St. Pete Women’s Half Marathon Recap

Another half-marathon with my BFF- check! 🙂

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This morning, Debbie and I completed the Women’s Half Marathon in St. Pete, FL. It was my 5th half, and Debbie’s 4th. The race was tough, but surprisingly one of my favorites!

 

It all started on Saturday, when Debbie and I met at the race expo. We checked the board for our race numbers…

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…and collected our schwag! IMG_0857 

The expo was very… pink! Seriously, though, it was a great expo with tons of merchandise and women’s specific everything. One of the best

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After the expo, we headed to Debbie’s parents house for Thanksgiving Dinner! I had a plate full, with a little of everything.

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No girls’ weekend would be complete without the traditional girls’ night pants. Thanks, Deb!

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After setting our alarms for a painful early 4:30am (we had a 1.5 hour drive), we hit the hay early. The race started at 7:00am, and we lined up according to our bib numbers (in corrals) just before the race began.

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The course was one of the best I’ve run. We ran all around the town, near the water…

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…to the pier and back…

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…and even inside of Tropicana Field, where the Devil Rays (baseball team) play!

 

The race did a great job of displaying every mile marker clearly, with timers at every one.

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Water stations were a plenty! I barely had time to get thirsty before hitting the next station. It was great.

 

I was shocked to find a handful of men even competing in this otherwise-all-women race.

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Debbie and I had discussed aiming for around a 9:00 min/mile pace prior to the race. We started out together and maintained a solid 8:45 min/mile average pace for the first 5.0 miles.

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I started to wonder if I had started out to ambitiously, but my legs were feeling fine. But then…

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…the stomach pains began. 😦

 

Debbie continued on without me, while I walked through the water stations. I figured I would catch up soon, but my pace started to rapidly drop as the pains got sharper.

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What started off as a great race was quickly turning sour. I kept feeling the urge to walk as my stomach pain intensified. It hurt less when I slowed my pace, but I knew my legs could move faster.

 

I knew that if I slowed my pace, my stomach would feel better, but I wanted to RACE! I don’t sign up for races “just to finish” anymore… I come to RACE! I race to push my body to new limits and see what I’m capable of.

 

Then, something hit me. By slowing down my pace, I wasn’t giving up. I wasn’t quitting. I was simply adjusting my pace so that I wouldn’t throw my breakfast onto an innocent bystander.

 

Once I decided to maintain about a 9:45-10:00 min/mile pace, my stomach pains calmed…but were still lingering. I tried to focus on one thing, and one thing only. Having FUN!

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Sometimes, I take myself way to seriously. Every race cannot be a personal best. But you can personally make the best of it. 🙂

 

Debbie and I passed each other during an out-and-back near miles 11-12. We waved, and I gave her two thumbs up! She was almost a full mile ahead of me when she finished in 1:57:00 (and change).

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By the time I came around the final turn of the race, my watch was already well past the two hour mark.

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I crossed the finish line in 2:07:30 (unofficial), setting a new PW, or Personal Worst. I finished approximately 16 minutes slower than my PR of 1:51:07, from last December.

 

I thought I would be way more disappointed than I actually am! I really don’t feel bummed at all. I love racing! This summer, I struggled through 3.0 mile runs. I’ve come SO far in such a short time, that it’s hard to justify self-pity.

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Even though today I set a new PW, it was one of my favorite races. Despite my intense stomach pains, I know I can run faster. The course was beautiful, the buddies were great, and the feeling of finishing was amazing.

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I can’t wait to race again! In the meantime, I need to figure out these crazy stomach pain issues…they’ve been ruining a lot of potentially great races this year.

 

❤ MegaNerd

RACE RECAP: Miracle Miles 15k 2010

Today’s race was a tough one, but I’m not giving up!

 

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This morning, I completed the Miracles Miles 15k! I completed this race last year as well, and was excited to be a part of it again. This race raises money for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Children. Yay for helping tiny babies! 😀

 

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been feeling under the weather all week. I took my readers’ advice, and decided to rest all week instead of run. Health wise, I think that helped me to get well faster. I’m not so sure it did wonders for my running though…

 

On the car ride over, I fueled up white a honey wheat bagel with jam:

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The race started at 7:20am. At 6:50am, I was only a mile away from the start line, and stuck in dead stopped traffic. I don’t know what it is about this race (held downtown) but the traffic stunk! Mark found a parking spot and we walked about 0.8 miles to the start line. I was worried I wouldn’t get there in time, but at the last minute, I found my friend Joanna!

 

I lined up at the VERY back of the starting line (which is never good in my opinion) and waited almost two whole minutes to cross the starting line!

 

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I knew that I wasn’t even going to be able to come close to beating my PR (Personal Record) for this race, so I started off at a moderate 10:00 min/mile pace. For the first 2.0 miles, I felt awesome!

 

Around mile 4.0, my knees literally just locked up. I haven’t felt that much intense knee pain since I ran the Disney Marathon! I got scared! I slowed my pace almost to a 11:00 min/mile which turned out to make the pain worse.

 

I was determined to finish this run, even though I felt like quitting every single minute. It was tough! Each mile felt like an eternity. By the time I reached the 8.0 mile marker, the clock had already ticked past my previous PR of 1:20:56.

 

At this point, I knew I couldn’t even make it to the finish in under 1:30. I told myself over and over not to get discouraged. I should be proud! This is the farthest I have run since January. I am just getting over an injury and back into shape. I have been sick all week, and am out here to have fun!

 

Cough shot…

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I’m not so sure it was “fun” but this race definitely motivated me. It made me realize that running isn’t easy, and that the times that I have excelled are also the times when I’m working hardest.

 

Official Time: 1:36:52

Official Pace: 10:23.5 min/mile

 

I crossed the finish line feeling slightly defeated, but also quite proud. I did the absolute best that I possibly could have done, today. Not for the runner I was a year ago… but today. (Thanks for that pep talk, Joanna!)

 

I know that a 10:00 min/mile pace would be amazing for some people, and I think it’s great, too! It’s just hard when I know I have done way better at every other race in the past four years of my life. I worked hard to get in shape, and I’ll just have to do it again!

 

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Meghann and Kelly were at the finish line cheering me on! I was glad to find friends at the end of the race. 🙂

 

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Mark was a trooper and sat through the whole race! Thanks for the hug at the finish line! Sorry I got you all sweaty 😦

 

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There was tons of food at the after party, but nothing looks appetizing that early in the morning, or after running almost 10 miles! I grabbed a chunky pineapple popsicle.

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Once I got home, I refueled with a Mango Honey yogurt + granola:

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After my amazing 2.5 hour nap, I ate some more! Half a box of Velveeta with broccoli:

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Side Note:  I NEVER take naps. It is extremely hard for me to fall asleep unless it is pitch black… I would say once or twice a year. I must have been tired!

 

Even though I finished today’s race a whopping 16 minutes slower than one year ago, I am still proud of myself. I have something to work for! I’m planning on training for a half marathon in the upcoming months, and this was the perfect kick-off run! 🙂

 

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Now, I’m off to ice my knees and find more food! My belly is getting HUNGRY!

 

❤ MegaNerd

 

P.S. Who votes I take up swimming instead? Just kidding of course. 🙂

Moss Park Sprint Triathlon Recap

Today’s race was an amazing experience. I finished my first sprint triathlon, and more importantly conquered my fear.

 

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My alarm went off way before sunrise, around 5:00 am. I quickly got dressed, grabbed my bike, and bag of gear, and made some toast to eat on my way out.

 

I wasn’t too hungry, but peanut butter toast with blackberry jelly seemed easy on my unsettled stomach. 

 

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I arrived at the triathlon about 40 minutes before it started, leaving just enough time to get marked up and set up my transition area.

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The volunteers wrote my age, 23, on one leg, and “T” for Triathlon on the other. There were multiple events going on and it’s an easy way to identify who is doing which.

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After a quick bathroom pit stop, I ran to the water and waited for my wave to start. 

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The sun started to rise while we were waiting…

 

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Five minutes after 7:00am, and the second wave started! As the gun went off, I panicked for about 10 seconds. I didn’t want to swim! Realizing that it was now or never, I slowly walked out into the water.

 

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The water was a perfect temperature. Had it been slightly warmer or colder, I probably would have been uncomfortable. As I began to get deeper in the water, I realized just how dark and murky it was. I took my first stroke and realized that I couldn’t see more than a couple of inches in front of my face. I was pretty freaked.

 

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The swim course consisted of a triangular formation of two bouys, and the beach. The first buoy was to my right, so I decided to stay to the back right of the pack.

 

I felt like everyone was swimming so much faster than me. I panicked a few times because I couldn’t see anything in the water. Each time I started to freak out, I closed my eyes and pulled through the water. I tried to keep my mind off the unknown, and focus on getting to the next buoy.

 

I ended up switching to backstroke a few times so that I could catch my breath, which I think saved me a ton of energy. When I would try to swim freestyle, I had to keep my face out of the water much of the time.

I swam hard all the way until my feet hit bottom. I was so happy to be on land!

 

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My swim technique could use a great deal of improvement, but I managed to make it out alive! I thought the swim would take approximately 20-21 minutes to complete based on previous swims, but it only took 16 minutes!

 

I ran onto the sand, and could here my friends screaming for me. I couldn’t see them, but I knew they were there!

 

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There was about a quarter mile run to transition 1. I ripped my swim cap and goggles off as I jogged to the transition area.

 

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I fumbled around a little bit with throwing a shirt on, snapped on my helmet, put on my socks and shoes, and took my bike off the rack. I was really nervous for some reason, and my body was shaking.

 

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I managed to pull it together and head out to the bike course.

 

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The bike course was 12.4 miles, and I completed it in 41:04 or about a 17 mph average pace.

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I underestimated how hard it would be to start pedaling my bike after swimming. I had not practiced it, but after a few minutes it wasn’t too bad.

 

I tried to keep a high cadence for most of the ride, thinking that it would save some energy for the run. I focused on passing one person at a time, and not on the entire distance. It actually worked out pretty well, and I was off the bike before I knew it.

 

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Transitioning from bike to run was pretty seamless. I re-racked my bike, took of my helmet, slipped off my bike shoes, and quickly tied my running shoes.

 

I splashed some water on my face, because somehow it was covered in sand. It felt GOOD!

 

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My legs felt pretty heavy, but my goal was to maintain a 10 min/mile pace. That’s the pace that I have been used to running the past couple of months, and I felt like that would be a reasonable goal.

 

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After the first 4-5 minutes, I was about to pick it up to around 9:42 min/mile pace and maintain that for the remainder of the 2.75 mile run.

 

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I approached the finish line with chills. It felt SO good to race again. I didn’t realize how happy it makes me!

 

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I felt so accomplished as I crossed that finish line! Not only did I tackle a new race (triathlon), but I faced my fears of open water swimming.

 

My official times:

Swim: 16:04   (750 metera)

Run to T1: 2:38

T1: 2:19

Bike: 41:04 (12.4 miles)

T2: 1:05

Run: 26:55 (2.75 miles)

 

Total Time: 1:30:11

 

 

I consider my first triathlon a success! 🙂 Perhaps another tri will be in my future?

 

 

BIG thanks to all my friends (Mark, Kelly, Katy and Adam) for coming to cheer for me! It was so nice to have a fan club/photography team 😉

 

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❤ MegaNerd

Yucca Tots and the 5k that Wasn’t

I finally found a yucca root at my grocery store!

 

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Ok, that’s a lie. I actually went to a different Publix so that I could find this. I don’t know why my usual one doesn’t carry it!?

 

I have been wanting to make yucca fries ever since I started seeing them on the blog world. My yucca was small, so I had to make yucca tots.

 

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They were pretty easy to make, and tasted great!

 

Mark made some chicken with balsamic and onion, plus roasted broccoli to go along with it.

 

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I think roasting broccoli tastes much better than steaming it, but I’m usually too lazy to do it!

 

 

The 5k that Wasn’t

 

Four weeks ago, I announced that today I would be running Miles for Moffit 5k.

 

Well, that happened about two hours ago…and I just got out of bed. 😀

 

I decided not to participate in the race for a  number of reasons. Ever since I got home from a action-packed weekend in North Carolina, I have worked three full days at both jobs (8am-8pm) and another day (only until 4pm) followed by a bike ride. I have not been getting adequate sleep and I woke up on Friday feeling absolutely drained. I had trouble getting out of bed, and when I finally did I just felt achy all over.

 

I knew that I could not PR as I’m just coming back from a knee injury. I planned on racing just “for fun” but the thought of waking up, driving 1.5 hours away to race alone, and dropping $25 (plus gas)  didn’t really seem all that fun.

 

Sleep sounded MUCH better. I fell asleep on the couch last night at approximately 8:38 pm. The boyfriend and I had just turned on a movie and I crashed. I woke up 12 hours later feeling completely re-energized.

 

Clearly, my body needed sleep much more than it needed a race.

It kind of stinks that there really aren’t any more running races until August, but I’m okay with that. I have PLENTY of time to prepare for them, and it’s too hot in summer anyways.

 

Instead, I’m off to bike with Caitlin! Then, I’m heading to Tampa to see my family.

 

Have you ever bailed on a race?

 

❤ MegaNerd

Breakaway to Sugarloaf Race Recap

Today I discovered that there are ACTUALLY hills in Florida! Who knew?!

 

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Before setting out to tackle 50km of hills, I filled up with a blueberry bagel and peanut butter.

 

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Mark’s breakfast was a little more involved: PB bagel, banana, yogurt, and CLIF bar. That boy can eat!

 

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We drove out to Clermont, about 45 minutes away from Orlando, for the Breakaway to Sugarloaf bike ride. The event had three distances: 18 mile, 31 mile, and 62 mile rides.

 

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Mark and I decided a while back to only complete the 31 mile ride, since we were unsure about hills and lack of training. We met up with our friends to wish them good luck before they set out on the 62 mile bike ride!

 

The crazy 62 mile group:

Caitlin

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Ashley 

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…and Caitlin’s dad.

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After waving goodbye, I met up with blog reader Kristen. She was also completing the 31 mile distance, and we decided a few days ago to stick together during the ride.

 

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Before setting out on the ride, we consulted the map. I am not at all familiar with this part of town and I was so glad to have this with me.

 

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After only about two miles, it sunk it just how hard this ride was going to be. Training on flat surfaces does not prepare you for hills. Not at all.

 

The first aid station was around mile 8. I was so happy to get off and stretch.

 

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Each aide station had a place to hang up bikes so riders could walk around, stretch their legs, and get a snack.

 

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I had two fig newtons at the first station.

 

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Sadly we had to get back on our bikes and start pedaling. We rode about 9 more miles and then it happened. Caitlin told us we would pee our pants when we saw Sugarloaf mountain… and I almost did!    

 

 

This picture, which I stole from Caitlin because I didn’t want to lose momentum on the hill, does NOT do this hill justice. It was HUGE. Kristen burst out laughing, and I said, “is this a sick joke!?!” It was insane!

 

The worst part is that there is a “false flat” which is about 20 yards. You can see what you think is the top of the hill and then it keeps going up. You are tricked!

 

I had to get off my bike and walk it up the hill. I was so proud of Kristen who hung in there and pedaled all the way up. She looked like she was working as hard as possible and only going about 4mph. GAH!

 

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I felt a little lame, but a few other cyclists had to do the same thing. I caught Mark walking a couple times, but mostly just to encourage me along. 😀

 

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Once we got to the top of the hill, I was so extremely excited to see the second aide station. We stopped for about 10 minutes. Obviously, we were not in a rush!

 

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I had a donut hole (epic!)

 

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…and refilled my water bottle half way with gatorade.

 

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Once again, we got back on the bikes.

 

As the saying goes, “what goes up, must come down.” Whoever said this must have been a cyclist on Sugarloaf. The downhills were the BEST part. I loved speeding down the hills.

 

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I am a very timid cyclist, and I can’t go down the hills without a little break resistance. Mark however pedaled his bike as fast as he possibly could, and managed to get his bike up to 43.0 mph at one point! INSANITY! The speed limit was 35… luckily there were no cops around! 😉

 

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It started to rain around mile 25. This is also when my left knee (not the same one that I injured during the marathon) started hurting in the same location as it did on the right. YIKES!

 

I took it pretty slow and just told myself that I couldn’t give up. I knew that I could ice it and take ibuprofen when I got to the car, but there is NO GIVING UP!!! Giving up would be MegaLame.

 

As we approached the end of the ride, it was pretty anti-climatic. There were no screaming fans and no finish line. I literally just rode straight to my car! I was so happy to see my car.

 

I did one of these numbers. Remember my twenty mile run during marathon training? Similar concept!

 

 

I immediately grabbed a banana to quiet my growling stomach.

 

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Then, posed for a group picture: Kristen, Me, Mark.

 

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Go team!

 

I finished feeling wiped. I am so glad that I didn’t do the 62 mile death ride!

 

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It took a total of two hours, 52 minutes, and 13 seconds including stops to complete 30.35 miles of intense hills. I was proud!

 

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Honestly, it was a really hard ride for me. It wasn’t really the distance that was a challenge, but the fact that I was not used to riding on hills. I pretty much had to learn which gears to shift to and the right timing. I wish that I could have practiced before today!

 

My chain kept popping off when I tried to switch gears. It was really frustrating me at first, because I had to keep stopping and figure out what was wrong. UGGGH! It fell off about 4 times before I figured out the problem!

 

It was a fun ride, but I don’t really think hills are awesome. I felt unprepared for them! I really want to do a full metric century (62 miles) but ONLY on flat ground!

 

Here is a map of the elevations… Crazy, right?!

 

Megan - Garmin Training Center(r) 4182010 45725 PM.bmp

 

My knee is hurting, and I’m falling asleep at the computer. I’m off to rest!

 

❤ MegaNerd

The Spirit of MY FIRST Marathon.

Good morning!

 

I made a lovely yogurt mess this morning for breakfast.

 

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This combination of Kashi heart to heart, granola, and vanilla Oikos never gets old.

 

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I’m officially in Back-to-school mode, so I will be gone all day. I thought I would leave you with a video recap of my first marathon experience.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

❤ MegaNerd

Pain is Temporary, Quitting is Forever

Yesterday, I ran the Walt Disney World marathon with my best friend. 

 

It was my very first marathon, and one of the most memorable experiences of my entire life!

 

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Back up to Saturday night… We headed over to Caitlin’s for our pre-race dinner.

 

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She made veggie lasagna and other people brought some dishes for sharing.

 

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I had one of the brownies that I brought for dessert.

 

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Once we got to the hotel, Debbie and I laid our things out, so that we wouldn’t have to worry to much in the morning.

 

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check out our matching PJ pants…

 

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We actually got hungry again, so we ordered a pizza! I had one slice and then crashed.

 

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My alarm was set for 2:30 am, since we had to be on board the bus by 3:30 am. I woke up at 1:45 thinking I slept through the alarm, and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was SO excited about the race!

 

I packed Bagels and Almond butter from home, along with bananas to eat right before the start of the race.

 

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Once we bundled up (it was 26 degrees) we headed to the bus stop.

 

Debbie and I were worried that we wouldn’t be able to find Kelly, but somehow we found her. We had plans to stick together for most (or the whole) race.

 

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After 18 weeks of training, and running 440 miles, I finally made it to the starting line of my first marathon.

 

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The race started just outside of EPCOT. We were only REALLY cold for the first two miles, so we quickly shed our top layer of clothing.

 

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We ran through each Disney park, and spent a lot of time on the stinky back roads.

 

The first seven miles FLEW by! We were all so excited and generally really happy and things were going great! We had no trouble maintaining our goal of 10:00 min/mile pace.

 

 

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My favorite part of the course was running through the Magic Kingdom. It was great to see all of the fans along the course cheering us on, and getting to run straight through the castle. I also felt my best at this point in the race, which I think has a lot to do with it.

 

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It actually worked out great having Kelly and Debbie to run with. We all pushed each other for the first half of the race. At the halfway point, we were predicted to have a 4:22 finishing time based on our current average pace.

 

Little did I know things were about to go downhill.

 

My stomach started hurting a bit at this point, and I was getting a bit worried. Then, Kelly tripped on a road reflector, and took a little tumble. It shook us all up a bit, but she was tough and popped right back up and kept going!

 

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Around mile 15, I knew that I had to use the bathroom ASAP or I would not be finishing the race. I started to speed up in hopes that I would be able to get in and out without making too much of a dent on my (or Kelly and Debbie’s) time.

 

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Somewhere in the mid-teen miles (15-19) I grabbed a banana at one of the water stations. I figured some potassium couldn’t hurt, but it might have hurt my stomach more. 😦

 

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Not much later,  we all started to feel the marathon taking a toll. We switched from talking to each other to zoning out with our head phones on.

 

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This was probably the last time that I felt good during the race, around mile 18. At this point, my stomach was in excruciating pain. I thought that I was going to explode and I knew that I had to stop again.

 

I felt really bad for asking Debbie and Kelly to stop and wait, so I told them to go on ahead without me. They were feeling good and I knew that I was only going to feel worse.

 

Shortly after they left me, around mile 21, I started crying. I thought that finishing seemed impossible. I had already stopped four times to use the bathroom and I was not feeling any better.

 

I passed a few medical tents and SERIOUSLY considered stopping. Every time I tried to run, my stomach would hurt worse. I would take a quick walk break, but when I tried to run again, my joints just locked up. It was mentally and physically challenging because I knew that I was trained well enough to finish, but that my body just couldn’t take it that day.

 

I made a video around mile 22, where I was basically just pouring my heart out and crying about how I had to finish this for myself. As soon as I thought this was the worst I have ever felt in my life, I realized that I had to make a choice to stay positive. I trained hard and did NOT want to give up!

 

My favorite Disney Character EVEEEERRRRR, Mr. Incredible, was right around the corner. I decided to stop and take a picture with him! It instantly brightened my mood! 😀

 

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I realized that I could make this race fun, even if I was alone.

 

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The last three miles were the toughest. I had never run past 22 miles in my life, and I was now alone. I felt like my legs would not move forward anymore, and my stomach was still feeling bad. I ended up stopping at every single restroom from mile 23 to the finish. (Total of 7 times!) 😦

 

I could think about nothing else but finishing the race. When I came around the corner and saw a huge crowd of people cheering and the finish line, I burst into tears. I ran strong through the finish line (ok… really slowly) and felt a huge wave of joy come over me.

 

I FINISHED A MARATHON!!!

 

Never in my life, have I felt so many things at one time. It was mentally and physically the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life.

 

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My parents met me at the finish line, and I pretty much collapsed on the pavement. I knew I would be in pain, but I never expected my body to hurt THIS much.

 

I feel like I really fought for this medal.

 

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Mile Splits:

Mile 1: 10:33

Mile 2:  9:47

Mile 3: 9:45

Mile 4: 9:40

Mile 5: 9:54

Mile 6: 9:50

Mile 7: 10:08

Mile 8: 9:53

Mile 9: 9:58

Mile 10: 10:03

Mile 11: 10:02

Mile 12: 10:24

Mile 13: 9:49

Mile 14: 10:08

Mile 15: 10:26

Mile 16: 10:33

Mile 17: 10:44

Mile 18: 11:10

Mile 19: 11:09

Mile 20: 11:14

Mile 21: 11:11

Mile 22: 14:12

Mile 23: 13:52

Mile 24: 15:35

Mile 25: 13:50

Mile 26: 13:47

End 0.51 mile nubbin: 5:52

 

Total paused time: 14 + change minutes.

 

 

Official finish time: 5:08:09

I didn’t do nearly as well as I wanted to, but there was no way that I could have planned for, or trained for my stomach issues. All things considered, I am very proud to have just finished. I considered quitting so many times, but never gave up.

 

Michael (my little brother) asked me if he could have a medal like mine. I told him that in 10 years he can run it with me and get one of his own. 😀

 

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Congratulations to all my friends and blog friends who ran this weekend!

 

Big thanks to everyone who came out to support me at the race, my family, and to Ryan for the amazing photos!

 

❤ MegaNerd

 

PS- Marathon recap video is coming soon!!