Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Half Marathon Race Recap

After a jam packed Friday and Saturday in Pittsburgh, it was finally time for race day! I kept waking up thinking I was going to be late for the race, so my sleep wasn’t exactly sound. I finally decided to get up a few minutes before my 5:30am alarm. I stumbled around the hotel room getting ready.

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I made sure I had my watch, my Honey Stingers, my fuel belt, my Nuun, and of course, my pace tattoo!

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We headed down to the lobby around 6 and met up with the rest of the #runfor crew. I ate half a blueberry bagel with butter and drank some Cherry Limeade Nuun. Corrals were closing at 6:45 and I had a bit further of a walk than some of the other runners because I was in a later corral so we set off around 6:20 or so.

Sidenote- I’m pretty sure staying at a hotel near the start line of the race is a must do for me from now on. I loved not having to worry about driving/traffic/parking on race morning! Especially with nearly 30,000 runners in this race, I can’t even imagine the madness.

A last minute stop at the portapotty and it was time to enter the corrals. Security was obviously heightened. Some people asked me if I was nervous to run a race after everything that happened at Boston. I can honestly say I wasn’t. Meeting with some of the PR people that work with Dick’s and the race I knew they had it under control. They took a lot of precautions like No spectators allowed near the corrals and they had these signs up:

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They actually checked our bibs as we went into our corrals. I was in the last corral, which was crazy full. We heard the star spangled banner off in the distance and sat there for awhile before we started moving. We had to have walked nearly a mile just to get to the start. It took close to 25 minutes for us to even get up to the starting line… see it up there?

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As we approached the start the energy was electric! The crowd was loud and strong – there were SO many people there cheering us on. I mean, by the time we had got to the start people had been crossing the line for over 20 minutes! And the crowd was still going strong!

And just like that… we were off! I saw the hubs just a little ways down from the start. He was such a great spectator! Barely a half mile into the race they already had a band set up and playing. There was a cheering banana just after mile 2. SO many people were out everywhere cheering us on. I thought surely the crowd would die down after a while – especially being one of the slower runners- but they didn’t! The first few miles went quick. I was holding a decent pace and on track to PR big time. Mile 3 brought the first of 5 bridges we would cross.

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I can honestly tell you that eating carbs pre-race made a HUGE difference for me. During the GO half in April I was already gassed by mile 4. This time around I was feeling strong. We crossed another bridge around mile 4 reminding us we were earning the title “Runner of Steel”

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Just after this bridge I saw the hubs again. He walked briskly next to me while I pounded my feet out trying to run faster… haha. We then turned around and crossed another bridge… yay for bridges! Oh yea- this is also where I spotted the guy who was juggling his way through the whole race. Seriously!

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Miles 5 & 6 were good, nothing exciting to report. I remember crossing the 10k mark and heading for yet another bridge. It truly was gorgeous out. The perfect race conditions, cool with clear skys. And honestly, I was surprised at how beautiful the city was!

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At this point we were heading outside of the downtown area and I was certain the course would be empty about this time. Man, was I wrong. There were SO many people out cheering us on! At this point I was still pretty close to being on target for my 3 hour finish. I felt energized by the crowd and tried to pick it up a bit. Mile 8 had another water station… which, this course was absolutely amazing with! I never felt myself wishing for another water station. They were perfectly spaced out and well manned. Even being one of the “slower” runners I found that they still had plenty left and ready to hand out when I got to each one. As we passed through the water station there was a huge crowd of what looked to be Military. Turns out it was a local JROTC program cheering us on! This, of course, made me pick up my pace. I remember being in JROTC in high school and not being able to pass the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and how far I’d come since then. So I ran harder.

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At this point my legs/hips were getting pretty tired. I was a few minutes behind my pace schedule but kept trying to catch back up. Miles 9 & 10 passed as we were nearing the split off from the Full Marathon. Mile 11 came as we crossed a bridge back into the downtown area. At this point I was pretty certain I could shave off those few minutes and still come in sub-3. Then I turned the corner near mile 12 and saw the hill. It wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined… but it really killed me. Then started the downhill… I was thankful for the extra momentum but it was not feeling good on my hips/legs that were already hurting. I just tried to keep a steady pace. I was going to go for it as soon as I saw the finish line. Right around mile 13 the full marathon rejoined our course. People were going crazy as the marathoners came in. I was imagining it was all for me. ha. I tried my best to sprint it out and then got a charlie horse in my right calf… and in my right hip (how does that even happen?)… and then in my left calf… so I did the ugliest sprint/waddle to finish.

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It felt so good to cross that finish line and know I was done. I was hurting far more than I did on my last race because I know I pushed myself way harder. I was proud of myself. Even if I didn’t get my sub-3… I was close!

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My previous PR was 3:23, so a nearly 20 minute PR! I’ll take it! I snagged my bag of goodies at the finish and my Runner of Steel Medal and hobbled toward the Dick’s Sporting Goods tent where I met up with the rest of the #runfor crew…. ate some snacks and got a massage. Man, VIP tents rock.

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Overall I was seriously impressed with this race. The course is beautiful, the aid stations were well executed… but the thing that stuck out to me the most was how excited the people of Pittsburgh were to support the race. It is a BIG deal in this city. Some places can make you feel like the races they put are a hassle – but Pittsburgh honestly LOVED this race. And it showed. The crowd support on this course was unlike any I had experienced before. It was so motivating. I was brought to tears a few times as I struggled through my own pain/thought process and needed that encouragement to keep going. So, hats off to Pittsburgh. You rock.

The rest of the day was spent napping and relaxing with the hubs. Where I looked like this:

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Post nap hair and compression sleeves. Oh yea.

and this happened too…

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Apparently Primanti Bros is a Pittsburgh must-do… so we did.

What do you do after a big race? Nap? Eat?
What’s your latest PR?

I was compensated for this campaign with Dicks Sporting Goods. All thoughts and opinions are my own

 

 

Whole30 April Week 1 Recap

I left my computer in the office for the whole weekend, and it felt great! I’m still recovering from yesterday’s Half marathon – It was a memorable experience. I’ll recap it in detail tomorrow. Today is time for my week 1 Whole30 Recap!

So, here we are at the beginning of Week 2 of our April Whole 30. How are you doing?

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Days 1 & 2 weren’t that terrible for me. I found myself having a headache at the end of day 2 and 3, but still feeling pretty good. I was drinking water like it was going out of style. I down like 6 of these a day – at least.

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I’ve kept my meals pretty simple… eggs & veggies for breakfast, Tuna or Chicken for lunch, usually over spinach. And steak/chicken/veggies for dinner. Here is a sample of some of my meals from this week

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Slow cooked Chicken Breast over Spinach, roasted carrots, buttercup squash & asparagus – Organic Girl Greens Sample at the Exp0 – Salad from the Salad Bar at Jason’s Deli – Eggs, Bell Pepper, Onion, Mushrooms over spinach with Avocado – Spaghetti Squash and Tomato Sauce with chicken tender – Steak from Little Hills Winery – Eggs over Medium, Spinach & Mushrooms, Sausage Patty

My snacks have been Cashew’s & Rasins or Raw Veggies.

I didn’t really think I ate that “bad” before this – and for the most part I didn’t. I just didn’t realize how easy it was to talk myself into treats/splurges. There have been so many times I’ve had a craving for a sweet/dessert and had to use the steamed chicken and broccoli trick to talk myself out of it.

The hardest thing for me to adjust to has been coffee! I never ever ever thought I would drink black coffee. But I have been, and I’m still alive! I have been using Canned Coconut milk as creamer when I want a treat but I drink it mostly black now and I’m ok with it! Day 1 I did mess up by using the boxed Almond milk, apparently that is overly processed and “off plan” as well. I did some research throughout the week and figured out how to make my own almond milk. It’s actually really easy!

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I just put one cup of whole almonds in 4 cups of water and let it sit in the fridge for 48 hours, then poured the old water out – put the almonds in a blender with 3 cups fresh water and blend until frothy and well blended. Pour mixture through a nut milk bag (I bought mine on amazon for a few bucks) and squeeze all the liquid out. Then I let the almond pieces dry out and plan on using it for other cooking. I frothed up my homemade milk in a cup of coffee and it was great!

This week went by fast and I honestly felt great most of it. I slept better and just felt lighter and happier. Going into this challenge the thing I was most concerned about was my half marathon. I had a friend coming in town to run it with me and we planned on going to meet up with another friend of ours in Columbia on Saturday night and I just wasn’t sure if I should do normal carb loading or try to stay on plan. I ate a ton of sweet potato at breakfast and had that spaghetti squash for lunch before we left. When we got to Columbia I still didn’t know what I would eat for dinner. Well, I ended up getting smoothie from this organic juice place – not the best whole30 choice but better than any of the other options. It was full of whole fruits and veggies with added Spirulina (and Payton had some of it too).

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Then we headed to Shakespeare’s Pizza. While I have eaten Pizza before most of my races, I just didn’t know how the gluten/dairy would affect my run after not having it for so long. So I passed on it and went for a spinach salad. The dressing was not whole30 so I just ate the salad dry. And no, that wasn’t my Red Stripe. I had plain black tea.

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My biggest accomplishment was when we went to the FroYo place. I didn’t have a lick of it. I just watched them enjoy theirs.

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I had planned on eating some more sweet potatoes when we got home, but we got home late and in the chaos of getting everything together for the race I forgot and went to bed. Whoops.

Then came race day. I had a banana and SunButter before heading out the door. I had some Honey Stingers with me but still wasn’t sure I would use them. I wanted desperately to stay on plan, but I also wanted to stay on course with the Whole30. It was a hard decision, but I knew as soon as I started running I wasn’t fueled enough, despite my best efforts. My legs were heavy. I ended up eating the whole pack of Honey Stingers, drinking some gatorade, eating a popsicle that some amazing people were handing out around mile 11 (I am pretty sure I would have eaten anything at the point) and I had a small bite of Ice Cream at the finish. At our post race meal all I wanted was a burger and fries, but I ordered a steak and veggies. I had some sweet potato fries as an appetizer and I’m sure they weren’t cooked according to Whole30 Standards. It wasn’t the worst choice, but it wasn’t the best. Technically according to Whole30 rules I should restart, but I’m just going to keep chugging along. I know its about elimination and reset, and I may have disrupted that process but with what I put my body through I don’t think I would have made it without the things I ate/drank throughout the day. Lesson learned – don’t do a major diet change the week before your half marathon! I’m still SUPER proud of the decisions I made. Usually running gives me the free pass cheat card where I eat like crap the rest of the day because I “earned it” – but I didn’t do that. I got technically off plan with some of the things I used, but I didn’t use that as an excuse to go wild. I did what I needed to do and I got right back on track.

Alright – Your turn! I know a ton of you are doing (or have done) a Whole30, so feel free to link up your Whole30 check in posts! How are you doing? 



If you've done a whole30 AND a long distance race - how did you fuel?

 

 

CrossFit Endurance Half Marathon Training Plan

I consider running my first fitness love. That’s really what got me into “healthy living” several years ago. I started running a little bit at a time and then jumped into training for a marathon. Not the best idea I’ve ever had, but I learned a lot. Right after I DNF’d the Disney Marathon, I jumped right into training for the GO! STL Half Marathon just 2 weeks after that ugly DNF experience. I didn’t really feel prepared and practically crawled across the finish line in 3:23:48. It was a few minute PR from the Half Marathon Split from Disney, but I know that I know I can do better. In training for both The Disney Marathon and the GO! Half marathon I just put in the miles. Which will (in theory) get you to the finish line. This year I am going to run the GO! Half Marathon again, but I plan on setting a huge PR. Since last year I have learned so much more about training, started CrossFit, and lost about 25lbs. Those factors along with using a CrossFit Endurance Training plan will help me reach my goal.

My plan is to keep going to my regular 5am CrossFit, but adding in specific running intervals 3x a week. I found a plan here – but wanted to make it a little prettier, so I made my own excel spreadsheet.

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I’m super excited to see how using a specific training plan, along with speed and strength training, will help me improve my Half Marathon time.

This year I am again partnering with The Crossing and Team Living Water to run this race to raise awareness and funds for those who don’t have access to clean drinking water. Take a look at this quick video:

We endure, so they don’t have to.

My goal is to raise $500 towards this cause. If you have a few extra dollars to spare, please consider donating now.

Have you ever used a CrossFit Endurance Training plan?