My First Half-Marathon Experience!

About 5 month ago I signed up for the Air Force Half Marathon because I had been reading a lot of things about half marathons and how rewarding they are, so I impulsively signed myself up for one. Before signing up I had only ever ran a 5k, which if you don’t know is only 3.1 miles. Well I downloaded the Nike+ running app and signed up for the coaching feature of a half marathon under “Experienced” instead of “Beginner”. Having only ever run about 4 miles for soccer conditioning in high school I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I was determined. So June 29th rolls around and my training starts with a 4 mile run. Prior to starting training it suggested I run about 4 miles a week, but I completely disregarded this and decided to hit the gym hard for 3 months and see where that got me. I’m honestly glad I did because I had built up so much muscle in my legs, back, and core the runs really didn’t seem awful. I hit every single run without ever missing a day…. until August 31st…

Once school started I just got so busy I had a hard time adjusting with finding time to study and get my runs in, so I stopped running all together at that point. I was getting really burnt out on running at that point as well. My immune system was starting to fade and I was getting colds and allergies kicked in full force at that time as well so I thought taking a week or 2 off from running was a good idea because I was definitely over training myself with running, the gym and extra races I was doing on my off days. I didn’t feel healthy and I was so tired all the time I could barely stay awake most days, so I knew I had to do something so I could focus in class. Well, taking a week or 2 off turned into completely not running until race day – which actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be having not ran in 3 weeks. My longest run I got to was 11 miles, which I thought was good because I was familiar with running long distances without stopping.

My only goals for my half were to 1. enjoy it and the experience, 2. run the whole thing with no stops, and 3. make it under 2 hours and 30 minutes. I didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself with my time because I was more concerned with just finishing it considering I was doing it as a bucket list thing and not for time. Well, if you’re not familiar with the Air Force Half Marathon course, it’s like 40% flat, 60% hills. I had so many people tell me that it was one of the hardest courses they’ve ever done just because of the hills and the elevation chart looked like an EKG test. I was definitely nervous, but confident in my abilities to finish it, solely relying on my quads at this point to get me through it.

Race day rolls around & waking up early isn’t my thing so 5a wasn’t a pleasant experience, but I ate my normal breakfast of a whole wheat english muffin, peanut butter, 1/2 a banana and some buckwheat honey and we were all out the door. We got there around 7 for a race that didn’t start until 8:30 which gave me plenty of time to take it all in & realize what I got myself into. Typical me, even being there an hour and a half early, I was late to the start line by 3 minutes, luckily it took about 6 minutes to get everyone through the start line so I was good and didn’t miss anything. Starting was really annoying though because it took FOREVER for everyone to get spaced out and I was running at about a 12 minute mile because it was difficult trying to navigate through all the people. Right off the bat we ran uphill on the Huffman dam which I don’t think my legs appreciated at all, but I muscled through. At about 3 miles everyone was at about their correct spots and it was smooth sailing. The course itself is beautiful and you get to see the base, Huffman dam & prairie, base housing, the golf course and a few other things. The weather was perfect, about 70 degrees and overcast with some drizzles of rain that felt GREAT. So about mile 5 runners high kicked in and my legs started to get the numb feeling and I felt good overall. miles 3-6 were somewhat flat with only small hills that weren’t too awful. Around mile 9 was when the high started to fade and the pain started to take over, which was a REALLY bad time to fade because miles 8-11 were nothing but on and off ramps on the highway, hills and uneven roads. My pace slowed from about a 10 minute mile to almost a 13 minute mile, but I was really determined not to walk so I just slowed my pace, controlled my breathing and took 2 waters and a Gatorade at every station they had. The second to last mile was a downhill, curved street and the inside of my ankle was absolutely fried after that mile so the last mile was just pain. I ran 12 mile with headphones and took them out for the last mile because I knew I needed more than music to get me through it. There were so many people at the last mile & it was so motivating and inspiring to see so many people in uniform & injured veterans there and cheering you on as you ran the last mile. The whole course was filled with civilians, military & people in cars driving by waving and cheering, it was really motivating. The last 1.1 miles though was something I won’t soon forget. Hearing people cheer your name and telling you that you’ve got it and your almost there, made the whole experience really worth-while and rewarding. My parents and boyfriend also came out and made signs which I thought was awesome, especially my mom’s “I’m sure it seemed like a good idea 3 months ago” sign haha.

When I finished I grabbed a water & thought the worst part was over. Well, no one told me about the post-race leg pain you get that’s probably worse than any pain you feel in your legs while you’re running. My legs were throbbing and I couldn’t stand still. My quads felt like they looked like Phil Heath’s quads and every muscle in my legs felt 5 times bigger than it really was. I downed a protein shake when I got back to the truck and I wasn’t hungry until about 3 hours after I finished. I just felt kinda sick and like my stomach was just really angry at me for running that long, but I killed some Chick Fil A afterwards.

Would I recommend this race to anyone else?

YES. The experience alone is something I feel like everyone should experience and it was rewarding at the same time meeting all my goals & getting to check a bucket list item off.

Would I recommend running a half marathon in general?

Yes. If you have a goal set to run a half marathon or you’re even thinking about running a half, do it. I’m 100% not a runner by any means whatsoever, but challenging yourself and pushing yourself to try new things is such an awesome feeling.

Training?

My training for this race was 12 weeks. Training 5-6 days a week with an off day + a cross train day. Increasing my long runs by 10% each week was a good slow way to ease myself into the mileage without injuring myself.

Tips?

  1. Invest in a GOOD pair of shoes. Go to a running specialty store and get fitted. Learn your foot pronation. Get the correct insoles & make sure you train in them before your race. This is very important to having a comfortable race. I recommend the Brooks Glycerine or Ghost, both are great shoes – but again, learn your pronation!
  2. Make sure you cross train and take your rest days. I overtrained myself and burnt myself out before I even got to peak week – so make sure you take time for yourself and listen to your body. If it’s telling you you’re doing too much, take a step back and cut your runs down – don’t push through it because you’ll either injure yourself or you won’t want to run anymore.
  3. Take your diet into consideration. If you fuel your body correctly, your runs will be so much better and you’ll have so much more energy to get your runs in & continue through your days.
  4. Look into energy gels/chews. They saved my life! My favorite was the Shot Blocks Mocha gel.
  5. Don’t try anything new on race day. Not even a new sports bra. I suggest get what you want to run your race in a few weeks before and train in it first, that way on race day you’ll be familiar with everything.
  6. Get some body glide. Unless nothing on your body rubs together, I promise you’ll thank me for this later.
  7. Hydrate like you’ve never hydrated in your life the days before your race. I think this really saved me because I never felt dehydrated or sluggish in my race. I drank close to a gallon a day for 3 days before my race.
  8. Take the water at every station you feel necessary. If you even feel like you might be thirsty before you hit the next station, take some water at that station. I drank water at every station and Gatorade at every other station. I wanted to make sure I was well hydrated & I never felt like I had too much liquid on my stomach – but that preference changes from person to person. Plus my energy gel contains caffeine so it’s good to follow that with water so you don’t dehydrate.
  9. Read. I did SO much research before running this half it was insane. I probably read over 100 articles. But I only know a few people who have ran a half marathon before so I didn’t really have any experiences to learn from, but I’m glad I read so much on it because I learned what to do, what not to do, what to eat, what to buy, what to stay away from.
  10. Foam roll/stretch. I can’t stress this enough. It’s so important not only for injury prevention but to make sure you don’t feel sore for days.

Race Day Pictures:

 

    
    
    
    
   
I hope this helped and maybe motivated you to sign up for a half marathon or any race you’ve been wanting to do. If you’ve got some tips on running I would love to hear them! I also will never be running a half ever again – but I’ve got other things in my plans for this coming year 😉 As always, thanks for reading!

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August Favorites!

The month of August kind of flew by, as expected, being the last month of freedom before my classes started back up again. I didn’t try many new things in August because my month consisted mostly of running and relaxing with a little bit of Netflix binging on the side. I mostly stuck by my tried and true’s this month, which will be the reason for having so little favorites. Hopefully September will be full with all kinds of new exciting things for me to share, but for now – here were my favorites for the month of August (:

Erin Condren Life Planner – $50 on http://www.erincondren.com

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Okay so I had a few friends tell me when I got this I would become obsessive about planning my weeks & I’m the kind of person that really just jots assignments for school down and halfway through the semester – I forget I even have a planner. Well.. I think it’s safe to say I’ve become obsessive about planning every little detail of my week out. Apparently, there is like a planner community & there are stickers specifically for Erin Condren planners on Etsy and all kinds of crazy stuff. I loved this one when I saw it online and I also got it personalized with my name at the bottom. There’s so many cute little stickers and I actually enjoy using it and planning with it. I bought probably $30 worth of sticker off Etsy the other day just for planning out my entire fall semester of college with my assignments due, papers, finals, exams, quizzes – even down to BBQ’s and when I need to go shopping for food or clean & do laundry. It’s crazy how much I’ve gotten into it but it keeps me very organized and up to date with everything I have due, appointments and places I need to be. I highly highly recommend these if you have troubles staying organized with everything or you just love planning. I’ve had the Lilly Pulitzer ones, but these blow them out of the water. You can also get add ons at checkout (which are VERY dangerous may I add) of stickers, paper clips, invitations, glitter bands, and all types of things.

Morphe 35O palette – $22 on http://www.morphebrushes.com (currently out of stock – but will be restocked soon!)

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This palette absolutely blew up and when it first came out it was out of stock for forever, but I got a notification when it was restocked and within 2 hours it was out of stock again – but luckily I got my hands on it and I am SO glad that I did because this is the perfect palette for fall. It has beautiful warm colors and you can do anything from a dramatic smoky eye or a casual everyday look with this palette. Plus it’s only $22 for 35 different shadows – which is amazing. They’re very blend able and very pigmented. They’re great quality for the cost. I would highly recommend getting your hands on this the next time it’s in stock because there’s not much else I’ll be using for fall & I know everyone could get tons of use out of these colors!

21oz Hydro Flask in Arctic White – $28 at Field & Stream or http://www.hydroflask.com

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I sort of have a water bottle/shaker bottle problem. We have about 4 cabinets full of water bottles and shaker bottles, but this one I really like for a few reasons. One being that it keeps cold water cold for 24 hours – which I’ve tested by filling it up with water and ice at 8p.m. one night, I let it sit all day and when I came back to it the next night, the ice was still in there – which I thought was incredible. I’ve used it at school as well and left it in my car in the heat and when I came back out to it, the water was still ice cold. It says it also keeps hot things hot for 8 hours, but I haven’t tested that yet. Another thing I like is that it doesn’t condensate on the outside – which for me is a huge plus because I find condensation to be so annoying when it gets all over my seats of my car or desks at school. I also find that even though it’s stainless steel – it doesn’t give water a weird taste because I guess the stainless steel is different (18/8?) so it doesn’t give a weird taste to liquids like a lot of stainless steel cups & bottles do. The only thing I would change is I would get the top with the straw in it because I’m somewhat of a messy drinker I guess & I tend to spill it on myself with the standard mouth – but they do sell the straw tops online, which I will have to purchase ASAP! If you’re looking for a good water bottle that keeps your water cold literally all day, this is a really good one! Plus they offer many different sizes + have containers for food!

Lancome Grandiose Mascara – $32 at Sephora

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So the other day my dad came home with a ton of makeup for my mom and I randomly and this was one of the things he got. I must add, for going into Sephora and not having a clue what anything is, he did a pretty awesome job at picking things out. I’ve only heard of this mascara a few times but never got it because it’s a biiiiiiit pricey, but when I saw it in the bag of makeup he got me I was super excited because I’d heard good things about it. Well it’s quickly made its way to my top 5 favorite mascaras. It’s very comparable to the Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill mascara, which is my #2 favorite, but this I think gives a little more length rather than volume. It doesn’t clump or flake on me throughout the day. The packaging alone makes you just want to buy it because it’s so pretty and I’m a sucker for cute packaging. The wand is bent on the inside so it’s much easier to apply rather than the typical straight wand. Overall, I will repurchase this again & I’m still shocked my dad found such a good product haha!

Colorescience Products – I got mine from my esthetician, but you can find them at http://www.colorescience.com

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These products are so amazing and I don’t use them a lot because they’re a tad expensive and they only carry them at my esthetician’s office (they have a website but I hate having to guess my shade). I have the illuminating serum which if you have dry skin – this will be your best friend because it gives you such a pretty dewy glow under your makeup. The face primer I have is skin calming and redness reducing because I have rosacea & sometimes you can see it through certain foundations – this really cancels all my redness out and also fills in my pores very well. I’ve used this product the most because overall it really makes my skin look flawless, which is good to have under your foundation. I have the mineral foundation and the pressed compact foundation, which both have SPF 20 in them and give you such a natural look & they aren’t cakey looking or drying like some powder foundations. Usually I’ll use these for a setting powder or on days where my skin looks like it needs some help before I head out the door. The setting mist is equally as amazing as the face primer because it gives a dewy look as well & for some reason to me it smells like Sprite! Once I put this on, my makeup does not move at all. In my opinion, I think it’s better than MAC Fix+. The best thing about this whole line is that it’s very healthy for your skin and actually helps clear your complexion. They all have vitamins and minerals in them that really help clear your skin and make it look healthy – where as other makeup brands tend to clog your pores and cause breakouts. I have VERY sensitive skin and a lot of products break me out, but I never have any problems with any of these products + they have a HUGE range of products from eyeshadows, to bronzers, to the products I have!

Starbucks Iced Chai Tea Latte w/ Nonfat Milk

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When I don’t feel like getting green tea from Starbucks, which is my usual I’ll get a Tall Iced Chai Tea Latte with nonfat milk instead & it’s easily my 3rd favorite drink from Starbucks (2nd being Pumpkin Spice Latte 😀 ). There are 120 calories, 2g fat, 22g carbs, 4g protein – only downside ? 21 grams of sugar …… But some days I just crave them and I’ll usually only have them on special occasions or cheat days. They’re SO good, but if you don’t like cinnamon, you won’t like these at all. They’re also really good hot too, but in the summer I like them iced!

So again, I’m sorry for the short amount of favorites, but this month I didn’t really try any new things other than the stuff I have been using for a while now! I hope this (short) list of favorites makes you want to try something & let me know if you do and what you think of it!

As always, thanks for reading (:

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