Holy smokes, where did this training cycle go?!?! It feels like it took forever but flew by all at the same time. I’m so excited to get this done and have a nice rest period once I get back home to Pittsburgh.
I’ll be in Chicago from Thursday afternoon to Monday night, and for the most part the entire weekend is already filled. Friday morning I’ll be at the expo, that afternoon I’m hoping to do some kind of tour of the city, then that evening I’ll be at the team dinner for Team DetermiNation- I’m running through the American Cancer Society this year. Saturday, the day before the big day is going to be limited to the Chicago International 5k in the morning and resting most of the afternoon/evening. Monday is for exploring before I head back home to my puppy.
I figured I’d share my travel essentials for a trip like this. My parents are driving out again this year so I am leaving all of my stuff with them and just taking a purse with me on the plane (thanks mom and dad!). Obviously your race outfit is super important to pack; mine includes a tank and capris from Lululemon, feetures socks, Brooks running bra, my Brooks ghost 10s, and my flip belt.
Aside from the most obvious thing to pack, I’m also bringing along a ton of other essentials. In my bag will be:
- My vital proteins collagen peptides, I do not drink coffee without it.
- Foam roller, because no one likes a tight back and hamstrings before race day.
- All of the snacks! I’m bringing a few rxbars, epic bars, and gomacro bars.
- My own bread, jelly, and PB for my pre race PB&J sandwich. I eat one of these before every long run ever and it totally throws me off if I don’t have it.
- Imodium! I see a lot of people waste a lot of time at the port a potties, I take a couple before bed and a couple when I wake up the morning of the race and I have yet to have a problem.
- My TENS machine, compression socks, and magnesium. All of these are for after the race to help me recover.
- Honey Stinger chews and nuun. The chews are for during the race and nuun is for before and after. Hydration is so important these next 6ish days.
- Note cards to writing inspiring messages to myself to put around my hotel room.
- Lastly, I’m bringing along my Clean Sport Collective temporary tattoos to put on my shoulders for Sunday morning. CSC’s mission is to end doping in sports, although I am only an amateur/recreational runner, I still want to do my part to help end doping in running (and all sports really).
Next time you hear from me will be after the race! Good vibes are much appreciated!
Two weeks from now I’ll be in Chicago eating deep dish pizza and having a beer at Lou Malnati’s while proudly wearing my medal. Visualizing the finish line and afterwards always help me get past the anxiety of race day.
This year I’m doing a two-week taper, as opposed to last year’s one week taper. Tapering is such a weird feeling, you’re still as hungry as you are during the weeks leading up to peak week but you aren’t doing anywhere near as many miles. I’ve found it’s very important to be extra mindful of your diet at this point, you don’t want to over eat for two weeks and show up to race day bloated. Not fun.
I find that I also get crazy emotional at this point. You put in so much time, effort, and work and you’re getting so close to showtime. It’s very easy to let the emotions get the best of you and turn you into a crying mess (not that I’ve been doing that or anything).
There’s a few things I’m doing during taper this year that I wanted to share with you. Now is the time to really take care of your body and make sure you’re good to go for the big day. (Disclaimer: I am not a health professional, you should speak with your doctor before taking any supplements.)
- Increasing my collagen consumption. Collagen is a great supplement for us runners. It helps with your joints, bones, tendons, cartilage and so much more. My favorite is from Vital Proteins. You can find more information about their collagen on their website.
- More Iron! Did you know runners lose iron through their heel strike? I’ll be eating more red meat and spinach, in addition to taking an iron supplement every other day.
- Better quality sleep. I’m aiming for 7-8 hours of good quality sleep. Sleep is so important for muscle recovery.
- All of the hydration. Obviously don’t go overboard here, but I’ll be increasing my water consumption over the next 13 days and adding nuun tablets in for extra electrolytes.
- Calf compression sleeves and TENS machine. Compression socks/sleeves have been a game changer for me in the last year. I’ll usually wear them while using the TENS machine on my quads. I like to do this before bed a few nights a week to keep my legs feeling fresh.
- Stretching, stretching, and more stretching. I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory. Tight muscles are no good.
- And lastly, carving out time for myself to do something non running related. It’s so easy to obsess over race day being so close that we can forget to step away for a moment and take a mental break. For me this might include doing a face mask, taking a hot bath, taking Henrik to the dog park. Whatever you want it to be, but it’s always nice to do something for yourself that’s outside of the sport to keep you mentally sane.
What are your tips for tapering?
As I continue to introduce you to myself, I figured I’d explain why I chose running several years ago and why it’s become so important to me. I get asked this question several times a week, in fact my dad asked me again last night, “Why do you torture yourself? Cycling is so much easier.” My answer was something about how I like a challenge, and that is true but it goes much deeper than that.
Prior to this point in my life, going back to high school here, I had a really warped view of myself. I was constantly trying to lose weight and going to extremes to get there, this peaked the year after I graduated when I started to restrict my calories to maybe 700 a day and working out for 3 hours a day at minimum 5 days a week. I was miserable. I eventually got burned out and turned to drinking to quiet that negative self talk. After I turned 21 (and finished my first half) I really relied on alcohol to self medicate and fell into a funk of depression. A year later my weight had peaked to over 200lbs (I’m only 5’3!!) and later in the year I had gotten sick and discovered I had fatty liver.
Things changed after that. I slowed down my alcohol consumption considerably, went to a psychiatrist for medication and started seeing a nutritionist. We worked on getting over my disordered eating habits and getting back to eating healthy. Once I got my diet in order and I lost some weight I worked on getting comfortable running outside again. The more races I signed up to do the less I “fell off the wagon” because I just didn’t have the time to go back to old habits.
It’s been a few years since all of that happened but I now run 4-5 days a week, I’ve learned to control alcohol consumption to 2-3 drinks a week (if that), and as of July I came off of all my anxiety and anti depressant medications. Running helped me through all of this. It’s helped with my self confidence, my mental health, my diet, and made me a better person all around. I’m so glad I picked this crazy sport as my passion.
Why do you run?
I wasn’t planning on talking about this subject until after the marathon, but something happened the other day that made me feel compelled to touch on the subject this week. I received a message from someone whom I don’t know, have never met, and never plan on meeting. The message went something like, “you don’t need reflective gear when you run, no one could ever miss you”.
Now for those of you who don’t know me in real life, I don’t look like the “average runner”. I’m short and overweight, not tall and skinny like so many other runners I see out there. I’ve heard my share of rude comments about my weight and I’m very aware that I am not what people think of when you say the word “marathoner”. Yet here I am, training for 26.2 number 2. The thing that irritated me most about this person’s comment was that they don’t know me, they don’t know how hard I work to be a distance runner, and they certainly don’t understand the struggle of being a short overweight person in a sport full of tall and/or skinny people.
The point of this post is to encourage others who aren’t their ideal size or height, that those things don’t matter. I once went through a phase where I refused to run outside because I was worried that people driving by would judge me, but at the end of the day you’re doing something good for your body that you love. Who cares what anyone else thinks of you? The only opinion about yourself that should matter to you is your own. We can’t change our genetics so we have to learn to work with God has given us. So if you run and have a body, then you have a runner’s body.
I have one, do you?
I wanted to introduce myself and give you a brief background on me and my journey and why I decided to start this site.
I started running in late 2012/early 2013 to train for my first half marathon, why I decided to just jump into 13.1 and not start smaller is something I’ll never understand. I guess when I saw that the Pittsburgh Half that year was on my 21st birthday I just knew I had to sign up. I was not a fan of running at that time and to be quite honest my training was terrible. I struggled the entire time on race day and could hardly walk afterwards, but I finished and that’s all that mattered to me at that time. I got the “post race blues” after that and didn’t get back into running until June of 2015. Since then I have done three more half marathons, two 10 milers, a few 10k’s and 5k’s, and last October I ran in the Chicago marathon which I am now training for again. This March I became RRCA certified to train others for whatever distance they’re looking to tackle in hopes that my passion rubs off on them.
I honestly never thought I’d be as involved and in love with running as I am now. Running has helped me work through my problems, manage my anxiety, become more confident, and has really given me a sense of purpose in life. I hope you enjoy following along as I share my passion, stories, and my journey to another marathon and beyond!
Till next time..