Lincoln National Guard Half Marathon Recap

Some days you have good running days and others are bad ones. Yesterday was a bad one for me.

Lincoln Half Marathon 2015

I mentioned in my yearly goals post awhile back that I wanted to run this half marathon in 2 hours. That didn’t happen. In fact, I didn’t even come close. I’m I bummed? Yeah I am. I’m really competitive with myself and I wanted to reach that goal so badly but some things came up that just got in the way of my goal.

Lincoln Half Marathon 2015

Starting with the night before the race. One of our dogs, Madison, has become petrified of thunderstorms. After an hour of sleep, I woke up to her pacing, panting and shaking in bed. My husband was out of town and he’s the dog whisperer who can calm her down but I had no luck. I tried everything I could to get her to go back to sleep but nothing helped. So we sat awake in bed waiting for the storms to pass. After all was said and done, I got about 3 hours of sleep #fail.

My next #fail moment came as I was driving to the race. It’s in Lincoln which is about 50 mins from our house. at 5:40 am, when I was about 10 minutes away, I realized I FORGOT MY RUNNING SHOES AT HOME. Way to go Ashley. Enter panic mode as I debated about driving back home, which I could have done, but I was worried about finding parking since I would arrive back just as the race was starting. Since it takes 45 minutes for all the pace groups to leave the start line I knew it was a possibility to make it back home but I didn’t want to risk it. Instead, I found the nearest 24 hour Walmart and bought a $22 pair of running shoes. Honestly, they weren’t horrible to run in. But I do have massive blisters all over my feet now.

Lincoln Half Marathon 2015

My final #fail moment came in the leading days up to the race. The forecast called for a high of 88 degrees and that is unseasonably high for this time of the year. I had prepared for it to be 30-40 degrees at the start which is the perfect race temperature for me. Instead it was 65 degrees with 80% humidity.

To those who don’t run, this may seem like an ideal running temperature but it’s not. When you run, your body thinks it’s 20 degrees warmer than the temperature outside. I thought I would be able to push through it, but after 2 miles I felt my face on fire and decided to stop running with 2:10 pace group. I could tell I was already overheating so I stopped and took off my compression sleeves and decided that slow and steady wins the race.

Lincoln Half Marathon

I had to take way more walking breaks than I ever have before and honestly I thought about dropping out a few times because I just couldn’t handle the sun in the cloudless sky beating down on me. Could I have pushed myself to run a little bit more? Yeah I probably could. But, to me, my health and safety was more important than getting a PR today.

Lincoln Half Marathon 2015

Lincoln Half Marathon 2015

While I’m still a little bummed over my performance, my husband reminded me that I finished and that’s the most important thing. At the expo on Saturday, I was talking to a woman who asked if I was running the full marathon. I respond with “No, just the half.” She looked me square in the eye and said “No, it’s not just a half, you’re running THE HALF!.” That really stuck with me as I ran today. If running 13.1 miles were easy, then everyone would do it.

Lincoln Half Marathon 2015

So, here’s to earning another medal and knowing that there are plant of more half marathons in the future where I can reach my goal.

What To Eat For Running Fuel

When I first began running, I had no idea how important eating the right fuel before, during and after a run would be. It didn’t take me long to realize how essential each of these are to give your body the fuel it needs to get through and recover from a long run. Over the years I’ve learned what works for me and wanted to share some of these ideas with you. Remember though, what works for me may not work for you. Experiment with different foods to see what helps you to perform your best.

Running Fuel

I think it’s extremely essential to have a little something in your stomach before you run. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but sticking to a protein and carb will help give you the fuel you need to run. My go-to race morning breakfast is 2 pieces of wheat toast and peanut butter. I don’t like to  have a full stomach before I run and this is just enough to help me get going before I run without making me feel sick.

When it comes to fuel during a run, I only worry about eating something if I know I’m going to be running longer than an hour. I stick to a snack that is 50-100 calories and is easy to eat and digest. I’m not a fan of the texture of the gu packets so I stick to a gummy running fuel instead. Clif Shot Bloks are easy to break off and eat while you run. Two of my other favorites are Jelly Belly Sport Beans and Sharkies because both are in small enough bags that fit into your pocket shorts.

It’s also so important to stay hydrated during your run. I like to carry a water bottle with me while I run just in case I get thirsty and there’s no where to stop to get a drink. I only drink a few sips of water after I finish each mile. When I’m running a race, I alternate each mile with water and then a sports drink. Gatorade is my favorite but if you don’t like certain kinds of sports drinks, check out what the race course will be serving before you get to the start line of the race. You’ll want to be prepared with what you like to drink just in case the race is handing out a sports drink you don’t like.

Finally after a long run, don’t forget to fuel your body back. I know it’s easy to want to relax and take a nap, but it’s essential to get something into your stomach. Again, everybody is different so try out some different foods to see what your body likes. Quest bars are one of my favorite things to eat, especially the cookie dough flavor!

DISCLAIMER :: Some of the links above do contain affiliate links. As always, I appreciate your support :) 

QUESTION // What’s your favorite treat to eat after you run?

Pure Barre for Runners

Right now I’m in the midst of training for my 7th half marathon. I started running half marathons 3 1/2 years ago as a way to challenge myself. I often get into the same workout rut  and I thought that having something to train for would give me a little boost to my exercise routine. It’s true what they say about running competitively. After you’ve done it once, you want to do it again. While I don’t run many races each year, the few that I do help to keep me to push myself outside of my comfort zone and stick to a training routine.

Since I’ve caught the running bug, I’ve always struggled with incorporating other workouts into my exercise regime. I’m a firm believer that if I’m not breaking a sweat then I didn’t work out hard enough which I know is not entirely true. I run a few times a week and I’ve always struggled with sticking to a stretching/yoga once a week routine. It all goes back to the I need to do cardio and strength training to feel like I got a good workout in.

Pure Barre for Runners

This is why I’m so glad that I discovered Pure Barre. While it’s a low impact exercise, it’s a full body workout that challenges me and I sweat like crazy during class. Since I’ve been starting to increase my running mileage with my half marathon approaching, I’ve started to notice that running isn’t as hard as it used to be for me. I feel lighter on my feet, I’m not in as much pain after a long run and it almost feels easy to me to run for awhile now. And I’m crediting all of this to Pure Barre. Here’s why ::

  • Stretching

While Pure Barre is all about lifting, toning and burning your muscles, one of the biggest things I love about it is the stretch after we work each muscle group. Even though I’m not anywhere near as flexible as I was in my days as a dancer, I’ve noticed improvement in how far I can go in my stretching now. All of the stretching in class has lead to less injury and soreness before, during and after my runs.

  • Total Body Workout

You work everything in class from your arms to abs to seat to thighs. It’s a total body workout and a great replacement workout from doing just free weights at the gym.

  • Low Impact Exercise

As runners, we don’t want to run consecutive days in a row. Running is such a high impact workout for your whole body that you need some rest in between your runs. Pure Barre is such a great alternative because it’s low impact while still getting in a great full body workout.

  • Core Muscle Strength

The ab work in Pure Barre classes are no joke. There’s a solid 10 minutes of abs but since you are also balancing and using the ball in exercises in class your abs are always engaged. My core has never felt or looked stronger and this has really helped me in my long runs.

  • Stronger Feet

Is it even possible to get stronger feet? I’m not sure if there’s a scientific answer to this but I believe mine have gotten stronger. Since you do class in socks it forces your feet to work harder than they normally do. I used to suffer from plantar fasciitis which was so painful in the arches of my feet. I haven’t noticed any pain in my foot after my runs and lucky for my husband, he doesn’t need to massage my feet anymore!

  • Challenging For Your Body And Mind

Not only will your muscles shake during class because you’re working them in new ways, but class also challenges your mind because it requires you to focus. It’s almost like meditative time for me. Having this dual challenge has helped me in my running because it causes me to only focus on my run and nothing else around me.

 

QUESTION // Do you take Pure Barre? Are you training for any races right now?

Gift Guide :: Runners

Time is ticking fast and if you haven’t already, it’s time to get your Christmas shop on! I’ve already shared a few of my favorite gift guides, and today I’m sharing some of my favorite running items. All of the items in this gift guide are perfect for the runner in your life or someone who likes to workout. Here’s a rundown of what are some great gifts to give the athlete in your life.

Class Passes

A lot of fitness enthusiasts often like to try out new classes. With so many fitness boutiques and studios across the country, there are endless possibilities on class passes. Two of my favorite classes are Pure Barre and Flywheel.

Gym Bag

Everyone needs a good gym bag to hold their workout essentials. My current bag is the Gaiam Everything Fits Bag and it can work for any type of workout. It’s large enough to hold your clothes and has a separate compartment for your shoes and can also hold a yoga mat.

Arm Band
So many people use arm bands to hold their phones while they workout so this is a great and inexpensive gift idea. Just remember to know what type of phone they have so you get the correct arm band.

Workout Clothes

I’m a firm believer that everyone feels better in a new outfit so why not get them a new pair of shorts to sport at the gym or a tank top. Both Nike and Target have some of my all-time favorite workout clothes.

Water Bottle Packs

If you know someone who is a long distance runner, getting a water pack is a great idea for their next training run or race. My favorite one that I have is the handheld water bottle. Another option for people who like to keep their hands free during a run is a hydration belt.

Running Watch

One of the best investments I made for running was my watch. I have a Garmin Forerunner 10 and it’s a great piece that helps to keep my training in check. Mine is a pretty basic watch that tracks your total distance and running pace but it’s worked great for all of my half marathons and even my full marathon.

Compression Socks or Sleeves

I think compression socks or sleeves make all the difference in your recovery after a race. I’ve worn a pair for every race I’ve done for the past few years and it really has shortened my recovery time. I recently received a pair of Pro Compression socks to try out and I couldn’t wait to give them a try on my latest race which was a Thanksgiving Drumstick Dash. Prior to this, I’ve only used compression sleeves and not socks. I was really glad I had these as socks this time because it was so cold for this morning race. With temperatures in the teens, I wore them underneath a pair of running tights. I haven’t run outside on concrete in awhile so after the race I was a little sore but I know that having the compression socks on made me less sore than I ever would have been without them. An added bonus was that they helped to keep my legs warm on this cold morning! I always though that compression socks would be too tight but I was completely wrong. These didn’t feel tight at all on my feet and were not only comfortable to wear on my run but are soft too!

Pro Compression socks have arch support which as any runner knows is an important quality to have in a pair of socks. They has lots of fun sock colors to choose from including a sock of the month which is a new sock every month that has a discount too!

Pro Compression Sleeves  Pro Compression Sleeves

Another way that I’ve used compression sleeves for is when I’m traveling. When I traveled to Italy back in September, I wore compression sleeves underneath my pants during my flight. Having to sit for 9 hours on a long-haul flight was not going to be the best thing for my legs so wearing the compression sleeves helped to keep the blood flowing in my legs. I’ve also worn my compression sleeves for the days following a race because, again, it helps to get the blood flowing in your legs and break up the lactic acid build up in your legs which decreases your recovery time.

Pro Compression Sleeves

If you’re going to be getting a pair of compression socks or sleeves for someone on your Christmas list (or maybe for yourself!) Pro Compression is giving you a 40% off discount with the code PINK2. The code expires December 15th so happy shopping!

 *Disclaimer :: I received a pair of Pro Compression marathon socks as part of being an ambassador for Sweatpink. All opinions are my own and all other items mentioned[Tweet “Top gifts for runners for the holidays #sweatpink”] were purchased by me.

My Top Tips For Healthy Eating

Since I focused on fitness tips last week, I wanted to shift gears here and talk a little bit about healthy eating tips. Now, by no means am I dietician or an expert in this area, but over the years I’ve learned a lot not only from my personal trainers but through trial and error and these are all tips that help me to look and feel my best.

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  • Track your calories.

A lot of people believe that you should only track your calories if you’re dieting. I personally like tracking my calories each day on the MyFitnessPal app. Not only does it track calories, but it shows you if you’re lacking in any areas (i.e. too many carbs and not enough protein). To me, this app makes me more accountable and reminds me to eat healthy because I’d rather not track that I ate a cheeseburger everyday.

  • Eat 4-5 small meals throughout the day.

Eating smaller meals instead of 3 big, main meals each day helps your metabolism and keeps you full all day. Otherwise if you only eat 3 meals, you may notice you’re hungry a lot more often meaning you may overeat.

  • It’s ok to cheat.

I don’t think having an all or nothing attitude is the way to take when it comes to eating healthy. If you tell yourself “I won’t eat dessert anymore”, that just means you’re more likely to crack and eat it. I believe that everything in moderation is fine, so if you want to have ice cream after dinner, then go for it! You only live once, so may as well enjoy some treats once in awhile.

  • Set a meal plan.

I spend a little bit of time each week making a meal plan and grocery list. This helps to make sure we have a pantry and refrigerator full of good food and it makes it easier for dinner each night because we already have it planned out!

  • Learn about portion sizes, serving sizes and calories in what you eat.

This is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Have you ever just sat on the couch and ate straight from the bag of chips? I have and I know I’ve eaten one too many. Take the time to learn about serving sizes and start to serve yourself only the selected amount on there. Otherwise, you’re just overeating again and eating unwanted calories.

  • Try not to drink your calories.

Limit yourself when drinking sodas and any other drink that has calories in it. These are just empty calories that aren’t doing you a lot of nutritional value. Drink as much water as you can throughout the day. It not only will make you feel more full throughout the day, but your skin will thank you too!

  • Don’t overeat.

Do not eat until the point that you’re so full you want to unzip your pants and curl up and take a nap. I go by the motto of eat until you’re satisfied and you can always take the rest home or save it for later.

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  • Know that being healthy is 80% nutrition and 20% fitness.

It’s true, your body is made in the kitchen, not in the gym. You need to feed your body healthy fuel to make sure that you are seeing the results you want. Even if you burn 1,000 calories by running, that doesn’t mean you can eat a burger, fries, soda and an ice cream because you worked out. By fueling your body with healthy things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein, you’ll not only see a difference in your body but you’ll also feel so good too.

QUESTION // What are some of your stay healthy eating tips?

My Top Fitness Tips

If you’ve ever checked out my Fitness tab at the top of my blog, you’ll know that running is something that I’m really passionate about. Actually, fitness in general is something that I’ve become very interested in and have made a priority in my life over the past few years.

Prior to college, I was an active kid. I danced, baton twirled and ice skated so I was always off at lessons, practices and competitions so I was always moving. However, it wasn’t until I was in college that I really learned what it meant to be fit. During this time was also when I started competing in pageants that had a swimsuit portion requirement, so it was also when my parents enlisted a personal trainer to help get me into tip top shape. Now, I’m not saying I was ever not fit. But as a kid I obviously never lifted weights and as a college kid I thought grilled cheese was an acceptable dinner every night of the week.

Over 2 years with a personal trainer, I really learned a lot of fitness and eating tips that I still follow to this day. It’s because of these fitness fundamentals that I’ve been able to maintain a healthy weight and be in shape still. Obviously I’m not a fitness expert, but I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned and that have really helped me to live a healthy lifestyle the past few years. This week I’m going to share my fitness tips and next week I’ll share some of my eating tips. I’m also planning to film a blog for a week that shows what I eat for each meal during the day. I’m a big fan of watching “What I ate for dinner” videos because I often get stuck in food ruts and those videos help me to think of new ideas and food to make.

  health-and-fitness

So without further ado, here are some of my fitness tips.

  • Get moving.

It doesn’t matter if you work out multiple times a week or you haven’t worked out in years, one of the most important things you can do each day is to get up and move. It can be as simple as a walk or you can run 6 miles. Whatever works for you is what you should do. I aim to do 30 mins of cardio everyday and this ranges from long runs, to the elliptical to a walk with my dogs.

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  • Get some kind of fitness activity tracker

To help remind you to get moving, I’m a huge fan of an activity tracker. These are helpful to remind you to get up and move! I’ve had a fitbit for 2 years and I absolutely love it! It’s a good way for me to get motivated to get my goal of 10,000 steps in each day. It also syncs with the app MyFitnessPal that I use to track my calories.

  • If you still need fitness motivation, get a personal trainer.

If it’s hard for you to get into a fitness routine, or if you’re in a fitness rut, I’m also a huge fan of getting a personal trainer. You don’t need to go to one all the time, but purchasing a few sessions will help you get started. A trainer can not only show you exercises to get you started, but they can also help you with your form and technique. It also doesn’t hurt that you’re pretty much guaranteed to getting your butt kicked by them which means you’ll get a killer workout. A personal trainer, to me, is a great way to get started and get some ideas on how to start your fitness routine.

  • If you’d rather not shell out the cash for a trainer, look to Youtube and Pinterest.

I totally understand if you don’t want to pay for a personal trainer. I know they can be pricey and sometimes they get a little pushy wanting to get you to buy more sessions. You can also look to Youtube and Pinterest for LOTS and LOTS of fitness routines and workout videos to help you out.

  • Strength training is just as important as cardio.

Muscles are what help you to burn calories while at rest. You don’t need to turn into a body builder, but incorporating strength training into your routine a couple of times a week will help your body out tremendously.

  • Stretch!

I’ve mentioned it before with training to run races, but stretching and yoga will make your body feel so great, especially after a hard workout. Take the time to cool down and do some stretching afterward. Your body will thank you tomorrow.

  • Take the time to rest too.

Rest days are just as important as working out. I typically work out 6 days a week with one day of rest. Your body needs time to repair itself after working out. And if you wake up and your body isn’t feeling it that day, don’t push it. I know a lot of people often say to go workout even if you don’t feel like it because you’ll feel better afterwards, but everyone is different so just listen to your body.

  • Make the time to work out.

I often hear people say “I don’t have the time to workout, I’m too busy.” I’ve learned that if you want to stay healthy and get in shape, you need to make working out a priority. Schedule time each day to work out, just like a meeting or an appointment, carve out some time each day for yourself. I typically only work out 30-45 mins a day during the week and a little big longer on the weekend.

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It doesn’t matter if you work out on a regular basis or you’re looking to get started, I think all of these are great fitness reminders. Even I have to remind myself about these sometimes. I’m also planning to share some of my weekly workouts in the coming weeks to keep your eyes peeled for those! QUESTION // What are some of your favorite ways to work out?

Marathon Monday :: How To Recover From Running A Race

Well you’re trained for your race, conquered a new distance on race day, and now that the race is over, what do you do? Well first off, CELEBRATE! Running a race of any distance is quite the accomplishment. Whether it was your first race or you were looking to get a PR, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. I know from experience that races can go a lot of different ways. You can train all you want but weather and your body might not cooperate the day of your race. On the other hand, you can also be completely unprepared and still run a great race.

For me, after a race my celebration includes a treat. I’m a HUGE lover of sweets. Cookies, ice cream, cupcakes, donuts, cake…if it has sugar in it, I want to eat it. I like to let myself indulge after a race and not feel guilty about eating it. After all, I burned a lot of calories so it’s worth it!

Many times after a race, I get the itch to immediately sign up for another one. I often find a void in workout schedule because now I don’t have a training plan. While you are excited to get back to training, the biggest tip I can give is to take time off to recover. The longer the race you run, the longer time you need off. Typically I stick to the rule of however many miles you ran, that’s how many days you take off after the race. A 5k or 10k race shouldn’t leave you too sore afterwards, so within a few days you can get back to running. However, a half marathon or marathon really can take a toll on your body so take the time to rest and recover. Your body was pounding on the pavement for a long time and although you may feel ok, it’s still best to rest because getting back into the game too quickly can cause greater injury down the road.

One way that I love to recover is by stretching, especially with a yoga class. Taking a full hour of yoga and forcing yourself to stretch out everything will really help to make your body feel better. Runners should also do yoga on a regular basis as it helps to keep you flexible and less prone to injury.

If yoga really isn’t your thing, I highly suggest investing in a foam roller. This is like having your own personal masseuse at home and you can roll out anytime, anywhere. I like to put my favorite TV show on and roll out all parts of my body: IT band, hamstrings, calves and my back. You’ll really thank yourself later for doing this.

Also, don’t forget to hydrate and fuel your body back. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the rest of the day and if you ran longer than an hour, reach for a Gatorade to help replenish your electrolytes too.

I know it’s easier said than done, but take the time to relax and recover after a race. Letting your muscles get back to normal will help you get back to hitting the pavement much faster.

Cornfield to Cornfield 10K

On Saturday I ran the inaugural CorNfield CorNfield 10k at Werner Park. I haven’t run a whole lot since my half marathon last month, but 10K’s aren’t held too often around here so I decided to sign up anyways. I was a little bit nervous for the race because earlier in the week I had fainted at work so working out was at a minimum this week. Turns out I most likely had heat exhaustion from running last weekend  so I was prepared to be extra cautious while running.

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Overall this was a good race. I had never been to Werner Park so it was neat to see that. Although I was a bit disappointed in the course as I thought it would be similar to last weekend’s race where we got to run on the field at TD Ameritrade. At this race we ran around the concourse and went out and ran a two loop course on streets around the stadium before coming back in and finishing. I got a bit bored with the course since it looped twice and since it was humid and had rolling hills, I had to make myself do a few walking breaks as I didn’t want a repeat fainting episode to happen again. I finished in 1:06:29 which isn’t all that bad considering I haven’t really run that much in the past month. Each time I do a race I realize what things I need to work on and although I’m getting better at running up hills, there’s still some more work left to do!

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 QUESTION // Have you ever done yoga before?

Marathon Monday :: 1/2 Marathon Essentials

A few weeks ago I shared some tips on how to train for a half marathon. Next in my Marathon Monday series, I wanted to share some “day of” race tips. This includes what to pack for your checked gear bag and pre-race to do’s.

For the day of your race, some of the work starts the night before. I highly suggest that if you are able to pick up your bib the day before a race to take advantage of that. Otherwise you’ll have to get to the race earlier than necessary the day of and you might be a little bit flustered trying to get last minute things done.

With your bib picked up, make sure to lay out all of your gear the night before a race. Include in this layout everything you would want to wear. This will help the next morning go a lot smoother and alleviate the hassle of you running around trying to find last minute things. Here’s a list of what I typically lay out from head to toe:

  • Hat or headband
  • Sports Bra
  • Tank top
  • Other laying tops as necessary (either a half zip or throw away clothes)
  • Shorts or capris
  • Other layering bottoms (sweatpants if needed)
  • Compression half socks for calves
  • Socks
  • Running shoes
  • Garmin watch
  • Iphone holder
  • Headphones
  • Race bib and safety pins

 

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I highly recommend you also pack a bag the night before the race. You can decide to check it or have one of your cheerleaders waiting for you at the finish line hold onto it before you. If you’re running a long race, chances are you’ll be extremely sweaty and you’ll want to get out of those clothes asap after the race. Races almost always give you a big plastic bag to check to make it easier for everyone. To make sure I don’t lost anything, I put my items in a bag of my own and then put it inside the plastic bag provided. Here’s a checklist of what to put in your checked bag:

  • Drawstring bag (I always save any I get from races)
  • T-shirt
  • Shorts
  • Lightweight jacket
  • Flip flips (your feet will thank you)
  • Hat
  • Protein bar or other snacks (to help re-fuel yourself)

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Doing these things the night before a race will help the day of go much smoother for you. I also suggest you set plenty of alarms to make sure you wake up early enough. You’ll want to leave enough time to eat a good breakfast and to get to the race early. Arriving early at the race will allow you to check your bag and get in some good stretching before the race starts.

Speaking of races, yesterday my husband and I ran the College World Series Road To Omaha 5k. Despite my husband not being a runner like I am, he’s a good sport and once in awhile decides he’ll join me for a race. This race had over 500 runners from 25 different states. That’s a pretty good turnout if you ask me! We woke up to some rain showers yesterday morning, but since there was no thunder, the race still went on.

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The race started down at Lewis and Clark landing. Despite still seeing some ominous clouds, I checked the radar before we began the race and it showed no signs of rain anytime soon. We ran down the path behind the CenturyLink Center, and then turned on Abbott. From there we got to run a lap around the stadium on the field. This was also lap was also part of the Omaha Half Marathon that I ran last year. Although I had run this part before, it was more fun this time with the husband around since he’s a big baseball fan.

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Right before we entered the stadium, I felt a few drops of rain on my shoulders. Before I knew it, the sky opened up and it was a complete downpour. We were totally soaked and at that point, all we could do was laugh at ourselves. We looked like we had been in a wet t-shirt contest.

We weren’t out to race during this run, so we took it slow especially after it started to rain. Since the roads were slick and there were some pretty big puddles, we didn’t want to end up on our butts in the middle of the street. We ended up running it in 35 minutes, which I’ll admit I had to slow my pace because my husband told me I was going too fast, but it was fun to do together despite the weather raining on our parade.

QUESTION // What’s one thing you can’t run a race without?

Lincoln National Guard Half Marathon

Today I ran my 6th Half Marathon! I have wanted to do the Lincoln National Guard Half Marathon  ever since I first started running half marathons a few years ago. Since I’m not originally from Nebraska and am still unfamiliar with areas from outside of Omaha, I thought this would be a great even to get to see some more sites around the state. Plus, I had heard from multiple people that this course was fairly flat, so I was hoping that meant I could get a PR!

Going into this race, my original goal was to come in under 2 hours. I’ve been just “running” races for the past 2.5 years and I finally had the confidence to start “racing” and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. However, most of my training took place on a treadmill since I since up in January, and with not many outdoor runs under my belt, I pretty much knew that goal was not going to happen this time around. My plan B was to just beat my previous half marathon time, and maybe come in under 2:10.

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I was a bit nervous for the race as my knee started to bother me just two weeks ago on my last training run. I also had a busy few days the days leading up to the race and a few too hours of sleep. At this point, I just wanted to cross the finish line and be done so I could take a nap all afternoon.

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I woke up bright and early at 4:30 and drove the 50 mins down to Lincoln. Once there, I checked my bag and headed towards the start line and hung out in the coliseum before the race started since it was a bit chilly out. I took some time to stretch and also met up with one of my good friends from Kansas City, Wesley. He was going to try to PR that day under 2 hours so we decided to start the race together in the 1:55 pace group. I’ve never run with  a friend before, but it was great having someone next to me for awhile. I ran the first 3 miles with him until I needed a slight walking break. I had been getting some stomach cramps that needed to settle themselves out. I didn’t want to hold him back, so I told him to keep on going without me and I’d catch up to him later. It was great to start out running with a friend because it really pushed me to keep going and not take any breaks too early on. I was running 9:10 miles and I was so happy with that.
2014-05-04 06.45.21-2The next few miles went by fast. I took some walking breaks as my knee was bothering me a little bit and at that point, I knew I would really have to start pushing myself if I wanted to finish in my goal time. One thing that really kept me going throughout the entire race was the AMAZING crowds throughout the entire course. Lincoln folks really know how to put on a good race. I can’t remember a stretch of the race where there wasn’t people on the sides cheering everyone on. People had tents set up, were handing out candy, fruit, water and handing kleenex to passing runners. I can’t tell you how many little kids hands I gave high fives while running. And since our names were on our bibs, when people yell your name and give you encouragement, that means the world to me. Since my husband was out of town and couldn’t be there, I was a bit lonely on the course knowing I didn’t have any cheerleaders waiting for me. But having those crowds all around really made me feel like a million bucks and helped to keep my spirits up.

I got into a good rhythm and was feeling great for awhile. I got into a running groove and was jamming out to my tunes. At mile 6, the sun really started to come out and I felt like it got very hot out for me. However, I kept telling myself to keep on pushing ahead because I was still running faster than I ever had before. But then, at mile 8.5, I turned and reached the one hill I had been warned about. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a tall, gradual hill and I had to walk up it. Unfortunately, that hill took a lot of energy out of me. Once I reached the top, I felt fine and wanted to run a bit faster. But, at that point my legs were just done and it was hard to get up running fast again. I kept trying to push myself, but my legs said no thank you. The next 4 miles were a bit tough for me as I had to take more walking breaks than I had anticipated.

My last 2 miles flew by and although I was slowing down, I was looking forward to crossing the finish line. At this point, I knew 2:10 wasn’t going to happen so I told myself to keep pushing forward and try to make it by 2:15. Once we turned the corner, away from the marathoners, I was happy I wasn’t running the full marathon that day. My legs were killing me and I started to ever wonder how I actually ran a full marathon myself just 7 months ago! (side note, I do hope to do one again, maybe in the next year!)

We turned and went into the stadium, and what an awesome feeling it was to finish on the 50 yard line of Memorial Stadium! I got my medal (yay bling!) and made my way to get some water and fuel. This was probably the worst part of the race as volunteers were trying to coral runners off the field and into the stadium. The line for water/gatorade was at a stand still and my calves cramped up so bad at that point! I’d suggest that they work on that for next year, because after running 13 miles, standing still is the last thing you want to do in a big crowd.

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My official time of the race was 2:14:52. While I wish I wouldn’t have gotten so tired at the end, I’m so happy with how fast my 5k and 10k times were. I had beaten any other time I previously had before. And when I started to think about it, 2.5 years ago when I first starting doing races I was running a 2:30 half marathon and now I’ve shaved up 15 minutes of my time.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would become a runner and crave running races, let alone becoming an actual marathoner. I’ve run 6 half marathons in under 3 years and I get better each time. That to me is a huge accomplishment

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So what’s next? I’m going to do some 5k and 10k races this summer. Since I had a good 5k time today, I’m going to start focusing on some speed work and my next goal is to place or win an award in my age group. Of course, I want to do another half marathon later this year, I just have to find one to do.

OFFICIAL RACE STATS

  • Mile 1 :: 9:10
  • Mile 2 ::  9:25
  • Mile 3 :: 10:02
  • 5k :: 29:46
  • Mile 4 :: 10:00
  • Mile 5 :: 10:08
  • Mile 6 :: 9:25
  • 10k :: 1:00:28
  • Mile 7 :: 9:57
  • Mile 8 :: 10:59
  • Mile 9 :: 11:02
  • 15K :: 1:33:48
  • Mile 10 :: 10:14
  • Mile 11 :: 10:54
  • Mile 12 :: 11:32
  • Mile 13 :: 10:27

QUESTION // Any half marathons you’d suggest for me to do? Are you running in any races this year?

My Favorite Workout Accessory

Since I love to run, one of my favorite accessories that helps me out not only when I’m working out, but on a daily basis as well is my fitbit. I’ve had mine for 2 years and  I’m on my second one (my first one got lost on Space Mountain while at Disney World last year!) and I absolutely love it!

If you are unfamiliar with the fitbit, it’s basically pedometer that you keep in your pocket all day. Now there’s also a model that you can wear on your wrist as well. I just put mine in my pocket everyday and it helps keep track of my steps throughout the day. In addition to being a pedometer, it also tracks your miles, calories burned, and stairs climbed. It comes with a wristband you can wear at night and use it to track your sleep, how long it took you to fall asleep and how many times you got up during the night which helps you learn how to sleep better.

Since I work at a desk all day, glancing down at my fitbit reminds me to get up every hour and get moving. The fitbit syncs via bluetooth to an app on my phone so I’m able to look at stats of it throughout the day. Mine also syncs with the app My Fitness Pal so my calories burned throughout the day show up on that app which is where I track my calories.

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These are screen shots from the day I ran my marathon. Each of the goal areas turn green once you reach your goal for the day. I set my goal to be 10,000 steps per day which is the average goal of recommended steps per day. I also aim to burn 2,000 calories, be active for 30 minutes and do at least 6 flights of stairs. Most days I reach my goals, but there are some days when I don’t.

Overall I really love my fitbit. I like that it makes me more conscience of getting up and moving so I’m able to reach the goals I’ve set for myself. I also like that it syncs with My Fitness Pal. This makes it much easier for me to track my calories, and reminds me that I really don’t need to eat an extra cookie!

QUESTION // Do you use a fitness tracker?