How I Accidentally Ran a Half-Marathon

Yes, you read that correctly. I accidentally ran a half-marathon. (I ended up covering 13.18 miles in 2:19:35…but we’ll get to that.)

I’ve run a half-marathon every year since 2012, when I ran the Disney Princess Half-Marathon. I was just remarking the other day that I probably wouldn’t run a half this year, due to the hassle of scheduling a race around my classes. I did run the 2016 Rock ‘n Roll Philly Half-Marathon, but it was the day after a 12-hour shift at the hospital, and it was honestly a grueling experience I do not want to repeat.

(Don’t be fooled by my smile. It was tough, and slow.)

I’d pretty much resigned myself to breaking my (official) streak.

I was having one of those mornings where being in my head felt pretty awful. Luckily, running has been a pretty solid way for me to shake it off. I started my watch with no particular goal in mind. I would just run until I felt okay.

Now, you have to keep in mind, I haven’t been running regularly lately – maybe once a week. So it was pretty wild that I managed to run such a good “race.”

The first mile of a run almost always feels shaky to me. My body seems to be saying, “You’re doing this again? Why, please? You’re so close to the couch!”

At mile three, I still felt terrible. I hoped it was just taking time for me to get in the groove. Mile five was no better, so I kept going. I was two neighborhoods away from my own during mile eight, but still no closer to feeling better, so I kept going.

This flooding water fountain was a heavenly sight at mile 10.

I started feeling a bit better (and a bit exhausted!) around mile 12. But then I was so close to a half! So I turned around at the entrance to my neighborhood (which would have left me at 12.25 miles) to do a little loop. That twelfth mile slayed me. I just wanted to be done. Physically, I felt okay. Mentally, I was spent. I felt like…what was the point? Why did I just run a half for absolutely no reason?!

You can kind of see my lack of training in my splits. Yikes. (9:50, 9:44, 9:56, 9:50, 10:08, 10:18, 9:54, 10:13, 11:09, 11:23 (WATER!), 11:45 (wait…I still have to run?), 12:01 (okay, I’m ready to be done), 11:15.)

Well…I wanted to prove I could make it. I’m just making it through every day. Most days I am just satisfied I’m surviving. But sometimes, I’m pretty freakin’ happy with myself, and today is one of those days.

I may break my official streak, but I’m happy to say I’ve still run my 2017 race, even if it was unplanned.

 

The Return of the Run

It’s been a really long time since I last posted. This semester was one of the toughest of my life, with a family crisis and one of the most challenging academic semesters in college. Despite all the hectic times and crazy stress, as things are winding down, I’m realizing I have never been so happy or so fortunate before in my life.

Quick Recap:

-I ran a half-marathon in 2:35

-I fell in love with my work and with my staff at The New Paltz Oracle and pulled my first all-nighter at the paper

-I was elected and promoted to features editor at The Oracle for fall 2013

-I spent many, many hours in the J-school dungeon labs

-I threw myself into my production classes and pushed myself to become a better producer and a better journalist

-I ate a ridiculous amount of chocolate and developed an addiction strong affinity for coffee

It’s good to be back, though. I’ve missed the writing, the connection to people and the blogging community.

The semester is winding down and I’m looking forward to the summer. I’ve been so incredibly fortunate to have been selected as one of the 2013 ASME interns (American Society of Magazine Editors) this summer. I’ll be working at one of my dream magazines in the city and I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity.

Additionally, I finally splurged and bought one of my favorite running books: Run Less, Run Faster: Become a Faster, Stronger Runner with the Revolutionary 3-Run-a-Week Training Program.

I did formal speedwork for the first time ever this week! I hate speedwork in theory, but I adore it in practice. I’m aiming for a faster 5k and hopefully this plan can finally help me break that elusive 30:00 mark in a 5k. I admit it, I’m a turtle. But maybe I won’t always be.

So onward and upward, friends. This blog is about to hit the city streets and things could get pretty amazing.

Resolution Recap

In lieu of making New Year’s resolutions, I made resolutions just for January. With January coming to a close, I think it’s a pretty good time for reflection.

Exercise three times per week:
I’ve been doing great with this! Except for one week, when I was sick, I swam, biked, and ran my way through January. I loved taking advantage of swimming almost every day while I spent time with my family in Florida. While I love the campus gym, nothing beats running through sunny days and swimming when it’s 80 degrees out. It was a great time!

I’m hoping to continue the trend by participating in a campus fitness challenge with my roommates. Participants earn points by attending exercise classes, rockin’ the cardio equipment and weights during open rec hours, and receiving free health assessments and personal training. I’m really excited. Working out with other people is always motivating and I love combining socializing with exercising. My two favorite things in one go? It’s a necessity for every time-pressed person.

Eat a little bit better: Although I admit I fall back on sugar for an energy boost sometimes, I only had two cups of coffee for all of January! I’ve also been eating yogurt almost every day and slurping down orange juice (well, sipping, in polite company). I’ve also become quite creative at the dining hall. Today, I had a hummus wrap with spinach, romaine, honey mustard, cucumbers, and grape tomatoes. It was fresh and satisfying, and definitely a new favorite in my rotation.

 

Work toward completing 50 push ups:

Okay, I admit one incomplete resolution. I was so psyched to complete push ups that I overdid it and advanced too quickly through the program with poor form. I only made it to week two before my back was killing me and I had to stop. I’m signing up for personal training sessions (free! I love student perks) in February to learn how to do things properly. The Internet is a wonderful resource, but sometimes you need a real live human to make things work.

Some January photos courtesy of my snazzy new iPhone:

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I went for some bike rides with my dad. It was just as cheesy as it sounds, but I love hanging out with my family. (We also pledged to eat healthier together and ate tons of yogurt and spinach that week.)

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My parents dropped me off two miles from where we were staying on my birthday. (At my request, of course!) I sprinted back and finished just as the sun was setting. It was a perfect end to my twentieth birthday after mini golf and classic 50s burgers and fries for a late lunch.

January was great, and I hope 2013 continues the positivity and energy that flowed in for me this month.

 

Sidetracked

I’ve been sick for over a week now, and I still have a persistent deep cough. Frustration!

I was doing well and chugging orange juice like I was a sponsor for Tropicana, so most of my symptoms have gone away.

(And in case you’re wondering, Googling “is it safe to exercise with a cough?” over and over does not change the search results. I tried.)

I have asthma, and regular exercise has been a great way to strengthen my lungs. But once I’m stuck with a cold, I feel like it’s forever before I can work out again. I jogged to the dining hall and it felt like an awfully far distance. I told myself to stop being so stubborn and to listen to my body (ignoring my body has brought me trouble many times before).

Even though I can’t be exercising right now, I’m still trying to be mindful and healthy. I cram my meals with whole grains and orange juice. I’ve been researching new treadmill workouts to try (love this one from FITNESS!)

On the bright side, I have plenty of time to enjoy all the goodies from the 2012 Student Communications Career Conference! It was a wonderful experience thanks to the New York Women in Communications Foundation.

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Do you have any get-quicker-faster tips?

I try to sleep so much that my roommate tells me I resemble Rip Van Winkle.

Class registration just ended! What’s the coolest class you’ve ever had?

I’m super excited for my Evolution of Women’s Magazines class next semester!
 

Small Steps

Well, I’m back from vacation, and before I start talking about how incredible the trip was (with lots of photos), I’d like to talk a little bit about beginnings.

Running is not easy.

I talked with a friend today who was considering starting to run, but was discouraged for reasons I’ll not list here.  So many people are discouraged or worried when starting running (or any exercise, really), if they are new.  I love chatting about races and half-marathons, but my newbie days are still that…new. 

Now that I have a concussion (l was in a minor car accident while I was away), I’m not going to be running for quite a while.  I haven’t exercised at all for two weeks and *just* started water jogging today.  Small steps.

But you know what?  That’s what it is, in the beginning.  As a runner, you are always talking small steps for improvement.

Like much of the world, I recently read the cover story of The Atlantic in which Ann-Marie Slaughter speaks about “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” an excellent article which you can read here if you haven’t already.  It’s well worth the time.

One of her points was that women should think of their careers as plateaus, not as a ladder.  I strongly agree with this (and as a bit of a workaholic, and a woman, I think I should talk about this in another post), but I also think it applies to running.

Many competitive athletes will rise and rise and rise again and keep besting their abilities and pushing their talents.  These people are incredibly dedicated and talented, no doubt, but I’m speaking to the hobbyist, human runner.  You know, those people who have time-consuming jobs (but doesn’t everyone), or families with little kids to raise, or an intensive relationship, or are building their first home, or [insert anything that takes up time here].

Most of us, however much we love running, cannot dedicate our lives to running.  It is simply a facet of our personalities, and for some, a way of life.

I have a history of being injured.  Not necessarily from running, but life tends to get in the way.  I become sick frequently, I tore my Achilles tendon, I have weak ankles, and now, two weeks ago, I was in a car accident and I have a concussion as a result.

With me getting injured so much, it’s hard not to get discouraged.  After the time off, I’ll have lost a lot of progress and in order to let my body adapt in a healthy manner, I’ll have to think like a beginner.  No matter how fast I ran my usual route before, I’ll have to take it slowly.

This is not a bad thing.  It’s good to have a little perspective on how far you’ve come.

But it can be very, very frustrating.

So I’m thinking of my running career lately as a plateau.

I ran a little as a beginner, got much faster when I joined lacrosse, and then plateaued, as I focused on my stick skills and ball drills.  Running wasn’t as important as my ability to catch and cradle at the time. 

I returned to running during the off-season to become a better player, achieving my fastest mile time yet, but then I got injured and plateaued again–I had to put running on the back burner and I focused on my studies as I looked toward college.  When I healed, I had a strong season of running, but I got sick frequently during the fall.  While my strength didn’t drop, I just focused on maintaining and hoping I could make it through the Disney Princess Half-Marathon.  I plateaued there as I took a break to work on my studies (I pour myself into my academics and make my class schedule much harder in the spring for some reason). 

I took a break to enjoy being home, and started running again, running much faster 2-mile negative splits.

Now, the concussion.  I’m trying to look on the bright side and taking this time of being sedentary to focus on my writing, cherish my family, go on lots of dates and even plan a party, things I tend to lose focus on when I train my body hard.

So.  Plateaus.  You’re not falling off the ladder if you’re injured–you’re plateauing.

Anyway, I’ve spoken to so many people who have said: “I can’t run because I’m a couch potato/overweight/a sprinter/not flexible/too old” or some reason or other.

I am generally an agreeable person, but here I say: NO.

You can do this.  I firmly believe that almost ANYONE can start running, regardless of age or experience or body composition, as long as you start gradually and build slowly.*

I feel so strongly about this since I was always NOT an athlete. I was always the last person picked for sports teams in gym, person lapped a zillion times during fitness tests, could barely run down the block, much less a mile. I was also overweight (not extremely, but enough to make me feel drained even walking up some hills). I’m not saying this to be all woe-is-me or anything, but just to show you about how far I’ve come.

When I started to run, I had ZERO DESIRE to run AT ALL. I thought runners were on crack or something. I just wanted to prove to the world that I could do it, that I could run a mile (or more). Like sage, my mile when I was younger was around14+ minutes. If you listen to your body and you integrate things slowly (couch to 5k is awesome and I have coached several of my friends using that program), you should be able to do it. It’s just important to go slowly.

And I was totally afraid of running outside when I started. I have the club on the indoor track of the gym for the same reason. There’s this self-generated feeling of invalidity (that I still get sometimes, honestly, it’s hard to think of myself as an athlete despite how much I run/swim/whatever) when I used to run outside that people would make fun of me, or even just me plodding along was not a victory in itself (which just reeks of hallmark card, but I’m going to leave it out there, because it’s damn true).

But once I got over some fears and pushed past my but-I’m-not-an-athlete thoughts, to prove myself, running changed my life in ways I never thought it would.

Starting is difficult. It may suck in the beginning, and it can test your patience. Like some things, I’ve found it easy to fall in and out of love with running. It takes work, and time, and dedication.
^You could replace running with writing in this paragraph, one of my other passions, and it would still fit.

So I say: Get out there.  Try, try, try.  It takes a long time to fall in love with running.  I’m not going to say you get a runner’s high right away, or your legs become svelte the second you finish your first three mile run.  It’s a process, and the process is a continuing one.

But I believe in you, and you should, too.

*Please consult a physician before you start running.  I am not an expert; these are solely my beliefs.  Please do your research!  I highly recommend the Couch-to-5k program for its gradual approach.  You can find it here.

Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part IV

I was getting tired.  I had passed double digits, there were no more characters on the road, and I was overwhelmed that I had less than a 5k to go.  Many, many people were walking at this point, but I kept up a slow jog.  I was still feeling good (I had to use my inhaler again around mile 9, right when I passed the Central Florida Accordion Club playing Disney tunes (it’s a real thing).

Careful spectators (or Disney workers?  There were people with camping chairs cheering runners on, including little kids.  High-fiving a little girl lifted my spirits) had placed pine cones in a YOU ROCK formation.  Hehe.

Mile 11!  I was overwhelmed.  I’ve always liked the number 11, and I was especially glad to see it here.  “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” started playing on repeat in my head….

Right around this point, there was a turn and we headed (slightly) uphill.  Now, I go to college next to the mountains, and I didn’t think it was a big deal, but it was definitely an incline and we were all tired at this point.  There was an announcer with a video camera and microphone, and as you ran by, he asked you where you were from.  It was pretty cool (I said my college town, not my hometown, because I had already heard someone say my hometown).

I knew I was going to finish with a smile on my face.  I was so, so excited….

And they must have heard me humming, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” because I got to pose with Mushu, too:

I was so tired at this point.  I remember passing an older spectator in a wheelchair with a sign that almost made me cry…I just wish I could remember what it said!  I was too tired to take a picture…if anyone remembers what it said, it would be awesome!  She was after the characters, but before entering Epcot.

I see the ball!  I was grateful that it was almost over, and was feeling really tired.

Chip AND Dale?!  Awesome, awesome.  I knew the finish line was close and I was excited to run through the World Showcase…or so I thought.

I consider myself a Disney enthusiast, but I’m still puzzled as to whose Fairy Godmother this was.  The fairy godmother of runners?!  Maybe….

I was really, really looking forward to running through Epcot and finally finishing! Yeah!

Just kidding…you don’t really run through Epcot.  You just run slightly under the monorail, into a little turnabout, and run right back out the way you came.  I was sad (note to self: CAREFULLY READ course description!).  It wasn’t a big deal (I had most been looking forward to running through the MK, anyway), but at this point in the race, it was a let-down.  I did, however, hear tons of things about the gospel choir that was coming up near mile 13!

Right before the gospel choir, it started to drizzle.  I whipped out my camera to take a photo of mile marker 13, and my lens got a little foggy.

But then I saw the finish! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

There weren’t too many spectators at this point, but it was still really cool.  One of the spectators I saw throughout the race must have been following someone close to my pace, because I saw his just keep swimming sign several times.

I picked up my speed to run through the finish line.  Then I did a double-take and ran in the OPPOSITE direction from the finish. I almost missed THIS:

The perfect photo finish!  Now only if my lens hadn’t been foggy…I still think it’s pretty cute, though.  (Do I look like I just ran a half-marathon?!)

After I waited for my parents (unfortunately, they got stuck on a monorail when it broke down, and missed me finishing by minutes), we took the bus back to the hotel and showered.  I was too revved up to sleep and I was dying to go to the parks to show off my medal.  So we headed to Hollywood Studios.  On no sleep, pretty much, having been up since three am.

I’m exhausted, but happy.  We grabbed something to eat:

Then we went on Star Tours, watched a parade, and I started to have a gigantic headache.  It’s hard to fight your body, even if you really want to have fun.  We headed back to the hotel for some much-needed snooze time.

Then later that night, around 7, we headed back to Hollywood Studios!  Even though I know it’s not MGM anymore, sometimes I still call it that….

We caught my favorite Disney show in the history of Disney shows…Fantasmic!  I bought a giant Mickey rice krispy treat (that would be a giant rice krispies treat shaped like a Mickey head, covered in chocolate, and covered in M&M’s on top of that…yum.  I was definitely thinking about getting one of these at mile 10!)

We rode Toy Story Mania (another great ride!), Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (okay…only I did), The Great Movie Ride, and the Tower of Terror.  I had never been on this last one (my mom has been teasing me, saying she’s going to take me on it since I was five).  Supernatural things and heights scare me (even though I LOVE roller coasters…go figure), and some people in the lobby were saying it was the scariest ride in Disney and be prepared to be terrified…I was cursing like a sailor the whole time (the elevator was pretty empty), but the drop was really mild!  I was pleasantly surprised and I thought the coolest part was when the doors opened and we got to see the whole park lit up at night.  My mom thinks it would be cooler during the day, because you can see more, but I always think rides at night tend to have just a little bit more magic.

As if I didn’t have enough sugar in my life (true fact: every stomach has a compartment just for dessert.  The dessert compartment.  This is how I always managed to go, “I’m sooo full,” when I ate real food and still had room for dessert.  Now you know!

Mmm, ice cream sundae.  Delish.  We took the bus back to the hotel and I fell asleep quickly.  What a magical day.

Oh, man.  After this series of posts, I’d love to go back to Disney.  My roomie plans to run the Tower of Terror 10-Miler in two years, and I think that’s probably the next time I’ll be back.  Have you ever been to Disney World?  What about Disneyland?

I’m a huge fan of thinking about what I’m going to eat after the race to get myself through some tough mileage…do you ever think about food when you run/work out?  How do you motivate yourself?