My Journey to 26.2: My Training

My Journey to 26.2: My Training

I wrote about my race day experience last week, now I’m writing part two of my journey about my training. Aside from it being an overall positive and successful race, there was way more then just “running all the time” to get me to the finish. Any runner who has done any kind of race, knows its more then that. This training was unlike any kind of training I’ve ever done. Besides just running longer and farther, each run, workout, meal, rest day, etc impacted my training in some way. They said marathon training is a beast in itself, and it is completely true! Don’t be discouraged though, if you getting an itch to do it, that means one thing: SIGN UP! I’ll be honest though, it was a very grueling three months and am thankful I can relax for a little from the training. I would say if you are seriously considering signing up for one, take a couple factors into consideration:

  • Type of work schedule:
    • Early mornings or late nights
    • Full-time vs. part time
    • A new parent or stay at home mom
    • Student in school
    • Traveling
  • Time of year of the race and training (e.g. marathon during the fall months requires summer time training)
  • Finances/budget–because marathons ain’t cheap
  • Type of race you’re interested in running (big city, rural, themed, destination, cause)

 

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Found my name!

REAL TALK: I mention these factors because training for a marathon is commitment. You don’t wanna run a race with high expectations then realize you picked a bad time to train based on whether you’re in school or have a crazy work schedule. This was a big factor in my training because I had the availability to train for one. I was not in school during my training which my a BIG difference in my commitment and availability to focus on my training and in some aspects, performance. Not to say if you are in school or have a busy/crazy schedule you can’t do one, just know it may take more advanced planning and/or a stronger level of commitment compared to someone who is more flexible. I purposely planned to do one once I graduated. I felt ready to make a commitment and knew my schedule allowed for it. To be honest, I would hesitate doing another once I start graduate school because of the need to focus on studying instead of the commitment to train. *this idea is subject to change* 😉

Back to the training! As mentioned in the race day post, I ran about four times a week. I combined running with twice a week strength training days, typically a push/pull day or an leg day and upper body day. Each strength day would take me about an hour and a half to complete since I like to take my time. On days that I was pressed for time, I did HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts and targeted total body in about thirty minutes with minimal rest. During the middle of my training, as a way to double up, I would run in the morning and do a strength day in the afternoon. Working on tired legs post run was tough but a good challenge since it mirrored what my legs could typically feel during the race. I did about three to four targeted exercises based on what I was doing that day plus two exercises for my core. I would finish with cross training on the bike or if I didn’t run the morning before, I would do a high intensity speed session of thirty minutes on the ‘mill before stretching and cooling down.

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Where accountability and motivation starts for the week ahead!

Aside from strength training days, I incorporated Peerfit for my cross training or anytime I wanted to change up my routine. Peerfit is a company creating a versatile, multi-location subscription used at various boutique fitness studios around Tampa Bay, Orlando, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Sarasota, and Jacksonville. See my post on working with Peerfit and experiences I had with them here. I was able to cross train using them at a variety of places through Bella Prana Yoga & Meditation, Soho Cycling Studio, and Mantra Tampa. The days of cross training helped keep my cardio fitness up and strengthing weaker muscles while giving my body a break from the running. I really enjoyed cycling, especially since I don’t consider myself a “cycler”–in fact, I wasn’t into it because I thought it was boring. Soho Cycling changed the game on that one! Mantra Tampa is a pure strength training workout using a Megaformer.  It was all about the burn, helping me focus on the slow part of the movements–so killer and unlike any soreness I’ve had in awhile lol! It worked my entire core and targeted my whole body in fifty minutes. Yoga helped with stretching out any tight muscles and helping me feel relaxed. I’m not so much into the sweaty, hot yoga classes but the stress relief and flow classes did wonders for keeping me flexible and balanced.

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I rested about one-two times per week. If I felt I needed another day, I took it. If marathon training taught me one thing about myself, is that I am incredibly stubborn and wanting to keep pushing for more. Pushing for more isn’t a bad thing, but on some occasions I forced myself to relax and if feeling the urge to still do something, I picked a yoga class. Resting is SO important during this kind of training. It really is a big part of the process in that it allows you to let your body heal and mind refresh. Check out my post on the benefits of rest here.

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Running down Bayshore Blvd

Meal prep wasn’t bad because I already love being in the kitchen. I tried to minimize on how much I went out, about once or twice a week at the most. I cooked and prepared ahead of time occasionally, but most nights I get home late, so I incorporated my assembly only meals for dinner–aka SALADS! Yes, they were filling and full of only the good stuff. Each one had a bed of greens, various veggies, a lean protein, nuts/seeds, cheese, dried fruit, and simple easy dressing. If anyone doubts this amazing meal, all I’ll say is see for yourself because this is heaven. The best part is that it didn’t leave me filling full and gross before bed!

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Another thing I incorporated was protein shakes. I made them veggie-based (usually with spinach or kale), added fruit (fresh and frozen–either pineapple or mango), almond milk, and protein powder. Simple. They were great because I took them on the go, knew what was in it, snuck in a serving (or two) of vegetables, and it held me over. Best part was that I couldn’t taste the veggies! As always, I drank a lot of water. I didn’t ditch coffee, in fact I needed that even more since I was getting so tired! I drank minimally. I didn’t miss drinking and wanted to only fuel myself with quality ingredients. Even post training, I’m not drinking and want to continue to keep it to a minimum. I felt my best and want to keep it that way! Aside from eating healthy, I definitely had my share of carbs, but nothing crazy. Still kept it to a serving. I really like quinoa and brown rice the best. Seeds of Change Brown Rice & Quinoa –the best of both worlds, was a great thing to have on hand since all you needed was to mic it! Super easy and healthy. I didn’t deprive myself and let the eating take over my life. If I was hungry, I ate. If I was full, I stopped. I had sweets when I wanted. I ate chipotle, which came in handy for those carbs post run or before a tough workout–LiveSweatSleep gets me 😉 No deprivation allowed! Marathon training isn’t the time to lose weight. You need your body to be fueled to the very best in order to perform.

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If you haven’t noticed a pattern, I’m really into bowls…especially from Chipotle

This is my training in a nutshell. Three months of planning each week of workouts in my logseven to eight consistent hours each night of sleep, positive vibes and thoughts, and supportive family and friends. I’m hoping to include these components of training for future races while learning more about myself. In the meantime, you’ll still find me on the run but not going quite as far LOL and getting ready to gear up for my next race–the Gasparilla Half Marathon!!!

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Miami Marathon finisher medal #MiamiFamous
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My Journey Through 26.2 Miles: Miami Marathon Race Day

My Journey Through 26.2 Miles: Miami Marathon Race Day

Hi everyone! It’s been a bit since I last posted since I wanted to think about my journey of my experience and not rush into just posting just to “post.” So the whole point of my blog was to document to my training for this race, but really I’ve been posting a lot about my active lifestyle in other ways besides running. This blog isn’t going to end anytime soon!–I’ll still use it to share my experiences throughout my running, fitness, recipes, and active lifestyle interests. I’m breaking up this post into two parts: Race Day & Training. There’s SO much to share so I would rather focus on one part of my journey at a time. This post is all about RACE DAY. The finale of my training!

I signed up for the marathon in July and started my training this past September. I booked about three months worth of training to play it safe while making room for life to happen, injuries, flexibility, etc. I ran about four times a week, which is what I typically do anyways but this time they were more scheduled runs. I still kept running for fun, but each run had purpose behind it in some way. They were an easy, tempo/speed based, long, or a combination of two.

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Time for Packet Pickup at the Expo

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Marathon Weekend/Day! 

I drove home that Friday before, stayed the night there, and the next day drove down to Miami with my mom. The expo was amazing and was in the Art Deco district of Miami. There was so many vendors, food samples, and gear! I bought the Miami Marathon 26.2 mile car magnet and bought an “official” Miami Marathon long sleeve shirt! (not included in goodie bag). My mom and I walked along the Wynwood District (a part of the Art Deco district), saw the Wynwood Walls—which I recommend! and found a local coffee shop called Panther Coffee…AHmazing. They have a delicious latte I must say. Its always ritual for a pasta dinner the night before, so I made reservations at this local Italian restaurent called Spaghettino through Yelp. It was so cute and local! I had gluten free pasta with homemade tomato sauce, mozzerella cheese, fresh basil, and seasonings and it was simple and delicious. I didn’t over stuff myself and made sure to drink plenty of water. We got back to the hotel and relaxed. I tried not to think about my race, look at the course map, over plan or think about any of it. As soon as I posted pics to social media, I played solitaire (my fav mindless game) then went to bed around 9:45. Early to bed before my wake-up at 3:30am to eat!!

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Wynwood District in Miami
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Mom’s really excited for our Italian pre race dinner!

Marathon “breakfast” included copious amounts of peanut butter with gluten free pretzels and an orange plus a bottle of water. I got to corral H (a corral are sectioned off areas behind the start to help keep runners organized, usually based on estimated finish times before the start of the race). My mom and I headed down around 5:15/5:30am all bundled up waiting to start at 6am. It was in the 40s that morning plus a windchill–one hell of a day to race! haha. I had two long sleeve shirts on for layering plus cheap gloves which I ditched at mile one. Throughout the beginning of the race, I didn’t kill myself and went about a minute slower then usual and took my first gu at mile four. I picked up the pace gradually, and had a gu every three miles.

By mile thirteen, I was feeling great! At this point I was considering removing and ditching my top layer. After going back and forth in my head, I decided against it. I honestly didn’t want to stop. I wanted to keep going! There was a breeze the whole time, so keeping both layers was tolerable. One regret I had was looking back where the marathon and half split…..LOL all mental! Coconut Grove, a quaint residental and historic area of Miami, was my favorite part of the course. It was somewhat shaded and the houses were beautiful. Some local families had tables of there own with beer and candy to hand out!

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Pre-Race and Bundled Up before heading to the start!

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I stayed focused throughout mile twenty. Mile 23 was probably my toughest. It was the pier (not sure the name) but that’s when I felt myself somewhat fade…eekk!!! It was also the mile my music died due to my playlist not being long enough and ran out of my electrolyte drink, Nuun in my Nathan Sports water bottle…oh well! Again I didn’t want to stop so mentally I pushed through. They say count down from twenty, but six more miles was too much. After starting to feel tired, I up-ed my gu to every two miles. At this point I was so over the gu, which at this point had eight of them, it took me my all to get it down. I used gu as another form of measurement to the finish as well haha…” I would say *two* more gus till you get real food!” If I had any more then eight gus during this race, I would have puked. Sorry #TMI haha. I took gatorade the last three to four miles and had my last gu at mile twenty-two. I felt my feet burning from blisters forming and was WAY past feeling anything in my legs. I kept saying to myself “all your effort and training is right here in front of you” periodically throughout the race, especially approaching mile twenty and the last six miles.

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Most iconic pic of the whole race haha! Dad snapped this at mile 11

The last mile was momumental. Out of pure adrenaline, my pace was around seven or so minutes. I wanted to see that finish as soon as I could! We ran over the Biscayne Bridge before heading into mile 26 and although the bridge was hardly anything, it was the most mentally tough part of the course…tougher the mile 23. It didn’t help spectators saying, “finish is right over the bridge!” because it wasn’t. It was over the bridge, plus the .2 which was torture.

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SO CLOSE!

I’ve never been so happy to finish a race EVER!!!! The spectators along the sides of mile 26 were amazing. So many people cheering and smiling! I couldn’t help but smile too despite the pain. The finish was RIGHT THERE and BOOM I crossed it. Just like that, I FINISHED and was in one piece! Just like that it was over. I did the biggest fist pump at the finish. Then all of the sudden all the soreness and pain went straight to my legs and my body was numb. They tunneled us through the finish and gave goodie bags with pretzels and water. I was delirious. At the end of the finish, there was mom and dad!!! They had the cutest and brightest signs and were right in the front of the crowd. I was ELATED to see them. My mom cried and gave me a hug and my dad just gave me a hug and congratulated me. I needed water and fluids immediately but oddly there was not many options in the post race area 😦 one of the downsides in terms of poor planning. I sat down and couldn’t move and had no appetite. Three blisters later, but thankfully that was my worst “pain” the whole race. Thank God my mom surprised me with a new pair of flip flops called, Oofos. They were HEAVEN and was like walking on a cloud. We walked ten blocks back to the hotel…the longest ten blocks of my life even though I know it was good for me to keep moving. I showered, changed, and put on my CEP compression tights. Time for lunch at the Biscayne Tavern!

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The FEELS are REAL

We went to a place for lunch called Biscayne Tavern for lunch, another Yelp recommendation. All I wanted post marathon was a huge A$$ burger and fries. This place hit the nail on the head let me tell you. The burger was amazing with all the fixings and sweet potato fries were on point. I didn’t have a beer because I feel like I couldn’t completely stomach that post race plus I felt dehydrated. After lunch we headed out of town and back to Delray where we arrived around 3pm and I went to bed, iced, ate more, and went to bed again. LOL.

I took off Monday and stayed home and recovered. I got a massage the next day at The Sagely Willow Massage & Bodywork Company. I’m not one to get massages, but today it was SO necessary! It was amazing. They used a car buffer/polisher on my body and it did wonders! I felt significantly better and was able to drive back to Tampa that evening.

I must say it was by far the most amazing running experience yet AND I would do it AGAIN! I’m proud to say I ran the entire race, did not need first aid, didn’t stop for water, gu, to use the bathroom, or tie my shoe, walk etc. I knew signing up I would RUN the entire thing and nothing else. Not to say walking if I had to would be the end of the world, but I had trained the three months I did to RUN it.

I finished strong with a time of 3 hours and 57 minutes and took number eight out of ten in my age group! All the training, early morning runs, the amount of time I spent on my feet, speed and intervals sessions, and gu of all things paid off!! Although I’m incredibly proud of my time and place, I am most proud of my commitment to my training. I could have said f— it, I don’t want to run today, but I sucked it up and perservered on ALL of my runs. I did not miss many of my runs. I knew the training I was getting into and the time I would be devoting to this. In some ways training is like a part-time job. I made sure to not look at it like this, but more of a dedication to my passion and an opportunity to improve and challenge myself. I can say I don’t regret training for this distance and making it part of my schedule the past three months. I can officially say that it’s true, miles change you, and I’m grateful every single one.

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Standing and Smiling Post 26.2! Look at that hardware!

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Results are IN!