo 2 (4) photo 3 (3)photo 4 (2)

Race morning came very quickly and I woke up before my alarm.  I was excited with a few nerves.  We weren’t going out there with a goal time in mind but I was scared about all the things that could go wrong during the race.  The morning was very low-key which helped calm the jitters.  Brittney and I let our gentlemen sleep in and we drove ourselves to the start line.  The start was held in a mall parking lot which was very convenient.  Everything was well organized and we never felt confused as to where to go.  I will say the port-a-potty line was the longest I had ever seen but it seemed like there were dozens of them so maybe everyone just waited until the last minute.  We lined up in the 12 minute mile corral and were totally fine with that.  The only goal was to run as long as we could at the beginning and then start intervals.  photo (7)

Once the gun went off, we made our way around the perimeter of the mall which took about one mile.  Brittney and I were running a steady pace as we headed out onto Grissom Parkway which is where we would be for several more miles.  As each mile went by I tried not to look at my watch but I did take note that we were running a consistent pace.  The water stops were very well stocked with plenty of volunteers.  Brittney grabbed water at each stop but I didn’t start taking fluids until after mile 3.  We made it to mile 4 before taking our first walk break.  It felt good to give our legs a rest and we could really feel how beneficial it was once we started running again. We made it to mile 5 and took another walk break.  This basically became our strategy for the remainder of the race.  We would run to a mile marker and then take a quick break that was usually around 1-2 minutes.  Surprisingly our pace rarely dropped due to our walk breaks.  I will chalk it up to us subconsciously running faster during the running portions to make up for the walk breaks.

There was a lot of crowd support and we both continued to feel good for most of the race.  It was a welcome relief to finally get to Ocean Blvd where we would finish the race.  The wind was strong and very chilly on our skin but it was much needed since the sun was out in full force.  Brittney and I pushed each other through each mile and just kept the finish line in mind.  Around mile 11, my legs really started to hurt.  They were heavy and hurting and that is not a good combination.  I later learned that mile 11 and 12 were some of our fastest splits of the day.  How does that happen?!?!  We could see people on the streets walking back to their hotels with their race medals so that kept us motivated to press forward.  Right around the 12.5 mile mark we saw our men standing to cheer for us. We actually didn’t notice them until we were right beside them or else we would have made a better effort for a good photo.   photo (6)

We could see the turn to the boardwalk ahead and I was elated.   The finish line had been directly next to our restaurant the previous night so we knew exactly what we were about to experience.  The boardwalk was very windy and twisted and people were cheering everywhere.  It was a truly magical feeling running the final sprint directly beside the ocean.  We finished strong and we also finished right behind a couple which ruined the photos that Cameron and TJ were all set up to take.  Seriously if we had planned better, then we would have had beautiful finish photos.  Oh well.  photo 2 (3)

After making our way through the finish chute and collecting our massive medals, we headed right down to the beach to soak up the views and to take some photos.  I think every race should finish beside the ocean.  The medal was huge but was unique in that it had a heavy magnet on the back and the ribbon was velcro so you could remove it and place it on your refrigerator.  It was definitely a medal worth running for.

Our official time was 2:35:40 which was incredible for us.  We haven’t been training for this race and given the horrendous food choices we made (hello, it is vacation), we were super pleased with the time. We had sort of imagined a 2:45 or even 2:50.  This makes it my 4th fastest half to date.  This race was also my 14th half marathon and it marked off my 6th state on my quest to do a half in every state.  photo 3 (2)

The race offered shuttle buses from the finish back to the mall but luckily Cameron and TJ drove us back.  Once we picked up the other car from the start it was back to the condo to shower, pack, and check out.  We sat on the balcony for a bit taking in some last minute ocean views.  Before leaving Myrtle Beach we stopped at River City Cafe for some delicious burgers.  I will always stand by the statement that burgers and fries are the perfect post-race meal.  My burger of choice was the fried mac and cheese burger and boy was it wonderful.  I was so glad to have my belly full before making the long drive back to East Tennessee.  photo 1 (3)

I’m taking today and tomorrow as a rest day even though I’m not really sore at all today.  I do have a blister under one of my toes but I’m keeping it doctored up nicely.  This was a great race with superb race organization.  We loved the course and the event as a whole.  The fact that we turned it into a couple’s retreat made it even better.  Today it is back to reality but I’m very thankful for a refreshing and relaxing vacation.  When is the next one?