The 2012 500 Festival Mini Marathon

It was a hot, humid, and sunny morning in Indianapolis. As I waited in my corral with 35,000 of my closest friends I had a few pre-race jitters, a little anxiety about the heat, but also the mental focus I needed to run for the next 13.1 miles. It’s all mental…..ok and training helps. The National Anthem played, fireworks went off, and I crossed the start line about 8 minutes after the gun. This time around I was close enough to the start because of my seeding that I was able to start running right away without zig zagging through everyone. I instantly tried to find my stride and settle in. But damn, it was hot. By the end of the second mile I was already dripping in sweat and by breathing was heavy. My adopted mantra for the day was, “Just run” and “Let it go” I say these in my head over and over when I need to refocus and get my breathing on track.

My pace for the first few miles was just under a 10 minute mile. But IĀ  constantly reminded myself it was only going to get hotter and I needed to save some for the last few miles. I slowed down a bit as I got closer to the Speedway with the intention of kicking ass for the 2.5 miles around the IMS. I love entering the track, running under the tunnel, and coming out the other side. It’s an emotional point in the race because I know I am close to the halfway point and the enthusiasm from the other runners is high. It’s the history of the Indianapolis 500 and all the amazing moments that have happened on that track that make it such a special part of the race. But then the track just keeps going….and going….and going. Until finally it’s time to exit the track. In my head I thought, “Great, halfway done! The track is over with and just a few more miles to go!” At this point the sun was peeking through the clouds and my legs were feeling a little heavy. Around mile 10 I was so over the mantras in my head and it slowly went from “Just run” to “Why the hell do I do this to myself?” Everyone thinks that at least once during a 1/2 marathon, right? We’re all only half crazy? Well I finally saw the sign for mile 11 and knew I was so close. When mile 12 rolled around I had just enough in me to get to the finish. And about .5 mile from the finish I had to completely stop and let a stretcher go by with a young middle aged man on it. So after stopping in my tracks I had to start back up and finish that 1/2 mile which was the hardest 1/2 mile I’ve ever run. I was emotional, happy, overwhelmed, hot, thirsty, and ready to be done. 2 hours and 18 minutes later, I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye. It’s been one hell of a ride the past 2 years. I am so grateful for my new healthy lifestyle and am proud of how far I’ve come.

I am also very proud of all the family and friends who completed 13.1 miles also! No matter if they ran, walked, or crawled it’s an amazing accomplishment. My dad has done at least 10 half marathons now and my best friend just completed her first.

As usual, I’ll take a short break from running and I’ll certainly cut back my weekly mileage. I have some other fun things going on that I want to spend time on. (More on all that shortly!) But I also need to keep up with my training because FULL marathon training starts this summer. Why did I sign up for a full marathon? I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA! But I am at least going to try and give it my best shot. Because I know how awesome it feels to cross the finish line after 13.1 miles, the feeling after 26.2 must be at least double, right?

Pre-race Rituals & the Sam Costa 1/2

I believe in fate and everything happens for a reason. I also believe that we only have so much control (but I like to make sure I am always in control of whatever I can, that’s why I’m a teacher!) I am not naturally a superstitious person…until I began running. For example I only eat certain foods before I run, I always wait exactly 2 hours after eating until I run, I have to be like an hour early to any race, I go through a series of stretches pre/post run. I eat my Gu at pretty much the same time in every 1/2 marathon, ect. I do all those things very specifically because if I don’t I will have an awful run and the world will explode. OK so maybe I might have a perfectly acceptable run and the world will stay the same, but I’d rather stay on the safe side!

I have to say aside from crossing the finish line at lighting bolt speed, my most favorite part of any race is the 30 minutes before the start gun when I’ve had just enough caffeine to be a tad jittery. I love to look around at all my fellow runners and watch their pre-race rituals. I watch people rock out to their music while they do funny looking stretches, eat a banana, tie their shoe laces in the perfect way, or sit with their team. Then I look aroundĀ  and find the guy in the corner wondering why the hell he paid money to run and is trying to figure out how to get out of this mess, the woman in her brand new $300 pink Lululemon running outfit who will NOT look that put together in a couple of hours, the old guy who’s wearing his 5 year old New Balance shoes for the 120th race, the college team who’s hungover from Friday’s frat party and will still kick my ass, and then the weekend warriors who just enjoy the feeling of crossing the finish line as much as I do.

This morning was no different. I ate my Paleo banana bread 2 hours before the run (my new pre run ritual meal), drank copious amounts of caffeine, got my Gu ready and did all my stretches. I had a great run finishing my 4th half marathon in 2:5:59! The weather was a runners dream, cool and a little drizzly with the sun behind clouds for most of the morning. Aside from running through really boring subdivisions looking at the same house design over and over again, it was a fine course. My favorite part of road races is when all traffic must stop so I can cross the street. Hazel Dell on a Saturday morning is no country road and I just smiled and waved as traffic backed up for me to pass. The looks on the drivers faces are priceless. I can just hear them saying, “Why the hell are they doing that and why right now when I have to get Suzy to her dance lesson?!” Sorry I’m not sorry

Dynamite with a laser beam

Spring has sprung but it feels like Summer. With all the wonderful weather, I’ve been able to get a lot of good running in! (among lots of other fun fitness stuff!) My first half-marathon of the year is in 3 days and I think I’m ready. I have no finish time in mind. I mean, under 2 hours would be ideal but I’m just going to go with it. Two weeks ago I completed a 10 mile long run. I wasn’t impressed with my time or my lack of “umph” but I did it and moved on. As I recently mentioned, I’ve been “eating Paleo” for about 5 weeks now and I’m still learning what to eat before and after intense workouts. With that said, I ran 6m miles yesterday in the 85* heat in 58 minutes so I think the sweet potato was the trick. I’m currently reading this book and it’s given me a lot of awesome info!

Aside from running, I’m still using spin class 2x a week for cross training and am slightly obsessed. I get into this zone where I just peddle my little heart out and sweat bullets. My favorite instructor said to me last week that I should look into getting certified to teach spin class because I seem to enjoy it so much. Quite frankly I have no time for that right now, but in the near future I would love to teach spin @ 5:30am and get paid for it!

I recently went to my first “Piyo” class at Yoga Monkey. It’s a combo of Pilates and Yoga. For some reason, I thought it would be relatively simple but still a good workout. Well I was wrong because I got my ass kicked and could feel my heart pounding through my chest. It was like yoga on steroids. Now I’m used to rockin’ yoga from my classes at The Yoga Center, but this one was just different. I think I liked it but I’m going to need to try it again. I don’t think I’ll be teaching that class anytime soon seeing as I was breathing so hard I could barely talk.

Speaking of yoga, last week I did a legit handstand with the help of Melissa at Breath.Life.Yoga. (I seem to go to a lot of different fitness studios- variety is the spice of life I guess!) She also helped me with my full wheel, but I couldn’t quite get it. I still have the rest of 2012 to finish that goal!

With all this gym talk, I never seem to chat how all this relates to my horseback riding. I’m currently planning my 2012 show season with Echo. My goal is to qualify at both Training and First level for regionals at the Kentucky Horse Park in September. My riding has done a complete 180* with the help of all my different fitness stuff. My core is strong, my arms are strong, my legs are strong, and I have confidence to know I can accomplish my goals. With all of that, I am able to pursue my first ever passion and love for horses. And sometimes I need to take a step back and remember why I wanted to get fit and healthy in the first place. It was so I could be the best rider I could. With that said, I think I’ll head to the barn and go for a ride outside!

"When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk. He trots the air, the earth sings when he touches it." William Shakespeare

Groundhog 7

It’s been quite a while since my last update. Since then I have officially started training for the 500 Festival Mini Marathon. I am running in the 9:30 pace group this year and have met a lot of wonderful people who are super supportive and motivating! (Which helps, because running a 9:30 pace is hard!)

Last weekend Indy Runners sponsored their yearly Groundhog 7 run which was FREE with a donation to Gleaners Food Bank. It’s a 7 mile run through Zionzville. It was an absolutely beautiful Sunday afternoon and amazingly I finished in 66 minutes- huffing and puffing. At this point I KNOW I can run at that pace and survive, but it’s still mentally hard but I keep telling myself I got this and I’m basically kicking ass and taking names which gets me through the longer runs. As I continue to add miles, I just hope I can continue to run at that pace in order to finish the Indy Mini under 2 hours.

The Sam Costa 1/2 Marathon is 34 days away. Which is plenty of time to build up to at least 1 10 mile run before the race, right? This is a smaller race through Carmel also sponsored by Indy Runners. I haven’t decided on a goal finish time yet but somewhere around 2 hours would be ideal.

I’ve added a couple pieces of fitness equipment to my collection! I recently bought new clip in shoes for spin class and a Polar Ft40F heart rate monitor. I’ve been going to spin class at the Monon Center 2x a week for about a month now and am obsessed and addicted. The watch doesn’t track miles or have a fancy GPS, but it does calculate my hear rate and tell me calories burned which is pretty awesome.

Last but certainly not least, I am trying a new nutrition plan. It’s called a Paleo Diet (even though I hate the word diet). It’s a little out of the norm for someone who does a lot of cardio and relies on carbs for energy. But I have cut out all processed food and carbs from my diet. So basically I eat meat, a lot of meat, healthy fats ( I love coconut oil!), nuts, veggies and some fruits. I’ve started a trial 2 week period and at the beginning of March will start an official 30 day Paleo Diet. Of course, I just went to the store to buy my usual Greek Yogurt, cheese sticks, and hummus- all things not allowed on Paleo. So I’m going to finish all those off in the next two weeks and then good bye dairy and beans too. With that I have cut out sugar substitutes (Splenda) and artificial water flavorings (Crystal light). I haven’t had any of that artificial junk in 4 days and I seriously feel so different! So I’m very excited to see what happens in the weeks to come. Criticize as you may, but I’m willing to give it a try and see what results I get! And hopefully it’ll workout in my favor and I’ll be rockin’ a new bathing suit and skinny jeans just in time for Spring Break in Ft. Meyers (40 days away!).

A New Year

Well the holidays have finally come and gone and quite honestly, I’m relieved. I absolutely love Christmas which is followed by my birthday and then New Years. But there are way too many cookies and not enough running and now I’m paying for it. During December I registered for the 2012 Indy Mini Marathon and decided to throw in another half at the end of March, the Sam Costa. Then in a spur of the moment decision one night on Christmas vacation, I found myself clicking the “submit” button for the 2012 Monumental Marathon. Yep, a full 26.2 miles.

I’ve since hit the pavement running and officially began Mini training with Indy Runners. We started with a 3 mile run through Butler’s campus and I’m happy to write I had a personal best 3 mile run. I’m also very excited because I convinced 2 of my girlfriends to do it with me this year! I signed up to run with the 9:30 pace group with the goal of running a sub 2 hour Indy Mini. My pace coach was very encouraging and after our run he was kind enough to tell me he thought I’d have no problem!

Along with running, I’ve added another addicting healthy habit. The gym I belong too offers Cycle (or spinning) class and I’ve wanted to try it for a while but I always hear people say it’s hard. Well I’ll be damned if someone tells me it’s hard because I then have to give it the ‘ol college try. And I did. And I love it. After talking with several different people who know there stuff, I’m going to use spin once a week as a cross training tool for Mini training. It also gives me an excuse to workout inside during the winter. I love spin because the instructor guides you, but you are really in control because no one really knows how much resistance you have on your wheel or how fast you’re actually pedaling. It’s a competition with yourself and it’s all about knowing how to challenge yourself. The instructor on Satrday used the phrase, “Get mentally tough!” And naturally, I pretend I am racing Lance Armstrong through the streets of Paris in the Tour De France. Doesn’t everyone?

“I don’t know if running changed my life or if I changed my life for running, but who really cares? My feet keep moving, my arms pumping, and my mantra keeps rolling, ‘Be Patient. You got this.” Valerie DiMambro

I make goals not resolutions

2011 was a pretty awesome year if I do say so myself. I completed 3 half marathons, reached the 80 pound mark on my weight loss, and got my dream teaching job. Looking back on 2011, I’m grateful for all the wonderful opportunities I had and all the people that helped me along the way. As I look towards 2012, I don’t want to make a New Years Resolution because those only stick around until New Years day is over. I want to make goals to work for both big and small. I believe by putting those goals in writing, I am held more accountable. Last night at Fitness By Design I started talking about some things I wanted to learn how to do or accomplish and Andria wrote them down on my chart. My 2012 goals are

Fitness Related:

  • Run a full marathon
  • Run the Sam Costa Half-Marathon
  • Run a sub 2 hour Indy Mini-marathon
  • Become strong and flexible enough to do a hand stand and full back bend (Yoga poses)

Life Related:

  • Qualify Echo for Regionals
  • Read for fun on a weekly basis
  • Meditate at least 3 times a week
  • Travel with or to see friends

I could probably go on, but I think 4 goals in each category is plenty. These are all goals that I know I can obtain because I don’t think I should set myself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals. But I know I will also have to work very hard to reach some of the goals.

I wish you and your families the warmest and happiest Holiday season!

The Drumstick Dash

I can’t believe Thanksgiving has already come and gone. Last year, our family decided to have a small Thanksgiving in Indy just the 5 of us. My dad had to work and I suggested that we run the Drumstick Dash. Cat and Pete agreed and that’s where the tradition began. Yes, it’s only been 2 years but I have a feeling this will be how we spend Thanksgiving for many years to come.A family that runs together stays together!

The Drumstick Dash is a 4.5 mile run through the heart of Broad Ripple and benefits Wheeler Mission. It has grown substantially over the years with 15,000 participants this Thanksgiving. I met my sister Cat, my brother-in-law Pete, and my Dad and waited in line to get started. 42 minutes later I crossed the finish line. It’s a fun course but obviously more crowded this year (also an abundance of strollers..c’mon people, get out of my way with your double wide.)

As far as my running in general- it’s taken a step back. I try to get 8-10 miles in a week if the weather is nice. I’ve also been playing around with some interval training on the treadmill to make my time on that dreaded machine less horrible and it seems to be working. I plan to take it easy through the holidays and gear back up towards the end of January when I’ll start training for the Indy Mini!