My First Marathon- Frisco Railroad Run

I finally did it, I ran my marathon last Saturday!  It was surreal leading up to it, I let myself get so busy visiting family and friends that it almost snuck up on me.  I think that really helped, because then it didn’t cause me to get too out of control with nerves.  The night before meal with my family at a local Italian restaurant was perfect, I held back a bit so I didn’t make myself too bloated and because I had been doing some carb loading slowly through the week so I wasn’t concerned about it.  We had a ton of fun at the restaurant, no one can make me laugh like my brother; it was again the perfect release for any jitters.

So I got up at 5 am to eat some fuel, I used some natural hazelnut butter and honey on whole grain bread. The night before I had gathered all of my gear up and only had to fill my Camelbak, drop in my Nuun tablets, and dress.  I gave myself plenty of time to walk around and feel alert before I had to drive to my race.  Once I got there it was FREEZING!  Not really, but to this chick that loves the heat and is used to Vegas it was very cold.  I was thankful that they had a school gym we could wait in for a bit before the start of the race and I managed to hit the bathroom line early (score!).

ImageI was starting to get a little nervous and anxious to get going, so I had to get up and move.  I chit chatted with a few other racers while stretching and pacing.  I was very clearly not the only one nervous and at the same time felt reassured by the veteran marathoners/ultra runners that were there.  I figured I might have traveled the farthest, until I saw the Canadian flag on someones shirt, so much for the one award I thought I might get (there wasn’t a traveled farthest, but I could dream).

 

Notice the ominous looking clouds, for a little bit I actually thought we might avoid the rain, but there was no such luck there. ImageStill the rain did hold out for a bit so I got to enjoy some music for a little while.  On top of the marathon there was an 50 mile, 50k, half, and an 8k. 

7:30 am- we started, I hung out in the back of the pack, I know my tendency to go out too fast and it’s the number one thing on my mind along with reminding myself not to worry about anyone else, because this is my race and my pace not theirs.

8k– as we pass this point it goes from the black top to the fine crushed gravel.  I think to myself how short that distance is and laugh inside.  At the same time I had briefly talked to someone that was doing her first race and doing the 8k.  She was obviously that fun mix of excited and scared, I am reminded that it’s all about perspective at this point in my running journey. I feel strong and I feel confident, I can’t believe I am finally doing it.

Half marathon turn around (6.55 miles)- As I am approaching it I get passed by a kid sprinting (for me it would be a sprint) I am well aware that he is going to win the half marathon and he is way ahead of the others in his race.  At this point it isn’t raining, but it feels like it will very soon.  I had to make a pit stop which slowed my pace, but again as long as I finish it’s a PR so I don’t worry much about it.  I had met two older men and had been chatting with them about their racing experience.  Both were marathon maniacs, one had completed 75 marathons and the other one 25.  They were doing the walk/run method and we were going back and forth passing each other.  They reminded me that I was not allowed to pass old people at the finish line, I laughed.  After the pit stop I they pulled ahead and I met another runner and we paced each other for a bit.  I still felt strong and in a bit of denial of how far I had left to go.

13.1– My turn around point was coming and Deborah the girl I was pacing with and I had really passed the time talking about our common love for running.  She is a mother of 5 and totally kicked butt on her race.  She was a few months older than me and we discussed how this time next year we would be in the next age group.  We also laughed at the pace we would have to keep to qualify for Boston, I shared that I doubted it would ever happen for me, but I now have added NYC and Chicago to my bucket list.  It started raining on us in between the half turn around and our turn around so it was nice to have someone to talk to.  I had used my wireless earphones for the race so I quickly stashed them in my pack as soon as it started to sprinkle.  Thankfully my new phone is water resistant and the band is to, so the phone is fine and I admit to a few pictures and texts along the way. Halfway done and as you can see still smiling!

Image2.5 miles out– I felt like it would never end.  I was encouraged by the knowledge that I was close to finishing, but my energy was definitely waning at this point.  Just before 2.5 miles out I had allowed myself to walk for probably less than a quarter of a mile.  I also passed the guy who said I wasn’t allowed to (oops), he laughed and said, “and there you go” as I went by.  As I did it I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to make myself start again so I forced myself to get going again.  With that in mind I made myself pick up the pace again.  I also had an awesome friend meet me at 2.5 miles out, Sarah from Beauty School drop out who lives in my home town.  I have to admit part of why I pushed myself to keep a decent pace is so that I could get to her soon and not have her waiting forever (though after meeting her she is so sweet I doubt she would have minded).  My brother was there to wave and cheer me on as well and that was awesome.

1.2 miles left– I swear to you on everything, this was THE LONGEST MILE EVER!  I mean it, I felt like this mile was much longer than that, technically it was longer than a mile I know, but I focused on it being just a mile to keep myself going.  By the time I crossed the finish line my Garmin said I did 26.76 miles, I like that because that means I did my first ultra, ha!  As I got right up to the finish line I sped back up and reminded myself to not slow down until the last mat (remember that if you race, the last one has to record you for the results).  Of course I started crying at the end, not overwhelming tears of a break down, but tears of joy, relief, and some disbelief.  This is a goal I had wanted to do for so many years of my life.  It was a secret goal that I dare not share with anyone, a secret desire.  Now it’s an achievement that I am so proud of and ready to tackle again.  I love running more than I can express, it’s such a challenge to your mind and body I can’t explain.  I’ll even be brave enough now to say that even though I don’t know when, I will meet the challenge of an ultra marathon one day. 

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Waving to Sarah who’s about to run with me!

My average pace was 11:23/m, fastest was 9:40 (around mile 3), I was 46th overall, 7 out of 12 in my age range with a finish of 4:58:05.65.  Since I was figuring on a 5 hour finish I felt pretty good about that.  I will do another post to share my post race plans with you to get my muscle mass back and lose some of this increased fat.  I want to do this too because the cross training will help increase the chances of a longer running life.  Tomorrow I get my 26.2 sticker for my car and soon a new tattoo to celebrate.  They say if you run a marathon it will change your life, the training and the race both did that for me.  I can’t wait to do it again!!  PS my Swirlgear totally kept me warm and dry, being in Vegas I hadn’t had much opportunity to try the water resistant factor, it worked great!

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The finish line!

If you are a runner, what is your race distance bucket list or race bucket list?

 

 

Fit Vegas Vacations

There are a lot of reasons to visit Las Vegas when you head out on vacation this summer.  There are the obvious places to visit like the famous Strip, Fremont Street, and of course all of the buffets.  But I want to introduce you to a more fit  and active Las Vegas that won’t leave you broke and bloated.  In all seriousness I do find many of the casinos to be really interesting to look at and people watching is one of my favorite hobbies.  If you go from one end of the Strip to the other it is 4.2 miles (according to Google) so that is a good walk and I suggest comfortable and supportive shoes.  However, there are a lot of things to do inside of and just outside of Vegas that are a lot of fun.

  • Valley of Fire- Valley of Fire is just 55 miles northeast  of Las Vegas and has some wonderful hiking with beautiful scenery.  You can hike, camp, picnic, and take pictures to your hearts content.  It’s open year around, but some of the hiking, etc. is best done when it’s not the heat of the summer.  Here is the website if you want to see pictures or get other details, let’s just say it is a local favorite.  http://parks.nv.gov/parks/valley-of-fire-state-park/
  • Lake Mead-  There are so many things to do at the lake, there are tunnels that can be run or hiked (there are a few races each year in them).  One of the ladies in my running group suggests this is one of the best ways to get to see both the lake and Hoover Dam.  There are also options for being on the water, with some boat rentals, cruises, and paddle boats.  The first link is a link to the tunnels and the second is a link to the marina information.  http://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/hikerr.htm http://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/marinas.htm
  • Willow Beach Marina- Okay technically this is in Arizona, but it is very close to Vegas and well worth the trip.  It’s a beautiful area for some kayaking, camping, and picnics. This is a favorite spot for many Vegas locals to go to on a Saturday or Sunday to relax.  http://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/marinas.htm
  • Wetlands Park- Here in Clark County we have a park that has over 300 species of plants and animals with paved and unpaved trails for hiking and bike riding.  It’s technically in Henderson Nevada, but Henderson is entwined with Vegas and it’s not far from the Strip.  http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/wetlandspark
  • Springs Preserve- This is a little wonderland in the middle of Vegas, off to the south and east you will see the Stratosphere, but inside of it you will experience a different world.  It has trails, a museum, classes, gardens to explore, and a pretty taste cafe as well.  https://www.springspreserve.org/
  • Gold Strike Canyon- This is another favorite hike of locals that is just beautiful.  I mention it in particular because you can get to it hiking and scrambling and it takes you to the Colorado River and some hot springs.  http://www.birdandhike.com/Hike/LAME/Goldstrike/_Goldstrike.htm
  • Red Rock- this has great hiking and trails for running.  The main loop is a nice 13 mile loop that is perfect for long runs. http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/lvfo/blm_programs/blm_special_areas/red_rock_nca.html

Finally a few websites that you can visit to get even more information about natural things that you can do to be active while in Vegas. The bird and hike in particular profiles trails in the Vegas area and provides pictures and elevation info; I have used this several times.  http://www.birdandhike.com/ and http://www.naturallyvegas.com/

Do you like to make sure you are active on vacations?  What active or natural attractions would you recommend in your area?

 

Cooking experiment

So it’s almost time for my road trip to go and visit family and *gulp* complete my first marathon.  I actually do feel pretty prepared, physically I know I am strong enough to do it, now I will just have to face those mental demons that will try and tell me to stop and give up.  I fully expect them to come, and my answer to them will be to shut up.  That aside I cannot wait to face this challenge and beat it!

If you have followed me for a bit, you know that I do food prep each weekend to help me stay a bit more on track during the week.  I still slip (especially lately), but knowing I have food ready keeps me from making poor choices more often than not.  For my road trip/vacation I do the same thing.  One of the things I want to do is to take some homemade veggie chips.  Chips are a downfall for me I will eat too many of them and they really aren’t that good for you with all the preservatives, etc.  So I looked up on line how to make my own sweet potato chips and decided that I needed to give it a try at least once before I count on doing it to take with me on the trip.  So here’s my practice run:

Step 1: I bought a mandolin slicer, one sweet potato, and one zucchini.  I already had some coconut oil to brush on them for baking and I threw in a bit of salt and pepper for a little more flavor.  I sliced them up tossed them in the oil and spices and then tended to my sliced up finger.  Yeah, some days I do better in the kitchen than others.

Step 2: I put them on parchment paper on a baking sheet and baked them at 250 for 3 hours.  I checked them frequently to make sure the smaller chips didn’t burn, about every 10-15 minutes, and shuffled them around.  A lot of recipes out there vary on how long and what temperature, you may have to experiment a few times and luckily sweet potatoes don’t cost much.

Step 3: After they crisp as much as you want let them cool and then put them in an airtight container with some rice in order to keep them crisp a bit longer.

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I had mixed results, some of them came out okay and some got a bit burned.  I was really surprised and how much it looked like before I baked them and how much it was when I was done.  It was a bit time consuming as well and unfortunately it’s already getting very hot here in Vegas. Bottom line I’m glad I tried ahead of time, because if I want to make them successfully I think it will take some practice.  As a result of the experiment I discovered a brand of mandolin slicer I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND (but I won’t name any names in public message me on my FB page if you want to know).  I got my finger sliced up because the safety holder wouldn’t go into the potato so I returned it this morning.  I also decided to finally take the plunge and buy a dehydrator so that I don’t heat my house up as badly.  I’m pretty excited to get it so I can dry my own fruits and make some other healthier snacks. 

If I get my dehydrator soon enough I will make some more chips, if not then I will look for some other alternatives.  I do have a protein cookie that I found on a website that is full of all kinds of power foods that I will be making to take with me.  The remainder of what I take is yet to be determined, rest assured there will be a fair amount of carrots and tomatoes to snack on.  I will be carb loading a bit since it will be the week before my race, so my choices will reflect that.

What are some of your favorite foods you take on road trips, homemade or otherwise?

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